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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
96,850 miles
Total Complaints:
243 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace the engine (80 reports)
  2. not sure (65 reports)
  3. add oil as needed (39 reports)
  4. new engine (22 reports)
  5. get rid of it asap (10 reports)
  6. nissan should replace the engine for the 2nd time (10 reports)
2002 Nissan Altima engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 2 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #223

Sep 282012

Altima SE 3.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 157,000 miles


It looks like the 4 cyl cars have a much bigger problem than mine. You have my sympathies. My V6 burns about a quart every 1 or 2 thousand miles. It's been doing it for years but I check it alot so I'm OK. I want to give people some advice. DON'T RUN SYNTHETIC OIL. It's too thin and burns way too fast. Just run regular oil and you'll save money and won't have to fill it nearly as much. Aside from that, I love my engine! Bought it 4 years old with 50k. Now my car has 157K miles and still feels like it has 100% of it's original power throughout the RPM range. I redline it a lot, at least 10 times a week and it still runs awesome! Even if you don't check your oil often enough you can notice when the oil light blinks too much when starting. Shut it off and put in a quart. If you let it get really low you'll hear lifter rattle for a second when you start it. Shut it off and put in a quart, or maybe even two. Just keep a rag and a couple of $3 quarts of oil in your trunk at all times and you'll love this car. Follow these simple rules and your V6 will easily last to 250k.

- jalnin, Boston, MA, US

problem #222

Jul 152012

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,500 miles

I feel compelled at this time to fall in line and tell my tale of woe as did so many consumers before me. I feel pretty lucky regarding the outcome of my problem. In February 2002 my wife and I treated ourselves to a brand new Nissan Altima SL 2.5 It was purchased from a reputable Long Island NY Nissan dealership and was in stock on their lot. It was the first year of the new body style and I decided to take a chance. We would enjoy the car for the next 10 years; the service and reliability. During that 10 year period, the car was primarily serviced at the dealership. Some minor work like oil changes and brake pads were done aftermarket. Nissan Recalls of course were done at the dealership. Recalls such as airbag sensor, pump screen kit, engine sensor, pre cat exhaust pipe hanger pin, headlamp, rear suspension member replacement, reprogram ECM. Never in an accident. Washed and waxed often. Baby'd it. We loved it. I was sold on Nissan for the future. Alas, in July 2012 my "service engine soon" light came on. Ity was diagnosed as "a misfire cyl #4" by a local auto parts store. The light was intermittent and I believed it was time for a major tune up since the car had recently turned 102,500 miles. A few weeks later, and the tune up still not done, the engine did not sound right. the oil idiot light on the dash started to flicker. I checked the oil level and found it to be almost 4 quarts low. I immediately added the missing oil and began to curse the last oil change vendor for not filling to capacity. it had been only 3100 miles since that change. The following 2 days I drove approximately 250 miles. The car drove strong as always, the oil idiot light was out, and but the "service engine soon" light was still on. I once again checked the oil level and found it to be over 2 quarts low. Where did the oil go? There were no visible leaks on the driveway nor clouds of exhaust smoke. Now I knew I had a major problem. I wanted to research this problem online before I went to Nissan for a diagnosis. Good move! I googled the car/complaints/recalls and came up with this website. I realized that there were many, many, many consumers with the same problem. In addition, many had the same problems I had with air conditioning, heating, and CD player. There was however one major difference between my car and a lot of the aforementioned consumers. MY CAR WAS STILL RUNNING VERY STRONG. It was inevitable that my car was doomed having read the situations and experiences of the other writers. The engine would eventually blow. Thousands of dollars people put into their cars and Nissan did not want to know squat. I went to one of Nissans competitors and told him I wanted to lease one of their vehicles. Told them I had the Altima to trade in. They informed me that the car was in excellent condition, the mileage was high, and the "service engine soon" light was on. They offered me a few thousand dollars for the car and I immediately accepted. They said that they were going to wholesale the car out. I just got back from picking up my leased vehicle. I feel fortunate to have been able to avoid losing money on the Altima. I thank all the aforementioned consumers for sharing their stories which helped me save alot of money. Although the Altima ran strong right up to the last day, I will never again buy a Nissan. THEY DID NOT DO THE RIGHT THING FOR THEIR CUSTOMERS. GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!

