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 1 of 5)

problem #91

Aug 042011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 190,000 miles


I have a 2002 Nissan Altima with a 2.5 engine. At 66,000 miles I was told the converter was bad. Since that time, I have replaced the engine, the pre-converter and the converter on my own dime. After six months the new converter failed, it was replaced. Six months later I am in the same boat. I'm told that the converter is bad again.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #90

Jun 082011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 62,100 miles
The catalytic converter disintegrated and the debris clogged the system, causing back pressure and my vehicle stopped running on a dangerous 2 lane road; drifted as far to the right as possible and called a tow truck. Car towed to nearest mechanic and it was determined the converter had failed and clogged the system and the backpressure probably damaged the engine. Excessive oil consumption is now observed after the converter was replaced. Mechanic reports the debris could have damaged the cylinder walls causing the oil consumption.

- West Chester, OH, USA

problem #89

Jun 272011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 71,287 miles
I purchase the car on 03/29/2011 from a used car dealership, on June 27, 2011 while on vacation the car quit running checked fluids and found oil reservoir had no oil in it. Had oil change performed before I went on vacation. Never had an oil leak or sign of oil burning.had car towed to a private mechanic whom told me the catalytic converter was clogged due to high oil consumption.did some research on the car and found it had a problem with the pre-catalytic convertors coming apart and sucking the carbon into the engine causing cylinders being scored and causing the high oil consumption causing the secondary catalytic converter to become clogged and in turn causing the engine to blow up.I went to the local dealership and told them my catalytic convertor was clogged which called my enigne to blow up and they told me I was on my own cause it was out of warranty and when I pushed the issue the head service tech said it is what it is and walked away.I left and called Nissan North America, they told me the recall was taken care of on 01/08/2004 and said that they would open a claim on this vehicle, she also told me that if it was repaired properly in 2004 the I would still have 1 year warranty on the convertor since they place a 8 year 80,000 miles on the convertor, she advised me to have it towed to the local dealership to have them look at since she opened a claim.the following Monday I recieved a call stating I have to call Nissan good faith program number.I called and expressed my feeling on how I thought Nissan should cover all damaged parts since it was a previously recalled part that caused the problem, they informed me they would call me back by the end of the next business day with their answers.I recieved a call and was informed they would not be covering anything on the repair because they said their was never a recall on this vehicle. I would like to know how 1 person at Nissan North America could say their was a recall and they other say there wasn't, ridiculous!!

- Pasadena, MD, USA

problem #88

Feb 242009

Altima 4-cyl

  • 102,150 miles


I had purchased a Nissan 2002 Altima from a dealer as certified vehicle. I have bought two other cars from the same dealer and in addition all the cars were always serviced by the same dealer. Since last two years the "service engine soon" light comes on and on one such occasion I was informed by the same dealership that the cat converter had failed and the same needs to be replaced. Recently the car has failed mv inspection with two codes P0420 and P1217. There is a similar recall # PE02078 on 268,000 cars on Oct. 2002 (I bought the car in 2005, and have no knowledge if this issue has been taken care of or not.) the mv inspection report clearly indicates the failure of catalytic converter and requires repairs and monitors set for re-inspection. The inspection also notes a voluntary recalls ntb07-081 and ntb03-070C for pre-catalyst. The federal law requires emissions warranties (as per the mv inspection report)for at least 80000 miles and I have no idea if this was corrected on my vehicle on Nissan's voluntary recall. I had not opted to repair this when the mechanic at dealer informed the reason for "service engine soon" at 82080 miles as the cost was exorbitant and until I had similar problem (recall)with a Ford Windstar van thru" NHTSA and was solved by the dealer. (I was about to junk that car, thanks to NHTSA).

