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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.

9.5

really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
$1,926.00
Average Mileage:
99,996 miles
Total Complaints:
40 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace gasket (18 reports)
  2. replace engine (13 reports)
  3. not sure (9 reports)
2002 Nissan Altima engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #40

Jul 182012

Altima LX 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,564 miles

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

i will never buy another nissan. they did a recall, knew the car had a bad engine, played like they fixed it and sent me on my way. worst experiance ever, purchased another motor, and it went out

- , Ogden, AR, US Minor Outlying Islands

problem #39

Jan 172012

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

Let me preface this by saying I'm not a crazy driver and I am very good to my car. In 10 years of owning it I only have 75000 miles on it...and none of them were spent street racing!

It all started with rough starts in the morning as well as some other random times. Then one morning my car wouldn't start. I waited a few minutes (mentally freaking out) and then it started right up. Naturally the check engine light came on soon after. I plugged my laptop into the car and low an behold I get a cylinder misfire error (number 3). Online suggestions pointed to changing the spark plugs so I did. Amazing! The car started right up and ran better than it had for a long time! I guess I hadn't noticed the sluggish response that had crept up over the years.

But wait...oh how I wish the story could end there... the problem came back...it only took about three weeks, but the rough starts trickled right on back and the engine light was on once again. So...I took it in to my trusty local mechanic. He said it was a faulty ignition coil. Swapped it out and I was on my way. Yay! The car was running smoothly with no problems...but wait...

Four months later: it was back. The shaky starts, the little hiccups while driving, and that bastard of a check engine light. What the hell! Checked the engine code and it said that a different cylinder was misfiring. OK...I replaced both the spark plug and the ignition coil myself. No big deal. Problem came back. OK. Now I'm pissed...and I am also starting to fear the big 'Head Gasket' thing everyone has been talking about or avoiding on this page.

I took it in. Yep. I had a coolant leak. Arterial sized. Into the engine. Here is what was happening. Coolant was leaking into the engine through a blown head gasket and a crack in the engine itself. According to my mechanic, he sees this ALL THE TIME with the 2.5L Nissan Altima engine (not the 3.5L you lucky bastards). The coolant was gumming up the heads of the spark plugs (which is why changing the spark plug 'fixed the problem' for a brief moment until they got gummed up again). Fix? Install a new re-manufactured engine for $3500. Well...at least it came with a three year 100,000 mile warranty. Sigh.

So...how do you know if you have the same problem I did (and many others on here?) Follow this simple check list: 2.5L engine? Shaky/rough starts? Losing coolant? After the engine cools a bit, check under the oil cap and see bubbles on the bottom of the cap?

If you answered YES to all of these questions, then congratulations! You have a blown head gasket and possibly a blown engine! Whoo hoo! Options: Replace the engine if it is that bad, or just replace the head gasket if you are lucky that your engine didn't get blown. After I replaced the engine I thought to myself...should I have just left the broken engine in there and just kept putting more coolant in and replacing the spark plugs until it got so bad I HAD to replace the engine? It would have postponed the hurt of paying...the problem is, I don't know if running the engine into the ground would have also damaged any other parts. Hence the early replacement.

I got 75,000 miles out of that engine. I should have gotten a hell of a lot more. Hope this helps someone out there.

- , North Hollywood, CA, USA

problem #38

Jun 072012

Altima 2.5S QR25DE

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

Two weeks back my 2002 Altima 2.5s vehicle's SES light came up. I took to the Stadium Nissan dealership in Seattle . It was diagnosed as a blown Head Gasket issue and they recommended to replace the Engine due to the past engine fixes . I called up Nissan Customer Service on the issue . Nissan HQ said since the car was 10 years old they can't help me in replacing the engine even though the car had only 75,000 miles. I bought the car in 2004 when it had 32,00 miles.

