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 4 of 12)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #168

Feb 022010


  • 95,000 miles


I made a complaint by phone regarding my 2002 Nissan Altima and have yet to hear back or get a copy as promised of my complaint. Due to the many complaints, concerns and problems related to this year, make and model, you would think Nissan would be a little bit more concerned and wanting to remedy the problems that exist to avoid legal action for ignoring a potently dangerous problem that could be deadly. All though I have not been hurt physically, mentally I am beside myself thinking if you cant get Nissan to step up to the plate then who can"??? I had a engine replaced by Nissan dealership and it did not last 20,000 miles before the catalytic converter fell apart and got sucked up in the engine.. Nissan is aware of the recalls for this year/make/model???? its time to do something as you have pages and pages of complaints regarding this exact thing and it is obvious Nissan will do nothing because they get away with it time and time again..they are worse than Toyota, at least Toyota admits there is a problem...please let me know what and when you intend on doing something to get Nissan to do what's right?/"

- Long Beach, CA, USA

problem #167

Aug 172010


  • 118,000 miles
The car initially used a lot of oil and anti-freeze. Basically we needed to put a quart of oil and anti-freeze in the car every 100 - 200 miles. We had the head gasket replaced and this helped with the antifreeze and the oil but after a while it started to use a lot of oil again. It got to the point where it was going through a quart of oil every 100 miles or less. My son went out to run some errands and while driving smoke started coming from the engine and it just quit. Upon looking at the engine, he noticed that there was large puddle of oil under the car. Fortunately traffic was light and no one hit me.

- Henrietta, NY, USA

problem #166

Jul 242010


  • 69,100 miles
Nissan 2002 Altima 69,00 miles, always serviced now consuming oil at the rate of 4 qts a week, no indicator notice on dash panel until car all of a sudden slows down to 20 mph. This has happened while on the highway several times. Went on the web and found over 169 + complaints. Nissan has no comment. Next time someone is injured driving an Altima may want to check the oil.

- East Providence, RI, USA

problem #165

Apr 092009


  • 95,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated while driving at an unknown speed, the vehicle began to overheat. The contact shut off the engine but was unable to restart the vehicle. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where she was informed that the head gasket had failed due to there being very low oil in the vehicle. The contact stated the engine was recently replaced. The dealer replaced the head gasket. On a separate occasion, the contact had a routine oil change performed on the vehicle. After the service, the contact heard an abnormal noise coming from the engine. The vehicle was taken to a local repair facility where she was advised that there was no oil in the vehicle despite her just having an oil change. The mechanic was unable to locate the oil leak but advised there was oil was leaking from an unknown source. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer where she was advised that the engine and catalytic converter would need to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 95,000 and the current mileage was 114,000.

- Long Beach, CA, USA

problem #164

Aug 162009

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 2.5 Nissan Altima. While driving approximately 25 mph the contact heard a noise coming from the engine. He stated that he continued to drive the vehicle to his residence where the oil was checked. He added oil to the engine after he noticed that there was no oil on the stick. The failure had occurred for nearly a year. The vehicle was not taken to an authorized dealer or local repair facility. The vehicle continued to use excessive amounts of oil. He had to add two quarts of oil per week. The approximate failure mileage was 76,000. The current mileage is 83,000. Updated 10/05/10 updated 10/07/10

- Middletown, RI, USA

problem #163

May 202010


  • 128,996 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. He stated that while driving at 65 mph, the engine stalled. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where he was advised that the catalytic convertor was defective and would need to be replaced. However, after additional testing, the dealer discovered that the engine also would need to be replaced. The manufacturer advised that there was an open recall on the vehicle (NHTSA campaign id number: 03V455000: Engine and engine cooling) however, the recall would only cover a portion of the repairs. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileages were 128,996

- Lake Forest, CA, USA

problem #162

Oct 012008


  • 140,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated the vehicle was burning engine oil at an excessive rate. The vehicle would often blow black smoke from the tail pipe. The contact stated the vehicle was consuming approximately one quart of oil per week. The dealer was unable to determine the cause of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 140,000 and the current mileage was 141,000.

