11 Nissan Kicks Problems to Watch Out For

11 Nissan Kicks Problems to Watch Out For

A lot of good things can come in small packages, even applying to something that’s straddling the line between a tiny SUV and a subcompact hatch. Yes, we’re referring to the Nissan Kicks crossover! 

But just because something is small, doesn’t make its flaws any more hidden and microscopic. Take it from us, you’re not getting a kick out of any of this little Nissan’s problems at all!

So before getting yourself one of these affordable pocket-sized SUVs, let’s shed some light on all the common problems of the Nissan Kicks right here!

What are the common problems of a Nissan Kicks?

Common Nissan Kicks problems are sudden shutdowns, acceleration issues, rough idling, transmission issues, suspension noises, faulty auto emergency braking, and a bad front collision sensor.

The Nissan Kicks can have instrument cluster noises, start system glitches, and other electronic issues.

While regarded as a solid competitor in the subcompact crossover category or “B-segment”, the Nissan Kicks is not without its flaws, which grow even more obvious the longer you drive around in one.

The Nissan Kicks’ powertrain alone already garnered a bit of flak from owners, who complained of issues ranging from the engine suddenly shutting down mid-drive to the transmission grinding and making a lot of noise with each step of the throttle pedal.

Stepping inside certain model years of the Japanese crossover, and you’ll find that even its electronic features, as innovative as they are, just don’t seem to work as flawlessly as you’d expect from a Japanese car brand.

Whether it’s a simple clicking noise from the instrument cluster or a more concerning fault in the automatic emergency braking feature, various electronic issues can make you reconsider if the Nissan Kicks really lives up to its renowned value for money.

However, to further prepare you for taking ownership of one (or find out if it’s even worth the buy, to begin with), let’s go over every single common problem the Nissan Kicks is known to have and how to potentially deal with them!

1. Sudden Shutdowns/Stalling While Driving

1. Sudden ShutdownsStalling While Driving

When it comes to issues on any vehicle, a good place to start would be at the heart of it. And unfortunately, for some model years of the Nissan Kicks, the engine suddenly shutting down on you can definitely be a heart-stopping experience.

This sudden shutdown or stalling issue has been reported to occur in multiple model years of the vehicle from 2018 to 2021, with the latter year having only one known case. The 2018 and 2019 Nissan Kicks, however, received the bulk of the complaints.

In one rarer instance, an owner even complained about the car refusing to start back up again for about 15 to 30 minutes. Even after having undergone two services on record since the incident, it was still to no avail.

Luckily, all hope’s not entirely lost, as Nissan released a service bulletin for this exact stalling issue for the 2018 and newer model years. 

It turns out that the sudden shutdowns or stalling are caused by an issue with the fuel system, and apart from the Nissan Kicks itself, it also affects other Nissan models in the lineup.

Another Nissan service bulletin (PM945) was also issued for about 16,641 Nissan Kicks units from the 2020 model year, which were fitted with incorrectly calibrated ECMs (engine control modules) that caused the engine to shut down when at a standstill.

As per the bulletin, the affected Nissan Kicks models were subject to an update for their ECMs to set the right calibration for both alternator control and idle speed control optimization, which will ultimately prevent the stalling issue.

2. Acceleration Problems

2. Acceleration Problems

Aside from downright stalling in the middle of the road, the Nissan Kicks has a fairly common problem with acceleration performance, most particularly in 2020 models.

According to complaints from several owners, the car can hesitate for a split second and struggle to accelerate, which has been often associated with a fuel system issue.

An issue with a fuel system component can affect the proper delivery of fuel to the engine, which can starve it of fuel and affect its performance once you step on the throttle.

