**Apologies for poor image quality, they weren't taken with our new digcam but an older one that has seen better days**
Introducing my 'baby'! This 2004 Nissan Altima SL is my current pride and joy and she's a 'gaze magnet' on wheels.
When my husband decided it was time to go shopping for a new car in 2006 we did the rounds every weekend for almost 6 weeks. After looking at a number of 2007 models from various manufacturers we decided to look at the Nissan's. Sitting in the corner of the lot were several Altima's including my sex-xay baby. At first my husband dismissed the car. "Look how filthy it is and you're about 3 years too old my dear!" was his only comment as he walked away. She was pretty grungy looking but then so where the others that were in that location. As a salesperson approached I moved closer to the little white diamond in the rough and as he greeted me, I quickly asked him if the cars in that location still needed to be detailed. "Oh yes!" he said. The cars had just come off of lease contracts and the staff hadn't yet had the opportunity to primp them properly, that's why they were nudged up near the side of the building he explained.
The car had been on lease since new and had 42, 000k. It had been regularly maintained, had never been in even a minor accident and the woman who had leased it had moved up to a 2007 Altima. A test drive was suggested and before I knew it I had the keys to the car in my grimy little hands and was just itching to take her on the road. I caught my husbands eye and pointed to the car shaking the keys in the air. All he could do was shake his head and I could almost hear him saying, "what happened to a new car dear!"
The exterior, once you got past the road dirt, was in excellent condition with very little sign of wear and only a few stone chips here and there which is normal for any vehicle that does highway driving. The body is painted a pearl white which from different angles and light can take on hues of silver and pale beige. The Sports Package which includes molded ground effects makes the car look as though it's a sleek, low to the ground mover. It comes equipped with Air conditioning, six way heated seats, heated steering wheel and outer mirrors, power windows, door locks and child safety door and window features. The black leather interior is sleek and was in pristine condition. The Bose stereo system with 6-CD capacity can be adjusted to emit a variety of studio sounds from Concert hall to outdoor stadium with a wide range of base, treble and speaker selections. The 6 speaker system throughout the car can be adjusted to present you with an incredible musical surround sound quality that when cranked, can and will give you a headache! It's a 4 cylinder, 2.5litre with automatic transmission that cruises along at highway speeds with no effort and is a dream to handle. The cruise control is smooth when engaged and holds it's speed with no effort even on steeper inclines. Gas mileage is reasonable...we've been averaging 32 mpg highway and 26 mpg city currently. That's a little lower than it was when we first got it but we may have to replace one of the oxygen sensors soon.
It's also equipped with a factory alarm, sunroof, and has both a rear cyclops in the back window as well as a full led light package on the back trunk spoiler. When braking, anyone following us would have to be very blind if they hit the back end. The trunk is enormous and the rear seat folds down inside the car in two sections to allow for lots of storage and carry space if we want to bring home things like flooring, lumber, tiles or desks, chairs etc., (which we have!). Despite the full leather interior, there is little sign of aging of the leather with no cracks, rips or tears. The front console offers a place to hold my coffee cup and the rear has a fold down console equipped with cup holders as well. The 6 point Airbags ensure that if you are in an accident, you'll be well protected on all sides. The windows are factory tinted to the darkest black legally allowable which gives this car it's mysterious quality when people look at it.
Handling is a dream, with no effort this car takes corners at high speed and has fast response time when passing. The ABS breaking system is excellent and does exactly what it's suppose to especially during icy or snow covered road conditions. In winter, this car handles perfectly and winter driving which I used to hate with the van, is now an effortless and stress-less venture. The one drawback she does have however is that she is a little lighter in windy conditions than I'd like. She can keep you alert on a trip if the winds are high but she isn't uncontrollable.
The test drive was one that convinced us that this car was the one we wanted. It was roomy inside, comfortable to sit in and was quiet, smooth and well...perfect for us. Even my husband who hadn't even wanted to take a second look at it, was impressed with how well it handled even on the bumpy road we took it down.
We have put a lot of miles on this car since purchasing it in 2006 and she's been to the US and across Ontario and Quebec on numerous occasions and we've never had any problem with her. Upkeep has been quite standard, the only repairs we've made to her are the standard oil changes, brake shoe replacement just this year. We did have to replace the upper door hinge on the driver door about a year after purchasing it and we will be replacing the upper door hinge on the passenger door in the next week or so. These are known replacement issues on the Altima's. Replacement bulbs for the headlights are inexpensive to purchase but a little tricky to replace as you have to dismantle the front end a fair bit in order to make a 20 second bulb change. While replacing these bulbs it's imperative to ensure that your fingers do not touch the bulb at all. Any grease or other materials that your fingers could transfer to the bulb itself can produce a non working bulb and you will be back at the store buying another $16 bulb again. We've replaced only one bulb in the time we've owned it.
One fault the car has which can sometimes be annoying at night is that oncoming drivers tend to believe we have our brights on as the headlights of this vehicle are pretty intense because of the way in which the headlight pods are designed. This car is meant to announce its presence, particularly at night and both headlights and rear lights are very visual. Replacement of either front or rear pods if damaged can be an expensive venture, costing approx. $2500 per pod!
This Nissan Altima is an incredible car for the money and we'd not hesitate to purchase another one. It's a great family car but makes for a superb sporty machine as well, despite it's 4 door sedan appearance. Even though a 2004, this car still has the ability to get noticed in a parking lot filled with newer vehicles and when we've detailed her, it's not unusual to have people stare. She currently has approximately 165, 000k on her yet she's still a beauty worth polishing every weekend and shows no signs of giving out on us yet. Nissan Altima motors are known workhorses and according to a Class A mechanic we know and trust, at 165k our beauty is just getting warmed up. That's good, it means she'll still be in pretty good condition when the car payments are finished next year!
Update On Feb 27, 2010: This lady has been one of the most dependable cars we've owned. The battery which is 5 years old has shown signs of requiring replacement soon but even on the coldest of days this winter she has started without any problems. We did purchase winter tires for her this year rather than run on all seasons but other than that and regular oil and fluid maintenance we've had no issues with this car at all. She will be paid in full this year and will probably become the car for one of the children shortly after. The body is still in great shape and she still gets looks when she's all washed and shined. I'd buy another Nissan Altima without hesitation.
Update On Jul 13, 2010: After having this car for almost 6 years we are just now needing to do maintenance over and above the standard oil and brake servicing. These particular models and others in the 2000+ series have had a recall on a Position Crank Sensor problem for some time. Our Altima began notifying us that it's sensor wasn't happy last year when it would, without notice, stop running. Fortunately, this didn't happen too many times and it was always while sitting at a stop light. The Dealer readjusted it for us and all was fine until recently when it stalled on me 4 times while in the driveway. We purchased the sensor for $18 today and my husband will be installing it this evening. If this process is as easy as replacing a headlight or changing brakes on this car, the repair should be done in no time.
The other maintenance we are also doing is replacing the stabilizer bars. These are small parts on either side of the vehicle in the rear that allows the car to remain stable and hug the road while making sharp turns, cornering, etc. We paid $30 for both bars, each of which measure roughly 3.5 inches in length. Removing the old stabilizer bars were quick, installing should be similar. Now, no more clanking when we go over a speed bump!
She's still a great looking car, in great condition body and mechanical wise and the best part is that by December she's also paid in full! Yay. I'd buy another Altima in a heart beat.