11 Common Nissan Armada Problems (Explained)

The Nissan Armada is a versatile full-size SUV that offers a comfortable interior, third-row seats, generous towing capacity, and solid off-road chops.

When it first debuted in 2004, it was based on the Titan full-size pickup. It then switched to the Nissan Patrol platform for its second generation, which the Infiniti QX56 also uses, making it significantly more comfortable and refined.

In this article, we’ll take a close look at the common issues and problems Nissan Armada owners have reported over the years and provide possible solutions and fixes.  

1. Exhaust Manifold Crack

The most common issue of the first generation Nissan Titan is its weak exhaust manifolds that eventually crack over time.

Exhaust manifold leaks affect all first generation Nissan Titans from 2004 to 2015, and usually start occurring once the truck approaches 100,000 miles.

It’s also a common problem on the first generation Nissan Titan and Infiniti QX56, both of which use the same engine as the Armada.

Symptoms of a cracked exhaust manifold in the Nissan Armada include:

  • Ticking sound on cold starts
  • Unburnt fuel smell
  • Reduced performance
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Check engine light
  • Trouble codes incorrect air fuel ratio

Leaking exhaust manifolds will cause the air fuel ratio to run rich, which can eventually damage the valves and catalytic converters — leading to severe engine damage if left for too long.

However, cases of broken engines caused by exhaust leaks are rare. Many owners just live with the noise and poor gas mileage for months or years and don’t encounter any other problems.

Here’s how a few owners on the ClubArmada.com forum described their experience: 

“Almost everyone here has had a cracked manifold. I am on my second set and I drive a 06 with almost 90k miles on the clock.”


“We bought our ’06 Armada used at an auto auction (no warranty) with 56,000 miles on it. The garage we use found the cracked manifold and said it would be $1,900 to replace it. The dealer ended up replacing the manifold under the original 60,000-mile powertrain warranty.”

“My 05 Mada has an exhaust leak that sounds like it’s in the right manifold area. It seems to be the worst when the engine is cold and isn’t as loud once it’s warmed up.”

“Both of mine were cracked and replaced around 45000 miles (after three trips to the dealer, they finally agreed with me). My father’s Infiniti had the same issue but his was out of warranty. There should have been a recall on them.”

Although Nissan eventually added reinforcements to the exhaust manifold some time in 2007 to reduce the cracking and leaking issues, it never really completely eliminated the problem.

A new exhaust manifold can cost around $1,000 plus another $1,000 to have it installed. The repair cost can easily double if both manifolds need to be replaced. 

New OEM and after exhaust manifolds will still eventually crack and the only permanent solution is to fit a set of headers from companies like Cajun B-Pipes or JBA. This will often require an aftermarket tune for the ECU, but is typically less expensive than getting new OEM manifolds fitted. 

If you live in California, your choices for headers will be limited to CARB legal products.

2. ABS and Brake Issues

ABS and brake issues are a major problem for early models of the first generation Nissan Armada.

Many owners have reported that the parking brake and ABS light will intermittently come on, which results in the truck not braking properly.

Common symptoms include: 

  • ABS light comes on
  • Parking brake light comes on
  • Slip, VDC and 4WD light turns on
  • Shuddering and vibrations when braking
  • Grinding sound
  • ABS behaves erratically when stepping on the brakes
  • Loss of brake pressure in the brake pedal
  • C1179 trouble code

This brake and ABS problem only affects the 2004 to 2008 model years of the first generation Nissan Armada.

Similar ABS problems have also been reported for early model years of the first generation Infiniti QX56 and Nissan Titan.

Here’s how a few owners on the ClubArmada.com forum described their experience:

“I have a 2007 Armada LE out of warranty with the brake problem. The one where you lose brake pressure, feels like abs turns on, and turn off the car and on and the problem is fixed. I have taken the car to the dealer. They’ve cleared the code and the update does not apply to 2007’s and up. That was a month ago and it happened again.” 

“My 2005 Armada LE has a recurring issue with the ABS system going into a C1117 code failure where the brake light comes on and the pedal goes squishy and an electric sound emits from the ABS/Brake booster area. I have taken it to two Dealerships and they say they do not have the software anymore to reset the ABS/VDC code for that model year anymore.” 

