Owner’s Log: MaximumPhil’s 2010 Maxima (Updates 2 and 3)

Due to a mix-up, Phil’s 2nd quarter update was never posted, so I’ve combined it with his 3rd quarter update on his 2010 Nissan Maxima.  In the future, we hope to have Phil’s data posted quarterly again.  Now then, while Phil doesn’t drive his Maxima as much as I drive mine, he still has some very nice insights pertaining to the ownership of his car.  Click on past the jump for more details.

A quick reminder of what Phil’s car looks like:

Quarter 2 Update:


Time period covered: 10/01/2010 – 12/31/2010
Miles driven this reporting period: 2,521, average MPG this reporting period: 20.9 (reported by owner)
Lifetime miles driven (6 mos.) 4,333, average MPG lifetime: 20.6

Services Performed:

New car inspection and first oil/filter change.

Maintenance: $0 (initial oil/filter change and inspection – gratis)
Other costs (non-fuel): $0
Total costs: $0

Dated Notes:

10/28/10:  Took car to dealership for 3000 mile initial checkup and oil change.  No issues were noted during this service, which was provided gratis.


Three minor but annoying issues that surfaced during this inspection service left me less than pleased and with an unmistakable impression that the local service personnel were not as well informed as one would hope.

First issue: I had purchased a small (half-dollar sized) convex mirror to affix to my exterior rear view mirror, driver’s side.  However, the Service Manager – after consulting with his technical services manual – was unable to advise me where best to place this convex mirror to avoid interfering with the auto-dimming feature of the mirror (I assumed that the dimming receptor was located behind the rear view mirror, but within mirror housing).  However, when I later posed the same question to John Suit, he immediately informed me that the auto dimming receptor was housed within the interior rear view mirror.  Thanks, John.

Second issue: In driving the car, my sense was that the ride seemed unduly harsh.  I asked service to check the air pressure in the tires and the service attendant reported 42 psi.  When I suggested to him that the owner’s manual indicated that proper pressure should be at 32 psi, he commented the air pressure in all cars were set to 42 psi at the dealership prior to delivery because it provided for a better driving experience.  Rather than argue the point, I simply thanked him for his opinion and asked him to reduce the air pressure to 32 psi as indicated in the specifications page.  I can honestly say that the car now rides much more like a comfortable sedan than a truck.

Third issue: At the completion of the initial inspection/service, the service manager drew my attention to a statement in the work order that read ” . . . Vehicle requires ester oil, regular price $70,” exclusive of filter and labor charges.  This is a far cry from my local gas station which charges about $21 for brand name API certified oil, and if followed would represent a cost increase of about 400% per oil change!  Accordingly, I e-mailed an enquiry to Nissan North America so I would have an official response for the record.  Extracts:

    Question: “. . . At the conclusion of this initial service, the technician called my attention to a notation within the invoice that specified my vehicle requires (emphasis added) Nissan Ester Oil (regular price $70 + cost of filter and labor). However, my Nissan owner’s manual simply states in the Capacities and Recommended Fuel/Lubricants section (Page 9-2) that one should use engine oil with the API Certification Mark / Viscosity SAE 5w-30. In separate footnotes on the same page, Nissan merely recommends use of Genuine Nissan Ester Oil, and advises that further details may be found in the Engine Oil and Oil Filter Recommendations section (Page 9-5). There it states  ” . . .Nissan recommends the use of an energy conserving oil in order to improve fuel economy. Select only oils that meet the American Petroleum Institute (API) certification or International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC) certification and SAE viscosity standard . . .”  That section also does not speak to a requirement to use Nissan Ester Oil, and in fact, I am unable to find any statement anywhere in the owner’s manual that requires the use of Nissan Ester Oil. 

    Here are my questions: Does Nissan require or does it simply recommend the use of Nissan Ester Oil? The difference is more than semantic because Nissan’s Ester Oil is significantly more expensive than commonly used, alternative lubricants. If it is required, any such deviation from normally expected maintenance requirements should have been disclosed prior to purchase. Finally, in the absence of a requirement, please advise me whether the use of popular brand conventional or synthetic oils in lieu of Nissan Ester Oil would invalidate my warranty.”

