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 5 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #162

Mar 062010

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,215 miles


click to see larger images

excessive oil consumption excessive oil consumption

Okay !! so I brought a used 2002 Nissan Altima on 26 February 2010. It was very attractive with custom alloy wheels and other cool features, but i never had a clue that it contained a crappy piece of S*** engine. The dealer gave a 36 day warranty from the day of purchase. Just after a week of purchase, the engine started making rattling noises, and i was like what the hell !!!. I went to my mechanic, and he was like there is not even a drop of engine oil. I refilled the engine oil, and the car went on good for few days. After 4 days of refill, the engine again made noises. I called the dealer, and told him the story, but he was like this is a minor problem ....blah blah bah !!. Then I researched on internet and saw freaking 200 complaints in 2002 Altima engine. On reading them all everything was crystal clear now to me, even the Nissan dealership told me that the only solution is the engine replacement. I still had 10 days of warranty, and I told dealer to cancel the deal. He did not agree, and became stubborn. I went home and registered my complaint to OMVIC (it is an ontario vehicle ministry). Just after a week the dealer called me to resolve the matter. He said he is gonna take this vehicle back, and he returned my money to the last penny.

Sorry people, the only resolution to this problem is engine replacement, But you can buy a used altima engine, which would cost you around $1500 to $ 2000, which come from japan. One more thing to share, never go on the looks of a car, NEVER EVER !! I learn't a lesson from this experience.

- , Brampton, Ontario, Canada

problem #161

Feb 022009

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

I have owned a 2002 Nissan Altima since 2003. This was a great car until I reached appx 120k miles. It is almost as if the car had a censor to tell it to screw up after so many miles. This car was kept up very well and I have service records to prove it. I have the same story as everyone else. My car started with check engine light, heater not working, Radiator busted on top and had to get it replaced. Rough idle/car dyeing out at red lights.EXCESSIVE OIL CONSUMPTION. This vehicle was taken to a Nissan dealer to trouble shoot it. They said the engine is bad caused by catalytic converter and to fix problem it would cost 5400 dollars. The dealer even threw a sales pitch at me trying to sell me a new Nissan car. I told them in nice terms to shove there junk up there rears. I will never buy another Nissan and I would tell everyone I know about my situation. If there is a class action lawsuit I would like my name in it. Nissan should man up and fix this problem.I do not have the money to put a new engine in my vehicle. I am forced to drive the car with oil in a container and check oil very often. I have had the Catalytic converter replaced and a new head gasket installed over1k dollars. The car still idles rough and is using as much oil as it is gas. I do not drive this car on long trips anymore just to work and back. Thanks Nissan

- , Clayton, NC, USA

problem #160

Apr 202010

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

Unbelievable....about a year ago, I had problems with the heat not working in this car. Took several attempts to resolve that. Then, I get an oil change done and 2 weeks later the car is making horrible noises clinging sounds from the engine and when running in low gears up hills. I checked the oil and NOTHING ON THE DIPSTICK. So I take it back to the dealer and they act confused, top off the fluids and ask me to bring it back EVERY 500 MILES. Well, another 2 weeks go by and the same rattling noise. NO OIL once again. Back to Nissan --I'm told that the engine needs replaced....85,000 miles??? REALLY? DO NOT BUY FROM NISSAN -- reliability is no longer important to them. Nor are their customers or they would make this right. I purchased this car new 9 years ago and followed my maintenance schedule EXACTLY as recommended.

- , Hamilton, OH, US

problem #159

Apr 062010

Altima SL

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,600 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S just spent $1500 replacing the cat and fixing small problems...thought I could breathe again...then, then day after I get my car back, I hear terrible rattling from the engine. I'm thinking, "Oh NO!!!" I check my oil and the stick is bone dry. Added a quart and still hardly showed on the stick. Now I'm adding 2-4 quarts weekly! That's freakin' insane! I have to carry an extra 4 quarts of oil and a funnel just in case I get stuck and it starts to burn even faster. I'm so irritated because I just spent a ton of money on the cat, NOW I might have to replace the engine?!?!?! Seriously considering dumping the car and getting a Civic or something like that for the same amount as it is to fix it. I never thought that Nissan would build something so inferior, but I guess I was wrong. Now every time I see an Altima, my blood pressure goes up and I mutter, "Never again!" Now, I'm stressed because life itself is so expensive, bad economy, and now I have to get a new car!?! I guess I should be thankful it broke down at 125K, but I know plenty of other people who have cars w/much more mileage and never had this problem. This is insane and Nissan should repair it, at their cost. I hate it, I hate them for duping us into buying such a terrible vehicle...UGH!!!

