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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
81,625 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 exhaust system problems

exhaust system problem

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2002 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 2 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #48

Jan 012006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 85,000 miles


I have had a problem with my vehicle since the catalytic converter failed...I noticed that my oil level had dropped but did not equate it initially with this issue. After the failed converter ( check engine light code)....I bought a new converter and had it replaced within the well as an oil change from. A few days later when I as I was checking fluids in my car I noticed my oil was very low......adding oil ( soon after an oil change did not seem right. I went to Nissan ( dealer) and explained the problem. They did an oil consumption test and determined that I needed a new engine. I have done research online and have explained to them that other cars have the same problem in different areas but they declined to fix the engine, only stating that I needed to pay for a new engine.

- Normal, AL, USA

problem #47

Mar 162008

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles
While driving my 2002 Nissan Altima to work on March 16th 2008 I noticed that it was bucking severely on the freeway and that my check engine light was flashing rapidly. My car had approximately 85,000 miles on it at that time. I drove my car to the Nissan dealership in tempe and had it looked at on March 17th 2008. I was informed that the head gasket had blown in the engine. After having my warranty company take a look at it I was informed that I would in fact need a new engine in my car. Apparently when the head gasket blew it leaked coolant into my catalytic converter. When that happened and the coolant heated up enough to combust it started to disintegrated the inside of my catalytic converter. My engine then ingested some of the sub strait of the converter. In doing so I now have to replace my engine because all of the components are covered in a fine sandy material from the inside of the converter.

- Scottsdale, AZ, USA

problem #46

Jan 092008

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I was very happy with my car until 1-/9/08 I took my car to stewart Nissan in fayetteville to do a computer update and to see why my check engine light was on. They did the update and turned the light off and said I might wind up needing a catalyst converter if the light comes back on. It came back on before I even got home. I called them back and ask if it was under warranty they said the one that tells them that was off and I would have to wait till that Monday but I called vester in clinton. I took it to them on Saturday but they had to get one in. Picked my car up thought everything was fine but it started skipping and my oil was a quart low.drove a few more days another quart low called back to clinton took it back in they changed plugs and did oil change told me to drive a few days and keep a check on my oil I have and it is worse still skipping and using oil but cannot see a leak of any kind I just do not under stand what happen to my car I did not have any trouble until this catalyst converter I am suppose to take it back to vester Saturday. I have seen several complaints close to this one on the internet so maybe you can tell me what needs to be done to get my car back to normal and why this happen in the first place I really feel like this is something that came from that part. I only have 81,000 thousand miles.

- Erwin, NC, USA

problem #45

Feb 142007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 116,460 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that her motor mounts have either failed or are loose. When she depresses the brake pedal, the vehicle jerks dramatically. The sensor in the catalytic converter failed. The dealer stated that if the vehicle had less than 80,000 miles, the failure would be covered under Nissan's extended warranty. The vehicle exceeds 80,000 miles and will not be covered under warranty. The current and failure mileages were 116,460. Updated 04/21/08

- Missouri City, TX, USA

problem #44

Feb 292008

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,257 miles
The vehicle was taken to a dealership for 90,000 mile maintenance on 2/26/08. At that time, we were informed there was an open recall for the ECM. The maintenance was done and the ECM was "reprogrammed" per the service dept. 3 days later on 2/29/08, the "check engine" light came on while we were driving home at night on the freeway. We stopped at a gas station and checked under the hood, but nothing unusual appeared, ie no leaking fluids, not overheating, engine running smoothly, etc. We checked the oil; the level was at full and was clean as it should be from an oil change 3 days earlier. The next day, we took it back to the dealership for diagnosis. They told us the error code indicates that the catalytic converter needs to be replaced. Its extended warranty expired at 80,000 miles. Looking for key words "Altima catalytic converter" on the internet to do a cost analysis, we have found many blog entries by other 2002/2003 Altima drivers discussing this same issue. Many of them indicated that the cat converter will break apart and backflush parts into the engine, damaging the cylinders and ultimately requiring engine replacement. This has apparently happened before and also after converters have been replaced. The converter or associated parts apparently have serious design flaws that can ultimately cause engine failure while a driver is on the road. This could have potentially serious side effects depending on where and when the failure occurs. Replacement of our converter is pending; in the meantime, the vehicle is parked in our garage.

