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:
104,437 miles
Total Complaints:
41 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (17 reports)
  2. manufacturer fix problem (5 reports)
  3. replace engine (5 reports)
  4. signaled misfires - replaced spark plugs (5 reports)
  5. replace catalytic converter (4 reports)
  6. replace faulty crankshaft sensor (4 reports)
2002 Nissan Altima engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #41

Nov 162016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles


My car Texas DCN 4537 2002NISSANALTIMA 2.5 S is under Recall. (Manufacturer Recall NumberR0712 NHTSA Recall Number07V-527) Last December suddenly my car has been started showing the “SERVICE ENGINE SOON" WARNING LIGHT , and engine stop running without warning during the vehicle operation and sometimes car is not starting and feeling like reduced the engine power . So I contacted NISSAN on the number 1-800-647-7261. They identified the vehicle is under recall and created a case ID (25228084 CASE NUMBER) for this recall. They asked me to contact near my location Nisan service center, they suggested Central Houston Nissan, 2901 S Loop W, and Houston, TX 77054 based on my zip code. They promised completely free service and free pick up.

So I called the Central Houston Nissan, 2901 S Loop W, and Houston, TX 77054 on this number ((713) 277-7566) and got an appointment on the recall for my vehicle. Got appointment on 25 /1/2017 9 AM. I explained my vehicle condition, support executive staff promised the car tow facility and provide the tow number 2818590994 to be called and suggested to call the number and told completely free service for my case. After one day I called again check once again the (713) 277-7566) and double confirmed the service offer that was given by Central Houston Nissan office. You can refer the call logs for your reference. So I called the number 2818590994 for car tow on 24 /1/2017 and Tow vehicle came to my apartment and took my vehicle and drop to the Central Houston Nissan office. I got call confirmation from office and asked do you need any other service along with this. I told I don’t want any other service only need to fix the vehicle recall issue.

Later 12 PM on 24 /1/2017 I got one call again from office, he told that time vehicle is not starting now. Without start condition they can’t service the vehicle. I told it starts some time and sometime it’s not and all this story I explained at the time of my appointment booking time. They not even told any such condition at that time. Now they changed from their promises. I am in a difficult situation. They asking to take my vehicle from there. Please help for this situation.

- , Houston, TX, USA

problem #40

Aug 012013

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 165,000 miles

I have spent way too much money on this car for repairs that are completely out of line for any car. Nissan should be responsible

- , Kansas City, MO, US

problem #39

Jun 132012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

Took car in because service engine soon came on. Nissan service said nothing wrong. Took back in August 2011 for oil change. March 2012 car ran hot. Took to an AAA service station on way home, I thought it was thermostat. They said no oil in car, put enough oil in so I could get to Nissan about 1 mile. They said engine was cracked and $4000 to fix.

- , hempstead, NY, USA

problem #38

Nov 012013

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 139,000 miles


Check Engine on again, where can I start with this car. First went the fuel pump-then the starter, misfire-- replace plugs coils packs and now the famous P0420 Code. Yea!!! Another cat-conv. on this car!! Awesome- No not doing it again. Avoid like the Plague!!! 2.5 L No burning oil problem yet.......

- , Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #37

May 102012

Altima SE 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 151,000 miles

We bought this car 2 months ago ran great when we got it from a dealer ,The last week we had this I have had it it seems like everything evaporator and emission controlled is for sh*t . I like many others thought by going foreign we would be ok boy was I wrong, this car is a piece of s--t and parts are not cheap compared to so called American built cars i.e. Chevy Ford etc.... long and short of it this thing is a big money pit and the first chance I can to get rid of it ,Its gone and I will never recommend Nissan to any one .

