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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 7
Injuries / Deaths:
6 / 0
Average Mileage:
68,400 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 10 of 12)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #48

Sep 272006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


: the contact stated the vehicle suddenly lost all power without warning while driving at any speed. The check engine light illuminated in the vehicle. A NHTSA recall, # 03V455000 was performed on the vehicle in 2004 concerning the engine and engine cooling however, the recall did not remedy the problem. The dealership would not offer a second repair under the recall.

- Vidor, TX, USA

problem #47

Sep 262006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles
: the contact stated the vehicle shut off suddenly without warning while traveling 60 mph on the highway. The vehicle was towed to a dealership who determined the engine needed to be replaced. There was a NHTSA recall, # 03V455000, regarding the engine and engine cooling. The vehicle was not included in the recall due to the VIN.

- Omega, GA, USA

problem #46

Sep 012006


  • miles
2002 Nissan Altima vents were blowing warm air when the air conditioner was on, service engine light illuminated. Vehicle is difficult to start. After the dealer stated they fixed the problem, which they claimed there was too much freon in the vehicle, the engine light illuminated again the next day. The consumer was then told the head gasket was leaking.

- Sarasota, FL, USA

problem #45

Aug 182006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles


Car needs an oil change every month because it burns so much oil. No heat in the winter because of malfunctioning radiator. Almost had several serious accidents on highway from the engine stalling, leaving me with no power steering or brakes.

- Smithtown, NY, USA

problem #44

Dec 012005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles
I have had my 02 Altima for 3 years now and have about 85000 miles on it. Around 15000 miles ago, the car started to loose power, burn oil, burn spark plugs and burn O2 sensors. I have since spent $1000's of dollars trying to prevent/remedy the problem but to no avail. Nissan won't talk to me and the dealerships are crooks who have been changing random parts for the same problem. Soon my engine will blow just like all the others. Being in the military, I don't have the funds to keep this up. This car has problems and Nissan is dodging a huge bullet. I have notified everyone I can think of and nothing has been done about the problem despite the massive numbers of people with the same problem! I have told everyone I know about the car and the way Nissan is addressing the situation, neither myself or anyone I know will ever buy a Nissan again! this is ridiculous!!!!!!!!

- Peoria, AZ, USA

problem #43

May 052006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles
I have a 2002 Altima with 35,000 miles on it. I have had it to the dealership several times due to fact the check engine light was on and it was running rough. I was told that the #1 cylinder was showing up faulty on the computer reading for the check engine light. The dealer had my car for 3 days and found nothing wrong and replaced the plugs. The whole time they were in contact with the Nissan factory tech team. 2 months later the check engine light came on again and after another try to the dealer they instructed me that there was no coolant in the cooling system and filled it. 2 weeks later the check engine light came on and the coolant level dropped. Took to the dealer and Nissan tech said to replace the head gasket. Bolts were on back order and they took a month to come in. They replaced the head gasket and then discovered the engine needed to be replaced, which was on back order and they did not know when the engine would be available. I have now been without my car for 2 months, made 2 car payments on a car that I did not have, and am getting pretty annoyed. I contact Nissan North America, who was soooo very unprofessional and told me that they did not see the problem since I had a warranty and the money was not coming out of my pocket. Furthermore, they had more important issues to attend to since the 2006 Altima recall. These took precedence and they did not know when my engine would be available. I am so frustrated with the lack of caring from this company. I have yet to decided where to turn next. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. 8jb

- Mercerville, NJ, USA

problem #42

Jun 012005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,678 miles


My 2002 Nissan Altima had sparks plugs changed as a manufacturer recommended service. After I picked the car up and drove it for some time I would periodically smell gas coming through the vents. I took it to the dealer several times and they said they could not duplicate this problem. Later the catalytic converter ceased working and I am told the car has to have the engine replaced. The catalytic converter was already replaced once by the dealer before the 60,000 mile mark. I have documentation that my car's engine was also using excessive oil as has been reported in the media. I am told because the warranty has passed, there is nothing that Nissan will do. I am still making payments on this car. I have all the documentation to support my claim that this was a defective car. I have read in the news reports that Nissan will recall all Altima's back to the 2003 model year. I have the 2002 model which was the first line put out of this particular model. I am wondering what rights I have. If Nissan does recall all the way back to 2002, how can my car be repaired if the engine has already failed? I would like to send in all of my documentation so my case can be studied and I can know where I stand.

- Beech Island , SC, USA

problem #41

Jul 052006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles
: the contact stated the vehicle was burning oil excessively. There is a NHTSA recall, # 06V223000, regarding the engine and engine cooling. The VIN was not included in the recall. Updated 7/25/2006 - the consumer had to add oil to the engine every 500 to 800 miles. The vehicle failed to start. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who replaced the camshaft position sensor.

