Patrick Rall's picture

NHTSA investigating Nissan Altima for brake fluid leaks

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation into select Nissan Altima sedans over concerns that a master cylinder leak could be causing brake failure issues.

This recall affects around 440,000 Nissan Altima sedans from 2007 and 2008, with the NHTSA announcing the investigation after receiving 20 complaints from owners about this master cylinder leak. In 18 of these occurrences, the only problem reported was that the brake warning light lit up, notifying the owner that he brake fluid levels were dropping to a dangerously low level. However, in the other two occurrences, the drivers reported that there was a noticeable decline in brake pedal effectiveness.

Should the 2007 and 2008 Nissan Altima sedans be found to have a part or manufacturer’s flaw that would cause this leak top spring up in more and more vehicles, Nissan may be forced to recall these 440,000 sedans. Even in the event that there is no noticeable change in brake pedal effectiveness, too many drivers have a tendency to ignore warning lights and when problems like this are left to fester – these people increase their chances of experiencing the loss in braking abilities. Of course, this problem increases the chances of an accident but it should also be noted that brake fluid is incredibly corrosive and flammable. While the reports of this brake fluid leak haven’t mentioned fire, depending on the location of the brake fluid leak, there could be a chance of fire and corrosion damage to the vehicle.

These investigations occasionally drag on for months and even years, so it could be a while before we know whether the 2007 and 2008 Nissan Altima sedans will be recalled to address this brake fluid issue. TorqueNews will continue following this topic, bringing you more news as it becomes available!

