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.

CarComplaints.com 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.

2.4

hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
64,287 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 (Page 1 of 2)

problem #22

Feb 242009

Altima 4-cyl

  • 102,150 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I had purchased a Nissan 2002 Altima from a dealer as certified vehicle. I have bought two other cars from the same dealer and in addition all the cars were always serviced by the same dealer. Since last two years the "service engine soon" light comes on and on one such occasion I was informed by the same dealership that the cat converter had failed and the same needs to be replaced. Recently the car has failed mv inspection with two codes P0420 and P1217. There is a similar recall # PE02078 on 268,000 cars on Oct. 2002 (I bought the car in 2005, and have no knowledge if this issue has been taken care of or not.) the mv inspection report clearly indicates the failure of catalytic converter and requires repairs and monitors set for re-inspection. The inspection also notes a voluntary recalls ntb07-081 and ntb03-070C for pre-catalyst. The federal law requires emissions warranties (as per the mv inspection report)for at least 80000 miles and I have no idea if this was corrected on my vehicle on Nissan's voluntary recall. I had not opted to repair this when the mechanic at dealer informed the reason for "service engine soon" at 82080 miles as the cost was exorbitant and until I had similar problem (recall)with a Ford Windstar van thru" NHTSA and was solved by the dealer. (I was about to junk that car, thanks to NHTSA).

- East Brunswick, NJ, USA

problem #21

Oct 102010

Altima

  • miles
The car began to loose acceleration and the engine would kick and then gained the acceleration back. After 20 miles of driving started loosing acceleration again and shut off on a under construction interstate w/one lane of traffic. No service lights at first and after cranking and driving another 10-15 or so it stalled again and the check-engine, oil, and brake indicator's lights on the dash board came on. Checked for recalls for this problems. Contacting dealership for possible repair if its a recall problem.

- Vicksburg , MS, USA

problem #20

Jan 112010

Altima

  • 170,000 miles
The latest problem with my Nissan Altima occurred yesterday. It would not start after extreme cold. This is the last in an ongoing saga of problems with this vehicle. We fail to get notifications of recalls from the manufacturer. If something fails to work, it is always our financial responsibility unless it is a very minor repair. The day after the sale there was no beam for a headlight. Now we see headlights fall under the recall. Maybe we should have known we had a lemon. We had a sensor go out as I was driving 70 miles an hour on an interstate. I had to pay because the vendor said at 8,000 miles it was just outside of warranty. I later find out that sensors fell under a recall. Yet to get my money back I had to produce documents that I could not get the repairing dealership to fax to me. I wrote, called, etc. Still the end was I paid and they did not return my money. We have had to have the air compressor replaced not once but 3 different times to get air conditioning in the car. Now today the call I get says this, the "engine is shot" expect to pay in excess of $4900 to get it fixed. This car and many other Nissan Altima I have found out have had the same series of problems. I want my car fixed at no cost to me or I want a replacement at an extremely reduced cost. I want the vendor to be required to notify car owners of recalls and to not merely have to report that there is a recall. My permanent address has not changed since the purchase. They could have let me know that. Even now there are recalls that are due this car but conveniently not on the parts that now need to be replaced. Please help or put me in contact with someone who can.!! I spoke with brandon at your office by phone this a.M. because I feel I was not able to effectively get my point heard by him, I have chosen to file this written complaint in the hopes of receiving attention and assistance. Deep down I want a manufacturer that stands behind what they sell and that replaces what is defective.

- Columbus, MS, USA

problem #19

Aug 312009

Altima

  • 117,918 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

As I was driving up a hill, I heard a loud popping noise. Instantly I noticed my temperature gauge shoot up and the check engine light turned on. I parked my car and just figured that it had overheated. I added more water to the radiator and kept driving. 2 minutes later it was all the way hot again. I had my car towed home at which point I inspected the radiator and discovered a 4 inch horizontal crack in the plastic head of the radiator directly across from the hose mount. I could not believe that plastic could crack like this. I have seen cracks in plastic along seams, but there was no seam here. I just could not believe that this crack could happen this way. This must be some sort of a defect because this was unbelievable. I went on to purchase a new radiator plus hoses and antifreeze from the auto parts store for a total of $250, plus I will now have to take 3 hours out of my day to replace the radiator. I do all my own work on the car and take great care of it. I fix any small problems right away to prevent larger problems, such as this one, from happening.

- Saugus, CA, USA

problem #18

Sep 012007

Altima

  • miles
Engine and engine cooling:exhaust system:manifold/header/muffler/tail pipe; I went to kraft nissian dealership to have this recall fixed; after about approximately 2-3 weeks later I experience a shut-off in traffic. I return the car back to kraft nissian and they stated that they did not see a problem. It did not happen a agin, but afterwards I notice my car was burining alot of oil. I replace the oil every two-to three days. Then one day it just died on me. I then had the car tow the car I could not afford the repair of the replacement of the engine and was told I had to rmove the car from the premises immeditely. I explain to the top/head service guy that I would have someone come and remove it that Friday. He called on Friday and I told him that it would be after 5pm but the person would be there to move it. I got there around 5:15 and was told the car had been towed. I believe that there is a continous problem with the recall and that nissian dealership do not want to replace the engine and makes the consumer feel as if it was theere fault. I had taken the car back several times without any satisfaction, I not sure if they treated me that way because I was a woman or what but I really felt belittled by this dealership.