- Lithonia, GA, USA

problem #40

Oct 252005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,460 miles
I bought an '02 Nissan Altima in Jan. 2002. In 2003 I had recall work performed for the engine cooling system (cat converter defect) and at the time I complained that my vehicle went through excessive amounts of oil even though I had the oil changed regularly. The dealership stated that they inspected my vehicle and found that my car did not need any repairs and that the recall was performed. At 97,167 miles I took the car into the dealership because it was running rough and my warranty was about to expire. Also advised them that I heard water running behind the dash and the check engine light was on. Dealership stated that all I needed was a tune-up due to the mileage but other than that my car was great. At 100,460 miles my car would not start and flooded several times. Had towed to the dealership. They stated that they could start the car just fine and that I had flooded the vehicle. Again recommended tune-up and replacing spark plugs. (I had just replaced the spark plugs myself) next thing I car won't run and sits in my driveway for several months. Had towed to independent auto repair shop and advised me that my engine was blown and needed replaced due to cat converter. I made the dealership tow the car to them and they informed me of the same and that I would have to pay $5000 for a new engine. The service mgr. Told me that Nissan knows that this will occur, and that when they contacted the Nissan rep they declined to replace the engine due to the mileage. I called Nissan Consumer Affairs and got a total run around and told me that my mileage was too high and they have had no other complaints on this issue. Bull!!! Nissan must be responsible for this and fix the problem. I am paying for a car that has been sitting at the dealership back lot for 3 months!!! I am contacting the attorney general and making my voice heard and others need to voice as well because Nissan is trying to sweep this under the carpet....not anymore.

- Tumwater, WA, USA

problem #39

Jun 222006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,900 miles
: the contact stated that while driving at 40 mph on dry roads, the motor stalled. However, the electrical system remained operational. The vehicle was taken to a private mechanic, where it was determined that the crank sensor was faulty. The mechanic was able to repair the problem. Updated 07/25/06.

- Woodstock, GA, USA

problem #38

Apr 152006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,245 miles


1) on 4/15/06 my husband was driving my car and complained that it was not running right, and was missing. The check engine light came on. My husband drove the car directly to the Nissan dealer in corona, ca. 2) the dealer service department checked out the car and stated cylinder #1 misfire, butterfly bolt fell into #1 cylinder broke spark plug. 3)removed intake manifold to replace butterfly bolt. Removed catalytic converter for inspection, minor hairline crack no codes. Customer decided to have old cat reinstalled. Reinstalled intake manifold and replaced related gaskets. 4) service representative stated this was a common problem and knew what it was right away. They charged me $727 to repair and I still have a cracked catalytic converter. I have checked out messaging forums and found that this is a known problem for Nissan Altima's.

- Beaumont, CA, USA

problem #37

Apr 282006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,819 miles
: the contact stated a NHTSA recall # 03V455000 repair was performed on April 14, 2004 concerning, the engine and engine cooling. However, the repair did not remedy the problem. This failure almost caused an accident on April 28, 2006. The dealership would not offer a second repair without charge under the recall. Updated 05/16/2006 - the consumer believes that the part that was replaced under the recall was defective.

- Delray Beach, FL, USA

problem #36

Mar 232006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles
There was a crank shaft sensor recall on my vehicle which was repaired 2 years ago. Last month the crank shaft sensor went out and was not cover by Nissan. This vehicle has had 2 crank shaft sensors. It's hard to believe that a vehicle would go through 2 crank shaft sensors if the part weren't defective.

- Greenwood, IN, USA

problem #35

Mar 232006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles
: the contact stated the air bag light on the dash flashed constantly. There is a safety improvement campaign, # 02I001000, regarding the air bag. The vehicle has the same problems as indicated in the safety improvement campaign; however it is not included in the safety improvement campaign due to the VIN. Updated 4/17/2006 - the vehicle was taken to a dealer who indicated that eh air bag was defective. The dealer refused any assistance because the vehicle was 2000 mile out of warranty. The check engine light illuminated. The dealer found antifreeze leaking into the cylinders. The driver's side low beam headlamp was inop. The tech replaced the right side headlight bulb. Radiator leaked coolant. The heater blew out cool air when the vehicle was stopped. The tech found an air pocket in the coolant system. Replaced clutch assembly. Cylinder head gasket was replaced.

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #34

Nov 152005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles
The consumer experienced problems with the engine. The vehicle was taken to a dealership to determine what the problem was. The dealership stated there wais a NHTSA recall, # 03V455000, regarding the engine and engine cooling. The vehicle was exhibiting the same problem as indicated in the recall; however, the consumers vehicle identification number was not included in the recall.

- Oxnard, CA, USA

problem #33

Oct 242005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,735 miles
I have a 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5L. My car receives regular maintenance every 3 months and/or 3,000 miles (documentation can be provided), it never sits longer than 2 or 3 day, and it's driven on the highway for my work commute. Twice my car suddenly wouldn't start without warning. The first time it was fixed, which was around April, there were several recalls for my car. One was for the fuel pump screen and the engine sensor that would cause the car to not start or suddenly stop running. This second time (10-24-05), my local mechanic showed me a 6-page service technical bulletin that was issued by alldata for my non-starting problem. The document suggested replacing the starter, adding a Nissan brand fuel injector cleaner and/or reprogramming the computer to fix the problem. This second repair will cost me about $500 to fix when I pick up my car tomorrow. I thought the recall repairs would resolve this issue, but those repairs proved to only provide a temporary fix, but not resolve the underlying problem. Since there's a service technical bulletin about my non-starting issue, 2 recalls related to this same problem, and I've had the same problem happen twice, I think my car should be recalled. I'm fortunate that I wasn't driving the car when it stopped running or that could have caused a serious accident. I should not have the same problem happen twice in 6 months. If my car fails to start twice in 6 months and the recall repairs don't remedy the problem, then there must be something else causing the problem. I'd hate to find out in a few months that the $500 start replacement wasn't the culprit, because I'd be back at square one. Please tell me how I can get this issue escalated to a recall status or what I can do to prevent a 3rd failure. Thank you, jenny R. baker.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #32

