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:
104,426 miles
Total Complaints:
6 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (4 reports)
  2. replace engine (2 reports)
2002 Nissan Altima engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Nissan Altima Owner Comments

problem #6

Feb 052015

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,700 miles


I just bought my kid this 2002 Altima 2 months ago, Oct 2014 with a 107000 miles. I have all kind of friends that own Nissan and only heard good things. Now, after only 2 months, I am in the same boat as so many. I work as a mechanic and gave this car a full detailed inspection. The vehicle seemed too good to be true. Well, since I could not fined anything wrong, I purchased the car.

Well now it hesitates when cold, heavy white smoke out of exhaust, with an oil burning smell. The engine service light has appeared and the temp here is cold with a chance of snow over the next few days. I planned on working the car over the upcoming weekend. Now after reading all of these complaints, not sure where to start. At first I thought a head gasket, but the anti-freeze is full. The kid has recently had the oil change (done less then 100 miles ago). When I checked the oil it was over a qt low.

Does anyone have a suggestion that may help? We plan on keeping this vehicle.

- , Avenel, NJ, USA

problem #5

Jun 162010

Altima 2.5L

  • Manual transmission
  • 88,856 miles

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 in mai 2010 with 70,000 miles.

I start my car on 5/16 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 85,000 miles there no way my engine should be dead. Nissan does not stand behind their product, the car is only 8 years old. I have a supervisor at my job same year make and model same issue. this is terrible, Nissan should be SUED.

Now i think my cars drink more oil than gas.

- , Montreal, QUÉBEC, canada

problem #4

Nov 032009

Altima LX 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 142,000 miles

OK - I have 2002 Nissan Altima - before I begin just want to say .... I WILL NEVER EVER EVER EVER BUY A NISSAN ALTIMA AGAIN... I will think twice before buying another NISSAN if I have to go with NISSAN.... maybe other model... Ever since I bought this vehicle just about a year ago.. just problems after problem and problem... moving on... 2002 Nissan will take forever to start... and when it does start.. I will hear this knocking from the engine.. and WHITE SMOKE just comes from the exhaust pipe..just pouring... (and people be looking like take your SH*T OFF the road). and I'm like what f*ck is this.. top of that smoke coming from the engine..and of course the SES light is ON.. so I thought the oil could be low. I checked the oil - it was not ever the antifreeze was low... I change my oil once a month.. I don't even wait for the recommended millage before doing so - I already spend $$$$$ on my other SH*TS - this is the only vehicle I have as of dad is mechanic... he will take a look at it for me when he comes over....-- I used to have a 91 TOYOTA CORROLA..never had to do any engine work on this vehicle.. that car has 240 thousand miles on it.. let me tell you it still running excellent... I owned that car since 2000 - my dad is currently owns it.


- , Lanham, MD, USA

problem #3

May 012009

Altima L 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,000 miles


Well I know now that I'm not alone. I noticed my vehicle was consuming a lot of oil and the gas was leaving quickly. So I thought I better get another oil change. After the oil change approximately a week later my oil light came on and I stopped immediately, I got out checked the oil and the dipstick was dry fortunately I had a quart of oil in the vehicle and took it back to the place where they changed the oil. They in turn put more oil in it and told me to bring it back in a week. On friday 1 May 09 the oil light comes on again. I stop once again and took it too another oil change place too check it. They expressed it had white smoke coming out which meant something was wrong with the engine. Saturday morning I took it too the dealer just for them to BS me and attempt to sell me another car.

When I described the problem to the technician he stated nissan had done a recall on this particular problem back in 02. But it was really in 03 if you go to Nissan recalls you will find this recall hidden in a message about the converter and it states about the converter, heat shield and engine damage. From reading all the report this occurs around the 90,000 ++ plus range I contacted nissan prior to this and they stated they will call back but, in the mean time I'm contacting legal and anyone who will be willing too help. For those of you have this problem please let me know what the outcome is at and will let you know my outcome. THANKS

- , Universal City, TX, USA

problem #2

Mar 182009

Altima 2.5s

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles

I don't really know what is wrong with my car exactly because, the engine doesn't get hot. This isn't a symptom of a blown head gasket...

- , Tahlequah, OK, USA

problem #1

Aug 282007

(reported on)

Altima SE V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

i had a air compressor recently installed on my car and then the oil changed i noticed that after a week or two i started seeing white smoke coming from the exhaust pipe i took it to a mechanic and he told me it was probably a cracked head gasket and that i would cost more to fix it so i should probably trade it in please help me and let me know the labor cost and the price for the part i do not have $1500 to make the repairs is there some kind of fluid to put in the car to repair the gasket or will i have to buy the part and pay for the labor and if so how much. I have been duped by one mechanic for the repair of the car and it was not the problem i do notice that if i turn on the air it does not smoke that much but when it is off it get worst. is there a recall on this problem for the 2002 Nissan Altima

- , Gadsden, Alabana, USA

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