- Baytown, TX, USA

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problem #43

Dec 242007


  • miles
I bought my 02 Altima in March 02. There was several recalls over the years and once fixed there were no problems. In 2007 I reached 80K miles and the engine light starting coming on. I took it to the dealership and they said it was a catalytic converter going bad and since I was past the mileage for warranty I would have to fix it at a cost of $1000+. the car is hesitant to start at times, it rattles under the hood and blows cold air when idling. There was also another recall issued this year where the engine is said to stop at any given time. I'm getting the car fixed this weekend which is totaling me $3700, of which the mechanic is saying Nissan really should have taken another look because he's had to fix more than 100 of this same vehicle at his dealership alone. Unfortunately there is nothing he can do without Nissan's approval but to fix it at my cost. I called Nissan and all they could tell me is there was nothing they could do except fix the latest recall that came out at the end of 07 into 08. Well the mechanic can't fix the recall without fixing the problem which is causing the engine light to come on and off. Oxygen sensor, catalytic converter is what the code is coming back saying needs to be fixed. From the list of complaints it looks like this car has a defect in these parts, not due to owner misuse and should be taken seriously not lightly.

- Arlington, TX, USA

problem #42

Jun 242004

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles


Well I have 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5 I have about 66,000 miles on the car and it has been having the same problem. It first started when they had recall oxygen sensor. I have had to replace the same sensor 3 times already at about cost of $350 each time. Now my check engine light keeps coming on the replaced the catalytic converter and told me I had to change my engine coils and spark plugs for about $1000 dollars. After that was completed there was no change my check engine light still comes on engine idles rough always having to fill coolant. And have had to been towed several time to the dealer with no explanation as to what is wrong.

- Rahway, NJ, USA

problem #41

Jan 212008

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,347 miles
We purchased a 2002 Nissan Altima on 11/01/07 at newburgh Nissan in newburgh NY on 17K.3 weeks after, we saw on the news that the Nissan 2002 had a recall. Then we contacted Nissan in newburgh & informed them.they informed they found that in addition to the recall that there was a coil that needed to be fixed. (this should sound familiar as every other complaint on the web states the same story) they told me that they would need to charge us almost $1kto have it fixed. I proceeded to remind them that this is a recall;then transferred me back to the receptionist at the newburgh Nissan who said that we would have to pay. I then said I wanted to speak to a mngr immediately. Finally they gave me to a diff person. This mngr comes on the phone with the clear message that they were not going to help.) he said well give me some time to go over the info. They said its in great condition, we're going to replace the battery" after it always acted as if it was ready to stall. I then called Nissan Consumer Affairs. I placed a complaint. I then received a call from Nissan in newburgh the next day that they would fix the car. Then when they fixed the recall and its coil issue then my husband received a call from Nissan Consumer Affairs asking if it was fixed. Well he told them that it has been two days since they fixed it and the engine check light is on and now the car is not going up hills. They never called us back. I called the Nissan Consumer Affairs people and left numerous voicemail messages for the regional contact. This is what was in they their invoice: C/S check engine light is on found muliticylinder misfire. Coil packs are deteriorated and breaking up replaced all 4 spark plugs and coil packs why is it ironically that the car they sold us cannot climb a hill. My car will not start. I can't even get the car to the dealer. I was told that if I can't get my car started I would have to get it towed to them at my expense. This car is not safe.

- Middletown, NY, USA

problem #40

Jan 082008

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I had a 90,000 mile vehicle checkup at Nissan village in attleboro, MA. The vehicle had 88,000 miles at the time of the service. At the suggestion of the service technician, I had the catalytic converter replaced. My car currently has 92,000 miles on it and I noticed a problem with the engine. After looking the car over I noticed that the oil was bone dry. I searched on the internet for problems related to this vehicle and noticed multiple instances of the exact same problem with the catalytic converter, burning oil, and eventually total engine replacement. I have only had the catalytic converter replaced and the oil burning problem has started. I fear that I will have complete engine failure shortly, like numerous others have, because of this issue.,000 miles-I-w/index.html

- Franklin, MA, USA

problem #39

Dec 152007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles
2002 Altima, loss of power early in Dec 2007, Dec 17 2007 at 85,000 miles catalytic convertor fails, at 90,000 miles using 1 quart of oil in 700 miles. At 91,125 miles to dealership and report made with Nissan. A recall part of a exhaust pipe hanger replaced by dealer and I am told the other expenses of convertor (approx $800 plus labor and possible motor replacement $3900) are up to me. Yet there are thousands of other people with the same identical problem and no recall is issued.research, per Nissan news bullitins, has indicated that the convertor on the Altima and Sentra blows internal residue into the cylinder walls causing the excessive oil problem.