- Berkley , MA, USA

problem #161

Oct 212007

Altima 4-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
My engine blew up. I called my nearest Nissan dealer who forwarded me to Nissan Corp, who sent me to Nissan North America and after telling them my story 3 times, they advised me there was nothing they could do since it as not yet a recall. I looked online and many had the same issue and were trying to get this to be a recall. I had just moved to that area, I had no job, no money and was attending school. My car sat in front of my house for 6 months while I paid $430 a month on my note. When I finally had the money to fix it, I explained to them I had just gotten a new engine and only needed them to restart the computer. They advised me there was a recall on it, I asked for what and they could not explain. They then said they could not restart my computer or do the recall because it had a code that needed to get fixed. I said fine, and paid for them to fix it and the recall. Later that day my engine light came back on and they had me come back in a week later and advised me a new code came on. I asked why they didn't tell me about it when I was there and they said they didn't see it then. I did more research and found out that the codes they found were part of the recall, and that was the reason my engine blew up. But they would not fix or pay for it. I have been back and forth on this and finally I found a number to call regarding Nissan recalls. The person I spoke with advised me that it was Nissan's responsibility to have fixed the issue at no cost since it was a recall and it was all connected. (had that recall or problem been fixed my engine would have never blown up! recall or no recall, this was obviously a manufacturing issue! they never even contacted me about that recall! I found out about it when I took my car in!) she filed a claim for me and said someone would call me. It has been a week and no call from Nissan North America yet. I call them everyday and everyday they say someone will call me. At least Toyota is taking care of their customers! updated IVOQ 08/20/10 updated 10/27/10

- Simi Valley, CA, USA

problem #160

Apr 152007


  • 35,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle over heated continuously and she smelled fuel. She also stated that it was difficult to start the vehicle after it had been parked; she had to pump the accelerator pedal several times in order for the vehicle to start. On one occasion, the contact noticed a burning smell from the engine once the engine was warm. The dealer advised the contact that there was a recall for the catalytic converter for her model but her VIN was not included. The failure mileage was approximately 35,000. The current mileage was approximately 100,000.

- Forrest Park, GA, USA

problem #159

Mar 162010


  • 76,890 miles
While driving my car the day before, engine suddenly stopped on a five lane hwy in center lane during heavy traffic at speed limit of 70mph. My son and I were stranded helpless in the midst of cars heading right towards us. An hour later geico sent a tow to take us to the Nissan dealership where I purchased my car. The stall was due to a recall on the engine sensor issued in 2006. Dealer had denied recall multiple times prior but had finally recognized it. Left the car overnight to have ecn reprogrammed and was told that it needed diagnostic for $192.14. I stated I wanted to take it elsewhere and was called the next morning to come pick up my car. Got there car was running, asked if there had ever been any other problems with this model and told no. Got 1/2 of mile and loud noise and loss of power. Engine completely died while driving and lost steering and brakes while in traffic. To avoid going into next lane oncoming traffic, I swerved other way into telephone poll. Engine completely dead since then and has been proclaimed as totaled due to locked engine. Engine qr25de was taken off sales floor in 2006 and I received no information at all. Dealer told me he never heard of any problems with my car. On receipt from dealer it states car is unsafe to drive but dealer never gave me receipt to sign and never even eluded to car doing same thing it had done less than 24 hours prior. Said he put oil in car and it started up and was ready for me to pick up. I had just had oil change and had no oil leaks whatsoever. My son is traumatized and can't sleep nights from first incident and I have no vehicle and can't get to doctor for my back, leg, and knee injury I suffered in the crash. Nissan says 6 weeks until they send an inspector to see car and I'm paying for each day it sits on the lot of mechanic. Still have not even dispatched orders and it is now 9 days later. My life and my son's were knowingly put in danger twice due to Corp & dealer negligence.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #158

Jun 012009

Altima 4-cyl

  • 85,000 miles


I have a 2002 Nissan Sentra SE-R with the 2.5 liter (qr25de) engine I purchased new. This is the same engine that the problematic 2002 Nissan Altima has. My car has had numerous serious recalls, originating within the first year and a half I purchased it. Two years ago, my ses light went on. My car was still under warranty at this point as I'd purchased Nissan's "gold plus" warranty coverage. I was told it was a loose gas cap, they'd checked and performed all outstanding recalls, and all was fine. 8 months later, the ses light went on again.the car began to also exhibit signs of increased oil consumption. I had it checked, was told it was a cracked oil pan by an independent mechanic. Finally, I took it to Nissan. I was told I needed a new catalytic converter, the exact part that has been mentioned in several recalls on my vehicle, and since the car was out of warranty they would not pay for it. Estimate was $1200, which I got in writing, for the catalytic converter. I asked for records of what they had done to inspect and repair the recall previously. They had no record of it. I called Nissan North America, who told me the dealer kept the records, and to ask them.. finally, an independent mechanic replaced the part. The ses light went on two weeks later. The independant mechanic said the pre-catalytic converter was damaged/falling apart, also listed in my recall explicitly. The dealer had misdiagnosed the car. Called dealer, wrote letter, BBB complaint, Nissan complaint, no response. Had pre-cat replaced for $600. Ses light came on again. Eventually, my car stalled and wouldn't start. I had it towed to a repair facility who informed me my engine was blown, replaced for $4K. A screw had been found in the third cylinder. This is also listed in some of the 'bulletins' Nissan distributed to their dealers. I've tried a demand letter, no response. Obviously, no one inspected my car for recalls, or repaired the faulty parts.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #157

