If you find CarComplaints.com is helpful ... We rely completely on word of mouth. Talk about us on Facebook, Twitter, tell your mother-in-law. Help us help more people.

8.7

pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
$3,360.00
Average Mileage:
114,354 miles
Total Complaints:
61 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (31 reports)
  2. replace engine and cat. converter (29 reports)
  3. remove the pre cat (1 reports)
2003 Nissan Altima engine problems

engine problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2003 Nissan Altima:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2003 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 1 of 4)

problem #61

Nov 092013

Altima

  • Automatic transmission
  • 171,000 miles

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

I will never buy another Nissan Altima again. 2003 burning excessive oil & idling too high!!!!

- , Asheboro, NC, USA

problem #60

Jun 102011

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

click to see larger images

engine burns oil

OK, I've owned my 2003 Altima for 6 yrs now, bought my car with 40.000 miles and I, just like many of you guys here, found out about why my car was burning oil and burning coolant just after the 80,000 mile warranty expired.

I LOVE my altima , and this was DEVASTATING NEWS.

Pretty much what happens is : A DESIGN FLAW

Because of where the catalytic converter is located (too close to the engine) it disintegrates and gets sucked up into the engine causing us to have to get a new engine.... Getting a new engine, and having the catalytic converter removed completely (like I did) or REPLACED with the updated pre-cat, is the only fix to this problem. IT cost me $4500.00 for a JASPER REMANUFACTURED ENGINED INSTALLED, and $300.00 FOR A EXHAUST MANIFOLD WITH CAT DELETE (straight pipe without the catalytic converter)

My car started burning oil about 2 yrs ago, it was not too bad, about 1qt for every 2500 miles driven. So i took it to the dealer to find out why and I was told the dreadful news that i needed a new engine. I CALLED NISSAN USA and I got strung along for about two weeks. Being that I do all maintenance myself, I had to fax copies of all the oil and filter changes that I've done regularly to Nissan, and evidence that I did take care of my car. In the end I was told that I was just of the warranty that ended at 80,000 miles for the engine..

Then my car stated burning coolant. After my check engine light kept coming on I tried different fixes that never worked...(replaced coil packs, spark plugs etc)

TURNED OUT ONCE I REPLACED MY ENGINE AND REMOVED THE PRE CAT, I HAVENT HAD NO PROBLEMS SINCE (OCT 2011) no burning of oil and no burning of coolant, also no check engine light, BUT IT IS A COSTLY REPAIR, THROUGH NO FAULT OF MY OWN

I'LL KEEP MY ALTIMA FOR A LONG TIME SINCE I'VE SPENT SOO MUCH MONEY ON IT, BUT I'LL NEVER BUY NISSAN AGAIN!!!

- , Piscataway, NJ, USA

problem #59

Dec 012011

Altima 2.5S 4 cylinder

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Apparently the same problem as everyone else is having with the '03 Altima 2.5s. Have to say I truly LOVED the car up until it hit 60k miles, no problems whatsoever, but just after that mark the engine rattle and insane amounts of oil burning began. Advice from my mechanic is just to keep filling it with oil vs. investing in a new engine, etc. Can't afford to get rid of it yet but doing so is top of my list. Which sucks - I bought the car expecting it to last 300k and am only going to get about 80k. At least it's paid off.

- , Escondido, CA, USA

problem #58

Jan 162013

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 156,000 miles

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

I bought a 2003 Nissan Altima in September 2012 without doing the proper research. After I owned the car for a few months, the oil turned black and started burning about a quart of oil a week which eventually increased to a quart a day.

Every Nissan built after 2002 will eventually die the same horrible death after the pre cat gets sucked into the crank case. Nissan spent 50 million bucks on American politicians in 2012. I recommend they spend that money to recall their defective engines instead. If you own a Nissan built after 2002, GET RID OF IT NOW, even if you lose a few bucks. Trust me, it's worth it in the long run.

- , Blackwood, NJ, USA

problem #57

Jan 052005

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

I needed a new transmission as soon as I ran out of warranty on that Altima 2.5S. It still consumes oil, almost as much as gasoline. It's awful. I need to stop on highways just to fill up on oil.

Also, one day, the radio dropped dead. The next day, the door window simply dropped out and needed to be glued back into it's holder.

I bought this Altima used from MotorCars in Cleveland Heights. It was really a bad deal and real scam. Buyer beware! Lot's of litle damages were not disclosed to me when I bought this car used in 2004.

