5th Generation Altima’s Low Beam Headlights Are Extremely Dim

The low-beam headlights in the 5th generation Altima are dangerously dim, and it has nothing to do with the bulb. The problem is worst in the 2013-2015 model years as material inside the assembly breaks down creating a less effective headlamp.

As of December 2018 this problem ranks 10th in CarComplaints.com recent problem trends list.

Beyond the Bulbs, Why the Whole Headlight Assembly is to Blame

Altima say their headlights aren’t providing much in the way of lighting up the road ahead. And it’s a problem that appears to get worse over time as evidenced by the increase in complaints from 2013, 2014, and 2015 owners.

It’s natural to assume that underwhelming headlights are the result of a dim or low-quality bulb. And yes, Nissan didn’t exactly break the bank with the stock halogen bulbs in the 5th generation Altima.

However, owners who have spent out-of-pocket to upgrade to better, brighter aftermarket bulbs have only seen marginal upgrades. So what gives?

Allow me to project a theory

The Altima comes with projector headlights which is usually a bulb mounted inside a chrome-painted projector bowl. The bowl reflects light towards a magnified projector lens which sends a focused beam of light out onto the road.

But when the material inside the projector bowl wear down, burn off, or scuff up, the projector lens doesn’t receive as much light to, well … project.

Image from nissanclub.com discussion on dim Altima headlights

Replacing the headlight assembly costs $$$

It takes a while for the material inside the projector bowl to fade away, but once it’s gone you’re better off strapping a couple jars of fireflies to your bumper until you can replace the whole assembly.

Owners report that it can cost between $8901 and $1000 to replace the pair of assemblies.

Any Chance of a Recall?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) only issues recalls for safety-related problems, and not being able to see the road at night certainly seems to qualify.

It wouldn’t be the first time a recall has been issued for a projector headlight problem. In 2012, the Ford Fusion was recalled because “with use, and over time, an improperly cured low-beam headlamp projector will become hazy, resulting in reduced visibility and an increased crash risk.”

For now, Nissan is silent on the subject.

Attorneys Chimicles & Tikellis are investigating a potential class-action lawsuit against the automaker.


  1. From data collected by 2013 Altima owners who replaced their assemblies 

Vehicles That Might Have This Problem

Model Generation Years PainRank
Altima 5th Gen 2013–2018 53.89

What Owners Are Saying

“As others described, I can't see at night. I had a small accident where I ended on top of a median while I was going to turn into a bank. These lights are terrible and Nissan is not offering any solution to our problems.”

2015 Altima owner in NY

“The headlights are barely visible on low beam and new bulbs will not fix the problem. I spoke with someone at the Nissan dealership and they know this is a common problem but apparently Nissan has not issued a recall. This is a very real safety issue for the driver, as it is virtually impossible to drive at night.”

2014 Altima owner in MD

“The low beam headlights on my 2013 Nissan Altima SV are dangerously dim. Difficult and dangerous to drive at night. Need to use high beams to properly see the road. This is an extreme safety risk for myself and other cars on the road. I've read online that it is not a bulb replacement issue - but a light projector issue with the design of the headlights.”

2013 Altima owner in PA

OK, Now What?

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned you will soon. Whatever the reason, you can help make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

  1. File Your Complaint

    CarComplaints.com is a free site dedicated to uncovering problem trends and informing owners about potential issues with their cars. Major class action law firms use this data when researching cases.

    Add a Complaint

  2. Notify CAS

    The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is a pro-consumer organization that researches auto safety issues & often compels the US government to do the right thing through lobbying & lawsuits.

    Notify the CAS

  3. Report a Safety Concern

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle defect investigations & force recalls. Their focus is on safety-related issues.

    Report to NHTSA

  4. Contact Nissan

    Nissan Support

    P.O. Box 191 Gardena CA 90248 USA

    This site is not affiliated with Nissan.