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 1 of 4)

problem #72

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 #71

Aug 252016


  • miles
My car has been having steering problems to wear I got it fix with replacing a steering rack which has not lasted longer then a year. 2015-2016 and I can't seem to get a repair man to figure it out. This has happen driving, and turning. I have had exhaust problem to were the repair men has told that my car could catch of fire due to the heat shield so they remove one. Which still left my car dealing with oil spillage afterwards after driving it anywhere. My oil never touches the ground just sits in exhaust pipe and blow smoke sometimes and it has started back up once again after putting so much repairs into my car. Service engine light has start popping on and off, everytime I get it tested it says crank sensor thats when driving the car or when the car moving. Then some days it will disappear. And it mess with the power of my engine. And sometimes it takes a while to crank the car. Now I have tried replacing another motor in the car but this motor that I have now is giving me the same problem as the first motor. And I think thats because the repair men are not fixing the recalls on the motor of the car, they are just replacing the motor like mines got replaced with another motor of the same year make as my car. But I feel that if these recalls on these year make of my car have been known then the Nissan should repair the defects so people want have to keep putting so much money into fixing the car and its not their fault its Nissan. I have problems also out of my manifold gasket and the whole part itself all the time that can burn me and my children up while driving. And I'm just so scared something is going to happen while driving my car and there are recalls on my make model car.

- South Boston, VA, USA

problem #70

May 202016


  • 96,000 miles
The vehicle stalls while driving which could cause an accident. It has happened many times and we have been lucky other drivers are paying attention. The vehicle does start back up. We have found a recall but when we've checked the VIN # it comes up with no recalls. There is a sensor issue recall that describes exactly what the car is doing. It has stalled on off ramps, city streets and Suburban roads. I have found the following online: On certain passenger vehicles equipped with a 2.5L enginethe crankshaft position sensor can overheat causing a brief interrupion in the signal output. If the interupption of the signal is so brief that the ECM electronic control module dose not have time to diagnose the condition, the vehicle may shut off creating the risk of an accident. The dealer will reprogram the ECM free of charge. The Nissan recall # is R0606 Nissan is no help the vehicle only has 97,0000 miles and was bought used from a lot in nh who was also no help

- Stoneham, MA, USA

problem #69

Aug 102015


  • 125,000 miles


" takata recall ". the car has been giving engine problems but I did not know what it was until I searched it online and I am having the same problem as many complaint on the recall website. The engine while on slow drive or when on a full stop it shuts down without any warning. It has happened to me a couple of times once I was on a highway but there was traffic and my car shut down. Another time I was at a regular city road and I was driving slow looking for parking and the car shut down but thankfully the car behind me was far and I turned my blinkers on, but thankfully no crashes as of yet. Many other times it has shut down on red lights, stop signs anywhere that it has been slow motion. Recently after so long of having these troubles, my car will take forever to turn on. It starts but it makes a weird noise from the engine and it shuts down. I am a full time student and it would be great to fix my car and actually drive to school with less worries that my car will shut down in the middle of the highway or regular road and be in a fatal crash. I have also tried malechanics or check the engine with the machines and everyone is saying that the problem is in the engine and I have checked the engine myself, the engine is hot, shakes, makes noises.

- Garfield, NJ, USA

problem #68

Dec 142015


  • 162,000 miles
I have replaced the camshaft/crankshaft sensors in may car and it's still stalling out at times; I have reed other complains of other customers with the same related problem and I need something to be done before, I end up getting killed on the highway driving this car, my car has 162000 miles on it and with keeping up with my maintains this should not be occurring. I have called the Nissan dealership in snellville, ga three times and no one has returned my call on this problem. I need help on fixing this problem, I should not have to keep paying for the same repairs three times in a row within a three month period. The problem first arose in December 2015, when I was traveling on the highway I was traveling at speeds of about 70 mph when the car appeal to be hesitating as if it wanted to cut off and proceed to so when I decided to pull off on the next exit. The check engine light came on, and has remained on since December.

- Conyers, GA, USA

problem #67

Nov 232015


  • 178,000 miles
Valve cover gasket leaked oil on the ignition coils causing the engine to not crank. I had car towed to mechanic. The mechanic said the valve cover gasket leaked oil on the ignition coils. I had just replaced all 4 of the ignition coils over the course of the last year and a half due to them going bad one by one. While driving in the city, an ignition coil would go bad, causing the car to sputter and shake badly as if trying to stall in traffic and while stationary. The engine light also was flashing. Very scary for me. This happened 3 separate times as each coil went bad. When the valve cover gasket allowed oil to leak on the ignition coils, an ignition coil had to be replaced again.

- Lawrenceville, GA, USA

problem #66

Dec 102015


  • 3 miles


My 2002 Nissan Altima started to have problems with the car engine shutting off without any warning. Just 98000 miles on it dealer charged me $900 for set of sensor and labor. Car would stall in traffic on the highway, no warning, we would lose all power. Went to Nissan and they said no one else had this problem.

- Tustin, CA, USA

problem #65

Dec 012015


  • miles
The pre-catalyst on the exhaust has failed, and caused damage. There is a recall for certain VIN #'s but mine is not coming up. Nhsta campaign 03V084000.

- Wytheville, VA, USA

problem #64

Sep 012015


  • 165,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. While driving up a ramp at approximately 65 mph, the vehicle began to vibrate and jerk. The rpms increased from 35 to 4,000. The speedometer started to fail and the vehicle lost power and stalled. The vehicle was able to restart. This was a recurring failure. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 165,000.

