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:
2 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
63,140 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 2 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #52

Jun 012010


  • miles


I am on my 3rd set of tires on my 2003 Altima it has only 78,000 miles on it. I rotate my tires every 5,000 miles the tires sound like they are coming apart. The headlight lens are turning foggy and yellow cutting down on the headlight visibility. Motor busing went bad car would not pass state inspection. Alternator went bad at 50,000 miles. Driver door hinge is bad want stay open if car is a little uneven. Had to replace crank sensor cause car wouldn't start at around 65,000 miles the dealer said there were no recall on any these problems.

- Newport News, VA, USA

problem #51

Jul 192010


  • 95,000 miles
The engine stalls when stopped or moving at slow speeds. This happens intermittently, between 1-15 times a month in normal driving. There is an outstanding recall (06V242000) that matches my problem but my VIN doesn't match those being recalled.

- Papillion, NE, USA

problem #50

Jun 062010

Altima 6-cyl

  • 74,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while driving at approximately 40 mph, the vehicle suddenly accelerated. The contact attempted to tap the brakes but the vehicle just accelerated faster. The vehicle jumped over a ditch and finally landed in a canal. The contact suffered severe injuries including open wounds, fractured ribs, two cracked disks, head injury and incidents of loosing consciousness. A police report was filed. The vehicle was totaled. The failure mileage was approximately 74,000. Updated evoq 07/20/10. The vehicle was inspected and the consumer was informed by the technician he found an electric crossover connection between the brake and accelerator pedals and may have been computer related. Updated 11/23/10. Updated 12/07/10. Updated 12/21/10 updated 12/30/10 updated 01/10/11. Updated 01/12/11. The consumer stated it was a clear day and traffic was very light. He had just left his home and was less than 2 miles from his home, driving about 40 mph, when his vehicle suddenly accelerated. He tapped the brake several times; each time the vehicle accelerated faster. The vehicle jumped over a ditch and finally landed in a water-filled irrigation canal. The consumer sustained severe injuries. The vehicle was totaled. Updated 01/13/11

- Elmira, CA, USA

problem #49

Feb 282010

Altima 6-cyl

  • 108,000 miles


2003 Nissan Altima 3.5L V6 SE - the door locks keep locking repeatedly. Will do this while I am in and out of the car regardless of key fob use. My hazard lights flash each time. This has been ongoing for over a week and has increased in frequency and duration. It is now constant - going on every 3-5 seconds. I had trouble getting my daughter out of the car because the door kept locking on me. I worry about the ability to get out quickly if needed. It brings attention to my car throughout the night. I believe this is a safety issue on many levels. It has not been fixed yet. I have been told it may be the door lock actuators.

- Firestone, CO, USA

problem #48

Nov 052009


  • 42,038 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While driving approximately 5 mph the check engine light came on and there was rust on the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for a diagnostic test. The dealer stated that the under carriage was damaged and that if the under carriage was removed the bolts may fall off. The dealer also stated that the fuel cap and the rear sub frame were corroded. All of the rotors on the vehicle needed to be replaced. The dealer stated that the state and ocean location may be a factor. The failure mileage was 42,000. The current mileage was 43,000.

- Medford, MA, USA

problem #47

Sep 222009


  • 74,444 miles
I was driving my vehicle, 2003 Nissan Altima, at a low speed, when for no apparent reason, the vehicle died. It was during the evening hours. I was lucky the driver behind me didn't run into me. I was able to restart the car, and drive off. The car didn't do it again, but a week later, the check engine light came on. I took the car into the dealership. They told me the cause of the problem was a crank angle sensor. It was faulty and that's why my car died, without any warning. I found out that, Nissan had a recall on this item. I called Nissan North America Inc and spoke to a person name david. David confirmed that they did have a recall on the sensor but it was only on certain years for the Altima. I told david that maybe all the Altima's with this sensor should be recalled and replaced. Further investigation, I found a owner notification from Nissan telling me that my Altima, there is a possibility that the engine might stop running while being driven due to an electrical problem between the crank angle sensor and ECM. I took it to the dealer after receiving their notice. The dealer reprogram the ECM unit, but never replaced the sensor. I told david at Nissan that they should have replaced the sensor at the time when they reprogram the ECM. It was very scary when my car just died suddenly. I was very lucky I didn't get hurt. I am letting you know because I feel Nissan should recall all their vehicle equip with this sensor. I was very very lucky not to have been involved in an accident. I told david at Nissan that I don't feel safe driving my car anymore.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #46

