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.


really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
102,500 miles
Total Complaints:
131 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace engine (36 reports)
  2. replace catalytic converter (27 reports)
  3. replace engine and catalytic converter (25 reports)
  4. not sure (20 reports)
  5. replace pre-cat with heat shield and replace engine if bad (10 reports)
  6. new cat/ new sensors (8 reports)
2002 Nissan Altima exhaust system problems

exhaust system problem

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2002 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 1 of 7)

problem #131

Nov 012014

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles


This is my second complaint for my 2002 Nissan Altima. I had a coolant leak which went in to the engine and in November last year, I found out that my head gasket had blown and my catalytic converter was bad. I have always kept up on maintenance and had low miles for the year. The whole thing was a horrible experience!

- Nicole D., Murray, UT, US

problem #130

Jan 072013

Altima S 2.5L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 151,410 miles

Check engine light came on and checked it. Code read P0420....oh S@#$! After reading so many complaints and problems for the converter failing and ruining the engine I was not looking forward to this. Went to my local Nissan dealership and sure enough....a failed converter. A grand to get it replaced (Ouch). I went ahead and did that because I love my car and it is not burning oil, so I think it was caught early enough that it didn't do any damage to the engine. However you would think that with so many 02 Altimas having this problem, Nissan would take some responsibility for it....shame, shame. I understand that when your vehicle gets higher mileage your going to have to put some money into to keep it running, but this is a problem from when Nissan built it, and they should take care of it.

- orangez01, Eagan, MN, US

problem #129

Mar 152013

Altima S 2.5L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

Catalytic Converter failed and was repaired three weeks ago. This past Friday the car died. Took it to a very good, trustworthy mechanic (the same one that repaired the catalytic)... car needs a new engine. Apparently when the catalytic goes it breaks down and particles go into the pistons and ruin the engine. This car has been well cared for and driven lightly. We replaced the radiator, coil packs, catalytic converter, tires, brakes, 02 sensor and now have to put in a new engine. We will NEVER buy a Nissan again... junk cars!

- Pamela B., Cumberland, RI, US

problem #128

Aug 012012

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,500 miles


I bought this car at 104K, I knew about all the catalytic converter problems and engine failures and brought it up with the dealer. He specifically mentioned that this particular car was called up during a recall and had the necessary part replaced during the recall (I doubt now if he was telling the truth or if Nissan replacement was just a band aid solution). Before this problem occurred, I had various problems including both engine mounts to be replaced, brake shins replaced and spent nearly 3K on the fixes. I have owned this car for less than 6 months. It looks great from the inside and no one can say it is a piece of junk but the engine itself is a big problem! I am thinking of dumping this and getting a Toyota or Honda which, while not being the greatest, have never given me engine problems. Never every buy a 2002 Nissan Altima, no matter how good the deal looks like. Be warned!

- Arun K., Cupertino, CA, US

problem #127

Mar 012012

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,372 miles

bought this car in 2004 and i replaced the catalyser in 2008 at 166000km and it cost me 2895$, . since 2 week the car was not too, bad just takes some oil , but now use 3 liters of oil in 200 km and fault code appears P0420 for the cat , the engine goes wrong in idle and i know it's gonna be good for scrap yard and is gonna be the last nissan of my life.

- Remi M., Farnham, QC, canada

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problem #126

Apr 182012

Altima SE 3.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,000 miles

I bought this car in Dec 2011 with 113k. I had problems from the start. When I drove it off the lot, the check engine light came on. Luckily, I still had my warranty. It was an evap code. So after fixing that problem, the light was still on. So after many annoying trips back to the dealer, we find out it was the idle control sensor. Then after that was fixed.. 2 weeks later the radiator started to leak. Then when i thought this car was finally fixed.. during an oil change i find out the oil pan is dented in and its leaking oil significantly... Awesome... This car kept getting better!! so after coming back and getting that fixed.. i notice my car the smell of fumes in my car.. especially when the heat was on. This is my most recent and costly problem. i find out i need a new flex pipe and converter... so after denting my wallet i notice the car is still loud. I go back to the mechanic.. It turns out the manifold converter is also broken... a week later when that part got fixed i also had to buy an o2 sensor for that... then about 3 days after that i notice my car is driving funny. so i look under my hood and check my fluids.. its leaking power steering fluid!! so i had to replace the power steering pump as well.... i spent WAYYYY to much money on this car and spent about the same amount fixing it.. i traded in my 03 chevy cavalier for this hunk of junk... i should've just kept the chevy it always ran strong!! i heard such good things about Nissan and im very disappointed with my buy. I will NEVER buy another Nissan. In 5 months this car pretty much fell apart!

