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
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
102,750 miles
Total Complaints:
46 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace gasket (20 reports)
  2. replace engine (13 reports)
  3. not sure (9 reports)
  4. replace (3 reports)
  5. head cylinder rebuilt (1 reports)
2002 Nissan Altima engine problems

engine problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2002 Nissan Altima:

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

2002 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #26

Oct 142009

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles


My 2002 Nissan Altima is horrible first is was the catalytic converter that went then the head gasket went and it sat in my drive way for six months. then my computer in the car died that cost me 1500 to get fixed i will NEVER EVER EVER buy another nissan

- , Cheltenham, PA, USA

problem #25

Jul 102009

Altima S 2.5L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

I bought this sh*t....about a year a go.... was running pretty good suddenly began having problem with disappearing of antifreeze.. some time would put 3,4 times in a day....that antifreeze would go in to the engine.. and get mixed with engine oil...overheated many times.Head gasket blew... mechanic recommended to change the engine.. which costed about 2500$.

- , Takoma Park, MD, USA

problem #24

Feb 012010

Altima Altima 3.5L

  • Manual transmission
  • 90,000 miles

90K miles and engine blew out. The oil light had come on and when I checked oil there was no problem. On my way to the mechanic engine blew out. 3 Grand to fix. decided with the engine out I might as well take care of the transmission,flywheel, water pump etc

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #23

Jan 142010

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles


Well, looks like Nissan really needs to be called before congress or something.

Everyone is having expensive engine problems with this car.

I have replaced the engine twice. Both time the engine got heated and blown.

I should have redone the engine. I bought an used Nissan engine.

However, the problem is that all the engines has problems.

let me know if you have redone your engine and it has worked well.

- , Dallas,, TX, USA

problem #22

Apr 032010

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

I have a 2002 Nissan Altima which was a pleasure to drive for awhile. After the 80,000 reading I had misfiring problems. We replaced the spark plugs and the ignition coils; now the mechanic says that the gasket blew off. How in the hell did that happen if I never noticed any overheating? The temperature gauge never went past the middle so how in the world was my car running without water to the point that it overheated? We must keep complaining and make Nissan pays for all these abuses and lack of recall for temperature gauges that don't work.

- , Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #21

Nov 192009

Altima 2.5S V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

Same story as everyone else: First the head gasket needed to be replaced ($1200 bill),, next I was informed that the whole engine needs to be replaced because the catalytic converter went bad and the engine started eating too much oil and ran out of oil. All this when the car has only 76k miles on it (7.5 years). KBB says that the car in "good" condition is worth 6k, and I have to spend 4k just to get it fixed. That is ridiculous. God knows what else will break after the engine is replaced.

- , Mountain View, CA, USA

problem #20

Feb 162010

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,400 miles


I just finished reading a bunch of complaints on the head gasket which I can deduce is the problem with my car given the precise nature of the symptoms I am seeing.

- , Toronto, Ontario, Canada

problem #19

Sep 302008

Altima 2'5

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

This Nissan has been nothing but trouble. There should have been a recall on the Head starting missing, so bad, when the car was started, it began to shake and jump. Hooked up to computer and showed a #3 misfire. Turns out the head gasket was leaking water which was standing in around the spark was a pain to replace....and costly....not to mention the heater not working unless you are driving at high rates of speed.....If you stop at a red light, the heater blows cold there is problems with the fuel pump.....I only bought a Nissan because everyone said it would last and last.....apparently I got the newer body style that has several issues that the company will not acknowledge.....I will NEVER buy another Nissan!!!! Oh, and the Cadillac converter is also know to suck oil back in to the engine, we can blow the motor..(we haven't had that problem yet, but several others have!!! We constantly keep a watch on the oil levels to make sure we are no having this issues....went to dealership to have a replacement catalytic converter, and they will replace with the SAME exact one....way to fix the problem, huh????

- , Glasgow, KY, USA

problem #18

Feb 142010

(reported on)

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

I was driving and I noticed that my car kept getting "hot" and then I was driving to school and the fumes started coming out of the hood. I stopped the car and there was a loud explosion. We got out and waited for the car cool down. Then, the car was towed and the radiator was replaced with two thermostats. After I was told that I needed to replace the head gasket and that it was about 1000 or more. I said no because I had gone to a couple different mechanics and all of them told me different things. I stopped the car from running because I had already about 2500 in the car and no one was really giving me the same. We had to get another car because my oldest son refused and cried about going inside the altima. He was only six years old. Hence, it is traumatizing when one hears a big explosion with smoke coming out of the hood and is the back of the car, with a seatbelt on.

