10 Things Every Nissan Altima Owner Should Know

Owning a Nissan Altima has numerous benefits, from its reliable performance to its advanced features. Whether you’re a new owner or have been driving your Altima for years, there’s always something new to learn. 

This guide provides ten essential tips and insights to help you get the most out of your Altima and make car ownership more enjoyable.

Motor car Nissan Altima in the city street, Why Does My Nissan Altima Shake When I'm Accelerating?

1. Your Nissan Altima's Drive Modes 

The Nissan Altima has various drive modes designed to optimize your driving experience. Familiarize yourself with these modes to get the most out of your vehicle. 

The standard mode balances performance and fuel efficiency for everyday driving. For a sportier experience, switch to Sport mode, which sharpens throttle response and steering. 

Eco mode is ideal for long highway drives. It optimizes fuel consumption by adjusting engine performance and air conditioning use.

It takes a bit off the throttle and HVAC system, making it subtle and light, so you may not notice much difference in everyday driving. Try using Eco mode to see how much you can improve your gas mileage on long trips.

Nissan Altima at the International Auto Show

Test each mode in different driving conditions to understand how your Altima responds and choose the best one for your needs.

2. Key Fob & Virtual Key Features

Your Altima’s key fob is more versatile than you might think. It serves other purposes besides the standard lock and unlock functions and remote start capabilities for pre-warming or cooling your car.

Customize which doors unlock with a single press in the settings menu, and use the fob to locate your car in a crowded parking lot by pressing the panic button.

If your Nissan key fob battery dies, it includes a hidden valet key. Slide the release on the back of the fob to access the key, allowing you to unlock the car manually. 

Nissan unique car key design

Even with a dead battery, you can start the car by pressing the key fob against the start button while your foot is on the brake. This could be a lifesaver in a pinch.

To reprogram your Nissan key fob, lock all doors and insert the key into the ignition repeatedly until the hazard lights flash twice. 

Then, turn the key to "ACC" and press any button on the fob. The hazard lights should flash to confirm successful programming. Finally, test the fob to be sure it works correctly at various distances.

You can drive your Altima without the physical key fob with the Nissan Virtual Key. After installing the dealer-provided hardware and downloading the Nissan Virtual Key app, your smartphone acts as the key. 

You can lock, unlock, and even start your Altima using the app. The app also allows you to share access with up to seven other devices, making it easy for family or friends to use the car. 

You can set permissions, schedules, and expiration times for shared keys, allowing you to control who has access to your vehicle.

3. Smart Maintenance Reminders

Your Altima is equipped with an Advanced Drive-Assist Display that can help you keep up with maintenance. Use the arrows on your steering wheel to navigate to Settings, then Maintenance.

You can set reminders for oil changes, tire rotations, and other services here.

For newer synthetic oil models, Nissan recommends oil changes every 16,000 kilometers (about 10,000 miles) or annually.

Pouring motor oil into the engine of a car, What's The Best Oil For A Nissan Altima?

Set this in your oil and filter menu, and your Altima will remind you when it's time to change. You can adjust this interval if you prefer more frequent changes.

Don't forget other routine maintenance: rotate tires every 6,000-8,000 miles, inspect brakes every 10,000 miles, and regularly check fluid levels.

While staying on top of maintenance is crucial, it's equally important to understand your Altima's warranty coverage. Learn how to make the most of your warranty and what it covers in our detailed guide to vehicle warranties.

4. Optimizing Fuel Efficiency 

Maximizing your Altima's fuel efficiency is easier than you might think. Start with proper tire care – regular rotations prevent uneven wear, while monthly pressure checks ensure your tires roll freely, reducing engine strain. 

Don't overlook the impact of excess weight; clear out unnecessary items from your vehicle to lighten the load on your engine.

When driving, adopt a smooth approach: avoid rapid accelerations and hard braking, and utilize cruise control on highways to maintain a steady speed. 

Remember to keep windows closed at high speeds to minimize air resistance. When stationary, turn off your engine instead of idling – it's more fuel-efficient and better for the environment. Lastly, don't forget about your air filter. 

Replace it every 15,000 miles to maintain optimal airflow, boosting performance and fuel economy.

By incorporating these simple habits, you'll save money at the pump, contribute to the longevity of your Altima, and reduce your environmental impact.

For even more ways to maximize your Altima's fuel economy and save money at the pump, check out our comprehensive guide on fuel efficiency hacks that work for all vehicle types.

5. Navigating the Infotainment System 

Your Altima's infotainment system is a powerful tool that can enhance your driving experience when used effectively. Start by wirelessly syncing your smartphone for easy access to calls, messages, and favorite apps through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. 

Download the MyNISSAN App to unlock remote features like engine start and climate control. On longer trips, use the built-in Wi-Fi hotspot to keep passengers connected.

Apple Car Play and its troubleshooting features on nissan

To streamline your interactions, customize the home screen with your most-used features and utilize voice commands for hands-free navigation control, music, and climate settings. 

If your model includes SiriusXM with 360L, explore its personalized content and on-demand options for a richer entertainment experience.

Remember to check for system updates periodically to ensure you benefit from the latest features and improvements. 

6. Common Issues & Troubleshooting Tips 

While Altimas are known for their reliability, being aware of potential issues can help you address problems early and maintain your vehicle's performance. Here are some common concerns and how to handle them:

If you notice hesitation when accelerating, unusual noises, or difficulty shifting gears, start by checking your transmission fluid. Dark or burnt-smelling fluid indicates it's time for a replacement. 

