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:
96,201 miles
Total Complaints:
242 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace the engine (80 reports)
  2. not sure (65 reports)
  3. add oil as needed (38 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 3 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #202

Aug 012011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 1 miles


I found an 02 Altima on craigslist for $2500 with similar issue as those listed here, oil consumption and bad pre-cats. After reading the complaints here I will not buy it, but I did find a NHTSA recall that all you owners might want to look into. It's NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 03V084000 or NHTSA Action Number: PE02078. It's a recall for a potential fire hazard due to faulty precats. It says specifically on 02 Altimas and Sentras that if there's damage inside the precats present the engine will need to be replaced due to the oil consumption and potential for a fire. Maybe all you owners should press Nissan to fix your cars. The excessive oil usage seems to be caused by bad precats, which they admit in that recall. Look up that recall number on the NHTSA website, that's the national highway traffic safety association. All their info is 100% accurate because they are the ones that investigate safety defects. Good Luck.

- , Lynn, MA, USA

problem #201

Mar 132010

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles

DON'T BUY THIS CAR. OR ANYTHING NISSAN SELLS. I'm not saying all their cars are crap, but apparently their customer service is. They obviously don't give a rip about this HUGE problem. I had the same problems as everyone else. Excessive oil consumption, blown head gasket, catalytic converter, ac/heater, everything. I still owe a ton on it, I got ripped off on this car. Its not worth a dime. But now I cant get rid of it. I have had so many people look at it. Our mechanic has tried fixing it, he's doing everything he can right now, but I don't think anything will help, because all the parts are faulty. Even if they're new. They are still the parts of a this car. I'm bringing this to court, and nissan is going to get screwed. Join me please

- , Richland, WA, USA

problem #200

May 072011

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,564 miles

I bought the car in December and immediately started experiencing no heat until i was driving and had the RPMs ove 3k. Dealer gave me a 30 day warranty, and they were true to it, replaced thermostat, twice, drained and refilled coolant looking for problems, found nothing. I drove it and dealt with it since nothing of other importance seemed wrong with it. two weeks later, at day 27 of my warranty, it started smoking heavy, engine light came on, sputtered all the way to the dealership. they called me that night and said there was no oil in the car and i needed a new head gasket, cat, and piston rings which they said they would replace and they did. car ran nice for three months and i checked the oil again and it was bone dry! take it back to them since they worked on it and they put it on the lift, OIL WAS EVERYWHERE!

Aparently the oilpan is so close to the engine that it swells and shrinks with heat and cold and the oil pan bolts had loosened. thred locked them and put oil in it, ran for two weeks checked again, 2 quarts low. took it to another mechanic who ran a dye kit through it for 4 hours and didnt get a drop of dye anywhere! had the oild changed new filter drove it home and slid some cardboard under it. came out in the morning and had four drops of oil. I give up, im trying to get good enough money on a trade because i dont want anyone else to have a headache like i do. until then i gotta case of oil in the trunk

- , Flemington, NJ, US

problem #199

May 232011

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles


i took the car in for knocking in the engine and found out that the car had 1/3 qt oil in it and ruined the engine. no oil light came on, the oil was changed 5,000 miles ago, and i had no warning that the engine was being destroyed. i had expected to keep this car for several more years, but i will not put the $3,500 into the car, since it should be the responsibility of the manufacturer. i only had 64,000 miles on it and it was my 3rd altima. i have only had altima's for over 15 years, and have taken it in for every recall. i was never made aware of the oil consumption problem, and could have been notified so that i could have saved the engine by checking the oil more often. or if the oil or engine light came on to warn me of a problem. i will be part of the class action suit for this one.

katie g.

- , Downingtown, PA, USA

problem #198

Jul 082009

Altima SE 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

I, just as all others, am having the same problem with excessive oil leakage from my '02 altima.This is the first car I've purchased on my own, and I thought, at the time, I was getting a great deal. I purchased it in June of 2010. Less than a month later, I heard a grinding noise coming from the engine. The first time I heard it, we didn't think it was the oil because it was so recently purchased, so we began checking other things. After a few more weeks of the grinding and knocking, we checked the oil and sure enough, it was bone dry. We called the dealership where we purchased it from and requested their service records because from our point of view, we thought they didn't change the oil before we purchased it. Long story short, I've had to add a quart of oil every 300 miles. No one dealership or mechanic wise had been able to tell me what was wrong and causing the leakage. The mechanic said something along the lines of "you're going to need to take this somewhere else. We've checked everything we can think of and there's no evidence of oil loss anywhere. In fact, if we didn't know better, we'd say that you're letting the oil out yourself and then coming to complain to us!" (Douchebags.) So I took matters into my own hands as far as trying to find the problem and the first link that popped up on Google was to this website. To see your car ranked in the top 20 worst cars is something of a shock, even if you knew it was already a piece of sh*t. I have no idea what to do to fix the problem. I wrote Nissan an email and they told me in their automated reply that in order to ease my worry, they have put my email in a case file. Big whoop.

