2020 Nissan Versa Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Powertrain, fuel system, service brakes, and electrical system issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

Sedans might be disappearing at record rates, but the 2020 Nissan Versa still has a following. Nissan claims it provides “a new way to look at sedans,” but many customers have decided this model doesn’t deserve any attention. It contains a defective powertrain, a faulty fuel system, a shoddy electrical system and malfunctioning service brakes.

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2020 Nissan Versa

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
7
Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings
6
Service Brakes
5
Power Train
4
Electrical System
3
Unknown Or Other
2
Back Over Prevention: Warnings
2
Air Bags
2
Engine
2
Fuel/propulsion System
2

Problems with the Powertrain

The powertrain is home to the transmission, which is needed to shift the vehicle smoothly. With the Versa, the transmission helps turn this vehicle into a bucking bull.

One NHTSA complaint says, “Already having transmission problems. Car jerks and slows me down and the steering has gotten almost unmanageable in less than 200 miles. The wheels already need alignment and I’ve hit no curbs. The car is another disaster from Nissan. The CVT was a terrible thing that has happened to vehicles.”

It’s no surprise that Nissan is having trouble with these cars. Service Bulletin #NTB18-059a goes further to discuss transmission fluid leaks that the Versa is experiencing. Basically the Versa is falling apart at the seams, which does fall in line with looking at this sedan differently. Of course, it won’t be hard to notice because it is the car with the line of fluid following behind it.

Problems with the Fuel System

Another vital part of the vehicle is the fuel system. This system is responsible for transporting fuel to the engine to make it work. Yet, it’s also a major defect with Versa models.

Another NHTSA complaint states, “The vehicle was stationary, it will not start, it will not turn on. None of my lights have been left on, nothing has been plugged in. The first time I had it jumped it started and turned on. The belt was making a high-pitched squealing noise. After it was initially jumped and after it was on and drove around and put back in Park and turned back off. It no longer would start. I have tried to have it jumped again and it would not jump. I am concerned with the engine and fuel system. When I’ve tried to turn it on and it wouldn’t, it made sort of like a gargling noise after I had hit the start button as well as the gauges coming [on] very slightly and shaking.”

Not surprisingly, the fuel system is the subject of a recall. NHTSA Campaign Number 20V112000 states that affected cars were built with a fuel tank that doesn’t contain a thick enough wall, which could lead to a small hole in the seams. When a hole occurs, so does a fuel leak. Not only does this leave more fluids trickling from the Versa, but it also increases the chances of a car fire. Guess it gives new meaning to the thought that sedans are dying out – this one just happens to go away in a blaze of glory.

Problems with the Service Brakes

Stopping the vehicle before an accident occurs should also be a priority, but apparently, Nissan no longer cares about supplying decent brakes either.

This is shown through another NHTSA complaint. “I have a 2020 Nissan Versa and I purchased it in July. After driving it for a month or so I began to hear a squeaking noise. I took it in, they said it was brake dust, I kept hearing the noise and I took it back in and they said it was the brakes. Afterwards I went back to have them repaired only to find out that they said some hardware was missing from my brakes. I have been out here driving in this car with faulty brakes that left the manufacturer and that should have never been put out into circulation for purchase.”

Need further proof that the Nissan isn’t built up to quality standards? Service Bulletin #NTB18-042b goes on to discuss how the front door stops opening. How are people supposed to get in and out of a car when the door doesn’t open? This time Nissan is physically attempting to entrap customers because it can’t keep them any other way.

Problems with the Electrical System

Finally, a look at the electrical system reveals the same level of manufacturing that has been shown in the other vital systems.

One final NHTSA complaint states, “The screen for the radio won’t turn on sometimes when the car is on. I have to drive a couple miles before it works, leaving me without GPS and Radio. It’s happened about a dozen times since ownership.”

Nissan is fully aware of the situation, even noting in Service Bulletin #NTB20-016d that the radio will intermittently reboot while using audio playback connected to iPhones through Bluetooth. It leaves owners asking, “Can you hear me now?”