I read a lot of complaints with the same problem. Is there something we can do so that the company stops making cars with this problem. I think the company knows that this going to happen.

- , Branford, CT, USA

problem #17

Dec 302009

Altima 2.5SL 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,034 miles

Okay I read the exact same thing that I am going through. At first they thought it was the radiator, no leak in the radiator so they replaced the thermostat. That did not worked kept losing oil and water, wouldn't crank. Mechanic thought that it was the throttle, fixed that stopped working the same day. They towed it back in and found gas and oil in with the plugs. Referred me to an engine specialist and yes it was the dreaded BLOWN HEAD GASKET! Ok $1336.76, so I was thinking ok that was enough of an nightmare, but the third day the oil light comes back on , check no oil in car, yes my head is spinning. Call engine specialist he say pour a quart of oil in and drive it over in the morning. This is a very scary situation, I work hard and cannot afford a rental car to get me around, I am still paying for this car. The car only has 117,000 miles on it. I use to sing the praises of Nissan when I had my Quest Van, but this is leaving a nasty taste in my mouth for Nissan. Please offer me some recourse, this is killing me.

- , Lexington, NC, USA

problem #16

Sep 052009

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 146,000 miles


I'm sooo upset with Nissan they r so happy 2 sell u a car but when something goes wrong .they give u the run arounds i had ths car only a year and there telling me the head gasket is blown r u 4 real ! they should really put there customer first not only when there buying a car . but after they take it home. i will never n life buy another Nissan car

- , Hempstead, NY, USA

problem #15

Sep 012009

Altima ES 4.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles

What a saga I thought I would never have, concerning a vehicle I trusted. First thing to happen was that dreaded " check engine light" came on for the first time, found it was plugs (or something ) misfiring, had that fixed, one more time - misfiring, fixed that. Light on again in March, 2009, went back to independent repair shop and was told it looked like there was a serious engine problem , would need to pull heads, which would cost 2,000 and then if that was the problem, it would cost me addition money for a motor. Took it to Nissan to make sure this was the problem, No, it was a busted radiator, Cost: $500 (reconditioned, not new!) NO other problems, whew, was I releved !! Come August, guess what - the light is back on.

Take it to the Dealership, the Engine has to be replaced........ OMG! The guy at the first place I took it to was right, he knew more than the Nissan dealership! Sensors gone, everything screwed up $6500.00 to replace/repair! NO THANK YOU, service cost= $150.00 for the info. Why didn't you see this coming back in March when you said it was only a busted radiator (go figure, why would I have a busted radiator in the first place?) The lights were not on so we could not check - Not what you said then, said "we checked it all out and didn't see anything."....... Now, I call Nissan North America, Inc, e-mail Nissan, get a call back from someone that will not give her last name, just Amanda "P"! Are they afraid to give their name, hey, it's a Corporation- how professional. Their response was, as you might guess, sorry but we can't do anything for you since it was pre-owned and we do not have the service records from the dealership. What could I have possibly done to cause all of these problems, I had it serviced, but not at Nissan- which would have cost 2X-3X more than what I had my oil, filter, etc.etc. serviced for. It is not a new car under warranty. To add insult to injury, she says, "you may take your vehicle and have it repaired at the Dealership", at MY Cost of course !!!!!! Thanks Nissan !!!! Anyway, I have surfed the web and the same problems show up over and over and over- but it's not Nissan's fault, right?!

Now I am forced to rent a car until I can get another, how would I ever get anything out of it now to sell or trade? Can't even trade it as a Clunker !! The service manager said , the mileage was too good to be considered a clunker. In other words, I'm screwed! The best thing I can hope for is Nissan Corporation will bite the dust - PLEASE PEOPLE, DON'T buy a NISSAN !

