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:
0 / 3
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
32,367 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

problem #15

Jan 242008

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,520 miles


I have a 2002 Nissan Altima with 117,000 miles. Nissan usa replaced the engine and the catalytic converter as part of a recall January 06 when the car had 99600 miles. Last week on 1/24/08, the car shut off while driving and I was lucky to pull to the side on time to prevent an accident. I took the car to the dealer Nissan cox in the bronx the following Saturday. They checked the car out and told me that the reason why the car shut off is not related to the previous recalls. They told me that I needed to replace my throttle and clean the fuel system. I paid $563 for the labor on 1/30/08. I drove the car around the dealer and once again the car shut off by itself then I started it again and while driving it back to the dealer the engine surged a couple of times. I took the car to the dealer and the next day 1/31/08, I received a call from the service worker in which she tells me that my catalytic converter is bad and that's what's causing the problem. I don't think is fair that I had to pay $563 to later find out that the car had something else. Also, I don't understand why the catalytic got damaged when I religiously serviced the car for the past two years since the new engine and cat were installed. The dealer tells me that I'm no longer covered by the warranty and that I need to pay another $900 for parts and labor. I think im being ripped off by the dealer and Nissan. I've read how much problems the 2002 Altima has. Can you guys please help me.

- New York, NY, USA

problem #14

Dec 152007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles
2002 Altima, loss of power early in Dec 2007, Dec 17 2007 at 85,000 miles catalytic convertor fails, at 90,000 miles using 1 quart of oil in 700 miles. At 91,125 miles to dealership and report made with Nissan. A recall part of a exhaust pipe hanger replaced by dealer and I am told the other expenses of convertor (approx $800 plus labor and possible motor replacement $3900) are up to me. Yet there are thousands of other people with the same identical problem and no recall is issued.research, per Nissan news bullitins, has indicated that the convertor on the Altima and Sentra blows internal residue into the cylinder walls causing the excessive oil problem.

- Springville, TN, USA

problem #13

Oct 182007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I own a 2002 Nissan Altima. It seemed great when I bought it and now after 5 years it is crap and the thing wont run. The car idles rough when it first starts if it starts at all, there is a water rushing sound under the dash, and my check engine light has been on for quite some time. I am constantly refilling the radiator with coolant and adding so much oil to my car it is crazy. My father-in-law which is a mechanic, told me that the catalytic converter was deteriorating into the #4 cylinder which is causing engine failure which is also where the oil and coolant and gas are going. The easiest fix is to replace the whole engine, which is a $6,300 fix. I just finished paying off my car in may and 3 months later my car start having major problems. I cant afford to fix this and I don't think I should have to, catalytic converter don't just deteriorate. Heck I am the only owner to my car and it is only 5 years old. This is crazy. I have now replaced my engine at my own cost, because the dealer that I bought the car at claims they are not be enough to do anything and to call Nissan, which I did and Nissan does care. Well after spending six grand on fixing my car, my machine has informed me this is all due to plugged PCV valve because the two inlace holes for this valve are so small they get clogged so easily and the discharge for the PCV valve becomes in intake and to to the size of the discharges the oiled is getting pulling into the engine and well as other fluids which is what is causing the failure of the engine and destroying the catalytic converter. I am giving you the date my car finally died. It took me over a month and a 1/2 to get this fixed and it is still far from being fixed. Please also check out this website for thousands of other Nissan dealer that are having the same issue.,000miles-I-w/page5.html#6468288.

- Longview, WA, USA

problem #12

May 302007

Altima 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,900 miles


Twice last month the car just cut itself off and I was able to pull to the side of the road. Thank god I was on a secondary road and not going over 35 mph. I got an appointment with the roanoke va dealership and took the car in. Because the check engine light did not come on, the service mgr stated they could find nothing wrong with the car--he then charged me $77 and told me to drive on the right side of the road in case it happened again!! I copied reports of the recall for the crank position sensor and left for th service dept, but because the "code" did not show up, they will not replace it. I will never ever buy a car from first team Nissan again. They replaced the crank sensor in 2004 after I receiced a recall letter. But I found out that some of the replacement parts were defective too-I left that information and hi-lited the part about bad replacement parts. No help from dealer at all!!