- East Brunswick, NJ, USA

problem #87

Jun 242011


  • miles
My family has owned my 2002 Nissan Altima since it was originally driven off the lot. We have maintained the vehicle and have completed all recalls. In July 2005 recall 03V084000 was "supposedly" corrected, but I have been informed that my catalytic converter and engine needs to be replaced due to particles from the converter being inhaled by my engine. I have 143,582 miles on my vehicle. Due to this design defect I fear that driving the vehicle is a hazard, due to the chance that it will catch on fire. I contacted Nissan consumer concerning this issue, but was told that the issue have been resolved. Through my research I've learned that thousands of 02 Nissan Altima owners are experiencing this issue. Please help Nissan customers get justice, when Nissan is obviously aware that the corrective action does not stop the potential hazard of fire.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

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problem #86

Feb 012009


  • 140,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the check engine light illuminated. The vehicle was taken to a local mechanic who stated that the catalytic converter was defective and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and did not offer any assistance since the vehicle was previously repaired under recall NHTSA campaign id number: 03V084000, engine and engine cooling exhaust system manifold header/muffler/tail pipe). The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileage was 140,000.

- Los Angeles , CA, USA

problem #85

Mar 152011


  • 77,000 miles


My car is 2002 Nissan Altima with 77,000 miles on it. My car has failed emissions and the reason is the catalytic converter need to be replaced. I have performed all the recalls related to the catalytic converter. Nissan does not provide any information.

- Des Plaines, IL, USA

problem #84

Mar 082011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 75,118 miles
This is a formal request petitioning NHTSA to open an investigation for an inadequate remedy of recall 03V-084 (Nissan # ntb03-070D) 3/8/11-material from a damaged pre-catalyst enter the engine causing internal damage which increased the oil consumption to 1 qt of oil per 100 miles. 1/20/11-oil change at 74,243 miles, in perfect running condition not consuming any oil. 3/8/11-875 miles later, heard engine noise and scheduled service inspection. Engine noise due to low oil level. Filled oil and the engine noise stopped. Car smokes at higher RPM's. mechanic asked if recall number 03V-084 was performed. Nissan claimed there was no such recall. Later admitted to a recall but claimed our car was not included, and this was normal wear and tear for the age and mileage. 8 year/80,000 mile emissions warranty expired 10/5/10, 3/10/11-sent email to NHTSA. NHTSA said, from VIN listings, our car should have been included, and sent a requested for recall history to Nissan. 3/15/11-NHTSA said recall service was performed 3/2008, at 54,000 miles. The recall owner letter states, ┐there is a possibility that certain engine operating conditions may cause damage to the pre-catalyst. Material from inside the damage pre-catalyst could enter the engine and result in increased oil consumption┐..the Nissan dealer will reprogram the electronic control module to prevent any future damage to the pre-catalyst.┐ the recall service performed in 3/2008 did not provide adequate protection against premature pre-catalyst failure which caused enough damage to require engine replacement. The recall performed on my vehicle at 54,000 miles should have protected me more than the 21,118 miles. The life expectancy of the pre-catalyst should be longer than 75,118 miles, or at least addressed under the recall inspection and corrected while under the original emission warranty period. It is for these reasons I am petitioning the NHTSA to open an investigation for an inadequate remedy of this recall.

- Dekalb, IL, USA

problem #83

Feb 072011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 120,951 miles
[xxx] [xxx] re: 2002 Nissan Altima VIN [xxx] I took my car to morin brothers automotive on 2/7/2011 to have the 'check engine light' looked at. Diagnosis revealed a failed pre-catalytic converter. Upon removal the cat was found to be physically damaged. Bot were replaced. Subsequently I discovered that Nissan of North America has an active campaign or recall covering replacement of the catalytic converter. (recall #'s R3007, R3014, R3015, R3016, R3017) I contacted the serviced department at coast Nissan in person and was told that since I already had the converter replaced, there was nothing further they could do for me. I contacted Nissan corporate offices and was told that there were no open recall campaigns on my car. This is what I want Nissan to do for me: Reimburse me for the expense of relacing my catalytic converter and oxygen sensor. Verify that the current programming in the electronic control module will prevent this from happening again. Verify that the programming in the control module has also been updated to address stalling issues (recall 0712) assure me in writing that should my engine begin using oil as a result of the failure of the converter, Nissan will repair it free of charge. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6)