- Lake Charles , LA, USA

problem #63

Jan 202015


  • 124,000 miles
I bought this 2002 Nissan Altima ($4500 at randy marion dealership in hickory, nc) for my wife on January 20th, 2015. The car had 123,000 miles on it. Just 5 or 6 days later, the engine light came on engine started making a loud knocking sound when you crank it up after it had sat for a while. I checked the oil level and it needed a quart of oil, so I added a quart. The noise came back after 2 days. This immediately became a mandatory issue to check the oil level and add more oil every 2 to 3 days. It is now August 7th and I have to check and refill the oil every day! I started my research for complaints on this vehicle and found thousands of complaints on the same issue along with recalls for replacing the ECM, catalytic converter and/or engine. The ECM recall applied to this car, so I had that done on July 30th along with an oil change. On top of that, I just spent $1006.62 to get the catalytic converter replaced yesterday along with a quart of oil. Got the knocking sound again this morning. I took it to the closest dealership this morning and they said it needs a new engine. My wife and I are so upset now. We feel like we were sold someone else's problem (certified lemon) from a dealership that should not have resold it in the first place. How much more complaints is going to be needed for someone to make Nissan fix this problem"?"

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #62

Jun 012015


  • 200,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle consumed excessive amounts of oil. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic. The mechanic informed the contact that debris entered the catalytic converter and damaged the engine. The mechanic referred the contact to the authorized dealer for further assistance. The dealer stated that the vehicle was previously repaired according to NHTSA campaign number: 03V084000 (engine and engine cooling) in 2005. The recall remedy did not correct the failure. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was approximately 200,000.

- Harrodsburg , KY, USA

problem #61

May 222015


  • 134,000 miles
Car would not start. Towed to mechanic and found out it was crank shaft positioning sensor. After repair was made I found the recall on this website. According to Nissan service dept. Looking in Nissan database this repair was made at 28K miles before I bought the car. I had to have the same thing repaired and Nissan will not reimburse me for the repairs. According to the safety information posted about this recall the sensor can overheat and cause loss of power to the engine and cut off the engine completely. This happened to me a couple of years ago and luckily I was in a parking lot driving at a slow speed, but prior to that I was out on a country road and it was getting dark. If it had happened then I may have been hit by another car. Since this part is still defective or not redesigned it is putting other Nissan owner's at risk of this happening again. There should be a second recall to replace this part again. This is not a simple "sensor" that causes your car to not start, this is life threatening! I am afraid to drive any distance for fear of this happening further from home and either causing me to get into an accident or having a huge towing bill. Nissan was very uncooperative in number one, not willing to reimburse me because I took it to my mechanic and not a dealer, I'm psychic like that, and two, not issuing another recall when the Nissan service rep told me that these have been repaired more than once after the recall. I hope the NHTSA department can see the urgency of this complaint to issue a second recall. Thank you.

- Monroe, OH, USA

problem #60

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 #59

Jun 052014


  • 125,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle was repaired under NHTSA campaign number: 03V251000 (fuel system, gasoline); however, the service engine warning lamp remained illuminated. The contact also stated that the oil was constantly low and had to be refilled. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer who replaced the 02 sensor, but the failure recurred. While traveling, the vehicle hesitated and the contact had to apply the brake pedal and the accelerator pedal to keep the vehicle from stalling. The contact was not able to get the vehicle to restart after exiting the vehicle. The vehicle was taken back to the authorized dealer who diagnosed that the pre-catalyst overheated, which caused the catalyst substrate particles to flow into the engine. The mechanic also diagnosed that the cylinder walls failed causing oil consumption, which leaked into the spark plugs causing damages. The engine needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and would not provide a remedy. The approximate failure mileage was 125,000. Updated 8/19/15

- Ventura, CA, USA

problem #58

Jan 302015


  • 113,900 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. While driving approximately 40 mph, the vehicle stalled without warning. The vehicle restarted and the check engine warning indicator was illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer. The technician diagnosed that the crank shaft sensor failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired; however, the failure recurred. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 113,900.

- Manchester, NH, USA

problem #57

Sep 012011


  • 153,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. While driving at approximately 15 mph, the vehicle lost power and the services light illuminated. The failure recurred twice. The vehicle was taken to the dealer. The technician diagnosed that the throttle motor needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 153,000.

- Island , CA, USA

problem #56

Nov 062014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 143,000 miles
My car is burning 3 quarts of oil evry 2 weeks..I tryd replacing parts..using different oil..nothing works..I looked online to get some ideas of what the problem might be..but most people with the same model have the same problem and still haven't found a answer.

- Fresno, CA, USA

problem #55

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 #54

Feb 062015

Altima 4-cyl

  • 201,000 miles
First there was a random misfire when I first started it that morning. Eventually got it to start, allowed it to run for a few minutes, and then attempted to pull out of the driveway. Once I put it in drive in and moved a few miles the engine completely shut off. Got it back home, changed the camshaft sensor and while attempting to see if the problem was resolved the catalytic converter began to overheat and caused a small fire near the sensor.

- Alpharetta, GA, USA

problem #53

Apr 152014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
Did check engine light repair fixed crank position sensor. I drive to the store car shuts down to 5mph I pull over reset check engine light then it works fine.

- Desert Hot Springs, CA, USA

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