5th Generation Maxima (2000-2003) Learn more about the 5th Generation Maxima, including the VQ30DE-K and VQ35DE engines.

Epic Fail - Goodbye To my 5th Gens

Old 11-27-2018, 05:56 PM
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Epic Fail - Goodbye To my 5th Gens

It pains me to say this, but I'm officially retiring my 5th Gens. After thousands of dollars and hours of time restoring these cars, my wife has put her foot down and forced me to get rid of them.
After going through 20 pairs of aftermarket and used CV Axle issues on my '02 Maxima GLE and '03 I35 over the last 3 years, I've officially called it quits.
My '02 GLE finally made that buzzing and whining sound that I was afraid of, and I determined that it was not a CV axle problem, but a differential bearing inside the transmission that has gone bad.
In addition, the I35 that I bought earlier this summer to replace the Maxima, also started making the dreaded noises, and before it was too late, I traded it in and purchased a '15 Infiniti Q50 AWD last week.

While I don't want to call the 5th Gen a lemon, I find it odd that I found two low relatively low mileage cars (93K and 66K respectively) that both had catastrophic transmission issues. While I loved the performance, the 5th Gen will go down as the worst Maximas that I've ever had. The 3rd Gen SE and multiple 4th Gens that I had were way more reliable cars.
I just wanted to send a heartfelt thanks to all of you who have helped me over the years with your informative posts. I will truly miss you all.

Best Regards
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Old 11-27-2018, 07:56 PM
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No, neither car was lowered. Actually replaced front suspension on both with Monroe struts for OEM like ride. GLE actually drove great except for the CV Axle / differential bearing issue. Totally restored, fully loaded, all new front suspension (ie rods, control arms, struts, end links, bearings), body work, ftsb, brake kit, DVD/Amp/Speaker system, the works.
Bought it for $2900 with only 93k, took it to 120K but the last 20K had horrible rumble issues.
I believe that the CV Axles caused the bearing to wear.

The I35 was in the same condition, and at 66K, the same CV Axle and bearing issue. I only put 1000 miles on her before she started making same sounds. I didn't have the heart to gothrough it again. Already dumped $10K on her.
Luckily got a shade over $2k at the dealer towards the Q50. So far the Q50 AWD is awesome. I won't look back, performance is top notch!
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Old 11-28-2018, 01:38 AM
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Never heard of or seen autos with input shaft/differential/carrier bearing issues no matter the mileage. I have one (now wrecked) with about 260k on it. Engine/tranny work like new. CVs are all fine unless slammed and only the aftermarket vibrated. Buddy had one till 260k, I think. Needed shift solenoids, but drove fine after letting it shift into 2nd. Another had one till it was totaled at around 200k. Also bought one with over 200k (definitely all original) and tranny worked like new. I've looked at some that people were selling with almost 200k and they were fine, too. That's bad luck.
I'd just buy some parts cars and swap the trannies. They cost nothing (really nothing at junkyard).


Shouldn't be any issues with engine or tranny on your new car, though.

Last edited by Child_uv_KoRn; 12-10-2018 at 11:38 PM.
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Old 11-28-2018, 04:30 AM
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This is truly the saddest and most disturbing part of this whole story.
Originally Posted by sanford7575 View Post
... my wife has put her foot down and forced me to get rid of them ...
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Old 11-28-2018, 07:05 AM
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Aftermarket CV axles are usually solid whereas OEM axles are hollow. Solid axles are prone to resonant vibration.
Aftermarket CV axles generally have thinner shafts and smaller CV joints which cannot handle the loads as well as OEM.
Aftermarket axles rebuilt from OEM cores are most likely worn CV joints covered in a new boot or reground for larger diameter *****. Grinding removes the hardened bearing surface which shortens joint life.
Aftermarket axles are made from lower quality materials along with lower quality machining. They are likely to click, shimmy and wear out more quickly.
Preserve OEM axles by frequently inspecting the boots and replacing a torn boot as soon as it is detected.
If you must buy aftermarket, compare your OEM axle with the aftermarket. Do not buy the aftermarket that's offered if shaft diameter is less, joint diameter is less, or balance weights are significantly different. Do not buy if made in China.