“I have an 07′ Nissan Armada. It all started about a couple of months ago intermittently when I slowed to a complete stop then brakes would pulsate as if the ABS is engaging. It only did this when I was coming to a complete stop.” 

Turning the truck off and starting it back up usually makes the brake problems go away.

Nissan’s official fix for this problem is to update the VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) or stability control software.

However, many owners have said that the software update didn’t have any effect.

In a lot of cases, the Armada’s brake and ABS issues were actually caused by a faulty delta stroke sensor. Since this sensor is part of the brake booster, the entire unit has to be replaced.

Some owners were able to get fix the issue by replacing other parts such as:

  • Brake pressure sensor
  • Master cylinder
  • ABS module

3. Radiator Leaks and Transmission Failures

Transmission failures caused by radiator leaks are a common problem on the first generation Nissan Armada, as well as other Nissan models from the same era.

Up until the early 2012 models, the transmission lines going through the radiator had a tendency to crack and leak which caused transmission fluid to mix with coolant.

This mixture, also known as the “strawberry milkshake of death” or SMOD, eventually ruins the transmission due to improper lubrication.

It’s also common for the transmission cooler lines to break and cause transmission fluid to leak all over the engine bay.

Late 2012 and newer model years of the Armada used an updated radiator which eliminated the possibility of coolant mixing with transmission fluid.

Here’s how a few Nissan Armada owners described their experience: 

“Have an ’07. The hose between the external trans cooler blew out while driving the other day. Driving along and all of a sudden high RPM and not gaining speed. Pulled over, found the hose, repaired it and refilled with fluid but now it won’t seem to shift into 5th gear.”

“My coolant line burst and pumped radiator Fluid into my transmission causing me to have to replace the transmission.”

“Had to have my car towed away this past week because of the coolant leaking into the transmission.”

Lots of owners install an all-aluminum radiator to avoid future overheating problems and bypass the transmission lines going through the radiator altogether.

A new aftermarket radiator should only cost $200 to $300 and bypassing the radiator transmission lines is a fairly simple modification with lots of guides that can be found online.

Installing an external transmission cooler will also help prolong the life of the transmission.

4. Inaccurate Fuel Gauge

Lots of first generation Nissan Armada owners have also had issues with their gas gauge not showing the correct amount of fuel.

This is a common problem in a lot of Nissan models such as the Titan, Rogue, Pathfinder and Frontier from the early 2000s onwards.

Symptoms of a faulty gas gauge include:

  • Never shows tank is full
  • Drops to empty even with lots of gas in the tank
  • Shows there’s more gas than what’s in the tank 

This problem is more common on the 2004 to 2009 Armada, but newer models can also have similar issues.

Here’s how a few owners on ClubArmada.com described their experience:

“I have an 08 LE with about 5000 miles on it and I took it in (3 times) for the same problem. Mine would eventually show a full tank but would take about 2-3 miles of driving to get there. If I filled the tank on the way home from work it would work its way up to full but then the next morning it would only show about 3/4 full. Again, for about 2-3 miles.” 

“My 2005 Armada LE 4×4 manifested an apparent fuel reporting problem today. After I drove out of the garage, I noticed the low fuel light on and the fuel gauge slightly below Empty (probably pegged at the lowest level). I didn’t believe it was empty because the trip meters, which I reset after every fill-up, were only at 89 miles.”

“04 Armada that I have had for about 4 months. Fuel gauge never shows more than 3/4 to 7/8ths ‘full’, low fuel light comes on at a point where it only takes roughly 20 gallons to ‘fill’.”

Nissan announced a recall to fix the faulty fuel gauge in the 2005 to 2009 model years of the Armada.

The problem is caused by a faulty fuel sending unit, which is the part that measures how much gas is in the tank.

A new fuel sending unit costs around $150 to $200, so it’s not too expensive to fix out of pocket if your truck has already had the recall done before.

Many owners who have already replaced the sending unit several times just live with the fuel gauge problem and use the odometer/trip meter to verify how much gas they have left in the tank since there is no permanent fix for it.

Related: 16 Best & Worst Nissan Armada Years (With Pictures)

5. Engine Knock

A few second generation Armada owners needed to get their engines replaced after they started hearing a knocking or ticking sound.

