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
Crashes / Fires:
7 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
4 / 0
Average Mileage:
62,161 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 seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2002 Nissan Altima Owner Comments

problem #19

Oct 122015


  • 118,000 miles


The contact owned a 2002 Nissan Altima equipped with general altimax RT43 (na) tires, size: 215/60/R16 (na). While driving 45 mph and depressing the brake pedal, the contact lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a ditch. The contact stated that the air bags failed to deploy and a police report was filed. No injuries were sustained. The vehicle was destroyed and towed to an independent mechanic. The vehicle was then towed to the contact's insurance company for investigative purposes. The contact stated that the insurance company confirmed that the rear passenger side sidewall had detached from the tire. The tires were not replaced. The tires were replacement tires. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate vehicle failure mileage was 118,000 and the tire failure mileage was 1,000.

- Rogers, AR, USA

problem #18

Sep 182015


  • 105,000 miles
I was involed in an accident going around 40 mph when the collision happened. My entire front end of my car was crushed to and beyond the radiator, as well as the hood bent like an a shape. None of my air bags deployed at all and Nissan has not contacted me after there first email saying someone would be in contact with me within 2 to 3 days. I was driving in the right lane on a two lane road when a vehicle from the left lane moved over right in front of me and locked up their brakes for no reason. I didn't even have time to hardly hit my brakes before we colliding. The was a police report and everything, but know they cant find the driver of the other vehicle and I cant get Nissan to talk to me about why my airbags would not work at a crash at that speed. This took place in a city. I still have not gotten any police report or anything and its been almost a month. Im having doctor bills pile up and don't know what to do.

- Georgetown, IN, USA

problem #17

Aug 052013


  • 130,000 miles
I was at a light proceeding to go and a vehicle did not yield to turn and she slammed right into the front of my vehicle at 50 mph, my air bags didn't deploy and my head hit the glad I had my seatbelt.the windshield of the vehicle was broken by my head.

- Visalia , CA, USA

problem #16

Apr 262012


  • 97,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima.while driving 30 mph, the contact was involved in a front end crash. During the crash, the contact noticed that only the front passenger side air bag deployed even though there were no passengers. The contact suffered minor injuries and a police report was filed. The failure had not been diagnosed and had not been repaired. The failure and current mileages were 97,000.

- East Meadow, NY, USA

problem #15

Aug 072009


  • 83,109 miles
My airbag light on my 2002 Nissan Altima flashes intermittently and has for several weeks now. I have discovered that two recalls were issue for 2002 Nissan Altima. One was recall #69520 on April 17, 2002, for which Nissan did send me a recall notice. The other was recall #44046 on February 27, 2003, for which I was not notified by Nissan. When I contacted Nissan of North America on September 9, 2009, they studied my case until September 21, 2009 and advised me that recall #44046 did not apply to my VIN and that I was solely responsible for the repairs, in excess of $2,000. Given that my daughter will soon be driving the car, I feel I have no choice but to proceed with the repair, at my own cost. However, it seems suspicious to me that the recall #44046 describes my airbag problem but does not cover my specific VIN.

- Havre De Grace, MD, USA

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problem #14

Jun 302006


  • 55,000 miles
Too many issues to remember than all but I'll try: - excessive oil use - excessive coolant use - overheating to the aforementioned issues - intermittent transmission issues - failing airbag - electrical issues - broken sensors - catalytic converters gone bad - oxygen sensors gone bad - intermittent failure to start - intermittent car shaking and so on.

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #13

Mar 242004

Altima 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,600 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact received a recall notice for NHTSA campaign id number 03V455000 (engine and engine cooling) and had the repair work performed on the vehicle. Three years later, while driving approximately 45 mph, the engine light illuminated. The vehicle restarted five minutes later. The dealer stated that his VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign id number 07V527000 (engine and engine cooling). The vehicle has not been repaired. He filed a formal complaint with the manufacturer. The failure mileage was 63,600 and current mileage was 63,640. Updated 3/18/08 the consumer stated had the airbag sensor recall performed. Updated 03/18/08

- Lawrenceville, GA, USA

problem #12

Aug 022007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles
My 2002 Nissan Altima vehicle was taken in for service at bob bell Chevrolet Nissan, 7900 eastern avenue, baltimore, Maryland, 21224, on Thursday, August 2, 2007. It was brought in for servicing of all the vehicles' recalls, a soft grinding noise that could be heard when turning the steering wheel and low freon levels for air conditioning. On Friday afternoon, August 3, 2007 around 5pm, I was contacted by the service department and strongly advised to pick up the vehicle before the service division closed at 6pm. The dealership stated that all recalls and issues had been resolved and completed. I picked the vehicle up around 5:45pm and proceeded to travel home. After only fifteen minutes, the vehicle engine started to smoke profusely. The engine started shaking harder and harder and a loud rattling noise could be heard from within the engine. The teenage passenger in the vehicle began to vomit and her eyes started swelling due to the volume of fumes expelled from the cars engine through the ventilation and into the car. I immediately pulled over (3700 eastern blvd.) and rushed to get her out of the seat where she continued to vomit once outside the vehicle. The dealership now denies ever seeing smoke from the engine (see attach.), as well as, denied causing damage to my car that potentially resulted in the engine smoking. The vehicle was picked up on Wednesday, August 8, 2007 with the engine rattling uncontrollably even after being returned a second time to the dealership. The vehicle cut off while attempting to de-accelerate at a red light the following day. Uncertainty surrounds whether the vehicle will cut off again while de-accelerating proving it hazardous to drive, whether the vehicles five recalls where all properly addressed, and if the engine will start smoking again.