- , Cleveland, OH, USA

problem #56

Apr 202013

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 180,000 miles

I always kept the oil changed in my 2003 Nissan Altima . My engine is gone because this car started burnng oil without warning. Also, another problem wih this car, it would come to a complete stop while I was driving and without warning. If there is anyone out there who would like to join with me in a lawsuit. Please respond to this complaint.

- , Dallas, TX, USA

problem #55

Apr 282013

Altima LX 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles

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

Same as all the rest. Rattling sound while idling. Engine lite came on got oil change. Told me that it

was the O2 Sensor. Two weeks later oil light comes on and bring it in to where I got the oil changed. They tell me that I am 3 quarts low. Guy also tells me that he has seen this problem with other Altimas. Looked

the problem up online and alas this website comes up. I have been a faithful Nissan owner for over 20 years

I never kept their car for over 80,000 miles, always traded them in for a new one every 4 years until now.

If they do not fix this problem I will never buy a Nissan again.

- , Naperville, IL, USA

problem #54

Dec 172012

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

My 2003 Altima has 115,000 miles on it when it started to burn oil excessively. The car then started to stall with no warning. Very dangerous. It risked my family's lives. I will scrap the car. I will never buy another Nissan again. I cannot believe all the complaints I have read and no one at Nissan has taken notice.

- , North Babylon, NY, USA

problem #53

May 012011

Altima 2.5sl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles

I thought I was purchasing a GREAT reliable car and would be dependable and low maintenance... boy, was I ever WRONG! It was under warranty for a year, and I had it back in the dealership constantly due to oil issues to which the technicians never could find an oil leak and "monitored the issue", and never determined anything. Three months after the warranty expired, the catalytic converter and O2 sensor went bad and had to be replaced. Once that was replaced, the oil issue got worse. I have paid almost $2000 in the last six weeks for regular maintenance (brakes, etc) and repairs. I am now having to put approximately 3 to 4 quarts of oil in my car every 4 to 6 days. I was referred to take it to an engine mechanic and to probably start looking for another engine. I still owe $4000 on my car. I am taking it to yet a different mechanic in the morning (missing work AGAIN over my so-called-dependable car). This car has fired me up beyond belief, and of course the tech manager at the dealership... well, that's another story. After reading the other complaints and issues that seem to possibly be similar, is UNREAL. I will NEVER buy another Nissan, and encouraging my daughter is in the process of looking around to trade her Nissan in for a different model car. This is so frustrating and disheartening.

- , Asheville, NC, USA

problem #52

Mar 152012

Altima S

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

I'm really disappointed,first engine light on i need change gasket ,n 2 o2 sensor,now cat,consumed oil like crazy.all this i couldn't take it anymore,no more altima

- , Centereach, NY, USA

problem #51

Aug 172012

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 170,000 miles

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

Went to have oil changed and two days later heard some noise under the hood, checked oil and it was dry,

Not a drop! Took my car to my mechanic and he could not find anything wrong. But the oil I had just put in

was black, like it was never changed. He suggested I have it changed again. 4 days later, the noise and no

oil! Then it just went crazy...1 quart every 60 miles. Now the tapping is loud, it runs awful, and has no get up

and go. I'm afraid to buy another engine and go thru this again...Oh yeah, it's a 2003 Altima 2.5L!! Where does the oil go? And where do I sign up Class Action Suit???

- , Rocky Mount, LA, USA

problem #50

Jan 042012

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 142,915 miles

remove the pre cat it solves the oil burning problem, don't change the engine

- , Montreal, Quebec, Canada

problem #49

Nov 012011

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

I've had a driving school for over 15 yrs & by far this car has cost me the most on repairs. My american cars have given me over 250k miles. I have had several Japanese cars because they have cost me less on repairs & all have given me over 300k miles. This car started burning oil around 160k miles. The car wouldn't start, so replaced the spark plugs & wires. This worked for a little while. Then the problem continued. Noticed the spark plugs had oil on them. So I got my mechanic involved & his professional opinion was to replace the engine due to the car burning oil. Later found out this was a common problem with the 4cyl on the 2003 Altima. It was so common, that the junkyard said they can't keep those engines in stock. It took us months to locate one.

