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 4 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #182

Oct 282008

Altima 2.5S 2.5L S

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles


Before I start off with my complaint, I want say this, everyone that has this Nissan altima 2002 4cyc (and I've heard other years are affected too) has this exact same problem but most of them are not reporting it. I've had my nissan altima taken care of by the Nissan Renton dealership i.e. I relied on them to do all the recommended maintenance work. After paying for minor maintenance that cost me no more than 200 dollars for, then following a few weeks from then, I had to take my Nissan Altima in for an engine light issue. The dealership said the cat converter had gone bad so that needed to be replaced. So I had the dealership go ahead and do what's needed to be done, so ended up paying for new cat converter and labor. Several weeks later, the engine light came on again, so I took back and the dealership said I needed a new engine. I filed a complaint with the manager and apparently he said they the dealership didn't do anything wrong. Very furious at the time since, all these maintenance work they've been doing to my car was worth nothing since they couldn't help prevent this issue. That was the end of me doing business with the Nissan Renton dealership. So I called Nissan Corp and they couldn't help me either. I swear, Nissan Corp was the worst customer service I have ever dealt with, and I'm not exaggerating, if you don't believe, give them a call and see for yourself. I think that Nissan Corp goals or motto is what can you do to not help the customers. Anyways, I ended up taking it to a local mechanic store and they said if they can work on the head gasket leak and thus would not require a new engine. Several months later, engine light on again, took to the local mechanic store and this time they said it's the cat converter that's bad again. It seems like the same issue is occurring again. Anyways, now I just have to fill the car with oil every week.

- , Maple Valley, WA, USA

problem #181

May 042004

Altima SE 3.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,000 miles

Well where to start ,v6 Altima is not a bad car ,runs good and everything but i am noticing thats its consuming to much oil .i can tell when its low because of a grinding noise,while driving ,i don't have no idea what it is ,i of course keep on adding oil as needed but is obviously something wrong,the car runs good but i am afraid something might happen one day with the engine,Nissan should definitely,take a deeper look at the problem,i dont think they are doing enough,personally i have to say that mi next car is not going to be a Nissan especially not an Altima,honestly I'm just going to sell it ,just the way it is,i mean what other option do i have .

- , Orlando, FL, USA

problem #180

Dec 012010

Altima 2.5

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,000 miles

I can't believe that when I went to E-Bay to look for another Nissan Altima to replace this one that I have I was enlightened by a seller of the same vehicle. He had mentioned that it was an oil burner, and that the problem was in the Cat/Converter breaking up and being sucked into the exhaust manifold. These bits of metal rip apart the cylinders and rings Etc causing the engine to burn excessive amounts of oil. I acquired this car at 82,000 miles from my wife. Being that I thought at the time that it was a great car, I bought her a 2008 Nissan Altima. Now I use this car for work and in the six months that I drive it I put on about 33,000 miles.The end of November I noticed that the water level was going down about a quart over a period of a weeks worth of driving. Later to find out that it was blowing white smoke (Leak in the head gasket) I bought Bars head gasket repair and followed the instructions perfectly. Lo and behold the sucker worked and sealed the leak. Then I noticed that I had to add oil to the engine after that 800 mile weekly trip. The engine light came on, which I didn't pay to much attention to for it came on frequently when it was loosing water. When I downshifted the car would smoke, other than that I didn't see where the oil was going. After reading that report from a seller on E-Bay that would be the farthest thing on my mind was to buy another 2002 Altima. Luckily as an omen I dozed on the road and swiped a guardrail on the whole left side of the car. Now with the $4200 I got from the insurance company I will look for another make of vehicle.

- , Ronkonkoma, NY, USA

problem #179

May 012010

Altima S 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles


For the hell of it I ran a search for "Nissan Altima Excessive Oil Consumption". I couldn't believe the comments I read from other folks having the same, identical problem. I bought my Nissan new in '02. It now has 65,000 miles. I take pride in maintaining my vehicles. I usually drive them for 10 or more years. Not this one. Not at a rate of 1 quart of oil for every 200 miles driven. What gets me is: no smoke, and no least not yet...............there is a definite problem with this engine.