- Joe F., Eastport, NY, US

problem #221

Jul 192012

Altima SE 2.5L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,722 miles

We bought our car from a used dealership with 103,100 miles on it. After a few weeks and 600 miles the car seizes up and we have to have it towed. The mechanic says that the car has no oil inside. They fill it with oil and tell us that it is probably burning oil. Two days later we check the oil level again to find that again the engine is BONE DRY. After TWO DAYS of driving. I've read some of the reports on here of people having to refill after 1000, 2000 miles etc., but the problem is so far gone on this car. We took it to a Nissan dealership for them to diagnose and confirm the problem. It was recorded that the car burned over a quart in just 80 miles of driving it!!!! The dealership that sold us the car gave us a limited warranty, but "of course" can't find anything thing wrong and deny that it's burning any oil. Furthermore, they stated that they "don't believe" the Nissan techs reports. For this issue to be this far gone, it would have HAD TO BE an existing issue at the sale of the car. We are now it the process of suing the dealership that sold us the car for consumer fraud.

- jeffreyd, Highlands, NJ, US

problem #220

Jun 022012

Altima SE 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 165,000 miles


We had taken our car in and they told us all that needed to be done was the catalytic converter. Ok, fine, we will borrow the $650.00 and at least we will have our ONLY car back. Fast forward a week and after the 3rd time back in the shop we get a call saying its worth scrap...Or of course pay almost $5000 for a new engine! This Nissan is by far the worst car I have ever owned. Nothing but expensive repairs year after year. If anyone could figure out a way to resolve this legally, I know they would have hundreds, if not thousands, fighting with them.

- Eve O., Stevens Point, WI, US

problem #219

Jan 012011

Altima 3.5L V6 Ohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

he asked me to check problem.we removed plenum to remove spark plugs i wanted to inspect the pcv system. This is where I believe all the oil is being sucked into the manifold and burnt the plugs were original and showed signs of burnt oil residue but not like you would see in an engine that was getting oil in the combustion chamber through rings.i am going to try pluging pcv vacum and see if oil slows down I DONT BELIEVE THE FAULTY CAT that every says is the problem

- mrb, Jay, ME, US

problem #218

Mar 052012

Altima S/SI

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles

We just purchased a 2002 Nissan Altima...I see Nissan's all over my city and I became a fan of the style and just purchased my very own.Well my excitement was short lived when my check engine light came on 4 hrs after we drove off the lot.We went back to the dealership and their mechanic told me that the only code it was reading was (P0420). I needed to replace my O2 sensors, needless to say 2+2= 400.00. 24hrs later my check engine light came back on. I went back to the mechanic and he read I was 2.5 qts.of oil low.He added oil and checked it again.It was very dark so,i did an oil change.Within 5 days the oil light came back on.I smelt a faint oil smell...I figured maybe some was spilled and was just burning off. But,since then I'm checking the oil daily and about every other day I'm low again.Needless to say I've had this car for 33 days and I have poured 10 qts.of oil into it and my check engine light is still on .I think Nissan should be held liable for these repairs since It's OBVIOUS this is not an isolated case.The catalact converter has now failed due to the excessive oil usage.Were having an oil crisis in this world and The president required B.P to clean up their oil spill.Well I think He should require Nissan to clean up theirs.How does the Gvmnt bail out Nissan in 09' with $1.6Billion and were going broke trying to keep our Nissan oil vessels running.I'm very diligent about energy efficiency in my home and through recycling ect.But,because of my income I cannot afford to purchase a new energy efficient car.My S.U.V only got 10 MPG this Nissan gets up to 27 MPG that was a great buying feature but, I feel like I fill up my oil tank more than I do my gas tank and oil is $7. a qt.I have to add one every 2 days or so.I've purchased so much oil that I should buy stock.... maybe get some of my money back.I've gone from gal my only other option is to purchase a drum.I'm going broke between gas and oil.When is ENOUGH...ENOUGH???

- rtjohnwa, Puyallup, WA, US

problem #217

Nov 012011

Altima 2.5L S

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,450 miles


Quiero saber si el diler me pueda ayudar en algo de este probema porque el auto consume de maciada aciete consume dos cuartos por semana gracias (car consumes 2 quarts of oil per week)

- Santos C., Mount Rainier, MD, US

problem #216

Jun 012010

Altima S 2.5L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

I've owned my used 2003 Nissan Altima 4 cylinder for nearly 5 years now. For the past 4 years I've noticed it consumed alot of oil. It didn;t leak it, it just burned it to the point of recent - having to put in nearly 4 qts. every 400-500 miles! (that's a bit more than 2 fill ups - oil would be completely gone.