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #158

Apr 052010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,000 miles

I was told by Nissan 2 weeks ago that my catalytic converter was bad and there was only one quart of oil in the engine. Since then, I have had to change the oil again after only 2 weeks. I called the Nissan dealership about the excessive oil consumption and was told that the only thing I can do to fix this problem is to replace the engine. Up to this point, this car has been great. I am really sad that after only 124,000 miles and almost 8 years that I need to make a repair of this magnitude.

- , Canton, GA, USA

problem #157

Mar 102010

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 170,000 miles

This car has had no problems until recently and was advised it was drinking oil like gas.I was informed by several car repair shops there was a recall on the catalytic converter , but I never received anything on this. I am at the same home address . I am the only car owner and has had no one service the car but the dealer and i feel this was a great injustice and should have been informed. everything that Nissan asked me to do to keep the life of my car was always done. please help me to find out if there was a recall on the catalytic converter and is so why was some not notified.This has not caused oil to spit back into the engine and I really do not know how long this has been going on. The rings in the motor and gone. I would like to know if Nissan is at all responsible even particularly. Thank you This vehicle problem will now place me in financial position that I did not anticipate.

- , Chesapeake, VA, USA

problem #156

Mar 222010

Altima 2.5S V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,100 miles


Adding myself to the growing list of Nissan Altima 2002 owners who are seeing a blown head-gasket and/or excessive oil consumption due to a faulty catalytic converter and have been recommended for a complete engine replacement. I never missed a service appointment and took good care of this car, yet its engine fails so miserably at only 76k miles (7.5 years)! The dealer tells me that the engine was running with no oil at all (last oil change was only 2.9k miles back), yet neither the low-oil alert nor the check-engine light came on. What use are those warning lights then?

Now I am wondering that even if I spend 4 grand on the car, god knows what else will go wrong with the car later on. Shame on Nissan.

- , Mountain View, CA, USA

problem #155

Aug 182009

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles


- , Reagan, TN, USA

problem #154

Mar 012010

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

I am so upset. I am the original owner of this car. It has 78,000 miles on it.I have been taken care of this car with nissan dealership over the years.I am now comsuming oil like gas.I was told from the Nissan service department, I need a new engine. I called Nissan North America, They looked in to it , and will not cover it. I believe it is the recall from 03... Recall R3007. No lights in the car come on, stating there is a problem. This car can catch on fire, with no oil, this is a another defect in this car. I talked to customer relations of NIssan, what a joke that is.

Still waiting for a superviser to call me back.So what do I do now? I an very upset, called Consumer affairs, channel 5 news, Arnold Diaz shame on you.... waiting for a call back.I believe that but a bandaide in the problem, and now it has fallen off. OIL CONSUMPTION......... engine is no good, Nissan is not standing behind thier product. Soon to be right new to Toyota.....

- , Harrison, NY, USA

problem #153

Jul 072009

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,313 miles

Is there an engine recall in Canada for the oil consumption problem? I spoke with a local Nissan dealer and they mentioned that excessive oil consumption happens frequently with these cars but they rarely need to replace the engine.

My wife and I have had this car for about two years and only about a year ago did we come across this problem. It's sad that a car with only 155k will need it's engine replaced considering I just sold a 1997 Honda Civic with 365,000km's and it was running fine.

- , Burlington, ON, Canada

problem #152

Jan 012005

Altima S 2.5L

  • Manual transmission
  • 70,000 miles


Bought this junk used with 60000 miles on it. Always ran good but had little heat and used about a quart between oil changes, then it increased to 2 quarts,then had oil changed and one week later oil light came on....nothin on the stick! 3 quarts in a week! Took off cat.converter,knocked out the catalyst,added a can of restore to engine,add about a quart of oil a week. Engine runs good if ya keep oil in it,but no heat! 176,000 miles so far and prolly 176 quarts of oil! Nissan should be ashamed! Maybe they have a deal with Exxon!!!

