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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
93,429 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2002 Nissan Altima exhaust system problems

exhaust system problem

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2002 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 2 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #71

Apr 122010

Altima 4-cyl

  • 134,455 miles


After reading hundreds of complaints about the 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5 L engine failures, I've decided to write. Car began running rough. Mechanic said an oxygen sensor was out, but was probably the cat. Converter. Paid for both, and car is still running rough and using 2 quarts/oil per week. Mechanic said when the cat con went, it blew refuse into the engine, requiring a new one. I've joined the ranks of the 1000's who are getting no help from Nissan Corp. In rectifying this expensive problem.

- Houlton, ME, USA

problem #70

Jun 012009

Altima 4-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
This complaint is in response to Nissan recall R3007 which covers heavy oil consumption which leads to low oil level, catalytic converter damage, engine damage and eventually an engine fire. I've been having this problem for sometime where I need to add oil on a biweekly basis. My check engine light has been on for some time. I've had two diagnostic tests performed and showed code P0420 - cat. Efficient low, needs exhaust manifold/catalytic converter/gaskets replaced. Based on internet research (type: Nissan Altima 2002 - heavy oil consumption or catalytic converter) I found that thousands of other consumers with the same car are having the same problem and have filed complaints with Nissan corporation. Nissan refused to remedy the situation. Please advise what recourse I can take.

- Catonsville, MD, USA

problem #69

Jun 012009

Altima 4-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
I have a 2002 Nissan Sentra SE-R with the 2.5 liter (qr25de) engine I purchased new. This is the same engine that the problematic 2002 Nissan Altima has. My car has had numerous serious recalls, originating within the first year and a half I purchased it. Two years ago, my ses light went on. My car was still under warranty at this point as I'd purchased Nissan's "gold plus" warranty coverage. I was told it was a loose gas cap, they'd checked and performed all outstanding recalls, and all was fine. 8 months later, the ses light went on again.the car began to also exhibit signs of increased oil consumption. I had it checked, was told it was a cracked oil pan by an independent mechanic. Finally, I took it to Nissan. I was told I needed a new catalytic converter, the exact part that has been mentioned in several recalls on my vehicle, and since the car was out of warranty they would not pay for it. Estimate was $1200, which I got in writing, for the catalytic converter. I asked for records of what they had done to inspect and repair the recall previously. They had no record of it. I called Nissan North America, who told me the dealer kept the records, and to ask them.. finally, an independent mechanic replaced the part. The ses light went on two weeks later. The independant mechanic said the pre-catalytic converter was damaged/falling apart, also listed in my recall explicitly. The dealer had misdiagnosed the car. Called dealer, wrote letter, BBB complaint, Nissan complaint, no response. Had pre-cat replaced for $600. Ses light came on again. Eventually, my car stalled and wouldn't start. I had it towed to a repair facility who informed me my engine was blown, replaced for $4K. A screw had been found in the third cylinder. This is also listed in some of the 'bulletins' Nissan distributed to their dealers. I've tried a demand letter, no response. Obviously, no one inspected my car for recalls, or repaired the faulty parts.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #68

Feb 052010


  • 124,823 miles


Check engine light came on 2/5/10, next morning (Saturday) went over car looking for issue, found low oil level in engine, added oil, Monday scheduled with dealer for soonest appointment, Wednesday dealer checked out the car. Found that the pre-catalyst had crumbled into dust which was pulled in to the engine. Engine is ruined and needs to be replaced. Have contacted Nissan and they will do nothing. There is a related recall (Nissan R3007) - this had been done by the dealer in January 2004. All other maintenance has been done. My statement to Nissan was a. recall was not actually done (dealer says it was - have no reason not to believe them) B. recall was not done properly or C. recall did not fix the problem completely - I believe it was C that the problem was not really fixed, just delayed. Understand that the catalytic warranty was 80,000 miles, but should a catalytic breakdown actually be able to ruin the engine? if Nissan knew it did not totally resolve the issue, they should have notified owners to replace the catalytic at xx miles, or at xx years. Never heard of this with any other vehicle that the catalytic failure can ruin the engine. Now rather than $700 or $800 for the catalytic, facing that plus another engine (estimate $3000 to $4000) for a used, salvage engine. But then would still have the same problem waiting to happen again. Recall states that this can result in engine fire. I believe it is faulty design.

- Lindsborg, KS, USA

problem #67

Mar 102009


  • miles
Nissan 2002 2.5 sl has to be checked once a week because the engine loses oil. When the oil is checked it is completely dry. Oil has to be put in the car once a week. The engine knocks and comes close to shutting down.