Last edited by DougR; 11-28-2018 at 07:20 AM.
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Old 11-28-2018, 08:21 AM
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Yes, it's sad, but true. Wife had enough of me in the driveway trying to salvage these cars.
FWIW, my mechanical experience is pretty extensive, and I've had Nissans for almost 15 years. My father in law owned a body shop and has taught me everything that I know over the last 20 years.
My luck with buying rebuilt Trannies is not good, and you never know what condition you'll find at the junkyard, so not really prudent to keep pumping money and time in to trying to fix without a guarantee.
In addition, it's getting cold out here in Philly, and any work that would be done by me would be in the driveway, or I'd pay to have someone else put the tranny in which also isn't cost effective.
Lastly, I'd still have to worry about aftermarket / rebuilt CV Axle vibration, even if the tranny was fixed. Truly a no win situation from my perspective.

I've had a 3rd Gen, two 4th Gens, and three 5th gens, in addition to an '87 Pontiac Grand Am, '94 Nissan Pathfinder, and a '86 Volvo 740.
To me, Nissan Transmissions have always been problematic as the Tranny on my '92 SE and my '97 SE started to slip and went out completely around 162K and 167K respectively, and the torque converter on my Pathfinder went out around 104K causing the tranny to explode. I say that my recent experience with the 5th Gens has been the absolute worst as it's been the most costly with failures coming with relatively low mileage. Though, the cars are 15 & 16 years old respectively, so age is probably a factor here as well. I'd also like to point out that while I haven't seen many 5th Gen Auto tranny / differential bearing failures reported on this site, my Nissan tech did confirm that he's seen a few in his time. Also, a quick google search shows that there have been plenty of diff bearing / tranny failures from 5th Gens with standard transmissions.
Upon reflection, I was getting a lot of the same symptoms as the std tranny guys (constant leaks from the differential seals, vibration/grumbling under load / acceleration only, and gear chatter under hard acceleration). The final death blow was the load buzzing which alerted me that I was dealing with input shaft/differential/carrier bearing issue.

Ultimately, my goal is not to condemn the 5th gen, but to educate through my experiences. While I feel that it offered the best performance of the old school Max's, it gets the worst reliability rating from me as this issue is a killer, and I've never had any CV Axle / Differential issues in any other generation of Maxima with or without aftermarket stuff. Take this with the other common issues oil burning, cat gutting/ catfailures, IACV/ECM failures in '00-'01, and the rest, I honestly think that my statements hold merit.

Best of luck to all in the future...
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Old 11-28-2018, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by DougR View Post
Aftermarket CV axles are usually solid whereas OEM axles are hollow. Solid axles are prone to resonant vibration.
Interesting thought. I broke a stock shaft and it was solid.
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Old 11-28-2018, 04:23 PM
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that sucks my 2000 w/ 230,000mi hasn't really given me troubles except the tranny speed sensor acts up when it's super hot so it stops shifting.

autozone axles and everything.

when i was a kid my dad had a 4th gen and i would drive it wild.
take the auto tranny through the gears. leaving it in 2nd and just driving it like it was smg or something.

The tranny finally fried and it had like a 4,000rpm stall. just free reved and BAM instant burn out launch.
i fvcked that thing up just by driving it hard. autos suck.


ya these cars arn't fast or cool but they're big and comfortable and for the money you can't really beat them.
but if you got the money move on.

Last edited by Donkeypunch; 11-28-2018 at 04:25 PM.
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Old 11-28-2018, 05:10 PM
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The first Max I had had 255k on it before I had to change a light bulb. Literally nothing broke on it. Obviously maintenance but no parts except an alternator ( big car stereo). I dragged raced it, drove it down tracks, and fields all the time. I worked that thing hard all the time but I had everything greased, cleaned, and changed on time every time. I gave it away because it got rust in the unibody. It broke my heart. It still looked perfect but I knew it couldn't be saved so I didn't want it around me dying a slow death. I gave it to a guy that drove it for a couple years then gave it to his is kid. It had more than 400k without a single major part changed. It was still riding around here a year or two ago. It was 6 or 7 years ago when I last had an idea of the milage. Rusty as heck but still driving. The one I have now is at 160k and still drives like it had 20k.

I tell this as complete contrast to your story. Just sucks you had bad luck. It's really not typical.