- Paso Robles, CA, USA

problem #82

Mar 112010


  • miles
The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact took the vehicle to a local mechanic because the check engine light illuminated. The mechanic stated that the failure was within the exhaust system and catalytic converter, which was related to NHTSA campaign id number: 03V084000 (engine and engine cooling: Exhaust system: Manifold/header/muffler/tail pipe). The contact spoke with the manufacturer and was told that the vehicle was not included in the recall. The failure mileage was unknown, but the current mileage was 82,590.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #81

Feb 112009


  • 90,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the motor was ruined because the catalytic converter was disintegrated due to particles entering the engine. The engine was burning oil rapidly and in addition, the interior heat failed. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who informed him he would need to replace the engine and offered no further assistance. The manufacturer was contacted who informed him that the vehicle was out of warranty and offered no further assistance. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 90,000 and the current mileage was 127,250.

- Taylorsville, NC, USA

problem #80

Jan 242011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
I have owned a 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5S since 2003. I bought vehicle with 11000 miles as a short term lease turn back. I have done all regular service work; oil changes, tires, brakes ect. Recently took to dealer for inspection on engine noise. Vehicle has 113,000 miles on it at present time. Service writer informed me that the catalytic converter is disintegrating and causing the materials that this is made of to be ingested into engine. Consequently, the engine now needs to be replaced. I have discovered thru some online research and inquiries, with other Nissan service departments, that this is a common problem on this vehicle for the model years 2002 & 2003. There was a tsb for this car for the dealer to do a visual inspection on the converter in 2003. I feel that a vehicle should not need an engine replacement due to a defective factory part. The advertisement for the manufacturer displays the vehicle being tested for prolonged driving. This is a serious issue with the amount of these vehicles that are on the road. A car owner should not be subject to extensive repairs due to a factory defective part. There are alot of complaints posted on the internet concerning this fault.

- Parma, OH, USA

problem #79

Jun 012010


  • 115,000 miles
We have a 2002 Nissan Altima that has about 132xxx miles on it and it is burning oil at about 5 quarts in a week. We have changed the oil regularly prior to this problem starting, which was about 6 months ago. We took it to the dealership and were told we had a catalytic system failure and it was going to cost $900 to fix, then we were told that the engine would have to be replaced costing upwards of $4000. I have looked into this problem and found a ton of other people have had this problem just outside of the "warranty".

- Waterford, WI, USA

problem #78

Nov 302010

Altima 4-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
2002 Nissan Altima with only 80,000 miles. My complaint is the same complaint you have received from others, regarding their Nissan Altima 2.5L engine. Excessive oil consumption/catalytic converter issues, where the Nissan dealers say we need total engine replacement at a cost of over $4,000. On vehicles that have been maintained according to service requirements. I am amazed that Nissan continues to get away with this. Just look up Nissan Altima engine problems, smoking, excessive oil consumption and you'll see all the complaints, with people from various states amazed that nothing is being done about it. Especially, since this condition could cause a fire which was noted in Nissan recall id# 5449.

- Port Monmouth, NJ, USA

problem #77

Jan 182010


  • 100,000 miles
2.5 engine the same as all the others, this engine should have been replaced or repaired by Nissan. If Nissan would have recalled them before the damage was done.

- Delaware, OH, USA

problem #76

Aug 272010


  • 102,000 miles
I purchased my Nissan Altima in August 2003, I have maintained my car for 7 years at 111,000 miles my engine went on my car. I was going through 3 quarts of oil in a week, I had a mechanic look at it and could not find anything leaking. I have my sensors change twice in period of 6 months. My sparks plug kept going bad after six months. I would started it up and would get a rattling noise, then I would hear water coming from my front dash. My car was being maintained very well. Until it started to put oil every week, I had it looked at several times and was told needed my oil flushed, then my I had to replace spark plugs. I did everything I needed to do but the issue was still happening. My engine light kept coming on, 2 cylinder misfire, 02 sensor, cat converter. I took it to a mechanic and replaced the censor engine light went off came back on 1 week later had it replaced again. I would come to a stop and would jerk put in neutral and stops, get home check my oil bone dry. I had an mechanic look at so many times that I was throwing money away enduring this for one whole year and no mechanic can find the solution. I was told to keep oil in my car. This was just unacceptable. On August 27th 2010 I went to leave from work and saw a cloud of smoke took it the mechanic only to be told I need a new engine I was appalled. Because my engine should not have went this soon. Well I reviewed complaints on the 2002 Nissan Altima and what I come to found out many consumer all over the U.S.a. had the same issues I experienced. This very upsetting. I feel Nissan should take responsibility for there products. I have went to many website and found many consumers have made attempts to have there engine replace and to no satisfaction Nissan has turned the other ear. This is just unacceptable business practices. I should not have to put out $4800 dollars when it very clear that there is a problem with the Nissan Altima made in 2002.

