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
Typical Repair Cost:
No data
Average Mileage:
213,763 miles
Total Complaints:
3 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (3 reports)
2002 Nissan Altima engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Nissan Altima Owner Comments

problem #3

Mar 302015

Altima S 2.5L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 159,000 miles


When I get in the car after I go to a store , or school it will not start. I have to let it cool off. I have to keep tapping on gas pedal so that the gas get in the car. It also sometimes back fires when I keep trying to start it. I already change the cam shaft sensor, also an oxygen sensor. Now I am going to try the fuel pump or the fuel pump relay. It is no fun going out to your car and it will not start. I also put a new alternator on and a new radiator. Can someone help me?

- , Kingstree, SC, USA

problem #2

Jan 162015

Altima 2.5s

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles

Got a 2002 Nissan for my son in 2010. A gift from his Grand parents. It performed well with only about 44,000 miles on it. I change the oil religiously and routinely service this car as i do all of my vehicles. I never really looked the car over because of the low mileage and it belonged to my in laws and I knew it was well maintained and always garaged.

Inspection time came and i could not believe it when my mechanic told me it would not pass inspection because of the gaping hole in the passengers floor under the front seat. I could not believe how rusty this car was. Not only the floor, but the entire vehicle, all of it. Exhaust, rotted,front lower control arms, rotted, rear trailing arms, struts and shocks, rotted. disc brake dust shield,rotted. fuel filler neck, rotted. Like an idiot, instead of getting rid of it immediately, I fixed it. The car seemed to run alright for a few years. Keep in mind the mileage. Only around 5000 miles a year. Recently the engine started to run rough intermittently. Usually after a cold start. Then after a while it would seem to pass as the engine warmed up. Now it seems to surge or miss and buck intermittently while driving. The check engine light came on and I took it to my mechanic and the code was a cylinder 3 misfire. I learned from him that this is a common problem they see in Nissan Altimas but the exact cause and fix is unknown at this point. Sort of poke and hope.

He changed the coils on all 4 cylinders and now the problem is getting worse. He says there are a few more possible fixes but he wants to take them one at a time from least expensive to the worst case scenario. There also seems to be electrical problems with this car as well. The power windows go down by themselves even with the car shut off and then the doors lock at the same time. I also have the problem with the heater control. Don't buy the control knob unit on the dash as it won't fix this problem. the problem is somewhere in the air diverter box and I'm not about to tear the entire dash out to fix this piece of junk. I fooled around with the little gear on the side of the box and got it to a position where it will blow heat so all I have to do is select floor heat or defrost heat. A/C ,, roll down the windows! I have not had an oil issue as of yet but the car does use anti-freeze but does not smoke.

All in all the biggest money pit I have ever owned. This car has led a charmed life and has been nothing but trouble.To think I passed on a 2004 Pontiac Grand AM GT in pristine condition with lower miles and no rot because this was a gift. Some gift. Thanks Nissan.

Update from Feb 1, 2015: Update on my 2002 Nissan Altima engine misfire situation. As of the original posting date the problem has gotten considerably worse. We started with a cylinder three misfire and check engine light. All four coils were replaced and the check engine light is out but within the span of two days the problem is considerably worse with the engine shaking more violently than before and its constant, no longer an intermittent annoyance. The car had to be towed to escape any further damage to the engine as advised by my mechanic. What he now found was a dead cylinder number three. The engine is running rough and if you unplug the coil on number three cylinder it does not change anything. There is constant power and ground to number three coil and the injector is pulsing as required. He hooked the computer to the car and started to run a complete diagnostic check and so far all values are well within the correct parameters. Funny thing is there is no check engine light and the car is BARELY running. He swapped another coil and that changed nothing. Did a quick check for an intake manifold leak but did not detect anything.I'll keep you posted.

- , Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #1

Nov 132014

Altima QR 20 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 411,289 miles

Misfire. Not fixed yet, Engine running rough upon start... almost at a stall. Yet doesn't happen all the time. The RPM gauge fluctuated once. Check engine light comes on. The car does not run like it used to. Mechanics don't know what to do. Replaced spark plugs, flushed system, moved around the sensors, still came up with same error code. still not fixed. . Very frustrating

- , Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria

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