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 6 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #142

Aug 012007

Altima SL 2.5L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles


My Altima started using oil at 95000 miles. Had it checked a local dealer (Deery Bros), and they said I needed a new engine no warrenty. Cost of $4500. I have not had it repaired. Uses a quart every 150 miles. Cannot believe Nissan will not help cover cost when there are so many complaints of the same problem. I will never own a Nissan again. Please add a complaint if you have one

- , Waterloo, IA, USA

problem #141

Nov 052009

Altima 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

I bought this car used. It is a very clean and nice looking car, however two weeks after having it I took it back to get a headlight replace the dealer agreed to take care of when I purchased only to find out there was NO OIL! His only expanation was that someone drained it because he serviced it before I purchased. Now, 5 weeks later, It completely shut down in the middle of interstate traffic. I took it to the dealership only to find out that it was the catalytic converter, but the engine had NO OIL AGAIN!

This is crazy. If anybody can tell me what is causing this it would be great. It does not smoke or leak oil at all. I've had that checked. Everytime I get gas, I have to add oil. I don't understand what is happening and why. How do I fix this problem?

- , Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #140

Nov 012009

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,500 miles

About a year ago, we started to notice that the car's antifreeze level was dropping and we needed to add more antifreeze every month or two. We usually noticed this when the heat was not working well or at all. About 2 months ago I decided to have my mechanic look at the problem. On the first visit, he found nothing conclusive. After that visit we started to notice the engine making rattling noises during normal acceleration, and continued to notice low anti-freeze levels. So 1 month ago I had the mechanic look at the vehicle again, and this time he was able to confirm that he found antifreeze in the #3 engine cylinder. Furthermore, he noted that the engine was burning oil, and it was nearly empty. His only suggestion was to replace the engine. To verify the issue I brought the car to the Nissan dealership. They confirmed the diagnosis, but also told me that the replacement engine may be covered by the 8 year/80,000 mile factory warranty. After checking with Nissan corporate they were able to replace the catalytic converter and the engine under that warranty (lucky me, I was at 79,590 miles !). They explained that the catalytic converter itself was breaking apart and into the engine itself causing further damage. I suggest that if you are experiencing ANY of the problems I was, get it looked at ASAP especially if you are under 80,000 miles:

- Heater not working

- Frequently needing to replenish Anti-freeze reservoir

- Frequently needing to replenish oil

If you are over 80,000 miles, hopefully you have an extended warranty. If not, you're probably looking at a $4k - $5k auto service bill. I would also suggest signing up here for a potential class-action lawsuit -

- , Dilworth, MN, USA

problem #139

Jul 012009

Altima S 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


I purchased this car a couple years ago - I was extremely happy with my Nissan Altima UNTIL a couple months ago. Since then my engine was gone downhill. The oil and antifreeze will be completely EMPTY within weeks. I am forced to check my car almost every week. Even after checking my car weekly it still shakes almost every time I start it - and will turn off suddenly if I do not give it gas right away. My engine also makes a loud grinding noise every time i start it. I took it into THREE different mechanics (one was a Nissan dealer). The first mechanic said it was spark plugs -- which after paying hundreds of dollars this did not fix the problems. The second mechanic said the engine was done for, and the only thing I can do it keep replacing the oil every couple of weeks (which now I believe) and the Nissan dealer said that it was a code misfire and the car looks okay (obviously this is incorrect). Overall, I am angry about this issue considering MANY people have this same problem -- sounds like a problem that Nissan should have to fix!!!

- , Fulton, MO, US

problem #138

Oct 022009

Altima SE 3.5L

  • Manual transmission
  • 73,000 miles

So just got my car back from the shop and they told me I had no oil in the car. So, after looking this up on the internet I've noticed that quite a few people are having this issue. After this last trip to the shop, I noticed a chatter in the engine, and the car has lost power, but yet no visible oil leaks. I still owe 7k on this damn car. I don't know if continually adding oil is the answer, but I'm not sure if I should jump the gun to buy a new car. Anyone know how long they had when they start putting in a quart every fill up? Or if I'm hearing chattering it's time to get a new car?

- , Cockeysville, MD, USA

problem #137

Oct 012009

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 141,000 miles

Oil consumption started recently had oil changed less than 3000 miles ago have to add at least a quart a week was a great car for 6 years had to replace catalytic converter code is reading again P0420 catalytic converter again; replaced water pump ;both o2 sensors almost afraid to drive the damn thing will never ever buy another nissan with all these complaints same issues what a shame for nissan

- , Indian Trail, NC, USA

problem #136

Dec 262008

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Manual transmission
  • 86,000 miles


I am on my 2nd motor and my 3rd frickin' pre-cat (original motor + replacement / original cat + 2 new ones). The piece of crap only has 102k on it now, and the 2nd motor needs to be replaced! Nissan needs to pay up! I have put almost $4k just in parts. There is a Class action lawsuit that we all need to get in on @ do it now, so all of us can get Nissan to own up!