This problem is more widely reported with the second generation Nissan Titan, which uses the same engine as the Armada.

It’s fairly common in the 2017 to 2018 model years, but early 2019 models can also suffer from the engine knock issue.

It can start occurring even at very low mileages with some owners reporting it in trucks with only 20,000 miles. 

At first, the knocking sound can only be heard on cold starts and eventually goes away after a few minutes. 

As the problem gets worse, it will become louder and won’t go away after the engine has warmed up — making it sound more like a diesel engine.

It also tends to get louder in colder weather or when the engine is subjected to heavier loads.

Here’s how a few owners on ClubArmada.com described their experience:

“Sometimes I can hear a low ticking kind of noise and I had read of a few people having issues with this. I am driving a 2018 Platinum with about 20,000 miles on it.”

“We just purchased a very nice 2017 Armada with 26,000 miles on it. After driving it home last night i noticed a very faint knocking sound coming from the engine when at low idle. Took my 2017 Armada to the dealer to get it checked out. They confirmed that cylinder 7 was scored, and will be replacing my engine.” 

“Went in for its second oil change (~8500 miles) on my 2018 and the dealer mentioned they heard the faint knock, inspected it and saw the motor needs replacement.”

The knocking noise is often caused by scoring or scuffing on cylinder number 7. When the cylinder gets scratched, the piston has more room to move around which causes the rhythmic knocking sound.

In some cases, the cylinder can be scored even if there is no audible engine knocking.

Fortunately, Nissan released a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) for the 2017 to 2019 Armada to deal with the engine knock issue. 

It recommends inspecting the cylinder with a borescope camera. If there is scuffing or scoring, dealers will replace the engine block. If the 5 year/100,000 mile warranty hasn’t expired yet, the new block will be covered.

If the truck is past its warranty, a new block and getting the engine rebuilt will cost several thousand dollars at the dealer.

But just because the engine is knocking doesn’t mean you’re going to end up with catastrophic engine damage in the near future.

The scoring might eventually get bad enough to cause other issues like low compression and oil consumption, but there haven’t been any reports of catastrophic engine damage so far.

You can choose to ignore the knocking and just keep up with the maintenance to make sure the problem doesn’t get worse or cause other major issues if you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a new engine block.

In the 2017 Armada, the fan can also make a loud ticking noise, especially on colder days. There’s a TSB for this that recommends updating the ECU software, which usually works.

6. Air Suspension Problems

Higher trim levels of the Nissan Armada come with an auto-leveling air suspension in the rear which can be expensive to fix.

Problems are more common with the early model years, but newer Armadas, including the second generation model, use pretty much the same system which can eventually go bad as they get older.

Leaks and faulty compressors are the most common issues, but it also has lots of sensors and electronics that can fail.

Here’s how a few owners described their air suspension issues:

“I myself have a 2008 LE with tow package. My problem is that the suspension inflates once I start the vehicle. If I have my kids or a small load in the back, they will deflate during the drive and never re-inflate. I have to turn the car off and restart it to have it go back to level.”

“I have an 07 SE with tow, 60K on OD. Air suspension has been leaking since Nov of last year. I had it to the dealer a few times and they can’t seem to get it right. I tow a 25ft TT about 6500lbs. While towing, the suspension goes completely flat and causes an unsafe condition.”

“I took my Armada 2017 with 29,000 miles to the dealer because the rear suspension is not working and the car is sagging in the rear. They diagnosed the problem as a bad ride height sensor. They wanted $860 to replace the sensor.”

Replacing the air shocks and compressor will cost a few hundred dollars, but other components like the ride level switch can cost over $1,000.

Many owners simply swap out the air suspension for traditional shocks and springs to avoid having to deal with expensive repairs in the future. 

7. Won’t Start and BCI Malfunction

Many second generation Nissan Armada owners report having intermittent issues starting their truck, which eventually leads to a “BCI Malfunction” message on the dash.

In a lot of cases, the BCI (Backup Collision Intervention) error is also accompanied by other warning lights.

This issue is more common in the 2017 to 2020 model years, but it can also affect newer vehicles.

