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:
80,652 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.

2003 Nissan Altima cooling system problems

cooling system problem

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2003 Nissan Altima Owner Comments

problem #13

Jan 042011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 97,000 miles


Campaign id 03V455000 engine and engine coolant campaign id 03V084000 engine and engine coolant exhaust system campaign id 06V242000 engine and engine coolant I have attempt to contact Nissan North America on several different occasions regarding the above mentioned recalls. After car failure, and money spent on trying to correct these issues, Nissan has not been responsive to my numerous request. I am currently experiencing the above mentioned problems with my vehicle. However, these recalls came to my attention after I learned from a Nissan technician, and after having my vehicle repaired. Problems relevant to the recalls, I am still experiencing.

- New Orleans, LA, USA

problem #12

Dec 202007

Altima 4-cyl

  • 44,277 miles
2003 Nissan Altima stalls while driving. When I go in reverse and then put the car in drive the car continues to go in reverse. Stalls when I step on the accelerator but speeds up when I step on the breaks, I have to repeatedly slam my foot on the break to avoid hitting cars in front of me. The check engine light continues to come on, when it does the car stalls even more. I took it to a Nissan dealership they gave it a diagnostic test. They stated that they entered a code for the sensors, but were not sure if that was the actual problem with the car. I have been taking this car to Nissan mechanics since I purchased it in 2007 and it is still doing the same thing in 2010. The engine light continues to come on and it continues to stall. I do not feel safe in this vehicle.

- Paterson, NJ, USA

problem #11

Sep 022009


  • 180,000 miles
I have a 2003 Nissan Altima 2.5 sl, in approximately 2008 February, my car stopped on me while driving on the freeway. It turns out that the catalytic converter needed to be replaced. Had the work done at buena park Nissan then I realized that the car had also starting burning excessive oil. I was told there was an oil pan leak, had that work done at another dealership. Approximately 9 months later, the car stopped again, had the car diagnosed at the Nissan dealer ship in antioch, ca, was advised that the catalytic converter needed to be replaced, again. At this point, I was frustrated with the car and I contacted Nissan of North american, and the dealership in buena park who both denied me any help. I was given a reference number of 6594593 when I called for a solution in 2009. Now, 8/2010, I am having acceleration issues again, my check engine light is on, my antifreeze is evaporation along with the engine oil every 300 miles. I called Nissan North America again today and spoke with lisa byrne at extension 41661 who told me there was nothing Nissan would do at this point because my previous claim had already been denied. I am replacing oil on a weekly basis as well as the antifreeze. I called Nissan again today, ref # [xxx]. I asked her who could I contact other than the regional office and she stated no one and that there was nothing Nissan was going to do to right my situation. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Brentwood, CA, USA

problem #10

Jan 012010


  • 101,000 miles


Like many of you, I have also had the problem of the sensors going bad causing the engine to stop. I had the sensors replaced twice at my expense because Nissan said that my 2003 Altima VIN# was not included in the recall. The second time the sensors were replaced, they looked different. Hopefully the redesign will finally fix this ongoing problem. Shame on you, Nissan, for not covering this known problem in a recall. Does it take a stall on a railroad track to get your attention?

- Kenner, LA, USA

problem #9

Dec 062008


  • 127,000 miles
The heater/defroster does not blow hot air while car is at a stand still. Once he press the accelerator and begin to speed up the hot then returns. I researched this on the internet and there are many of the same complaints from other Altima owners. With this the windows fog up at traffic lights and when you are stuck at a standstill on the interstate the car becomes unbearably cold an is a safety hazard in the winter. The dealer wants over a hundred dollars to fix a problem of their design.

- London, KY, USA

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problem #8

Mar 172008


  • 79,000 miles
My 20003 Nissan Altima has recurring stalling problem which has not been rectified by Nissan even though it has issued recalls for vehicles of my type.

- Abington, PA, USA

problem #7

Jul 242008


  • 138,000 miles


This is in regards to recall # 06V242000. My car is doing exactly what the problem is on this recall. They already "fixed" the problem but the sensor is still throwing faults once in a while. This last time my car shutdown at a slow speed and I lost control of the power steering and hit a curb. This issue needs to be fixed. Auto zone said the crankshaft position sensor is bad and will cost $60 for the part. But how much to put it in" $100 $200" this has been happening a lot, as I've searched on the forums.