- , Endwell, NY, USA

problem #178

Sep 242010

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 155,000 miles

I had the car for about a year, it started with the engine light, then noise came. I took it my mechanic to get it fixed (EXCESSIVE OIL CONSUMPTION), after two "catalytic converters" in less than a month and $1200 later, the car is still consuming more oil, its running rough (acceleration sounds like its climbing a steep mountain with power), smoking. its getting bad

- , Denver, CO, USA

problem #177

Sep 012010

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

My fiance has a 2002 Nissan Altima which she bought used back in 2005. The first couple of years the car ran pretty good but we did have to bring it back to the dealer for some recalls I found out about. Recently, about a month after an oil change, she noticed the car was making some loud noises coming from the engine area when she was accelerating and the check engine light came on. I checked the oil level and it was almost bone dry. My first reaction was to blame the place where she gets her oil changed thinking that they screwed up by either not tightening the plug or adding enough oil. I brought the car to a buddy of mine who owns a repair shop. He threw it on the computer and he told me that it said the catalytic converter needed to be replaced so I had that done. He also filled it up with oil.

About a month later the noise started to come back so I decided to check the oil and, once again, it was bone dry. I then realized there is a much bigger problem going on so I decided to come on this site to check if other people had any complaints and, low and behold, it seems I am one of many who are experiencing the same crap and I am pretty damned pissed off the more I read.

I think Nissan should be held accountable for there poor excuse for a car and fix the damn problem without hesitation. I could see if it was a random occurence but there is no way in hell it is a coincidence. This car is a peice of crap in my opinion and I would never have her buy another Nissan again. I am going to attempt to contact the company this week but am not holding my breath for them to do something about it. If anyone has a better solution or would like to band together to make Nissan accountable please let me know.

- , Toms River, NJ, USA

problem #176

Jun 162004

Altima SE 3.5

  • Manual transmission
  • 30,000 miles


Bought 2002 Altima 3.5 brand new! Every service done at authorized dealer on time. After about 30K miles we noticed excessive oil consumption. We complained to dealer, and nothing. Switched dealerships and they started listening. After a few oil consumption tests they said it needed a new motor. By this time it had 70-80K miles on it. Luckily we paid for an extended warranty and the insurance put a new engine block in it. 30K miles later same issue. It is quickly getting worse. Dealer ran oil consumption test and it is using 1.5 qts every 1K miles. Dealer put in new valve cover gaskets (I didn't see how that was going to help since they were not leaking). Now going through oil consumption tests again. Last 2 checks it was using 2 qts to every 1K miles and smokes when it is cold. Waiting for their next suggestion after our last oil consumption test (they do 3 to check consistency). I assume they are going to say it is something like the tire pressure. LOL Since it has over 100K on it now and we are out of all warranties, we can only hope since we (paid for the first engine block (through our extended ins) that Nissan will fix it). Not exactly what I was expecting from a $30 car (after options).

- , Newport, KY, USA

problem #175

Nov 272009

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,770 miles

some time in nov. 2009 i went to bay ridge Honda to buy a car i got a lemon.. i have a 2002 Nissan Altima the no good for nothing car i spend over 2500 on fixing water pump oil pump and engine block gasket... i hate this car .... i will tell you never never never buy a Nissan.... i hate Nissan ... i feel like driving to north a. Nissan and crashing my car into the ceo...

- , Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #174

Jun 162010

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,000 miles

I have read so many complaints with 2002 alitma. I would started it up and would get a rattling noise, then I would hear water coming from my front dash. My car was being maintained very well. Until it started to put oil every week, I had it looked at several times and was told needed my oil flushed, then my I had to replace spark plugs. I did everything I needed to do but the issue was still happening. My engine light kept coming on, 2 cylinder misfire, 02 censor, cat converter. I took it to a mechanic and replaced the censor engine light went off came back on 1 week later had it replaced again. I would come to a stop and would jerk put in neutral and stops, get home check my oil bone dry. i had an mechanic look at so many times that i was throwing money away. I start my car on 8/27 and seen a cloud of smoke took it to the mechanic and to be told my engine is going and would cost me 2500. all I can say is WHAT! My car has 111,000 miles there no way my engine should be dead. Nissan does not stand behind their product, the car is only 7 years old. I have a supervisor at my job same year make and model same issue. this is terrible, Nissan should be SUED.