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Nissan pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

Complaint Data

CategoryFuel System, Other, Structure
DateAug 23, 2022
StateGA
Description
The contact owns a 2020 nissan versa. The contact stated while attempting to add fuel to the vehicle on several occasions, the fuel tank release lever popped and became inoperable. There were no warning lights illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the local dealer but was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The approximate failure mileage was 37,000.
CategoryPower Train
DateAug 14, 2022
StateCT
Description
Cvt shudders jolts and grinds on stop and go traffic to the point where it feels like it's going to destroy itself. The symptom occurs at very random occasions and the cars onboard diagnostics has failed to detect a problem with the vehicle. Vehicle had also turned off once suddenly when pressing accelerator from a complete stop(has not happened ever since). Vehicle has no check engine codes or pending codes. Nissan consumer affairs has failed to offer a resolution to this issue to my satisfaction other than pay out of pocket for diagnosing and repairing. Issues presented themselves prior to the warranty expiring and are only getting worse. Of course the dealer said it's normal and most likely did not notate my concern (started happening very slightly and no check engine lights were on at the time of notifying them and even then it was a very random issue at that time) when I told them during my oil change. But now it's too noticeable.
CategoryForward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings, Service Brakes
DateJun 13, 2022
StateAR
Description
While in reverse the automatic braking system locked up. There was nothing behind me or in my camera visually. Then I went to pull forward, the panel lights lit up, and, crash lights front can't up and the radar front light. My car has stayed in the shop at nissan since january 2022 to present except for 4 weeks. Nissan refuses to deem as a lemon, yet everything is pointing to what other owners have experienced with this particular car. When those brakes locked up my car is no longer stable to drive, yet nissan is saying it's a shock on the right side. A shock doesnt go out at this early in a brand new car. Nor does all of the components mentioned. We take meticulous care of our vehicle. I have a case opened with nissan usa consumer affairs currently. Car is still in shop.
CategoryForward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings
DateApr 22, 2022
StateFL
Description
What component or system failed or malfunctioned, and is it available for inspection upon request? - forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking; went to auto service center to fix rest of accident body damage, unsure if they addressed these specific issues until I pick up the car this weekend --- how was your safety or the safety of others put at risk? - myself and one other passenger (child) were safely secured while driving, as was the other driver as reported; safety did feel even more assuring prior to impact, as we were under the impression that fcw and aeb features were going to activate --- has the problem been reproduced or confirmed by a dealer or independent service center? - it has been reported to both insurance and auto service center, but not reported as of this writing if issues were addressed --- has the vehicle or component been inspected by the manufacturer, police, insurance representatives or others? - yes, it is currently at auto service center, in preparation for pickup this weekend --- were there any warning lamps, messages or other symptoms of the problem prior to the failure, and when did they first appear? - no. Prior to this accident, I have seen both the fcw and aeb features deploy without any issues when in situation where they would normally.
CategoryBack Over Prevention: Warnings, Electrical System, Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
DateMar 20, 2022
StateIN
Description
Everytime I turn my car on, there's a chance that some lights will turn on my dash for absolutely no reason.. The car could be parked and getting warmed up and the traction control light,parking collision warning, and front collision light all turn on simultaneously. I have included a photo to get a better picture! Only way for me to get rid of them is by turning my car off for 5 minutes then turning it back on again. It been a real inconvenience. Not to mention when those lights turn on it means I can't parallel park anywhere because my rear parking assist prevents me from backing up, because it “thinks” something is in the way…ugh! Not only that but everytime I play music my nissan connect shuts of in the middle of my drive then resets and starts playing music again. If you guys have any answers for me please let me know I bought this car in august of 2021
CategoryAir Bags
DateMar 11, 2022
StateAL
Description
My wife was driving her 2020 nissan versa sr back from a doctors appointment at 3:30 pm on 14 feb 2022 traveling about 25 mph thru residential area when both side air bags exploded and totally encapsulating her so she could not breath nor move to steer the vehicle and it was all she could do to apply the brakes. A fire truck ws right behind so so were able to render assistance and cut her out of the air bags so she could breath. The air bag impact severely hurt and caused bruses and hearing loss and shock. There was no impact nor door closures nor anything else other than a malfunction which caused this. This car has less than 15,000 miles. The. Cars trouble code showed a roll-over cause the air bags to deploy; however, again there was no impact nor roll-over nor any damage to this vehicle which could cause air bags to activate. Please understand the air bags were activated by what