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 / 3
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
68,695 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 1 of 3)

problem #48

Mar 122012

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 148,295 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the service engine soon warning light was illuminated on and the contact experienced a reduction in engine power. The dealer was notified of the failure and the contact inquired of NHTSA campaign id numbers: 03V084000 ( engine and engine cooling:exhaust system:manifold/header/muffler/tail pipe) and 03V455000 (engine and engine cooling). The dealer advised that the vehicle was not included in either recall campaign. The dealer diagnosed that the catalytic converter needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 148,295 and the current mileage was 148,300. Updated 05/03/12

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #47

Jan 252012

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,889 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the check engine light constantly illuminated. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer and the contact was informed that the pre-catalyst had broken down and destroyed the engine. The dealer then informed the contact of the recall associated with NHTSA campaign id number 03V084000 (engine and engine cooling: Exhaust syste: Manifold/header/muffler/tail pipe). The manufacturer was notifed and stated that the vehicle was not included in the recall. The failure and current mileages were 94,889. Updated 04/25/12 Nissan informed the consumer the vehicle was out of warranty. Updated 04/30/12

- Mechanicsburg, PA, USA

problem #46

Jan 142009

Altima 4-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
I purchased this car from a dealer used (2nd owner) in 2005 with approx 37,000 miles. Ran fine. During the first year it was noticed it burned alot of oil, however had no oil leak. Also began having heating issues (which persist)in the way that it will only give off heat if car is moving at 2rpms or higher. Check engine light was on probably within first 6 months and has only not been on since then when a mechanic "resets" it--and that lasts short period(like week). This car died while driving on the interstate for no apparent reason winter of 2009. It was found to need new engine. Replacement with used engine approx $4,000. This engine promptly died in less than a month and yet again needed to be replaced. A 2005 motor was then put in my car, but guess what?? same problem with oil mysteriously vanishing and no leaking on ground and no leak to be found. Spring of 2010 all recall work done, including sensor 03V084000 which could cause a fire. Now find out catalytic converter is bad. Also through web-browsing that this can cause check engine light to be on all the time, is related to the recalled sensor, as well as the need for engine replacement. The cold air issue appears unrelated to this and is caused by air in the heating/cooling system, however this too is very common Nissan Altima problem. It seems to me that Nissan is putting bandaid on bigger issue by recalling only sensor and not addressing the fact that this is causing bigger, much costlier problems for the consumer. I have been able to find 100's of people on the internet who are complaining about the same exact thing. I also personally know 3 other "02 Nissan Altima owners who share this issue. I have easily put $8,000 into this car for problems related to the engine only.this is seems to be a widespread problem and should be addressed in a serious manner. Thank you.

- Milton, VT, USA

problem #45

Sep 152011


  • 96,000 miles


Purchased vehicle from a dealer in rittman, Ohio, on September 10, 2011. Consumer reports rate this model as very reliable for the years manufactured. Less than one week later, 9-15-11, the oil light came on. Took to a quick change oil place on the morning of 9-16-11, and the worker commented that it only had 1 quart of oil in the engine. Drove for 2 days and was checking the engine compartment and notice there was again no oil in the engine. On 9-19-11, took car to a local garage and they diagnosed that the engine was damaged and needed to be replaced because the catalytic converter near the engine had broken into pieces and been sucked into the engine. Nissan dealership in mansfield, Ohio confirmed this diagnosis on 9-20-2011. Alerted Nissan North America about this problem because of a vehicle recall executed by the NHTSA in 2003. (campaign id 03V084000) while the recall affected 338,000 vehicles, Nissan said my vehicle was not included" Nissan said that they would be unwilling to assist me with the cost of the engine replacement for that reason and that the mileage was too great. How can a car that exhibits the exact problem that the recall describes no matter what the mileage not be included in a safety recall? the NHTSA website lists 982 complaints regarding 2002 Nissan Altima, many for engine failure caused by a faulty catalytic converter design. Cannot understand why the NHTSA has not opened another investigation to remedy this issue" the original complaint concerned three vehicles. This research should show that a greater problem still exists concerning the safety of these vehicles. I ask that the NHTSA please correct this problem for myself and the thousands of other motorists affected by this borderline criminal act. Have spent almost as much money to bring the vehicle into compliance ($4600) as the purchase price.

