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:
2 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
100,364 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 4 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #12

Aug 122009


  • 110,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that he received notification of NHTSA campaign id number 03V084000(engine and engine cooling: Exhaustsystem: Manifold/ header/ muffler/ tail pipe ) and took the vehicle to the dealer for recall service. Several years later, the engine failed without warning. The contact stated that because of an oil consumption issue with the vehicle, excessive smoke would blow out of the exhaust pipe. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer for inspection where they advised that the head gasket was blown. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified and stated that the engine did not need replacing and that they had honored their end of the recall campaign agreement. The failure mileage was 110,000.

- Pheonix, AZ, USA

problem #11

Apr 182012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
Soon after buying the vehicle the vehicle began to shake severely when started or when coming to a complete stop. Bringing it to the place where I bought the vehicle the changed the spark plugs and the shaking stopped for a while then weeks later it began again and only got worse. Now it shuts off when running or won't turn on at all.

- Derby, CT, USA

problem #10

Oct 222012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 150,000 miles
Catalytic converter went out and destroyed engine. Now car uses 1 qt oil every 100 miles. Nissan claims engine is old and there is nothing that they can do. Too many cars have this type of problem for it to just be old engines and now the out of warranty people are paying for it.

- Mankato, MN, USA

problem #9

Mar 062012


  • miles


The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. While driving approximately 55 mph, the contact approached a stop signal when the vehicle suddenly began to shake with a hesitation. The contact maneuvered to the side of the road to inspect the vehicle. He noticed coolant leaking into the oil and the engine oil level had become extremely low. In addition, black and gray smoke emitted from the exhaust. The vehicle was taken to an independent auto shop twice. The technician advised the contact that the catalytic converter and the engine cylinder seal were defective. There was a recall associated with NHTSA campaign id number 03V084000 (engine and engine cooling:exhaust system:manifold/header/muffler/tail pipe) however, the contact's VIN was ineligible for repairs under the recall. The vehicle had not been repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the problem. The failure mileage was unavailable.

- Palatine, IL, USA

problem #8

Sep 152012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 189,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. An independent mechanic was performing a diagnostic test on the vehicle to determine what cause the check engine light to illuminate; he stated that the exhaust and the catalytic converter were defective. The vehicle was also consuming oil excessively. The mechanic informed the contact the vehicle needed a new catalytic converter system, 3rd such repair. Oxygen sensors, a new ECM reflash and a new engine the 1st catalyst had apparently cause parts to be sucked into the engine which subsequently led to the failure of additional converters and engine oil consumption. The manufacturer was notified and informed the contact that he would have to pay to have the vehicle repaired. The vehicle is having a remanuafactured engine, catalyst and sensors replaced at a cost of nearly $3000.

- Murrieta, CA, USA

problem #7

Aug 212012


  • 180,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while driving 55 mph the vehicle stalled without warning. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic for diagnosis where the contact was informed of a recall under NHTSA campaign id number: 03V455000 (engine and engine cooling). The vehicle was taken to the dealer for the recall repairs however, the contact was informed that the vehicle was not included in the recall. The manufacturer was notified and informed the contact that her vehicle had an outstanding recall under NHTSA campaign id number: 03V251000 (fuel system, gasoline:storage:tank assembly) however none for the crank shaft position sensor. The vehicle had not been repaired. The failure and current mileages were 180,000.

- Metairie, LA, USA

problem #6

Jul 222012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 65,662 miles


I am the original owner of my 2002 Nissan Altima and I bought the car in the fall of 2001. I religiously change the oil on time and have properly maintained the car. The car has extremely low mileage for its age. I have received all of the Nissan recalls. Since December 2001, I have had the problem of the engine stalling without warning and also, at times, losing all power in the car, an extremely dangerous condition and that almost caused me to have two accidents. After four recalls for the same problem of the engine stalling without warning, this year the car is again stalling without warning and I am told by my mechanic that I need to replace the crank sensor, which was replaced in 2004 by one of Nissan recalls. I am told a crank sensor should last of the length of car's life. I am also told that those who received the 2009 version of the sensor have had no subsequent problems only those who had the older sensors are apparently at grave risk. I was in the car trying to cross an intersection with my 5 year old son in the back of car when my engine stalled without warning and when the engine dies I am without power. This was the first time since the last recall that the car stalled on me. This makes the stalling problem even more deadly. People think the problem was fixed by the earlier multiple recalls and are instead driving cars that are time bombs. Nissan needs to address this problem immediately.

- Coeur D Alene, ID, USA

problem #5

Jul 312012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 92,000 miles
My car has been burning oil at a very fast rate, the check engine light has turned on, and my gas has lowered. My check oil light has never turned on, not even once in the 2 years that I have owned it.

- Las Cruces, NM, USA

problem #4

Dec 232011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 110,963 miles
Engine was consuming oil at an accelerated rate (1+ qt per 2,000+ miles). Dealership conducted an oil consumption test beginning December 2011. It appears that when the catalytic converter goes out, it sucks in pieces of the converter substrate during the negative cycle. The small pieces of the converter then score the cylinder walls. After several months of the dealership monitoring the oil consumption, I was told that I would need a new engine. I took the car in to an independent mechanic for a second opinion. The cylinder compression test indicated the first cylinder was at about 82 psi and the other three cylinders ranged from 111 to 118 psi. Back at the Nissan dealership, the mechanic stated that the first cylinder is the one that is initially damaged by the pre-catalyst overheating. Nissan Consumer Affairs has told me they would not provide financial assistance in getting a new engine because I did not get a warranty when I bought the car used, and also because the mechanic who replaced the catalytic converter at 90,000 miles was not the Nissan dealership (Nissan case # 8897586). The car is suffering the effects identified on NHTSA campaign id 03V084000. There is the possibility the engine could catch on fire as identified in the campaign. I have meticulously recorded all of the repairs and oil changes to the car, only to have Nissan tell me that they will not provide me with any assistance with this issue. It appears to be a design flaw with the pre-catalyst overheating and subsequently casing grave damage to the engine. Thank you.

- Westminster, CO, USA

problem #3

Jun 062012


  • 66,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for a routine oil change and she was informed that there was no oil in the engine. The contact also stated that the vehicle was taken in for the same procedure just a few months prior. The dealer diagnosed that the oil was never exchanged and the engine needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified and stated that the vehicle was not under warranty. There were also no recalls covering the failure. The failure and current mielages were 66,000.

- East Meadow , NY, USA

problem #2

Jul 052012


  • 160,000 miles
My car burns a quart of oil a month at least, were is it going its to much to be evap from loose rings and my gaskets are good and I cant just keep changing catalytic converter 1 a month also my clutch doesn't seem to hold pressure it stays pretty sloppy and sometimes starts grabbing real low.

- La Crosse, WI, USA

problem #1

Apr 202012


  • 66,000 miles
I purchased the vehicle on 3/23/12. I had an oil change on 3/26/12. The engine started making a rattling sound on 4/20/12 and a mechanic recommended an oil change because the oil was black and low. He did the oil change. The noise went away after the oil change. Then on 5/6/12 the rattling noise came back. I checked the oil and it was extremely low. I added 3 quarts. Then on 5/16/12, I checked oil again and had to add 1 1/2 quarts of oil. There are no leaks under the car or inside the hood. The car is consuming an excessive amount of oil. I only drive the car about 100 miles per week and sometimes less.. and the "check oil" light never comes on to indicate that it is low. I now have to check the oil every other day because I am worried that it will use it all. I have to keep quarts of oil in the trunk, in case it runs low again. This is not normal.

- Broad Channel, NY, USA

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