But when talking about acceleration issues, there can be a plethora of other reasons that can cause your vehicle to properly deliver the power you need when you need it. Here’s a list of the most common culprits:

Common Acceleration Problem Causes:

Bad MAF sensor (Mass Airflow Sensor)Bad fuel injectorDirty or clogged air filterDirty or clogged fuel filterDirty throttle bodyFaulty fuel pumpFaulty oxygen sensorFaulty throttle position sensorWorn-out or clogged catalytic converter

If you’re experiencing any acceleration problems with your Nissan Kicks, then it’s best to take it to your local dealership or trusted mechanic to properly diagnose and remedy any of the common culprits above. 

3. Rough Idling

Another common issue with the Nissan Kicks’ engine is that it can start to run and idle roughly, which can be traced back to the same fuel system issues that are causing your acceleration to be hampered.

But in addition to that, rough idling issues in the Nissan Kicks can also be caused by other problems such as a faulty ignition coil, a vacuum leak, and bad or worn-out spark plugs.

Certain 2021 models of the Nissan Kicks have also been observed to exhibit other engine issues such as a burning smell, whistling noises, and an overall jittery or jerky ride.

However, such issues can also go hand in hand with an underlying issue with the crossover SUV’s transmission, which we’ll be going over next!

4. Transmission Issues

4. Transmission Issues

The Nissan Kicks’ transmission system is another problematic part of the car, with many owners complaining of symptoms that could lead to a potentially expensive transmission repair job. 

Among the bunch, the 2021 model year got the short end of the stick since it exhibited the most issues that relate to either the transmission or the rough idling issue discussed earlier.

These can include delayed gear shifts, grinding noises while accelerating, a burning smell emanating from the engine bay, jerky ride quality, and in rarer cases, a whistle-like sound from the engine despite being naturally aspirated.

While Nissan Kicks models can come mated to either a 5-speed manual or an X-Tronic CVT (continuously variable transmission), the CVT option is more prone to slipping, which is commonly associated with the car’s known stalling problem.

And even though newer model years of the Nissan Kicks aren’t known to have many issues with their CVTs, their durability in the long run still remains questionable due to reports from earlier model years.

This is why it’s generally recommended to get an extended powertrain warranty just in case the CVT fails prematurely.

5. Suspension System Noises

When buying a secondhand Nissan Kicks, you might want to thoroughly give it a test drive and check things underneath, as all sorts of things from the suspension system can go bump over time.

According to different owners, some clunking and rattling noises can be heard from under the car when driving over bumps, potholes, or uneven terrain. This is a common sign that certain suspension parts are either damaged, worn out, or loose.

Now, newer model years such as 2021 and 2022 don’t exhibit these suspension issues as much. It’s the earlier model years with higher mileage that you have to look out for.

If you hear any noises from the suspension, then you should consider getting your suspension struts, coil springs, bushings, control arms, ball joints, tie rods, and other parts of the system checked for any signs of wear and tear.

Worn-out suspension components can generate more noise as a common symptom, but they can quickly start affecting the overall handling and ride quality of your vehicle.

Hence, it’s important to replace any worn-out suspension parts right away before they start affecting other nearby parts as well, racking up the repair costs and sketchiness of the driving experience even more.

6. Faulty Automatic Emergency Braking System

Possibly one of the biggest safety concerns that you can have in a Nissan Kicks is if its automatic emergency braking system decides to act up, as some owners have had the misfortune to experience.

The Nissan Kicks’ automatic emergency braking system or “AEB” is primarily used to prevent forward collisions through a radar sensor on the front bumper, which alerts the driver with a warning light and sound.

Under normal conditions, the automatic emergency braking system will only apply the brakes if the driver fails to step on the brake pedal despite the warnings and that a collision might happen based on the current speed and distance to the object detected.

But in some cases, the AEB system would unexpectedly activate and slam on the brakes even when there is nothing in front of the vehicle. Owners have reported this to occur at highway speeds, further increasing the safety risk it poses.

In other cases, the opposite can happen in that the AEB system can fail to activate at the right time despite a near collision. Again, this can also happen at higher speeds, making it all the more reason to rely on your own eyes and attention instead.

Despite the clear danger that the faulty AEB system poses, Nissan has yet to release any recall to resolve this issue.