In 2004, I had taken the car to the dealership to take care of a recall related to the Engine. Back in 2010, I had 2 back-to-back engine issues related to Sensors. One was fixed by the dealership under Nissan's warranty and for the other one I paid around $150.At that point ( March 2010), I wrote a letter to Nissan HQ to highlight my concern about the engine falling apart. At that time, the car had only 66,000 miles. At that point, I was asked to call back if there is another issue.9000 miles later on June 2012, the Head Gasket blew up for Cylinder#4. When I called back, I didn't get any support from Nissan HQ.

I moved my car to another Nissan dealership to get a second opinion.As I write this email, my the head gasket is getting fixed for $1800. I'm planning to sell-off the car later this year and get another Honda or Subaru. I'm done with Nissan. It is a shame that a car like Nissan Altima will fall apart in 75,000 miles and the company doesn't have the spine to stand by its customers.

- , Seattle, WA, USA

problem #37

Feb 062013

Altima GXS 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 142,000 miles

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

I bought this car from a used car dealer in April of 2012. At first, it ran great and looked good. I thought, wow, someone took really good care of this vehicle. Well, appearances can be very deceiving. First in December of 2012 exactly 8 months later the alternator goes and car strands me. I have to have it towed. I get it back and within weeks the specks I had noticed on the radiator soon make it known just what those specks meant. A bad bad radiator. So, I replace the radiator. I might mention that the car overheated. Only, I did not know the car was overheating, because the temperature gauage never moved, as the wires were bad and so therefore the temperature gauge was not working......PERIOD. So, I pick up the car, at around 6:00 at night with it's new radiator and head home. Within 20 minutes of leaving the car overheats massively and I have to have it towed yet again. This time it is the Head Gasket. This is NOT what I wanted to hear. I had to get a rental car and it took nearly two weeks to fix my car. With the rental and the repairs, I spent nearly $1500 and I might add that I am still paying on the car and am getting behind on the payments too!!!!!! I get the car back and within two months it dies on me again and I have to have it towed for the third time in four months. This time it is the water pump. I also, have had water in the floorboard and it is at times three inches deep and sloshing around. So, they (the dealership does all the repairs) replace the water pump, rotor button and the distributor cap. I get the car back and the water is still flooding the floorboard!!!!!! Now the overflow resevoir sounds like there is water boiling in it after I turn the car off and the check engine light came on, stayed on for a day, then went out again and my brake light is coming on and I have had to add brake fluid. This car is truly a LEMON!!!!!!

- , Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #36

Feb 012010

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

Just like so many others here, I have an 02 Nissan Altima that blew a head gasket. I babied this car...all the scheduled maintenance services,etc. I had the head gasket replaced last December after hearing the engine make all kinds of weird noises and the ac and heater went out in the car. Then it overheated. All this cost $1500.

Then, a couple of days ago while driving up a hill, I lost power and all the dash lights came on. The worst part was losing the power steering. My service person hooked it up to the computer and now it looks like I need a new catalytic converter. I think what I really need is a new engine because, as I forgot to mention, it also eats oil, and its been doing this for over a year. No spots or drips...just the engine consuming it. And the motor is still making odd noises.<p> I bought this car thinking I could get at least 200k out of it (seeing that it was a Nissan), but it is on its last leg. Youd never know that by looking at it...but internally it is rotting!

Someone from NNA is supposed to call me Monday, but I'm not holding out any great hope. With the sheer number of people who are having this problem, it might be deserving of a class action suit.