- , San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #48

May 222012

Altima SE 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles

PLEASE FIX MY CAR. PIECE OF JUNK. OIL CANNOT BE REPLENISHED FAST ENOUGH. OTHERWISE NICE CAR. NEEDS COVERTOR. PUT A LOT OF MONEY IN THIS CAR FROM SENSORS TO MAIN COMPUTER. MONEY PIT. HEY NISSAN START THE RECALL

- , Wenonah, NJ, USA

problem #47

Jul 162011

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

Back in July, my car started burning oil at an ungodly rate. Went online to research why my car was burning so much oil and low and behold, here is this website and many others with '03 Altima owners complaining of the same thing as well as burned up motors. I was literally burning 5 quarts of oil a week and my daily round-trip mileage for work is 40 miles. In October, I finally bit the bullet and took my car to the Nissan dealership to have a remanufactured engine installed. They also had to replace the pre-cat and oxygen sensors. Since the motor replacement 2 1/2 months ago, I have had my car at the dealership 5 times due to the "service engine soon" light coming on and the car running sh!tty. The first time was to have the timing adjusted, the 2nd time was to switch around 2 coil packs to see if there was a bad cylinder or bad coil pack, 3rd time to determine it was the coil pack, 4th time was to replace the coil pack and I just picked up my car again a 1/2 hour ago after paying another $242 to get the CAM/Crank Shaft sensors replaced. All in all, I've spent almost $4700 in the last few months to keep this POS on the road. At this point I feel so far in the hole that these "minor" repairs are necessary. I had an epiphany today-- marry a mechanic so I don't have to deal with car issues ever again...or never buy another Nissan.

- , Omaha, NE, USA

problem #46

Jul 312010

Altima SE 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

I started having problems with this car last summer. The car was making weird noises and had a weird ticking sound. The engine was humming very loudly. I went for an oil change, which I did religiously since I bought the car brand new in 2002. I was informed by the person that my car had no oil in it. He told me to take the car to a mechanic (this was a jiffy lube) which i did. I brought the car to Nissan dealership and they told me they could not find anything wrong with it. The car continued to run but as the months went on, the engine would shake and the check engine light would come on. The car felt like it was going to stall out, but it never did. Once again I brought the car to Nissan (this was almost a year later) and they informed me that I needed a new engine. The car only had 95000 miles on it! It would cost 3800 to get a new engine which I could not afford to do. They told me to just continue putting oil in it. Now, 6 months later, the car is burning oil at a rate of a quart a week, if not less, and the check engine light just started coming on again.

I know I am on borrowed time with this car. Thank God it hasn't broken down. I also had to add coolant since the radiator was bone dry too. I looked up info on this car and saw all the complaints re. the cat. converter. I have to say that Nissan NEVER told me about that problem even though they must have known when they looked at my car the second time. Now I'm reading about people who actually replaced the engine and are still having problems!

There should be a class action suit since they obviously installed defective parts in this car since so many people are having the same problem. I can't afford to buy another car and I was going to replace the engine but now I'm not sure what to do after reading that the problems continued even after fixing it. I thought about getting a rebuilt engine but then there really are no guarantees.

This sucks and I'll never buy another nissan again!

- , Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #45

Jul 262011

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 137,000 miles

I bought this car in April 2011. I never drove it cause i wanted to repaint it making it like new. In June 2011 i finally saved enough money to get the paint job done. Driving the car for the first time from the paint shop to my house, i realized the check engine light on. I went to a mechanic who ran a test and said that my catalytic converter was bad and will need to be changed. I changed the converter and after three day, i hard a grinding noise coming from the engine. When i checked the oil, it was dry like the sahara desert. There was not oil light on and there is no sign of oil leakage. I added oil and took it to my mechanic who told my that i have to live with this problem because this is a problem known for Nissan Altima.

I was so disappointed and now i have to keep a case of oil in my trunk cause i have to add a quart every 100 miles. I will never buy a Nissan Altima again and please if you do not own one, consider yourself BLESSED. Pleaseee stay OUT!!!

- , Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #44

Nov 212011

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,752 miles

So I bought this car just a couple days ago. Drove it to school and try starting it this morning and it couldn't start. Took it to a guy to fix and said i need a new engine.

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #43

Mar 292011

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,000 miles

I thought my mechanic had ruined my car. No. Its using 2 quarts of oil every 4 days now. Fix it or not is the question. I just paid it off and thought I would be driving it for a couple of years,. That's not going to happen now.

- , Broken Arrow, OK, USA

problem #42

Mar 292011

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,000 miles

This car is a piece of junk. Changing the engine out doesn't seem to stop the problems.

- , Broken Arrow, OK, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?