Giant Rust Holes in the Altima Floorboards

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#body #corrosion #lawsuit
I see London, I see ... OMG is that the road?

Rusted floorboards can happen in any vehicle, but the issue is rampant in a handful of Altima model years (2002-2006).

This generation of Altima vehicles have a concave floorboard without proper drainage that allows moisture to build-up. A metal cross-member isolates the concave area from the carpeted foot well, leaving a gap and allegedly reducing the likelihood that any moisture could be wicked away by the carpet.

Nearly all complaints about the floorboards disappear starting with the 2007 Altima (4th gen), hinting at a redesign.

In the case of Laura Frances Hays, et. al., v. Nissan North America, Inc, et. al. it’s pointed out that competitors don’t seem to have this problem.

For example, 2002 Volkswagen Golfs have multiple layered floorboards that also have floor pan holes. But unlike the Nissan cars, these holes are sealed with plastic plugs that are mechanically attached with waterproof adhesive. This plug seals the floor pan hole from both the top and bottom, preventing moisture from entering and accumulating.

It should be noted, there are a handful of similar complaints in the 2002-2006 Maxima but not nearly to the same extent.

Owners often don’t know until it’s too late

Because the problem is concealed by the interior carpet, it’s not uncommon for Altima owners to go in for an oil change and come out with a quote for a new floorboard.

Took it in for oil change and was told both front floor pans are rusted out. Was told by mechanic he thought they had recall on them. Contacted dealership and was told no such recall. Nothing they will do.2005 Altima owner in IL

Hello, danger!

The repair can cost more than the car is worth

A full repair of the problem can cost over $4,000. That’s That’s almost 150% the $2,669 private party value given to a 2005 Altima[1] that’s in good condition on So that’s really not an option.

A patch job that covers the rusted floor pan with sheet metal will cost closer to $400[2], but that’s just a temporary fix until the rust spreads.

It’s even worse in the “salt belt”

The problem can be worse for owners in the “salt belt” which is a group of cold-weather states that use a heavy dose of road salt to clear ice in the winter.

Snow (sometimes with salt in it) on boots melts on top of the floorboard, while salt attacks the metal from underneath. It’s a perfect-storm of corrosion.

It’s worth mentioning, however, that this problem isn’t limited to cold weather areas. There are plenty of complaints from owners where the only salt they need is to season their brisket.

Nissan Knows, But Do They Care?

Nissan doesn’t deny the problem, but they adamantly reject the notion that this is a safety defect and have no plans of offering an extended warranty.

And yes, it’s not unusual to see metal corrosion on a 15-year-old car. However, this isn’t just a little rust we’re talking about.

A technical service bulletin (TSB) for floor pan repair

Nissan issued a (TSB) regarding the corrosion problem and, additionally, sent dealerships an Altima floor pan repair kit bulletin which talks about the “new, low-cost repair for floor pan corrosion.”

The TSB instructs dealers to clean the rusted area and use adhesive to install a “repair plate” that covers the holes. It does not, however, tell dealers to remove the rusted area.

Rusted Floorboard Lawsuits

These vehicles often can’t pass state inspections without being repaired. The repairs are expensive, but without it the cars have little to no resale value.

With no recall on the horizon, owners have taken their grievances to court.

Marie DeMaria v. Nissan North America, Nissan Motor Company, LTD.

The first class-action lawsuit calling out Nissan for rusted floorboards was filed in 2015 in the Northern District of Illinois.

Arguing against Nissan’s claim that this isn’t a safety defect, the lawsuit makes note:

  1. These hidden rust holes can allow dangerous exhaust fumes and road debris into the car.
  2. A corroded floor pan can allow fire to enter the floor area when normally the area would have some protection.
  3. In an accident where the car enters water, it would sink much faster than before.
  4. At least one person has been injured as a result of the defect, while hundreds say they’re afraid to drive their cars.

Nissan was awarded a motion to dismiss the case in September 2015.

Laura Frances Hays, et. al., v. Nissan North America, Inc, et. al.