My engine light pops on and off continually (but never the oil light). it reads 4 different things but usually the mechanic says it's my 01 sensor. I had the this sensor replace 2ce so far; I've had coils and coil wires replaced (all 4) - that attach to the spark plugs.

about a month ago (Dec 2011) my car sounded really loud and I couldn't get it to go over 20 mph. I guess all the sludge that built up from the burning oil solidified in my catalytic converter and had to be replaced. The mechanic also found something cracked down below near the converter. I thought it was a cracked head but it wasn't.

I may have a cracked head or gasket or something as I know my car is still burning oil (but slower now since the c.converter and cracked 'thing' thats not a head). I'm a unemployed student and trying to avoid having to replace the whole engine. If anyone have had the same type of problem and got a solution, please contact me at Thankyou

- Del L., Cleveland, OH, US

problem #215

Mar 012011

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

I absolutely love this car until now that i have to change oil every 2000 miles :( Is there anything Nissan should be doing? because i am not buying a nissan ever.

- Rony J., Ellicott City, MD, US

problem #214

Aug 012009

Altima SE 4.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

I purchased my Altima 2.5 with the 4-cylinder engine new from a Nissan Dealership in 2002. This ran trouble free until August of 2009. I began to notice that I had to refill the coolant and oil every two weeks. Along with that, I was getting an intermittent check engine light. In addition, the car would stall out under normal driving conditions and it would take considerable efforts to restart. After which, thick plumes of white smoke would come out of the exhaust and the engine would run extremely rough until I gunned it a few times. While this is happening, the check engine light would flash - As I was to find out later, this indicated the catalytic converter was being damaged. Eventually the engine would smooth out and the flashing would stop. At times, I would hear a swooshing fluid sound coming from underneath the passenger side of the dashboard. This went on and off for months. Then I noticed that the heater was not working properly and would only produce heat when the RPM’s were at 2k. At an intersection, the heater would only blow cold air until the engine was at 2k again. In November of 2009, I had the car checked at Midas for the intermittent check engine light. Their test with error code P0420 indicated a failing cat converter and they recommended that I have it replaced by the dealership since it may still be under the warranty. The dealership replaced the 02 sensor and not the converter; this cleared the check engine light. Since I was more concerned with the engine running properly, I did not address the heating problem at that time. The car seemed to run fine up until April of 2010, the check engine light returned. I took the car to Firestone and had a complete tune-up performed and the fuel system cleaned. Again, this cleared the check engine light. It would appear intermittently, but go away whenever I had it serviced for oil change and coolant. The routine of changing the oil and topping-off the coolant became more frequent as time went on. Finally fed-up with all the problems and expense, I took it back to the dealership in January of 2011. Since it was a Saturday, they could only bleed the cooling system in hopes of getting the heater to work again. It failed a week later. That March, I took it back into the Nissan dealership to have a complete diagnostic ran. They performed a compression test and I was informed that cylinder #1 was filling with coolant with error code P0301 & P0300 indicating cylinder misfire and that the head gasket needed to be replaced for the cost of $1,600.00. Wanting a second opinion and estimate, I took my car to Firestone. After their test, they claimed that it was not a coolant leak issue at all, but a bad catalytic converter and they could replace the part for $607.00. This was considerably less expensive than the dealership and I had the work performed. For a week, the car seemed to run okay then the check engine light and stalling returned. I took the car back into Firestone to have another diagnostic ran but they could not find any error codes and suggested that if it happened again to bring it in. At this point, I sent an email to Nissan customer service asking why would a car with less that 85k miles have all these issues and would they stand behind their product and help their customer? Predictably, their response was “sorry we can’t help you.” Note to self: Do Not Buy another Nissan. After doing more research on this issue, it seems this is a known problem with the 02 Altima. However, I think found a less expensive solution. I purchased a bottle of “Barts head gasket fix” on December 5th. , it’s now January 3rd. I have not had to refill the coolant or replace any oil. The engine is not running rough, no plumes of smoke and the check engine light has not re-appeared. I wish I would had know about this products months ago.

Update from Jan 8, 2012: Here's an update. It has been over a month since I tried the Barts Head Leak fix. The oil and coolant fluid levels have not changed. In the past, I would have had to refill the fluids several times within the month. So far I am very satisfied with the results.