- , El Cajon, CA, USA

problem #135

Sep 152009

Altima S 2.5L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,250 miles

This sounds like the same problem a lot of other owners of Altimas have experienced. Our Altima has been well cared for and never used any oil until now. What I don't understand is with as many complaints as have been reported with oil usage and catalytic converter problems is why Nissan never contacted owners to have the cause fixed before the problem occurred with the rest of us. They obviously knew there was a problem long before my car experienced the problem. I'm sure the cost to fix would have been a lot less. My hope is that Nissan and/or their catalytic converter supplier will step up and do what is right by their customers and do the repairs needed. There is no way an engine should fail under 100K miles. I bought a used 1994 Honda Accord with 163K miles on it in1999. It had over 279K miles on it when we sold it in 2006 and it didn't use any oil. By the way, I still see it around town and there is no smoke coming out the exhaust!

- , Wooster, OH, USA

problem #134

Sep 302009

Altima SL 2.5L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 128,000 miles

I purchased my 2002 Nissan Altima SL 2.5 L in October 2007 and I have had problems with it ever since. My oil is always low between changes and i have to add at least 2 qts. or more. There are no signs of any leaks the engine is burning the oil. Recently my coolant stays low and my car is overheating. I add coolant and in 2 days its empty again. Still there are no signs of any leaks. I took my car to the Nissan dealer and they said my head gasket is blown, cat. converter failure, oil is in my cylinders, engine over temp. codes, and my engine is bad. They said i need a new engine and it would be 4500. I talked to severeal local mechanics and they all said the 2002 altima engines are a piece of crap and if i replace the engine it would do the same thing.

I will not be fixing this car i will trade it in as quick as possible. I still owe on this car and it is ashame that nissan is not fixing these engines since it is clearly a manufactor defect. The 2002 Altima has had 12 recalls on it and over 200 complaints on engine problems. My advice dont buy a 2002 Nissan Altima and if you have one get rid of it as soon as possible.

- , Smithville, TN, USA

problem #133

Aug 152008

Altima S 2.5L I-4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,000 miles

I have owned this car for 14 months now, purchased it used and it had approximately 83K, It now has 106K on it and has consumed oil since the day we bought it. Probably the reason the previous owner got rid of it. I found out about the problem before I realized it was happening by visiting a few Nissan Altima forums and reading things about the car to see how I could customize it. Found a post about oil consumption and sure enough, it was happening to me. The problem is that the catalytic converter material breaks up and gets sucked back into the engine, it is a powdery gray dust and is gritty therefore scoring the cylinder walls and causing oil to get past the piston rings therefore getting burned. I decided to take off the exhaust manifold/cat converter and take a look inside and sure enough, the catalyst material inside had been worn down and some of it was just gone, surely was sucked into the motor causing said problem. Luckily I work at a dealership (not nissan!) and borrowed some tools and a long pry bar and broke the remaining material inside the cat and got rid of it before it caused any more damage. I know its not a good solution since you're not supposed to tamper with anything that's emission control but it was either that, or have it continuously destroy my engine. It did enough damage to the point that I use about a quart every 1 to 2 weeks. If your engine doesn't use too much oil and you can live with it, then I suggest you either gut your cat or replace it with an aftermarket performance cat to get rid of the root cause of the problem. The engine is very nice in my opinion, has awesome torque for a lil 4 cylinder, its the catalytic converter that's the problem. It's too bad Nissan isn't helping people out or acknowledging the problem, nissan is a great product, it's too bad they screwed up big time (for years on end). I have an aftermarket extended warranty, and I'm thinking of taking it up with them to get a new engine, I just don't know if I want to go round and round with them.

- , Cape Coral, FL, USA

problem #132

Aug 132009

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 131,000 miles


When i first got my car i thought i had a good car but as my bank account got smaller the trust i had in my nissan got smaller as well. the engine went and now i have to replace it. the mechanic said that thier was no oil in the car. i foiund that funny being that i just gotten my oil changed the day before. well just say its costing me. i would love to see nissan go down for this i called them and they said that they never had any problems with the engine before so i must be my fault. i no longer want my car but being that i am in the military and need it to get back and forth to work i kind of stuck. please bring the class action suit.i want in.

