Product Reviews

Welcome to Consumer Reports.

We’re so glad to have you as a member. You now have access to benefits that can help you choose right, be safe and stay informed.
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.

Reliability

Reliability indicates how models have performed in the past, providing the basis for predicting how the vehicles will hold up in the year ahead. These charts provide the most comprehensive reliability information available to consumers. Based on information received from our latest subscriber survey, our reliability history charts give you a rundown on how used vehicles are holding up in 17 potential trouble spots, ranging from the engine, transmission, and brakes to power equipment and the electrical system.

Overall Reliability
Most Common Trouble Spots
Common Trouble Spot
Common Trouble Spot
The 2003 Nissan Maxima has been recalled 2 times by NHTSA. View Recalls
Research Years *Redesign year
Worse Better
00*
01
02
03
04*
05
06
07
08
09*
10
11
12
13
14
15
16*
17
18
Overall Reliability Verdict
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
Potential Trouble Spots
Engine Major
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
Engine Minor
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
Engine Cooling
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
Transmission Major
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
Transmission Minor
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
Drive System
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
Fuel System
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
Electric System
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
Climate System
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
Suspension
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
Brakes
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
Exhaust
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
Paint/Trim
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
Body Integrity
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
Body Hardware
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
Power Equipment
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
In-car Electronics
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
NA
Reliability indicates how models have performed in the past, providing the basis for predicting how the vehicles will hold up in the year ahead. These charts provide the most comprehensive reliability information available to consumers. Based on information received from our latest subscriber survey for about 500,000 vehicles, our reliability history charts give you a rundown on how 2000 through 2018 vehicles are holding up in 17 potential trouble spots, ranging from the engine, transmission, and brakes to power equipment and the electrical system. NA 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.

Learn more about car Reliability.

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.

Compare 2003 Models

Similar Cars
Chevrolet Impala
Ford Crown Victoria
Ford Taurus
Lexus LS
Mercury Grand Marquis
Mercury Sable
Nissan Maxima
Toyota Avalon
This score shows whether the model had more or fewer problems overall than the average model of that year, calculated from the total number of problems reported by subscribers in all 17 trouble spots.
Recalls
PROVIDED BY
AIR BAGS
May 15 2015
In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the passenger's frontal air bag, the inflator could rupture with metal fragments striking the vehicle occupants potentially resulting in serious injury or death.
Summary:
Nissan North America, Inc. (Nissan) is recalling certain model year 2001-2003 Nissan Maxima, 2002-2004 Pathfinder, 2002-2006 Sentra, 2002-2003 Infiniti QX4 and I35, 2003 FX35 and FX45, and 2001 I30 vehicles. Upon deployment of the passenger side frontal air bag, excessive internal pressure may cause the inflator to rupture.
What should you do:
Nissan will notify owners, and dealers will replace the passenger air bag inflator, free of charge. The recall began on June 15, 2015. Owners may contact Nissan customer service at 1-800-647-7261. Note: On December 18, 2015 Nissan informed NHTSA of an amendment of this recall to remove 2004-2005 Infiniti FX35 and FX45 vehicles.
For more information:
Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 15V287000
Potential Number of Units Affected: 1090569
ENGINE AND ENGINE COOLING
Nov 17 2003
THIS COULD CAUSE THE "SERVICE ENGINE SOON" WARNING LIGHT TO COME ON, CREATE A NO START CONDITION, CAUSE REDUCED ENGINE POWER, OR CAUSE THE ENGINE TO STOP RUNNING WITHOUT WARNING DURING VEHICLE OPERATION, WHICH COULD RESULT IN A CRASH.
Summary:
ON CERTAIN PASSENGER VEHICLES, THE CIRCUIT BOARD FOR THE CRANK POSITION SENSOR OR CAM POSITION SENSOR MAY HAVE AN IMPROPER SOLDER JOINT DUE TO SOLDER DEFORMATION CAUSED BY HEAT STRESS ACCELERATED BY THE EXISTENCE OF FLUX RESIDUE DURING THE SOLDERING PROCESS.
What should you do:
DEALERS WILL REPLACE THE CRANK POSITION SENSORS. CAMSHAFT POSITION SENSOR(S), AND IN SOME CASES, THE VARIABLE TIMING CONTROL SENSOR(S). VEHICLES INVOLVED IN A PREVIOUS RECALL CAMPAIGN, 01V357, ARE ALSO INCLUDED IN THIS NEW CAMPAIGN. THE REPLACEMENT SENSORS USED IN THAT CAMPAIGN ARE ALSO AFFECTED. OWNER NOTIFICATION BEGAN ON DECEMBER 22, 2003. OWNERS SHOULD CONTACT NISSAN AT 1-800-647-7261 OR INFINITI AT 1-800-662-6200.
For more information:
NISSAN RECALL NO. R3022/INFINITI RECALL NO. R3021.CUSTOMERS CAN ALSO CONTACT THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION'S AUTO SAFETY HOTLINE AT 1-888-DASH-2-DOT (1-888-327-4236).
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 03V455000
Potential Number of Units Affected: 630000
Check Vehicle for Unrepaired Recalls
Enter a valid 17-character VIN
Enter a valid 17-character VIN
Change Vehicle