- Nicole P., chicopee`, ma, US

problem #125

Oct 012010

Altima 3.5L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,256 miles


well i am the new owner of the 2002 piece of crap. i recently purchased the vehicle used from a reputable car lot here in Louisiana.the very first month the alternator went out . the dealership fixed this problem after two tows of the two months went by and here i am check engine light on. went to the nissan place and im told that it is the catalytic converter that has gone out surprise ! not since i had been reading all the other problems experienced by other car owners .i wish i had known all this before i bought this piece of junk now im trynin to trade this sucker in for a camry which has much better record wish me luck and oh by the way please listen to what i have said and all the others this car is a persons nightmare do not buy repeat do not buy............

- mimsla, Shreveport Louisiana, LA, US

problem #124

Jan 252012

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,346 miles


- danieltah, Lowell, MA, US

problem #123

Dec 132011

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,000 miles

The used Nissan I bought turned out to be a nightmare for me. Few days after buying the SES (Service Engine Soon) light was on. Had the car diagnosed with Nissan and was recommended with new CAT/Engine with an approximate cost of $2500. Nissan explained that CAT was bad which is slowly causing the engine failure. I did online research and found a long list of problems that NISSAN 02 have listed, and some of them are ridiculous about which Nissan does not care. Most of the problems are related to CAT/Engines/OIL consumption and sensors. I asked NISSAN if my car had any recalls, and they just said NO, although the problem was same as for re-called cars.

For an second opinion I had it checked with another mechanic, and he told that my engine is still good but will definitely need CAT and maybe some other parts replacement. Cat Failure was displayed code P0420 which was gone after changing the CAT, O2 sensors, front actuator sensor ($1800). After few days (200-300 miles) the light came back on with new code listed as P0011 indicating either solenoid valve(b1)/electrical harness, actuator n B1 is bad checked engine oil at this point and it was still good. I rested the code an had solenoid valve in B1 replaced with ($200).

Driving another 200 miles the same code came again and this time my mechanic told I might need to replace an actuator sensor (located somewhere behind the engine), and I also need to replace my OIL. The oil was kind of black and half in total of 600 miles. He also recommended me to replace the actuator sensor, but I declined because that's not resolving any problem and it's us an TRIAL-ERROR method to fix. Would NEVER BUY NISSAN AGAIN OR RECOMMEND IT due to bad customer service and/accepting problems with their car.

Car is running in great condition with no noise, smoke's,engine roughness, or anything else. The thing I noticed when the SES came on that, I list some of my engine power and BAM the light was ON. After the light was on car was running with no other problems.

Will change the oil this Friday and check for the results. If not will do some more research and check if it's worth changing the actuator sensor for this issue. My mechanic also says that the sensors might be going bad due to sudden weather change as well. Tired with looking SES light coming up every now and than sucking up all my money. MY final plan is to sell/Trade the car with HONDA/TOYOTA.

Anyone- having same issue and had it filed please let me know with the steps taken. Thank You.

- guest1121, Charlotte, NC, US

problem #122

Jan 092012

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,823 miles

I bought this new in 2002 Nissan Altima, when this was announced car of the year. I took care of this car like a baby since day one and I am the only one who drives it, and now it has around 107020 miles on it. When the car was around 90k it had crankshaft sensor issue, which I got it resolved outside. Now I got P0420 code for catalytic converter not working properly. I noticed sounds coming from my engine. I also noticed since many days my car was drinking oil and coolant like anything. Now I am in a fix whether to fix it or hold on to it. I did call Nissan service and they asked me get a opinion from the nissan dealership about it. All the symptoms resemble the same with other cars who had similar problem. Never will I buy a nissan in my life. If anybody has filed a lawsuit then I want to join them. What is the solution for this ...