- Havana, FL, USA

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problem #17

Jan 012004

Altima

  • miles
I have a 2002 Nissan Altima. There was a recall on the pre-cat and it was replaced...in the recall it states that if the pre-cat is replaced then the engine has to be also but it was not. My engine burns 2qts of oil a week and makes a weird noise. I want this taken care of.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #16

Dec 202008

Altima

  • 85,139 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

We own a 2002 Nissan Altima S 2.5 liter engine. We had a recall due to the exhaust pipe hanger pin possibly igniting with the main catalyst. After that was dealt with, the dealer charging me $80.81, said the engine noise and check engine light is due to faulty catalytic converter. The conversion efficiency of the pre-catalyst has deteriorated and now the catalyst has to be replaced. There is no heat when the car is at idle and now have increased oil consumption, 5 quarts every 2 weeks. Because of the amount of damage a new engine may be in the picture. There are only 85000 miles on the car. We do not have the money for a new engine or even catalytic converter. What should we do to get Nissan to fix their faulty catalytic converter/engine problem? Nissan is not standing behind their product! we aren't talking about buying a gallon of milk! we are driving a car that could possibly start on fire while we are in it! search "Nissan catalytic converter"; car and driver Altima catalytic converter failure and www.canadiandriver.com/articles/cc/02-06altima.htm the complaints are numerous please reply with what recourse we have.

- Hinckley, OH, USA

problem #15

Feb 112008

Altima

  • 68,000 miles
Just commuting to work and using my car for leisure; however, every other month I have to put oil into my car because the oil light comes on. This is with me doing my quarterly if not earlier oil changes. My 2002 Nissan Altima only has 73000 miles and is consuming oil and now has begun shaking when at a stop and shakes even more when the A/C is on. I've had it checked out and have been told it need a new engine because the oil has to do with the engine and the shaking they can't figure out what is wrong with it. Nissan refuses to take ownership in this mechanical error. I've been doing research and I see that I'm not alone in this costly situation. It's hard for me to trust Nissan when I feel as if they refuse to listen to the consumers.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #14

Sep 192003

Altima

  • 86,323 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact received a recall notice for the entire emission system and took the vehicle to be repaired. He also stated that the converter needed to be replaced according to a voluntary recall. The converter was not replaced because the dealer would not do it for free. The NHTSA campaign id number was unknown. The failure and current mileages were 86,323.

- Carol Stream, IL, USA

problem #13

Aug 312007

Altima

  • 85,000 miles
I loved the car until recently when I started having problems with the heater. Months ago, I noticed that my heater was not working properly. I took it to be looked at and the mechanic told me that there may be bubbles in the coolant line. They bled the line, refilled it and it was fine for awhile. I have no heat again. They checked and could find no external leaks. This has been a problem for the past year, and every few months I need my coolant replaced and bled. I've gone to numerous mechanics and nobody can find the leak. I've searched many sites and forums and this seems to be a recurring problem for my type of car. The engine is overheating because the coolant is leaking, the car idles rough and is driving w/ higher rpms than it used.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #12

Aug 242008

Altima

  • 85,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I loved the car until recently when I started having problems with the heater. Months ago, I noticed that my heater was not working properly. I took it to be looked at and the mechanic told me that there may be bubbles in the coolant line. They bled the line, refilled it and it was fine for awhile. I have no heat again. They checked and could find no external leaks. This has been a problem for the past year, and every few months I need my coolant replaced and bled. I've gone to numerous mechanics and nobody can find the leak. I've searched many sites and forums and this seems to be a recurring problem for my type of car. The engine is overheating because the coolant is leaking, the car idles rough and is driving w/ higher rpms than it used.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #11

Aug 192008

Altima

  • 85,000 miles
Recently the car would be rough to start. And when it did start it would sputter and shake. Brought the car to a Nissan service facility. After the initial diagnosis I was told the head gasket was blown and the catalytic converter was shot. Also told that there was no oil in the reservoir. The oil light never came on so I had no warning that there was a problem.

- Howell, NJ, USA

problem #10

May 222008

Altima 4-cyl

  • 121,232 miles
When I start my car in the morning it always takes two or three times for the car to start. I figured maybe my engine was just cold. But then when I was driving, I slowed down because a red light was coming up and my car completely shut off!! I was so scared because my I almost hit the person in front of me. I figured that something was wrong so I better take my car to the dealership soon. The next day my car wouldn't start at all?? I had to have my car towed to the dealership but before I went, I checked to see if there were any recalls on my car. There was a recall on my vehicle regarding the regarding the crankshaft sensor. The whole time my car was behaving this way the service light never appeared. When the I got to the certified Nissan dealership they explained that yes there is a recall but that my vehicle needed "a new crankshaft sensor because my senor was no longer good." I said the recall clearly states that the crankshaft sensor is known to overheat which caused my crankshaft senor to now be replaced. So, I should be able to get my crankshaft senor under this recall. They insisted no and if I have any problems I need to contact the manufacturer. Please help!!!