This needs to be fixed. I'm sick of all of this. Please DO NOT purchase this car. You will regret it immediately.

- , Johnstown, CO, USA

problem #197

Apr 192011

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,246 miles

I cannot understand why all of a sudden by car is burning oil but I do not see a leak.

- , Sanibel, FL, USA

problem #196

Feb 242011

Altima LS 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,300 miles


Well another Nissan Altima bites the dust. I have a 2002 Altima that was bought in 2005 that consumes oil like a monster and now there is a loud clicking, grinding and or rattiling in the engine. Take to Nissan dealer and hear the same bad news as all the other Altima owners out there. Catalytic converter is breaking up and being sucked into engine causing it to consume oil and ultimately blow up. As we all know this is a big problem with these cars and with 115,000 miles on it I'm sure they are going to tell me I'm out of warranty and to get screwed. They say the engine and cat need replaced and that it will cost $6200 dollars. WHAT A KICK IN THE NUTS! The sad thing is we just payed the POS off 4 months ago. Will never buy a nissan again!! Waiting on nissan consumer affairs to get back to us with any help. Not holding my breath.

- , Reynoldsburg, OH, US

problem #195

Mar 152011

Altima 2.5s

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,642 miles

My altima is consuming oil, like 2 litres a week. 2.5s

- , Clarenville, NL, canada

problem #194

Feb 082011

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles

My daughter and her husband bought two (2) 2002 Nissan Altima in 2006. Both engine failed within short period due to excessive oil consumption. We are trying to get the engines fixed and Nissan pay for it. Please send all your inquiries to Consumer Law Center at 800-875-3666 to join for a Class Action.The more people get involved in this class action, the more chances we have to resolve the problem.

Please call Krohn & Moss, Ltd.

- , Little Neck, NY, USA

problem #193

Apr 112006

Altima 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 170,000 miles
  • My 02 Altima much like everyone else's, burns a lot of oil. I would estimate that I use about a quart of oil every two weeks. In addition to that, I've also had the head gaskets replaced.

- , Franklin, MA, USA

problem #192

Dec 112009


  • 35,563 miles


nissan is a sorry company. they knew those cars were lemons.

- , Ogden, ARK, USA

problem #191

Dec 012010

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Total Nightmare! Same problems as everyone else! Having to add oil and engine coolant every week!!!! Dipstick is bone dry every time! No leaks or smoke at all though. Glad to find out that we were not the only ones!!! Same issues...not shifting well, idleing to low..this morning it wouldn't start! still owe 3500 on the stupid car and not really wanting to replace the engine. The service engine light comes on all the time..was told by the mechanic that it was the cat converter..but after reading that alot of these problems didnt get better after fixing that, I don't know what to do..only have heat when the car is moving...SOOOO annoying!!! Clearly this is not the car to buy if you are looking to own it past 90,000 miles!!

- , Dalton, MA, USA

problem #190

Nov 292010

Altima 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

I have a 2002 nissan i had the oil change in may 2010. i took it nov 2010 to get another oil change and they said it did not have any oil. I asked did it leak out. Walmart said there are no leaks. today nov 29 i drove maybe 3 miles and parked the car came out to start it and there is a clanking noise under the hood. i started to drive it and it has low pressure. now it is running hot. the temperture gauge goes all the way to hot then back down to the middle. i made it back home and cut the car off. i am afraid to drive it. i am going to check the oil and put some oil in it if needed. i am afraid that my engine is blown. this car has been nothing but a problem since i bought it new. the air works then the heat doesn't work. it is one or the other. either i am freezing or burning up. i will never buy another nissan.

- , Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #189

Mar 152011

Altima 2.5L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 144,000 miles

Now that I've found these problem reports, things are making sense. Over a year ago, I had the Stanza towed into the local dealer because it would not start. They found gasoline in the oil. $450 later, it was running "normally." They claimed it was just an odd thing. Couldn't explain why it happened. Heh. Now, I can see it was the first indication of this bigger problem.

Three months ago, after 2-3 months of extremely high oil consumption, I took it in again. They said the gaskets were leaking, so they changed the top engine gasket and also the oil pan gasket, and cleaned the engine. And performed lots of maintenance, including replacing an engine mount. Lots of oil residue. Plus two new tires.

Finally, a couple of weeks ago (three months after the last repair job), I found the Altima (which my daughter drives) was almost empty of oil AGAIN. We added four quarts. Today I took it to the dealer's repair shop again, thinking it was simply a flaw in the last repair job, and might be repaired under warranty. Nope. No leaking. Ergo, the engine is consuming oil. I got a call this afternoon. Most of the valves are leaking oil into the engine. Recommendation: REPLACE THE ENGINE. They are looking for a replacement engine (used). Don't have a quote/estimate yet, but I expect $3,500-4,000.