- , Graham, NC, USA

problem #131

Oct 032009

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,890 miles

2002 Nissan Altima 2.5L. Started using oil two oil changes ago. Have always used Mobil 1 5W30 and always change filter with a Fram TG grade. 3,500 - 5,000 intervals between changes. Using at least a quart every 3,000 miles now. Read about this problem several years ago but was assured by dealer that as long as I changed oil all would be good. Not so. A class action suit should be started. Nissan should be able to make an engine that stands the test of time. Toyota does. GM, Ford does. My 1997 Taurus SHO has a 170,000 miles on it, gets better gas mileage than the Altima and doesn't use a drop of oil. Nissan obviously has a manufacturing problem here given today's manufacturing capabilities.

- , Loves Park, IL, USA

problem #130

Jul 062006

Altima 2.5L

  • Manual transmission
  • 85,000 miles

I just called Nissan Corp Consumer Affairs & their outgoing message states that there is a recall campaign in process for the 2002/2005/2006 to replace the engine control module. I am not sure what this module does, but at least the model is being recalled. The recall letters are going to be mailed beginning 12/10/07. For more info call 1-800-647-7261.

- , San Jose, CA, USA

problem #129

Nov 202004

Altima S 4 Cynlinder

  • Manual transmission
  • 26,000 miles

Well...just had the engine and cat converter and O2 sensors replaced. Car started to fail at 26,000 miles on it and I continued to drive until 156,000. Spent thousands in oil. The last 3 months I would put 2-3 qts. every 350 miles. Well just picked my car up from the trusty Nissan dealer and drove straight home and parked it in my driveway. Went out about 2 hours later and there was this large puddle of fluid under the car. Was not sure of what is was. Drove to the store and when I came out there was another puddle. Came home and parked it, got up in the am and now there were three puddles under the car. Took it to my local mechanic and he stated that both the front axle seals were leaking and that I should call the dealer back as they had to remove the axles to install the new engine. Of course the dealer said that they never touched the axles and that the repair would be on me. I had my local mechanic repair and stopped payment on my credit card for the whole engine repair. Sucks to be that dealer!!!!!! I checked with three different mechanics and they all said the same thing... for both seals to go at the same time and at the same time that the engine was replaced and try to say that it was wear and tear is like winning the big lottery twice in the same day. One mechanic even stated that he wanted to be at the head of the class when they teach how to replace the engine and not have to take the axles out. It gets better.... the check engine light is back on again and now the code says something about a vent control valve and of course this is a dealer part. LOL when they find out I stoppede payment on the repair. I want them to have to pay for the axle repair and the damage to my driveway from the transmission fluid. It left holes in the blacktop already. I called Nissan Consumer affairs before I fixed the engine and the only help they offered was to get the dealer to cut me a break on the cost of the repair. They also gave me an extended warranty free for my new 2009 Rogue. Sorry I ever bought a new Nissan. I have owned them since 1987 and driven Nissan 's over one million miles ( documented ) and I would have too say DO NOT buy one!!!!!!!!!!!! TOYOTA here I come.

Update from Oct 2, 2009: Still trying to get this car repaired. Nissan dealer told me NOT to come back. Will order the vent control valve online and hope for the best. I use to love this car but I really do not even want it anymore. The problems just multiply. Nissan WAS and IS very aware of the problems with this car.....they just do not care. If you complain too much they yell at you, tell you they are doing you a favor and tell you not to come back. This car has many tech bulletins. It should have been recalled just on the fire hazard. You need endless money to own this car. It is beyond high maintenance.

- , Stuyvesant, NY, USA

problem #128

Mar 172009

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 131,000 miles

I bought my Altima 7 months ago, and I finally got rid of it. I feel sorry for the person who bought it. I am a college student and cannot afford huge maintainance cost on this lemon. I have noticed most of the complaints are with S, and SL trims. The only major flaw with this car is the excessive oil consumption, and this model burns oil like crazy it does not even leak. It surely is a lemon, I didn't spend a lot on it except had keep up with oil replacement twice a month, which sounds really awful for a car that was rewarded as car of the year back in 2002. Nissan got bad reputation because of this car. Now I am looking forward to buy MAXIMA 6th GEN. They are a lot powerful and reliable than Altima's. DO NOT BUY THIS CAR, EVEN IF SOMEONE OFFERS TO YOU FOR FREE!!!

