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 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
81,625 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 3 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #28

May 072007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,762 miles


The 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5S has 50700 miles on it. I am currently experiencing high oil consumption problem because catalyst substrate particles flew into the engine. These particles have scored the cylinder walls. Nissan had a recall on this problem based on NHTSA action number: PE02078, Nissan had made preventive changes to the car to prevent this problem, as required by law in 2004. But whatever they did had not fixed the problem because it recurred. So now the Altima 2002 had an engine failure because of the pre catalyst overheating problem, and Nissan was refusing to address the problem. They stated had done recall procedures in 2004. It was very important for NHTSA to look to this matter as Nissan had not fixed the defects just prolonged it. There were lot of Altima owners at risk as this problem could result in a fire in certain conditions. So office of defect investigation should open this investigation again to get Nissan to fix the pre catlyst overheat problem.

- Laurel, MD, USA

problem #27

Nov 012003


  • 30,000 miles
2002 Nissan atlima customer states since 30,000 miles the check engine light has been on* the consumer was unable to defrost the windows, due to the defroster being inoperative. The consumer stated the vehicle would lose power, so he would have to take his foot off the gas and eventually it would gain speed. The consumer had various repairs made on the vehicle. The catalytic converter was deteriorating, the valve cover gasket was replaced, the headlight was replaced 3 times, the tail light assembly needed to replaced the consumer was told the vehicle needed a new engine after experiencing the stalling and no start problems.

- East Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #26

Jan 012007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
My car has the same problems as the newer model, and Nissan refused to repair it, we were told that the problems only pertained to 2003-2004 models, not the 2002 models

- Rancho Cordova, CA, USA

problem #25

Apr 172007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,500 miles


Design flaw caused catalytic converter breakdown which resulted in engine failure despite proper maintenance. Car only had about 85,000 miles when problems began and 90,500 when failure occurred. New engine is needed at no fault of my own and despite proper car of vehicle. Ninety thousand miles is too soon for engine replacement.

- Hillsboro, OR, USA

problem #24

Mar 102007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,444 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact brought the vehicle to the dealer for its regularly scheduled maintenance. The dealer informed the contact that there was a recall on the vehicle for the exhaust pipe hanger pin and pre catalyst. The contact stated that a month after the recall was honored a knocking noise was heard in the engine. The contact brought the vehicle to the mechanic, who stated that the oil was low. The contact had only driven the car for 1,000 miles prior to the failure. The current mileage is 75,000 and failure mileage was 73,444.

- Byron, MI, USA

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problem #23

Mar 032007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,000 miles
Check engine light comes on and off constantly. Spark plugs died. Took car to shop. Repaired and other issues appeared: Catalytic converter-fail (in pieces) repaired for $800. One week of driving and check engine light comes on constantly, oil extremely low, coolant low took back to shop now engine gasket blown, engine damaged and needs repair/replacement. This 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 catalytic converter. After inspection of the catalytic converter noticeable chucks of the catalytic 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 is fixing the problem. Safety should not be limited to a percentage of miles or to a period of time.

- Conyers, GA, USA

problem #22

Mar 242007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles


My "service engine soon" lite became illuminated just prior to and rite after having my vehicle serviced. I became alarmed when, "I noticed it would not go out". I checked to make sure my fuel cap was tightly secured. I then drove my vehicle for several miles to reset the sensor. When that didn't work, I called Nissan service dept in victorville, calif. To ask what else if any could be wrong with my veh. The answer I received from the serv. Manager was one I could except. Having taken my car into the service dept for a diagnostic test of the problem. Just to be told that my "pre catalyst converter was not functioning properly and that I needed to replace it as soon as possible due to server engine damage that could result from debris being sucked into the converter. Now if the "protruding portion of the exhaust pin was removed", and heat shields installed on the pre catalyst and surrounding exhaust tubing was done to correct or prevent any further problems. Why would the pre catalyst convertor fail if proper corrective action was performed correctly in a vehicle not 5yrs old. I don't think I should have to pay $1092 dollars for faulty manufacturer defective parts/equipment.