- , Bridgeport, CT, USA

problem #173

Oct 202008

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles

Purchased car a little under 2 years ago at 64,000 miles. Since then, there's been massive oil consumption. Every time I fill up on gas (every 2 weeks or so) I need to put at least 2 quarts of oil in it. Brought it into a mechanic and they couldn't find an oil leak. Only thing they did was advise me to document when I need oil (at how many miles and how much.) I have a difficult time accelerating and would literally have to press my gas pedal all the way to the floor and it would still climb ever so slowly. Plus, it would make rattling noises, like it was struggling to accelerate.

2 months ago (at 72,000 miles), my car finally died on the highway. The gas pedal went kaput and my car had to coast to the mechanic. I needed a new catalytic converter which set me back $1100. The mechanic said it had nothing to do with the excessive amount of oil my car was drinking. After the replacement, I still have to put on average 2 quarts of oil every 2 weeks. I do not trust Nissan. There should be a recall. This is unacceptable an ridiculous.

- , Minneapolis, MN, USA

problem #172

Jun 012010

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


As someone who drives used cars for a local auto dealer, I have seen the benefit of making sure your car receives the needed servicing. I have driven cars with 150,000+ miles, which have received regular service. During my time behind the wheel these cars perform outstandingly. So to make sure my wife enjoys her 2002 Nissan Altima, I have made sure that the maintenance requirements of the car are performed. Even so, I got a call from my mechanic after he examined the car because it was burning an excessive amount of oil recently. I am told that I probably need a new engine because of an inherent problem with the 2002 Nissans because there is a breakdown of internal material which finds it way into the engine and destroys it. The car is going into the dealer for a diagnostic analysis and if the mechanic's suspicions are true, I am going to be quite upset! If Nissan's of this vintage have had these problems (which I am told occurs on a regular basis), has anyone received a notice from Nissan advising them to be aware of the problem and what to do to avoid it? Seems to me that we should have been served notice. Maybe this is a legal issue that the state's Attorney General's office should be aware of.

- , New Haven, CT, USA

problem #171

Jan 012010

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

I bought my 2002 Nissan Altima used in 2004. It had 38000 miles on it. Everything worked fine until about 119000 miles. At that time the engine would start to sputter and miss after I exited the freeway. I put up with that until my radiator resevoir literaly blew up one time when I exited the freeway. The car kept running, no check engine light was on, but when I looked under the hood there was a big hole blown on the top of the radiator. I had my mechanic replace the radiator, but I still had the sputtering problem when I exited the freeway. I took it back to my mechanic and he found a leaky head gasket. Got that fixed and it runs great, but I need to add a quart of oil evey 600 miles and the oil is always black. No smoke out the exhaust and no oil leaks,but it eats oil. That oil is going someplace and I'm guessing the rings or cylinders. In my opionion Nissan engines have oil consumption problems. I'll drive it until it doesn't pass smog check and then buy a Honda or Toyota.

- , Venice, CA, USA

problem #170

Jun 012010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

It is disgraceful that you cannot depend on this car. Engine light does not come on but you hear engine strain. You have to ride around with oil container in the car. 1000 miles to one quart is totally unacceptable. Nissan needs to be held accountable. If the engines in the 2002 were bad they should have to recall and replace like Toyota has with their problems. I am done with Nissan.