- Cabot, AR, USA

problem #6

Jul 212008


  • 27,000 miles
My car was stopping while driving I had to turn off the car then re-start it. I took back to dealer and he ran it through computerized machine the print-out stated that I had an issue with the crank angle sensor and that it had to be taken care of right away. He stated that since I brought in the car that there were a couple of recalls on my car and that they were going to take care of it but that the 1st issue with the crank angle sensor was not an issue related to my car shutting off and that was an additional charge to have it taken care of.

- Queens, NY, USA

problem #5

Jun 112008


  • 93,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While driving 60 mph, the engine oil light illuminated on the instrument panel. The contact attempted to pull the vehicle over. All of the instrument panel lights illuminated and the engine hesitated and suddenly shut off. The vehicle would not restart and was towed to a mechanic. The mechanic stated that the engine oil pump exploded into pieces inside the engine, causing it to shut off. The vehicle is currently at being repaired by the mechanic. The current and failure mileages were 93,000.

- Deer Park, NY, USA

problem #4

May 032008


  • miles
I have a 2003 Nissan Altima. In the past few months, I have had problems with my car's engine shutting off while sitting idle at a light or shutting off almost immediately after starting my engine. I contacted both the dealership where I purchased the vehicle and Nissan directly about this issue. The dealership never returned my call/email and Nissan basically told me that since my VIN was not part of the recall, that they would not give me a recall notice for this problem. I took my car into a Nissan dealership to have it fixed and I was told I needed to replace the crank shaft positioning sensor and then from there, they would reprogram the ECM. After being told they needed to run a 100+ diagnostic check, I was informed that in order to replace the sensor, it would cost approximately $200+, which I didn't have, so with the help of a mechanic friend, researched the correct sensor, had him replace it and then proceeded to take it to another Nissan dealership to reprogram. Again, we were told they needed to run a diagnostic check to determine what was wrong with my vehicle, even though I already told them it just needed to be reprogrammed. I was informed that if that was all that was needed, that service would be absorbed into the $100 diagnostic fee. They called me back and told me that I needed to replace my cam shaft positioning sensor for the ECM to be reprogrammed and that would cost me $300+. I asked them why there was a discrepancy with the information being relayed to me and I was informed that each dealership operates independently, so they can't be liable for another dealerships assessment. I just want my car fixed without feeling as though I am purchasing parts that aren't completely necessary to fix my problem, though my ideal situation would be that they send me a recall notice so that I can get this problem fixed without having to pay any more money.

- Hawthorne, CA, USA

problem #3

Mar 142008

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,000 miles


Crankshaft sensor needs to be replaced or reprogrammed, but Nissan will not because it doesn't fall in their list of affected VIN #'s. my question would be, what does it take to get included" does someone have to die? or get seriously injured" it apparently is not just those VIN # specific as it affects mine vehicle now.

- Jackson, TN, USA

problem #2

Dec 072006

Altima 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,200 miles
I bought a 2003 Nissan Altima in October 2002. It had 4 miles on it from my test drive. My first oil change was six weeks later because I was working 100 miles round-trip to work. The dealership initially left the cap off my radiator which caused the car to smoke and sputter when I picked it up. In February 2003, I was driving to work and my cab filled up with smoke. I had to pull over because the car ran hot. The dealership denied any responsibility and refused to pay for repairs to the car. There was something wrong with the radiator. They told me they had to replace the "hoses" because rodents had eaten through the hoses that caused the fluid to leak. I asked for another vehicle, but they refused. I have since replaced every hose on the car. I had to buy a new radiator, heater coil (the car would blow cold air when sitting still), and right now I'm waiting on a compressor. This car has been a piece of junk since I made the purchase. I have owned 2 maximas, and currently have an older model pathfinder as well. I have never had any problems like this with the other ones. I will never buy another Altima.

- Pine Bluff, AR, USA

problem #1

Jul 052006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles
My 2003 Nissan Altima has the engine install issue.... I have called the headquarters and the dealership and have been told I must wait until the recall notices are mailed to out on 8/21.... I hope I don't have a wreck between now and then!

- Pearl, MS, USA

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