- Barstow, CA, USA

problem #21

Dec 112006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles
My daughter purchased the 2002 Altima, 64,000 mi, October 2007, her first car. In December the car began to sputter near to the point of engine stall. Per mechanic the computer registered an O2 sensor failure. They replaced the O2 sensor. Same day we picked up the car from the mechanic the check engine light came on again. We immediately returned the car to mechanic. The computer now registered a misfire problem. Per mechanic recommendations we replaced all spark plus and leads. Mechanic reported oil on one spark plug. Within 2 days of picking up car the check engine light was on again. In February we returned the car to the mechanic, and also informed him that we were losing considerable oil, at least 1 - 1.5 quarts every 2 weeks, roughly every 800 miles. Computer now reported catalytic converter failure. Mechanic advised to take car to Nissan dealer as catalytic converter was still under warranty, car at 68,000 miles. Dealer informed us that previous owner had car in their shop September 15, 2007 and they had advised to replace engine. Stated that engine coolant and oil was getting into exhaust system and fouling the catalytic converter. Stated that nature of problem is not covered under 80,000 mi catalytic converter warranty. No mention of Nissan recall regarding O2 sensor failure, high oil loss and catalytic converter failure. After reading the many complaints on NHTSA describing exactly our same problem and Nissan's reluctance to resolve problem I would like recommendations concerning how to make the dealer and Nissan own up to this pattern of faulty design and reluctance to take responsibility.

- South Jordan, UT, USA

problem #20

Feb 232007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The current mileage was 86,000. The vehicle was consuming oil as stated in the recall. The contact's vehicle had the same failures as stated in the recall issued by nissa concerning : exhaust pipe hanger pin and catalytic converter. The dealer advised the contact that the recall did not pertain to this vehicle. The current and failure mileage was 86,000. There is a related ODI investigation, PE02078.

- Chesapeake, VA, USA

problem #19

Feb 192007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 90,000 miles
My 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5S appears to have pieces of the catalytic converter in the engine cylinder, causing an engine misfire. When doing research on the internet I find hundreds of owners of this same model vehicle with the same problem and in most cases they are being denied any help from Nissan due to the vehicle being out of warranty. It is obvious that there is a definite pattern of premature problems/failures with this model that Nissan refuses to address. It is time that nhsta uses their influence to get this company to stand behind these defective vehicles!

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #18

Jan 122007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 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 catalytic converter. After inspection of the catalytic converter noticeable chucks of the catalytic 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 is fixing the problem. Safety should not be limited to a percentage of miles or to a period of time.

- Sioux Falls, SD, USA

problem #17

Jan 262007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,534 miles
I was recently notified that my 2002 Nissan Altima is in need of a new engine. It has 72K miles on it. The catalytic converter was already replaced by the dealership. It has had an oil consumption problem that has of late become quite a cause for concern. (I now check my oil every couple of days.) I fear that if I keep driving it, I will ruin another catalytic converter. Unfortunately, I have no other transportation and I cannot in good conscience sell it to another party. Nor can I afford the replace the engine. This was the first new car that I ever bought off the lot. I have kept excellent service records and have maintained the vehicle very well and have had all of the recommended recalls done. I feel that I have been duped. The dealership acts as if I have done something wrong but I have found that I am not the only one who has experienced this very same problem. Please add me to your list of dissatisfied customers! I would welcome your input as what my next course of action might be in the pursuit of a just resolution. I would also be interested hearing about any class action law suits that may exist as a result of Nissan's negligence in this matter.

- Vancouver, WA, USA

problem #16

Nov 302006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles
: the contact stated the vehicle did not start. There were some fumes prior to the incident. The vehicle was taken to the service dealer, who determined the catalyst converter came apart internally and sent the debris to the engine, damaging the engine. Updated 03/07/07.

- Newark, NJ, USA

problem #15

Nov 302006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles
: the contact stated while driving various speeds, the check engine and oil light illuminated. The vehicle was inspected by an independent repair shop, who performed a diagnostic test which produced a failure code, and indicated the catalytic converter needed to be replaced. There was a NHTSA recall, # 03V084000, regarding the electrical system. The vehicle was not included in the recall due to the VIN. The manufacturer was alerted.