Last edited by Theslaking; 11-29-2018 at 04:38 AM.
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Old 11-29-2018, 04:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Theslaking View Post

I tell this as complete contest to your story. Just sucks you had bad luck. It's really not typical.
I also agree with you from my experiences with the 4th and 5th gen. it's not typical at all. (but i do agree with him about the 5.5 gen)
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Old 11-29-2018, 05:19 AM
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i got an auxillary transmission cooler for the first mod on my 2002, and i havent had any tranny issues , knock on wood, i did that at 80k, had a few flushes and magnet pan cleans, even lost a drain plug on the highway at the beach ! and at 243k now.
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Old 11-29-2018, 05:48 AM
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Yeah, definitely not the norm. Not sure what was going on with your axles, because normally it's only the lowered guys who have issues. My OEM axles lasted until 150k miles, and the car had been lowered since 30k. Low mileage transmission issues are also completely out of character....the 4AT is pretty stout. A 1-2 shift shock might be common, but it's rare to hear about a catastrophic failure.
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Old 11-29-2018, 06:58 AM
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now u make me worry about my axles at 243k ! haha been lowered since 80k (mild h&R drop 1.4"F) =)
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Old 11-29-2018, 07:27 AM
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I don't think H&Rs are quite as low as my H-techs. Just check your boots often and don't let contaminants enter the joints.

I'm going to buy some BC coilovers after the holidays and raise my car up to see if it helps my current aftermarket axle vibration issue.
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Old 11-29-2018, 11:57 AM
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Sorry to hear it! I had similar thoughts after having to pull my alternator multiple times before getting a decent re-build.

Thanks to tips on here about challenges with replacement axles, I elected to try a ghetto fix when my CV boots tore about 18 months ago. Rather than replace the entire axle, I wrapped the boot with EZ Fuse Tape from Home Depot (aka Rescue Tape). This tape fuses to itself with each successive wrap and stretches so you can cinch each side of the tear back together. I have had long term success using this method on steering boots as well.

Last edited by CRBWS6; 11-29-2018 at 01:28 PM.
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Old 11-29-2018, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by sanford7575 View Post
After going through 20 pairs of aftermarket and used CV Axle issues on my '02 Maxima GLE and '03 I35 over the last 3 years, I've officially called it quits.
My '02 GLE finally made that buzzing and whining sound that I was afraid of, and I determined that it was not a CV axle problem, but a differential bearing inside the transmission that has gone bad.
In addition, the I35 that I bought earlier this summer to replace the Maxima, also started making the dreaded noises, and before it was too late, I traded it in and purchased a '15 Infiniti Q50 AWD last week.

While I don't want to call the 5th Gen a lemon, I find it odd that I found two low relatively low mileage cars (93K and 66K respectively) that both had catastrophic transmission issues. While I loved the performance, the 5th Gen will go down as the worst Maximas that I've ever had. The 3rd Gen SE and multiple 4th Gens that I had were way more reliable cars.
I just wanted to send a heartfelt thanks to all of you who have helped me over the years with your informative posts. I will truly miss you all.

Best Regards
This sounds WAAYYY too familiar to me- the 2002 Infiniti I35 I bought was showing the same symptoms, as I mentioned in another thread even after having a broken motor mount and both CV axles replaced it still didn't drive right, made a dreadful droning noise that could have been a wheel bearing I suppose but just seemed more like it was in the transmission or drive train somewhere and a vibration coming up through the pedal, and i wasn't going to risk it. Managed to get out from under it for exactly the same amount I had into the car, wiping my brow now.
Wish I had kept my 99 Maxima as in another thread I denoted putting over 400k miles on that beast. Looking for another one right now.
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Old 11-29-2018, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by DougR View Post
Aftermarket CV axles are usually solid whereas OEM axles are hollow. Solid axles are prone to resonant vibration.
Aftermarket CV axles generally have thinner shafts and smaller CV joints which cannot handle the loads as well as OEM.
Aftermarket axles rebuilt from OEM cores are most likely worn CV joints covered in a new boot or reground for larger diameter *****. Grinding removes the hardened bearing surface which shortens joint life.
Aftermarket axles are made from lower quality materials along with lower quality machining. They are likely to click, shimmy and wear out more quickly.
Preserve OEM axles by frequently inspecting the boots and replacing a torn boot as soon as it is detected.
If you must buy aftermarket, compare your OEM axle with the aftermarket. Do not buy the aftermarket that's offered if shaft diameter is less, joint diameter is less, or balance weights are significantly different. Do not buy if made in China.
This still begs the question, why did the OEM axles give out at such an early age?