Since the Altima seems to be driving well, I have decided to simply add oil as needed, while saving for another used car. Here's hoping it cooperates, and keeps running many more months.

I am so disappointed in Nissan. This is the second one I've had that has needed an engine transplant. No more Nissan for me, I'm sorry to say.

- , Edmond, OK, USA

problem #188

Feb 282011

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 134,000 miles

I was unaware that the 2002 Altima 2.5Lwas a lemon until it developed this problem. I am now informed and realize that Nissan has been aware of this problem with thousands and thousands of these seemingly wonderful cars. I bought this car new and it has been a great car. It has been serviced regularly since the day it was purchased. Hoping to drive this car for many years, 300,000 miles which ever came first, I now am faced with a huge expense that Nissan knew would happen. Funny how some get away with screwing customers while others pay dearly such as myself and everyone that purchased a 2002 2.5L Altima. There has got to be some accountability from Nissan with this problem. I am sure the EPA would love to hear how Nissan made a car that burns as much oil as gas and I plan to tell everyone who will listen. I hope all who own a 2002 Altima will join me in an effort to make Nissan suffer a financial crisis like they have myself and others who purchased there lemon of a car.

- , Johnson City, TN, US

problem #187

Nov 152010

Altima 2.5 4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles



- , Charlotte, NC, US

problem #186

Jan 252011

Altima 2.5S 2.5s

  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,000 miles

Adding to the growing list, basically a month ago my check engine light came on with P0420, it was the cat, prior to this car would consume oil and go below 'low' mark every 3K miles. Always used synthetic or synthetic blend oils, it dint help.

Now car started making strange noises, and oil lamp turning on intermittently, the dip stick came back almost dry just after ~ 1500 miles after an oil change. Took to dealer, stevens creek nissan, where it was purchased and serviced ever since, he said needed a new engine and cat and sensors, the estimate was $6,000 for this repair. We need to have a class action lawsuit for this problem against Nissan or somehow involve NTHSA with this problem.

- , Santa Clara, CA, US

problem #185

May 012010

Altima LX 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles

I bought a 2002 Nissan Altima last November. I've had it a year and the engine uses oil like crazy! I have to check it every couple of days. I spend $60 in one week in gas alone. I can't leave my car running because it dies if left running. So, when I pick my children up from daycare they have to get in a cold car. They have to ride in the cold car in the mornings because it dies. I took it to the Nissan dealership and they told me i'd have to replace the engine because Nissan doesn't recognize this as a recall! This si a major problem! Why wouldn't they do something about this when they know it's a problem? I can't afford another vechicle and in order to trade it in I have to get a vechicle 10k or more and I can't afford that. That means I would have higher payments than I do now. I just hope it doesn't leave me and my children walking down the road one day! The air isn't working right and the heat only works when you drive, when you stop it gets cold again.

- , Batesville, MS, USA

problem #184

Dec 272010

Altima S 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles

My daughter has a 2002 Altima Nissan. In December we noticed that the car began using excessive oil (3 quarts per 250 miles). Since then I have had a local mechanic working on the issue; replaced valve seals, check compressions which were within tolerance, replaced pcp? sensor. This did not fix the problem and is still using excessive oil, smoking, with slight engine knock. From reading the complaints here; it appears Nissan has a major problem with the engines for this year of car. Is Nissan standing behind and covering repairs or is there some way to find resolve? Up until now the car has performed reasonably. However my daughter is not in a position to pay for a new engine. Is there manufacture help or are we on our own?

- , Morehead, KY, USA

problem #183

Jul 012010

Altima 2.5S 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles

I had a great running Toyota Camry that i basically bought cash but sold when i came across the '"GREAT DEAL" on my 2002 Gold Nissan Altima 2.5S.. i payed for the car almost ALL CASH and it ran GREAT for almost 3 weeks after owning it. then i flew out of town and let my sister drive the car. She called and said the engine was making a "knocking noise".. Im NOT a mechanic but know a little about cars so i told her to top off the oil and take it for an oil change. it ran GREAT when i returned but a week later i checked the dipstick. BONE DRY. Mysterious because i never LEAKED OUT. So i took the car to Tires Plus and before they even examined my car one of the senior mechanics said its VERY WELL KNOWN PROBLEM THAT NISSAN MOTORS IS AWARE OF AND IT WILL NEED A NEW ENGINE. i had just paid 4,000 CASH DOWN for the car. i cried and drove it unwillingly for another month until i sold it to pay off the balance owed. WORST EXPERIENCE EVER!! I owned a 1997 Nissan Altima and its STILL GOING STRONG. BEWARE. THE NEW 2.5S ENGINES ARE CRAP AND ARE MADE TO FAIL!!!

- , St.Petersburg, FL, USA

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