Thanks for reading

- , Spring Grove, IL, USA

problem #36

Jan 202013

Altima 2.5S 2.5L I4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles

First off, lemme start by saying that this car is an absolute shitbox. I've only had it for about less than a year and its already cost me close to grand without resolution of the problem. Long story short, the car wouldn't start on cold mornings. I decided to have it checked and took it in to a local mechanic. After replacing spark plugs and taking the car for a test run, the car started cutting out and stalling with the engine shaking horribly at idle. The check engine light came on as well. The mechanic pulled it into his garage again and after some time informed me that cylinder 1 was misfiring and I would need new ignition coils. After a little groaning i decided to go through with the replacement. About an hour later I was informed that the fuel injectors need replacement as well since the ignition coil did not fix the problem. Replacing the fuel injectors fixed the jerking a little but the car still kept dying when coming to a complete stop. The mechanic decided to keep the car for another day to perform some diagnostics and called me the next morning to inform me that the jerking/stuttering problem had been fixed but the car still refused to start in the morning and took a few tries before firing up. I decided to let the mechanic spend some more time on it. The next morning, in relatively warmer weather, the car started up just fine and I got a call from my mechanic saying the car is all set. I was delighted and relieved and went to pick up my car with my dad. After taking it for a test run, me and my dad were satisfied and paid for the repairs, a total of 600 dollars. two days later, I try to start the car on a cold morning and it wouldn't fire. After cranking ti a dozen times, it starts up but started shaking violently. The check engine light came on as well. This time i decided to take it to a nissan dealer and have them look at it. After running a diagnosis that cost me $100, they were happy to tell me that cylinder 1 is misfiring and i need new spark plugs and ignition coils. WTF!! Furthermore, the car had a couple recalls on it one of which happened to be a reprogram of the ECM. The dealership spent 3 days on my car and still couldn't perform the reprogram for some obscure reason. They're now telling me that they would have to investigate the problem and reschedule for the reprogram. I have just about had it with nissan cars and nissan crappy customer service. I am being charged 50 dollars for a diagnosis that told me nothing new except for what i already knew about the misfires. They literally just pulled the codes of the CEL and fail to offer me an explanation as to why the misfires are happening. All i can say is STAY AWAY FROM NISSAN

- , North Chelmsford, MA, USA

problem #35

Dec 082012

Altima LS 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles


I bought this car at an auction in New Jersey on November 8, 2012. About a month later it started to lose power and make a rattling sound. I took it to a local mechanic and he said that there was no oil in the car. He added oil and I was on my way. Well around December 8 the rattling sound returned. I took the car back to the local mechanic and again he said the oil was gone and he needed to fix an oil leak. He made the oil leak repair and the car was fine. Well around January 3, 2013 the rattling noise returned. I took it back to the local mechanic and he stated at that time the engine was burning oil and I needed to replace the engine. He also announced that a used engine would cost 1,700.00. I am soooo angry. I cannot afford to purchase another car, nor can I afford to put more money into this car so soon. I am taking the car to the Nissan Dealership to get a diagnostic test tomorrow. I hope it is not as bad as it sounds.

- , Orange, NJ, USA

problem #34

Jun 012012

Altima S 2.5L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,800 miles

Owned '02 Altima for 4 years...first couple of years were fine except the car's heat wouldn't work whenever there was a change in season (defroster wouldn't work either). Beginning this past summer, "check engine light" comes on and off intermittently. Changed oil, changed plugs. Had diagnostics run - "random misfire" reported. Planned on replacing coil packs but this site seems to indicate this won't help either. Car starts in morning sputtering and trying to choke out. After driving a bit, it stops sputtering but still seems to run very rough. Two weeks ago it wouldn't start at all - had it towed to local, trustworthy mechanic who said he can't tell what needs to be replaced ... already did plugs yet "random misfire" is still coming up.

- , Cumberland, RI, USA

problem #33

Jun 052012

Altima S 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

This is a gently driven car, less than 7500/per year and maintained well. I have all repair documents since purchase in 2002. In Dec check engine light flashed on and it has been doing it intermittently since then. Immediately goes to my mechanic...1st time in Dec it was a P0302 coil failure, coils switched, then in Feb flashed again on freeway...went off immediately. Back to mechanic, found code P1564 unrelated to coils. Mechanic says has to do with holding cruise controls down too long! I hardly even use cruise control!