- , Mechanicsburg, PA, USA

problem #35

Sep 032012

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Started with blinking check engine light so I stopped to get a free diagnostic test at Auto Zone results were misfire in the #2 cylinder. Same day I realized that car was hot, but not once did the gauge show that the car was hot! I only realized it was hot when car started to run slow, had trouble getting speed, seemed sluggish. So we checked under the hood and it was so low on water, we put water and headed home. We had a compression test done, by our neighbor, test showed that all four spark plugs had good compression, #1 had 150, #2 had 125, #3 had 125 and #4 had 125. So our neighbor who is a mechanic, told us okay now we can invest money in cause your engine is okay, so we got a new radiator, they put that in and we bought new spark plugs cause of the #2 misfire, reading that we had got earlier. We were so happy car ran fine, had power, sounded great! So we took it for a test drive, we drove about 30 miles, car ran so good we were so happy, next morning we woke up and went another 20 miles came home and car would not start, my husband said well it must be that we need spark plug wires, cause it turned over but it seemed to not be getting fire. These are things I heard him saying to the neighbor, and workers at auto zone, so it never started again. We had it towed and now we are told that a head gasket is blown and I have water and coolant in the oil. Aye, I have been so stressed out this is my only car. Don't know what my next move is, sorry for all of those out there who have had problems with their cars, If I did something like ignore a problem on my car, then I wouldn't feel so bad, but I took care of my car and fixed it when ever it needed anything. JUST SO SAD, AND ANGRY!!!!!

- , Tucso, AZ, USA

problem #34

Oct 242011

Altima 2.5L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,383 miles

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

click to see larger images

blown head gasket blown head gasket

Known issue, search the forums. Head gaskets blow at or about 100000 miles. I put in a remanufactured engine from nissan. I spoke with the parts guy and he said that the problem has not even been fixed in the remanufactured ones. I also have contacts that are nissan engineers in the states. They even said this was a known issue and why the engine was retooled in 2005. however they still didn't get it right and had to redo it again in 2006. Buyer beware of all 2.5l 4cyl in the 2002 to 2005 range.

Update from Aug 6, 2012: Oh couple other things. New radiator due to breaking the overflow tube while pulling the alternator. Removed the precat before it could fall apart into the cylinders. replace the crank sensor (this is actually a false report most of the time before the Head gasket blows) Added loctite to the intake butterfly valve screws because this is a known issue. (they fall out into the cylinders) most people that show a misfire on one cylinder are about to replace their engine. This is the Head gasket failing and leaking fluid into the cylinder.

Funny part is you see the pre 2002s all over the place.

On the day I picked up my engine there were 2 altimas up on the rack and their engines on the floor for the same problem

- , Heiskell, TN, USA

problem #33

Feb 012012

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Took my 2002 Nissan Altima to the shop (again) for the check engine light. I have been dealing w/ that light for 6 months now. The shop has informed me that I have a blown head gasket. I have no idea what to do. I still owe on the car. By reading these complaints my car has been having the SAME issues for over a year. I am highly upset on many levels. Mainly just the fact that these people KNEW they were selling me a lemon and will NOT fix the issue on any of our SAME complaints. I will say this at this moment I have no idea what I am going to do. But when I figure it out I will NEVER deal w/ Nissan again and that hurts to say cause I have enjoyed their Altimas.

- , Wilmington, NC, USA

problem #32

Jul 132011

Altima 2.5sl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 159,952 miles

Well, I WISH I would have found this website 2 years ago. I drive an 02 altima fully loaded. I love the car, and it was awesome...which turned into a nightmare as of recently. The first thing to go out was the Cat. Converter...that was 600.00 (used part) and labor..Then...As of may of 2010 the oil in my car started disappearing. No leaks...nothing...Check engine light has BEEN on...I've had my throttle body replaced, the 02 sensor twice within the past 3 months, the crankshaft position sensor, the radiator, all spark plugs 4 times, and all to find out it's a stupid blown gasket which I have to have them ALL replaced. And now, my fuses are going out. I am immobile and like another person on here, I just paid it off and it's the only transportation I have...I bust my butt with 2 jobs pulling the load in my home b/c of a sick mother...and I can't afford this...if I'd have know I was going to have this many problems back to back I'd have definitely reconsidered my options. Stupid Nissan. But thanks to everyone else on here I know what the issue is. No more Nissan for me.