appears to be a completely random electrical malfunction. I suspect the caue might be somesort of sensitivity to electromagnectic radiation such as the new 5g cell phones or high powered radios so.... In the past... Nissan determined the wrong combination of metals was used in the side airbag sensor connector harness, causing oxidation on the pins of the airbag control unit harness connection. The oxidation on the connector pins can cause a short loss of communication from the satellite sensor to the airbag control unit. The nissan versa curtain and seat-mounted side airbag system will enter a backup mode when signal loss occurs and this backup mode allows the curtain and seat-mountain side airbags to deploy as intended in a crash. However, the backup mode that kicks in from signal loss changes the requirements that must be met for the airbags to deploy, so simply slamming the doors can activate the airbags. Typically the force needed to activate the airbags can only come from someone slamming a door from the outside, but real hazards exist if occupant is inside the car when airbags deploy.
CategoryBack Over Prevention: Warnings, Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings
DateFeb 25, 2022
StateIN
Description
Recently, my nissan has started having many problems with several of the collision/emergency sensors on the vehicle. It will happen randomly, in any sort of weather, and the sensor warnings will stay on for different amounts of time during each incident. Having the sensors randomly go off while driving is incredibly distracting, not to mention completely unsafe and useless. Along with the sensor issues, the aeb will spontaneously stop my vehicle and not allow me to brake it hot the gas. This is notable mainly when reversing. Just this morning I was completely unable to back out of my driveway because the aeb system kept automatically braking and preventing me from being out (though there was absolutely nothing moving or in the way.)
CategoryForward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
DateDec 14, 2021
StateAL
Description
After I crossed a bridge between 55 and 60 mph the aeb gave a collision warning and almost immediately applied full braking power. This caused a 3 car collision that resulted in moderate injuries. Before the incident there were no recalls or other repairs needed on the car. After the incident the car was inspected for potential issues by a team of lawyers the insurance company and the repair shop and no non crash damage related issues were found. Since the vehicle was repaired the problem has occurred on 3 separate occasions during normal daily use.
CategoryForward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings, Power Train
DateOct 24, 2021
StateME
Description
Cvt transmission shutter hesitating and failing in places that could cause an accident several times the car has come to a stop with the emergency assistance system and errors out often
CategoryBack Over Prevention: Rearview System Braking, Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings, Unknown Or Other
DateOct 13, 2021
StateTX
Description
This issue has been going on for 6 months. On three different occasions I have taken my car to fred hass nissan due to the sensor lights coming on as if someone is going to hit me from the back and side of my car. It is still not fixed and they tell me it is safe to drive but I feel unsafe. You can be driving down the road whether it be sunshine or raining and no cars are around you and all of a sudden these sensor lights come on and my car slows down as if trying to avoid a collision. I have purchased 4 vehicles over the past several years from this same dealership and this one has given me trouble. I had to beg for them to give me a rental car so they could check my car out monday and then they called me tuesday late afternoon to come get my car because they couldn't fix it and it's under engineering review to figure out how to resolve this issue. This is the 2nd time they have given me this excuse. I called nissan corporate 800 number and complained and this man from consumer affairs who was very rude kept telling me there was nothing they could do and they weren't going to buy back my car and that I would just have to take it back to the dealership and they would have to figure it out on how to fix the issue and that a letter would be going out to them and that I would need to contact them on if they received the letter or not. I have photos and videos of the sensor light issues and have given them to fred haas nissan to review and again nothing has been done. I am back in this car still having the issue and nissan doesn't want to keep the car and give me a rental until they can come up with a solution to fix the issue. I am afraid that if it is not corrected there is going to be an accident that could have been prevented.
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateSep 03, 2021
StateNC
Description
Natural wind and/or velocity from surrounding moving vehicles, and/or speeds above 55mph forces random uncontrollable car movement, at times forcing the car to cross lane markers. I do not feel safe driving on the freeway, highway, or two way streets.
CategoryEngine
DateJul 06, 2021
StateGA
Description
Check engine light came on went and got a diagnostics and p2859 and when I looked it up on google nissan has had recalls in the past on the same thing
CategoryFuel/propulsion System
DateJun 23, 2021
StateNY
Description
The gas tank is no longer going up to the standard amount of 210 like when I initially bought it last week. It is now at 171 miles maximum with a full tank of gas.
CategoryForward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
DateApr 18, 2021
StateAZ
Description
Flash abe light for no reason
CategoryLatches/locks/linkages:hood:latch
DateMar 30, 2021
StateVA
Description