However, we can still give it to the Japanese automaker for being quick and reliable to repair malfunctions of this nature, albeit it’ll still require you to get yourself to the nearest Nissan dealership first, of course. 

7. Faulty Front Collision Sensor

7. Faulty Front Collision Sensor

A related issue to the last one, certain Nissan Kicks models have been equipped with front collision sensors that can go cuckoo, leaving owners dumbfounded and even getting a surprise headbang as the car automatically hits the brakes.

As its name suggests, the front collision sensor is tasked to detect any object in proximity to the front of the car and then alerts the driver via warnings on the dashboard.

Since the automatic emergency braking (AEB) system works closely with the Forward Collision Warning system (FCW), any faults in the sensor can cause it to send false signals to the AEB, making it activate even with no obstacle in sight.

Even one owner claimed that the sensor only started malfunctioning if the sun was directly in front and hitting it from that angle. A rare case it may be, but something to consider nevertheless.

It’s also worth mentioning that the faulty sensor may be closely related to the “Cannot Detect Front Crash Sensor” warning problem that the instrument cluster is known to have.

The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has since received dozens of complaints regarding the Nissan Kicks’ front collision sensor issue, and the main solution is to simply get the sensor replaced.

However, there have been cases where certain Nissan dealerships made an oopsie and ended up installing the wrong part. This is obviously much to the annoyance of the owners, who resorted to visiting other dealerships that got it right the first time.

Regardless of the reason why the sensor becomes faulty in the first place, it’s highly recommended to have it checked and replaced by a mechanic immediately, as it’s quite a big safety hazard if not dealt with right away.

8. Start System and Keyless Entry Glitches

8. Start System and Keyless Entry Glitches

Continuing the trend of electrical issues with the Nissan Kicks, the subcompact crossover SUV is also known to develop glitches in its start system and keyless entry function.

One common example of this is that the key fob is not being recognized by the push-start button despite the doors unlocking as usual. This means that you will not be able to start the engine via the button even with the key fob present.

The most typical culprits for this are that there is either a glitch in the software, the key fob’s battery is dead, or the key fob’s internal parts are faulty.

So if you’re having trouble starting your Nissan Kicks with the push-start button, you should consider getting the vehicle’s software checked and updated as well as having your key fob inspected for any issues.

9. Instrument Cluster Clicking Noises and Faults

One of the most common complaints about the Nissan Kicks’ interior is that of an annoying clicking sound that seems to come from the instrument cluster.

This clicking noise from the instrument cluster has been observed in fairly new 2019 Nissan Kicks units that have clocked no more than 1,000 miles on the odometer.

And while the culprit to the clicking issue is yet to be brought to light, that’s not the only thing going on with the Kicks’ instrument cluster.

In as early as one week, the instrument cluster can suddenly display a warning message that says “Cannot Detect Front Crash Sensor”. This can also be accompanied by the warning alarm going off even if nothing was in front of the vehicle.

Despite having no recall for the front crash sensor, the dealership can still easily replace the sensor just in case it’s faulty.  

The rest of the infotainment system along with the cluster, on the other hand, neither received a recall nor an end to the complaints stacked against them.

10. Malfunctioning Infotainment System

10. Malfunctioning Infotainment System

With Nissan being one of the Japanese automotive brands that’s been in the limelight for its innovative tech, you would expect that the Kicks model’s infotainment system is well-put together. But alas, it’s not always that way.

Owners of certain Nissan Kicks models had a lot to say about how buggy and unpredictable the infotainment system is at times. It’s as if it’s possessed and randomly activating or deactivating features instead of doing exactly what you want.

The radio, which is of course integrated into the infotainment system, can either start playing music on its own or suddenly stop the music you’ve already been playing. It’s quite a bummer when it suddenly acts like its own DJ.

Then there’s the Bluetooth connectivity function, which some owners report can also be quite temperamental in that it sometimes just decides to stop working, leaving you no way to pair or unpair devices.