- , Boyce, LA, USA

problem #31

Jul 012011

Altima 2.5 S

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,812 miles

Wow! I can't believe this car would fall apart at such low mileage. I always serviced it on time or early. I've read everybody else's problems and I'm falling into the same sad story. Once this car is fixed I'm dumping it. Here is my grocery list of pain! Keep in mind this is all in one visit for an engine light.....

1. Head gasket

2. 2 Struts

3. 1 Engine mount

4. Complete airbag replacement drivers side back

5. Rear brakes

- , Camarillo, CA, USA

problem #30

Feb 022011

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles

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

MY 2002 NISSAN ALTIMA 2.5 SL SUMMARY OF PROBLEMS: (car was driven softly and had under 80k miles-less than 7k miles per year!!!) 1. BLOWN HEAD GASKET-car over heated at intersection without warning-REPLACED 2. BLOWN RADIATOR-cheap plastic connector blew off radiator at intersection without warning-REPLACED 3. COMPRESSOR BLEW AT SAME TIME-REPLACED

After #1 & #2 EXPENSIVE SERIES OF EVENTS & PROBLEMS BEGINS-Car Was Never The Same Again-DO NOT FIX YOUR NISSAN ALTIMA LIKE I DID! Car Drove Loud, Loud, Loud, Rattled, Rattled, Rattle, Slow, Slow, Slow, Sluggish, Sluggish, Sluggish, & very Unpredictable...from then on...to try and fix Loud Rattling and Slow Sluggish driving I did the following...

3. CHANGED MOTOR MOUNTS 4. CHANGED DRIVE TRAIN BELT 5. FUEL INJECTION CLEANING 6. SERVICED ENGINE FUEL VALVE? 7. HAD CATALYTIC CONVERTER HANGERS FIXED 8. ALTIMA COMPUTER RESET FOR IDLING 9. SHOCKS REPLACED 10. STRUTS REPLACED

There's some other things I just know I'm forgetting... CAR STILL RUNS LIKE A BIG LOUD, RATTLING, SLOW, SLUGGISH PIECE OF JUNK! BUT WORSE! CAR IS LOSING MPG-MILES PER GALLON-Used to get 20+, but its slowly dropping CAR WANTS TO STALL OUT AT STOPS AND WHEN IDLING. MAY STILL HAVE TO REPLACE THE CATALYTIC CONVERTER AND OXYGEN SENSORS

Oh yeah, I had to get a new battery too...granted it was old...but I'm pretty bitter at this point. I HAVE SPENT OVER $4,000.00 IN REPAIRS WITHOUT RESOLUTION. I would like Nissan to be held accountable in a class action lawsuit for what they know...that there are faulty catalytic converter and heads in the 2002 Nissan Altima!

IM GETTING A NEW CAR THIS WEEKEND. I WILL NEVER BUY A NISSAN AGAIN. I WILL NEVER LET A FAMILY MEMBER OR A FRIEND OR EVEN AN ENEMY BUY A NISSAN AGAIN.

KARMA IS COMING FOR YOU NISSAN.

- , Anaheim, CA, USA

problem #29

Sep 102010

Altima 2.5s

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

When you first start it up in the morning it would run a little rough, but after it ran for a while it would smooth it self ouit. Then the engine light would start coming on and it would sputter as if it was going to cut off. We took it to the Nissan dealership and they did a diagnostic and said the head gasket has a small crack in it, but the car never showed signs of overheating. They said the car was fixed and come pick it up. We picked the car up and about a mile up the road we smelled smoke. We pulled over and open the hood and saw that oil was leaking from where the mechanics did not put the head gasket on right. We took it back they kept it another week and said the problem was fixed. We picked it up again and when we got home it still has an oil leak and also coolant was leaking from the radiator. We took it back again and they replaced the radiator, don't know how the radiator got a hole in it and they worked on the oil leak.After they fixed these problems, the car started back running rough and losing power which was very dangerous the battery began to get weak, so we replaced the battery but that did not solve the problem. We took it back again and left it with them for two weeks and they replaced the battery with a Nissan Battery and it seemed to stay charged but the car is still running rough and stalling in traffic. The engine light still comes on. This is getting ridiculous. We are going to call Nissan back. I don't know why they did not send a letter or put on news for a recall. We have spent too much money on this car for it to be doing this. The body looks good, but the reliability sucks.

