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 5 of 12)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #148

Nov 102009


  • 78,500 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. While driving approximately 55 mph he heard a loud knocking sound inside of the engine compartment. He then noticed an abnormal absorption of oil from the engine. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for inspection. The technician recommended replacement of the engine and catalytic converter. The vehicle was partially repaired according to recall campaign id number 03V084000 (engine and engine cooling:exhaust system:manifold/header/muffler/tail pipe). No additional repairs were made. The failure mileage was 78,500. The current mileage was 79,200.

- Montgomery, NY, USA

problem #147

Dec 012009

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles
Recall number 03Y-455 for 2002 Nissan Altima. The consumer stated over the past 24 months the service engine light illuminated intermittently. The vehicle also exhibited poor acceleration and power and it also ran a little rough. But, after driving a couple of miles the light went out, but a few days later the light illuminated again. The consumer took the vehicle to the dealer on several occasions and they performed an engine diagnostic. They were unable to pinpoint the problem as to why the light would illuminate and then go out. The consumer went back to the dealer and they recommended replacing catalytic converter which was apart of the recall.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #146

Oct 152009


  • 119,500 miles
Simple engine heat appears to disintegrate the pre-catalytic converter part on a 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5L engine. The engine sucks in the broken parts, which then damage the engine, requiring that the engine be replaced.

- Jersey Village, TX, USA

problem #145

Aug 272009


  • 75,100 miles


My car was serviced for a recall issue in 3/09 by the manufacturer. In August of 09, my car began to hesitate when starting, there was loss of power and hesitation during operation, soon afterwards the check engine light came on and finally the car failed to start. I brought it in to a local service center and they diagnosed that the crank position sensor and the camshaft sensors needed to be replaced. I was advised to bring the car into the dealer for additional servicing when I called Nissan Consumer Affairs. I opened a claim for reimbursement for the cost of the parts that were replaced that were supposed to be part of the recall work, but Nissan is saying that the parts that I had installed had nothing to do with the recall campaign.

- Bronx, NY, USA

problem #144

Jul 312009


  • 86,225 miles
2002 Nissan Altima wouldn't start, blown head gasket, leaking coolant, now Nissan says I need a new motor. Aluminum was used making these cars and Nissan new they couldn't with stand the heat. My son needs help.

- Cherry Valley, MA, USA

problem #143

Jul 302009


  • miles
Internal oil leak in 2002 Nissan Altima.

- Missouri City, TX, USA

problem #142

Jun 212009


  • 100,000 miles


2002 Nissan Altima - engine defect. The engine nearly caught on fire because the oil was burning so much that there was no oil in the engine after a few miles! first there was a problem with the heating/cooling, check engine light came on, white smoke from the engine. Had each problem addressed at mechanic but problem was never fixed because the source was in the engine itself - a Nissan defect. Now I "need a new engine" because the source of the problem is the head gasket. My mechanic has seen 2 other 2002 Nissan Altima with the same problem. It was a defect in the original engine and it is dangerous if you do not catch it and replace the engine, due to such fast oil loss and an overheated engine! scary! the car only has 100K miles!! the car is not drivable now and I am seeing hundreds of other complaints of the exact same nature online with some fires already started. Yikes!

- Middletown, CA, USA

problem #141

Jun 142009


  • 84,681 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. While driving approximately 50 mph, the engine warning indicator illuminated on the instrument panel and remained lit until the engine was turned off. When pressure was applied to the brake pedal, the vehicle began to shake and vibrate excessively. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic for diagnostic testing and it was discovered that there was a misfire in the engine cylinder. The technician reinstalled new spark plugs. The contact was advised to take the vehicle to an authorized dealer if the problem continued. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer on a separate occasion for identical failures. The dealer recommended that the engine be replaced. They also detected missing screws from the engine. The technician stated that the vehicle should not be driven due to the safety hazard. The vehicle has not been repaired. The failure mileage was 84,681 and current mileage was 84,964.

- Jericho, NY, USA

problem #140

Apr 242009


  • 111,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The vehicle was purchased new in 2001. The contact took the vehicle to jiffy lube for an oil change and the oil light illuminated on the instrument panel one week later. She checked the dipstick and noticed that there was no oil in the vehicle. She took the vehicle back to jiffy lube and oil was added; however, the oil light illuminated again. She took the vehicle to a Firestone shop and they found no oil in the engine. The dealer diagnosed the vehicle and stated that the engine needed to be replaced because oil was entering into the exhaust system and the piston ring. The dealer further stated that the vehicle was out of warranty; therefore, the contact would have to pay for the repair. A report was filed with the manufacturer and they stated that her VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign id number 03V084000 (engine and engine cooling). The manufacturer stated that they would call her back. The vehicle has not been repaired. The current and failure mileages were 111,000.

- Universal City , TX, USA

problem #139

Mar 012008


  • 91,500 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. While driving various speeds, the vehicle becomes difficult to accelerate. Occasionally, the vehicle stalls and becomes difficult to start. A local mechanic stated that the crankshaft was faulty and a recall was pending from 2004 for this year, make, and model vehicle. The manufacturer stated that the crankshaft was repaired under recall in 2004; therefore, the dealer did not have to repair the vehicle again. The contact feels that the manufacturer should pay for the repairs since this is a safety issue. He is concerned that a crash could occur. The current mileage was 92,000 and failure mileage was 91,500.

