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A redesigned 2004 Maxima went on sale in March. It's larger than the old model and, typically equipped, is priced in the low-$30,000 range. Its best feature has always been a smooth and powerful V6, now good for 265 hp, which makes it a very fast sedan, resulting in pronounced torque steer. The new car has a spacious, airy cabin and better handling than the outgoing model.
Alerts
There are 2 recalls on this vehicle. Learn More.

Road Test Results

Performance
Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
0 to 60 mph 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
Fuel Economy Fuel Economy We perform our own fuel-economy tests, independent of the government's often-quoted EPA figures and the manufacturers' claims. Using a precise fuel-flow measuring device spliced into the fuel line, we run two separate circuits to represent city and highway consumption.
CR's Overall Mileage CR's Overall Mileage CR's overall mileage is a composite of measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course and highway cruising; and CR's 150-mile test trip of mixed driving, if tested. In recent road tests, we've discontinued the 150-mile trip test.
CR's City Mileage CR's City Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course.
CR's Highway Mileage CR's Highway Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed highway cruising.
Annual Fuel Cost Annual Fuel Cost The cost and amount of fuel used in 12,000 miles and is calculated from CR's overall mileage.
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit,
Comfort / Convenience
Ride Ride Our expert judgment of how well the suspension isolates and absorbs road imperfections and how steady it keeps the body on various road surfaces.
Noise Noise Our expert judgment of the vehicle's interior noise level in everyday driving.
Front Seat Comfort Front Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the front seat is for drivers of various heights.
Rear Seat Comfort Rear Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the rear seat is for two passengers to sit across.
Interior Fit and Finish Interior Fit and Finish An expert evaluation of the interior quality and craftsmanship.
Trunk/Cargo Area Trunk/Cargo Area Our rating is based on the amount of luggage or cargo space that a vehicle has in the trunk or cargo area.

Owner Reports

Worse Better
Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
NA
2002
NA
2003
2004
2005
NA
2006
NA
2007
2008
NA
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
NA
Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
Owner Satisfaction Owner Satisfaction To learn about satisfaction, CR has collected survey data from our annual survey on more than half a million vehicles. Our subscribers provide great insights into their satisfaction by answering one simple question: If they had it to do all over again, would they definitely buy or lease the same model? In addition, respondents also rate their cars in six categories: driving experience, comfort, value, styling, audio, and climate systems. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
NA
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
NA
Driving Experience Driving Experience Includes acceleration and handling
NA
Comfort Comfort Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride
NA
Value Value Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?
NA
Styling Styling How it looks inside and out
NA
Safety Equipment
ABS available, standard from 2000. Side air bags available, standard from 2004. Head protection air bags standard from 2004. ESC available from 2004, standard from 2009.
Model Summary
A redesigned 2004 Maxima went on sale in March. It's larger than the old model and, typically equipped, is priced in the low-$30,000 range. Its best feature has always been a smooth and powerful V6, now good for 265 hp, which makes it a very fast sedan, resulting in pronounced torque steer. The new car has a spacious, airy cabin and better handling than the outgoing model. The ride is stiff and the five-speed automatic isn't as smooth as in the previous model. A wide turning circle is a nuisance in everyday maneuvers. The new Maxima is built in Tennessee alongside the Altima, upon which it's based. An optional navigation system and power tilt/telescope wheel is available.
Seating
2 front, 3 rear
Drive Wheels
Front
Warranty

In most cases, automotive warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the warranty will be valid regardless of ownership. The dealership can tell you exactly how much warranty is left.

Read more about extended warranties
Body Styles
sedan
Transmissions Available
  • 5-speed Manual
  • 4-speed Automatic
  • 6-speed Manual
Engines Available
  • 3.5-liter V6 (255 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2003 Nissan Maxima owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

What Owners Say

CD player

“Skips”

Anonymous, VA (2003 Nissan Maxima GLE 3.5-L V6)

“CD got stuck in player; CD was removed but now player doesn't accept CDs”

Anonymous, GA (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)

“CD is stuck in player”

Anonymous, MO (2003 Nissan Maxima GXE 3.5-L V6)

“Would not play CDs. Kept seeking tracks”

Simon C., BC (2003 Nissan Maxima GLE 3.5-L V6)
In-dash navigation system (GPS)

“Speed incorrectly calibrated”

Anonymous, VA (2003 Nissan Maxima GLE 3.5-L V6)

“Calibration of tracking system is faulty. It is now ahead of the driving speed”

Anonymous, VA (2003 Nissan Maxima GLE 3.5-L V6)

“most but not all speakers intermittently stop working”

Dave C., VA (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

What Owners Say

“Several dealers could not diagnose. After 2 years and reading many Nissan/Infinity/Maxima/VQ35 (engine tyoe) websites I was able to diagnose that it was a bad/faulty PCV valve. This car has had all it's regular maintenance done. So either the part was defective or the dealer "forgot" to replace it. A $10 part, and probably 80 hours worth of headache!”

