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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
91,323 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2002 Nissan Altima Owner Comments

problem #12

Dec 102016


  • 11,519 miles


I received a letter from the sapir your court of the state of California I am unable to find out what is going on with my car for what may happen with my car but this letter is telling me that I may have engine damage because if I lose power valves girl and that my car is unsafe to drive no one won't give me any true information or everyone is telling me they do not know what I am talking about please help me I drive this car I do not want to kill anyone or to die it will stop right in the middle of the freeway or wherever I am.

- Covina, CA, USA

problem #11

Mar 012015


  • 119,500 miles
Purchased vehicle pre-owned, seller appeared honest & truthful about the vehicle, however after about 2 weeks of ownership I noticed high oil consumption, probably about a quart a week, ,didnt think much about it, except that I probably have bad rings, or leaking intake valves/seals and would require costly engine daughter came home one day and mentioned the car wouldnt go over 15 mph, so I took it for a ride & as she said, intermittantly the vehicle would only go 15-20 mph, rendering the car unsafe to drive, ,when I got back with the car I opened the hood only to see the front catalytic converter was glowing bright orange and no exhaust exiting the tailpipe, ,,I know enough about cars to know that can only mean the converter is clogged solid, ,,,inquired at a local Nissan dealer what the warranty was on the the cat and they said it was 8 yrs,80K miles, ,,did some research on the web and find out theres a recall on it, the cat coming apart & pieces of it getting sucked up into the intake causing catastrophic engine damage, ,,Nissan was replacing the cats, installing heat shields, and replacing engines to to the defect of the cat, ,,,,dealer says he cant help me, ,,,,check the web, its an ongoing problem with the Altima as well as the Sentra, ,,this is something that Nissan knows is an issue and should take care of this..

- Medford, NY, USA

problem #10

Dec 102014


  • 205,176 miles
Power valve screws in their 2003 Nissan Altima 2.5S. There is currently a recall on 2004 and 2005 Altima with the 2.5S engine with vins starting with 1N4al11. The recall campaign id for this problem is P5202. However, the same problem affects the 2003 Altima with the 2.5S engine, but Nissan North America has not added the 2003 year model to the recall. Both the 2003S and the 2004S have the exact same engine and I am a case in point of someone experiencing the exact same issue. However, Nissan has of yet not stated whether they will add the 2003 to the recall campaign. I wanted to first let other 2003 Altima owners with the 2.5S engine become aware of this issue. Secondly don't pay to have the problem fixed, it needs to be reported to Nissan North America that the 2003 models are affected by this power valve screw issue. Here is the kicker: More than half the current value of the car. Please be sure and not let this happen to you. I have been on the phone with Nissan North America and my dealership. My dealership has been extremely honest with me and is working with me to get Nissan North America to add the 2003-year models to the recall campaign. If you have had a similar problem and had to pay for it, or if you are experiencing power loss, hearing engine rattle, unusual engine vibration, or hear a motorcycle engine type noise or muffler type sound coming from the engine, than you may be experiencing problems with the power valve. I hope this information saves someone out there both money and time. If you have already experienced this issue than please let me know. We are currently mounting evidence related to this issue in an attempt to make Nissan North America aware of the issue and add the 2003 model to the recall campaign as well as address the damage. If not we will need to file a class action lawsuit related to this issue.

- Durham, NC, USA

problem #9

Feb 022015

Altima 4-cyl

  • 172,300 miles


The first issue I have are the oxygen senor are bad no speed when getting pass 35 feel like your driving in 25. The major issue and it is very unsafe. I was driving down the street with my under age children in the car and when the gears was in drive it stop and went backwards then I put it all the way in park and it stop and took off and speed went to 60 then back down to it normal speed. Just the other day on 2/16/15 it was placed in drive it automatic went into reverse instead of drive but the gear was in drive.

- Petersburg, VA, USA

problem #8

Feb 062015


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while driving at approximately 30 mph, the vehicle independently decreased in speed and would not accelerate over 5 mph. In addition, the check engine warning light illuminated. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 120,000.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