- , Seneca, SC, USA

problem #28

Dec 152010

Altima 2.5 S 2.5L 4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

I took my 2002 Altima 2.5S to our regular mechanic when the heater wasn't heating properly. He said it was due to low coolant and there was no external leak, which he immediately knew was a leaking head gasket (confirmed with a compression test). He refused to do any more work on it at that point since he had had several other Altimas come in with same symptoms but then have the engine fail catastrophically after he changed the gasket. I was a bit skeptical until I got home and did a web search for "2002 Altima engine problems", which brought me here and about a hundred other places. I checked the oil and it was about a quart low as well, despite a change not too long before. So I am obviously having the same engine failure due to the faulty pre-catalytic converter that everyone else has reported here. There is little point in going into more detail. I'll agree with another poster that it appears that just about every 2002 Altima 2.5L engine will fail like this eventually. I'm just going to keep adding coolant and oil and use it for local trips until it completely stops since I can't sell it to someone in good conscience.

- , Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #27

Jun 082010

Altima SE 4 Cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,000 miles

I seem to be headed down the road in the same direction. It began with my engine shaking at idle and then I went through oil (oil nearly empty when I caught it) but could find no leaks. The MIL (check engine light/service engine soon light) began flashing on and off, which usually indicates a catalytic converter problem. Now my heater blows cold air at idle. I suspected a thermostat or coolant problem but not a blown head gasket and cat. convrtr problem. I considered buying another Nissan but not now. Having reviewed the internet, my 2002 Altima problems seem common. What can we do?! It is my opinion that: DO NOT BUY A 2002-2006 NISSAN!! If you own one, trade it in for a Honda, Toyota, or Subaru.

- , Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #26

Jun 142010

Altima 2.5s

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

The 2002 altima just isn't a dependable car.Nissan knows it, but does not want to face the music.They need to go ahead and deal with it.

- , Rocky Mount, VA, USA

problem #25

Jul 272010

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

I hate my 2002 nissan altima i got BLOWN HEAD GASKET and i had to replace it. i had to put in a new catalatyc converter too. after 4 months on the new engine my car heated up and the headgaske blew . i bought the car for 6000 and put another 6000 for the parts and labor. i will never in my life buy a nissan. my dads 1993 corolla went for 6 yrs and we bought it used. only spent aroud 1000 for that.

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #24

Oct 142009

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

My 2002 Nissan Altima is horrible first is was the catalytic converter that went then the head gasket went and it sat in my drive way for six months. then my computer in the car died that cost me 1500 to get fixed i will NEVER EVER EVER buy another nissan

- , Cheltenham, PA, USA

problem #23

Jul 102009

Altima S 2.5L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

I bought this sh*t....about a year a go.... was running pretty good suddenly began having problem with disappearing of antifreeze.. some time would put 3,4 times in a day....that antifreeze would go in to the engine.. and get mixed with engine oil...overheated many times.Head gasket blew... mechanic recommended to change the engine.. which costed about 2500$.

- , Takoma Park, MD, USA

problem #22

Feb 012010

Altima Altima 3.5L

  • Manual transmission
  • 90,000 miles

90K miles and engine blew out. The oil light had come on and when I checked oil there was no problem. On my way to the mechanic engine blew out. 3 Grand to fix. decided with the engine out I might as well take care of the transmission,flywheel, water pump etc

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #21

Jan 142010

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

Well, looks like Nissan really needs to be called before congress or something.

Everyone is having expensive engine problems with this car.

I have replaced the engine twice. Both time the engine got heated and blown.

I should have redone the engine. I bought an used Nissan engine.

However, the problem is that all the engines has problems.

let me know if you have redone your engine and it has worked well.

- , Dallas,, TX, USA

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