- Rocky Mount, NC, USA

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problem #66

Jan 012009


  • 50,000 miles
This complaint is in reference to the following: NHTSA action number: PE02078 Nissan na made some preventive changes to the 2002 Nissan Altima as requested to by law. However the changes Nissan na made were not sufficient nor successful. It appears that the preventive service Nissan provided has only prolonged the outcome. Thousands of 2002 Nissan Altima owners are currently experiencing oil consumption problems with a direct relation to a failure in the catalyst converter. After inspection of the catalyst converter noticeable chucks of the catalyst converter are missing. Nissan na is very aware of the problem and they are selectively fixing some consumers vehicles. If the consumers vehicle is outside their power train warranty Nissan na refuses to assist the consumer with fixing the problem. Safety should not be limited to a percentage of miles or to a period of time.

- West Hills, CA, USA

problem #65

Oct 222009


  • 80,091 miles


I have a Nissan Altima 2002 model.I have been calling 1-800-333-0829 for Nissan recall campaign from last two and half weeks. I have a reference number for my case. This recall is with reference to campaign I.D. # R3007, R3014, R3015, R3016, & R3017. I had taken my car to great neck Nissan dealer, New York for routine servicing. I came to know that pre-catalyst was damaged and the dealer also informed me about the chances that the particles from the catalyst converter might have already entered the engine. I went through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website which clearly states that this is a manufacturing defect and it needs to be rectified by Nissan. Nissan has also taken responsibility for the same and hence released the recall campaign bulletin. However, Nissan are declining my case based on three reasons on three different occasions at 1st they said I am not a loyal customer, however when I insisted then they said my VIN no. Does not fall in the category and then on the 3rd call after too much of perseverance they said they decline because I am the second owner of the vehicle and I do not have maintenance record from the first owner. As a proof of maintenance I have already faxed them the car fax report which shows the car was properly maintained. However, I do not understand that the make and model will not change with the ownership my concern is that even if I change the catalyst converter and continue to operate the vehicle then there are chances that if my engine catches any particles due to precatalyst damage there is a possibility that my engine will catch fire and I might be blown out while driving. I have spoken to Nissan and they don't want to take any responsibility and refuse to give me an answer in writing. I have tried to go on where I have searched Nissan 2002 catalyst converter. My search hit found too many people owning Nissan Altima 2002 have the same problem. Please help us to resolve this issue.

- Fresh Meadows, NY, USA

problem #64

Apr 012006


  • 90,000 miles
2002 Nissan Altima with various check engine light with catalytic converter breaking up and pieces destroy engine. Ongoing battle never resolved can't get help still owe 3700 on vehicle without vehicle now. Engine won't crank have to pump gas pedal even then like not getting gas but mechanics all say the same you got a bad car, defective catalytic converter. Plus Nissan refuses to do recalls never even done that were ECM related and rear suspension. All ongoing since April 2006. Have records/evidence.

- Jacksonville, NC, USA

problem #63

Aug 282009


  • 126,000 miles
I bought a 2002 Nissan Altima in November 2005. The last two years I have been having several problems concerning the vehicle including, jerking, stalling on highway, over heating and smoking. I have a the oc sensors replaced, spark plugs, Cadillac converts, coils...the list goes on and on. I noticed my oil light always coming on and the need to always refill the oil but I could not see where it was leaking from. The same problem was with the coolant---I kept pouring it in the place for coolant and in 2 days it would be the end of August my infant and I were in the vehicle and it began jerking and cut off right in the middle of the highway. A tow truck was called to pick up the car. I took the car to Nissan and they told me that the converter needs to be replaced again and the engine. After researching it looks as if this problem has been going on with several Nissan Altima's. I just want my engine and converter to be replaced the Nissan Corp to take responsibility.

- Hanover, PA, USA

problem #62

Jul 072009


  • 930,000 miles
Design flaw with engine causes excessive oil consumption. The burning oil then makes the converter start to fall apart and be sucked into the engine. This made the engine stall in heavy traffic on the highway. Numerous complaints on this flaw throughout the internet. Contacted Nissan I they said to bad. Dealer strongly suggested that I sell the car since it would only get worse due to this issue.

