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CarComplaints.com 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.

8.7

pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
$3,413.00
Average Mileage:
95,293 miles
Total Complaints:
231 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace the engine (79 reports)
  2. not sure (62 reports)
  3. add oil as needed (38 reports)
  4. new engine (21 reports)
  5. nissan should replace the engine for the 2nd time (9 reports)
  6. get rid of it asap (7 reports)
2002 Nissan Altima engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 1 of 12)

problem #231

Jun 022012

Altima 2.5L

  • Manual transmission
  • 100,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

The Nissan 2.5 liter engine IS DEFECTIVE, if you own one get rid of it before the engine fails- to recover some of your investment. If you are thinking of buying a used one- DO NOT BUY IT!!! It will cost you all that you pay for it. I wish I had some fair warning before purchasing a used 2002 back in 2007. I am on my third engine and it burns a quart of oil per 300 miles. I am finally seeing information on the internet that these cars should be avoided. No one at the dealerships or any of the mechanics I encountered advised me of the futility of repairing this car.

I will no longer repair anything on this car, I intend to drive it until I burn 1 quart per 100 mile and then drive it to the junkyard- I don't want anyone else to own this lemon. Nissan should issue a public apology for creating such a miserable engine. I WILL NEVER OWN ANOTHER Nissan.

- , Phoenix, Oregon, USA

problem #230

Feb 012012

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

Noticed oil consumption. Finally engine light went on.. had it scanned... Cat convert was bad. Went to dealer and replaced. $450. Found out Cat was replaced 2008. I bought car used at 90m miles in 2009. Its now 2012 and I have 107m miles. This car went thru 2 new cats in 20m miles ??... WT? When I replace cat.. shop noticed a hole in the screen... Then I found out about this site and I was not the only one with this problem. The only cure... rebuilt engine and use after market headers without front cat. Do away with front cat with headers and you should never have this problem. I have not experianced any overheating problems..... yet!..... Wonder if I can get a refund for the Cat I just bought ?? You can find headers on EBAY. I am taking my car for a rebuilt engine...(3/30/12)... then I will purchase the headers and install them ASAP. If you look on youtube, you can also find out about the header replacement...

- , Hac Hgts, CA, USA

problem #229

May 022012

Altima

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,061 miles

My Nissan Altima started burning oil like crazy. I took it to mechanic, he didn't know what the problem was. Then searched online and saw so many people have had this problem, so decided I won't bother spending money fixing the car anymore.

Stupid Nissan, never buying another Nissan now.

- , Toronto, Ontario, canada

problem #228

Jul 232012

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Manual transmission
  • 119,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I bought my used Nissan Altima because of the supposedly good car reputation Nissan is supposed to have in lasting for quite a few miles. In addition, I wanted a more economical mode of transportation. However, the 1st day I had my car, I discovered there was absolutely no oil in the engine what so ever. It was a known issue that the dealership as aware of since they provide a 130 inspection on the vehicles before they're sold. I hold both the dealership and Nissan responsible for this matter. If there were a few isolated incidents, I could understand Nissan not doing a recall. BUT this is an epidemic! Nissan has known about this issue and fails to acknowledge it's their problem which they've passed on to the buyers. With this experience, I will never buy another Nissan. Nor should anyone else if they aren't going to stand behind their product. I hold the dealership responsible for not providing the vehicle inspection that they advertise and for selling a vehicle that had this issue. I am looking at litigation for both parties!!!!

Cjackweim

- , Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #227

Dec 312012

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 148,000 miles

JUST BOUGHT A 2002 NISSAN ALTIMA 2.5S... BIG MISTAKE.

I HAVE TO REFILL THE OIL EVERY COUPLE MONTHS.

IT COMPLETELY USES ALL THE OIL IN THE ENGINE WITHIN THAT TIME FRAME...

VERY DISAPPOINTED IN NISSAN. THEY USE TO BE A GOOD CAR COMPANY. WHAT HAPPENED?