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Comments

I purchased a pre-owned 2007 nissan altima. Two months after purchasing this vehicle, the brake light started to come on. The car has a small leak in the master cyclinder, and it may have afftected the booster. I believe nissan has a responsibility to recall this model.
I am having the same issue with the master break cylinder leaking fluid in my 2007 altima.
I am too having the same issue. My brake light keeps coming on and my brake fluid is low...
My Altima needs brake fluid added about every three months now. Not happy knowing that the leaking fluid is corrosive and may be doing other damage.
I have a 2008 Nissan Altima with 27000 miles. Brake light started to occasionally appear on dashboard. Took to dealership for oil change and to check into brake light. I was told that I needed back brakes and a new master cylinder. Of course car out of warranty, so $$$ out of pocket--wasn't cheap. Did some research online to seen numerous other people have has same issue with master cylinder. Sure sounds like there should be recall from Nissan. Very frustrated customer!
My brake light came on and I took the car to Nissan dealership and they have a recall to replace the master cylinder free of charge. I had it replaced and it works fine. Art
I am glad to hear that yours was covered under a recall. When looking online I couldn't find the recall? Same thing is happening with me and before I took it to dealership wanted to do my research. I hope they replace mine for free as well. Thanks for this update!
Report your issue to NHTSA so we can get it recalled. Hard to believe only 20 people so far have complained about this issue to NHTSA. I just had to get mine replaced and so did my sister who bought the 2008 coupe. Mine is the 2007 Altima Sedan. Go to the NHTSA 's website and there is an option to file a complaint, I just did. It takes 2 mins BUT you need to have your VIN number to sumbit.
Just brought my 2007 Nissan Altima with only 25000 miles on it in for the brake light coming on and yippe for me it is the master cylinder. Did some research and found as did all the others that it is a well known problem and has had a recall for the Sentra but not the Altima. Makes no sense to me!! So now I have to fork out a large amount of money to pay for something Nissan knows is faulty. I will be reporting this to the NHTSA as suggested by MTS. And just in case Nissan is reading this, which I doubt, not stepping up to the plate will lose you repeat customers. At least Toyota took care of their issues!
Filed report to the NHTSA about 1 week ago. Time will tell what action will be taken. Keeping my fingers crossed.
Just had mine replaced. 2007 Nissan Altima. Had the same issue as above, light would go on/off while driving and since there was no noticable issue with my brakes I didn't worry about it. Last oil change I had the dealership look into issue and the master cylinder was leaking and had to be replaced. I find it surprising ONLY 20 people have reported this to the NHTSA. I just reported my complaint to NHTSA. Takes only 5 mins but you need to have your VIN # to submit form. Even if you didn't have your master cylinder replaced, still notify them about the light coming on so we can this recalled and money back in our pockets! https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/ivoq/index.cfm
I heard back from NHTSA after submitting my complaint, and they followed up with Nissan. Don't know if this applies only to my Nissan, but they informed me that Nissan's investigation concluded that there is no safety issue, therefore probably no recall. They acknowledge the widespread defect, but since there have been no accidents or brake failure reports, there will likely be no recall. The leak is so slow that consumers are likely to refill it during maintenance or brake work. Guess Nissan doesn't care about their quality reputation, or standing behind their product. Score minus 1 for Nissan.
Would be interested in whom you have talked to about this, because there has been no press releases about a conclusion of investigation. After searching through the NHTSA complaints, there has been an accident due to brake failure. A leaking master cylinder will eventually leak all brake fluid and thus causing braking issues. Copy/Past of the NHTSA complaint that happend on 10/22/2011 THIS WAS A ONE VEHICLE CRASH (TOTAL LOSS) THAT OCCURRED WHEN THE BRAKES WOULD NOT WORK CAUSING OUR CAR TO STRIKE A BRICK WALL (ALSO EMERGENCY BRAKES DID NOT WORK). NONE OF THE VEHICLE AIRBAGS DEPLOYED EXCEPT FOR THE DRIVERS STEERING WHEEL AIRBAG WHICH DEPLOYED ONCE THE VEHICLE CAME TO A STOP. THE ACCIDENT OCCURRED AT APPROX. 11:45 PM, 22 OCTOBER 2011. NO DRUGS AND OR ALCOHOL WERE INVOLVED. THE CAR WAS RECENTLY PURCHASED FROM A LEXUS DEALER AND THE SAME COMPANY OWNS A NISSAN DEALERSHIP WHICH CONFIRMED THAT ALL NISSAN RECALL ITEMS WERE COMPLIED WITH. WE HAVE SEVERAL PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHS TO PROVE THAT THERE IS STILL SOMETHING GOING ON WITH THE NISSAN ALTIMA 2.5 BRAKES AND AIR BAGS TO ALLOW SOMETHING LIKE THIS TO HAPPEN. I HAVE PERSONALLY TALLKED WITH MR. BRUCE YORK ABOUT THIS AND LEFT A VOICE MAIL WITH GREG MAGNO AT THEIR NHTSA OFFICE. MY INSURANCE COMPANY CONFIRMED THAT THIS CAR WAS A TOTAL LOSS AND THE VEHICLE HAS BEEN NOW BEEN REMOVED FROM THE TOWING AND COLLISION FACILITY HERE IN INDIANA AND SOLD TO A PARTS SALVAGE COMPANY. I WAS TRYING TO HAVE SOMEONE INSPECT THIS CAR BEFORE IT WAS DESTROYED, BUT IT APPEARS THAT IT IS NOW TO LATE TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT THIS.
I probably have this same problem. Light came on a couple of weeks ago and my fluid was low. Added brake fluid and light went off but brakes are now very mushy. Increasingly worse so that now I'm not sure if car will even stop. Checked brake pads and they are okay. Guessing I have the same master cylinder leak problem.
My brake light and VDC Off and Slip lights kept coming on. I took it in to the dealership for an oil change and asked about the lights....they knew immediately what the issue was! I have had NO issues with my 2008 Altima until now. I think it is very irresponsible and crooked of Nissan to ignore such and issue that is affecting so many of their vehicles. They want to charge me $500 to repair a faulty master cylinder.....nutso.