The only saving grace of the infotainment system that’s virtually flawless is the navigation system. So you can at least rely on it if you ever find yourself lost and nowhere near civilization.

But there’s still a small catch to it, in that it still functions and syncs with the unpredictable infotainment system. This means that you should pray that you can even gain access to the navigation through the menu in the first place.

The good news is that as newer model years of the Nissan Kicks are released, so do the Japanese automaker updates and fixes any known bugs with the infotainment system. 

11. Faulty Backup Camera

11. Faulty Backup Camera

When you get a Nissan Kicks with an infotainment system that’s known to go haywire, then you can expect even the backup camera to go out with it as well.

Like many other electronics in the Kicks, the backup camera or rearview camera also relies on the infotainment system to activate and display live video coverage of the rear as you’re reversing.

So once the infotainment system malfunctions, you can lose access to the backup camera’s functionality, despite there being no physical defects with the camera itself.

If you don’t want to rely on just your rearview mirror and side mirrors, then you should have your backup camera diagnosed by a mechanic. If there are no issues with the camera, then your infotainment system is the most likely culprit.

What is the best year of the Nissan Kicks?

What is the best year of the Nissan Kicks

The best model years of the Nissan Kicks are the 2021, 2022, and 2023 models. These models received the highest consumer ratings from Edmunds and KBB.

2021 to 2023 Nissan Kicks models are favored for their good reliability, affordability, fuel economy, and practical and safety features.

2023 Nissan Kicks 

As one of the newest model years of the subcompact crossover SUV, the 2023 Nissan Kicks is highly rated for its numerous features that provide both practicality and innovation in its class.

Still keeping the same affordable package that it always had, the 2023 model has great value for money for its size, as you get a pretty spacious interior for both people and cargo while also having a fuel sipper of an engine.

It’s also known for having loads of updated safety features, such as a forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, a surround-view camera on the SR trim, lane-departure warning, and more.

Thanks to such technology, the 2023 Nissan Kicks scores “Good” in six separate safety tests of the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).

Consumers also give it fairly high ratings of 4/5 from KBB and 4.3/5 from Edmunds, with people mostly giving it props for its affordability, spaciousness, comfort, and good fuel economy.

2022 Nissan Kicks

The 2022 Nissan Kicks was another great model year run for the Japanese subcompact SUV, so if you’re in the market for a used one, it’s one of the best years to consider for being quite well-rounded for its price range.

You get the same tech-filled interior with oodles of safety and assistance features that all come standard for the vehicle. 

However, opting for the SV trim level gives you even more features such as remote engine start, an upgraded brake package, heated side mirrors, and more.

While the 2022 Nissan Kicks with the 1.6-liter I4 is already generally fuel efficient, you’ll obviously get the best mileage numbers with the 1.2-liter hybrid option if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s only sold in Mexico and certain Asian markets.

All in all, consumers of the 2022 Nissan Kicks give it respectable ratings of 4/5 on KBB and 4.4/5 on Edmunds. As expected, its low cost, fuel efficiency, and overall smooth ride quality are applauded by many of its owners.

Even the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) gives it 4/5 stars for frontal crash and rollover ratings, and a perfect 5/5 stars for both side barrier and side crash ratings, making the 2022 Kicks a solid car in terms of safety.

2021 Nissan Kicks

As the first model year of the Nissan Kicks to receive a facelift, the 2021 model is quite an attractive bargain for those looking to get something affordable in a relatively small package.

Despite not being the most up-to-date of the bunch, the facelifted 2021 Nissan Kicks still doesn’t disappoint with its generous offerings of tech features, one of which is the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration combination that became standard for this year.

In general, this model year already comes with a lot of driver assists from the get-go, including the Safety Shield 360 system, a surround-view parking camera, traffic-adaptive intelligent cruise control, lane-departure warning, and rear cross-traffic alert.

However, this particular model year still received some reports of engine and transmission issues, which usually exhibit symptoms such as a jittery ride, a burning smell from the engine, rough idling, and grinding noises during acceleration.