- Closter, NJ, USA

problem #138

Apr 172009


  • 160,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. While checking the oil in the vehicle, the contact noticed an oil leak. He replaced the oil with at least two quarts of oil per week. The vehicle was taken to a local repair shop and the technician stated that the vehicle was included in NHTSA campaign id number 07V527000 (engine and engine cooling). The contact was advised to take the vehicle to a local dealer for further assistance. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and they stated that oil was leaking around the rings. The vehicle was repaired for the ECM failure. After retrieving the vehicle from the dealer, the vehicle failed. A technician stated that particles from the catalytic converter damaged the cylinder walls in the engine. The vehicle has not been repaired again. The contact called the manufacturer and was informed that because the vehicle was not included in the recall for the failure that he experienced, no compensation would be provided. The failure mileage was 160,000 and current mileage was 180,000.

- Standford , KY, USA

problem #137

Feb 052008


  • 120,000 miles
At approx 100K miles, my Altima was consuming alot of oil, running poor, eventually the engine failed, had engine repaired, began same oil burning problem again, had cat converter hallowed out, engine failed again.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #136

Sep 302008


  • 96,158 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. While driving at an unknown speed, the check engine indicator illuminated on the instrument panel. The contact checked the oil and noticed that it was low. He placed 11/2 quarts of oil into the vehicle and had a local repair shop change the filter at the cost of $42.68. The contact inspected the vehicle again and noticed that it was losing a quart of oil per week. Each week, he would add a quart to refill the oil. The vehicle was taken to a local repair shop to have the oil changed at the cost of $28.96; however, the vehicle continued to lose oil. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing and error code PO420 was produced, which determined that the pre-catalytic converter and crank case pressure were failing. The repair would cost $4,500. The vehicle was previously repaired according to NHTSA campaign id number 03V084000 (engine and engine cooling:exhaust system:manifold/header/muffler/tail pipe) by the previous owner. The contact called the manufacturer and was informed that if he could not produce maintenance records stating that the vehicle underwent regular maintenance, they would be unable to determine if the failure was caused by a lack of maintenance. The contact would not receive any compensation. The dealer stated that even with regular maintenance, the pre-catalytic converter would still fail. The vehicle has not been repaired. The failure mileage was 96,158 and current mileage was 103,400.

- Warwick, RI, USA

problem #135

Mar 152009


  • miles
I bought my 2002 2.5 Nissan 72K four days ago. A day after I bought it, the service engine light came on. There is excessive oil consumption. I put oil in, and a few miles later I need to add more. I haven't changed anything yet, simply because I can't afford it. Nissan needs to take responsibility. I will tell everyone I know to never buy a Nissan. I am never buying a Nissan again. I've read numerous posts by people who have the same exact problems.

- Saint Petersburg, FL, USA

problem #134

Jun 012008


  • miles
Catalytic converter went out. Heater core went out, therefore no heat in the car.

- Antioch, CA, USA

problem #133

Jan 102009


  • miles
This isn't fair. 2002 Nissan Altima. 5900 miles. Man this car is junk, Nissan should reimburse people about that, work car ever. And I notice everyone have the same problem. The car stall, camshft problem.. something need to be done. Its not safe when U driving and car die on you.

- North Lauderdale, FL, USA

problem #132

Dec 172008


  • 121,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. While driving approximately 40 mph, the vehicle stalled without warning. The contact noticed that the engine would consume abnormal amounts of oil. She has a 2.5 liter engine in her vehicle. The dealer stated that her VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign id numbers 07V527000 (engine and engine cooling) and 03V455000 (engine and engine cooling); therefore, she would have to replace the engine at the cost of $5,000. Currently, the vehicle has not been repaired. She called the manufacturer and is waiting for a response. The failure mileage was 121,000 and current mileage was 126,000.

- Mango, FL, USA

problem #131

Jul 202006


  • 85,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle would stall and hesitate to start. She replaced the alternator and battery, but the failure continued. On a separate occasion, the head gasket blew and was replaced by an independent mechanic. However, the vehicle continued to stall and hesitate. The contact found hundreds of complaints for the same year, make, and model vehicle and was concerned that it was unsafe to drive. The manufacturer referred her to NHTSA. The failure and current mileages were less than 85,000.

- Barbaton, OH, USA

problem #130

Dec 302008


  • 95,000 miles
I own a 2002 Nissan Altima, I have to put a quart of oil in this car every 50 miles, from wha T I have found on the internet this is a very common problem, that Nissan knows about and refuses to admit to the public this is a defect in the motor, that the recall will cost the company to much in repairs. We are a family on a fixed income and can't afford the $6000 for repairs on this car. Nissan asks so much for these cars they should stand behind their products and repair this defect!!!!

- Anniston, AL, USA

problem #129

Nov 252008


  • miles
On Tuesday 11/25/08 I was driving my 2002 Nissan Altima to work and the car turned off in mid drive on a major highway. I did some research and found out about a recall (#03V455000) on this website. It matched exactly what happened to my vehicle. I took the car to the dealership and told them of the recall. They told me that the same parts needed to be replaced (crank position sensors, and camshaft position sensors) but my car was not a part of the recall and therefore I had to pay out of pocket for the repair. My vehicle matches the recall on your website 100% ie: " 2002 Nissan Altima...on certain passenger vehicles, the circuit board for the crank position sensor or cam position sensor may have improper solder joint due to solder deformation caused by heat stress accelerated by the existence of flux residue during the soldering process...this could cause the "service engine soon" warning light to come on, create a no start condition, cause reduced engine power, or cause the engine to stop running without warning during vehicle operation, which would result in crash...dealers will replace the crank position sensors, camshaft position sensors, and in some cases the variable timing control sensors." Again, the dealership has neglected to recognize this as a valid recall. I want to be reimbursed for the repair costs.

- Roslyn, PA, USA

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