Here’s how a few owners described their issues:  

“We just bought a 2017 Nissan Armada last month. Today my wife tried to start it and it wouldn’t start for about 5 minutes. Once it finally started the BCI Malfunction warning light turned on along with other lights.” 

“I’m also having problems with my 2019 Armada. BCI malfunction with all lights going crazy and car jerking. This car not always starting when button pressed, using remote start mostly. All these problems after warranty has now expired.” 

“2019 SL 40,000 Miles car wouldn’t start intermittently over the last few weeks, yesterday BCI malfunction came on and VDC came on and the brakes locked down and engine lost power.”

Owners who have encountered this problem are usually still able to start the truck using the remote start function.

Others also report that turning off the BCI feature in the driver assist settings keeps the problem from occurring again. However, you’ll also lose the automatic braking feature whenever you’re maneuvering in reverse.

The most common fix for this issue is to simply replace the brake light switch which only costs a few dollars.

Since the problem is often caused by a faulty brake light switch, you can try stomping on the brake pedal a few times and then pushing the start/stop button. This sometimes fixes loose electrical contacts that are keeping the brake switch from functioning properly.

8. Infotainment Issues

The second generation Nissan Armada got an updated infotainment system for the 2021 model year, but many owners have encountered lots of issues with it.

Common problems include:

  • Frequent restarts
  • Knobs don’t work
  • Apple CarPlay doesn’t work
  • Display glitches
  • Issues with navigation
  • No display from backup camera 

Early model years of the second gen Armada had less features but were far more stable.

Here’s how a few owners described their experience:

“The infotainment system in my 2021 Armada is extremely glitchy. The volume control will get stuck on navigation voice volume and will not allow me to change the volume on the radio or the volume of a caller on Bluetooth. In addition, the direct tune knob does not scroll through station on satellite radio. Lastly, periodically the system randomly shuts down and reboots all by itself while I am driving.”

“Today, while pulling my 2021 SL rwd into the garage, the infotainment screen/system did a refresh and I couldn’t bring the camera back up.” 

“Major issues with my 2021 Armada also. Infotainment system screen goes blank and resets from time to time. Sometimes as much as 10x/hr making the system unusable.”

Nissan has released a few software updates to address the issues. Some owners report that the updates were able to fix their problems with the infotainment. 

However, there are also several who have even had their head unit replaced several times but are still encountering various software glitches with the infotainment. So it’s not just a software or head unit problem in some cases and will need further troubleshooting. 

9. Broken Overhead Console

The front and rear overhead consoles of the early first gen Nissan Armada and Infiniti QX56 usually develop cracks over time and will eventually fall off the ceiling.

The consoles often develop problems even before the truck reaches 10 years old and you’ll be left with a large hole in the headliner.

This problem only affects the 2004 to 2010 model years as newer models had different interiors.

Here’s how a few owners described their situation on ClubArmada.com:

“I was pretty upset when my rear DVD overhead console came crashing down. Thankfully, my two-year-old was not taking the ride with me.”

“I am in need of the rear overhead console for my 2008 Armada. Mine is about to come all the way down.”

“My overhead console started cracking and I patched it up with a few little temporary repairs. Finally, it snapped in half. Dealer wanted over $800 for the new part and online sources were about the same.” 

“My 2010 front console broke and fell right after we hit the 36,000 mile mark.” 

“The overhead console on my 2008 QX56 cracked right at the point it is supported in the front of the console. Just a plastic piece that broke off, but now the whole front of the overhead console is hanging down.”

Getting new plastic parts for the overhead console can cost around $500 at the dealer if they’re still available.

Most owners just look for used parts and piece them together until they can complete the set.

Some have had varying levels of success gluing the old pieces together, but this may not be possible if the plastics are way too damaged.

10. Rear A/C Line Leak

First generation Nissan Armadas have a tendency to develop refrigerant leaks in the rear A/C lines.

When the lines start leaking refrigerant, the A/C won’t work as well as it used to and, in a lot of cases, it won’t blow any cold air at all. 

It’s more common in areas that see a lot of corrosion as the lines are routed underneath the vehicle.

This problem can occur in all model years of the first generation Armada from 2004 to 2015.

Here’s how a few owners described their experience: 

“I already had these lines replaced back in 2012 on my 08 Armada and now there is a new leak where the small high-pressure line enters the rear evaporator.”

