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 9 of 12)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #68

Jul 182007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,432 miles


Car consuming lots of oil. No oil light ever came on leading to complete engine failure. 4 quarts of oil completely gone with no trace (no oil spots in garage, no smoke, ...nothing) in less than 2 months. Also a problem with radiator split.

- Taylorsville, UT, USA

problem #67

Jul 032007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle is experiencing extreme oil consumption and loss of coolant. Nissan stated that the vehicle was not under recall. The current mileage is 70,000 and failure mileage was 69,000.

- Radcliff, KY, USA

problem #66

May 212007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,850 miles
2002 Nissan Altima 2.5S, while driving on the expressway the Altima just cut off completely. The steering locked not giving me time to pull over off the road. This has happened 5 times. Twice at high speed and 2 times at low speed and once stopped at a traffic light. I have read many complaints about this same problem and actually spoke to one driver with the same exact car with the same problem. That driver took the car in, and was told by the dealer that they couldn't find anything wrong. I will be taking my car to dealer at a rate of $110 to have it checked. Someone should recall all these cars for the safety of the owners and their passengers. This is a serious problem for so many people to complain about, not including the one's that have not taken out time to voice their complaints. Please inform me of any recalls involving this matter. I also, had other problems with the knocking from the engine, and the air conditioner. When I took it in to be checked while under warranty they again claimed they didn't T find anything wrong. Please investigate before and not after someone is seriously hurt or killed.

- Matteson, IL, USA

problem #65

May 062006

Altima 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima SE. When starting the vehicle, the contact heard the engine attempting to turn over, but would only start when the accelerator pedal was depressed. While driving at any speed, the vehicle would stall and shut off completely. The vehicle only restarted with a jump start. The battery was checked by a mechanic who found no failures. The vehicle was serviced for NHTSA recall # 03V455000 (engine and engine cooling), however the failure persists. The recall was serviced twice by the dealer. The current mileage is 80,000 and failure mileage was 65,000.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #64

Oct 012006


  • 78,903 miles
2002 Nissan Altima customer states that in October she noticed oil leak and has taken car in and notice has been found but continues to have the same problem* the consumer was told she qualified for a new engine. However when she returned to the dealer, she was told she didn't qualify for a new engine or even having the existing engine fixed. The consumer was told that the manufacturer's standards that a vehicle consuming 3/4 quart of oil was acceptable. The consumer stated the engine light stays on constantly, before it just flickered.

- Mount Juliet, TN, USA

problem #63

Nov 012003


  • 30,000 miles
2002 Nissan atlima customer states since 30,000 miles the check engine light has been on* the consumer was unable to defrost the windows, due to the defroster being inoperative. The consumer stated the vehicle would lose power, so he would have to take his foot off the gas and eventually it would gain speed. The consumer had various repairs made on the vehicle. The catalytic converter was deteriorating, the valve cover gasket was replaced, the headlight was replaced 3 times, the tail light assembly needed to replaced the consumer was told the vehicle needed a new engine after experiencing the stalling and no start problems.

- East Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #62

Apr 242007

Altima 10-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 89,000 miles


On November 8, 2006 I took the vehicle to Nissan of rivergate with 78,903 miles on it which was well within the expiration date of the extended warranty. At that time I was told to bring the car back after I had driven approximately 1,000 miles. On November 22, 2006 I returned and spoke with a service advisor and a mechanic. I was told the oil was about quart low. The mechanic looked up some qualifications on the computer and determined that I was qualified to receive a new engine. He said there was an engine already in stock, so he did not have to order one. I scheduled an appointment to bring the car back on November 28, 2006. While there I was handed a business card with a notation on the back that read drop off on Tuesday November 28, 2006 for engine replacement. On November 28 I dropped the car off at the shop, expecting it to be three days in shop time for engine replacement. I received a phone call on November 29, 2006 stating they would have to do another oil consumption test. At this time the service manager told me that I did not qualify for a new engine or even to fix the existing engine. Also, he claimed since the recall of 2004 Altima for oil consumption everybody Y has been trying to get a new engine. Then, he added that the purpose of a dipstick was to see how much oil needed to be added because all cars burn oil. A vehicle consuming of a quart of oil was acceptable oil consumption for 1100 miles. I contacted Nissan of North America, who advised me to go to Nissan of gallatin. I went to Nissan of gallatin, and was told to do another oil consumption test. I received the same run around from Nissan of gallatin, and as of 4/24 I added 3 quarts of oil after driving 1046 miles.

