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:
3 / 7
Injuries / Deaths:
5 / 0
Average Mileage:
76,816 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 2 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #144

Jul 212007


  • 213,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. When the contact would drive the vehicle she noticed a loud rattling noise coming from the engine. The vehicle was taken to the dealership where the contact had the vehicle's engine computer reprogrammed, however the contact is still experiencing the problem. There were no prior warnings. The current and failure mileages were 213000.

- Fayetteville, AR, USA

problem #143

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 #142

Feb 032009


  • 214,000 miles
I own a 2002 Nissan Altima with the 2.5L engine. Excessive oil consumption lead to damage to the engine and having to get it rebuilt approximately one year ago. Purchased the car new and while I drive a lot of miles each year there was no indication in terms of warning lights that the engine oil was low. This probably lead to damage to the engine in addition to that possibly caused by the other design defects (I.e. pre-catalyst) in this model. There should be some penalty to Nissan for lack of owning up to the problems that they must have been aware of for this many years.

- Troy, MI, USA

problem #141

Dec 152009


  • 77,280 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. While the contact was driving approximately 45 mph, he noticed that the engine light appeared on the dashboard. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the contact was informed that the 02 ring needed to be replaced. The contact noticed prior that the vehicle would not start or would hesitate while being driven. The vehicle has not been serviced and the current and failure mileages were 77280.

- Selden, NY, USA

problem #140

Jan 012009


  • 50,000 miles
This complaint is in reference to the following: NHTSA action number: PE02078 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 catalyst converter. After inspection of the catalyst converter noticeable chucks of the catalyst 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 with fixing the problem. Safety should not be limited to a percentage of miles or to a period of time.

- West Hills, CA, USA

problem #139

Sep 282009


  • 112,000 miles
Vehicle check engine light came on. Took car in to garage and code reads catalytic converter. Converter was replaced, drove car home and engine was making a ticking noise. Brought car in to dealership on Sept. 30, 2009. Dealership said I needed new timing chain to get the noise in engine to stop. Timing chain replaced, and same noise still existed. Dealership had my car for 2 weeks and in the end they said they called a technical service line for help and an representative said that they had reports of a similar noise and that I would need a new engine. This diagnoses was made over the phone from a description given by the technician to the service rep. On the phone. I called Nissan Consumer Affairs to explain this and was assigned a rep. Whom didn't get in contact with me for 10 days. He said he contacted the dealership and that I needed a new engine. He explained that Nissan would not provide a replacement engine since it is out of warranty. I explained that the dealership technicians said that there could be particles in the cylinder and that is an engine defect. The rep only offered a master technician to inspect the car and was not sure when that would happen. I investigated a recall that shows was completed on my car, but it describes exactly what is currently happening with my engine. I feel that Nissan should replace my engine as the faulty engine issue was listed in an engine campaign recall. I am in no way to blame for particles entering into the cylinder or a screw as the tech's described as a possibility. I should not be out of a vehicle due to a faulty engine, especially one that was listed in an engine recall. I would like to know what my recourse is in this situation to get my engine issue covered under the campaign or have Nissan place a replacement engine in my vehicle. It is deemed unsafe to drive and is burning excessive oil causing the converter to overheat which may cause a fire. Just as it describes in the recall information #3V084000.

- Enfield, NH, USA

problem #138

Oct 262009


  • 80,000 miles


The car had dark oil on the car lot and we just asked to have oil changed, we have mentioned this when we took the car for recalls, always having to add oil and now losing anti freeze. No one could find out where the oil and antifreeze were going-not on the driveway or anywhere. A mystery. Even the first diagnostic test did not show what was going on. Left the car all night to test it. This has been going on for years and we wanted to find the cause because we had a bumper to bumper warranty up until July of 2009. Last week we took it again to have it checked, because it is getting worse and the check engine light is on- finally this repair center found the reason-we need an head gasket, a bad head, etc. So now I am researching and I find a web site-car and boy are there many many complaints about the same thing. It is not right what Nissan is getting away with. My car would probably be worse if I was not always checking it from the beginning. Something needs to be done about this. Please read the letter and I am sure if I go to other websites I will find alot more of the same problems. Some people don't know how to go about these things, but I assure you I will get to the bottom of this. I am on a fixed income and cannot afford another car right now. People think Nissan is an honest company. All the letters I read tell me they are not. These things have been happening to my car since I drove it off the lot on 7/07/03. It had 17,766 miles on it at the time. I would like to file a class action law suite and so would some of the people on that website. The people in this country are tired of being taken advantage of. This is not fair and the media needs to know about this too. Please let me know what to do about this. Thank you for your help in this matter.

- Cranston, RI, USA

problem #137

Oct 142009


  • 91,000 miles
Engine needs to be replaced due to a time chain and other engine parts being defective. Vehicle currently has 91,000 miles.