- , Charlotte, MI, USA

problem #151

Jan 012009

Altima SL 2.4L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

My car has been giving me issues for about two years straight. Between the 4 to 5 recalls on it to the oil consumption that I have been experiencing for the past year or so. Now i just found out that the motor needs to be replaced b/c of the head gaskets are blown due to the leaking of oil into them. And the catalytic coverter is ruined due to the debris that was blown back into the whole engine. Please any one that has a similar problem with your altima get rid of it as fast as possible b/c you will need to replace the engine eventually.

- , Boston, MA, USA

problem #150

Jan 252010

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,213 miles

Upon reading you guys mails, I now know that I'm not alone in this situation. I know neither of us anticipated for this problems. Knowing the nature of the problems- manufacturer's defects- and yet one's can't help to fix it given the cost, is annoying and frustrating. Toyota Company is a big one. One that has build a reputation for itself. Since its products doesn't seems to be reliable as it used to be, it is only us-the masses- that have the power to bring the company down. Most if not all that is complaining here are the hard working citizens. We can't just lets somebody rip us off under the pretense that the car was in a good working conditions prior to when the sale was finalised.

In my case as I believe, the dealer just fixed the car to last perhaps a month or a period that would covered the warranty before it resurface. Many of these cars are in dealer's lot awaiting a potential buyer.I just don't know how long I will go through this ordeal till I get money to get another car. I purchased mine with loans. Two payments so far. I know for certain no bank would approve me another loan for a car. All I can say is: This is frustrating.

- , Richmond, VA, USA

problem #149

Nov 122009

Altima SE 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles

I am the single owner of a 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5L SE. At approximately 90,000 miles, My service engine soon light came on. I took it to my mechanic who following diagnostic tests determined the catalytic converter and CO2 sensors required replacement. This fixed my problem for some time; however, after driving for about 10,000 miles following replacement, I noticed my check engine light would come on but go out after a day or two and not come on again for several months. Until recently, the light came on and would not go off. At that time, I also noticed that for some reason, my car was burning alot of oil. Too make a long story short, I found out today from my mechanic that my Altima is one of the vehicles that has the exact same problems as other owners of the identical vehicle, year, make, and model. The car is excellently maintained and for the most part, I love my car; however, it appears that because of a defect which Nissan is yet to acknowledge, I may be faced with an enormous repair cost. There are too many identical stories to say that this is an isolated incident and there is no telling how many other owners have been affected by this vehicle defect. Nissan should take responsibility for the defect in this vehicle and fix it. We own a (new) 2005 pathfinder and I can tell you, unless Nissan does the right thing, the Altima and Pathfinder will be the last vehicles we will ever buy from Nissan. So that others will know, I've also had to replace the crank sensor in the Altima which Nissan did not want to reimburse me for. An engine! It will likely take a Class Action to make them do what is right!!!!!!!

- , Columbia, SC, USA

problem #148

Nov 282009

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 128,000 miles

I just wanted to add to the rest of the complaints. I have the same problem with my Altima. I bought it in November. I drove it for 2 days and the check engine light came on and my heater wouldn't work. I took it back to the dealer. They said there was some kind of air pocket in the heater hose. They fixed it so they said and they changed the spark plugs. The check engine light went out for 2 days and then came back on. I had my husband check it out. There was no oil in the engine and the antifreeze was very low and the plugs had fouled out again. He did an oil change, replaced the plugs again. (this was like the week after Christmas). The car started making a funny noise Tuesday (Jan 19). There was no oil again. The car smokes something fierce when you start it up and it is missing again. I went back to the dealer today and he told me to bring it in Monday and they would "research it". If I don't get the answer i want to hear, I am going to take it farther.

- , Shelbyville, TN, USA

problem #147

May 162007

Altima S 2.5L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

On the 2002 Nissan Altimas with the excessive oil consumption problem, recall# 03V084000 was supposed to resolve this but by the time the recall is done, the damage to the engine is also done. recall# 03V084000: Nissan discovered that one of the hanger pins which holds exhaust pipe in place may catch debris from the road. If the debris were to come in contact with the main catalyst, a fire could result. This condition is also present in MY 2003 Nissan altima vehicles built thru February 18, 2003. Nissan also stated in its defect information report that on MY 2002 altimas and sentras (equipped with the 2.5-liter engine) that certain operating conditions may cause the pre-catalyst to overheat, which would cause catalyst substrate particles to flow into the engine. These particles can score the cylinder walls which results in increase oil consumption. If the engine oil level is low, engine noise and damage can occur which could result in a fire. The recall includes 268,000 MY 2002-2003 altimas and 2002 sentras equipped with the 2.5-liter engine.