Then tumblers in fell in ignition...$300 fix. Next radiator blew, no warning, no lights come on. Luckily on the street where many people helped me and my daughter. $800 fix, Now one month later, car starts with shakily, goes away once driving, but idles roughly. While driving you can feel slight shake in the car. On goes the check engine flashing, pull over, turn off car, sit and curse at my car. Start is and it's fine.

Call my mechanic describe everything including how the tailpipe was spitting out water this AM, but not much steam. Says possible blown gasket. Taking it in tomorrow. What's up with this? I read so many people have the same problem. Beautiful car but engine s**ks. Too bad Nissan, I'll never buy another. Hope I'll be able to keep this car another 2-3 years.

- , Emeryville, CA, USA

problem #32

Jan 252012

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,346 miles


- , Lowell, MA, USA

problem #31

Jan 112012

Altima SE 3.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 171,000 miles


Love(d) my car. Purchased brand new in 2002. About 18 months ago began using more oil. Then 8 months engine light came on. Diagnosed as cat failure but told would be okay for a while, or until next smog due. Acceleration in general has been worsening and uphill (even small grades) increasingly bad, depressing gas pedal not helpful, bogged down, RPM increased caused rattling and lots of noise. I am changing oil every 2800-3000 miles. Usually pretty close to empty when I arrive for service. Yesterday could only get to 35-40 MPH on grade with speed limit of 65! After reading some other posts I am a little frustrated and am not sure I want to invest more into my car or even Nissan for that matter. Anyone else have suggestions?

- , Salinas, CA, US

problem #30

Mar 312011

Altima S 2.5s

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

My used car Nissan Altima 2.5S is consuming too much oil. I have to put oil in the car like every two weeks and the car just consumes it leaving no signs behind like some thing that could tell that the car is either burning it or going somewhere else. We have taking it to several mechanics and the car is not leaking any oil and the only solution that we hear is that is the engine that needs work or to be replaced. And they have also told us that the catalytic needs to be replaced also. The car still runs but is starting to loose power. We are afraid that our investment in this car is going to be just a failure. If this is happening to so many people then this should be definitely considered a RECALL. Nissan please pay attention to these complaints.

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #29

Nov 012011

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 144,000 miles

I would like to be added to any lawsuit for this problem. I have had this car for 1 yr and 5 months. I bought this car 6/2010. Since the first week I noticed it was burning the motor oil fast. I put oil every 4 days. In July 2010 was the first time the check engine light turned on. I had the head gasket repaired. Still kept on burning oil. In June of 2011, the second time the check engine light turned on and this time I repaired the caliber converter. Now 11/1/11, the third time the check engine light tuned on and they say I need a new engine. I have no money to get a new engine and I'm still paying a loan for this car. If any one has a solution, please let me know.

- , Springfield, MA, USA

problem #28

Aug 262011

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,350 miles

I've had my 2002 Altima 2.5S for 5 years. I bought the car with 17k and initially had no issues with my car. In 2008 w/ just under 50k my head gasket blew! I had it towed to a local Nissan dealership (who I will NEVER go to again- Hudson Nissan) ended up messing my car up so much that they had it for 3 weeks and I have a 2008 engine, entire set of new valves, a new timing chain oh of course the head gasket!

Yesterday (8/26/11), I went to get gas and turned the car back on afterward and had issues w/ it wanting to start (chugging). After the car finally starting (after 3 attempts), I did notice that the "service engine soon" light was on. My car has continually had issues starting since yesterday. I went by Advance auto Parts today and had the computer attached and it stated that I have a Crankshaft Position/Crank angle sensor Malfunction (Code: Po335) and also a Engine Speed Sensor Circuit Malfunction (Code: Po725)

I did some research tonight and found out that there is a RECALL on this specific issue!

Please do research on the Altima for RECALLS, there are a few! Go to and you can check out any recalls for your vehicle! Don't depend on Nissan to send you a letter, b/c I have never received one!