- Roanoke, VA, USA

problem #11

Feb 012003

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 152,135 miles
My 2002 Nissan Altima has been having problem with suddenly shutting off without any warning since around February of 2003. In April 2003, it grew worse & stopped in the middle of traffic and I manage to get it restarted. The check engine light would be reset only to come back on within a few days to a week later. They stated it was the engine sensor and they replaced that but that was only a temporary fix. Just this past August or September when I had my car taken to a repair shop & placed on a diagnostic machine which determined that catalytic converter was bad & had to be replaced. Once they did that the car drove well for at least 2 weeks only to have the same problems again. Took it to hampton Nissan which is a 45 min drive from my home to have them check the car. They determined it might be the intake but wasn't really sure but they were going to have to check to see if that was the problem which was going to cost me $350. On my way home my car cut off in the middle of the street but luckily in front of my home but the car has not restarted since Nov 10, 2005. Called Nissan they informed me to take to the dealer & they have indicated that my engine has been damaged from the catalyst converter & I need to have the engine replaced. The cost for a new motor would be $4,800 & $3,800 for a used motor with over 24,000 miles on it. The mechanic stated that Nissan knows there is a problem with the catalyst converter damaging engines. I feel that I wouldn't have to replace my engine if this problem was corrected by Nissan. I had spoken to a representative of Nissan on several occasions but now I can't reach him & I have left numerous messages. The dealer states that because my car has over 141,000 miles on it that they cannot replace my engine for free as the mechanic stated they would do if it was determined that it was the catalyst converter.

- Pensacola, FL, USA

problem #10

Mar 232005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles
First was the service engine light was coming on and off. Then I noticed as I accelerate there was a strange noise, which was getting more pronounced daily, finally the last two days as I was traveling and accelerated to go faster it was almost like it was slowing down instead of increasing in speed. The noise also is obvious in park now. I went on-line and noticed a recall (03V455000) for the exact same symptoms so I called the dealer and was told "no that does not incude your VIN #, we go by VIN#'s and yours isn't listed. I said"but this is what is going on with my car and it says it can stall at high sppeds and crash". she said she could charge me $85 to hook it up and check it out but it is not under a recall nor warranty. Perhaps their recall is not broad enough and should include more VIN#'s... not sure what to do from here, afraid to drive it, and the dealer is 50+ miles away. Another recall (03V061000) is for driver air bag intermittent which is also whats going on in my car.

- Hillsboro, NH, USA

problem #9

Jan 302002

Altima 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 500 miles


Car using 2 quarts of oil every 3000 miles.

- Wakeman, OH, USA

problem #8

Jul 172003


  • miles
While driving during cold days at any speed engine will shut down, and force consumer to pull of the road. This was due to a faulty gas module sensor. Consumer most have at least half tank of gas to avoid freezing up the module sensor.

- Albion, PA, USA

problem #7

May 152002

Altima 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 6,456 miles
Car has been burning oil since 1st oil change and dealership and Nissan have refused to acknowledge this problem.

- Pittsfield, MA, USA

problem #6

Jul 202002


  • miles
Consumer states that when accelerating vehicle will lose engine power very breifly. Dealer and maufacturer contacted.

- Cary, NC, USA

problem #5

Jul 102002


  • miles


Consumer states while driving the vehicle caught on fire under the hood, vehicle was pull out of the road. Dealer has been notified. Nlm

- Simivalley, CA, USA

problem #4

Aug 272002


  • miles
No collision-no warning lights until engine exploded and burst into flames-auto undfrwent 7500 mile service at tourelle's 12 days prior.

- Mandeville, LA, USA

problem #3

Aug 022002


  • miles
While driving vehicle shut off with out any notice. This was the third time that this problem has occurred. Contacted dealer, and the dealer was not willing to do anything about it.

- Loveland, OH, USA

problem #2

Dec 012001


  • miles
Since December of 2001 every month vehicle needd an oil change. Vehicle was burning too much oil. Took vehicle to dealer, and they stated that engine needed replacement, but couldn't say what the cause was.

- Rockville Center, NY, USA

problem #1

Jan 292002


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While driving 40-45 mph, noticed smoke coming from under the hood. Consumer pulled over and fire department put out the fire. Vehicle was totalled. Fire department thought fire was caused by fuel injection system. However, cause of fire has not been officially determined yet. No injuries.

- Woodstock, GA, USA

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