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 / 7
Injuries / Deaths:
6 / 0
Average Mileage:
68,400 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

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 12)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #208

Sep 012010

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles


Nissan Altima 2002 keeps having problem with the crankshaft and camshaft sensors and once you replace them a couple months later you'll have the same problem. This problem causes your car to stop randomly in the middle of traffic which could cause you to get into a car accident or worse death. Nissan knows that this is a common issue but they choose to ignore the problem. I have spoken with many dealers and auto repair technicians and they all agree this is a common problem with Nissan Altima. This is sad and I really wish this issue is resolved for the safety of everyone driving. I was driving in my car with my niece when my car just stopped in the middle of traffic scared me to death!!! because we could have been really hurt and the simple fact that I replaced this part 3 months before this occurred is really terrible. I have replaced both sensor and I'm still having an issue. This is something that Nissan needs to correct before someone really gets hurts. The 2002 Nissan Altima is a horrible car its just manufactured all wrong and is constantly giving me issues.

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #207

Jul 012009

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while driving 65 mph, the vehicle stalled. The vehicle would not restart and was towed to an independent mechanic. The contact was informed that there was no oil in the engine and there were no signs of an engine leak. The mechanic was unable to determine where the oil was escaping to. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure, but offered no assistance. The failure and current mileages were 80,000. Updated 12/22/11 the consumer stated the engine and transmission were replaced.

- Rahway, NJ, USA

problem #206

Nov 132011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 118,000 miles
2002 Nissan Altima was serviced @ recall campaign in 2003. The dealership states the remedy was completed. However my car, overtime, shows the symptoms of a damaged catalyst substrate from the catalytic converter. These symptoms are exactly what is described in the original recall notice: Ntb03-070D. Additionally my automobile has soot from burning oil in the tailpipe and has always run hot even though the dashboard temperature gauge, always stayed in the middle between hot and cold. I have taken my vehicle in for service and other recall notices, nothing was ever spoken of about this issue. Strange that an ase technician wouldn't see these symptoms, & report a potential problem. Only after my engine overheated and failed did I find the details of this problem; while researching my repair options online. The inspection process of the catalytic converter in my case seems to have not been properly performed. I contacted the dealership to ask for the detailed service records for my Altima for that campaign. The service rep. Stated the repair was performed. I asked the service rep. To produce the inspection documentation for my vehicle's cat. System. He could not produce that documentation. I next called Nissan of na to file a notice. I stated my Altima may not have had the proper remedy to address the recall, and that damage was evident. I was informed that I would have to take my vehicle into a Nissan dealership for an inspection of the cat. System at my own expense. After the results of the inspection are noted, if it is warranted my case will be escalated to Nissan for review. I would like to follow up with further details if possible. If I cannot amend this complaint, I will document the resulting findings in another complaint and reference this number for correlation.

- Palm Bay, FL, USA

problem #205

Nov 192009

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles


After googling the make, year and problem of oil consumption and engine and catalytic converter problems with this model year, it is overwhelming what you find. This is a huge problem with thousands of troubled consumers who have gone to Nissan for an obvious defect in product to no avail. My car has the exact same problem and was told by my local Nissan dealer that the faulty catalytic converters made that year are not covered and was told that Nissan knew of the problem but will do nothing about it because of what it would cost them. Please help us.....

- Puyallup, WA, USA

problem #204

Nov 052011

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles
I was driving on the freeway and my engine caught fire which resulted in my car being totaled.

- Doraville, GA, USA

problem #203

Oct 282011


  • 72,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact was driving 60 mph when the check engine light illuminated and the vehicle stalled. The vehicle was restarted after thirty minutes and was taken to the dealer where the dealer confirmed that a new engine was needed. The manufacturer was contacted and they confirmed that the VIN did not qualify for repairs under NHTSA campaign id number: 07V527000(engine and engine cooling). The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and the current mileages were 72,000.

- White Plains, NY, USA

problem #202

Oct 202011


  • 109,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle stalled without warning while sitting at a traffic stop. The vehicle was towed to a local mechanic who diagnosed that oil was leaking into the catalytic converter and as a result, became clogged causing the engine to blow. The mechanic stated that the engine, catalytic converter and the exhaust system needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The VIN was not available and the vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileage was 109,000.