- Springville, TN, USA

problem #38

Nov 122007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,970 miles


Pre-catalytic failure causing engine damage leading to excessive oil consumption presenting a potential fire hazard. Nissan's previous recall campaign to address this issue has proven inadequate as I have read about numerous complaints regarding this same issue.

- Central Islip, NY, USA

problem #37

Oct 182007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles
The contact's daughter owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle overheated while driving, the engine makes strange sounds, and black smoke comes from the vehicle intermittently. The vehicle also has excessive oil consumption. A mechanic performed a diagnostic and discovered that the catalyst converter and precatalyst were malfunctioning due to too much oil coming out of the engine. The vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign id number 03V084000 (engine and engine cooling:exhaust system:manifold/header/muffler/tail pipe). The speed was unknown. The current mileage was 80,000 and failure mileage was 70,000.

- Keller, TX, USA

problem #36

Oct 292007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,630 miles
Dealer says the engine in my 2002 Nissan Altima must be replaced at a cost of $5,400 because it blew a head gasket allowing coolant to enter the cylinders. Car is out of warranty because it has 83,00 miles. It has come to my attention that this is a very common problem for this model because of defective design. Nissan refuses any help to correct problem.

- Springfield, IL, USA

problem #35

Sep 172007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89 miles
Engine cylinder walls are scored and using an excess amount of oil also catalytic converter is no good.

- Derby, CT, USA

problem #34

Oct 122007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles
Catalytic converter coming apart. Pulling parts of converter into engine. Causing mis fire on #3 cylinder. Need to replace engine and converter.

- Greensboro, NC, USA

problem #33

Mar 012007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. While driving 75 mph, the vehicle lost power and the vehicle would not accelerate above four mph. The dealer stated that the catalytic converter failed. The manufacturer issued a voluntary recall for the catalytic converter, however, they stated his vehicle was not included. The dealer replaced the engine. The failure mileage was 122,000 and current mileage was 125,000.

- Macon, GA, USA

problem #32

Aug 222007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,632 miles
I recently purchased a 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5S model from my 75 yr old aunt, in trying to smog it. Check engine light on w/ P0420 code, car has 61450 mi. Uses alot of oil, alhambra Nissan checked and stated engine no good ruined catalytic. Catalytic has federal warrenty 8yr-80K, also alot of smoke early am start up..industry knowledge./ iatn says catalytic break up cause engine damage, scoring cylinder walls, dealer has replaced 23 engines & catalytics mostly under warranty. Powertrain warranty expired 01/07.. first inspected 03/97 & again 08/07. I believe problem come from catalytic, smoke, oil consumption, check engine light. I think Nissan should warranty problem..a respone would be appreciated...

- Monterey Park, CA, USA

problem #31

May 012007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. While driving 55 mph, the service engine light illuminated. The dealer stated that the inside of the catalyst was scorched and the oxygen sensors needed to be replaced. The dealer removed the protruding portion of the exhaust pipe hanger pin prior to the failure. The dealer stated that the VIN was excluded from NHTSA recall number 03V084000 (engine and engine cooling:exhaust system:manifold/header/muffler/tail pipe). The vehicle has not been repaired. The current mileage was 80,000 and failure mileage was 68,000.

- Orchard Beach, MD, USA

problem #30

Jul 082007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 96,000 miles
Massive oil consumption, oil burning, in 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5L standard. Catalytic converter setting check engine light. I was told I needed a new head gasket. $1200. Still burning oil. Nissan has many complaints for this issue and refuses to help.

- Rochester , NY, USA

problem #29

May 072007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,288 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. While driving 55mph, the check engine light came on two to three weeks later after the vehicle was repaired. The mechanic stated that after replacing the head gasket on the engine the catalyst converter broke causing the rings in the engine wall to be destroyed. Due to the failure, the vehicle burned excessive oil. After driving 645 miles the vehicle burned two quarts of oil. The mechanic also stated that this is an ongoing problem with the 2002 Altima. This is the second catalyst converter replacement on the vehicle. The current mileage is 131654 and the failure mileage was 97288.

- Lumberton, NJ, USA

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