A second class-action was filed in November 2017, covering all 2002-2006 Altima owners in Missouri.

Plaintiff Laura Frances Hays says she purchased her 2003 Nissan Altima new in 2003 and always kept it in a garage at work and at home. In 2015 an inspection found rust under the front passenger floorboard (photo above), so she got an estimate for repairs from a body shop. Hays says she was told the job would cost at least $4,000 and possibly $5,000 by the time the work was complete.

Hays opted for a "patch job" that cost $459 and submitted both repair quotes to Nissan corporate. The automaker refused to cover the repairs.

The lawsuit wants financial compensation for floorboard repairs because even with the “Altima floor pan repair kit bulletin”, owners are still be on the hook for roughly $500, even though materials cost $111.57.

Nissan is not impressed with the plaintiff's arguments. In December 2018 they asked the judge to toss out the case because 1) the "patch job" was done 7 years after the corroson warranty expired and 2) the plaintiff sold the car to another private party claiming it was in "good" condition a year before the lawsuit was filed.

  1. KBB value calculated on 11/30/2017. 2005 Altima, white, 125,000 miles, standard equipment, and “good” condition. ↩︎

  2. In Laura Frances Hays, et. al., v. Nissan North America, Inc, et. al, the plaintiff says she paid $459 for a patchwork repair. ↩︎

Lawsuits Regarding This Problem

Lawsuits about this problem have already been filed in court. Many times these are class-action suits that look to cover a group of owners in a particular area. Click on the lawsuit for more information and to see if you're eligible to receive any potential settlements.

  • Partially dismissed

    Laura Frances Hays, et. al., v. Nissan North America, Inc, et. al.

    1. Partially dismissed

      A Nissan Altima and Maxima floorboard rust lawsuit has been partly dismissed after the automaker filed a motion to dismiss the complaint.

    2. Case Filed

      The class-action lawsuit includes Missouri owners of 2002-2006 Altima cars with floor pans that don't drain water properly, which causes rust to completely destroy the floorboards, causing severe safety hazards to drivers and their passengers.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2002-2006 Altima
  • Motion to dismiss

    Marie DeMaria v. Nissan North America, Nissan Motor Company, LTD.

    1. Motion to dismiss

      The automaker claims the majority of rusted floorboard complaints started occurring 8 to 12 years after the cars were built. Attorneys for Nissan claim all accusations of fraud are false because the plaintiffs can't show Nissan knew the floorboards would rust years after the cars rolled off the assembly lines.

    2. Case Filed

      The proposed class-action lawsuit that alleges rust and corrosion can cause the floorboards to rust so severely the occupants can see the road. Additionally, the holes are deceptively dangerous because the interior carpet can hide the rust and corrosion from Altima owners.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2002-2006 Altima

Generations Where This Problem Has Been Reported

This problem has popped up in the following Nissan generations.

Most years within a generation share the same parts and manufacturing process. You can also expect them to share the same problems. So while it may not be a problem in every year yet, it's worth looking out for.

Further Reading

A timeline of stories related to this problem. We try to boil these stories down to the most important bits so you can quickly see where things stand. Interested in getting these stories in an email? Signup for free email alerts for your vehicle over at

  1. There is a serious danger lurking beneath the feet of 3rd-generation Altima owners.

    And since Nissan refuses to do anything about it, the issue has made its way to court. Plaintiff Marie DeMaria filed the proposed class-action lawsuit that alleges rust and corrosion can cause the floorboards to rust so severely the occupants can see the road. Additionally, the holes are deceptively dangerous because the interior carpet can hide the rust and corrosion from Altima owners.

    The problem is often concealed by the interior carpet and isn’t noticed until it’s too late. The rust often gets so bad that these vehicles can no longer pass state inspections without expensive repairs.

    keep reading article "Nissan Sued for Altima Floorboards That Rust So Badly Owners Can Poke Holes Through The Floor With Their Toes"

OK, Now What?

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned you will soon. Whatever the reason, here's a handful of things you can do to make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

  1. File Your Complaint 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