- Woodstock, GA, USA

problem #61

Aug 232009


  • 111,000 miles


I purchased a 02 Altima 2.5 (automatic) on Thursday, July 16, 2009. On Friday, July 17, I had to take it to the mechanic because it was making a terrible sound coming from the engine. Upon arrival, it was found that the oil tank was bone dry. After adding 3 quarts of oil, the noise was gone. Throughout that day when driving I smelt something like exhaust or burning oil or something. I just thought oil was spilled on the engine and it was simply burning off. I put approx 30 miles on the car that day. On Saturday, July 18, I put approx 20 miles on the car (same smell). On Sunday, I noticed smoke coming out of my muffler when I would hit the gas. It would go away when I was at a steady pace but if I put gas in it, the smoke would come out. I took the car to a friend of mine and had him check the oil. To my surprise, there was not a lick of oil left in the tank... where did it go"???????? there was no sign of leaks underneath the car and no spot on my driveway. We went and purchased 3 more quarts of oil and added it to the car. When we checked the dip stick, the oil was pitch black. The car was also blowing black smoke. I am a single 27 year old mom, working and going to school. A Nissan is what everyone told me to get.. why??" I have just forked out every dime I had (7800.00) in savings to purchase this car so what was I to do now? on Monday, July 20, I took it back to the mechanic which then told me the engine needed to be replaced. I then took it to another mechanic which verified the same thing. After 2 weeks a 05 model engine was put in the car and I picked it up on August 7. shortly after being on the road, the check engine light came on and it was making a loud squeaky sound. After taking it back on August 18, they said it now needed a catalytic converter and they replaced a belt. On August 23, the car started going dead with no warning while driving; once I was on the interstate and thought I was going to die! it also acts as if it doesn't want to crank now.

- Moody, AL, USA

problem #60

Aug 132009


  • 98 miles
I began to burn about 1 quart of oil per 1000 miles that I drove at the beginning of 2009. There was also a strange growling noise when starting my car. Eventually the check engine light came on. The oil usage also began to increase. I brought my car to a local mechanic and they said that my catalytic converter needed to be replaced and there were some engine issues that was beyond their capabilities. They recommended taking it to a Nissan service department. I dropped my car off on 8/15 and within less then 2 hours they service technician told me that I not only needed a new catalytic converter but I also needed a new engine. He told me that because of a faulty design the front catalytic converter was to close to the engine causing it to over heat. Once it overheated it would break down and because there is no egr valve on the cat the particles of the converter would get sucked back into the engine which ended up scoring the cylinder walls. They told me that because the recall campaign # 03V084000 was "performed" at 13,208 miles Nissan would not cover the cost of a new engine and catalytic converter even though it is direclty related to the defective part that Nissan is already aware of. The service advisor quoted me 4586.oo plus tax for my out of pocket cost and the parts and labor would only be covered for 12 monhs or 12,000 miles even though the engine that comes with the car when it is new is covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. I am currently filing a complaint with Nissan and consluting a lawyer.

- Scotia, NY, USA

problem #59

Aug 012009


  • 80,000 miles
I recently purchased a 2002 Nissan Altima. Since I've had it, it uses oil and has a bad catalytic problem due to manufacturer defect. This 2.5S is under a recall. The ECM was replaced on the car to avoid this problem, but it still persists. Nissan refuses to acknowledge the recall even though its never been fixed......the recall number for this catalytic converter is 03V084000.

- Hephzibah, GA, USA

problem #58

Oct 222007


  • 80,000 miles
My Nissan Altima 2002 2.5 car needs a new engine that will cost me approximately $5000. My car had close to 90,000 miles. But in tracking down my repair history, the problem could have occurred between 70,000 - 90,000 miles. I've taken my car to the dealership (younker Nissan in renton Washington) several times during a year to maintain so that I don't run into any of these problems but apparently didn't help. The problem started occurring when I took my car in for a problem that turned out to be a catalytic converter replacement. A few weeks later the engine service light came on so I took it back to the dealership. The dealership looked into the problem and said I needed a new engine. I filed a complaint with Nissan Corp because I've been taking my car to the Nissan dealership to maintain but only to be told later I needed a new engine. Corp Nissan did not want to help out and neither did the dealership. I did some research online and was found so may people with this car had the same problem. I feel I've been not been treated fair because I've been taking care of my car (through maintenance at the dealership (younker Nissan in renton Washington)) and only to be told later I needed a new engine.

- Maple Valley, WA, USA

problem #57

Jul 212009


  • 114,800 miles
7/21/09- check engine light came on brought it into dealer and they tell me that my engine is shot and it needs to be replaced, $5,100 plus tax and labor. The parts from the pre-catalyst have be sucked through the exhaust and back into the engine scoring the cylinder walls, which increases my oil consumption and could result in a fire. After some research I discover that this has been a problem with hundreds of other people with the same model year as me. Nissan did a recall back in 05/03 (recall 3007) to try to fix this issue but proper measures were not taking. In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration action number- PE02078, it states that "Nissan is still developing a corrective action to address the pre-catalyst." I have found no record that this work has ever been done, since 05/03 !"!". my problem with Nissan is they have known about these problems with model year 2002 2.5 liter Altima and still after over six years of releasing this information to the public they never address any issue that would prevent this from happening. I have contacted Nissan and have been told that they have done all they can for me. With the issue of potential fire and sudden engine seizer I have not been able to drive my car since this issue has occurred. I would like Nissan to pay for all repairs that are needed due to this issue.

