1997 Nissan Maxima Reviews

1997 Nissan Maxima SE 3.0 gas from North America

Model year1997
Year of manufacture1997
First year of ownership2010
Most recent year of ownership2012
Engine and transmission 3.0 gas Manual
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 7 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired132000 miles
Most recent distance158800 miles
Previous carPlymouth Breeze

Summary:

Best car overall I have ever owned

Faults:

Knock sensor. Common failure for Nissan. Tricky to replace, but no need to remove intake manifold.

After-catalyst O2 sensor.

Axle boots. Axles were still good.

Bose stereo, bad connections, re-soldered.

Driver seat leather worn.

Struts all round. Normal wear item. The original KYBs were still good. Replaced with KYBs.

General Comments:

This is the best car I have owned overall.

It is fast, comfortable, reliable and reasonably economical.

It got 29+ mpg on a long trip with a load.

With aftermarket 17 inch wheels and tires it ripped thru the Tail of Dragon (Deal's Gap).

Very comfortable on long trips. Does not fatigue the driver or passengers.

This is the SE model with stiffer springs and shocks.

With the manual transmission, it does not have a speed limiter.

The Bose stereo plays loud and clean.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 12th April, 2012

7th Feb 2013, 16:59

This is my review, and I am adding an addendum to it.

This is still a great car and is highly recommended.

I have found a cure for a nagging problem with hard starting when cold or hot. It was taking a long time to start sometimes, and has been getting worse lately. The symptoms are cranking a long time and stopping in the middle of the start, and then starting to crank after this short pause. Also there is a random P01443 error code popping up. This code could be set by lugging the engine at full throttle in too low of a gear. I have the manual transmission BTW. The idle speed would sometimes wander up and then down again.

And the cure is: ground the engine properly. I removed the negative battery ring terminal at the engine and cleaned it. Additionally I ran an 8ga wire directly from the battery to the intake manifold, front head and timing case cover, and then to the chassis ground on the right. Basically from battery ground all the way across to chassis. It has cured all those symptoms.

It seems Nissan did not ground the engine properly, and it causes the engine sensors grief as the car ages and the grounds deteriorate.

1997 Nissan Maxima SE 3.0 V6 from North America

Model year1997
Year of manufacture1996
First year of ownership2010
Most recent year of ownership2011
Engine and transmission 3.0 V6 Manual
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 5 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 10 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.8 / 10
Distance when acquired175000 miles
Most recent distance177000 miles
Previous carFord Taurus

Summary:

Awesome to the MAX-ima

Faults:

I bought the car with a bad alternator, and put a new one in. Two months later the alternator blew again, because it was a Duralast.

Many small issues when I got it...

Moon roof would not close.

Hood spring did not work.

Trunk button did not work, so had to use the key.

Had a whine under the hood, possibly timing belt pulley.

General Comments:

It was a super fresh whip that was quick for what it was, and short money to buy and maintain.

Got 20 miles to the gallon, driving like an A-Hole.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 31st March, 2011

1997 Nissan Maxima SE VG30DE from North America

Model year1997
Year of manufacture1996
First year of ownership2008
Most recent year of ownership2011
Engine and transmission VG30DE Automatic
Performance marks 9 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 10 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 8 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
9.0 / 10
Distance when acquired210000 kilometres
Most recent distance225000 kilometres
Previous carChevrolet Celebrity

Summary:

A joy to drive and be seen in - a handsome, quick, reliable vehicle with few quirks

Faults:

The clock has never worked for me, but for one time, and I consider this a non issue, as it is fairly commonly reported with this car.

The car has occasional starting issues, as is commonly reported with this car.

My car has a recurring brake squeal issue, but I think that might be the way I drive as much as anything to do with the car. Even upgrading to the best pads out there hasn't fixed the problem.

The transmission is starting to wear, and there is a little slippage until the car warms up on cold days. Considering the age and mileage of the car, this is to be expected.

Automatic antenna doesn't work, but that's a non issue as I don't use the radio (which does work).

