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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
85,875 miles
Total Complaints:
25 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (24 reports)
  2. replaced the heater coil behind the dashboard. works fine (1 reports)
2002 Nissan Altima AC / heater problems

AC / heater problem

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2002 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #25

Sep 012011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 200,225 miles


I noticed several complaints about the heaters on the Nissan Altima. I also am fed up with mine. Have had this car a couple of years, and am ready to get rid of it. I will never own another Nissan. I have had a radiator shop to look at mine and they do not know what is wrong with it. With so many complaints about this I think there should be a recall. Would like to know if anyone that has had this problem had any results in finding a fix for this. I have to travel to work in the early mornings and it gets very cold in my car. Any suggestions?



- , Iva, SC, USA

problem #24

Nov 222012

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,000 miles

I had purchased this Nissan in 2006 the heater was taking a long time to heat the car a few years later, 2012 the switch went bad I wasn't getting any heat at all so I replaced the switch and now it still does not heat unless the car is moving after 2 or 3 hours. while in idle it doesn't do anything. This winter has been a horrible freezing nightmare!

- , Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #23

Jan 012010

Altima SE 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

The heater really sucks and it is annoying when there is no heat at idle. You freeze if you are not moving. Nissan needs to find out why this is happening I would love to get it fixed once and for all without spending more money. If they know bout it then recall it to be fixed on their dime not the car owners.

- , Addison, IL, US

problem #22

Jan 252012

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,346 miles



- , Lowell, MA, USA

problem #21

Dec 012009

Altima S 2.5L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

When the weather turns cold, using my heater does not help if I'm driving through the city. The heater blows cold air! Once I'm on the highway, the air eventually turns luke warm and if riding extended period on highway, heat will turn warm.

Once I'm off the highway, the heat quickly turns cool again till it eventually turns cold. No one seems to know what the problem is - even the Nissan dealership. I've tried flushing and refilling coolant; "burping" the coolant, even at at angle. This of course was after I had thermostat and water valve (comes with a new thermostat) replaced.

The coils and water hose all heat up but somehow the heat doesn't make it through. The problem doesn't come up on diagnostic readings. A Nissan tech said I may have blocked coils... but the car does not over heat; if anything the needle on the gauge sits a bit below the midpoint. My non-Nissan mechanic states I may need a new water pump. This is soooooo inconvenient... to ride around with no heat in the winter. I wish I could get a solution once and for all. if anyone has any suggestions or experienced the same problem and got a solution - contact my email at

- , Cleveland, OH, USA

problem #20

Dec 012010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Purchased a 2002 Nissan Altima brand new in November 2002. Within the first two years had consistent problems with the heating system. Brought to mechanic who repeatedly attempted to fix it to no avail. Two years ago, developed a problem where cold air would blow out of the vents when sitting in traffic, moving slow or sitting at a light. Brought car to dealer who tells me I need a new engine, ridiculous that a car not that old would need a new engine at that point. Cost was $ 4,500. Told me that the car was still usable but would eventually die. Then brought car to mechanic just recently who said all I needed was a heater core. Simple problem yes! Not if you're dealing with Nissan. Found out just how UNSCRUPULOUS Nissan really is. You can not purchase a heater core from Nissan for this car as they've discontinued them. Imagine, you build a car and discontinue making the parts in under ten years. Can't even purchase a generic part from an automotive shop as their heater cores are to wide. The only way to repair this problem is by actually changing the entire casing with the heater core inside NISSAN'S QUALITY OF CARS, ESPECIALLY THE 2002 ALTIMA IS SUB PAR AT BEST. Now, this is certainly a way not to have repeat customers. Currently, I'm am going to call Nissan to find out how much this entire casing is but I'm sure it will be astronomical in cost. A heater core itself can run anywhere from $ 100.00 to 400.00, but obviously the entire casing will be much more. The mere fact that they discontinued making a part in such a short period of time certainly indicates they were aware of a problem and instead of showing it is a company with an upstanding reputation decided to pull it off the market before it would affect them monetarily. After all, you can even still purchase parts for classic cars so obviously they have something to hide and they know there was a defect in their product. After my experience, I will never, nor will anyone in my family ever purchase another Nissan. In fact, I intend on making it a point to tell everyone and anyone I know that they should never, ever purchase a Nissan.

- , West Keansburg, NJ, USA

problem #19

Sep 012010

Altima ES 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 180,000 miles



- , Montgomery, AL, USA

problem #18

Nov 302003

Altima NA

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,000 miles

I purchased my Nissan in April 2003 with 36 miles on it. In Montana the weather is very cold at the best of times, My heater even now after having the auto this many years still does not heat well, in the Spring and Summer it is ok, but don't need heat during that time of the year. I have had it checked many times to no avail, even the people I have taken my car to have no idea. I love my car except during winter I am cold in it,

With all your experts makin vehicles and installing heating systems, yo would think they would find answers.

I will not be purchasing another Nissan, not because of the problem, but for personal reasons. Thank you for our interest.