- Missouri City, TX, USA

problem #14

Oct 032006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles
2002 Nissan Altima. Lost the engine due to "no oil". dealership stated catalytic converter failed and caused abundant oil consumption. The catalytic converter was replaced on recall at 50,000 miles. The new converter only had a 12 month/12,000 mile warranty, unlike the original warranty. Advised to contact Nissan and I did. They stated converter and car were out of warranty and the Y could accept responsibility. Dealership charged me $4,500 dollars to replace the engine and the converter. Vann york Nissan supposedly replaced the entire engine with one from the factory in a miracle of 2 days from getting my approval. (3) weeks later the serpentine belt broke and I discovered it was the original belt from the old engine. This is a rip off and Nissan North America should recall all these cars. Plus dealers are taking advantage of the situation and making a tremendous amount of money. I'm suing..........

- Winston Salem, NC, USA

problem #13

Aug 052006


  • miles
I have followed the manufacturer and dealers maintenance and have so many major problems with my car. I think Nissan needs to revisit this model and determine if it is a defect. I have an 02 Nissan Altima. The heater was replaced in the 2nd year, this year the catalytic converter was replaced and now the struts are worn out. To my understanding, this is something that happens in the long run, not with a new car.

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #12

Jul 192006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles
The engine light on my 2002 Nissan Altima came on, I brought it into my local service station for an oil change and asked them to check it. They said that they got a catalytic inefficiency code but were positive the catalytic needed to be replaced. I decided to bring the car to the dealership and was told that the oxygen sensors needed to be replaced but everything else looked good. One week later the light came back on and I brought it back to the Nissan dealer. I was told the catalytic convertor failed and pieces of it broke off and got into the engine causing damage to the engine and I would need to replace both the convertor and engine. I had the recall work done on my car that was supposed to prevent this problem but apparently it didn't. I have placed several calls to the Nissan Consumer Affairs department and have yet to hear back from anybody, for now my car is sitting at the Nissan dealership, inoperable.

- Rutland, MA, USA

problem #11

Jun 012005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,678 miles
My 2002 Nissan Altima had sparks plugs changed as a manufacturer recommended service. After I picked the car up and drove it for some time I would periodically smell gas coming through the vents. I took it to the dealer several times and they said they could not duplicate this problem. Later the catalytic converter ceased working and I am told the car has to have the engine replaced. The catalytic converter was already replaced once by the dealer before the 60,000 mile mark. I have documentation that my car's engine was also using excessive oil as has been reported in the media. I am told because the warranty has passed, there is nothing that Nissan will do. I am still making payments on this car. I have all the documentation to support my claim that this was a defective car. I have read in the news reports that Nissan will recall all Altima's back to the 2003 model year. I have the 2002 model which was the first line put out of this particular model. I am wondering what rights I have. If Nissan does recall all the way back to 2002, how can my car be repaired if the engine has already failed? I would like to send in all of my documentation so my case can be studied and I can know where I stand.

- Beech Island , SC, USA

problem #10

Mar 012006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles
: the contact stated the engine shuts off while driving at 60 mph. Originally the check engine light was illuminated; the vehicle was cutting off, stalling and lurching. The RPM hand was moving erratically. The dealer determined there was a internal failure and the catalytic converter needed to be replaced. The catalytic converter was replaced by an independent mechanic. After having a second catalytic converter replaced, the vehicle is still having the same problems.

- Concord, NC, USA

problem #9

Feb 162006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles
A recall (R3007) was issued on my 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5 to correct a manufacturing safety defect which could cause a fire in the engine compartment. The recall stated that the catalytic converter would fail and cause the engine to consume excessive oil, and if not monitored would cause an engine fire. Consequently, worse case, the engine would have to be replaced. On February 16, 2006 mossy Nissan (national city) dealership did a diagnosis on my engine after I had stated that my engine was making a noise and consuming excessive oil. The results were "engine fail" and "catalytic fail". I brought recall R3007 to their attention and said that their recall did not correct the safety defect. They insisted to that I take it up with Nissan North America. I have and Nissan North America is stating that the recall R3007 corrected the defect and that I can't prove otherwise. My four year old car is suddenly a safety hazard as I drive it to work and for personal use with my family in it. Please help. There are others with the same problem. Thank you.

- Chula Vista, CA, USA

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