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:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
51,091 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 steering problems

steering problem

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2002 Nissan Altima Owner Comments

problem #9

Aug 252016


  • miles


My car has been having steering problems to wear I got it fix with replacing a steering rack which has not lasted longer then a year. 2015-2016 and I can't seem to get a repair man to figure it out. This has happen driving, and turning. I have had exhaust problem to were the repair men has told that my car could catch of fire due to the heat shield so they remove one. Which still left my car dealing with oil spillage afterwards after driving it anywhere. My oil never touches the ground just sits in exhaust pipe and blow smoke sometimes and it has started back up once again after putting so much repairs into my car. Service engine light has start popping on and off, everytime I get it tested it says crank sensor thats when driving the car or when the car moving. Then some days it will disappear. And it mess with the power of my engine. And sometimes it takes a while to crank the car. Now I have tried replacing another motor in the car but this motor that I have now is giving me the same problem as the first motor. And I think thats because the repair men are not fixing the recalls on the motor of the car, they are just replacing the motor like mines got replaced with another motor of the same year make as my car. But I feel that if these recalls on these year make of my car have been known then the Nissan should repair the defects so people want have to keep putting so much money into fixing the car and its not their fault its Nissan. I have problems also out of my manifold gasket and the whole part itself all the time that can burn me and my children up while driving. And I'm just so scared something is going to happen while driving my car and there are recalls on my make model car.

- South Boston, VA, USA

problem #8

May 222015


  • 134,000 miles
Car would not start. Towed to mechanic and found out it was crank shaft positioning sensor. After repair was made I found the recall on this website. According to Nissan service dept. Looking in Nissan database this repair was made at 28K miles before I bought the car. I had to have the same thing repaired and Nissan will not reimburse me for the repairs. According to the safety information posted about this recall the sensor can overheat and cause loss of power to the engine and cut off the engine completely. This happened to me a couple of years ago and luckily I was in a parking lot driving at a slow speed, but prior to that I was out on a country road and it was getting dark. If it had happened then I may have been hit by another car. Since this part is still defective or not redesigned it is putting other Nissan owner's at risk of this happening again. There should be a second recall to replace this part again. This is not a simple "sensor" that causes your car to not start, this is life threatening! I am afraid to drive any distance for fear of this happening further from home and either causing me to get into an accident or having a huge towing bill. Nissan was very uncooperative in number one, not willing to reimburse me because I took it to my mechanic and not a dealer, I'm psychic like that, and two, not issuing another recall when the Nissan service rep told me that these have been repaired more than once after the recall. I hope the NHTSA department can see the urgency of this complaint to issue a second recall. Thank you.

- Monroe, OH, USA

problem #7

Oct 292013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 118,000 miles
My car won't accelerate beyond 20 mph, then engine would stall while in drive gear. Took it to my mechanic who turned off the engine service light which allowed me to accelerate to normal speed. However, the engine keeps stalling while I'm driving. I nearly had several accidents while driving on the street and exiting the freeway. Luckily I can notice the engine failing before it completely shut down so I hit my hazard lights each time to avoid accident and notify motorists behind me something is wrong. Several times car had to swerved suddenly around me to avoid rear ending my car. Then yesterday when my engine stalled while pulling out of a parking lot my engine stalled again and the steering wheels locked which almost caused my car to roll straight into a brick wall. I had to quickly turn off the engine put my gear to park then turn back on the engine to get power to steer away from the brick wall just in time. I took my car back to my mechanic today who ran diagnostic and said the car's crankshaft and crankshaft need to be replaced. I searched online and read about the recall for similar incidents with my make and model. However, when I contact the local Nissan dealer they say my VIN is not included in the recall. Something is wrong here if so many 2002 Nissan Altima have this same problem but only a selected vehicle are included in the recall. Please investigate and fine Nissan for this faulty parts endangering public safety and the drivers.

- Garden Grove, CA, USA

problem #6

Sep 152005


  • 35,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while driving approximately 40 mph, the steering wheel became difficult to maneuver. The failure recurred intermittently while the contact was driving at various speeds. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnosis. The technician stated that the steering column would have to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired however, the failure recurred and the vehicle was taken back to the dealer where a second repair was performed to the steering column. Additionally, the steering wheel became loose while the contact was driving on a separate occasion. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 35,000. The VIN was not available.

- Tarrytown, NY, USA

problem #5

Mar 012011


  • 135,000 miles
Steering problem with Nissan Altima 2002 the steering coupling in the steering column corroded making the steering very difficult. Power assist was not available as fault was in column. Steering control was lost while driving creating a very dangerous situation.

- Rockford, IL, USA

problem #4

Aug 012009


  • miles
Steering wheel loose, comes out of steering column. The steering wheel is not bolted into the column and therefore the tilt doesn't stay locked and grinds. This is a daily problem that results in either the steering getting stiff or the steering wheel coming out for the column. This is a definite safety issue and Nissan needs to do something about it.

- Missouri City, TX, USA

problem #3

May 082004

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,918 miles


Scheduled recall work on car on Friday, was notified that there was actually three recalls on my car (which I have owned for about a year, purchased used) thet needed to be done and that I need my 30,000 mile service done. $476 and later that afternoon, igot my car back. I noticed that the braked seem a little tight, but figured that was part of the service. The next day, Saturday, while merging from one freeway to another at about 65 miles per hour, car sounded like it caught a piece of thin metal under front right quadrant of car, after about 15 seconds noise stopped and nothing in road behind me. I notice my brake light came on. When I tried to change lanes, I realize I had lost the power steering function, the brakes lad loosened up (but functioning) and the air conditioning was now blowing hot air. I realize I had no idea where the hazzard lights switch was and niether I nor my passange could find it. After 2 more minutes passes going up a slow incline, the car started jerking at round 55 mph. At this point the battery light came on, as well as, the "service engine soon". well no kidding, service engine soon! pulled into the emergancy lane and dropped my speed to below 25 miles per hour and the car stopped jerking. Fortunantly, I was just one mile from home at this point. Limped home and call dealership. The car had been towed to crown Nissan in birmingham. I was annoyed that the service man that took my call showed no empathy when I told him what happened on the fastest freeway in town. Additionally, I was angered by the receptionist when she came back to me from being on hold and knowing my perdictment, laughing and asking who I was on hold for.

- Birmingham, AL, USA

problem #2

Apr 082004

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,900 miles
My car was unattended when it was struck, more like sideswiped. There was a crease approximately 3/4 of the way of the length of the car. I am not sure how it happened but the angle the car was hit, perhaps at the wheelwell sent the car onto the sidewalk. I equate the "incident" with hitting a pothole. After the police left and I tried to remove the car from the sidewalk position and park it I had no steering whatsoever. The steering wheel just went around and around and around. I learned that a knuckle was broken, a bearing was broken and the axel was broken. How" I no longer feel safe in this car. What if I hit a pothole, will the car loose its steering again"

- Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #1

Sep 262003

(reported on)

Altima 6-cyl

  • miles
Problems with vehicle's steering system. Six days after the vehicle was purchased the consumer returned it to the dealer because of vibrations in the steering at highway speeds. The vehicle was returned on five occasions to repair the vibrations which returned despite the repairs (attorney for client).

- Mobile, AL, USA

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