Most of the things that have gone 'wrong' have been DBW (Driver Behind the Wheel) issues and not Nissan Maxima issues. I had to learn how to use the systems I wasn't used to, like anti-theft, and even the set-up of the light stalk is different from the North American cars I'd favoured.

I hesitate to call this wrong, but it was shocking. The lighter, when used as a lighter, comes flying out of the console all by itself at roughly the speed of a rocket taking off. Try catching a chunk of hot metal rolling around on the console some time, and trust me, you will rethink your smoking while driving habit. Thank heavens this happened in a parking lot the first time.

General Comments:

I bought this 1997 Maxima SE automatic three years ago from the original owner when she bought a new one - which told me a lot about the car. She had totally upgraded it to the max (leather, tinted windows, etc) and babied it with regular visits to the dealership and a garage overhead to protect the paint (Rosewood, a maroon colour I actually like with the goldish undertone), so it looked like new when I bought it.

More on the clock, it does work - just when it wants to. The only time I've ever seen it is after a long road trip (in Canada, are there any other kinds?) and when I was nearing my destination, the clock was working. I set it and was happy, but when I got back to the car, no more clock. It hasn't worked since either.

The starting issue is fixed for me by turning the key to the off position, then pushing the shifter forward and turning the key. It never fails to start after I've done this routine.

The car runs quiet, and the ride is smooth on most roads, but the sports suspension doesn't care for potholes much. As the ground clearance is lower than the average North America sedan, it can make for some fun moments trying to negotiate obstacles such as snow banks that have frozen into ice hills or ruts in the back alley. But the 'stick to the road' driving feeling and the amazing responsiveness of the car more than make up for this issue. This is simply the best car in its class I've had the pleasure of driving.

The interior is very roomy and well laid out, though the armrest between the front seats feels short after driving North American cars. I usually have a to go cup in the front cupholder to rest my hand on. It really is a luxury vehicle, and all the upgrades that went into the one I own make it a joy to drive and be seen in.

This car is everything that I want out of a vehicle. I know some people have criticized it for looking boring, but boring is fine by me. Boring means my Max is going to be where I left it in the parking lot, while some one else's tricked up car has gone joyriding. It looks innocuous in the parking lot, but when you need it, you can put your foot down and go, which was something I had to learn, because I haven't owned a car with this much pick-up before.

The Bose sound system is stock, but it sounds so good, no one ever believes me. The leather interior has held up to the wear and tear, and there is ample leg and headroom, even with the moonroof, for a tall guy like me.

The Max is fairly decent on gas, though with the price of premium nowadays, a fill-up still hurts the wallet a bit. I do fill up with premium gasoline, as it DOES make a huge difference in the way the car runs, which I learned in the first month after I purchased it. We go in for regular checkups at the mechanics to keep everything in tip top shape, but this too is just the cost of owning a vehicle.

As long as you get one that hasn't been abused by its previous owner, you can't go wrong spending money on a used Maxima... and this comes from a guy who only ever owned American cars before falling in lust with the deceptively boring looking sedan with the heart of a sports car under the hood. It was lust at first sight, and love after the test drive, and the best parts of my day are getting behind the wheel and turning on the ignition.

When Mr. 97 Max decides to shuffle this mortal coil, you can bet your bippy I'll be heading off to the Nissan dealership to look at a new Maxima.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th March, 2011

9th Sep 2012, 01:28

OP here - still driving the 97 Max and it's still going strong with no issues. I have discovered the previous owner had purchased all the bells and whistles available for this car (Security and Convenience Package, SE Leather Trim Package, and Cold Weather Package). It needs a new knock sensor and a little rust TLC, but nothing too serious. I fixed the antenna mast myself with a replacement mast bought online, so that now works.

We are closing in on 240K on the odometer, and I'm beginning to think I might have this car forever.

11th Dec 2012, 00:59

Fair warning on the newer Maximas. You may want to avoid them (see 2004 Maxima reviews). Now that Nissan has partnered with Renault, quality has taken a huge tumble. In fact you're better off avoiding all Nissans for now and getting a Toyota or a Honda. Renault's inferior quality is staining Nissan.

Average review marks: 8.1 / 10, based on 35 reviews