- Bridgeport, CT, USA

problem #75

Mar 022010

Altima 4-cyl

  • 112,254 miles
There were no significant events leading up to this failure. Vehicle has been meticulously maintained. Failure was recognized by cel P0420. Catalytic converters were replaced. Now engine has lost power and is emitting smoke. Coolant and engine oil are dropping at increasing rates requiring constant attention but have never been allowed to be "dry." Now engine needs to be replaced. This appears to be consistent with many other claims which Nissan denies.

- Pinole, CA, USA

problem #74

Feb 022010


  • 95,000 miles
I made a complaint by phone regarding my 2002 Nissan Altima and have yet to hear back or get a copy as promised of my complaint. Due to the many complaints, concerns and problems related to this year, make and model, you would think Nissan would be a little bit more concerned and wanting to remedy the problems that exist to avoid legal action for ignoring a potently dangerous problem that could be deadly. All though I have not been hurt physically, mentally I am beside myself thinking if you cant get Nissan to step up to the plate then who can"??? I had a engine replaced by Nissan dealership and it did not last 20,000 miles before the catalytic converter fell apart and got sucked up in the engine.. Nissan is aware of the recalls for this year/make/model???? its time to do something as you have pages and pages of complaints regarding this exact thing and it is obvious Nissan will do nothing because they get away with it time and time again..they are worse than Toyota, at least Toyota admits there is a problem...please let me know what and when you intend on doing something to get Nissan to do what's right?/"

- Long Beach, CA, USA

problem #73

May 212010

Altima 4-cyl

  • 154,635 miles
Car shuts of while driving. Car will start immediately after engine has shut off. Very dangerous almost wrecked. My 2002 Nissan Altima doesn't feel safe. There are several problems with this vehicle that should have been recalled. All which could cause potentially fatal and or severe accidents. The head gasket blew on my 2002 2.5 S QR25 4 cylinder engine. I had the head gasket replaced and it blew again. Upon further inspection the head had been cracked and there were thousands of marks in cylinder 1. one of the power valve screws located in the intake manifold of the engine came loose and shot through the engine, ruining engine compression (in turn destroying the engine) and it also destroyed the exhaust manifold, O2 sensor and power valve intake and power valve plates. The estimate to repair this is over 6000. Apparently one of power valve screws had gotten loose and was banging around the engine. Apparently this can ruin these engines. I experience power loss because of this. My car has stalled several times nearly causing a severe accident each time. The vehicle starts right up immediately after it stops. Besides the cost to repair these issues it is very concerning driving this vehicle. It is definitely unsafe and should not have been allowed to be mass produced in my opinion. I believe many others would agree. The is a voluntary service campaign on the 04 and 05 models, but 02 and 03 owners have the exact same engine and are experiencing the exact same problems. Are not included in these recalls? it's ridiculous and someone will get hurt or killed if these issues aren't addressed. Nissan should be required by law to fix these issues. T he results are very similar to Toyota recent problems which killed several. Apparently Nissan is trying to use some kind of loophole by volunteering a service campaign. But this needs to be fixed.

- Salem, OR, USA

problem #72

Apr 122002

Altima 4-cyl

  • 72,105 miles
I have taken my car to Nissan April 6, 2010, due to dashboard lights went out, I had to pay $630 for a new cluster, after 4hrs of diagnosis testing Nissan had to arrange for me a ride home two days later while driving the service engine soon light lit again I returned the car back to Nissan and was told I need a catalytic converter and sensors $1668, there was a recall regarding this problem, but I do not think Nissan fix the problem.

- Chicago, IL, USA

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