I FEEL LIKE NISSAN NEEDS TO OPENLY REPLACE ALL ENGINES THAT USE HIGHLY EXCESSIVE AMOUNTS OF OIL. POOR FOLKS CAN'T AFFORD TO FIX YOUR PROBLEMS NISSAN!!! GET IT TOGETHER!

- , Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

problem #226

Jun 132012

Altima S 2.5L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,544 miles

Well all you angry people, i have bought this 02 Altima with 68k miles or so, and notice immediately the lack of power and the funny oscillation in the temperature gauge, at first it scares me really bad, but after some research and inspection just made what i think the best possible solution to my concerns, I've lift the car from the engine area, unscrew 2 bolts that holds the exhaust pipe and the pre-cat, located right at the end of the exhaust manifold and took off the two 02 sensors, then took a metal bar, a hummer and proceed to destroy the material inside the pre-cat, take a 2nd look to verify that anything goes out and install the exhaust pipe again with the 2 bolts, then start engine and since then car runs very strong, no oil/coolant consumption of any kind, just a 1/2-second rattling at totally cold start-up but that's all, no single issues since then, so that is my experience, hope helps someone out. HOLLOW THE PRE-CAT Before It's Too Late.....Just when you feel ANY LACK OF POWER, or see funny movements on your temp gauge, do as i say and you'll see your problems go far away, i can say that now months and thousands of miles of the cat crap.....and still running like a champ.....good luck....

- , El Centro, CA, USA

problem #225

Oct 312012

Altima S 2.5L S

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

It is hard to believe that the person who sold me the car didn't mentioned about this problem that he was experienced.

I also paid a mechanic to check the car up before I bought it. He stated that was normal but I shouldn't paid more than $3800, but my wife really liked the car, so we end up paying $4200 cash. The major expenses have been constant purchase of the oil and the Lucas to protect the engine, but the fear of something mayor happen to the engine is the worst thing as the other guys are mentioned that it happened to them,...meaning that this can get worse and worse and more expensive and get stuck in a traffic jam or highway.

God guide us to sell this car as soon as possible with clear awareness of the problem to the new buyer for a fair price.

Anyone has a suggestion about the best way to sell this car and a price range to ask for.

And about you Nissan... you will pay for this lack of honesty and quality sooner or later the consumer will run off from you...and NOW I am one of them.

By the way American cars are getting better now and Hyundai and Kia has good warranties and support their products.

- , Decatur, GA, USA

problem #224

Nov 012012

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 170,000 miles

Nissan has a real problem with these 2.5 l engines . the cat converter goes bad and starts the engine using oil very bad, i mean 1 qt every 200 miles.

- , Salisbury, NC, USA

problem #223

Sep 282012

Altima SE 3.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 157,000 miles

It looks like the 4 cyl cars have a much bigger problem than mine. You have my sympathies. My V6 burns about a quart every 1 or 2 thousand miles. It's been doing it for years but I check it alot so I'm OK. I want to give people some advice. DON'T RUN SYNTHETIC OIL. It's too thin and burns way too fast. Just run regular oil and you'll save money and won't have to fill it nearly as much. Aside from that, I love my engine! Bought it 4 years old with 50k. Now my car has 157K miles and still feels like it has 100% of it's original power throughout the RPM range. I redline it a lot, at least 10 times a week and it still runs awesome! Even if you don't check your oil often enough you can notice when the oil light blinks too much when starting. Shut it off and put in a quart. If you let it get really low you'll hear lifter rattle for a second when you start it. Shut it off and put in a quart, or maybe even two. Just keep a rag and a couple of $3 quarts of oil in your trunk at all times and you'll love this car. Follow these simple rules and your V6 will easily last to 250k.

