2012 Nissan Altima Consumer Review: Surprised by quality issue

2012 Nissan Altima Sedan - Consumer Review

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6 of 15 people found this review helpful
Surprised by quality issue
By nj_driver on


2012 Nissan Altima 3.5 SR 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl CVT)


I recently sold my 03 Maxima and bought the 2012 Altima 3.5.
Good looking car on the inside and out.
I've had the car for 3 weeks and have driven 1,050 miles.
2 issues:
1.)According to the MPG information in the dashboard, I'm only getting 25.6 miles per gallon. Since 70% of my miles have been on the highway, I'm surprised at the low mpg. (my 03 maxima got 32mpg on the highway).
2.) When you first drive the car, it makes a gridning noise when shifting (at about 30 MPH).
It only happens during the initial driving.
After you pass 30 MPH, the sound doesn't happen again...until you turn the car off, start it again, and drive.
The car is currently at the dealer to identify the problem.

Best Features

My favorite feature is the look of the car. It's a good looking car. Seats are very comfortable, and the radio (with XM) is great. Strong pickup (again, this is the V6 engine). Trunk is much larger than I expected, and can easily hold all the stuff I need to transport.

Worst Features

I think they should offer the black car with chrome wheels rather than just the non-shiny wheels. It would make the car look superb.
Recommend (6) (9)

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By ashley_01
on 08/16/11 15:45 PM (PDT)

I bought my 2012 altima 7 days ago, and I have the same issue. It makes a 'clunk' sound, and I feel the gas pedal click when I hit 30 mph initially. It doesn't do it again until I restart the car and drive past the 30 mph mark. Has any dealership figured out what the problem is?

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By starks22
on 09/15/11 19:58 PM (PDT)

I completely agree with you. I don't think that it is normal either. If it is normal then I want the car that does not make the noise. I am going to take mine to the dealership tomorrow and see what they say. I will also see if I can drive a similar car to compare. When you get done can you let me know what you find out?

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By sgabor
on 05/26/13 01:52 AM (PDT)

I have the same sound right at 30 mph, more pronounced when car is cold, but less pronounced when car is warmed up. After reading these comments checking the 2012 altima owners manual PAGE 5-25 SELF TEST FEATURE, and since dealers are all concluding the same thing, it does sound like ABS testing itself. Might be annoying but glad it is not a major problem.

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By dustyaman
on 08/21/11 11:35 AM (PDT)

ok guys dont fret on the little clunking noise. my 09 sentra does the same thing. it now just hit 40,000 miles and have no problems. im waiting on the dealership to get approved for trade in to move up to a 2012 altima. so i wouldnt freak out on the noise. its a cvt thing

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By billy2012
on 03/21/12 18:37 PM (PDT)

Page 2-5 of the Altima owners manual states this sound is normal. Not sure I would have bought the car knowing this. Love the car but this sound in a new car is annoying. Why don't the dealers know of this?

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By elitex1
on 01/07/12 20:33 PM (PST)

I just recently bought a 2012 Altima in November. It did not make that noise when new. I've just started to "feel it" in the gas pedal and hear it too. I've got 1500 miles and that grinding,rattle noise that everyone else here is experiencing was not there. I am a former mechanic for Ford and i can tell you that this should not be normal. No recall or technicall service bulletin has come out yet because probably not enough people have complained.

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By txnettie
on 09/15/11 06:19 AM (PDT)

The problem most definitely sounds like the CVT transmission. I have a 2008 Nissan Rouge and I just had to have my transmission replaced for the same issues. The Nissan Corporation has actually extended the drive train warranty (transmission only) for Nissan's built from 2003 thru 2010 to 100,000 miles. Apparently, they are having lots of issues with the CVT transmission.

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By sharki
on 09/04/12 07:23 AM (PDT)

2012 Altima 30mph clunking/grinding noise. Just purchased the 2012 Altima, it's my 3rd Altima and the two prior did not have the self-test so pronounced that I could feel it in the gas pedal. Also, my roommate bought a brand new 2012 one week before me; mine makes this noise, his does not! Dealership says it's the ABS self-check and his car does it but it's simply less pronounced - I don't buy it, frankly. However, aside from Nissan service driving it and confirming that this is what it is, they can't do anything about it. Waiting for the recall.... and not happy.

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By billy2012
on 03/21/12 11:25 AM (PDT)

Just bought a 2012 Nissan Altima last night. Noticed the same noise as mentioned above this morning. Googled and found these comments. Mine "clunks" at 30 mph after a cold start. Called dealership which is 2 hours away. They have never heard of the probelm, suggested I take it to my local dealership. Only 100 miles and I have to go back to the dealership. Drove Camry's for 12 years! no problems. What have I done?!?

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By nkchicago1985
on 11/02/11 10:15 AM (PDT)

The noise is a normal and it is related to the ABS and not the CVT. I just got a new 2012 Altima and mine does the same thing at 30 mph. I work for a Nissan dealer and its just a redesinged system because the previous year Altimas had an issue with brake masters leaking into the boosters so the noise is indeed a system check that happens exactly at 30 mph when the car is cold.

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By billy2012
on 04/26/12 19:47 PM (PDT)

what can we do? I talked with my dealership service manager. He said it was a common complaint with the base model Altima due to lack of sound insulation. Spoke to another dealership and they said they would not order and sell the base model due to this common complaint. Wish I had noticed this before purchasing. Dealer will not take the car back. Contacted Nissan and they were no help either.