Opened hood just to do routine inspection and maintenance. Closed hood and hood latch would not hook and lock hood into the closed position.
CategoryPower Train, Service Brakes
DateMar 02, 2021
StateCA
Description
First issue was a defective brake system. The part that compressess air to make a hydrologic had a hole. You could hear what sounded like a basketball being deflated near the brake pedal. They fixed it this was at about 25k miles. And now the persistent problem is the transmission. It makes my car jerk or run with reduced power, or sometimes more power. Its very annoying and a burden. Also the fuel oxygen intake ratio has to constantly be reset by me either switching the car to neutral while driving or by turning the engine off then turning back on 5 seconds later, then turning it off again. And turning it back on 30 seconds later, and repeating the 30 seconds on and off until the engine sounds stable. Also the nissan dealership totally took advantage of me. And they still treat me average at best when I get my lio changes there. And always make comments about the mileage. I don't even complain to them about the car.
CategoryEngine, Fuel/propulsion System
DateFeb 18, 2021
StateOK
Description
The vehicle was stationary, it will not start, it will not turn on. None of my lights have been left on, nothing has been plugged in. The first time I had it jumped it started and turned on. The belt was making a high pitched squealing noise. After it was initially jumped and after it was on & drove around & put back in park and turned back off. It no longer would start. I have tried to have it jumped again & it would not jump. I am concerned with the engine and fuel system. When I've tried to turn it on and it wouldn't it made sort of like a gargling noise after I had hit the start button as well as the gauges coming very slightly & shaking
CategoryService Brakes
DateDec 09, 2020
StateGA
Description
I have a 2020 nissan versa and I purchased it in july. After driving it for a month or so I began to hear a squeaking noise. I took it in they said it was brake dust. I kept hearing the noise and I took it back in and they said it was the brakes. I went back to have them repaired only to find out that they said some hardware was missing from my brakes. I have been out here driving in this car with faulty brakes that left the manufacturer and that should have never been put out into circulation for purchase. *js
CategoryPower Train, Steering, Suspension
DateNov 22, 2020
StateTX
Description
Already having transmission problems. Car jerks and slows me dow and the steering has gotten almost unmanageable in less than 200 miles. The wheels already need alignment and I've hit no curbs. This car is another disaster from nissan. The cvt was a terrible thing that has happened to vehicles
CategoryAir Bags, Forward Collision Avoidance: Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings
DateNov 21, 2020
StateOH
Description
I had an accident where I struck a deer. The floor airbag deployed and injured me. My leg has a bad hemotoma from it.
CategoryService Brakes
DateOct 26, 2020
StateNY
Description
Car brakes while driving foward
CategoryElectrical System, Electronic Stability Control, Service Brakes
DateOct 12, 2020
StateCA
Description
The fuel doesn't pump correctly as it should. The fuse burnt out. The automatic braking randomly activates for no apparent reason while driving. It also doesn't activate at all. The front end of the car lifts upward like a wheelie from a stop light. There was smoking and burning smell from under the hood.
CategorySeat Belts, Structure:body:hood
DateSep 30, 2020
StateNY
Description
Tl* the contact owns a 2020 nissan versa. The contact stated the driver's side seat belt failed to release when the button was depressed. There was an abnormal noise detected from the seat. The contact had to manually release the seat belt. Additionally, the hood failed to close and there was an abnormal gap on the passenger's side. There were no warning lights illuminated. The vehicle was taken to kings nissan (2758 coney island ave, brooklyn, ny 11235, (718) 934-3300) where the mechanic was unable to duplicate the failure. The vehicle was not diagnosed nor repaired. The manufacturer was contacted and referred the contact to a different dealer for assistance. The failure mileage was 200.
CategoryElectrical System
DateJul 29, 2020
StateFL
Description
The screen for the radio won't turn on sometimes when the car is on. I have to drive a couple miles before it works leaving me without gps and radio. Its happened about a dozen times since ownership.
CategoryVisibility/wiper
DateJul 12, 2020
StateKY
Description
My daughter was driving down I-75 when a small gravel hit the bottom passenger side of her car windshield. Made a small divot that quickly shot across her windshield putting her in danger. See photos. Car has roughly 1300 miles

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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2 COMMENTS
  • Dixie W

    Our 2020 Nissan Versa is choking out, engine lights coming on, sensors going crazy. It’s in the dealership now 3rd time in 3 months. Were stuck in California waiting on our car. Dealership was nice..not so much to us now. They ignored my initial reporting of the issue blamed it on something else 4,500.00, so I recorded it today before they took it into service. They said last week it was a sonar sensor. Now what? The car is still under warranty.

  • Virginia C

    I have 2020 versa got it last year in November now we in November n having problems with it not catching gears n took it to shop said was battery drove it a day or two n got worse n to it bk nsaid nothing was found wrong now again now its has moments where no reverse no drive move on L..so paying money so car can be parked or risk on getting stranded…

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