2019-2021 Nissan Altima Engine Failure Issues

Class Action Investigation

Updated on Author: Sergei Lemberg

Updated on Author: Sergei Lemberg

Lemberg Law is investigating numerous complaints that the 2019-2021 Nissan Altima engines fail. Owners tell tales in NHTSA complaints about various related malfunctions. These are described as the engine stalling, shutting down, dying, seizing, going into limp mode, and simply failing.      

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Are There Problems with the Engine Failing in the 2019-2021 Altima?

Complaints lodged with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) relate to the 2019, 2020, and 2021 model years of the Nissan Altima. Most are reported as being engine problems, while some are filed as unknown or other issues.

There are significant issues and concerns surrounding the engines of the 2019-2021 Nissan Altima. Numerous complaints have been officially filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Additionally, an ongoing NHTSA Office of Defects (ODI) investigation is actively working to understand the extent of these problems. The investigation relates not only to the 2019-2021 Altima but also to 2019-2021 Infiniti QX50, and the 2021-2023 Nissan Rogue.

Both the Altima and the Infiniti are powered with 2.0-liter KR20DDET engines that are unique in that they use a variable compression ratio that allows for high power output and high fuel efficiency at the same time.

The NHTSA ODI opened a preliminary evaluation in mid-December 2023 to “assess the scope, frequency, and consequences of these variable compression engines.”

The investigation was prompted by multiple field reports and “vehicle owner questionnaires” that drew the problems to the attention of the NHTSA. Those listed in the NHTSA report include alleged:

  • engine failure
  • loss of motive power
  • engine knock or noise
  • metal chunks and shavings found in the oil pan of vehicles

What are Owners Reporting?

The engine failure problems that 2019-2021 Nissan Altima owners are describing aren’t all exactly the same. But they do follow a theme.

In a complaint issued directly to Lemberg Law, the owner of a 2019 Altima stated that “the engine malfunction” was “the worst thing ever.” It happened twice in low winter temperatures when driving on a highway. In a nutshell, “it gives you a warning and all of sudden shuts off.”

Recent Complaint

The owner of a 2021 Altima from Georgia tells how the car malfunctioned twice. The first time it “went completely dead” while sitting at a red traffic light. Nothing worked. The dealership service staff said it was “nothing” and “it would be okay.” But two years later, in March 2023, it happened again in traffic. They gave the owner the runaround, saying that there would be “a long wait” for a diagnostic test. They also quoted a fee for the test, even though the car was still under full warrant.

Complaints about the 2020 Models

Many of the complaints report that the engine light comes on. An owner from Michigan states that in cold weather, “the car accelerates poorly.” When this happens, the engine RPM is “unusual.” At least once, the engine warning light came on with a “service now” message displayed. Each time this happened, the engine was running but the car was moving “in slow motion.” The owner contacted a Nissan dealer who said they had “received multiple complaints of this nature about this car year and model.”

Another owner describes how the car decelerated randomly from 70-34 mph and then shut down “stating engine stall.” Nissan was unable to replicate the issue and so couldn’t diagnose the problem.

An owner from New York states that the Altima stalled while in Park. She was able to restart the car, but the failure recurred while driving. Once again, the dealer couldn’t replicate the failure or diagnose the problem.

Complaints about the 2019 Models

An owner from Los Angeles tells how the engine control unit (ECM) causes the Altima to stay in a “constant malfunction state.” At first it was intermittent, but now (the complaint states) “it stays in limp mode.” Various indicators stay on, including the check engine light.

Another 2019 Altima, this time owned by someone in South Carolina, stalls with the engine malfunction warning light illuminated. The complaint states that it failed to start up after multiple attempts. Like so many other cases in different areas, “The vehicle was taken to the dealer on multiple occasions, but the mechanic was unable to duplicate the failure.”

An owner from Texas describes how, “after driving down her driveway and then entering the roadway and accelerating to 15 mph, the engine seized.” In this case, no warning light illuminated.

An owner in Florida states that his Altima started stalling after the RPM had begun to fluctuate. The dealership said it was because of a faulty air intake sensor, which they replaced. However the failure recurred — even after the car had been repaired three times.

What Should You Do if Your Nissan Altima Engine Failed?

If your 2019, 2020, or 2021 Nissan Altima has a problem that indicates engine failure, you may qualify to join our new class action investigation. The issue doesn’t have to mirror those described in this post — but we will need to evaluate your case to see if you qualify.

All you have to do is fill out a contact form or call our Helpline. It’s not going to cost you a cent because the law says Nissan has to cover the legal bills for lemon law cases. So, if you’re facing major issues, don’t hesitate to call us.

Sergei Lemberg

About the Author:

Sergei Lemberg is an attorney focusing on consumer law, class actions related to automotive issues, and personal injury litigation. With nearly two decades of experience, his areas of practice include Lemon Law (vehicle defects), Debt Collection Harassment, TCPA (illegal robocalls and texts), Fair Credit Reporting Act, Overtime claims, Personal Injury cases, and Class Actions. He has consistently been recognized as the nation's "most active consumer attorney." In 2020, Mr. Lemberg represented Noah Duguid before the United States Supreme Court in the landmark case Duguid v. Facebook. He is also the author of "Defanging Debt Collectors," a guide that empowers consumers to fight back against debt collectors and prevail, as well as "Lemon Law 101: The Laws That Lemon Dealers Don't Want You to Know."

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