I love my car but very aggravated!


- , North Charleston, SC, USA

problem #27

Jun 152011

Altima S I-4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,900 miles

We never received notice of any recall on this problem - supposedly there was a recall notice sent in March 2003!!

- , West Chester, OH, USA

problem #26

Jun 012011

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

My 2002 Nissan Altima has the engine light on stating that cylinder #3 shakes at times and almost stalls.....and has been doing this on and off since I bought can go 1yr being fine but then comes right back!!!! brother in law going to change spark plugs and wires....but have a feeling from all these people complaining about the same problem that that's not going to fix it!!!! Oil consumption is another problem.....Nissan really should recall these engines, from what I hear when this car was first made back in 2001...people who bought them had blown engines at 2,000-3,000 miles due to an oil consumption problem.....and EVERY car this year make and model has the same problems!!! Unreal.....who would have thought that a Nissan would be so unreliable????????

- , Fall River, MA, US

problem #25

Feb 052010

Altima 2.5S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,653 miles

Hello all Canadians that own a 2002 Nissan Altima with Catalytic Converter problem. Please let me know that if you had fixed this problem or still chasing the mechanic to fix it for you. I'm feed up with different ideas and no solution. Also, if anyone wants to file a complain I'm in. Count on me.


- , Newmarket, ON, Canada

problem #24

Feb 262011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

I found this web site with so many complaints exactly like mine with most Altimas. I bought a 2002 Altima brand new. It gave me problems a few times with stopping with no warnings. I took this to the dealer to fix and spent many more dollars, and finally they said the have a recall with Altima 2002 with some sensor problems. In 2008 I noticed the sign saying the Service engine soon light. Then I took the car to one of the fine auto repair place(fast lane) and they stated that I need to replace thermal sensor and the catalytic converter. I spent little more than $ 500 for this to repair. Then car seemed to be Ok and I put new brakes, new tires in 2010 thinking that I can use this car for at least another 2 to 3 years with no big problems. But since 3 to 4 months after we took it to the dealer for a regular oil change, and found the dipstick was dry. After monitoring it, adding oil and taking in to the dealer twice more for them to check it and they I had to add to add more and more oil may be 6-7 times until now since the meter panel shows a oil lamp with oil drop. I gave a call to Nissan and asked about this and they stated to take the car to the dealer to check it. This is not a matter of faulty maintenance, she has had this car since it was new and has always taken it to the dealer for regular service. and we had planned to keep it for at least couple of years until my children finish with the college since I am paying parts of tuition for them, but now our car is gone, it stopped working while my daughter was driving it on freeway luckily nothing happen to her. We had to tw the car to the dealer and they said we have to pay at least $5200 and need to replace with a new engine. which is not a good investment. Either that or keep adding oil each week, but by reading the other posts, it looks like there are several cases of even replaced engines having the same problem soon after, also related to the converter. I will talk to both the local dealership and Nissan Motor Corp, but I don't expect much given the responses others have gotten. I was surprised to find the problem this widespread, since the dealer never said that this was a known/recurring issue. Seeing what has happened to Toyota, maybe its time people went to the media and made this problem public!

- , Canton, MI, USA

problem #23

Dec 022010

Altima LX 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

I bought this car 5 years ago. At the day I made the last payment the engine was done: the consumption of gas is awful, the catalytic converter is done and the engine is done. Nissan has to take responsibility for its own failure in quality and pay for the fix. They have to have recall, and 'be a man', in times of their failure. Somebody from Nissan plant has to step in.

- , Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #22

Nov 172010

Altima 2.5 S 2.5L 4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles

The check engine came on and off when we about 40 miles from home. After that it didn't want to start...would crank but wouldn't fire. We sat for about 10 minutes and tried again and it started. The mechanic said it was the crankshaft sensor that was supposedly fixed in a recall and that we were lucky it restarted at all.

- , Phoenix, AZ, USA

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