Timothy T., WA (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)

“Valve covers cracked. Lost oil”

Dave C., VA (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)

“My vehicle has developed oil leaks several times and now burns oil”

Anonymous, TX (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)

“according to a mechanic a small hose is not tight and there is a very small leak. Not significant”

Anonymous, CA (2003 Nissan Maxima GLE 3.5-L V6)

“Had to replace all three mounts”

Ron K., TX (2003 Nissan Maxima GLE 3.5-L V6)

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

What Owners Say

“Service engine soon code indicates major exhaust problem”

Anonymous, MN (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)

“stainless steel exhaust system has corroded at the connections and all needed to be replaced. conversely my 2003 Outback is still on its original SS exhaust system”

Anonymous, ON (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)

“Muffler rotted out and had to be replaced”

Anonymous, IL (2003 Nissan Maxima GLE 3.5-L V6)

“Check engine light came on and upon diagnosis it was determined that both converter units had failed.Both converter units had to be replaced”

Anonymous, GA (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)

“Faulty evap vent control valve”

Anonymous, VA (2003 Nissan Maxima GLE 3.5-L V6)

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

What Owners Say

Distributor or rotor failure

“Something to do with the right side of the fan stuff. Had the left side done some time in the past. Made a loud sound driving b-4 it was repaired”

Anonymous, MN (2003 Nissan Maxima Unsure 3.5-L V6)
Alternator

“Have replaced the alternator 4 times”

Anonymous, FL (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)

“The alternator and other battery related systems have been failing prematurely”

Anonymous, TX (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)
Coil

“Trying to diagnose which cylinder coil was frustrating due to poor computer code. Eventually kept replacing coils & wires until problem fixed (4 of 6)”

Anonymous, FL (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)

“Intermittent problems with ignition, caused by coils”

Steven E., CO (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

Ball joints

“wore out became loose”

Anonymous, IL (2003 Nissan Maxima GLE 3.5-L V6)
Power steering leaks

“The power steering has just recently started leaking, but with the age of the car and prior experience, I consider this to be a minor problem”

Anonymous, NJ (2003 Nissan Maxima GLE 3.5-L V6)

“Completely replaced the power steering and hoses”

Anonymous, CA (2003 Nissan Maxima GLE 3.5-L V6)
Shocks or struts

“There was essentially no front suspension, the reaction to bumps was harsh. The front struts and mounts were replaced”

Edward W., TX (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)

“The struts were worn out and needed replacement; $1,3000”

Anonymous, NH (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

What Owners Say

“Braking system has failed in many areas. Very disappointed”

Robert A., ON (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)

“Had several differate rotors all wrap easly”

Ray W., PA (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)
Antilock system (ABS)

“ABS control module failed, to replace with new unit would have been $2900. Had unit rebuilt in one of only 2 places in the US for $129. Sent unit to Virginia. No Nissan dealer fixes these units. What a rip off!”

Brian J., BC (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)

“This was my first brake repair since buying the car with 35000 miles on it in July 2004. I consider this to be a great and very reliable car”

Duke M., ME (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)

“The brakes have a tendency to seize unless they are maintained (cleaned) twice a year with seasonal tire changes. I find this excessive as compared with previous cars”

Bernie S., QC (2003 Nissan Maxima GLE 3.5-L V6)

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

What Owners Say

Air or water leaks

“I noticed something splashed on the engine. I cleaned the engine and replaced the radiator cap(inexpensive).but after driving the car there was still evidence of something on the engine. The radiator was leaking and was replaced”

Edward W., TX (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)

“The Nissan Maxima has not held up well in the Arizona summer heat. Virtually every seal. belt. bushing etc that is made of rubber deteriorates much faster than one would expect. In addition batteries never last more than two years regardless of make”

Anonymous, AZ (2003 Nissan Maxima GLE 3.5-L V6)

“The noises I'm hearing are not unexpected in a vehicle of this age, however, given the terrific experience I'm had with this car since I bought it it is no real problem”

Anonymous, NJ (2003 Nissan Maxima GLE 3.5-L V6)

“noise in the air vents on the windshield”

Anita M., CA (2003 Nissan Maxima GXE 3.5-L V6)

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

Rust

“Rust in the windshield frame caused the windshield to crack”

Anonymous, NJ (2003 Nissan Maxima GLE 3.5-L V6)

“The underside is rusted to the point I will have to replace the car”

Robert A., ON (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)

“car is 12 years old”

Ray W., PA (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)
Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling)

“Paint/clear coat on driver's side faded”

Anonymous, SC (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

What Owners Say

Sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor)

“Check engine light often appears”

Anonymous, NJ (2003 Nissan Maxima GLE 3.5-L V6)
Fuel cap

“Small leak in the system that causes check engine light to come on”

Anonymous, MI (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

What Owners Say

Blower (fan) motor

“no matter what blower speed, 1 thru 4, is selected, there just isn't much air coming out”

Anonymous, AR (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)
Evaporator

“AC stopped working and repairs costs are not worth it given the age of the car. It worked fine up to that pointt”

Anonymous, ON (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

What Owners Say

Hydraulics (clutch master or slave cylinder)

“Clutch pedal has been sticking on occasion. Needs clutch fluid replacement. Maybe a new master cylinder”

Roger K., BC (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

Warning lights

“Unexplained electrical problems. If battery is in keyfob, electric windows may roll down on their own. Therefore we have to open car with actual key. Warning lights also come on a lot for unexplained reasons”

Anonymous, GA (2003 Nissan Maxima SE 3.5-L V6)

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

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