Last edited by sb001; 12-03-2018 at 06:06 PM.
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Old 11-29-2018, 07:04 PM
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I have to agree that the 4th gen was so dam reliable. Like some people say, those are the last of the good ones lol. made in japan!
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Old 11-30-2018, 07:10 AM
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Totally agree! the 4th Gen was the best / most reliable version of the Maxima / I30. They just ran and had the fewest problems. The two that I had and got rid of were actually still running. One was claimed as a total loss by the insurance company when an idiot kid dropped his iphone and crashed into my '97SE while parked on the street, and the '97 I30 that I had I gave to a relative once I purchased my '02GLE. Funny that the older I30 is still running while the '02 Max and '03 I35 are not! FWIW, I actually see more older 4th gens available for purchase and very few 5.5 gens...
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Old 11-30-2018, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by maxinout93 View Post
I have to agree that the 4th gen was so dam reliable. Like some people say, those are the last of the good ones lol. made in japan!
i believe the last japan made engines went up to 2001 production runs, i forget how to look up if a 5th /5.5 gen engine was made over there or not, but that was the end of japan made for sure.
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Old 12-03-2018, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by User1 View Post
"Hecho en Mexico" all over my block and upper oil pan. 2003 Maxima.
again last ones would have been early 2002s (made end of 2001) and then thats it.
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Old 12-03-2018, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by CRBWS6 View Post
Sorry to hear it! I had similar thoughts after having to pull my alternator multiple times before getting a decent re-build.

Thanks to tips on here about challenges with replacement axles, I elected to try a ghetto fix when my CV boots tore about 18 months ago. Rather than replace the entire axle, I wrapped the boot with EZ Fuse Tape from Home Depot (aka Rescue Tape). This tape fuses to itself with each successive wrap and stretches so you can cinch each side of the tear back together. I have had long term success using this method on steering boots as well.
nice idea man !
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Old 12-05-2018, 08:28 AM
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I just picked up a 5.5 6MT to server as a daily driver, definitely not inspiring reading this thread. My 4th gen I had a while back ate through CV's like breakfast, but it was slammed on coilovers.
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Old 12-05-2018, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by VisciousMo View Post
I just picked up a 5.5 6MT to server as a daily driver, definitely not inspiring reading this thread. My 4th gen I had a while back ate through CV's like breakfast, but it was slammed on coilovers.
Yeah, typically it's the lowered guys who have issues with CV axles, so I wouldn't worry. If you plan on slamming it, just keep an eye on the boots and replace those as needed rather than replacing your OEM axles (if they are still OEM). I just purchased some coilovers to raise my car up a bit to see if my aftermarket axles quit vibrating. Crossing my fingers that they do, because finding OEM axles is next to impossible these days. My OEM's honest didn't need replacing, but I did so not knowing what a problem the aftermarket axles had.
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Old 12-05-2018, 01:36 PM
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The real 5th gen cars were only made in 2000 and 2001. 02 and up everything wend to hell. The VQ30 maxima were the best build cars. All of the VQ35 we garbage.
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Old 12-05-2018, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by VisciousMo View Post
I just picked up a 5.5 6MT to server as a daily driver, definitely not inspiring reading this thread. My 4th gen I had a while back ate through CV's like breakfast, but it was slammed on coilovers.
dont slam the car then lol, you wont have any issues. Ive heard of there being such a thing as raised motor mounts which raise the engine upward an inch to allow you to slam your car without putting as much strain on the axles, although ive never seen them personally.

Originally Posted by L_U_D_I_AMaxima View Post
The real 5th gen cars were only made in 2000 and 2001. 02 and up everything wend to hell. The VQ30 maxima were the best build cars. All of the VQ35 we garbage.
Lol, is there some sort of factual basis for that? Or is that opinion based purely on the fact that you own a 3.0 and not a 3.5?
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Old 12-05-2018, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by L_U_D_I_AMaxima View Post
The real 5th gen cars were only made in 2000 and 2001. 02 and up everything wend to hell. The VQ30 maxima were the best build cars. All of the VQ35 we garbage.
yeah, definitely. Thatís why Iíve kept my Ď02 for 14 years and just got rid of my Ď15 335i. The maxima is trash and I love trash.
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Old 12-05-2018, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Slamrod View Post


dont slam the car then lol, you wont have any issues. Ive heard of there being such a thing as raised motor mounts which raise the engine upward an inch to allow you to slam your car without putting as much strain on the axles, although ive never seen them personally.