My brake light and VDC Off and Slip lights kept coming on. I took it in to the dealership for an oil change and asked about the lights....they knew immediately what the issue was! I have had NO issues with my 2008 Altima until now. I think it is very irresponsible and crooked of Nissan to ignore such and issue that is affecting so many of their vehicles. They want to charge me $500 to repair a faulty master cylinder.....nutso.
My brake light and VDC Off and Slip lights kept coming on. I took it in to the dealership for an oil change and asked about the lights....they knew immediately what the issue was! I have had NO issues with my 2008 Altima until now. I think it is very irresponsible and crooked of Nissan to ignore such and issue that is affecting so many of their vehicles. They want to charge me $500 to repair a faulty master cylinder.....nutso.
I took my car in for an oil change, a day later my VDC OFF light, Slip and brake light keep coming on. The brake light seems to come on when I start driving. I received a recall letter from nissan but they said nothing was wrong with my car and now there is a problem. I need to stop going to the dealer for an oil change.
just an update from Carol. I posted on Oct 14 about the master brake cylinder, and I just want to let everyone know about my experience. I called Nissan Corporate after I posted back then, spoke to an extremely polite rep (Kayla I think) about why I felt this was wrong and that I shouldn't have to pay for a problem they know about . The following Monday I received a call from another great rep (Tony) and for about two weeks I would hear from him every few days with an update. Yesterday I received a check in the mail covering the whole expense associated with the repair of the Master Cylinder!!!! That's parts, labor and sales tax!!! I have to say my hat is off to those two great reps and to Nissan Corp for backing their name and their product. My tune has changed for the corporation. Good luck to those who read this and give it a whirl you should get the same results. I just needed to fax them my paid invoice from where the work was done.
Would you please give me a phone number to contact? I did file a complaint, but have not heard anything. I completed the Nissan survey for dealership about repair. I did write on survey about issue with master cylinder. Just received phone call November 3, 2011 from Nissan they receieved my survey and I could call rep to discuss. I did call November 5, 2011 and left message for rep to call me. I will share what if anything I find out.
Thank you for your info. Very helpful. I have a 2007 Nissan 2.5S sedan, less than 40K. I have exactly the same brake warning light issue mentioned in this thread.
Carol...that's great news. Glad you were able to get a refund! My sister too was able to get one, but through the dealership. Since she was just outside of her warranty, they granted her a "one-time goodwill warranty coverage" right after they replaced it. Ofcourse this made me a little upset, that they didn't do the same thing for me (went to the same dealership 2 days prior to her) Called the service manager and he recommended I call nissan's customer service hotline. I have about 20k more miles on mine than hers, but hopefully they are just as helpful. I service my car every 3,500 miles/single owner/bought new from dealership. I don't think mileage should play a factor in this, as yours went out at 25,000 miles. Must be due to the 'age' of the car. Called nissan's hotline and they created a file and should hear back from their regional customer rep in the next couple of days...wish me luck! An extra 500 before the holidays would be nice.
More info from Carol The corporate office I contacted was in Tennessee. I just looked it up online then and now so I hope the number is the same that I called, the number I found now is 615-725-1000. Good luck, I had a great experience with Corporate, the dealership ticked me off but corporate was great.
Carol, Forgot to ask what year is your Altima? Is it a 2.5 or 3.5? Thanks again for the number. I will keep you posted.
Carol, Forgot to ask what year is your Altima? Is it a 2.5 or 3.5? Thanks again for the number. I will keep you posted.
Marcie, My Altima is a 2007, 3.5 and only had 25,000 miles on it when I brought it in for the brake light coming on. good luck!
Great news...my check is in the mail for a full refund to replace the master cylinder. After filing a complaing to NHTSA, I recommend calling into either the number Carol provided or their customer service hotline 1800-NISSAN1 It took less than a week to open a ticket with them, until I was approved a full refund. This has been my only issue since owning a Nissan and glad to say I'm still a happy customer. Good luck to others!
Is your Altima a 2.5 or 3.5 and what year? Thanks. I spoke to Nissan rep on Tuesday 11-8. Discussed issue and was given a case number. He is suppose to follow up with me on Friday 11-11. I will see what, if any results.
2007 2.5s Sedan. Have 62,000 miles on it. Best of luck to you. Let us know the outcome. Be prepared to fax your work report to them. Other than that it was a pretty straightforward process.
On Friday 11-11-2011 heard back from Nissan after talking to them on Tuesday 11-8-2011 and opened a case. I was told that they do not have any record or complaints about master cylinder issue. Also they do not have any information stating the NHTSA is investigating. Because my car was out of warranty as of December 2010, I was offered a one time common courtesy refund of 50%. I asked if there was anyone else I could speak to? I was told yes there are other people I could talk to but basically the offer would not change. I was then informed to fax a copy of invoice, with paid receipt and my case number and Nissan would issue me a check within 2 weeks. I did also inquire if I cashed the check does that mean if recall would mine be void because I cashed the check. He stated no. I mentioned the fact that other people online were getting full refunds and was told all cases handled on individual basis. In process of contacting the district representative of Nissan for my area and see if I can get anywhere else with him/her. This is a defect and needs to be addressed before there are lives lost!!! I will keep you informed.

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