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

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2002 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 8 of 12)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #88

Jan 232008

Altima 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles


The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. She stated that she received a recall notice for the engine and engine cooling (NHTSA campaign id #07V527000). The dealer stated that they would not repair the recall because the service engine light was illuminated. The contact felt that this was unacceptable. The current mileage was 71,000 and there had been no failure to date.

- Bloomfield, CT, USA

problem #87

Jan 212008

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,000 miles
We own a 2002 Nissan Altima (purchased at autoway Nissan, clearwater, fl in 2002) and have experienced the same mechanical failure as many who have posted to this and many other sites. With 100,300 miles on the vehicle we have just learned the catalytic converter has disintegrated and metal parts are now throughout the engine. As a result we are required to have a new engine installed or walk away from a 5 year old car that, other than this defect, is in excellent condition. Upon speaking to autoway Nissan we were informed since the car has exceeded the 8 years or 80,000 mile warranty on the catalytic converter Nissan would not cover the cost of repairs. Upon typing in 'Nissan catalytic converter' in google key word search my husband and I found it is enlightening and concerning to read many accounts of the same mechanical failure. I'm sure there are many, many more accounts of the same mechanical failure that we've yet to uncover. What can we do as consumers to have our rights protected? it is apparent Nissan has a defective part on at least 2002 / 2003 Altima. Any advise us on how to we as consumers can get Nissan to take ownership of a failed device.

- Dunedin, FL, USA

problem #86

Jan 102008


  • Manual transmission
  • miles
Recent recall for 2002 Nissan Altima dated 11/07/2007. I recently called Nissan North America regarding a recall I saw while surfing the web. I called Nissan twice, Nov. 7, 2007 & Jan. 10. 2008, and they gave me a file# and faxed me a letter stating "these repairs are free of charge to you". yet when I tried to have it fixed at the Nissan dealership they said I had to pay for a diagnostic or they would not fix it even under the recall. I have spent thousands of dollars already, regarding this problem with my 2002 Nissan Altima since 2007, I am disabled and on a fixed income, this car problem has put me in critical financial trouble. When I notified Nissan North America, Inc. Of my problem trying to get it fixed they told me to try again, because they have no control over how much the dealerships charge. If I still had the problem getting it fixed they would deal with my problem then. Does integrity mean anything to anyone anymore" this car is a death trap. This car has shut off during operation on the freeway at a speed of 70 mph. It is not true when its said it only stalls at low speed. I and my granddaughter are a witness to that. Does anyone care about a human life"

- Pomona, CA, USA

problem #85

Jan 022008


  • miles


(1) catalytic converter failed and eventually caused engine to fail on the highway going 60 mph. Car went off the road and almost hit oncoming traffic. (2) I replaced the engine and the same thing is happening to me again. Nissan is refusing to replace the engine even though they know it is a safety hazard. (3) unfortunately they have done nothing to correct the problem, and I can produce 100's of people across the country who have suffered from the same problem and Nissan is refusing to do anything. I don't understand how they can be allowed to get away with this"?"

- West Hartford, CT, USA

problem #84

Nov 062007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles
Purchased vehicle July 3, 2006. August 8, 2006- service engine light reported multi cylinder misfire, spark plugs were replaced. Feb 07- same code found and spark plugs and O2 sensors replaced. June 07- same code, engine floods twice, car crank but wont start and spark plugs, coils, fuel pump replaced. Nissan tech couldn't duplicate the problem but mentioned coolant was low and so that was why the cylinder misfire and head gaskets need to be fixed. Oct. 07 engine shut off about 4 times while driving. November 07- engine fails. No recourse from Nissan Consumer Affairs nor where Nissan car was purchased.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #83

Mar 242004

Altima 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,600 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact received a recall notice for NHTSA campaign id number 03V455000 (engine and engine cooling) and had the repair work performed on the vehicle. Three years later, while driving approximately 45 mph, the engine light illuminated. The vehicle restarted five minutes later. The dealer stated that his VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign id number 07V527000 (engine and engine cooling). The vehicle has not been repaired. He filed a formal complaint with the manufacturer. The failure mileage was 63,600 and current mileage was 63,640. Updated 3/18/08 the consumer stated had the airbag sensor recall performed. Updated 03/18/08

- Lawrenceville, GA, USA

problem #82

Dec 032007

Altima 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The check engine light illuminated intermittently and the vehicle hesitated to start. On December 1, 2007, the vehicle would not start at all and was towed to a mechanic. A diagnostic was performed, but no failures were found. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and they stated that the cam shaft, crank shaft, and spark plugs needed to be replaced. There are two NHTSA campaign id numbers regarding engine and engine cooling (03V455000 and 07V527000). The contact was informed that the recall repair had previously been performed on the vehicle. The purchase date and mileages were unknown. Updated 03/06/08. The camshaft sensor and crankshaft were replaced. The consumer stated the engine light illuminated again. Updated

- Lake Worth, FL, USA

problem #81

Aug 242007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,888 miles
In August of 2007, I had a problem with my crankshaft. I took it to the dealer for repair. I then researched and discovered that there was a recall for this same problem. I contacted Nissan via their website to inquiry if my problem was covered under that recall because I do never received any notification that there was a problem. I was trying to determine if I should have been charged for the repair job. Nissan usa never responded to me. Now I see on the internet that there is a recall for a problem with the crankshaft. The description is what has happened to me: I.e, loss of power and stalling during low speeds. The diagnosis code is P0335, crank sensor failure. If this is the same problem, I felt that I should be reimbursed what I paid for this repair job.