Aug 152009


  • miles


I was sold my car from a dealership and it has had problem since day one and I keep up with my maintenance and a month after I got the vehicle I spent over 2500 in repairs now I am having a problem with catalyst and the exhaust pipe which is on the recall list from 7-30-2003 when I start the car it doesn't want to start and it is a tapping sound that is heard all the time I have tried to get in touch where I got the car from but they are out of business and I am still paying on this car I have a problem with the struts, shocks, brakes, and air conditioner just alot of stuff and now the tapping noise is so bad its scaring me and I have four children that rides with me in that car.

- Hurst, TX, USA

problem #45

Jul 292009


  • 92,000 miles
We have a 2003 Nissan Altima. The service engine light came on one day and then it went off. A few weeks later the light came on again and we had it diagnosed and the code indicated it was electrical, battery, or crank shaft sensor. Same day we got it diagnosed we went to start the car in the parking lot the car wouldn't start. We called aaa to have car towed. While waiting for tow truck we tried to start the vehicle and it started. We started driving car to get it to be repaired and while driving the car the car stopped running and my daughter had no control of the car. The steering wheel locked and everything. She pulled into someone's driveway. We called and had car towed to local repair facility. I checked the internet to see if there was any recalls and it indicated there was a recall on the crank shaft sensor. I called the Nissan dealership in salem, nh and spoke to a gentleman in service and explained about the recall. He asked for the VIN number and said there was no recalls. I disputed it with him and he said there was nothing he could do and that it would cost approx $100 dollars to diagnose and approx $125 per hour to replace plus parts. I then call Nissan consumer service and they also said there was no recall on my vehicle. I again disputed again they said there is nothing they can do about the problem. I then had the car repaired at a local repair shop and they had to replace the crank position sensor (the recalled part). We picked up the car drove down the street and the check engine light came on again. Brought the car back to repair shop and they had to replace the cam shaft sensor. I called Nissan customer relations again about the recall and they stated there is still no recall for the sensor on my VIN. She said that she could help us by refunding the repair costs. She asked where I had it repaired and I told her at a local repair center. She said I cant help you because I didn't get it repaired at a Nissan dealership. They should of told me this.

- Salem, NH, USA

problem #44

Jan 262009


  • 60,000 miles
2003, Nissan Altima, 3.5L, 60,000 miles. January 2009, traveling in South Florida traffic, all dash warning lights come on and car stalls. Car restarts, hard, and is driven to ft lauderdale dealership. $100 diagnostic reveals crank shaft position sensor and 2 cam sensors need to be replaced. Our son, service writer for Nissan in Texas, tells us the dealership has doubled the estimate and to keep looking for a mechanic (since car is no longer under warranty). Tells us the maxima for this year has a recall for this but not the Altima with 3.5L. We drive to a local mechanic, stalling several more times, in rush-hour traffic, he estimates $600+/- and we leave car for repair while I enter the hospital for breast cancer surgery. Car is repaired when I leave hospital, huge bill comes out of my pocket, and Nissan will not consider reimbursement, although many hundreds of these vehicles are experiencing identical problems! no recall notice was received, no notice of the ECM recall was received and the car is now sluggish on acceleration. Car is meticulously maintained, uses only premium gas and otherwise a good vehicle to own. Nissan's refusal to acknowledge this and dealerships gouging customers makes this situation even more distasteful!

- Ocala, FL, USA

problem #43

May 032009


  • 151,000 miles
2003 Nissan Altima 2.5. the car shuts off while driving, in the middle of traffic almost was hit by an 18 wheeler behind me. Sometimes it won't crank so I've had the crank shaft position sensor replaced. I've been told that all the 2003 Altima have the same problem, but there is no recall on them.

