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 5 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #11

Jan 082008


  • 112,000 miles


I took my 2002 Nissan Altima in for repair. When I was told my catalytic converter was bad also destroying my engine. I searched your web site for recalls and found one dealing with this exact problem. When I brought it up to my dealer they said the recall was done in January of this year, if it was already done why would it happen again and shouldn't they replace the engine?well I contacted Nissan and they told me that they wouldn;T honor the recall ! so I would like to file a complaint and hope that you can pressure Nissan to update their service to cover the second time this same defect happens to over 250,000 cars.

- St. Louis , MO, USA

problem #10

Jan 022008


  • 177,150 miles
2002 Nissan Altima pre-cat problem. Pre-cat comes apart, a backflow of debris enters engine via the exhaust manifold and causes engine damage. This condition is the result of a design flaw involving the pre catalytic converter. Contacted Nissan North America was told nothing could be done on their part as this is an isolated incident. Apparently there was a recall to replace the pre-cat on these engines which only served in most cases to put off the pre-cat blow up past engine warranty.

- Winchester, CA, USA

problem #9

May 252008


  • 100,260 miles
I have 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5 S, my car burn oil like crazy, could make a fire if I didn't keep checking on the oil level, I spent 5 quart just from Iowa to minneapolis and for the local drive I need to refill 1 quart of oil every 5-6 days (between office and home which is just 4 minutes driving).

- Marshalltown, IA, USA

problem #8

Nov 222007

Altima 4-cyl

  • 65,000 miles


I have a Nissan Altima (2002) with under 75,000 miles. I have been experiencing problems with the coolant system for roughly 10,000 miles. The coolant tank drains every 2-3 days. I refill it, and it is empty 2 -3 days later. I have had 3 or 4 separate tests done on the coolant system, and no problems were found. Yet, the problems continue. Recently, gray smoke flows out of the tail pipe upon starting the car. Also, when starting the car, the whole vehicle shutters, and sometimes does not turn right over (requiring 2 or 3 turns of the ignition key). I was told that perhaps it is a blown head gasket, warped head, or something of the sort. Either way, it was determined that the coolant is somehow leaking into the engine (because no signs of leaks anywhere else have been detected). With only 75,000 miles on the car, this should be considered a manufacturers problem. The coolant tank is emptied every 2-3 days, the gray smoke blowing out of the tail pipe happens at least 3 times a week, and the shuttering (and inability to start initially) happens 1-2 times a week, with increasing frequency. Nothing was done to correct the problem. One dealership said that there was nothing wrong with the vehicle, which obviously is not the case. I was told by 2 mechanics (one at that same dealership, and one independent) that the problem is internal, and that the entire motor would probably have to be replaced. At the very minimum, the head gasket and / or header. Researching the internet, I found hundreds of similar complaints by owners of Nissan's of the same of similar model and year. This problem should be looked into, and should be seriously considered for a recall!

- Boothwyn, PA, USA

problem #7

Apr 242008

Altima 4-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
2002 Nissan Altima faulty engine and catalytic converter.

- Lake In The Hills, IL, USA

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problem #6

Apr 292008

Altima 4-cyl

  • 81,005 miles
2002 Nissan Altima 2.5 L engine excessive engine oil consumption, burning oil no leaks. Black smoke from exhaust pipe wants to stall and shakes most of the time. Check engine light comes on and off.

- Frankfort, NY, USA

problem #5

Feb 212003

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 12,800 miles


My vehicle stalls when driving on the highway. And the heat doesn't work at all, when the weather conditions are bad, I can't see out the window.

- North Braddock, PA, USA

problem #4

Jan 012007

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles
2002 Nissan Altima with a list of problems including lost power, electrical issue with 02 sensors, exhaust, cruise control* when the consumer took the vehicle to the dealer, she was told the vehicle had 2 recalls. After the two recalls were completed, the consumer still experienced problems with the vehicles lack of power. The vehicle had also started to consume large amounts of oil. The consumer took the vehicle to a repair shop and it was discovered that the oil rings were stuck on the pistons. The engine light had constantly been on. The code stated there was a problem with the timing chain sensor.

- Huntsville, AL, USA

problem #3

Apr 122005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 0 miles
In the beginning of April 2005 the engine light in my Nissan Altima came on - since I was told unless the light was flashing it is okay to drive - I called for the next appointment with nemith Nissan. On the days prior to taking my car in I noticed white smoke coming from the exhaust. I no longer drove the car and had it towed to nemith Nissan. Upon inspection of the car a T nemith they stated that the pre-catalyst had failed ( a recalled part never replaced only inspected) and exhaust had blown into the engine scoring the cylinders. Answer: New engine $4573.45. Car had 87,000 miles but was well taken care of - oil changes regularly - reg. Maintenance etc.. nemith suggested we contact Nissan direct - filed a case - no satisfaction - completely refused any assistance. Car has since been fixed - mechanic clearly states pre-catalyst cause of problem - this part was recalled and only inspected by nemith - never replaced! had I driven this car any further car would have caught fire!!!!!!!!!!!.

- Troy, NY, USA

problem #2

Feb 242004

(reported on)


  • 47,514 miles
Repairs required for 3 recalls, replacement or radiator and mass airflow sensor. However, manufacturer is willing to pay replacement of radiator, but won't pay for the replacement of mass airflow sensor.

- Park Forest, IL, USA

problem #1

Jan 162004

Altima 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 54,548 miles
Ref. Investigation PE 02-078 the 'check oil' light flashed on the dashboard of my 2002 Nissan Altima on 1-16-2004. I stopped to check the oil level and found the dipstick to be bone dry. I filled the oil reservoir on this date and have checked the oil daily since. The oil level has steadily dropped. It appears that the description of potential engine damage described in ODI resume for investigation PE 02-078 (I.e. scoring of the cylinder walls) has occurred and now my engine is consuming motor oil at a rapid pace.

- Tolland, CT, USA

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