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problem #7

Apr 012014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 125,000 miles
Nissan Altima 2.5 auto transmission. Nearly killed me. Car suddenly went to 20 mph on the interstate in heavy traffic with 18-wheel 30 ton vehicle behind me. Burns oil like crazy. Put in better synthetic oil, burns faster. Had the car die on the interstate at 75mph right in front of an 18-wheeler. Could have died. Could have been killed by the Nissan corporation. Know any good lawyers? this is really dangerous, Nissan should recall and replace this engine. Replaced catalytic converter, O2 sensor, pre-catalytic converter, spark plugs, some other related stuff. Burns oil even faster than before. Completely ran out of oil in 300 miles. I am trying 10-40 oil to see if the oil burning problem will slow down. Car only has 125000 miles on it. Complete pos. Never buy a Nissan, I never will again. This was my first, only 125K on it. I am used to selling perfectly good Ford and vws at 250K miles. On the internet most people fail the pre-cat and catalytic converter by 95000 miles, then overheat and blow the entire engine. Cars stopping suddenly at 75 miles an hour are going to kill people. Since Nissan is well aware, this is pre-meditated murder. Other symptoms: No power, no acceleration, no response by Nissan dealer. Nissan "service" is a joke. Never take a car to Nissan for repairs. Unrelated sign of really really bad engineering: Paint is falling off car. Never had that happen to a car before, I have a 14 year old Ford with 240K and the original paint job, even though it is not garaged.

- Monument, CO, USA

problem #6

Jul 012011


  • 80,000 miles


Was driving and the clutch sank to the floor. Couldn't get into gear so I had to pull over. Once I parked my car, the clutch was completely to the floor. Couldn't drive it because the clutch would not get into gear. Waited about 20 mins and it came up 1/4 of the way and was able to get into gear. This only happens in the summer and it happens about once or twice every other week and if it happens while it's parked, the car is inoperable.

- Antelope , CA, USA

problem #5

Jun 152011


  • 78,883 miles
We had stopped at the signal and once the signal turned green we tried to move, but the car did not move at all, seemed like the engine was completely dead. We thought of getting out of the car and thus we put on the warning flasher switch and tried to put into park by depressing the brake pedal and shifted the selector lever from D (drive) to P (park). During this process the car went out of control and crashed on to the busy traffic (the traffic was on by then on the other side). This major accident involved a total of 5 cars and 3 cars were towed and totaled including ours and injuring one of the passengers. Our 1 year son was also involved in this accident, but luckily he was not injured, thanks to the stable car seat. My father escaped with minor injuries. Above all, the car was fully serviced from Nissan dealer (costing around $900) day before the crash occurred.

- Omaha, NE, USA

problem #4

Aug 162010


  • 133,500 miles
My daughter had complained of the clutch in her car loosing pressure and basically dropping to the floor, interfering with her ability to shift gears, and it sometimes lurching forward on occasions when this happens. In August 2010, she was sitting at a stop light, in first gear with her foot on the clutch when this occurred, causing the car to jump forward into the back of another vehicle. At the time, I felt that her foot may have slipped off the clutch instead, until it lost pressure again a couple of days ago while driving in the mountains. I started researching on the internet and discovered that many people have had the same problem with this vehicle model exhibiting very similar behavior. When this happens in traffic it's dangerous, because it can lurch by itself or you may not be able to shift into gear to move out of the way of oncoming vehicles, like if you're crossing traffic. It also inhibits the ability to downshift when going downhill. Nissan does not recognize this as a manufacturing problem, although many people have badgered the dealerships into replacing the clutch master cylinder and/or slave cylinder under warranty, and Nissan has not had a recall for the problem. Mine is way out of warranty, so my only recourse is to file a formal complaint so that hopefully others will not become involved in an accident as a result of faulty parts or fluid being used in the clutch system. The general consensus is that the master cylinder is allowing air, and/or moisture, to enter the system, but moreover, the dot 3 fluid that is used seems to be the major factor in the failure, where as dot 4 or 5.1 should be used instead. I have not done any repair to the car since she has it at school, but I will have it fixed as soon as I get it back home.

- Durham, NC, USA

problem #3

Feb 152008


  • 50,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The service engine light began illuminating intermittently and then remained lit. When starting the vehicle and taking off, the vehicle made a strange noise and jerked as if something were slipping. Once the vehicle gained speed, the noise stopped. The dealer stated that the following components needed to be replaced: The catalytic converter, two major sensors, and the heating and air conditioning systems. The vehicle was burning oil on the inside of the engine, which caused it to fail. The vehicle could have an oil change and then four days later, the oil would have burned out completely. NHTSA campaign id numbers 03V084000 (engine and engine cooling:exhaust system:manifold/ header/muffler/tail pipe), 07V527000 (engine and engine cooling), and 03V455000 (engine and engine cooling were referenced. The current mileage was 116,000 and failure mileage was 50,000. Updated 06/05/08 the driver side power mirror was replaced, the gear selector was sticking. The cylinder head, gasket radiator and thermostat were replaced. Were replaced. Updated 06/04/08

- Hoffman Estates , IL, USA

problem #2

Feb 192003

(reported on)


  • miles
The gears did not shift properly.

- Carefree, AZ, USA

problem #1

Feb 282002


  • miles
Odometer was 4 seconds faster causing consumer to drive faster then intended. Dealer and manufacturerhave been informed, and didn't see it being a problem. Please add more information.

- St. Louis, MO, USA

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