- Stringer, MS, USA

problem #42

Feb 172009


  • 87,000 miles


The failure occurred for the first time February 17,2009. I was driving down the road and the power to my 2003 Nissan Altima SE 3.5 completely cut out. I was stranded in the middle of the road with a service engine light, the battery light, oil light and brake light all on. I tried to re-start my car and it would not start. I was finally able to get it into neutral. At first the engine turned over like it wanted to start but it did not immediately start. After the 3rd attempt it started up. I was able to make it to my destination 5 minutes down the road before anything else happened. I am very lucky and was not rear ended. When I pulled into my parking spot the same thing happened. This time it took about 5 attempts to get it to restart. The car was taken to our local repair shop and I was told it is a crank/cam position sensor. We replaced this item at a cost of $185.21. My husband did an internet search and found out Nissan usa did a recall on 2002 and early 2003 Nissan Altima's for the crank/cam position sensor. I contacted Nissan to find out if my car was included in this recall and was informed I was not. I explained to them that this problem is a hazard to motorists and it should be addressed by Nissan. I was given a file #6422418 and that was all they could do for me. Meanwhile I have investigated to see if others have had this problem and it appears to be wide spread among the Nissan Altima's and some maximas. It is also not just an issue with the 2002-2003 models but extends up to the 2005 models. Most of the consumers have either made a complaint with Nissan or the better business bureau-automotive line. Nissan did make a recall on the 2005 Nissan Altima for the ECM which just resets the "check engine light" but still does not address the issue of the crank/cam position sensor. Some of these consumers have spent up to $500 to get this sensor fixed.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #41

Jan 062009


  • 41,500 miles
I have had the service engine soon light come on and twice I have had the crank shaft sensor replaced in the last 6 months. Periodically my car will stall, sometimes when I am moving, and other times it is really hard to start. I have only 42000 miles on my car. I wrote a letter to Nissan and have not heard back from them. I took my car to the local dealership and asked her about the 2006 recall I found on line and she told me my VIN number did not fall under the recall and the problems I was experiencing were coincidental. That doesn't even begin to make sense to me. What can be done to have this ongoing problem resolved? it's obvious it is happening to numerous Nissan Altima owners.

- Eastlake, OH, USA

problem #40

Oct 062008


  • 60,000 miles
I have a Nissan Altima 2003 3.5 with 60,000 miles and it just turned off on me and when I was able to turn it back on if wont drive more than 5 miles left it unused and when the mechanic came he turned the car on took it to auto zone and they said its the throttle control actuator this car does not have the miles for this part to be damaged.

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #39

Sep 182006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While driving approximately 65 mph, the vehicle stalled. The contact shifted into neutral, restarted the engine, and drove to her residence. She called the dealer and was informed that the vehicle was not being properly maintained. Later that week, the contact received a recall notice stating that the vehicle's electrical control module (ECM) needed to be reprogrammed. The vehicle was returned to the dealer and they reprogrammed the electrical control module. Immediately following the repair, the vehicle stalled again and the power steering became inoperable. She returned the vehicle to the dealer and they reprogrammed the ECM for the third time due to consistent stalling. Six months later, the stalling recurred. She called the dealer and was informed that the recall was satisfied and they were not liable for further repairs. A diagnostic test was performed at a local repair shop, which revealed that the crank shaft positioning sensor was defective. The mechanic informed her that the crank shaft positioning sensor was supposed to be repaired before reprogramming the ECM. The manufacturer stated that the vehicle was not included in any recalls for the crank shaft positioning system. The vehicle has not been repaired. The NHTSA campaign id number was unknown. The current mileage was 125,000 and failure mileage was 62,000. Updated 10-30-08 updated 11/03/08.