- Kris P., MAryland heights, MO, US

problem #121

Jan 032012

Altima S 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles


This is the 2nd time the pre-cat has failed. Once again the engine needs to be replaced. After reading this site I kind of feel lucky that I got Nissan to RELUCTANTLY replace the engine the first time in 2005. This time the car will have to be taken to the junk yard if I can get it there. I wish I knew that it was a design flaw in 2005 and replacing it is just buying you some time until it will happen again. Nissan is a very dishonest company and does not stand behind their products. I will never buy from them again and will share this with anyone I can.

- nissans*cks, Somerville, NJ, US

problem #120

Dec 092011

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles

Brought car from orig owner 58K, drove to 18 months to 87K runs great but noticed slow loss of anti-freeze every 1K miles. I do much of my own mtc. and am careful watching fluid levels, use synthetic oil, changed the struts, brakes, etc. and was all over this anti-freeze leak into the #1 piston (white color on spark plug). 8/2011 head gasket replaced by Nissan for $1.5k which stopped loss of anti freeze (feeling good about catching the leak very early). Topped off my oil on 12/6 and drove to Boston. return on 12/8 back to NJ CK engine alerts (1st time since owned car), about 100 miles later I hear the engine making loud valve tap noise. Slow down and oil light flashes on/off, pull over uphill slope, no oil on stick. WWWHHHAAAATTT??? Since oil light flashing I thought there must be some oil in the engine. Drove slow to next exit (2 miles) add 3 quarts oil, engine quiets down and drove home to NJ but down another quart. Nissan dealer checked and said bad Cat is cause, $4200 for rebuilt and Cat. Service manager claims cat is plugged and oil boils out of the engine, (is that possible?), either way Nissan ought to be ashamed of themselves not owning up to this crap Cat design. engine was very good until the cat failed, other than the head gasket the car has been nice. Engine still runs and I may thrown in new cat and see if oil consumption stops but my gut tells me the engine is in the pretoast mode.

- edsosorry, Berkeley Heights, NJ, US

problem #119

Aug 102011

Altima 2.5 S 4 cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 180,000 miles

i have the same problem myself. i just bought a 2002 nissan altima two months ago and there is a clinking noise coming from the engine, the engine consumes oil like crazy and when i took it to the shop, the told me the catalytic converter is getting wond out and that is why the engine is consuming alot of oil, in few months, the engine might get blown. i am really for class law suit for this. i am a student and cant affford to put a new engine on this car and cant believe they will rip us off with this sort of cars. i called this number and everyone with teh same problem should do teh same in order to make our voices heard 18008753666. this is really personal

- almeyda21, Burnsville, MN, US

problem #118

Aug 012011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles

I have had nothing but trouble with my 2002 Nissan. It is eating oil and water. I had the radiator replaced and the thermostat. My mechanic put it on the diagnostic computer and it said my cat converter was going. I had the head gasket replaced which I was told was causing my problems. My check engine light has been on for over a year. Right now I am putting a quart of oil in it every day. The reason for the head gasket is that I could not get it to start. Replacing it fixed that problem somewhat but I am still feeding it oil and now it runs like crap. The converter is going to cost me another $800+ dollars. I am so fed up and frustrated. Can't afford a car note but can't afford to keep driving this car either.

- Anita J., Marietta, GA, US

problem #117

Oct 012011

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 141,000 miles

Should I spend the $3,000 to repair this car or buy another car?

