Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety. Notes: Here's a disturbing trend for the 2002 Nissan Altima: the engine starts burning oil like crazy, the catalytic converter goes bad, the head gasket blows and eventually the entire engine needs replacement. Sound familiar? Like a script from a horror film, these Altimas seem doomed to fail around 95k miles.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
46,688 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2002 Nissan Altima cooling system problems

cooling system problem

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2002 Nissan Altima Owner Comments

problem #9

Feb 012007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,633 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. While driving 50 mph, the contact heard a knocking sound coming from the engine. She noticed that the check engine light was illuminated. The dealer stated that the catalytic converter needed to be replaced and they performed the replacement. Approximately a month and half later, the vehicle was taken to the dealer due to excessive oil consumption. The dealer performed an oil change. The contact stated that she had to add a quart of oil ten days after the oil change was performed. The dealer was unable to determine the reason for the excessive oil consumption. The current mileage is 78,739 and failure mileage was 72,633.

- Rockville, MD, USA

problem #8

Mar 202007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles
Since I purchased this 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5, I've constantly experienced cold starts. I've also taken the car to the dealership for a clicking sound that appears to be in the glove compartment area. The dealership could not locate the source of the problem..I still have the clicking noise. On March 20, 2007 I took the car to the dealership because I am experiencing problems with starting the car. After 6 or 7 attempts the car starts. I thought it was the fuel pump. The car was put on a diagnostic machine whereby air pockets were found in the radiator system. They also found that anti-freeze was in my first and third cylinder. I was told that I needed an engine. I must say that I'm truly disappointed with this car. I've experienced nothing but problems since I purchasedit new. Now it is five years old and needing an engine. I don't understand it. I had an extended warranty which ended at 100,000 miles and I have 101,000. I don't think that I should have to pay for a new engine when Nissan knows that is problem existed with the 2002 models. The sales agent at the dealership also informed me that this was a common problem with this car. I will be contacting Nissan to get further compensation for the replacement of my engine. Why hasn't a recall been issued? thanks...

- Covington, GA, USA

problem #7

Oct 012006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,639 miles
- the contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated the vehicle had air pockets in the radiator, preventing it from having heat. The failure mileage was 49,639. The dealer/mechanic changed the antifreeze and removed the air pockets. The failure returned after four months. The dealer/mechanic again removed the air pockets, changed the antifreeze, and this time flushed the radiator. The failure mileage 55,200. The contact has the repair invoices.

- Teaneck, NJ, USA

problem #6

Nov 292005

(reported on)

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles


Consumer 2002 Nissan Altima radiator was leaking.

- Schenectady, NY, USA

problem #5

Nov 092005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
I want to report a failure in my Nissan Altima 2002. They day before yesterday I was driving to my evening work and I was chatting on the phone with my sister when the "check engine soon" light came up. I kept on driving around 10 more miles, and by the time I was about to get to the parking lot of my work place the car start shocking on me like if it was going to stop. At that time I was already in the parking lot and I parked. Then I saw a huge smoke coming from the front and since I'm a women that doesn't understand much about cars, I just got scared and called my husband so he could pick me up after work. When I was at work I talk about the incident to my boss and he went to check the car, and he told me the radiator pretty much broke!!, he tried to put water, and the car couldn't hold it. It was just leaking, he told me I should tow it to the dealership so they could fix it, because if I drive it the engine will die and my car will stop in the middle of the street because it will overheat. I tow it to the dealership. I wanted to know why did the radiator broke, I was thinking I should get a reasonable explanation why that happen. The car is pretty new, it just has 50K miles. Anyways, the dealer wasn't able to give me any good reason. They just said the radiator started leaking and eventually broke. Excuse me" so what should I expect in the next 50K miles? the same?... I just don't think this is safe... what if I didn't got lucky and made it to my work place before the car died on me on a freeway?... I could cause an accident... this is obviously a Nissan Altima radiator defect.... and it should be a recall, I take care of changing oil and putting water in the car as I should.... so why do I have to deal with this"... please help. I had to pay $1058 to get my car fixed.

- Dallas, TX, USA

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problem #4

Aug 142003


  • 15,908 miles
Nissan replaced the radiator/parts three times but the consumer continued to smell antifreeze inside the vehicle. Several attempt by different service dealer have been made to alleviate the problem, but none have been successful.

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #3

Jul 302004

Altima 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles


Bought car used in March 2003 with 28451 miles from decormier Nissan in manchester, ct 06040. Since I have had car there have been numerous problems. No starting, car would stop running while driving, ignition coils have been replaced, cam position sensor replaced (twice), 5 recalls, brakes redone due to excessive corrision, after brakes redone needed to replace both front warped rotors, radiator replaced after bottom seam blew out. Latest problem is what I feel is excessive consumption of engine oil. Car originally did not use oil between oil changes (3000 miles). Car is currently using just over 1 quart per 3000 miles. Brought car to dealer with 52,281 miles to perform oil consumption test. Brought car back with 53,924 miles. In 1,643 miles car consumed 0.6 quart of oil. Dealer said this is acceptable. Have since contacted Nissan of America (1-800-nissan1) to start case #4630040. I am also concerned about recall for pre-catalyst (done on 9/23/03) because there is a possibility certain engine operating conditions may cause damage to the pre-catalyst. Material from a damaged pre-catalyst could enter the engine and result in increased oil consumption. I asked the dealer about the pre-catalyst and there were not aware of this. Pre-catalyst recall is on the Nissan of America web site then why is the dealer not aware of this?

- Tolland, CT, USA

problem #2

Jun 242004

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,500 miles
Car failed to start... charged battery, no purchase a new battery.two days later car failed to start with new battery...charge battery for an then started... while car was standing still in driveway with motor start car overhead and crack the radiator tow to dealer...nissian of North America refused to replace a defective radiator......question how do you crack the head of a radiator at zero mile per hour in idle with nothing running accept the motor on a cool morning about 70 degree.

- Camarillo, CA, USA

problem #1

Feb 242004

(reported on)


  • 47,514 miles
Repairs required for 3 recalls, replacement or radiator and mass airflow sensor. However, manufacturer is willing to pay replacement of radiator, but won't pay for the replacement of mass airflow sensor.

- Park Forest, IL, USA

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