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:
89,381 miles
Total Complaints:
12 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (9 reports)
  2. replace motor (3 reports)
2002 Nissan Altima engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Nissan Altima Owner Comments

problem #12

May 282012

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles


There is so much wrong besides this recent engine misfire. I bought the car a little over two years ago, used of course. I got it for 8 grand with 70k miles. So far I have had the struts replaced, and the tech couldn't get them right, they rattle when I hit a bump and pop when I turn the wheel. The radiator has started leaking, after there was a week of constant air pockets I had to clear every evening. However much is Nissan's shoddy manufacturing of this model, I don't know, but I have to say, do not buy this car if you have a choice.

- , Cypress, TX, USA

problem #11

Mar 082012

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,372 miles

altima fault code p01448 p0442 , the light come on every 2 days and the car goes wrong. is that possible that the evap canister was the problem ,and where it is???

- , Farnham, QC, canada

problem #10

Apr 012010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

I am having an issue with this Nissan Altima...first it was the tune up seems like i need one all the time!! Then I take it to the shop and was advised I need 3 different sensors which cost about 300.00 a piece which is a speed sensor, throttle posistion sensor and electrical issues, I try to change the head light and it still will not work. I took the car to Nissan Dealership and they advise me I need a new transmission!! My car will NOT go pass 40 mph and it's smoking bad!!!!

- , Rock Hill, SC, USA

problem #9

Jun 012009

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles


The car has only driven 75000 miles, yet the engine has big problems. The tech told me the car was overheated. The head gasket was blown. Coolant went into the number 3 cylinder. Minimum repair was quoted for 1500. It is awful. Nissan needs to have a recall on their engines.

- , Marietta, GA, USA

problem #8

Oct 032008

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

Hi! i have a big problem with my 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5 liter. i got this "car" for my wife and i spend more time fixing this "car" then been around my wife. got sick and tired been under the "car" and see what is next!!!!!! it's all started with the check engine light. then i noticed that 2 and 3 cylinder is not working so i replace spark plugs (2 times ) then i noticed that my cooling is missing so i went under the "car" again to see what is going on? but i saw no weather lick. but i saw white smoke and then i got it!!!!!!!!!!! i remove spark plugs from 2nd and 3rd cylinder and try to start that car just for one moment. and then i check those two cylinders and guess what i found WEATHER!

i check with mechanic and he told me that it is going to cost me $2,300--$2.500 i sad thanx all do it my self. I got head gasket for $80 and 3 weeks later it still not fixed!! HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- , Battle Ground, WA, USA

problem #7

May 012008

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,200 miles

I am extremely disappointed at NISSAN!! The 2.5L is very bad engine. I still do not know why Nissan does not want to fix this problem. If Nissan does not do anything about this problem, I want them to loose a lot of customers. Their engineers know very well that they did not do a good job in putting together this engine.

Every time I reach the 40 miles/h mark, the engine shakes really hard.

- , Mount Holly, NJ, USA

problem #6

Nov 012007

Altima SE 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles


I have a well cared for 2002 Nissan Altima with 95km. I started noticing high oil consumption, first a qt every 250mi now a qt every 60 mi. Car seems to run fine power wise-except at times a little rough for about 20 seconds than a 301 error code. sometimes I can run all day without this condition happening. I have not had problem diagnosed as i presently can not afford the high cost of troubleshooting this problem and from other reports from this site a lot of money has been spent on similar problem with mixed results. I will never purchase a Nissan product again - I expected a higher quality vehicle and should have purchased a Honda or Toyota, with proven high quality.

- , Whiting, NJ, USA

problem #5

Nov 062007

(reported on)

Altima 2.5L

  • Manual transmission
  • 115,000 miles

I purchased my 2002 altima 1 year ago. It has been in the shop 3 times and 2 of these were transmission and the other is the check engine light. My current problem which makes my 4th car issue is the car shuts on and off at speeds of 65-70 mph on the highway. I am unable to be in any stop and go traffic because of its stalling problem. Currently it is sitting in my driveway because now it will not go over 35-40 mph. I don't have any more money to invest in repairs. I don't know what to do. A mechanic told me this car is a piece of junk and to get rid of it. The sad part for me is I owe to much on it still.