    Nissan Response: ” . . . In regards to your oil inquiry, as you had previously referenced from the 2010 Maxima Owner’s Manual, “Nissan recommends the use of an energy conserving oil in order to improve fuel economy. Select only engine oils that meet the American Petroleum Institute (API) certification or International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC) certification and SAE viscosity standard. These oils have the API certification mark on the front of the container. Oils which do not have the specified quality label should not be used as they could cause engine damage.

    The above referenced information is a recommendation, not a requirement. The engine oil viscosity or thickness changes with temperature choosing an oil viscosity other than that recommended could cause serious engine damage. If damage is caused to the engine due to using a viscosity which is not recommended, this would not be considered a warrantable failure, and I (sic) turn would not be covered.”

While on the topic of “recommendation” vice “requirement,” I noted for the record in my first quarterly report that Nissan also recommends use of premium (high octane) unleaded fuel in the Maxima.  However, I successfully used regular unleaded gasoline  for seven years on my previous ’04 Maxima SL without any trouble and sensed no noticeable impact on performance; I am continuing that practice with my 2010 Maxima without observable degradation of performance whether in the city or on the highway.  To be fair, John Suit offers his own comments on this subject in his Ed. Note appended to my first quarterly report.

All things considered, owning and driving my 2010 Maxima SV has been a rewarding experience thus far.  After six months, I love driving it.  As soon as I get in, the steering wheel telescopes and the seat and external mirrors automatically adjust to my preset preference, and move out of the way to facilitate easy exit.   Although the mileage driven is relatively low, I have so far been spared popping noises coming from the roof, and complaints about the navigation system (see Ted Sanders 1st quarterly report dated 11/26 – http://www.road-reality.com/2010/06/28/owners-log-2010-nissan-maxima-update-1/#comment-9026), which has performed exceptionally well except for one non-recurring episode reported in my first submission.  One other observation:  I had thought that illumination left something to be desired when driving after dark, but setting the fog lights to activate automatically with the headlamps seems to have resolved that issue.


Quarter 3 Update:

Time period covered: 1/1/11 – 3/31/11
Miles driven this reporting period: 922
Average MPG this reporting period: 18.5 (reported by owner)
Lifetime miles driven (9 mos.) 5,255
Average MPG lifetime: 19.7

Services Performed:

Rubber brake pedal covering slipped off pedal metal – no charge.

Maintenance: $0
Other costs (non-fuel): $0
Total costs: $0


Driving my 2010 SV has been a rewarding experience thus far. After nine months, I love driving it. There have been no problems of any type, and no costs incurred thus far from June 30 thru today’s date. For sure, the more I drive the car, the more I appreciate it’s many qualities such as the smoothness of the CVT (I’ve never felt the slightest need to use the paddle shifters), the handling, the navigation system with its voice recognition and ease of operation, the on-screen touch controls, use of the phone, the clarity of the reverse camera, etc etc. Most automotive ratings/reviews don’t rank the Maxima at the top of its class (nor the bottom, for that matter), but for me, driving it leaves me very satisfied, and that’s what counts.  When I exit the car, the steering wheel retracts and rises out of the way, while the driver’s seat slides all the way back, making exiting very easy.  The reverse is equally true, as the steering wheel telescopes and the seat and external mirrors automatically adjust to my preset preference. The heated steering wheel (more than a few “luxury” vehicles do not have this feature) is a nice touch during cold winter days, although the on/off switch for it is located low on the dash just above the left knee, out of sight and better found by feel than sight.  The same could be said for the knob that regulates heating and cooling for the driver’s seat – it’s location on the console in front of the gear shift lever makes it hard to find and awkward to use.  I think it worth noting that while I’m not driving a hybrid or gas-sipping compact, it seems to me that achieving 19.7 mpg in mostly city driving in a powerful V-6 is not bad at all.  I’m looking forward to the coming months, when hopefully I’ll have an opportunity to experience more open road driving beyond the Washington beltway.  In the meantime, I’ll look to John Suit’s road-reality and it’s contributors to set the benchmark for meaningful ownership reporting.

by MaximumPhil

Edited for content and format by John Suit

Images were submitted by MaximumPhil and are the property of John Suit and Road Reality



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