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2008-14 Nissan Maxima: Affordable performance

The 2014 Nissan Maxima.
The 2014 Nissan Maxima. - Contributed

Maxima has long been Nissan’s top-line sedan in the Canadian market, and it’s a machine that’s got a long history of bringing affordable performance and luxury within reach of the masses.

As it had for years, the recipe for this generation of Maxima (which ran from 2008-2014) is familiar: a punchy V6 engine, front-wheel drive, and sportier-than-average reflexes, as big sedans go.

Look for climate controlled seats, a rear window sunshade, automatic lights and climate control, navigation, a BOSE stereo system, push-button start, driver computer, paddle shifters, a back-up camera, CD changer, and more.

Power on all models came from a 3.5 litre, 290-horsepower V6 engine.

Transmission Service

Owner reports of transmission problems against overall sales volume seem very low, though shoppers can protect themselves against potential issues by confirming a few things. First, confirm that the transmission servicing is all up to date, by checking all service records against the maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual. Second, make sure any and all previous transmission servicing and fluid changes were performed in a dealership setting. Third, and especially if you’re buying a used Maxima whose service history is unviable, consider having the transmission assessed by a Nissan technician on a Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI), and / or test drive, before you buy. Note that regularly checking and confirming proper fluid levels of this transmission is very important.

Check Engine Light (CEL)

More than a few owners report that this generation of Maxima is particularly fussy about how tightly you screw on its fuel cap, and that it may reward you with a CEL if you don’t get it right. Still, if you see this warning light on a test drive make sure you have a technician perform a diagnostic scan to determine the cause of the warning. Remember that a loose gas cap is one of many reasons a CEL may appear.

Suspension

Many variables affect the longevity of the parts and pieces that make up a vehicle’s suspension, though some Maxima owners from this generation have reported the need to replace worn suspension components earlier than expected, and sometimes more than once.

Remembering that a healthy suspension typically operates quietly, visit a rough road during your test drive and listen for any banging, smashing or popping sounds originating from beneath the car. If detected, take these sounds as a sign to have the suspension assessed by a professional before you buy. Higher mileage 2009 and 2010 models may be more suspect.

Steering Lock and Ignition

On your test drive, be sure to start and stop the engine, several times. When you do, be sure to remove the key from the ignition, and confirm that the steering wheel lock engages, by confirming that the wheel won’t move when you try to steer. When restarting the engine, be sure it fires up quickly, and that the steering wheel lock disengages easily. Some owners have reported the need to repair or replace ignition system and steering lock parts. During this part of your test drive, confirming that all power windows, power locks, and remote keyfobs are in proper working order is a good idea, too.

If In Doubt, Swap Those Fluids Out

Hopefully, you’re buying a used Maxima with full service records that prove its’ been consistently and continually cared for throughout its life. If that’s not the case, remember that a full fluid change can go a long way towards peace of mind and a long life from your car’s priciest parts. If you can’t prove when they were last changed, consider having oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and engine coolant drained / flushed and refilled. Fresh fluids are, after all, the life-blood of any car.

The information presented above is gathered from online owner discussion groups and collaboration with a network of automotive repair professionals. The above information is not a comprehensive list of all possible issues with the vehicle in question and is instead intended to draw shopper attention to possible trouble spots they may wish to investigate before they buy. In most cases, problems listed above are reported with relative rarity in comparison to total sales volume. Shoppers are advised to have a dealer- performed pre-purchase inspection on the vehicle they’re considering for maximum peace of mind.

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