Why Can’t Nissan Fix the Altima Hood Latch Problem?


Imagine that you’re one of the biggest automakers in the world. Now imagine that you cannot fix a simple hood latch despite multiple recalls.

That’s what is happening right now with Nissan. They previously recalled Altimas for a faulty latch more than once–and now they’re hauling in 1.8 million vehicles for another round of recalls for the same issue.

What Happened?

Nissan confirmed that at least 16 car accidents have happened because of the faulty hood latch. The company admitted that some of those crashed involved minor injuries, although they did not respond to Consumer Reports’ request for more information.

While driving one of the affected cars, the hood can suddenly open. That’s obviously a major problem. Not only would the open hood impede visibility, but the surprise could also cause the driver to swerve or slam on the brakes.

In addition to the reported crashes, Nissan also registered what they describe as “a small number of reports involving a customer’s hood opening unexpectedly.” Considering how many Altimas the automaker sells each year, it’s not clear how many, exactly, a “small number” entails.

This is technically the fourth time Nissan has recalled for this issue. The first happened in 2014, and then again in 2015 and 2016. All the previous fixes–including a complete latch replacement–appear to have failed to solve the issue.

Recall Details

The current recall includes vehicles from a wide range of model years. If you drive a 2013-2018 Altima, then there’s a good chance that your vehicle will be part of this recall.

As far as we know, the original problem was actually a paint issue. The poor paint job on the hood latch can cause the metal to corrode. And that corrosion can either cause the latch to warp so that it no longer fits correctly, or cause it to break off entirely.

Previous fixes for this issue have included applying lubrication to the latch and creating a barrier between the metal and water/oxygen damage. Some earlier models also had their hood latches replaced. However, so far nothing has fixed the problem.

At this point, Nissan still doesn’t have a suggestion for how to fix the faulty latches. Right now, the automaker is planning to send out letters to registered owners with instructions on latch care and maintenance. In the meantime, they’ll be working on a permanent solution to this embarrassing–and dangerous–manufacturing defect.

It’s rare that vehicles get recalled multiple times for the same problem. But four times? That’s almost unheard of until now.