- Anaheim Ca, CA, USA

problem #136

Sep 142009


  • 97,000 miles
2002 Nissan Altima check engine light with catalytic converter breaking up and pieces destroying the engine. The engine has started burning oil with loud noises. Was told car needed a new engine by dealer with no explanation on why. Car has only 97, 000 miles and is well maintained. Contacted Nissan Consumer Affairs and was told to send all maintenance records. After they reviewed all my records I was told they could not help me. After confronting them with the fact it is a known defect in that model car they still insisted they cannot help us. If engine seizes while driving it will mostly like cause a dangerous situation. Something needs to be done by Nissan to resolve this defect that they are aware of.

- Pompton Lakes, NJ, USA

problem #135

Oct 032009


  • 80,000 miles
2002 Nissan Altima 2.5L S. has started consuming oil despite regular maintenance andu SE ig hoigh quality mobile 1 5W30 oil. In searching internet there are thousands of complaints from owners of this model year and engine. Nissan know about the issue and offers no relief. Time for a class action lawsuit. I have not had a car burn oil and have driven every one of my cars over 200,000 and sold them.

- Loves Park, IL, USA

problem #134

Aug 282009


  • 126,000 miles


I bought a 2002 Nissan Altima in November 2005. The last two years I have been having several problems concerning the vehicle including, jerking, stalling on highway, over heating and smoking. I have a the oc sensors replaced, spark plugs, Cadillac converts, coils...the list goes on and on. I noticed my oil light always coming on and the need to always refill the oil but I could not see where it was leaking from. The same problem was with the coolant---I kept pouring it in the place for coolant and in 2 days it would be the end of August my infant and I were in the vehicle and it began jerking and cut off right in the middle of the highway. A tow truck was called to pick up the car. I took the car to Nissan and they told me that the converter needs to be replaced again and the engine. After researching it looks as if this problem has been going on with several Nissan Altima's. I just want my engine and converter to be replaced the Nissan Corp to take responsibility.

- Hanover, PA, USA

problem #133

Jul 272009


  • 67,000 miles
The vehicle lost power and shut off while I was driving at about 45mph on several occasions.

- Pensacola, FL, USA

problem #132

Jul 212009


  • 114,800 miles
7/21/09- check engine light came on brought it into dealer and they tell me that my engine is shot and it needs to be replaced, $5,100 plus tax and labor. The parts from the pre-catalyst have be sucked through the exhaust and back into the engine scoring the cylinder walls, which increases my oil consumption and could result in a fire. After some research I discover that this has been a problem with hundreds of other people with the same model year as me. Nissan did a recall back in 05/03 (recall 3007) to try to fix this issue but proper measures were not taking. In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration action number- PE02078, it states that "Nissan is still developing a corrective action to address the pre-catalyst." I have found no record that this work has ever been done, since 05/03 !"!". my problem with Nissan is they have known about these problems with model year 2002 2.5 liter Altima and still after over six years of releasing this information to the public they never address any issue that would prevent this from happening. I have contacted Nissan and have been told that they have done all they can for me. With the issue of potential fire and sudden engine seizer I have not been able to drive my car since this issue has occurred. I would like Nissan to pay for all repairs that are needed due to this issue.

- Savage, MN, USA

problem #131

Jul 172009


  • 75,779 miles
Vehicle continuously looses oil 1 1/2 qts per 500 miles regardless of how often I change the oil. I have had my vehicle in the dealership for several recall replacements{catalytic converter, crank sensor, cam sensor after vehicle shut off while driving, headlight ground, air bag sensor as well as others].vehicle has rough start every time vehicle is started. I also have complaint regarding the heater blowing cold air when I come to a stop. After reading hundreds of complaints and reports I fear my vehicle is soon to follow in regards to the engine failure so many have reported.why should I have to spend my time constantly checking the oil to make it is proper when there are no oil leaks and vehicle has less than 80,000 miles and is extremely well maintained" due to the immense amount of reports and claims shouldn't Nissan motor Corp. Issue a recall for engines that have already ingested the catalytic converter material despite being replaced? hasn't the damage already been done"

- Sarasota, FL, USA

problem #130

Jul 022009


  • 57,805 miles
My car has been at lebruns Nissan dealership 3 times they detected three different problems, the last resort was my blown headgasket. I have a 2002 with 60,000 miles on it I should not be having a headgasket problem!! I have researched different problems and concerns with other owners online and have come across the same problems. Problems containing oil consumption, engine failure, head gaskets, catalytic converters, not starting, service engine light on. Now to me if this is happening to more than a few cars same exact year and model this is a defect on Nissan and they are not stepping up to the plate. I have contacted Nissan again and have gone further into this and have spoken to Nissan North America, I which my specialist returns my phone calls every three days, they have accepted to fix my catalytic converter which is appreciated, but that still does not fix my problem as others have experienced. I feel I have been purchased a lemon vehicle and I am not satisfied, and I will continue to go further until Nissan steps up to the plate and takes fault on there product.