- Savage, MN, USA

problem #56

Jul 022009


  • 57,805 miles
My car has been at lebruns Nissan dealership 3 times they detected three different problems, the last resort was my blown headgasket. I have a 2002 with 60,000 miles on it I should not be having a headgasket problem!! I have researched different problems and concerns with other owners online and have come across the same problems. Problems containing oil consumption, engine failure, head gaskets, catalytic converters, not starting, service engine light on. Now to me if this is happening to more than a few cars same exact year and model this is a defect on Nissan and they are not stepping up to the plate. I have contacted Nissan again and have gone further into this and have spoken to Nissan North America, I which my specialist returns my phone calls every three days, they have accepted to fix my catalytic converter which is appreciated, but that still does not fix my problem as others have experienced. I feel I have been purchased a lemon vehicle and I am not satisfied, and I will continue to go further until Nissan steps up to the plate and takes fault on there product.

- Waterloo, NY, USA

problem #55

Jun 112009


  • 86,000 miles
In Oct of 2002 a investigation was made by (ODI) concerning 2 potential fire hazards on 2002 Nissan Altima( NHTSA)action # PE02078)according to your report Nissan would remove portions of the exhaust pin and apply a heat shield. Over the precat. You also stated Nissan is developing corrective actions to address precat from overheating.what corrective action were introduced to fix this precat problem" after reading pages of Nissan customer complaints concerning the precat destroying their motors I would say Nissan did not do anything to fix this problem.these 2 manufacturer defects are not the same and should be treated differently if your car had a heat shield applied years ago what was done to correct the faulty a few years later your motor is shot and Nissan will tell you they already had it in for the recall I ask once again what was done the fix the faulty precat?" if you have the answer please include it in corrective actions taken so myself and every other dissatisfied Nissan customer can make some sense out of their statement when they tell us they fixed the problem when they put a heat shield on it.

- Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA

problem #54

Jun 032009

Altima 4-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
I have a concern involving my 2002 Nissan Altima it is a 4 cylinder engine my check engine light has come on and its burning large amounts of oil (1 quart every 1000 miles) I bought this car in 2004( second hand)the cars burning of oil was strange to me because I always changed my oil approximately every 3000 miles, so I started to do some investigating on the web and came across a recall campaign in 2003 ( #03V084000) I read were fire may be caused by the catalytic converter and of 3 instances of fire to date of closer of NHTSA report in 2003. Also Nissan acknowledging a problem with the 2002 Altima converters and engine failers from this catalytic con. Being that NHTSA has closed there report in 2003 will that affect Nissan responsibility to fix this problem. I did not receive any type of recall for this issue and know finding out about potential fires and engine failures is starting to scare me this is a family car and I do have children can you please advise on needed actions on my part.

- Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA

problem #53

Apr 242009


  • 117,400 miles
I purchased a vehicle from city Ford Lincoln Mercury located in bronx, NY.. on 4/11/2009.. the next day when I went to pick up the car it started making loud noises. I called and informed the dealership of the situation. I went to the dealership three times before they decided to take it in to their repair shop.. they never fixed the car and they're giving me the run around. They expect to take the car back and the engine is smoking and making loud noises worse then it was when I had it.. I need help on how I go about getting the dealership to fix the car.. they've offered me to get another car & have it financed rather for them to fix the car or provide me with a refund.

- Spring-Valley, NY, USA

problem #52

Jun 022009


  • 112,400 miles
At 112,000 miles the ses light on my 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5L came on. I had it diagnosed and was told that I need to have the catalytic converter replaced a $1500 repair job. After consulting many mechanics in the area, viewing many, many websites this is an extremely common problem with this car for this same year, make and model. The problem is by the time ses light indicates there is a problem it is too late as the damage has already been done to the engine and those that have paid the $1500 to have the catalytic converter replaced ended up having to replace the entire engine just a few months later!!! this cost up to $5000 to have done, bringing the total cost for this repair to $6500 dollars for something that is an ongoing issue, but not detectable during regular scheduled maintenance and often times has occurred after the car's warranty has expired. This can cause the car to stop in the middle of a highway and just shut down, as I've read from other owners that have experienced this same problem. I have a 3 year old, a 2 year old and newborn and I no longer feel safe driving them around in this car. Please do the research and I feel rest assured that you will see the commonality of this problem. Thank you from a very distraught 2002 Nissan Altima owner.

- Orlando, FL, USA

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