- New Haven, CT, USA

problem #201

May 202010

Altima 4-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
I had purchased my 2002 Nissan Altima from a private party and had noticed it was burning an usual amount of oil when I took it on its first long distance drive a week after I had purchased it. When I took it back to the party I had purchased the vehicle from they told me they would help research the issue but could not refund my money. We found this particle model had problems with the catalytic converter and if not repaired in time could and would damage the engine. We then found that my car had been fixed at the 50,000 mile range at the dealership from whom the previous party had purchased the car. I contacted Nissan corporate and they told me I need to pay to get an oil consumption test done to ensure that is was indeed burning oil. After I paid a hundred dollars to have this done they told me there was nothing they would do ( at this time the vehicle still had under 90,000 miles). Since then I have replaces another catalytic converter, valve cover, and numerous gallons of oil. My last visit to the shop I was told I'm now burn antifreeze and I needed a new engine.

- Kimberly , WI, USA

problem #200

Feb 032011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 103,000 miles
I got a service engine light on and took it to a mechanic, he said it was my engine, and catalytic converter(burning oil and debris going into the engine) and I needed to rebuild it. He rebuilt it and after about 7,000 the same problem happened burning oil consumption. Not sure what to do because he said that Nissan should have a fix for this and he isn't fixing the problem either. It's sitting in my driveway without a fix.

- Santa Maria, CA, USA

problem #199

Nov 042010


  • 101,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the pre-catalyst converter overheated and shattered into pieces, causing the engine to fail. The engine would also exhibit a loud, abnormal noise when driving. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who stated that the catalytic converter ruined the engine which needed to be replaced. There was a recall under NHTSA campaign id number: 03V084000 (engine and engine cooling: Exhaust system: Manifold/header/muffler/tail pipe) but the contact's vehicle was not included in the recall. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and offered no assistance. The failure mileage was 101,000.

- Moorehead, MN, USA

problem #198

Jan 142009

Altima 4-cyl

  • 90,000 miles


I purchased this car from a dealer used (2nd owner) in 2005 with approx 37,000 miles. Ran fine. During the first year it was noticed it burned alot of oil, however had no oil leak. Also began having heating issues (which persist)in the way that it will only give off heat if car is moving at 2rpms or higher. Check engine light was on probably within first 6 months and has only not been on since then when a mechanic "resets" it--and that lasts short period(like week). This car died while driving on the interstate for no apparent reason winter of 2009. It was found to need new engine. Replacement with used engine approx $4,000. This engine promptly died in less than a month and yet again needed to be replaced. A 2005 motor was then put in my car, but guess what?? same problem with oil mysteriously vanishing and no leaking on ground and no leak to be found. Spring of 2010 all recall work done, including sensor 03V084000 which could cause a fire. Now find out catalytic converter is bad. Also through web-browsing that this can cause check engine light to be on all the time, is related to the recalled sensor, as well as the need for engine replacement. The cold air issue appears unrelated to this and is caused by air in the heating/cooling system, however this too is very common Nissan Altima problem. It seems to me that Nissan is putting bandaid on bigger issue by recalling only sensor and not addressing the fact that this is causing bigger, much costlier problems for the consumer. I have been able to find 100's of people on the internet who are complaining about the same exact thing. I also personally know 3 other "02 Nissan Altima owners who share this issue. I have easily put $8,000 into this car for problems related to the engine only.this is seems to be a widespread problem and should be addressed in a serious manner. Thank you.

- Milton, VT, USA

problem #197

Sep 152011


  • 96,000 miles
Purchased vehicle from a dealer in rittman, Ohio, on September 10, 2011. Consumer reports rate this model as very reliable for the years manufactured. Less than one week later, 9-15-11, the oil light came on. Took to a quick change oil place on the morning of 9-16-11, and the worker commented that it only had 1 quart of oil in the engine. Drove for 2 days and was checking the engine compartment and notice there was again no oil in the engine. On 9-19-11, took car to a local garage and they diagnosed that the engine was damaged and needed to be replaced because the catalytic converter near the engine had broken into pieces and been sucked into the engine. Nissan dealership in mansfield, Ohio confirmed this diagnosis on 9-20-2011. Alerted Nissan North America about this problem because of a vehicle recall executed by the NHTSA in 2003. (campaign id 03V084000) while the recall affected 338,000 vehicles, Nissan said my vehicle was not included" Nissan said that they would be unwilling to assist me with the cost of the engine replacement for that reason and that the mileage was too great. How can a car that exhibits the exact problem that the recall describes no matter what the mileage not be included in a safety recall? the NHTSA website lists 982 complaints regarding 2002 Nissan Altima, many for engine failure caused by a faulty catalytic converter design. Cannot understand why the NHTSA has not opened another investigation to remedy this issue" the original complaint concerned three vehicles. This research should show that a greater problem still exists concerning the safety of these vehicles. I ask that the NHTSA please correct this problem for myself and the thousands of other motorists affected by this borderline criminal act. Have spent almost as much money to bring the vehicle into compliance ($4600) as the purchase price.