- , Great Falls, MT, USA

problem #17

Feb 012003

Altima SL 2.4L

  • Manual transmission
  • 5,000 miles

The car took over 20 minutes to warm up to full operating temperature. Even then, if you sat at a red light, the heat would gradually become cold. You had to step on the accelerator to get the heat back. Eventually, the dealership found a service bulletin on this. They installed a larger heater core. This improved, but did not fix, the problem. I ended up writing to the President of Nissan USA. Their response: yes we know there's a heat problem with the 2002 Altimas. No, we're not going to do any more for you!

- , Binghamton, NY, US

problem #16

Jan 162009

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 136,702 miles

My heater blows cold air in the winter and a/c blows hot in the Summer unless the accelerator is being pressed down, I have had the vehicle in to two (2) Nissan dealerships and one (1) independent shop. All three (3) are telling me that I may need a new head gasket or the head itself is cracked and wouldn't really know until it was apart. I am losing coolant at about a pint/1000 miles with no leaks on the ground or under the hood so this seems right. The independent shop even put a dye in the coolant and found using a black light that there was coolant in my oil. I would fix the head gasket however the "check engine" light is on and again all three (3) places said that the catalytic converter is being eaten up by the engine and that I would need a new engine and cat. $5-6000. After reading everyone else's beef on "cat" problems this seems to be a common problem with the 02 Altima. Is a new engine the answer? Will I have the same problem again? The car is probably only worth $5-6000 without all these problems.

- , Vancouver, BC, Canada

problem #15

Sep 012005

Altima S 2.5L

  • Manual transmission
  • 90,000 miles


My wife really loves driving her Nissan Altima in the cold Michigan winter with no heat!!! She gets a small dose of warm air once in awhile if shes lucky. I replaced the 2 thermostats,coolant,and the heat control(in dash)which was broke because it was a small cheap piece of plastic! There's a cable from the temp. select knob which opens or closes the duct by the gas pedal giving you cold or heat. Had great heat for couple of months,but none now.Read lotsa other complaints with no solutions.

- , Charlotte, MI, USA

problem #14

Jan 032010

(reported on)

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I got the 2002 Altima in 2007 and noticed the heater only worked when accelerating. Changed thermostat which didn't help. Noticed the overflow tank was empty and added antifreeze. One week later tank was real low. Got to looking at other overflow tanks and they are a closed system. The Altimas tank has an open port on top, I thought maybe a plastic cap had came off, plugged it with rubber and it seems to be helping. Went on line and now realize Nissan Altimas are having serious problems. I don't trust dealer repair technicians, try and fix things myself. Tried to see if I could buy the plastic cap but the only thing offered is the whole expansion tank (overflow tank) for about $50.00.

Funny how the replacement tank doesn't have this open port. Will see if this was the problem.

- , Lawrenceburg, IN, US

problem #13

Nov 232009

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,613 miles

The heater does not work not until you drive on a high speed, even though you are running the engine to warm it up still is not working. It's like it will suck up all your gas

- , Calgary, AB, Canada

problem #12

May 012008

Altima S 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles

The heat in my car does not work unless I am going high speeds! If I am going anywhere under 60 MPH the car is blowing out freezing cold air. Living in a state where it snows all winter -- well this makes this problem a pain in the A**. Also, this angers me to see many other Altima owners are having the same problem and Nissan isn't doing anything about it! Grrrr. This is my last Nissan I will ever own.

- , Fulton, MO, US

problem #11

Nov 072008

Altima LS 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles


- , 124 WILSON, OH, USA

problem #10

Feb 052008

Altima SL V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles

Shortly after I purchased my car I had to have the heater system replaced.It would good for the next Winter but then started doing the same as before.I had bought an extended warranty and that covered the cost.Next time I will purchase a vehicle new enough that I won't worry with an extended warranty.Don't think I'll ever buy another Nissan!!

- , Asheboro, NC, USA

problem #9

Jan 042009

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

Like so many others, the heater would only work when you were on the highway going high speed. If you were in a traffic jam you would freeze. Never really paid attention to it until the outside temp way 0 and below.

- , Cleveland, OH, US

problem #8

Jan 012009

Altima 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

Nissan North America refuses to take responsibility for it's 2002 Nissan Altima heating problems and oil consumption problems. They know that this car as well as others should be recalled altogether, but they don't won't to admit it because it will ultimately cost them millions. They should be held accountable for their defective vehicles and should be exposed nationally on television for them to respond appropriately. Consumers should not have pay for the problem that they created!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- , Fayetteville, NC, USA

problem #7

Jan 182008

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

No one can fix it. It only heats when the car is moving. They think it is a coolant problem.

- , Murfreesboro, TN, US

problem #6

Oct 012007

Altima S V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

In Winter of 2007, the heat only worked when I was above a certain speed. It worked on the freeway, but not driving through town. This year, It wont work at all. I haven't taken it in because of fear that it is going to cost a fortune but I just can't go all winter without heat! Any info anyone has would be much appreciated.

- , Ashland, OR, USA

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