- Ashland, OH, USA

problem #44

Sep 012011

Altima 4-cyl Diesel

  • 93,000 miles
My VIN should be included in the below recall as my mechanic diagnosed and recommended I bring to Nissan to fix. But per there recall my car VIN is not included even though be as campaign # 03V084000. Please see campiagn notice below to reference. What can I do to make Nissan do the right thing and fix under recall. Recall number: 03V084000 summary: On certain vehicles equipped with the 2.5 liter engine, the exhaust pipe hanger pin may catch debris from the road that could be ignited by contact with the main catalyst. Consequence: This condition could result in a fire. Remedy: Dealers will remove the protruding portion of the exhaust pipe hanger pin. In addition to the corrective action, in order to reduce the risk of fire in the event of poor or improper maintenance that could result in oil spillage, heat shield(s) will be installed on the pre-catalyst and exhaust tube. Owner notification is expected to begin during May 2003. Owners who take their vehicles to an authorized dealer on an agreed upon service date and do not receive the free remedy within a reasonable time should contact Nissan at 1-800-647-7261. Notes: Also on 2002 Altima and Sentra vehicles, certain engine operating conditions may cause the pre-catalyst to overheat and damage the catalyst substrate. If substrate particles enter the combustion chamber, they could score the cylinder walls, resulting in increased oil consumption. If the engine oil level is not checked on a periodic basis and drops below the low level, and the driver continues to operate the vehicle ignoring noticeable engine noise, engine damage may occur which could result in a fire. Nissan is still developing a remedy for the pre-catalyst problem. Customers can also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's auto safety hotline at 1-888-dash-2-dot (1-888-327-4236).

- Maplewood, MN, USA

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problem #43

Jun 242011


  • miles
My family has owned my 2002 Nissan Altima since it was originally driven off the lot. We have maintained the vehicle and have completed all recalls. In July 2005 recall 03V084000 was "supposedly" corrected, but I have been informed that my catalytic converter and engine needs to be replaced due to particles from the converter being inhaled by my engine. I have 143,582 miles on my vehicle. Due to this design defect I fear that driving the vehicle is a hazard, due to the chance that it will catch on fire. I contacted Nissan consumer concerning this issue, but was told that the issue have been resolved. Through my research I've learned that thousands of 02 Nissan Altima owners are experiencing this issue. Please help Nissan customers get justice, when Nissan is obviously aware that the corrective action does not stop the potential hazard of fire.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #42

Feb 012011

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles


2002 Nissan Altima. Consumer requests reimbursement for the expense of replacing catalytic converter and oxygen sensor the consumer stated the check engine light illuminated. When the consumer took the vehicle to the a mechanic for a diagnosis, they found a stored code P0420; catalyst system efficiency below threshold. They erased the code to see if it would return and shortly thereafter it returned. Another diagnosis revealed a failed pre-catalytic converter. Upon removal of the catalytic converter it was found to be damaged as a result of overheating. The front oxygen sensor was also damaged and both had to be replaced. The consumer then discovered a recall had been issued, but when he contacted the dealer, they informed him that since he had already had the catalytic converter replaced, there was nothing further they could do for him, the consumer then contacted Nissan North America and was informed there were no open recalls on his vehicle.

- Paso Robles, CA, USA

problem #41

Nov 162009


  • 68,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. While driving approximately 45 mph he began to see smoke coming from the exhaust pipe. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where he was informed that the pistons and catalyst needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was notified informed him that his vehicle was not included in the recall associated with NHTSA campaign id number 03V084000, engine and engine cooling:exhaust system:manifold/header/muffler/tail pipe. He also noted that the vehicle would burn oil quicker than usual. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileages were 68,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #40

Sep 222010

(reported on)

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles
2002 Nissan Altima. Consumer states premature breakdown of the catalytic converter the vehicle was burning a quart of oil every few days, due to a defective catalytic converter that was deteriorating and its particles were sucked into the engine destroying its ability to administer power to the vehicle. Also the vehicle would stall when accelerating. Updated 01/21/11

- New Haven, CT, USA

problem #39

Oct 232008


  • 93,505 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle was losing one quart of engine oil per week. The contact was advised by an independent mechanic that the pre-catalytic converter had disintegrated. The contact inquired with the manufacturer about NHTSA recall campaign id number: 03V084000 (engine and engine cooling: Exhaust system: Manifold/header/muffler/tail pipe) however, his VIN was not included. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 93,505 and the current mileage was 116,908.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #38

Jan 102009


  • 80,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that repairs for recall 03V084000 (engine and engine cooling: Exhaust system: Manifold/header/muffler/tail pipe) had been partially performed by the previous owner. The dealer told the contact that the catalytic converter, which was supposed to be replaced, was not and was not malfunctioning; the converter failure caused the engine to malfunction which also needed to be replaced. Although the recall had not been thoroughly performed, the manufacturer stated that they would offer no assistance. The failure mileage was approximately 80,000. The current mileage was approximately 80,000.

- Fort Eustis, VA, USA

problem #37

Jun 012008


  • 91,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The engine has to be replaced, because the oil rings and the cylinder wall have collapsed. The vehicle identification number was excluded from recall# 03V084000, ( engine and engine cooling:exhaust system:manifold/header/muffler/tail pipe). The Nissan manufacturer was notified, but no assistance was provided. The failure mileage was 91,000.