- Key West, FL, USA

problem #80

Jun 142007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles
I have a 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5 S I have had for less than 2 years. About 6 months ago at around 80K miles my engine started to randomly overheat even though coolant and fluid levels were correct. I had to tow it to a mechanic and he said the radiator was split. I spent $500 T replace that but then shortly after it happened again. We then replaced both thermostats on the vehicle and this helped for 2 months. Most recently we have been encountering a severe stuttering and shaking of the whole vehicle immediately upon starting it up. Regardless of it being in neutral, drive or reverse the car jerks back and forth very violently. After you drive it for a few minutes and the vehicle warms up it ceases this action. In addition to this though there is never any warm air coming out of the vents no matter how long the car is driven for. This is all happening simultaneously in addition to now the car is overheating all the way up but then jumps around so we never know where the temperature is at. Nissan themselves is very uncooperative in any capacity when attempting to rectify this situation. This is very disheartening as me and my wife are both working full time students and cannot afford to continue to chase this with time or money. My wife is a nanny part time and has had the car stop and need to be towed while she is out in the middle of the city with her 2 toddlers she watches. I am doing my best to avoid missing work as a result of having only one vehicle. We have a 2004 Volvo that has had no problems but this Altima is going to drag us down.

- Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #79

Nov 012007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 90,000 miles
I purchased a used 2002 Nissan Altima in 2006. 3 months after I bought it, I began having problems with it leaking oil. Then a month after that I began having mechanical/electrical problems, such as the car would shut off on its own when I was driving on the surface street as well as the freeway. The car will now not go over 25 mph. I spoke to Nissan regarding a recall that I found on your website and they stated to me that the previous owner had already brought the car in for these same problems and it was repaired already and that they are not obligated to repair it again. I have recently found hundreds of recent complaints on this matter. This is a horrible accident waiting to happen. I do not have thousands of dollars to repair a manufacturer (Nissan) failure to resolve an issue with me and thousands of other consumers. For my car to shut off at a speed of 65-70 mph on the freeway is heart stopping. My granddaughter who is now 3, was with me. Cars were swerving around me. We were all lucky to be alive. If this problem had been addressed properly and correctly, these problems would not be recurring. I have taken my car to 2 different mechanics and they say that I have to go to Nissan because this car will not run without Nissan parts. Nissan says give me $6,000+ dollars and we can give you a new engine. But we have no problem with our Nissan Altima's. I don't know what to do. My car is sitting inoperable in my driveway as I make monthly payments. This is the worst car I have ever owned.

- Pomona, CA, USA

problem #78

Oct 112007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 138,490 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. While driving 40 mph, the vehicle stalled and the engine shut off. There was a loss of steering power and the brakes failed. The vehicle was restarted after two or three attempts. There were no warning lights illuminated and the weather was not a factor. The duplicate failure is related to NHTSA campaign id number 03V455000 (engine and engine cooling), which was repaired two years ago. The vehicle was not towed. The dealer has not diagnosed the cause of the failure; however, they advised the contact to call NHTSA regarding a recall. The current mileage was 138,890 and failure mileage was 138,490. Updated 12/12/2007 updated 12/12/07

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #77

Oct 082007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that his vehicle should be covered under NHTSA campaign id number 03V455000 (engine and engine cooling). He stated that his vehicle kept stalling and he took it to the dealer. The dealer stated that the crank position sensor failed and both they and the manufacturer stated that his VIN was not included in the recall. The speed was unknown. The current and failure mileages were 129,000.

- Baton Rogue, LA, USA

problem #76

Oct 062007

Altima 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles
Problem started with service engine soon light on.. had it put on computer and codes read off were referring to cam shaft position sensors. Had dealer look at it and they say there is nothing wrong with car. Cars engine hesitates, loses power, goes through way to much gas for our driving. So now light hasn't come back on since they erased the codes! now several months later car drives awful. Still same issues but now car will not start at times and does at other times..engine sputters as to wanting to stall while driving and just today vehicle no longer starts!!! but dealer was still saying hey there's nothing wrong. Nothing has been done to remedy this issue. So my vehicle now sits at the dealer service dept. While I have no car and we wait to see if they will remedy the issue again or still say nothing is found.

