NHSTA Complaints Show Rusted Floorboards In Older Nissan Altima’s Create Fred Flintstone Cars

Image courtesy of The owner of a 2002 Nissan Altima submitted photos of the vehicle's rusted-out floorboards to NTHSA.
The owner of a 2002 Nissan Altima submitted photos of the vehicle's rusted-out floorboards to NTHSA.

The owner of a 2002 Nissan Altima submitted photos of the vehicle’s rusted-out floorboards to NTHSA.

The only time you want to see someone driving down the road with their feet hanging out of the bottom of their car is on an episode of The Flintstones. But for hundreds of Nissan Altima owners that scene could very well become reality as they continue to report that rusted-out floorboards in their vehicles put their toes entirely too close to the road.

NBC News reports that consumers have submitted more than 400 complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regarding rusted-out floorboards in model year 2002 to 2006 Nissan Altima sedans, but have so far received little help from the agency or car manufacturer.

“This is not safe,” the owner of a 2005 Altima says. “I drive every day for a living. This is very nerve-racking for me to be driving now.”

Many of the consumer complaints posted to NHTSA’s database describe significant floorboard issues in the Altima vehicles.

“The front passenger floor board is rushed through with a hole approximately 10 inches by 20 inches,” the owner of a 2004 Altima writes in a complaint to the agency. “I took the car to [a local Nissan dealer] for an inspection. They states that these issues are not covered by warranty, recall or goodwill campaign.”

Other owners describe seeing the rust issue in a wide range of older Altimas, signaling what they believe is a possible manufacturer’s defect.

“Excessive premature rust on front passenger floor pan,” another owner of a 2004 Altima writes. “About 5″X10″ in size and consistent with most other Nissan Altima rust complaints for cars of similar age. Since noticing the ruse I have looked at dozens of similar Nissan Altimas in store parking lots all with the same premature rust pattern. It appears that Nissan designed the floor pans with a drain plug which allows water penetration above the floor pan where it cases rust… This is obviously a manufacturers defect and the rust in this one area around the drain plugs is consisted with the lack of rust everywhere else.”

Although some of the vehicles with rusted-out floorboards are located in states that use road salt – a component that has been linked to rusted vehicles – mechanics who spoke with NBC News say the pattern of rust could indeed be a design flaw that prevents water from draining, causing the floor pans to rot from the inside out.

For its part, Nissan maintains that corrosion in older vehicles isn’t all that unusual.

“This issue is not considered a safety defect by Nissan or the government agency that administers safety recalls,” the company said in a statement to NBC News.

NBC News reports that one injury has been submitted to NHTSA regarding the issue, but that mechanics warn more could follow if something isn’t done to address the rusting floorboards.

Because the manufacturer doesn’t consider the issue a safety defect and most of the cars are out of the company’s warranty period, consumers are left to foot the bill for repairs, which can cost thousands of dollars.

The owner of a 2002 Altima writes in a complaint to NHTSA that a local auto repair shop quoted repairs to both sides of the vehicle at around $3,200.

“NHTSA needs to force Nissan into a recall as it is a design flaw and a safety issue,” the consumer writes. “People are driving around in cars not knowing that the floor below them is rusting all the way through.”

Nissan Drivers Gripe About Rusty Floor Holes in Older Altimas [NBC News]