- Chillicothe, OH, USA

problem #36

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 #35

Nov 012009


  • 77,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. He heard a peculiar noise coming from the engine. A technician from the dealer made repairs to the catalytic converter. His VIN was included in recall campaign id number 03V084000 (engine and engine cooling:exhaust system:manifold/header/muffler/tail pipe). However he was advised by the manufacturer that the recall ended in December 2009 and was not an "actual recall". the representative added that if he had brought the vehicle in two months prior to the repairs, they would have covered the entire costs. The manufacturer agreed to split the costs of the repairs to the catalytic converter. The current and failure mileages were under 77,000. The VIN was not available.

- E. Providence, RI, USA

problem #34

Oct 222009


  • 106,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The vehicle was repaired according to recall # 03V084000 (engine and engine cooling:exhaust system:manifold/header/muffler/tail pipe). Several years afterwards the engine warning light would illuminate on the instrument control panel. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and the error code was reset. Soon afterward the engine would intermittently stall. The current and failure mileages were 106500.

- Nazarph, PA, USA

problem #33

Aug 132009


  • 98 miles
I began to burn about 1 quart of oil per 1000 miles that I drove at the beginning of 2009. There was also a strange growling noise when starting my car. Eventually the check engine light came on. The oil usage also began to increase. I brought my car to a local mechanic and they said that my catalytic converter needed to be replaced and there were some engine issues that was beyond their capabilities. They recommended taking it to a Nissan service department. I dropped my car off on 8/15 and within less then 2 hours they service technician told me that I not only needed a new catalytic converter but I also needed a new engine. He told me that because of a faulty design the front catalytic converter was to close to the engine causing it to over heat. Once it overheated it would break down and because there is no egr valve on the cat the particles of the converter would get sucked back into the engine which ended up scoring the cylinder walls. They told me that because the recall campaign # 03V084000 was "performed" at 13,208 miles Nissan would not cover the cost of a new engine and catalytic converter even though it is direclty related to the defective part that Nissan is already aware of. The service advisor quoted me 4586.oo plus tax for my out of pocket cost and the parts and labor would only be covered for 12 monhs or 12,000 miles even though the engine that comes with the car when it is new is covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. I am currently filing a complaint with Nissan and consluting a lawyer.

- Scotia, NY, USA

problem #32

Aug 012009


  • 80,000 miles
I recently purchased a 2002 Nissan Altima. Since I've had it, it uses oil and has a bad catalytic problem due to manufacturer defect. This 2.5S is under a recall. The ECM was replaced on the car to avoid this problem, but it still persists. Nissan refuses to acknowledge the recall even though its never been fixed......the recall number for this catalytic converter is 03V084000.

- Hephzibah, GA, USA

problem #31

Sep 012007


  • miles
Engine and engine cooling:exhaust system:manifold/header/muffler/tail pipe; I went to kraft nissian dealership to have this recall fixed; after about approximately 2-3 weeks later I experience a shut-off in traffic. I return the car back to kraft nissian and they stated that they did not see a problem. It did not happen a agin, but afterwards I notice my car was burining alot of oil. I replace the oil every two-to three days. Then one day it just died on me. I then had the car tow the car I could not afford the repair of the replacement of the engine and was told I had to rmove the car from the premises immeditely. I explain to the top/head service guy that I would have someone come and remove it that Friday. He called on Friday and I told him that it would be after 5pm but the person would be there to move it. I got there around 5:15 and was told the car had been towed. I believe that there is a continous problem with the recall and that nissian dealership do not want to replace the engine and makes the consumer feel as if it was theere fault. I had taken the car back several times without any satisfaction, I not sure if they treated me that way because I was a woman or what but I really felt belittled by this dealership.

- Havana, FL, USA

problem #30

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 #29

Jun 032009

Altima 4-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
I have a concern involving my 2002 Nissan Altima it is a 4 cylinder engine my check engine light has come on and its burning large amounts of oil (1 quart every 1000 miles) I bought this car in 2004( second hand)the cars burning of oil was strange to me because I always changed my oil approximately every 3000 miles, so I started to do some investigating on the web and came across a recall campaign in 2003 ( #03V084000) I read were fire may be caused by the catalytic converter and of 3 instances of fire to date of closer of NHTSA report in 2003. Also Nissan acknowledging a problem with the 2002 Altima converters and engine failers from this catalytic con. Being that NHTSA has closed there report in 2003 will that affect Nissan responsibility to fix this problem. I did not receive any type of recall for this issue and know finding out about potential fires and engine failures is starting to scare me this is a family car and I do have children can you please advise on needed actions on my part.

- Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA

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