- doriuca, Salinas, CA, US

problem #116

Jun 182011

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 155,000 miles

the cat. converter failed while i was over 900 miles away from home the cars engine was just making a loud noise like the engine would blow apart i left the car at agas station got home then took my truck back to tow the vehicle home i also saw a vacuum line off of the top of the evap canister ,that silver color can which is under the brake master cylinder,that has a few other hoses conected at the bottom of it .if anyone with same car that can esnd me a email of where it is conneted to will be GREATFULL thanks

- Evans R., Orlanda, FL, US

problem #115

Sep 232011

Altima LS 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

I bought my car from a used car dealer ( 130-29 Merrick BLVD Jamaica, NY 11434 Phone #: 718-525-5464) less than 3 months ago, the guy told me the car was fine (he obviously lied...and I DID NOT buy the car AS IS); right away I started having problems with the car. He told me he would fix it, I kept calling him he never picked up, and when I called his place they told me the number no longer existed. When I tried to go to the his place, he was never there and I saw that the place was closing! He ran out of business and left me with this mess! (I could have sued the guy, but for some reason I decided not to).

However, besides this guy clearly playing me, after coming here I realize that basically everyone with Nissan Altimas were having the same problems. I have a failed catalytic converter, I am losing coolant and I think Oil too at a very fast pace, and I ONLY GET HEAT WHEN I AM DRIVING AROUND THE SPEED OF 40MPH OR UP! This car has more problems than I can even list here...I just went to a mechanic today, they told me it's better I sell the car. I'm not that type of person; if I sell the car to someone else by somehow lying to them about the problems, it's going to be another person's problem and I don't see how that is supposed to make me feel better. Plus I don't want to have to deal with all this now (I'm a law Student so I am very busy with school). I'm not sure what to do...did anyone get Nissan to help them in any way with expenses they have to make (even though they no longer have any warranty on the car)? PLEASE HELP IN ANY WAY POSSIBLE! THANK YOU!

- payen, Queens Village, NY, US

problem #114

Sep 112011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,839 miles

I bought my car 02 Nissan Altima and thought it was a really nice car. This is the first car I've purchased on my own, on October 5. 2008 and only had 56 000 miles on it.. Since day one, I have had a problem. I drove the car for couple days, and i brought the vehicle back on October 9, 2008 for service. I was told the head gasket the motor mount and the belt needed to be replaced. The service was completed ,and I drove the car for a couple more days. The car continued to have a problem like rear gear was bad need it to be replaced which they did, just a reminder I had warranty only 2 weeks because it was used car. Now just few days a ago I have a new problem occur on 09.11.2011 with oil it was 2 quarts less and I took it to the Jiffy Lube because was Sunday, and they put 2 quarts of oil .Next day I went to the service of Nissan I spoke with the service manager explain what happen and the light engine check was on, mileage on the car now are 81.839 I was told the converter is bad need to be changed and engine it will go bad. Now I am left with the message I need to drive my car 1000 miles in order to figure out. Imagine driving 1000 miles and converter is already gone bad ,my question is what is going to happen, buying a new converter and new engine. I called the consumption of Nissan and they addressed the problem, and was told is recall for this year model 2002 but to the members of service and service adviser it seems nothing matter. Now I really don't know what to do where to go else. I don't have that kind of money to do all that. I also have a car Toyota echo 2000, and never had a problem like I do have know with altima Nissan 2002.

- Sara M., Roswell, GA, US

problem #113

Jun 172011

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

After seeing all the complaints of EXACTLY the same problem I have, my heart sunk! I want to know what I can do to have at least part of this expense covered by Nissan!!!! ;(


- toombsp, San Diego, CA, US

problem #112

Jan 012009

Altima SE 3.5L V6

  • Manual transmission
  • 48,000 miles

I also was fooled into getting a Nissan Altima which is a pile of crap. At 48,000 miles the engine had to be replaced due to the oil was burning at 1/2 QTR a week. It took the factory 3 months to believe the dealership that there was a problem, and another 2 months to get the engine replaced since it was still under factory warranty. Then in 2010 the catalytic converter went out. When I took it the the mechanic, he let me know the cat had actually blown out and left a 9" split in the cat. Now all three have to be replaced because the two front cats are blowing junk into the third cat which is clogging it to the point it stopped running. Never again will I own a Nissan, to put it mildly.

- badnissan, Aliso Viejo, CA, US

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