Lol, is there some sort of factual basis for that? Or is that opinion based purely on the fact that you own a 3.0 and not a 3.5?
Well since you asked I actually own 2 VQ35 vehicles. 2007 Murano and 04 Maxima with a 6 speed. Yes, that is correct, you can count I own 3 maximas and a murano. The difference between the build quality of the early 5th gens and the 5.5gen and 6th is unreal. The fit and finish on the newer cars is just not there and lets face it we both know the 3.0 is superior to reliability compared to the 3.5. Yes the 3.5 does make more power but the few extra ponies are not worth the hassle.
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Old 12-06-2018, 05:30 AM
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Originally Posted by L_U_D_I_AMaxima View Post
Well since you asked I actually own 2 VQ35 vehicles. 2007 Murano and 04 Maxima with a 6 speed. Yes, that is correct, you can count I own 3 maximas and a murano. The difference between the build quality of the early 5th gens and the 5.5gen and 6th is unreal. The fit and finish on the newer cars is just not there and lets face it we both know the 3.0 is superior to reliability compared to the 3.5. Yes the 3.5 does make more power but the few extra ponies are not worth the hassle.
sounds like you love trash too! Twins!
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Old 12-06-2018, 07:14 AM
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i love my 5.5 gen, been a solid *** car, and i wonder what other cars would have gotten me this far, been 11.5 years, and i put on 169K miles to date
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Old 12-10-2018, 08:10 AM
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i have to wonder about ops case and those claiming the same, either some sort of alignment / frame is off or something wrong with trannies at these ages with them being 2000s cars it's closer to full restoration age, especially in the rust belt.
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Old 12-10-2018, 11:40 PM
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Bought a 2006 M35 for my sister. The only things replaced on it are t-stat and a coil pack at 173k. The lesson is don't buy 6th gens or anything with CVT lol
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Old 12-13-2018, 03:12 PM
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I have a 5 and 5.5 gen, they look very similar but run completely different. I prefer the handling and ride of the 5th, also the ease in traffic with the AT. Have had all the common problems seen on these boards over the 19 years.

The 5.5 has some real ***** along with pretty crazy torque steer, mostly me punching out the 6MT. Haven't had the 5.5 long so I'm not into reliability issues yet, but I'm looking to replace all 4 struts soon at only 58k miles.
The car really pounds into the smallest bumps. Since I got it for free I'll probably do brakes at the 4 corners at the same time.



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Old 01-04-2019, 06:17 PM
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Gonna miss her, she's about to check out at a mere 117k. Lower rad support, all precats, brakes, torn boot axles, crushed roof from tree with occasional leaks, driver's door remote lock intermittent, rusted rockers.
Kars for Kids in 7 weeks. Other than that she runs like a champ!





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Old 01-05-2019, 06:34 AM
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Originally Posted by User1 View Post
Sell me your center console and HVAC controller!
Same setup?



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Old 01-05-2019, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by J P D View Post


That car is mint. I would drive that for 10 more years. Did you see my thread on my 01 rebuild? It looked way worse than that.
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Old 01-05-2019, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by krismax View Post
That car is mint. I would drive that for 10 more years. Did you see my thread on my 01 rebuild? It looked way worse than that.
Yes I did, your skillset and private garage I don't have.
It was my mother's car, she's been gone 7 years now so it also has sentimental value.
It's just too many things, but it has a lot of great working parts so I'm torn about donating vs selling to a Maxhead that could put all the parts to good use.
That picture shows the sunroof up, so it was before the tree crushed the mechanics behind the glass - it no longer opens. Also rocker rot is much more advanced now.
It's the easiest car to drive, with great visibility and good power to pass. It's the Meridien package, has 5 more horsepower..lol

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Old 01-05-2019, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by L_U_D_I_AMaxima View Post
The real 5th gen cars were only made in 2000 and 2001. 02 and up everything wend to hell. The VQ30 maxima were the best build cars. All of the VQ35 we garbage.
I don't think so, the 00-01 vq30 were subject to the ecm being fried from coolant shorting out the iacv or the motor mounts. The most problem free Maxima was the 4th gen in most cases, it did not come with as many problem prone sensors, or problems like the 5 and 5.5 gen had. If I could find one with low miles and no rust, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.
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Old 01-05-2019, 10:55 PM
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Posts: 3,123
Originally Posted by User1 View Post
My mistake, I forgot about the subtle differences between 5 and 5.5 gen!
It will work . climate control is pretty much the same.
krismax is offline  
Old 04-25-2019, 06:20 AM
  #40  
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Join Date: Mar 2019
Posts: 174
Originally Posted by maxinout93 View Post
I don't think so, the 00-01 vq30 were subject to the ecm being fried from coolant shorting out the iacv or the motor mounts. The most problem free Maxima was the 4th gen in most cases, it did not come with as many problem prone sensors, or problems like the 5 and 5.5 gen had. If I could find one with low miles and no rust, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.
Can someone please elaborate on the IACV sensor issue?? I have been getting a random on again-off again code for the IACV that only comes on around once a month, every time it's happened I've taken the car to autozone and cleared it and it's fine for another few weeks then it goes off again. Neither I nor the guys at the auto shop can really nail down what's causing it.
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