- , Boston, MA, USA

problem #222

Jul 152012

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,500 miles

I feel compelled at this time to fall in line and tell my tale of woe as did so many consumers before me. I feel pretty lucky regarding the outcome of my problem. In February 2002 my wife and I treated ourselves to a brand new Nissan Altima SL 2.5 It was purchased from a reputable Long Island NY Nissan dealership and was in stock on their lot. It was the first year of the new body style and I decided to take a chance. We would enjoy the car for the next 10 years; the service and reliability. During that 10 year period, the car was primarily serviced at the dealership. Some minor work like oil changes and brake pads were done aftermarket. Nissan Recalls of course were done at the dealership. Recalls such as airbag sensor, pump screen kit, engine sensor, pre cat exhaust pipe hanger pin, headlamp, rear suspension member replacement, reprogram ECM. Never in an accident. Washed and waxed often. Baby'd it. We loved it. I was sold on Nissan for the future. Alas, in July 2012 my "service engine soon" light came on. Ity was diagnosed as "a misfire cyl #4" by a local auto parts store. The light was intermittent and I believed it was time for a major tune up since the car had recently turned 102,500 miles. A few weeks later, and the tune up still not done, the engine did not sound right. the oil idiot light on the dash started to flicker. I checked the oil level and found it to be almost 4 quarts low. I immediately added the missing oil and began to curse the last oil change vendor for not filling to capacity. it had been only 3100 miles since that change. The following 2 days I drove approximately 250 miles. The car drove strong as always, the oil idiot light was out, and but the "service engine soon" light was still on. I once again checked the oil level and found it to be over 2 quarts low. Where did the oil go? There were no visible leaks on the driveway nor clouds of exhaust smoke. Now I knew I had a major problem. I wanted to research this problem online before I went to Nissan for a diagnosis. Good move! I googled the car/complaints/recalls and came up with this website. I realized that there were many, many, many consumers with the same problem. In addition, many had the same problems I had with air conditioning, heating, and CD player. There was however one major difference between my car and a lot of the aforementioned consumers. MY CAR WAS STILL RUNNING VERY STRONG. It was inevitable that my car was doomed having read the situations and experiences of the other writers. The engine would eventually blow. Thousands of dollars people put into their cars and Nissan did not want to know squat. I went to one of Nissans competitors and told him I wanted to lease one of their vehicles. Told them I had the Altima to trade in. They informed me that the car was in excellent condition, the mileage was high, and the "service engine soon" light was on. They offered me a few thousand dollars for the car and I immediately accepted. They said that they were going to wholesale the car out. I just got back from picking up my leased vehicle. I feel fortunate to have been able to avoid losing money on the Altima. I thank all the aforementioned consumers for sharing their stories which helped me save alot of money. Although the Altima ran strong right up to the last day, I will never again buy a Nissan. THEY DID NOT DO THE RIGHT THING FOR THEIR CUSTOMERS. GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!

- , Eastport, New York, USA

problem #221

Jul 192012

Altima SE 2.5L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,722 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

We bought our car from a used dealership with 103,100 miles on it. After a few weeks and 600 miles the car seizes up and we have to have it towed. The mechanic says that the car has no oil inside. They fill it with oil and tell us that it is probably burning oil. Two days later we check the oil level again to find that again the engine is BONE DRY. After TWO DAYS of driving. I've read some of the reports on here of people having to refill after 1000, 2000 miles etc., but the problem is so far gone on this car. We took it to a Nissan dealership for them to diagnose and confirm the problem. It was recorded that the car burned over a quart in just 80 miles of driving it!!!! The dealership that sold us the car gave us a limited warranty, but "of course" can't find anything thing wrong and deny that it's burning any oil. Furthermore, they stated that they "don't believe" the Nissan techs reports. For this issue to be this far gone, it would have HAD TO BE an existing issue at the sale of the car. We are now it the process of suing the dealership that sold us the car for consumer fraud.

- , Highlands, NJ, USA

problem #220

Jun 022012

Altima SE 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 165,000 miles

We had taken our car in and they told us all that needed to be done was the catalytic converter. Ok, fine, we will borrow the $650.00 and at least we will have our ONLY car back. Fast forward a week and after the 3rd time back in the shop we get a call saying its worth scrap...Or of course pay almost $5000 for a new engine! This Nissan is by far the worst car I have ever owned. Nothing but expensive repairs year after year. If anyone could figure out a way to resolve this legally, I know they would have hundreds, if not thousands, fighting with them.