- Waterloo, NY, USA

problem #129

Jun 132009


  • 139,000 miles
I was on vacation, driving to cleveland, oh with my wife & parents on 6-13-09, sat in 2002 Nissan Altima, 2.5 sl. Around 9.00 pm, on I-80, apprx 40 mil from cleveland, suddenly smoke started coming from the car hood, causing poor visibility. Temp and oil level indicators did not show any sign of problem with the engine. After narrowly escaping crash with other vehicles by grace of god, we could stop the car with smoke still coming out. By the time I moved everybody away from the car, the smoke stopped. This sudden failure of the engine could have been more disastrous, endangering precious lives. On cranking the engine, loud noise from the engine made us believe that car was in bad shape, so car was towed to Nissan of North olmsted, oh (dealer). After inspection on mon, 6/15/09 I was informed that the engine casting had a big hole apprx 2" big. We were asked to either scrap the car or replace the engine with estimated cost of $4500. We were not told any good reason for this engine failure. Being stranded with my family for 3 days and despaired, I decided to replace engine hoping to get compensation from Nissan. Initial positive response from Nissan customer affairs became very dissatisfying and frustrating after I paid the dealer. It was a shock to us that after calling so many times Nissan did not took any responsibility stating on 6/24 that "the vehicle is outside of manufacturer's warranty" later I found many publications stating that 2002, Nissan Altima-2.5L engines have faced similar engine failures but Nissan has not done enough to avoid such incidents. Irresponsible behavior like this is not expected from such a reputed org. There had been multiple recalls on my car including "engine sensor kit" and " engine cooling system". I would like to request you to look in to this matter so as to contain further damage to precious lives of people at large. I further request you to impress upon Nissan to reimburse us for total cost of replacing engine and mental agony.

- East Hartford, CT, USA

problem #128

Jun 122009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,250 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. While driving 40 mph, the contact heard a clicking sound followed by a popping sound. The consumers daughter pulled the vehicle over and noticed smoke coming from the bottom of the vehicle. The vehicle was towed to the dealer and they stated that the engine needed to be replaced due to a lack of engine oil. There were no warnings prior to the failure. The current and failure mileages were 109,250. Updated 8/3/09 the consumer stated there was a known defect with the vehicle, in which a recall had been issued. The consumer daughter had just had the oil changed. Updated 08/10/09.

- Tyler, TX, USA

problem #127

Dec 012008


  • 80,000 miles
My car started stalling and got harder and harder to start. Premier Nissan (metairie, la) said a power valve screw came loose, fell into the engine, the engine was ruined, and I needed to buy a new engine. I googled the matter. Many others have complained about this for same make, model and year (2002). (there are lots of complaints of this happening in the 2003 model also.) and this was exactly the subject of a Nissan recall campaign for the 2004 and 2005 Altima (Nissan #: P5202; ntb05-058B).

- New Orleans, LA, USA

problem #126

Jun 012009


  • 178,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle consumed an excessive amount of oil. He took the vehicle in for an oil change and by the time he arrived back home (within 300 miles) the vehicle was in need of more oil. The low engine oil warning light illuminated on the instrument panel. The contact placed more oil into the vehicle before it was taken to a repair shop. The mechanic verified the low oil level in the vehicle and stated that the vehicle was burning oil at an alarming rate. There was no evidence of oil leakage anywhere in the vehicle. The contact found over 700 complaints on the NHTSA web site for the same failure. The failure and current mileages were less than 178,000.

- Milwaukee, WI, USA

problem #125

May 062009


  • 125,000 miles
I own a 2002 Nissan Altima, 2.5L engine. I have had more problems with this car than you can imagine. The car has stopped on me two times in the past year or two. It came to a halt in September 2007 in the middle of traffic and I had to wait over an hour for a tow truck. At that time I had the sensor detector replaced by a neighborhood garage. On last Tuesday, the car stopped again and would not move but I happened to be in parking lot and waited 3 hours to get my car moved. This time the car was repaired by a Nissan dealer and the sensor detectors were again replaced. I was informed that my engine was coming apart internally bit by bit and I would need the engine replaced or run the risk of having the engine stop on me at any time. I have changed the catalytic convertor, have an oil leak and some gaskets have been replaced. I put oil in my car every week because the leak was not repaired. I never seen any oil on my driveway and don't know where it is leaking. When I checked to see if I could find an engine for less than what the dealership quoted me, I found 400 complaints on one website and 99 on another website complaining of the exact same problems with their 2002 Nissan Altima with a 2.5L engine of which I am complaining. Many of the complaints are reporting engine failure or breakdown. This is very concerning and I think something needs to be done by Nissan as this seems to be a manufacturing problem but I don't know where to go.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

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