- Manchester, NH, USA

problem #75

Aug 022007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles
My 2002 Nissan Altima vehicle was taken in for service at bob bell Chevrolet Nissan, 7900 eastern avenue, baltimore, Maryland, 21224, on Thursday, August 2, 2007. It was brought in for servicing of all the vehicles' recalls, a soft grinding noise that could be heard when turning the steering wheel and low freon levels for air conditioning. On Friday afternoon, August 3, 2007 around 5pm, I was contacted by the service department and strongly advised to pick up the vehicle before the service division closed at 6pm. The dealership stated that all recalls and issues had been resolved and completed. I picked the vehicle up around 5:45pm and proceeded to travel home. After only fifteen minutes, the vehicle engine started to smoke profusely. The engine started shaking harder and harder and a loud rattling noise could be heard from within the engine. The teenage passenger in the vehicle began to vomit and her eyes started swelling due to the volume of fumes expelled from the cars engine through the ventilation and into the car. I immediately pulled over (3700 eastern blvd.) and rushed to get her out of the seat where she continued to vomit once outside the vehicle. The dealership now denies ever seeing smoke from the engine (see attach.), as well as, denied causing damage to my car that potentially resulted in the engine smoking. The vehicle was picked up on Wednesday, August 8, 2007 with the engine rattling uncontrollably even after being returned a second time to the dealership. The vehicle cut off while attempting to de-accelerate at a red light the following day. Uncertainty surrounds whether the vehicle will cut off again while de-accelerating proving it hazardous to drive, whether the vehicles five recalls where all properly addressed, and if the engine will start smoking again.

- Baltimore, MH, USA

problem #74

Mar 182004


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2002 Nissan Altima overheats, air conditioner and engine failures. Customer states that she has brought the car in on numerous occasions for the overheating, air conditioning, and engine failures. The consumer stated she was backing out of the driveway, when all of a sudden the engine light flashed and there was an immediate loss of power and no steering capability. The starter, engine control module and radiator were replaced. The thermostat was sticking which was one of the reasons the engine was overheating. The rear middle seat belt locked into place. The fuel door would not open when using the internal latch. The gear was difficult to get out of park.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #73

Jul 012004

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start after driving a short distance. The vehicle would also hesitate while driving 5-10 mph. The failure only occurred during warm weather. The dealer was unable to diagnose the cause of failure. She took the vehicle to a different dealer and they stated that the cam shaft positioning sensor should be replaced. They made the repair, however, the failure continued to occur. The dealer stated that the vehicle needed a new head gasket. She took the vehicle to an independent mechanic and he stated that the vehicle needed a new engine. As of September 4, 2007, the vehicle has not been repaired. The failure mileage was 20,000 and current mileage was 96,000.

- Sanford, FL, USA

problem #72

Jan 052007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles
Various services performed by dealer did not correct problem---such as throttle body cleaning, checking spark plug coils, crankcase sensors, O2 sensors---after 6 months dealer decided head gasket blown which I told them from beginning plus oil usage and antifreeze usage---head gasket replaced on "extended warranty" which I did not purchase with car- so there is some acknowledgement of problem---currently oil consumption about 1 qt for 400 miles, probably the result of head gasket and pre cat causing damage to oil sweeper ring on piston which would allow oil into cylinder---thus a reason for rough running at low idle plus smoke on acceleration---no smoke on normal running since cat converter is cooking---but sure will lead to another cat converter failure- this process started with dealer 01/07.

- Sewell, NJ, USA

problem #71

Aug 062007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles
At 6:30 pm I turned left out of a restaurant parking lot. There was plenty of time to cross traffic and enter the vacant turn lane. My 2002 Nissan Altima lost power leaving me in the path of oncoming traffic. Luckily, the approaching traffic was able to brake before hitting me broadside. In the previous two days the car had briefly lost power while driving on the highway. There were no near accidents on these occasions. The problem was diagnosed as a faulty crankshaft sensor. It was replaced at our cost. This was the same part recalled in 2005. It was replaced then also. There was also a near accident before the first replacement. This part has failed twice, with near accidents. Both were potentially fatal. The dealer also performed a exhaust hanger recall on the vehicle. Updated 09/18/07

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #70

Jun 242007

Altima 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 29,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle is burning oil after every 3,000 miles. The dealer diagnosed the failure as excessive oil consumption, but would not sell the contact a warranty. The VIN, engine size, and dealer information were unavailable. The current mileage was 87,000 and failure mileage was 29,000.

- Waterbury, CT, USA

problem #69

Jul 162007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. While driving at any rate of speed or stationary he heard a noise coming from the engine. He stated that the vehicle burned excessive oil. Approximately one month ago the catalytic converter was replaced however the failure continued to occur. There is a recall for the catalytic converter; however, his vehicle was not included. The failure mileage was 116,000 and the current mileage was 119,000. Updated 02-01-08. The consumer also stated the rear shocks were bad. Updated

- Snellville, GA, USA

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