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By starks22
on 09/14/11 17:09 PM (PDT)

I am having the same problem (the grinding noise at 30MPH). I called the dealership and they transferred me to three different people and then the last guy told me that it was ABS system check, but I don't think I believe him. I had a 09 Nissan Sentra with the same transmission and virtually the same engine and did not make the grinding noise. I also don't think it is the ABS system check because it does not make sense to me why the car checks the ABS at 30MPH and not when you start your car sense you use your brakes at speeds less than 30MPH. If you find out what is wrong with the car can you post it on here so I will know.

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By penguin678
on 07/16/12 10:29 AM (PDT)

Just bought my 2.5S 2012 Altima two weeks ago and the people I mentioned this to looked at me like I was crazy when I tried to explain what I was hearing. The car makes like a grinding noise when I hit 30 mph and I can feel like grinding in the gas pedal. It only does it after the car has been parked or off for awhile and then I turn it back on and as soon as I hit 30 mph, I hear it. Based on what I've read it seems to be isolated to the 2.5 base model, my husband and I bought two brand new 2012 Altima's; he got the 3.5 engine and his doesn't do this. I was just getting ready to call the dealership before I read this but changed my mind now, as long as it's not anything to worry about, I agree with the above comments - a small annoyance at best. I must mention though that it lasts about a second, it's really just a quick grind noise and my radio needs to be off in order for me to hear it (but I do slightly feel it in the gas pedal as I mentioned before).

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By jdmathias
on 09/18/11 16:42 PM (PDT)

I took it to a second dealer and they told me it was the abs brake booster waking up? and the reason that you can feel it in the gas pedal is because they're both attatched to the firewall. They basically told me to sit around and wait for a recall.......that's reassuring.

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By jeet716
on 07/15/12 16:34 PM (PDT)

billy2012, did they tell you which model/package does not have noise issue ? Thanks

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By jdmathias
on 09/15/11 09:32 AM (PDT)

I got my car back today and they told me it was completely normal, that the abs brake booster was re-setting itself. But please tell me why as long as the 2012 altima has been out, how am I the only person to go to 2 dealerships and I was the first time they came across the issue. I'm not convinced it is normal because the loaner car they gave me was the exact same and it did not do it. I'm taking it to another nissan dealership tomorrow to get a second opinion and to test drive another new one and see if it does it. If it's so normal than why didn't the loaner car I had do it?

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By angrycust82
on 04/25/12 01:02 AM (PDT)

i bought altima 2012 a month a go, i noticed the noise and by contacting the dealer they said this is normal! i am not a mechanic or driving test expert, but the common sense says newer car = less noise! how about brand new!! for me i am sure i would NOT have bought it if i knew this.

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By emily46
on 02/10/12 08:29 AM (PST)

When I brought my car in to service to identify this problem, the supervising Nissan technician said it was due to the ABS self test and was normal. Most of the time when I drove my 2012 Nissan I heard the clang. Sometimes I did not. I found the answer in the Owner's Manual in the Anti-lock Braking System category on Page 5-25. Check it out.

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By altimalover1
on 08/21/11 12:40 PM (PDT)

I have a 2010 Altima 2.5s that makes a "clunk" noise. It happens after starting the vehicle and driving up to 20-30mph. I believe this is the ABS system self-check. This is normal and nothing to be concerned about.

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By lmacias
on 09/17/11 23:56 PM (PDT)

I have a 2010 Altima SR with the same sound when starting the car. It's normal and its mentioned in the manual as an ABS check. It doesn't sound good but it is mentioned in the manual. I'm surprised the dealer hasn't given you an answer already.

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By jamielino
on 08/20/12 20:53 PM (PDT)

I have the exact same problem and I even considered looking into the lemon law because I also had problems with my power windows and I have had to go back and forth to the dealership on numerous occasions.

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By greatgig13
on 10/31/11 20:13 PM (PDT)

It's the ABS. My 2006 Honda Odyssey does the same thing about 10 miles per hour after starting up. It's annoying but harmless.

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By sorina
on 08/14/11 17:42 PM (PDT)

Just bought my 2012 altima 8 days ago and is currently in the shop because of the same grinding sound at 30 mph when you first start up. Did they figure out what was the issue? Still no verdict from our dealership.

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By billy2012
on 03/21/12 18:38 PM (PDT)

sorry...page 5-25 in owners manual

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By jdmathias
on 09/14/11 14:45 PM (PDT)

I'm having the same "grinding" problem at 30mph. I took it to the dealer to the service department and they had NO idea what it could be. They gave me a loaner car that is the exact same year and model and it doesn't do it so clearly it's NOT normal. He said it seems safe to him and he'd put his family in it, if you don't know what's wrong with it, how do you know it's safe? So I was wondering if any of you guys found out what it is?

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By bibby33
on 08/08/12 12:07 PM (PDT)

I'm glad I was not the only one experiencing this sound, exactly 30 MPH a clunk and some type of resistance on the pedal. I brought it to the dealer and after they looked at it and tested it, they said it was the ABS. They figured it was the ABS when I described the problem so they must have dealt with it before. I have the 2.5 SL so don't think it's just an issue for the base model. Don't like the fact that a brand new car is making a clunking noise at any point though.

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