- Mt Juliet, TN, USA

problem #61

Feb 062007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,309 miles
Overthe past two months both the cam sensor & crank sensor failed on my 2002 Altima. The cam sensor failure turned on the check engine light. However the crank sensor failure shut down the engine while I was in traffic making for a very unsafe condition. Just last week I was notified by the dealer of a recall for the crank sensor, two weeks after it failed. Why I wasn't notified sooner is beyond me. I contacted the dealer & was given a 800 to call for reimbursement of my expenses. Looking over this site it appears the crank sensor recall is a few year's back- why did I just receive the call about this recall" I also noticed that there are cam sensor failure complaints. Why was there not a recall for this problem initiated"

- Nokesville, VA, USA

problem #60

Mar 032007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,000 miles
Check engine light comes on and off constantly. Spark plugs died. Took car to shop. Repaired and other issues appeared: Catalytic converter-fail (in pieces) repaired for $800. One week of driving and check engine light comes on constantly, oil extremely low, coolant low took back to shop now engine gasket blown, engine damaged and needs repair/replacement. This Nissan na made some preventive changes to the 2002 Nissan Altima as requested to by law. However the changes Nissan na made were not sufficient nor successful. It appears that the preventive service Nissan provided has only prolonged the outcome. Thousands of 2002 Nissan Altima owners are currently experiencing oil consumption problems with a direct relation to a failure in the catalytic converter. After inspection of the catalytic converter noticeable chucks of the catalytic converter are missing. Nissan na is very aware of the problem and they are selectively fixing some consumers vehicles. If the consumers vehicle is outside their power train warranty Nissan na refuses to assist the consumer is fixing the problem. Safety should not be limited to a percentage of miles or to a period of time.

- Conyers, GA, USA

problem #59

Feb 082007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles
Following the format requested above: 1: events leading up to the failure: Simply bought the car and drove it... seems that all 02 4 cylinder Altima owners are experiencing issue B/C of design flaw! 2. failure: The pre-catalyst completely disintegrates into the engine and causes the engine to fail! consequence: Need a new engine. 3. what was done to correct the failure: Nothing but hide! they mask the problem to get past all warranties. Nissan usa is absolutely hiding from their responsibility to provide a safe vehicle! they started by hiding the pre -catalyst internal disintegration notification within a recall for a potential exhaust pipe hanger pin problem. They knew the pre-catalyst was disintegrating into engines causing damage, but didn't release that clearly to avoid needing to get past warranties and replace engines. My car was running rough and the dealer then replaced the precat (49K miles) and the car was never quite the same, but it did run so I thought all was fine. Obviously the first one had disintegrated into the engine and the Nissan didn't warn me of what was to come! I have taken very good care of this car and now have 98K on it.. but the end is very close. I had ses reports of P0420 and then later a report for a 4th valve issue... now the car drinks oil at 1 - 2 quarts a week or it is completely out of oil! there is no smoke, smell, or drips. The oil is just gone! the dealer says I need a new engine and said there is nothing they can do. They directed me to Nissan Consumer Affairs- they have been very slow to respond. I am hopeful that they will replace my engine so that I don't have to worry about my engine seizing while I am driving on the highway or turning across in front of oncoming traffic! they have had my car for 10 days and I am waiting on Consumer Affairs to return my calls.

- Chesapeake, VA, USA

problem #58

Feb 012007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 79,000 miles


This vehicle will burn oil at a rate of 1-2 quarts every 1000 miles. This is a known recall situation from Nissan related to failure of the precat and material from the failure being sucked back into the engine. Engine replacement is usually necessary. Nissan has yet to replace the parts or engine on a vehicle that now needs oil every 2000 miles.

- Arlington, TX, USA

problem #57

Dec 012006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles
- the contact owns a 2002 Nissan altim, a and stated that while driving there was excessive consumption of engine oil. The contact stated that the engine used a quart of oil every 350 miles. The engine light was on and the engine was running rough. The contact stated that the recall repair was completed when it had 40,000 miles, but had the same failure as stated on recall 03V455000 engine and engine cooling. The contact called the dealer and the manufacturer, but they stated that they wouldn't cover the cost of the repair because it wasn't under warranty. The contact stated that the dealer should inspect the vehicle to see if the repair that needed to be done had to do with the recall. Updated 03/19/07.

- Castaic, CA, USA

problem #56

Jan 012007

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles
2002 Nissan Altima with a list of problems including lost power, electrical issue with 02 sensors, exhaust, cruise control* when the consumer took the vehicle to the dealer, she was told the vehicle had 2 recalls. After the two recalls were completed, the consumer still experienced problems with the vehicles lack of power. The vehicle had also started to consume large amounts of oil. The consumer took the vehicle to a repair shop and it was discovered that the oil rings were stuck on the pistons. The engine light had constantly been on. The code stated there was a problem with the timing chain sensor.

- Huntsville, AL, USA

problem #55

Jan 092007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,772 miles
- the contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while driving at 40 mph under dry conditions when the vehicle lost power, the contact was able to get the vehicle to the side of the road without a crash. There were no warning lights before the failure, but once the vehicle restarted the check engine light stayed on. There was recall 03V455000 for the crank position sensor, and was is the same failure that autoway of Nissan told him he had. The contact stated that he received a call on 12-4-06 from the dealer, stating that this vehicle was not affected by the recall due to the VIN. The contact has a diagnostic report, and repair order stating that the crank position sensor was the cause of the failure. The crankshaft position sensor was replaced under recall back in March of 2004, the recall replacement failed on Jan 9, 2007. The consumer stated the part has been replaced 3 times. Updated 02/02/07.