According to the information in the recall, Nissan knows that excessive oil consumption WILL occur. Like I stated before, by the time the recall work is done, so is the damage to the engine, I removed the pre-catalytic converter instead of having Nissan replace it with the same faulty pre-cat the car was equipped with in the factory. I also cleaned out the rear catalytic converter. The car still uses a massive amount of oil. I am not sure if having the cylinder walls honed, replacing the pistons and rings and the seals/gaskets will work or not, but I can't afford for the car to quit completely. I haven't done anything with the engine yet though since I can't afford it. For now, I just add the 3 quarts of oil every couple of days (as soon as I hear the horrible engine noise telling me the oil is gone). I would think that if Nissan were to replace the exhaust system with a different exhaust than what was factory installed on these cars, and at least do the cylinder and piston work, they would in some small way repair the customer relationship with all of us that have bee ripped off by this car. I have signed up for the class action lawsuit on

- , Ottawa, KS, USA

problem #146

Aug 032009

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles

6 mo. after getting the car i notice that every couple of weeks i was exteremly low on oil. Took it to the dealer, they said the did not see any leaks any where. 2 months later my car was having a problem accelerating/shifting took it to the dealer. Said i needed a catalytic converter and CO2 sensor. So i replaced them. Car ran good after replaced but was still burning through oil with no noticable leaks(according to the dealer who was doing the oil changes) . Noticed my back bumper blackened with oil splatters. About 6 months after having my car repaired i started my car that morning and my temp. went straight to high. i shut it off, called into work and took it to a imports mechanic who informed me, 2 days later after taking my car completely apart, that i had 2 blown head gaskets, 6 of my 7 pistons were misfiring and i needed a new engine which would cost about $3500. He said i probably bought it with one head gasket already blown. This is the shorter version of how he explained it to me: the oil burns and goes threw the muffler which clogged my catalac converter and CO2 sensor and wouldn't let my car shift. He also informed me that he sees this problem at least once every 2 weeks in this size motor for this car and there is no recall and more than likely won't be one. He could fix the engine but he said it will happen again and the new one is a 2006 motor. I pretty sure he said it was a 2006 moter and newer are fine. i didn't have the $$$ so i had to keep refilling the oil and antifreeze, (for 4 mo.) changed the spark plugs a couple of times before i could afford to get it fixed. If there is some kind of recall please email me.

- , Cartersville, GA, USA

problem #145

Dec 272009

(reported on)

Altima 4 Cy

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

took car in for regular 3 month oil change, about a month later i heard a knocking type noise in my engine so i took it to my family mechanic- he could not find a thing and since i had just got an oil change he didn't recheck my oil level. the day before my appointment with the Nissan dealer i just went out myself and checked my fluids and my dipstick was dry- needless to say i called the shop where i had the oil change to rip them a new one thinking they hadn't put on in my car,took it back there once a week, they cud not find a leak long story short everyyyy singleeee month or sooner depending how how far i drive i have to refill my oil, i keep a 5 gallon container in my trunk at all times. i am soo glad to hear my car is not alone,.. outside of this problem i love my car- we need to find a way to have NISSAN fix this mess

- , Tacoma, WA, USA

problem #144

Dec 282009

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles

Excessive oil consumption, blown head gasket, heater hasn't worked for quite a while, rattles like it's gonna fall apart, warranty is expired.... So is there any recourse or what? 4000 for a new engine is pretty ridiculous. Is there someone with the company you can call and bitch at until they give you a new engine?

- , Baton Rouge, LA, USA

problem #143

Dec 202009

Altima 2.5L

  • Manual transmission
  • 67,000 miles

i am waiting to see if my car qualifies for the oil consumption recall. the VIN does not qualify but since there is significant oil loss i am fighting to see if will be replaced. i am willing to pay for service but a new short block will be thousands.

Update from Jan 4, 2010: What i do not understand is why the government has not gotten involved. People are having to put this much oil in their engines and that is really bad for the environment. thousands and thousands of quarts of oil is being wasted every year. The government wants people to drive more conservatively and save oil yet they do nothing. i read a few guys complaints to certain administrations. i think everyone should know about this problem.

- , Beaverton, OR, USA

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