- , Greensboro, NC, USA

problem #14

Jul 312009

Altima LS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,225 miles

2002 altima blown head gasket and now they tell me I need to replace the engine, I've done some reasearch and found out that aluminum was used in the engine and they can't stand the heat and therefore major problems. Just bought the car last year and now my son has a big headache. HELP

- , Cherry Valley, MA, USA

problem #13

Mar 092009

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles

I am glad that I found this site, for a while I blamed myself for what I have been experiencing with my 2002 Altima 2.5. At first it started with the check engine light coming on and the engine running a little rough, like it had a bad plug or ignition coil that went bad, had it checked by the dealer and that's what the test came back as, a random misfire, so I had the car tuned up. It worked for a little while, then a new problem, I heard funning bubbling noises behind my dash board and coolant smell, added to that my coolant level was always low, so low at one point that I was running on nothing but straight water. Shortly after all this, then the oil loss begin, at first I could not figure out what was going on or where the oil was going, because there where no signs of any leaking from the engine. Then it got even worse, not even counting all the oil I purchased, the engine started randomly starting, leaving me stranded many days. I took it back to the dealer and got many of the same responses posted on this site. It was a blessing to find this site before I spent any money to have it repaired, seemingly for no reason but to end with the same problems I had in the beginning. I see that there has been a class action suite file against the Nissan Corporation, can anyone give me any feedback on what stage it is in? My e-mail address is: Something needs to be done so the consumer can get some type of restoration for a problem that had to have been known about by the manufacturer of this vehicle. I had always heard good things about Nissan, but after this experience, they could not give me one.

- , Columbus, GA, US

problem #12

May 092009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

It sounds like I have the same problem as the others in this category. My only regret is that I didn't know about this site before I bought a 2002 Altima this past August (2008). The car gave out while I was out of state so I had to travel back home in a rental. Now I'm told the gasket is going to cost $1100 and Nissan won't have anything to do with it. Even worse I will have extra expenses and need time off work to travel back to pick up the car, or make some type of arrangement repaired or not. After tomorrow the mechanic charges storage fees...It sounds like my headache is just beginning.

- , Houston, TX, USA

problem #11

Mar 142009

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Manual transmission
  • 165,000 miles

This care problem is unreal! My Altima, which is a 2002, was using so much oil it was absurd! Then the same problem with the coolant. Where and the hell are all these liquids going? Well, now I find out that I have to get a new motor. I thought that I was all alone until I found this sight. I won't buy another Nissan!

- , Marion, NC, USA

problem #10

Feb 212009

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 142,000 miles

Back in November of 2008 I spent $1,200 to have the heater core fixed on my 2002 Nissan altima. Three months later the head gasket goes and cost me another $1,400. Whenever you see engine code P0303 don't aussume that it is a bad spark plug like I did. That has how I found it was the head gasket. My question to Nissan how does the spark plug code make the head gasket go and do you get away with this crap?

Now it is not over because I still need a cat which is going to cost me $800. That if the pieces aren't already going into the motor. Shame on Nissan for putting out a big piece of sh*t. Nissan needs to relearn how to build car. This is as almost as a bad as a ford.

- , Medford, NY, USA

problem #9

Sep 112007

Altima 2.5s

  • Manual transmission
  • 114,915 miles

this is more than 4 times the car has been in in 2 months.As a tear down is done for head gasket there was an inspection of the cylinder head. no explanation of the what the cylinder head look like (good- bad-fair-need replacing)

- , Campo Seco, CA, USA

problem #8

Feb 052009

Altima SL

  • Automatic transmission
  • 143,000 miles

I have the 2002 Nissan Altima as well. I just took it to dealership for third time because check engine soon light was on (for the sixth time!!) they finally came clean and said that I have a blown head gasket, and that they will most likely have to replace the whole engine once they get started working on head gasket!!!! That is after they charged me for bringing it in on three separate occasions for a new engine belt, oxygen sensors, spark plugs and diagnostic! I am so upset that I have already spent almost $1000 right there for them replacing parts that didn't even need to be replaced!! I HATE YOU, NISSAN!!!!!!!!

That said, I also have a 2006 Nissan Altima and I am currently in a lawsuit with Nissan over it being a lemon as well.

- , El Doado Hills, CA, USA

problem #7

Dec 232008

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles

nissan, 2002 on with 2.5 engines have serious problems i hope the attorneys can get a class action going here. before the head gasket blew the engine was consuming insane amounts of oil with no external leaks and no blue smoke whatsoever i had numerous check engine lights never buy a nissan they are not admitting that there is a problem

- , Glendora, CA, USA

Read the next 6 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?