- Valrico, FL, USA

problem #54

Nov 152005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 92,000 miles
I own a 2002 Nissan Altima, which falls under the engine & cooling system recall, along with a number of other recalls. I did not receive the recall notice, however, because my service engine light came on, I took the vehicle to the dublin Nissan for inspection. They noted the recall and apparently repaired the problem. After I picked up my car from the dealership in the evening, the service engine light came on the next morning. I took it back to the dealership. They apparently did not find any problems and just reset the sensor for the light. The next time I took it back to the dealership they said that they did their job and to do an inspection on the vehicle they would need to charge me. At this time I contacted Nissan consumer dept. To see what needs to be done to resolve the issue. At this time the vehicle was also consuming oil very excessively (of which I was not aware of since I just had an oil change done), therefore causing the engine to overheat and damage the radiator. I took the vehicle to a private, licensed mechanic to replace the radiator. They also reset the check engine light, but it still came back on. At this time I took the vehicle to fremont Nissan, where they did diagnosis of the vehicle and informed me that the vehicle has a blown head gasket and 2 of the cylinders are misfiring on the test. They said that in order to determine the cause of the problem and determine the exact damage to the vehicle, they would need to take apart the engine and physically examine it inside (cost approximately $900). I again contacted Nissan consumer services, they said that they are not willing to help me in any way. The lady told me that in order for them to commit to any repairs, I would need to pay the dealership to examine the engine and if they dealership determines that the problem is warranty related then Nissan would look into repairing. I symptoms of the problems with the vehicle are all those described on the Nissan's website.

- Pleasanton, CA, USA

problem #53

Nov 302006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles
: the contact stated the vehicle did not start. There were some fumes prior to the incident. The vehicle was taken to the service dealer, who determined the catalyst converter came apart internally and sent the debris to the engine, damaging the engine. Updated 03/07/07.

- Newark, NJ, USA

problem #52

Aug 152006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,100 miles
I brought my car into the Nissan dealership in middletown, ct. Aug. 2006 because I was loosing antifreeze. They told me I had a blown head gasket and my engine seemed to be using oil. They wanted to do an oil consumption test and asked me to bring the car back in at 500 miles. I did that and was told it wasn't conclusive enough so bring it back in another 1000 miles. When I brought it back they told me I would need a whole new engine since it was blown. They told me the head gasket is covered under my extended warranty but the engine was not covered under my extended warranty since it was caused by the pre catalytic converter. When I bought this car I was sold on the extended warranty since it covered the whole car except for mufflers, spark plugs, brakes all the things that normally wear out on a car. Back in June of 2004 I brought the car in for recall # R30071 the recall was performed at lia Nissan in enfield, conn. In the recall it states that if the material from the recalled pre catalyst gets into the engine it could do damage to the engine and may cause a fire. I now have an engine that had the recall fix done and their fix did not work. I am also concerned that the engine will catch fire and hurt me or one of my family members. I have gone through all the channels available to me at Nissan and have gotten nowhere. I even got a letter back from Nissan telling me that I have inadequate maintenance records. I change my own oil and filters but the rest I bring to the dealer if I have a problem since I have an extended warranty. This should have nothing to do with the failure of their fix. On a side note I have been searching the internet concerning this very same problem and have found many cases of people having the exact same problem with their Nissan Altima 2002. They have had the exact problem with Nissan also. Any help from you would be greatly appreciated my car is failing fast and it is my only mode of Transport to work.

- Hebron, CT, USA

problem #51

Nov 232005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles
: the contact stated the vehicle would not start for two days. The check engine light was illuminated prior to the incident. The vehicle was taken to the service dealer, who was not able to duplicate the problem. Also the heater defroster was not working.

- East Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #50

Nov 142006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles
: the contact stated while traveling 40 mph, the check engine warning light illuminated. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic, where the problem was identified as a failed crank shaft position sensor and recall information was provided. The vehicle was taken to a service dealer where the contact was informed the vehicle was not included in recall # 03V455000 for engine and engine cooling due to the VIN. The manufacturer was notified. Updated 12/5/2006 -

- Ellicott City, MD, USA

problem #49

Sep 162006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The 2002 Nissan Altima stalls repeatedly while driving on the road. The failure includes the loss of power steering and the ability to control the car safely. The problem is caused by the power valve screws coming loose and getting into the engine. The screws must be replaced with lock tight ones and the catalytic converter and oxygen sensor have been damaged and must be replaced. Nissan has a voluntary service campaign to fix the problem for 2004 and 2005 models. The technical service bulletin is ntb05058. The 2002 and 2003 models have the same engine and should be fixed by Nissan as well.

- Arlington, VA, USA

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