- San Bernardino, CA, USA

problem #9

Feb 112008

Altima

  • 65,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that ignition does not immediately turnover when attempting to start the vehicle. The ignition hesitates regularly in all temperatures. Prior to the failure, the engine warning light illuminated on the instrument panel. She took the vehicle to an independent mechanic and was informed that the fuel pressure was in good condition and the cooling level was low. There was maintenance work performed on the cooling system. The mechanic also observed that the head gasket was leaking internally and advised that it be replaced. The heater has been replaced twice on the vehicle. The head gasket has not yet been repaired. The failure mileage was 65,000 and current mileage was 66,783.

- Pottstown, PA, USA

problem #8

Nov 222007

Altima 4-cyl

  • 65,000 miles
I have a Nissan Altima (2002) with under 75,000 miles. I have been experiencing problems with the coolant system for roughly 10,000 miles. The coolant tank drains every 2-3 days. I refill it, and it is empty 2 -3 days later. I have had 3 or 4 separate tests done on the coolant system, and no problems were found. Yet, the problems continue. Recently, gray smoke flows out of the tail pipe upon starting the car. Also, when starting the car, the whole vehicle shutters, and sometimes does not turn right over (requiring 2 or 3 turns of the ignition key). I was told that perhaps it is a blown head gasket, warped head, or something of the sort. Either way, it was determined that the coolant is somehow leaking into the engine (because no signs of leaks anywhere else have been detected). With only 75,000 miles on the car, this should be considered a manufacturers problem. The coolant tank is emptied every 2-3 days, the gray smoke blowing out of the tail pipe happens at least 3 times a week, and the shuttering (and inability to start initially) happens 1-2 times a week, with increasing frequency. Nothing was done to correct the problem. One dealership said that there was nothing wrong with the vehicle, which obviously is not the case. I was told by 2 mechanics (one at that same dealership, and one independent) that the problem is internal, and that the entire motor would probably have to be replaced. At the very minimum, the head gasket and / or header. Researching the internet, I found hundreds of similar complaints by owners of Nissan's of the same of similar model and year. This problem should be looked into, and should be seriously considered for a recall!

- Boothwyn, PA, USA

problem #7

Jan 162006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact received a recall notice for NHTSA campaign id number 03V251000 (fuel system, gasoline:storage:tank assembly). She had the vehicle repaired according to the recall. While driving approximately 60 mph, the vehicle completely stalled. She did not hear any noises and there were no warning indicators. Minutes later, the failure recurred. The contact noticed that the failure occurred only during cold weather. She took her vehicle to the dealer and they stated that although she previously had her vehicle repaired according to NHTSA campaign id number 03V455000 (engine and engine cooling), the part needed to be replaced again at her expense. The contact filed a complaint with the manufacturer. The failure mileage was 44,000 and current mileage was 86,000.

- North, NJ, USA

problem #6

Sep 122006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles
Car was losing coolant. Dealer said I needed a new engine because the head gasket was leaking. They refused to replace the catalytic converter and blamed the engine overheat problem on the leaking gasket. Engine is working fine. I do not want them to replace the head gasket because I can get it done by an ase certified mechanic for half the price and I do not trust them since they told me I needed a new engine. The catalytic converter is supposed to be covered by warranty up to 80K miles. I have 71K miles on the car.

- Fountain Valley, CA, USA

problem #5

Sep 122005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2002 Nissan Altima. The consumer stated when she would start the vehicle in the morning, it felt like it was not getting any fuel. She would have to press the accelerator. She stated it would happen sometimes at lunch time, and when she went home from work. The check engine light came on at this time. This started on September 12, 2005. The consumer took vehicle to mechanic, and they found a recall. The throttle body was cleaned by mechanic. She called Nissan of clovis, and took vehicle there, and they found the vehicle did not fall under the recall. They found it was the throttle body. She had the throttle body replaced. The next morning it started again, the dealership told her to bring it back in. This time it was the ECM computer. It was also replaced. On September 28, 2005 the vehicle did it again. She took the vehicle back on September 30, 2005, and they found the coolant is leaking into the number two cylinder; the head gasket would have to be replaced. The consumer stated the service manager said these vehicles have been coming in with this problem but at 80,000 miles.

- Fresno, CA, USA

problem #4

Apr 032005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,781 miles
My car heating system was not functioning properly and then my car had overheated. Mechanic said there was a leak in the radiator which caused my car to overheat causing a crack in my engine. Car is only 3 years old with 75,781 miles.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #3

Nov 102003

Altima 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 29,778 miles
Lost of heat the dealership has replaced the water pump, heat box, termostat's, flushed cooling system & still I lose heat. They have contacted the engineers in calif. And they don't know what wrong either. One should be here in detroit by March 22,2005 to try and solve the problem. Now the car is burning oil, whin in a week I have to replace oil in the car because all the oil is gone and it's not leaking.

- Detroit, MI, USA

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