- , Stevens Point, WI, USA

problem #219

Jan 012011

Altima 3.5L V6 Ohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

he asked me to check problem.we removed plenum to remove spark plugs i wanted to inspect the pcv system. This is where I believe all the oil is being sucked into the manifold and burnt the plugs were original and showed signs of burnt oil residue but not like you would see in an engine that was getting oil in the combustion chamber through rings.i am going to try pluging pcv vacum and see if oil slows down I DONT BELIEVE THE FAULTY CAT that every says is the problem

- , Jay, Maine, USA

problem #218

Mar 052012

Altima S/SI

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles

We just purchased a 2002 Nissan Altima...I see Nissan's all over my city and I became a fan of the style and just purchased my very own.Well my excitement was short lived when my check engine light came on 4 hrs after we drove off the lot.We went back to the dealership and their mechanic told me that the only code it was reading was (P0420). I needed to replace my O2 sensors, needless to say 2+2= 400.00. 24hrs later my check engine light came back on. I went back to the mechanic and he read I was 2.5 qts.of oil low.He added oil and checked it again.It was very dark so,i did an oil change.Within 5 days the oil light came back on.I smelt a faint oil smell...I figured maybe some was spilled and was just burning off. But,since then I'm checking the oil daily and about every other day I'm low again.Needless to say I've had this car for 33 days and I have poured 10 qts.of oil into it and my check engine light is still on .I think Nissan should be held liable for these repairs since It's OBVIOUS this is not an isolated case.The catalact converter has now failed due to the excessive oil usage.Were having an oil crisis in this world and The president required B.P to clean up their oil spill.Well I think He should require Nissan to clean up theirs.How does the Gvmnt bail out Nissan in 09' with $1.6Billion and were going broke trying to keep our Nissan oil vessels running.I'm very diligent about energy efficiency in my home and through recycling ect.But,because of my income I cannot afford to purchase a new energy efficient car.My S.U.V only got 10 MPG this Nissan gets up to 27 MPG that was a great buying feature but, I feel like I fill up my oil tank more than I do my gas tank and oil is $7. a qt.I have to add one every 2 days or so.I've purchased so much oil that I should buy stock.... maybe get some of my money back.I've gone from qts.to gal my only other option is to purchase a drum.I'm going broke between gas and oil.When is ENOUGH...ENOUGH???

- , Puyallup, WA, USA

problem #217

Nov 012011

Altima 2.5L S

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,450 miles

Quiero saber si el diler me pueda ayudar en algo de este probema porque el auto consume de maciada aciete consume dos cuartos por semana gracias (car consumes 2 quarts of oil per week)

- , Mount Rainier, MD, USA

problem #216

Jun 012010

Altima S 2.5L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

I've owned my used 2003 Nissan Altima 4 cylinder for nearly 5 years now. For the past 4 years I've noticed it consumed alot of oil. It didn;t leak it, it just burned it to the point of recent - having to put in nearly 4 qts. every 400-500 miles! (that's a bit more than 2 fill ups - oil would be completely gone.

My engine light pops on and off continually (but never the oil light). it reads 4 different things but usually the mechanic says it's my 01 sensor. I had the this sensor replace 2ce so far; I've had coils and coil wires replaced (all 4) - that attach to the spark plugs.

about a month ago (Dec 2011) my car sounded really loud and I couldn't get it to go over 20 mph. I guess all the sludge that built up from the burning oil solidified in my catalytic converter and had to be replaced. The mechanic also found something cracked down below near the converter. I thought it was a cracked head but it wasn't.

I may have a cracked head or gasket or something as I know my car is still burning oil (but slower now since the c.converter and cracked 'thing' thats not a head). I'm a unemployed student and trying to avoid having to replace the whole engine. If anyone have had the same type of problem and got a solution, please contact me at delsgarden@yahoo.com. Thankyou

- , Cleveland, Ohio, USA

problem #215

Mar 012011

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

I absolutely love this car until now that i have to change oil every 2000 miles :( Is there anything Nissan should be doing? because i am not buying a nissan ever.