- Ben B., Clackamas, OR, US

problem #213

Aug 132011

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles


click to see larger images

excessive oil consumption

I just bought my 02 altima 2.5 in august 2011. Thinking that these are great cars, I thought i got a great deal for $6000. I have to add oil every day and antifreeze 3 times a week. Also when I start the car when its cold it makes a grinding noise. And the headlights burn out fast. I have had to replace my low beams 3 times. Nissan makes the best looking cars but they are pieces of sh*t. Also the heater works when it wants to.

- Jamie M., Riverside, CA, US

problem #212

Mar 012011

Altima S 2.5s

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles

Crap From Nissan. Eat oil like monster. Add oil after every 300 mile. No know what to do.

- Praveen K., Plainsboro, NJ, US

problem #211

Aug 032009

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 162,000 miles

I love Nissan styling and hate it that I will never allow myself to buy another Nissan due to all the problems with my Altima and my son's Maxima. Just one repair after another for years. I have rebuilt the Maxaima one part at a time and the check engine light is an ongoing problem. The Altima has had similar problems. It began using atifreeze which cost $1700 to fix and now my Altima uses 1qt of oil avery 1700 miles.

- jdw4609, Kansas City, MO, US

problem #210

Jul 012005

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

I'm so glad I found this website. I will never buy another Nissan again until they take care of this problem. I bought my Altima in 2001, an upgrade from 09 Sentra. Two years later, the engine started burning oil. The dealer replaced the engine at no charge under extended warranty of course. The catalytic converter was also replaced, not sure if it was before or after the new engine was put in. That one came out of my pocket.

Two years later, I started adding oil between oil change again. When I took my car to the dealer, I was told that there was no problem and that my car was just getting old. I didn't know what else to do, but to have a case of oil in the trunk all the time.

It's now Nov 2011, I'm getting ready to dump this stupid car because it will cost me about $2,500 to $3,000 to replace the piston rings and catalytic converter.

- doriuca, Salinas, CA, US

problem #209

Mar 012011

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

why isn,t there a class action lawsuit being filed against nissan? i really like my car other than it sucks up oil like a teenage sucks up soda pop, will someone from nissan call me and make arrangements to fix this problem. oh i didn't think so or better yet shock the S#!T out of me and grow some kahunas .

- damien oh, Massillon, OH, US

problem #208

Jul 192011

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

Just like everyone else, this car drinks oil. I have put in a quart every week for the past year. NOW the engine has thrown a rod through the side of the engine. I have to spend $3,000 to get a rebuilt engine. This is crap.

- Brad A., East Palestine, OH, US

problem #207

Dec 012010

Altima ES 2.5L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

About 8 moths ago the engine light went on in my 2002 Nissan Altima. We took it in and they were not able to find the problem. A month later the car stalled on the road and the engine is idling rough. We took it in again and they could not find a thing. The last few months the car is going through oil excessively. We took it into another auto repair shop and they tell us that this is how most of the Nissan are when they get older. Replace the engine or live with it. The engine will burn up if we don't put oil in it weekly and is costly us $. I read about this problem and it is running rapid. Apparently the catalytic converters are breaking up and being sucked into the engine. Nissan is not doing a thing about this. Years of complaints are recorded on the website which is going back to Nissan. As so many people are saying, I will never buy another Nissan. At least Toyota isued a recall and saved their rep.

- Judy A., Parker, CO, US

problem #206

Nov 012010

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

I had to replace the engine. The damage was severe. I returned to mechanic to complain but turns out the problem was i purchased a "lemon".

- Robert C., Menifee, CA, US

problem #205

Jun 012011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

My altima is consuming & Burning SO MUCH Oil..... I was told that I needed a new catalytic converter if not a new engine... I DO NOT HAVE THE MONEY TO GET A NEW ENGINE OR A NEW CAR.. I HAD A 1987 TOYOTA COROLLA FOR 13 YRS & NOW I WISH I NEVER GOT RID OF IT TO GET THIS JUNK OF A CAR.... MY TOYOTA WOULD PROBABLY STILL BE RUNNING STRONG RIGHT NOW...

- rhk51175, Clementon, NJ, US

problem #204

Jun 012011

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles

Just found out how bad this car turned out to be... I bought this 02 Altima with 94000 miles to find out that Im adding so much oil. Not leaking, but burning oil.. I have owned many nissans but came to realize that the 02 model is their worst one yet..

How unluck for me, most complaints here the engine busts at around 120K miles, so i dont know whether to sell it (and if I can) or to try and keep taking care of it..

BAD nissan!!

- alexi, Chula Vista, CA, US

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