Despite such issues, the 2021 Nissan Kicks is still hot on the 2022 and 2023 models’ tails and has been given similarly high consumer ratings of 4/5 on KBB and 4.3/5 on Edmunds.

These ratings combined with its good reputation for reliability, stylish design, fuel efficiency, and innovative features make the 2021 model a solid contender for one of the best years of the Nissan Kicks.

What is the worst year of the Nissan Kicks?

What is the worst year of the Nissan Kicks

The worst year for the Nissan Kicks is the 2019 model due to having the most complaints and issues regarding its engine, battery, automatic emergency braking, and electrical system.

The 2018 Nissan Kicks is also one of the worst model years due to engine issues, faulty sensors, and brake problems.

2019 Nissan Kicks

The Nissan Kicks has only been out for about 7 model years at this point, but not every year is made equal, and the 2019 model proves this by being one of the worst examples of it yet.

The 2019 Nissan Kicks has received numerous complaints due to an engine stalling issue that happens due to an issue with the car’s fuel system.

Other notable issues of the 2019 model include a clicking noise in the instrumental cluster, the “Cannot Detect Front Crash Sensor” message appearing, and the front warning alarm activating without anything in front of the car.

While it still managed to get a 4/5 consumer rating on KBB, it was rated considerably lower on Edmunds at only 3.3/5, which is the lowest out of any Nissan Kicks model year due to the same stalling problem and other electrical issues.

2018 Nissan Kicks

2018 was the first model year of the Nissan Kicks in the US, and just like many other vehicle models and their “first release”, this is one year that you’re better off avoiding and opting for the newer ones instead.

While its good reputation for cargo space and fuel economy has always been there since its 2018 release, all kinds of problems with the Nissan Kicks started rearing their ugly heads fairly early, with some owners experiencing them as early as one week in.

As with the 2019 model, the 2018 Nissan Kicks also suffered from sudden engine shutdowns or stalling and an influx of electronic issues after only a few thousand miles on the clock.

Such electronic issues can include the radio suddenly skipping songs or becoming unresponsive, the front and rear radar sensors malfunctioning, the interior lights prematurely dimming, the center screen freezing, and the A/C becoming faulty.

On some occasions, owners reported having problems with the transmission system, which caused symptoms such as the car jerking during acceleration and a decrease in gas mileage. One owner even reported the transmission failing all the way.

The 2018 Nissan Kicks gets consumer ratings of 3.9/5 on Edmunds and even 4/5 on KBB, though this model year is still easily a hit-or-miss when compared to the more favored model years of the little SUV. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is the Nissan Kicks reliable?

Certain model years of the Nissan Kicks are considered quite reliable, such as the newer 2022 and 2023 models. 

The earlier model years from 2018 and 2019 are more unreliable due to having the most issues with their engine and numerous electronics.

Even when considering that the 2023 model received a “Great” reliability score of 82/100 from J.D. Power, the overall reliability of the Nissan Kicks as a whole is still considered “Average” throughout its production run. 

Do Nissan Kicks have transmission problems?

The Nissan Kicks is known to develop transmission problems that could result in symptoms such as grinding noises when accelerating, a jittery or jerky ride, and gear slippage that’s more common in the CVT option.

What are the benefits of the Nissan Kicks?

The main benefits of the Nissan Kicks are that it’s very affordable for its class, has a lot of cargo and passenger space for its size, and delivers great gas mileage with any of its engine options.

The Nissan Kicks is also filled with practical and safety features even with the base trim model, further adding value to its package.

What is the disadvantage of the Nissan Kicks?

The main disadvantages of the Nissan Kicks are that earlier model years have a history of engine problems and electronic issues, it doesn’t have great acceleration performance, and it doesn’t come with an AWD (all-wheel-drive) option.

The facelifted Nissan Kicks model from 2021 onwards also doesn’t have that much legroom for backseat passengers. Even the driver’s crowded seating position can become uncomfortable during longer drives.