- , Edmond, OK, USA

problem #127

Aug 082009

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 127,000 miles

well first of all nissan suck. how is nissan gettting away with robing people for there money? nothing is happening about it. its funny how the system works as long as they stay legit with there paper work they could bend the law. from visiting this web site I have seen that everyone that has this car is going through the same sh*t. they know what they did that should be more proof they need to make them fix our cars for free. they just need to find a solution that works long term and announce it as a recall so we could have a good and reliable car dont have to worry about that dam oil problem. i feel robbed! if you were to rob someone in the street for two dollars you would be looking at 2-5 years in jail. something needs to happen! nissan your going down ...... for the people thats going through the same problem we need someone to represent us as one all over the world. front page would be great or even a talk host could help us out, just to let everyone know world wide so could be recognize as the crooks they are wolfs that they are wearing sheep clothing. im sick of these big dealers thinking they could get away with hard working money i wish someone will do that. they will have no choice but to cave. please help! we all dont have money

kimberly velasquez boston mass

- , Quincy, MA, USA

problem #126

Apr 152009

Altima 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,000 miles

So, I have a 2002 Altima and did not realize there were so many problems going on with this vehicle until just tonight. I bought this car for college in 2004. Thought it was a great deal and was going to enjoy getting good gas mileage compared to my 66 mustang. Everything was great with the car. Routinely got an oil change every 3,000 miles and took it in for it's 60,000 mile service. At the time of of the service i was told that one of the cylinders had slight low compression but it didn't need to be fixed at the moment. Now I am starting to have problems and have been doing research and you guys have officially freaked me out!

So fast forward to the last 9 months. Back in March my car begins to over heat. So I take into pepboys. Get the hoses and the thermostat changed and the car runs fine(cost: 400 roughly). 2 weeks later the car is leaking coolant again, stupid pepboys uses the wrong hoses(coses to fix 110.) May comes around, one day i notice when i shift from park to drive the transmission kicked really hard. by the end of hte day my transmission died, had no gearing whatsoever(cost: 1,300). After the transmission replacement, my car was running fine for about a month. One day i started to notice the car was running weird. It didn't have the same power it had before. Checked the oil and coolant and it was fine. the week went on, and i started noticing the lost of power to the point that i had the accelerator all the way down and was barely doing 70 and the engine was making a clicking sound. I check the oil, completely empty so I immediately took it in for a oil change.

Ever since then, I have been losing oil and coolant, but with no leaks. I keep a 5 quart jug of oil and coolant in my trunk of my car. I am taking my car in tomorrow morning to get an estimate and after reading the posts on this site I am terrified because I honestly can't afford to fix the problem nor buy a new vehicle. I plan on joining this class action suit if there is one.. This car should be having the problems it is having. There is not reason a car that has 132,000 miles on it should have a dead transmission and possibly need a new engine.

Update from Feb 10, 2011: Updated: So I ended up having to get a rebuilt engine back in early 2010....Guess is only a year later....30,000 miles on the rebuilt engine....The engine has been having the exact same problems....Dead catalytic converter, excessive oil consumption, and now found out day either a bad head gasket or cracked head....Another grand down the drain....Nissan needs to pay for this bs.

- , Ontario, CA, US

problem #125

Jul 312007

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

My dad gave me this car in '06. I would rather him give me a kick in the gut. It's a nice car inside, but it's nothing but a headache to keep running (when possible). I've had the catalytic converter replaced THREE TIMES, and now I'm hearing that it needs another one. Excessive oil consumption, like all the others...the rings are bad (whatever that means). I am just trying to get it to pass inspection so I can get rid of it. I HATE it, I wish that car would fall off a cliff.

- , Mayoda, NC, USA

problem #124

Jun 222002

Altima SE 3.5L

  • Manual transmission
  • 13,000 miles

I own a 2002 Nissan Altima with a 3.5 liter engine. It has 120,000 miles. I recently had the oil changed at the nissan dealership, and it less than 1500 miles the oil would not register on the dipstick. So I went to another place and had the oil changed again and did a synthetic change. The car has always burned oil. I asked the mechanics at the dealership about it on several occassions and they said it was common for these cars to do that. At one point I remember that there was a recall on some of the engines with a certain V.I.N. and those cars ended up having the engines replaced. Unfortunately, my V.I.N. didn't fall into there selection. Need help PLEASE!

- , Russellville, AR, USA

problem #123

Aug 082009

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles

I brought a 2002 Nissan from Gormelys auto, route 130, and less than two months my check engine light come on, and my car was losing excessive oil consumption. I had to replace two engine valve gaskets. Two months later, my engine light comes back on, oil tank is bone dry, and my car sounds like a truck, and my car will not accelerate over 40mph. Mechanic tells me, I need a catalytic converter and engine seals. The price to fix this car is $4800.00. The car is financed and I've only had it for 6months. I will never buy another Nissan.

- , Sicklerville, NJ, USA

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