- Ashland, OH, USA

problem #196

Aug 172011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 123,000 miles
Floor pans on both driver and passenger sides are rusted through engine dies randomly.

- Carmel, IN, USA

problem #195

Sep 112009

Altima 4-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
Car uses excessive amounts of engine oil and low oil light never comes on to warn driver, can only determine that it is low by engine knocking noise.average oil consumption about 1 - 2 quarts every 300 miles also heater does not work when car is idleling only works when driving.check engine light constantly comes on code states cat converter bad.continous problem has been going on since car had about out 90,000 also turns off after running and will crank but does not start after multiple tries.

- Chapel Hill, NC, USA

problem #194

Sep 012011

Altima 4-cyl Diesel

  • 93,000 miles
My VIN should be included in the below recall as my mechanic diagnosed and recommended I bring to Nissan to fix. But per there recall my car VIN is not included even though be as campaign # 03V084000. Please see campiagn notice below to reference. What can I do to make Nissan do the right thing and fix under recall. Recall number: 03V084000 summary: On certain vehicles equipped with the 2.5 liter engine, the exhaust pipe hanger pin may catch debris from the road that could be ignited by contact with the main catalyst. Consequence: This condition could result in a fire. Remedy: Dealers will remove the protruding portion of the exhaust pipe hanger pin. In addition to the corrective action, in order to reduce the risk of fire in the event of poor or improper maintenance that could result in oil spillage, heat shield(s) will be installed on the pre-catalyst and exhaust tube. Owner notification is expected to begin during May 2003. Owners who take their vehicles to an authorized dealer on an agreed upon service date and do not receive the free remedy within a reasonable time should contact Nissan at 1-800-647-7261. Notes: Also on 2002 Altima and Sentra vehicles, certain engine operating conditions may cause the pre-catalyst to overheat and damage the catalyst substrate. If substrate particles enter the combustion chamber, they could score the cylinder walls, resulting in increased oil consumption. If the engine oil level is not checked on a periodic basis and drops below the low level, and the driver continues to operate the vehicle ignoring noticeable engine noise, engine damage may occur which could result in a fire. Nissan is still developing a remedy for the pre-catalyst problem. Customers can also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's auto safety hotline at 1-888-dash-2-dot (1-888-327-4236).

- Maplewood, MN, USA

problem #193

Sep 202011


  • 99,450 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated the service engine light illuminated on the instrument panel. The contact took the vehicle to a mechanic and was told the catalytic converter needed to be replaced and that it was under recall. The contact spoke with the manufacturer regarding NHTSA recall campaign id number: 03V084000 (engine and engine cooling: Exhaust system: Manifold/ header/ muffler/ tail pipe) and was told the vehicle was not included in the recall. The failure mileage was 99,450. The VIN was not available.

- Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #192

Sep 202011


  • 99,450 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the service engine warning light illuminated. The contact took the vehicle to a mechanic and was told that the catalytic converter needed to be replaced and that it was also under recall. The contact spoke with the manufacturer regarding NHTSA campaign id number: 03V084000 (engine and engine cooling: Exhaust system: Manifold/ header/ muffler/ tail pipe) and was told that the vehicle was not included. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 99,450.

- Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #191

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 #190

Jun 012006


  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle consumes oil at a high rate due to a defective catalytic converter. As a result, the contact would have to constantly add oil to the engine. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and informed the contact that the vehicle was not included in the recall associated with NHTSA campaign id number 03V084000 (engine and engine cooling:exhaust system:manifold/header/muffler/tail pipe). The vehicle was not taken to have the failure diagnosed and was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 60,000.

- Apex, NC, USA

problem #189

Aug 302011


  • 120,000 miles
Blown head gasket determined by mechanic after proper maintenance used on the car for past 9 years. Causes loss of coolant, and thus car can overheat and engine will eventually fail. Car also hesitates when starting and idling. Can cause an accident if car stalls while driving through intersection and thus is a safety issue.

- Tucson, AZ, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?