Mar 272005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,500 miles
On March 27,05 my Altima began to stutter while driving on the interstate very badly. I decided to return home to switch cars, and it began to stall while traveling at slower speeds (glad it did not stall while I was on the interstate). I took it to Nissan the next morning and they said that both of the screws backed out of one of the butterfly valve plates in the intake manifold and the plate itself and the screws had fallen into the engine, thus causing severe misfiring and banging into the spark plugs and destroying them and also scoring all the walls of the engine. Nissan said I would need to buy a new engine but I refused and towed it another Nissan dealer after talking to the service manager there and he said he might be able to help more. It has been sitting there ever since because I refuse to pay. The service tech said that all 8 of the screws holding the butterfly plates in were all loose. Many people have taken it upon themselves to apply the correct amount of loctite to the screws so they don't encounter the same problem. Nissan obviously takes the blame according to recall P5202 but it only applies to 04's and 05's even though it is the same engine with the same problem in the 02's and 03's. please investigate this matter because if I had been crossing an intersection and the Altima had stalled oncoming traffic could have killed me. This is definitely not a small problem and Nissan needs to address it. I have taken some other steps already on my end to get Nissan to accept fault, but please for my sake and other owners sake this issue needs to be addressed. I have plenty of printouts of how common the problem is with other owners and can email to anyone that is interested. The same engine (qr25de) is in the 02 and up Nissan Sentra spec-V so please check those complaints for similar issues since that is where most of the first complaints I have found came from.

- Mandeville, LA, USA

problem #31

Sep 232005


  • 103,342 miles
Certified ltr re complaints against the new Nissan Altima (my) 2002 & 2003 involving engine problems, requesting a defect investigation. The consumer experienced problem with his vehicle not starting and cutting off once started. The vehicle was taken to the dealer. The dealer claimed they fixed to problem but since the vehicle was no longer under warranty the consumer was financially responsible for the repairs. The vehicle would also lose power while accelerating and stall. The dealer diagnosed the problem as a cylinder 2 misfire. This occurred twice. The vehicle was returned to the dealer. This time they diagnosed the problem as a blown head gasket which was caused by a faulty converter. The service tech admitted that the initial diagnosis was incorrect but the consumer still had to pay to have the head gasket replaced. While doing research on the internet the consumer visited several sites which had complaints about the engine and other Altima components. The consumer feels that the manufacturer should be responsible for his vehicle's repairs.

- Jonesboro, GA, USA

problem #30

Sep 062005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
My "service engine soon" light came on and I took my car to a local shop. They let me know that the cam/crank sensor was the problem and that it had been recalled by Nissan. I took the car and paper work on the recall to Nissan and was told that it was not recalled on my car. I told them to fit it anyway and was quoted $385. I returned home and called Nissan. I was told that the crank sensor had already been fixed on my car. I do not recall having thes done. I explained that if it was done, it was done improperly because it needs to be fixed again. They said that they would look into it and gave me a file number and said that I should hear something back within 24 hours.

- Canton, GA, USA

problem #29

Oct 112004

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,087 miles
The first thing was the oxygen sensor. Then the oxygen sensor again. The dealership fixed the problem. Mext there was, and still is, the jerking transmission. When driving in rush hour traffic or driving on the open highway, the trans shifts hard comming out of first into second. I have taken this car into several Nissan dealerships and to this day, no one has found the problem. They keep telling me that this is normal. I have driven other Altima including several rentals while mine wasin the shop and they didn't shift like mine. The next problem is those headlights. They have replaced one of my light asemblies an great river Nissan but the other has not been replaced. Next, there was the heater coil that leaked and it took almost 6 months to determine because it didn't leak inside the car. Next there was the ignition coils that were replaced 2X within a week and still caused the check engine light to come on. After the ignition problem the mechanics at sterling mccall Nissan told my that it was my sparkplugs that had hust been checked about 2 weeks prior at great river Nissan in Mississippi. I went back to the dealership and invited the service man to a nice long ride. After driving about 20 miles, I stopped the car and le it sit for about 5 minutes. The car started and he smiled. He said, "see there is nonthing wrong." After explaining that he needed to let the car set for a while and then try to start it, he said that it is still going to start.after sitting for about 2 hours, I asked the service man to step outside and lets giv the car a start... to no suprise, when I turned the key the car puttered, spitted, jerked, and everything else but started. It was determined the next morning that there was a blown head gasket that could have been caused by the catalyst that was just replaced due to a recall.

- Missouri City, TX, USA

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