2021 Nissan Kicks Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical system, engine, and forward collision avoidance issues are among the main causes of complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

The Nissan Kicks was launched in the U.S. in 2018, and it initially found a welcome niche in the market. But as Lemberg Law has reported in previous posts, it hasn’t been devoid of problems. NHTSA complaints about the 2021 Nissan Kicks have escalated since we first reviewed them early in 2022. Consumers are complaining about the engine, faulty electrical system, and forward collision avoidance problems. Malfunctioning airbags and other issues are also highlighted in complaints.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019   2020   2022   2023

Most Common Problems

From only 5 complaints about the 2021 model made to the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) by February 2022, along with  28 manufacturer communications with dealers that highlight issues with the vehicle, the numbers (by August 2023) have risen to 44 complaints and 76 communications.

We initially reported that electrical system and engine problems were amongst the main reasons for consumer complaints – and they still are. There are also an increased number of complaints that relate to forward collision-avoidance as well as a couple of hair-raising airbag issues.

In February 2022, someone from Phoenix, Arizona, lodged a total of 22 complaints about paint chipping and bodywork rusting on fleet unit vehicles. Very little additional information is supplied, so we cannot elaborate on these complaints.

There are also 2 recalls, both of which relate to a loss of steering assist and can increase the risk of a crash.

2021 Nissan Kicks Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings
Unknown Or Other
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
Electrical System
Air Bags
Service Brakes
Electrical System: Integrated Trailer Brake Control
Forward Collision Avoidance: Adaptive Cruise Control

Forward Collision Avoidance Problems

There are now 10 problems that relate to forward collision-avoidance.  Several complaints report a vehicle dynamics control (VDC) malfunction that warns of an impending collision for no reason. These, the complaints state, are “false accident warnings.”

There are also complaints that report that the Kicks suddenly brakes for no reason, even though there aren’t cars anywhere around.

An owner from Arizona states that when driving, usually on a freeway, the 2021 Kicks “will think I’m about to get into a head-on collision and try to brake for me. I get warnings that come onto my dash and my emergency brake light will come on. This happens about 2-3 times a week and seems to be happening more frequently. My car is still under warranty and I’ve taken it into the dealership three times now and they can’t seem to find an issue.”

An owner in Alabama states that the forward collision-avoidance system has been activated twice when no vehicles were nearby. On one occasion, the vehicle “completely shut down and every light on my dash came on and a malfunction warning for it. The vehicle was towed back to the dealership where I bought it.“ This happened around midnight and there was no power to accelerate. “The car could have cut off in the middle of the highway (and) broken down, putting other vehicles in danger of hitting the car and causing injuries and vehicle damage.”

Another complaint, this time from an owner in Alabama, states that the forward-collision warning light is triggered by sunlight. “When I go into a shade it turns off but immediately pops back on and slows my car down when I return into the sunlight.”

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Airbag Problems

Another forward collision-avoidance complaint followed a crash when the complainant’s car rear-ended a SUV that had stopped suddenly. They were traveling at about 50-60 mph, but the airbags didn’t deploy. Additionally, “the passenger seat appears to have come off its tracks.”

The complainant questions whether the emergency braking system may have failed. Alternatively, he suggests that “the car just did not have time to react.”

A more recent complaint, lodged in April 2023, states very simply that the Kicks stopped while traveling at 55 mph. It was rear-ended and the car was totaled. One person was injured when the airbags didn’t deploy.

Problems with the Electrical System

The problems aired in NHTSA complaints are varied. But what they indicate is that consumers are faced with electrical system issues that need to be addressed. They range from heaters not working properly to rollaway problems that have resulted in vehicles crashing.

An owner from Ohio states in a complaint that when he starts the car it displays collision and skid sliding warnings. It happens “randomly, and beeps while I’m driving the entire time. (It) happens daily when it’s cold like winter, but not as much through warm weather like spring summer.” Yet the owner has never had a collision having owned the Kicks for a year-and-a-half.

Another owner wasn’t as lucky, crashing into a concrete pole when no warnings were displayed. Driving at about 15 mph, she pulled over and put the vehicle in Park. But it continued to roll forward. It “hit a concrete light pole in the parking lot and damaged the driver’s side front fender and headlights. No airbags deployed.”

Another electrical issue states that the Nissan Kicks heater doesn’t work properly.

“If the temperature is set to 62 degrees, cold air as expected comes out of vents. If set to 63 degrees, maximum hot air comes out of vents, even after the cabin is warmed up. This is distracting to keep fumbling with the temperature control, toggling between 62 and 63 while driving. Keeping the air controller at 63 is also a distraction since the cabin is uncomfortably hot.”

Engine Problems

Engine complaints range from the Kicks 2021 shutting off while driving to not accelerating beyond 35 mph and not shifting gears.

An owner from Florida tells how when driving on the interstate and hitting the accelerator, the Kicks would start to brake. “I went from going 60 to 45 and realized I had to pull over.” The driver called AAA after the battery and oil change lights appeared and the AC stopped working.

“I attempted to turn my car off and it would just automatically restart. I did that three times and on the third time the lights turned off and AC was back blowing cold, but (I) still couldn’t move my vehicle. AAA then towed it to their facility and said it was transmission issues and they had never seen something like it before.” It was then towed from the AAA center and was to be taken to the closest dealership repairs.

When the Kicks belonging to a New Jersey owner kept shutting off while driving, the dealer tried to recreate the problem several times, but couldn’t. “I was told the service department cannot recreate the problem, so I should continue to drive the car and if it happens again to take pictures and bring it in.” When the complainant said he wanted his money back, a different car, or an attorney, a Nissan representative reportedly told him to “get an attorney.” This is probably the best advice they could give! When a problem constantly recurs, there’s a good chance you’ve bought a lemon. And if you’ve bought a lemon, the best advice you will likely get is from a lemon lawyer.

What to do if your 2021 Nissan Kicks is a lemon. Your Lemon Rights

If your 2021 Nissan Kicks has problems that your dealer can’t solve you may have a lemon on your hands. While this article explores the problems that other Nissan Kicks owners have complained to NHTSA about, your problems may be quite different.

If you think you have a lemon, contact the Lemberg Law Helpline so that we can assess your problem as soon as possible. In reality, we are more likely to get you a replacement car or your money back. We have done it many times for our clients.

Remember that the law makes the manufacturer pay the legal bills for lemons. That means no out of pocket costs for you!


Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 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.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • Pam V

    I purchase new 2019 nissan kicks and paid $4000 for the extended warranty. I started having issues in my 3rd year with collision warning lights and slippery driving lights coming on for no reason then the engine light.
    I brought it in and they did I needed a new Mass airflow sensor and also said my warranty was over. Remember I purchased extended warranty which should cover me for an extra 3- 4 years. But NO they said it ran out the same date as the original warranty. Why would I spend $4000 for an extended warranty which runs out at the same time as the original warranty!
    Anyways it cost me over $1300 just to fix the MFA sensor and the other lights are still lighting up.
    What can I do? Please advise.

  • Ana

    Since I bought my Kicks 2021 with zero miles, the camera system includes the radio, charging pad, and more, when is really cold outside is not on until some minutes later. That problem is getting worse this year. Now the system never goes on through like 30 minutes later or never if the weather is less than 50 degrees.

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