Some transmission issues can be resolved with a software update from your Nissan dealer. If problems persist, seek professional inspection.

Consider simple fixes first for issues like reduced power, stalling, or an illuminated check engine light. Be sure your gas cap is tight, as a loose cap can trigger the check engine light. 

Replace worn spark plugs to restore engine performance, and have your Mass Air Flow sensor cleaned if you experience stalling. A professional fuel system cleaning can also improve efficiency.

An over used spark plug on a white background

Address unusual noises promptly to prevent more serious issues. Knocking sounds over bumps, uneven tire wear, or poor handling could indicate worn struts or shock absorbers. 

Regular inspections and timely replacements can significantly improve your ride quality. Additionally, make sure your wheels are properly aligned to prevent uneven tire wear and handling problems.

If your system freezes, perform a soft reset by holding the power button. This often resolves minor glitches without losing your settings.

If you live in an area with heavy road salt use, regularly inspect your vehicle's undercarriage for signs of rust and address any issues promptly to prevent spreading.

7. Your Altima's Safety Features 

Your Altima comes equipped with an impressive array of safety features designed to protect you on every journey.

At the core is Nissan's Safety Shield 360, a suite of technologies that keep you aware of your surroundings and help prevent accidents. 

The standout ProPILOT Assist offers semi-autonomous driving capabilities, maintaining lane position and managing distance from vehicles ahead, even in stop-and-go traffic.

Intelligent Forward Collision Warning monitors two cars ahead, giving you extra time to react to sudden changes. 

In emergencies, Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection can intervene to avoid or mitigate collisions, while Rear Automatic Braking provides similar protection when backing up. Blind Spot Warning helps you change lanes confidently. 

To maximize these features, familiarize yourself with their operation through your owner's manual or vehicle settings. 

8. Customize for Comfort & Style 

Start with the interior, and consider upgrades like custom leather or suede seat covers for added comfort and style. A leather or carbon fiber steering wheel wrap can add a touch of luxury to your daily drive.

For a cozy nighttime ambiance, install ambient lighting strips or LED bulbs. 

On the exterior, consider upgrading your wheels to larger sizes or unique designs, which can dramatically change your Altima's appearance.

Window tinting is another popular option, offering both style and practical benefits like reduced glare and increased privacy. 

If you're looking for a sportier look, explore aftermarket body kits, including lip spoilers or side skirts. Performance enthusiasts might consider a cold air intake to improve engine airflow or a custom exhaust system for enhanced sound and power. 

9. Hidden Features & Storage Solutions 

Your Nissan Altima is packed with clever storage solutions and hidden features that can make your daily drives more organized and convenient. 

The traditional glove box offers secure storage for valuables. Its unique feature is that it can only be locked and unlocked using your mechanical key, not the intelligent key, providing an extra layer of security for important items.

Between the front seats, you'll find a versatile console storage box. It can be easily opened with a press of a button, and the lid is adjustable, sliding forward or backward to suit your needs.

This adaptability allows you to customize your armrest position while maximizing storage space.

For your beverages, the Altima provides thoughtfully placed cup holders and bottle holders in the center console and inside each door, ensuring your drinks are always within easy reach. 

A hidden gem in your Altima is the rear parcel box behind the passenger seat. This discrete storage area can be accessed by simply pulling the upper part of the lid, which is perfect for storing items you want to keep out of sight.

Nissan Altima interior back seat fold rear, Do-The-Nissan-Altima-Back-Seats-Fold-Down

Remember that the rear seats can be folded down to expand trunk space, accommodating larger items when needed. 

10. Mastering Your Climate Control System

Your Nissan Altima’s climate control system offers features that can enhance comfort and convenience throughout the year. Here’s how to make the most of them:

The dual-zone climate control system in your Altima allows you and your front passenger to set individual temperature preferences. This allows both of you to travel in comfort without compromising.

Nissan Altima new model cool features interior

Set your desired temperature, and the system will automatically adjust the fan speed and air distribution to maintain it. This is particularly useful on long drives where the outside temperature may change.

On hot summer days or chilly winter mornings, use the remote start feature to pre-condition your car’s interior. The system can heat or cool the cabin to a comfortable temperature before you even get in, making your drive more pleasant from the start.

For those with allergies or sensitivity to air quality, the Altima’s air filtration system helps keep the cabin air clean. Regularly check and replace the cabin air filter so that it remains effective, especially if you frequently drive in dusty or polluted environments.

The quick defrost and defog settings are essential for maintaining clear visibility during winter and rainy conditions. Use the rear window defroster and side mirror defoggers to keep your view unobstructed and drive safely.

When starting your car on a hot day, open the windows for a few moments before turning on the air conditioning.

This helps expel the hot air quickly, making your AC more efficient. Conversely, during cold weather, allow the car to warm up slightly before turning on the heater for better performance.

If your Altima is equipped with Intelligent Climate Control, you can sync it with your smartphone to control the system remotely. This feature adds convenience by letting you adjust settings and monitor the cabin temperature before you even step outside.

2020 Nissan Altima sedan at a dealership.

Making the Most of Your Nissan Altima

Following these tips and using your Altima’s features can enhance your driving experience and keep your car in top condition. 

Regular maintenance, smart driving habits, and understanding your vehicle’s capabilities will ensure your Altima remains reliable and enjoyable for years. Enjoy the ride!

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