- , Ellicott City, MD, USA

problem #214

Aug 012009

Altima SE 4.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

I purchased my Altima 2.5 with the 4-cylinder engine new from a Nissan Dealership in 2002. This ran trouble free until August of 2009. I began to notice that I had to refill the coolant and oil every two weeks. Along with that, I was getting an intermittent check engine light. In addition, the car would stall out under normal driving conditions and it would take considerable efforts to restart. After which, thick plumes of white smoke would come out of the exhaust and the engine would run extremely rough until I gunned it a few times. While this is happening, the check engine light would flash - As I was to find out later, this indicated the catalytic converter was being damaged. Eventually the engine would smooth out and the flashing would stop. At times, I would hear a swooshing fluid sound coming from underneath the passenger side of the dashboard. This went on and off for months. Then I noticed that the heater was not working properly and would only produce heat when the RPM’s were at 2k. At an intersection, the heater would only blow cold air until the engine was at 2k again. In November of 2009, I had the car checked at Midas for the intermittent check engine light. Their test with error code P0420 indicated a failing cat converter and they recommended that I have it replaced by the dealership since it may still be under the warranty. The dealership replaced the 02 sensor and not the converter; this cleared the check engine light. Since I was more concerned with the engine running properly, I did not address the heating problem at that time. The car seemed to run fine up until April of 2010, the check engine light returned. I took the car to Firestone and had a complete tune-up performed and the fuel system cleaned. Again, this cleared the check engine light. It would appear intermittently, but go away whenever I had it serviced for oil change and coolant. The routine of changing the oil and topping-off the coolant became more frequent as time went on. Finally fed-up with all the problems and expense, I took it back to the dealership in January of 2011. Since it was a Saturday, they could only bleed the cooling system in hopes of getting the heater to work again. It failed a week later. That March, I took it back into the Nissan dealership to have a complete diagnostic ran. They performed a compression test and I was informed that cylinder #1 was filling with coolant with error code P0301 & P0300 indicating cylinder misfire and that the head gasket needed to be replaced for the cost of $1,600.00. Wanting a second opinion and estimate, I took my car to Firestone. After their test, they claimed that it was not a coolant leak issue at all, but a bad catalytic converter and they could replace the part for $607.00. This was considerably less expensive than the dealership and I had the work performed. For a week, the car seemed to run okay then the check engine light and stalling returned. I took the car back into Firestone to have another diagnostic ran but they could not find any error codes and suggested that if it happened again to bring it in. At this point, I sent an email to Nissan customer service asking why would a car with less that 85k miles have all these issues and would they stand behind their product and help their customer? Predictably, their response was “sorry we can’t help you.” Note to self: Do Not Buy another Nissan. After doing more research on this issue, it seems this is a known problem with the 02 Altima. However, I think found a less expensive solution. I purchased a bottle of “Barts head gasket fix” on December 5th. , it’s now January 3rd. I have not had to refill the coolant or replace any oil. The engine is not running rough, no plumes of smoke and the check engine light has not re-appeared. I wish I would had know about this products months ago.

Update from Jan 8, 2012: Here's an update. It has been over a month since I tried the Barts Head Leak fix. The oil and coolant fluid levels have not changed. In the past, I would have had to refill the fluids several times within the month. So far I am very satisfied with the results.

- , Clackamas, Oregon, USA

problem #213

Aug 132011

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

click to see larger images

excessive oil consumption

I just bought my 02 altima 2.5 in august 2011. Thinking that these are great cars, I thought i got a great deal for $6000. I have to add oil every day and antifreeze 3 times a week. Also when I start the car when its cold it makes a grinding noise. And the headlights burn out fast. I have had to replace my low beams 3 times. Nissan makes the best looking cars but they are pieces of sh*t. Also the heater works when it wants to.

- , Riverside, CA, USA

problem #212

Mar 012011

Altima S 2.5s

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles

Crap From Nissan. Eat oil like monster. Add oil after every 300 mile. No know what to do.

- , Plainsboro, NJ, USA

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