- , Pomona, CA, USA

problem #4

Nov 022007

(reported on)

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles

I'm also having problems with the #4 cylinder gasket. I noticed the problem when I would start the car, the engine would run rough and the car would shake. After about 30 seconds it would stop and I would be able to drive without a problem. Then the check engine light came on. I had a diagnostics done and it was determined there was misfire. The spark plugs were changed and it helped the problem but then it got bad again. Then engine light came on again. I got an estimate and now the mechanic says that the #4 cylinder head gasket is bad. The estimate is $1700 but I was told that there could be more damage but the mechanic would not know until he actually started the work and he suspects the cost will be higher. Also, now water is leaking from the radiator. I have an extended warranty but they told my mechanic that they will not pay for the repair unless I can prove the problem was not caused by me, the consumer. He said that I have to have all my receipts for all the oil changes, tune-ups, etc. to prove I took good care of the car. I really had enjoyed my car up until this happened. It was so sudden with no warning and I am angry and shocked that I cannot get my car repaired without spending at least $2 grand! I had a Cadillac for 10 years prior to this car and had no major engine problems. I decided to get an economical car and I really liked the Nissan Altima body style. I thought Nissan was a reputable company but I'm wrong. My car is sitting in front of my house until I can save up at least $2,000 but I'm still making payments on the car I bought used from the Nissan dealership. I think there should be a recall on this problem. I had a recall repair done on the car last year for the engine sensor because my car started to die on me while I was driving. I'm currently borrowing my son's car which is a 1991 Honda, with 130,000 miles and it gets me where I want to go!

- , West Sacraemento, CA, USA

problem #3

Aug 072007

(reported on)

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

The engine started to run rough.. took it Nissan dealer/repair and they did some switching of spark plug wires.. said the computer came up with 4 things. Ran better for a few miles and then engine light came on and it started to overheat. Returned and they did same and same happened again. They replaced fuel injector but didn't solve problem (mechanic said) and they then thought head gasket. The certified Nissan tech was on vacation and he was only one qualified to do this so waited a week for him. He tore down to head gasket and noticed a defect in long block. They asked Nissan if it could be resurfaced and they said no. So.. I have to buy a new engine $3200+ or a used engine 2200+. I have been trying to get Nissan to do a goodwill help on this but so far no results. The warranty is 60,000 miles/5 yrs on power train. I am 8,000 miles over but under on the time. Nissan denied the Nissan dealer/garage the goodwill option either to pay all or part. I am now dealing with a district ? consumer rep. So far just a runaround. I have it on good info they have had trouble with the head gasket on this 4cyl. 175hp engine. It has almost been a month and I am still without a car or answer. Has anyone else had this problem? Consumer Report gave the 2002 Nissan 4cyl a half a blck mark for the engine. I bought this new and have taken extremely good care of it.... would appreciate any info or assistance.

- , Rainier, OR, USA

problem #2

Mar 092007

(reported on)

Altima 2.5S 2.5

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

I was having the same problem. The engine would shake violently and the check engine light would come on. I called a tow truck and had them bring it to PepBoys for repair. The told me that cylinder 4 was mis firing so they had to put in a new coil pack and change the spark plugs. That cost me over $600. Now 2 weeks later it started again so I brought the car back to PepBoys and they discovered that one of the spark plugs was bent and all burnt up causing it to misfire once again. They said that the guy at PepBoys had to of dropped the spark plug before putting it in. They fixed it for free. Now 4 days later it is happening again. Shakes violently and check engine light comes on. I was reading about the 2000 Altima on this site and they had similar problems and said it was a cracked manifold gasket. I am going to take the car back in and see if that could be the problem. Please help this is costing way to much money and is hurting my life. it is the only vehicle that me and my fiancee have and we are losing a lot of time at work because the car cannot make it there.

- , Casa Grande, AZ, USA

problem #1

Feb 182007

(reported on)

Altima 2.5

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles

It all started with the same oil problem as others, but now I am having problems with the 4th cylinder. I have had to change the spark plug 3 times in 3 months, the engine shakes so bad that we have to pull over to the side of the road. Christmas weekend we had to call a tow truck. I have called Nissan, they don't do anything. BAY RIDGE NISSAN of Brooklyn, NY blames me for the problem saying that they are caused because I didn't have my oil changes done at Nissan. I just wrote a letter I hope someone helps.

- , Brooklyn, NY, US

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