- Powder Spring , GA, USA

problem #38

Aug 062008


  • 65,000 miles
2003 Nissan Altima stalled and would not start in traffic at 40mph. Would not start for approximately 15-20 minutes. Situation was dangerous but no one hit us. Computer codes say crank position sensor and camshaft position sensor. If codes are cleared (and after vehicle cools) they reappear immediately at the stall point. Time to stall varies apparently with heat. 2003 Nissan are under voluntary recall for this problem. Nissan says this vehicle is not covered by the recall. It seems to me that it should be. This is identical to the problem described in the recall.

- Mission Viejo, CA, USA

problem #37

May 102008


  • 62,486 miles
Car will not start at times, car will start and not idle past 1500 RPM's or drive over 5 miles an hour. Service engine soon light stays on. First I was told the anti theft in the cars computer system was causing the problem, next I was told the computer did not re-learn the setup. Next I was told it is a throttle position sensor. Tired of the same problem being blamed on different things and then re-occurring. This problem do to the speed of the car can cause serious hazards by not having the power to maintain the speed limits !

- Fresno, CA, USA

problem #36

Jan 122008


  • 101,000 miles
I have had my Nissan Altima 2003 since may of that year. Starting a year ago I began to notice signals on my dash indicating check engine. I then was pulled over for a non working tail light. I had it fixed and a day later the bulb blew later. I changed the bulb three times before they issued a recall on that wire. Soon there after the check engine light would come on again now the car would shut off while sitting at the light. I then received another recall notice on the computer chip which causes a faulty signal to the starter. I took that in to get fixed. A month later the car would begin to shut off while I was moving. I took it back into Nissan, they exclaimed that there was nothing to fix. After the same occurence continued I then took it to other mechanics who would see that there was a faulty computer chip which needed to be replaced. In January of this year I paid about $1,800 in repairs and still the car would shut off while driving and I became scared to drive the car due to the severity. I then called customer care for Nissan which exclaims that I would have to have the car towed to them, pay $80 again to see what is wrong. There is another recall on the Nissan Altima, pertaining to the computer which causes the car not to run. They deny this and I am left paying for a car that does not work. I don't know what else to do, but I have met other owners who are experiencing the same problem.

- Bronx, NY, USA

problem #35

Jun 272008


  • miles
I have a 2003 Nissan Altima that when driving will cut off. This occurs at least 4 or 5 times while driving. I received notice that the car is under recalled. After taking my car to a diagnostic shop, it was determined that the codes matched the recalled part. Nissan dealership located at 2207 wake forest road, refuse to make the repair to the recalled part. The diagnostic test stated that the car was cutting off because of the recalled part and the dealership refused to make the repair claiming that I would have to pay first and then they would make the repair just in case other codes are found and if other codes are found I would have to pay to have them reset before they would fix the recalled repair. I have a daughter ( 3 years of age) and I am concerned that I will get hit causing both of us injury.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #34

Jan 202006

Altima 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,767 miles
On or about Jan. 20, 2006 while driving my vehicles' check engine light would come on and then the vehicle would cut off. We took it took it to fontana Nissan for repairs. The car was returned to us on Jan. 28, 2006. Maybe 2 - 3 hrs. After getting the vehicle, we were driving to L.a. area and the check engine light came on again. We called the service mgr. At fontana Nissan and he said to bring it back and they would look at it on the following mon. Well, we never made it back because while we were in route home (fontana) I lost control of the car while it was shutting off on the 91 fwy. To the 605 interchange. After the crash, the car was towed and the insurance company repaired the external damages (body work) but the internal was not fixed. Then in June 2006 while driving home, the car cut off again. Fontana Nissan said it was the battery. So we purchased a battery. I refused to drive the car because we feel that the next time we might not be so lucky. In Jan. 2007 there was a recall on the Nissan Altima for the same problem we had and consequently caused the crash. We were being represented by a law firm but as time passed our warranty expired. I am very afraid to drive the vehicle. Which I have not driven since 2006. I would really appreciate someone's help in this situation.

- Gardena, CA, USA

problem #33

Nov 012007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,280 miles
Check engine light. The code was crank sensor needs to be replaced. Car stops running when you are driving.

- Norcross, GA, USA

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