Mar 012010


  • 126,100 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated two days after he brought the vehicle it would not start. The contact stated he is having the same problems as in the recall 03V455000. The driver states he contacted his Nissan dealer and they told him to bring in the vehicle and they would check it and if it were the same problem they would fix it free of charge. The contact stated that now they are telling him his vehicle VIN is not included in the recall. The failure and current mileages was 126,100. Updated 04/16/10. The consumer stated the crankshaft position sensor was faulty. The consumer stated the crank shaft position sensor was replaced at his expense on March 10,2010 and the next day the vehicle would not start again. Updated 05/17/10

- Woodmer, NY, USA

problem #156

Jan 252010


  • miles
On 1/25/10, my 2002 Altima with only 27,000 miles on it, kept stalling or not starting during 3 shopping stops. I thought it was my battery and was near clark auto where my battery is under warranty...

- Hickory, NC, USA

problem #155

Mar 012010

Altima 4-cyl

  • 143,000 miles
2002 Altima Nissan-problem with oil consumption. There is 196 pages of complaints regarding oil consumptions on 2002 Altima Nissan where this is causing the engine to fail. The car dies after driving, which can cause wrecks and even deaths. Nissan is aware of the problem and will not help with any of the cost to repair the vehicles. I am a single mother with 2 children and at this point don't have the funds to repair this vehicle. Please refer to

- Lees Summit, MO, USA

problem #154

Feb 232010


  • 56,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. While driving on the highway at 65 mph. The driver stated that his vehicle started to lunge forward and then cut off completely. The driver pulled off of the highway. The driver stated that the vehicle restarted after 10 minutes but the service engine light came on remained illuminated. The driver stated that he took the vehicle to the dealer but nothing was done. Occasionally his vehicle does not start immediately and he has to restart it within 30 minutes. The failure mileage was 56,000 and the current mileage was 56,140.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #153

Feb 012010

Altima 4-cyl

  • 65,000 miles
The heater/ ac had many problems, almost yearly-needed to be blown out & anti freeze added. Head gasket was replaced at 60,000 & cylinder had to be replaced, timing chain tension repair. Now engine & timing belt need to be replaced @$4800 65,000 miles-doesn't seem right! updated 03/05/10.

- Ma, MA, USA

problem #152

Jan 042010


  • 100,450 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The vehicle burns motor oil excessively. The contact is concerned that the engine could seize while driving. The failure has not been diagnosed by the dealer. The failure mileage was 100,450.

- Kenilworth, NJ, USA

problem #151

Mar 102009


  • miles
Nissan 2002 2.5 sl has to be checked once a week because the engine loses oil. When the oil is checked it is completely dry. Oil has to be put in the car once a week. The engine knocks and comes close to shutting down.

- Rocky Mount, NC, USA

problem #150

Jan 132010

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact was driving approximately 55 mph on normal road conditions. The "service engine" warning light indicator illuminated on the instrument panel and suddenly, the engine stalled. The vehicle coasted to the side of the road. The vehicle restarted and resumed normal operation. The warning indicator remained illuminated until the engine was turned off. The failure occurred intermittently. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic. There was a recall under NHTSA campaign id number 03V455000 (engine and engine cooling. However, the VIN was excluded from the recall defect. The crank position sensor and camshaft position sensor were replaced for the malfunctions. The failure mileage was unavailable. Updated 02/17/10

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #149

Dec 102002

Altima 4-cyl

  • 21 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The air conditioning system will not circulate heat. Also after service the oil and antifreeze levels depletes prematurely. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, and she was advised that the catalytic converter and the engine coil needed to be replaced. A representative from the dealer and manufacturer stated that the repairs cost $1600. No repairs were made. The failure mileage was 21. The mileage was 105,000. The consumer stated the vehicle would stall while driving at any speed. The consumer took the vehicle to the dealer and upon inspection, the consumer was informed a sensor was soaked in oil. There was no oil leaking from the vehicle, but they were not able to tell the consumer where the oil was coming from. Soon after, there was a recall for the same problem. The wheel bearing and alternator had to be replaced. The engine light has been on for over 2 1/2 years, the vehicle has no heat and anti-freeze was evaporating, but there were no leaks. The consumer stated she could smell coolant coming through the vents. Updated 02/01/10

- Matteson, IL, USA

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