- , Englewood, NJ, USA

problem #169

Jul 112010

Altima 2.5 S 2.5L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 136,000 miles

Just found this website listing numerous complaints about the same problem my wife's 02 Altima is having - excessive oil consumption. Never had a problem with this car using oil until a couple months ago, when, at 133k miles, we took it to the dealer for a regular oil change, and found the dipstick was dry. Arter monitoring it, adding oil and taking in to the dealer twice more for them to check it, they tell us the rings are shot and the engine needs to be replaced to the tune of $4300!! They also told us it could be the catalytic converter though that has not happened yet. This is not a matter of faulty maintenance, she has had this car since it was new and has always taken it to the dealer for regular service. It was just paid off last year, and we had planned to keep it for another eyar, but now we are looking at a new engine, which is not a good investment. Either that or keep adding oil each week, but by reading the other posts, it looks like there are several cases of even replaced engines having the same problem soon after, also related to the converter. I will talk to both the local dealership and Nissan Motor Corp, but I don't expect much given the responses others have gotten. I was surprised to find the problem this widespread, since the delaer never said that this was a known/recurring issue. Seeing what has happened to Toyota, maybe its time people went to the media and made this problem public!

- , Reston, VA, USA

problem #168

Jun 012002

Altima SE 3.5L

  • Manual transmission
  • 4,000 miles

After switching to Mobil 1 Synthetic at 5k I noticed the car's tendency to drink. It's consistent in that it takes 1 Qt every 1250 miles. Very disappointing considering it was a Wards best engine. I still think the 3.0 engine was a better engine. With everything said it has 164K on it now and still goes like a bat out of hell when you get on it.

- , Nottingham, NH, USA

problem #167

Jan 012008

Altima 2.5L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Loved this car until Nissan told me that the engine had a blown gasket and needed to be replaced, only a year after my extended warranty had expired. The engine eats oil and antifreeze and has to be checked at least every week. Nissan, on the other hand, said they can't replicate the problem, HAR HAR. I wasn't even finished paying for the damn thing when this happened. This did NOT occur from lack of proper maintenance, and I am ashamed to live in a country where companies are allowed to sell you junk, rip a hole in your wallet, and not even have to do anything to fix it. I can't even get a decent value for trade-in value with this thing. I am just so fed up with this crap, and somehow I'm only now finding out that this is actually a common problem. I was certainly very naive when I bought this car, but I will definitely never make this kind of mistake again. You'd think by the year 2000 the automotive industry would have figured out how to make an engine that's worth a damn.

- , Huntsville, AL, USA

problem #166

Oct 222008

Altima SE 3.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

I have had so many problems with my 2002 Nissan Altima I wish I never would have purchased it and now I’m stuck with it. I shouldn’t be having these problems at 85,000 miles my Honda civic at 200,000 miles never had half the issues I have with my Nissan altima, never again will I purchase a Nissan I have to put a court or oil in my car every week and there is a pinging noise when I accelerate and the ride is so horrible it’s so loud at 65,000 miles I had to replace the throttle body due to a check engine light and it didn’t fix the problem took it to Nissan it took them 3 hours to find out it just needed a computer update $200 later now I’m having issues with the steering already replaced both wheel bearings and got a alignment and still have issues with it driving straight I hate this car!!

- , Napa, CA, USA

problem #165

Jan 012007


  • Manual transmission
  • 85,000 miles

Damn you Nissan. My car is soo pretty but it is a lemon fo sho! After all the complaints you think something would be done. I WILL NEVER BUY ANOTHER NISSAN AGAIN even though the Moreno looks nice too I KNOW BETTER!

- , San Diego, CA, US

problem #164

May 022010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

After oil change, within a week you hear rattling noises which means the car is running on zero oil and also the engine coolant is zero. Go figure!!!!

- , Teaneck, NJ, USA

problem #163

Apr 012010

Altima 2.5S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

i purchased a 02 Altima with 50000 miles on it and noticed right away that my 86 Chevy truck got better gas mileage.but what really pisses me off is that i am a mechanic and i cant put a tire on your car without being blamed for the radio not working but Nissan can build the biggest piece of sh*t engine I've seen in 15 years of mechanicing and do nothing. i don't know about the rest of you but 13000$ is a bunch of money for a nearsighted mechanic so thanks alot Nissan i will never buy another one....................................

- , Lebanon, TN, US

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