“My friend was able to assist me in checking out my rear AC leak and found a similar problem — a small pin hole on the 2015 Armada.”

To find the source of the leak, you’ll have to take it to a shop that specializes in A/C repair. They’ll inject a dye in the system to quickly trace the source of the leak.

If it’s just a small leak, it can sometimes be plugged up with epoxy or something similar, but this might just be a temporary fix. 

For a more permanent fix, you’ll have to cut out the old A/C lines and replace them altogether.

11. Blend Door Actuator Problems

Another common issue with the first generation Nissan Armada is the HVAC blend doors stop working or constantly make a clicking sound.

The blend door actuator directs the airflow from either the heater or the AC system into the vents. When it starts failing, it will get stuck in one position and you’ll only get hot or cold air from one or more vents.

Here’s how a few owners described their experience: 

“In my 2010 Armada I’d been hearing the woodpecker in the dash for a long time, and then it finally went away and the driver-side vents were stuck on heat all the time, regardless of what temp I set.” 

“I have a 2011 Nissan Armada with some temperature related issues. On my Armada I can control the temperature on both driver side vents (closest to door and middle left). However, the middle right and the passenger side vent is blowing hot air and I can not control it.”

It’s possible for more than one to break at around the same time.

Each blend door actuator costs around $50, but removing the defective unit and installing a new one will usually require taking out the dash. This can take a few hours and cost you a lot in labor if you have it done at the dealer or by an experienced mechanic.

If you’re mechanically inclined, you can remove the dash and replace the actuator yourself and save a few hundred dollars in the process.

Nissan Armada Pros & Cons

Pros 

  • Quiet and comfortable cabin
  • Good value for money
  • Lots of standard features
  • Adequate amounts of power
  • Capable off-roader
  • Good towing capacity
  • Reliable drivetrain

Cons

  • Fuel economy
  • Poor resale value
  • Boat-like ride quality

Related: How Long Do Nissan Armadas Last? (12 Important Facts)

What Do The Reviews Say?

“The Armada’s 5.6-liter V8 engine is stout. At the Edmunds test track, our test Armada sprinted from 0 to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, which is a second quicker than a similarly priced Chevrolet Tahoe with the 5.3-liter V8. The Armada also possesses impressive passing power at higher speeds.” 

“Just as impressive are the Armada’s brakes, which stopped the big SUV from 60 mph in just 123 feet — that’s nearly 10 feet shorter than the closest competitor. Around town, the brakes were dependable and consistent.”

“No one’s expecting a large SUV to handle particularly well, and even though the Armada is one of the easiest to drive, its handling limits are modest at best. The steering is slow (you need to turn the wheel more than you expect) and there’s not much in the way of feel.”

“The Armada offers up a fairly quiet and well-isolated driving experience. The broad front seats are comfortable but offer little bolstering to hold you in place around turns. The optional second-row captain’s chairs are well padded but can’t slide forward and backward to enhance legroom. The third-row seats are rudimentary by today’s standards.”

“The ride quality is definitely on the soft side. That pays dividends when driving over small and moderate bumps. But it’s a liability on bigger undulations where you’ll feel some shuddering and jostling. Other SUVs feel tighter and more in control.”

“The touchscreen is big, but the graphics don’t look as modern as we’d like. It also takes some time for the system to boot up. Apple CarPlay (with wireless functionality) and Android Auto are standard. Either is preferred to Nissan’s native and somewhat clunky infotainment interface.”

“Fortunately, there are plenty of standard advanced safety features. They all operated well in our testing. The adaptive cruise control brakes and accelerates smoothly, though both functions are a little slow to react.”

“The Armada is priced in line with other large SUVs, but the interior materials quality and last-generation technology fall well below current expectations.”

2023 Nissan Armada | Edmunds

What’s the Resale Value of a Nissan Armada?

Here’s a quick look at the Nissan Armada SL’s used pricing on Edmunds at the time of writing.

YearMileagePrice
202212,586$46,255
202125,132$43,500
202028,942$36,999
201932,018$34,998
201843,839$29,995
201747,207$30,998
201559,140$27,990
201463,013$20,249
2013111,560$15,999
2012118,333$14,995