- Baltimore, MH, USA

problem #11

May 212007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,850 miles
2002 Nissan Altima 2.5S, while driving on the expressway the Altima just cut off completely. The steering locked not giving me time to pull over off the road. This has happened 5 times. Twice at high speed and 2 times at low speed and once stopped at a traffic light. I have read many complaints about this same problem and actually spoke to one driver with the same exact car with the same problem. That driver took the car in, and was told by the dealer that they couldn't find anything wrong. I will be taking my car to dealer at a rate of $110 to have it checked. Someone should recall all these cars for the safety of the owners and their passengers. This is a serious problem for so many people to complain about, not including the one's that have not taken out time to voice their complaints. Please inform me of any recalls involving this matter. I also, had other problems with the knocking from the engine, and the air conditioner. When I took it in to be checked while under warranty they again claimed they didn't T find anything wrong. Please investigate before and not after someone is seriously hurt or killed.

- Matteson, IL, USA

problem #10

Feb 122007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,500 miles
- the contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The air bag light has been flashing continuously. The mechanic stated that during diagnosis the code was B1057. There is a short in the driver's side air bag module. There was recall 02I001000 for the connectors related to that code. The mechanic took the air bag apart, and stated the connectors were not the failure, the module was the failure. There have been 2 previous recalls, campaign#02I001000, dated April 16, 2002, and recall campaign#03V061000, dated Feb 21, 2003 for bags frontal driver side inflater air module. The contact received no recall notice for the vehicle. She also called the Nissan Altima national division, and the mechanic advised her that the air bag will not deploy without the repair if a collision occurred. The ABS light was reset on several occasions and continued to illuminate. The failure and current mileage were both 72500. The air bag was on back order. Updated 03/30/07.

- Dallas, PA, USA

problem #9

Dec 162006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Turned on car and the air bag light remained on. Air bag module and swirl cable needed to be replaced at $1500.

- North Wales, PA, USA

problem #8

May 092006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 36,000 miles
I had a small incident where somebody damaged the rear passenger side door when the car was parked in a public place. I got body work done after about 15 days (no problem with airbag until now) and when I took the delivery of the car, I noticed that air bag light started blinking. I took it back to the body shop and they were clueless. Nevertheless they asked me to take it a Nissan dealer to get it inspected. Nissan dealership charged $110 and told me everything was all right and they reset the light. The airbag light started blinking again after 2 days. I took the car back to dealership and now they tell me that drivers side airbag cables are shorted and it will cost $1170 to replace the spiral cable. I do not think the airbag issue is got anything to do with incident I had. The airbag system should not be so weak to cause this kind of issue and potentially put me at risk everyday not knowing if the airbag will deploy in case of an accident. There is a recall related to this for Nissan Altima 2002, but that does not match the VIN number of my car. I called Nissan Consumer Affairs and they tell me it is not related. Regardless whether it is related or not I feel this is a safety issue and Nissan should fix it free of cost.

- Redmond, WA, USA

problem #7

Mar 232006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles
: the contact stated the air bag light on the dash flashed constantly. There is a safety improvement campaign, # 02I001000, regarding the air bag. The vehicle has the same problems as indicated in the safety improvement campaign; however it is not included in the safety improvement campaign due to the VIN. Updated 4/17/2006 - the vehicle was taken to a dealer who indicated that eh air bag was defective. The dealer refused any assistance because the vehicle was 2000 mile out of warranty. The check engine light illuminated. The dealer found antifreeze leaking into the cylinders. The driver's side low beam headlamp was inop. The tech replaced the right side headlight bulb. Radiator leaked coolant. The heater blew out cool air when the vehicle was stopped. The tech found an air pocket in the coolant system. Replaced clutch assembly. Cylinder head gasket was replaced.

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #6

Aug 012005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles
The contact's wife was involved two accidents in which the air bags did not deploy. There was a safety campaign number 02I001000; air bags. The dealer was not contacted after the first accident. Now, the dealer and manufacturer stated they do not know anything about the campaign. They offered no free remedy.

- Anderson, SC, USA

problem #5

Mar 232005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles
First was the service engine light was coming on and off. Then I noticed as I accelerate there was a strange noise, which was getting more pronounced daily, finally the last two days as I was traveling and accelerated to go faster it was almost like it was slowing down instead of increasing in speed. The noise also is obvious in park now. I went on-line and noticed a recall (03V455000) for the exact same symptoms so I called the dealer and was told "no that does not incude your VIN #, we go by VIN#'s and yours isn't listed. I said"but this is what is going on with my car and it says it can stall at high sppeds and crash". she said she could charge me $85 to hook it up and check it out but it is not under a recall nor warranty. Perhaps their recall is not broad enough and should include more VIN#'s... not sure what to do from here, afraid to drive it, and the dealer is 50+ miles away. Another recall (03V061000) is for driver air bag intermittent which is also whats going on in my car.

- Hillsboro, NH, USA

problem #4

Apr 292004


  • 60,000 miles
The dealer refuses to honor the vehicle's recall (recall no. 03V061000) regarding on driver side air bags inflator module. Dealer stated that the front oxygen sensor needs to be repaired first. The cause has yet to be determined.

- Point Pleasant, NJ, USA

problem #3

Jun 302003

(reported on)


  • miles
While driving consumer rear ended another vehicle, lost control, and hit a tree. Consumer states none of the airbags deployed.

- Macon, GA, USA

problem #2

Jun 282002


  • miles
No summary listed for above vehicle.

- Pasco, WA, USA

problem #1

Oct 112001


  • miles
Airbag warning light goes off - dealer orders new airbag module and combination must be replaced. Has happened at 600 mile and again at 3700 miles, still not repaired- parts are on nation wide back order - major safety factor: Ignition noise and static in radio from coils.

- Mays Landing, NJ, USA

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