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 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
105,249 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 5 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #12

Sep 262012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 152,227 miles


Vehicle stalled out in middle of intersection, after stopping for a stop sign.

- Blackwood, NJ, USA

problem #11

Aug 232012

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while driving 13 mph, the vehicle stalled without warning. The failure recurred numerous times. On a separate occasion while driving 35 mph, the steering wheel seized after the battery warning light illuminated. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic for diagnosis but they were unable to determine the cause of the failure. The failure mileage was 96,000 and the current mileage was 97,240.....updated 12/20/12 the consumer stated the crank sensor malfunctioned, the motor mount was cracked and the A/C stopped working.

- Menifee, CA, USA

problem #10

Jul 012012


  • 52,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while driving 25 mph, the vehicle stalled without warning. The contact restarted the vehicle and the problem was corrected momentarily however, the failure recurred several times. The vehicle was taken to a local mechanic who inspected the vehicle and advised the contact that the failure was caused by the crankshaft position sensor, which needed replacing. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure however no further assistance was offered. The current mileage was 54,000. The failure mileage was 52,000.

- Mashpee, MA, USA

problem #9

Aug 012012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 95,000 miles


Like many other complaints, my car stalled on highway at 70 mph speed and stalls at intersections and low speeds or will not start. I can't believe Nissan or NHTSA has not got serious about this issue. I checked your database and found following compliant numbers with same issue of Altima stalling due to crank or cam sensor failure. (ODI id numbers: 10416743, 10384742,10370526,10342438,10332467, 10318898, 10318045, 10314479, 10283487, 10278805, ..... and many more). I am lucky to be alive. I am sure there are my accidents and deaths that did not get reported due to this manufacturers defect. This is a very unsafe and dangerous problem that could lead to many deaths. I hope NHTSA looks into this and get it fixed.

- Bartlett, IL, USA

problem #8

Oct 192007

Altima 4-cyl

  • 48,500 miles
While driving on the street and about to turn the car suddenly stopped running while driving. Since I was in the middle of a busy intersection, another driver came to help, he asked what happened, I said "I don't know". he got into my car, shifted to park and started it. Weird I said, and forgot about the incident until months later happened again, then months later again, the "service engine soon" light never came on so even I took the car for service and asked about the issues, it was never detected, but I kept complaining to my mechanic every month, replaced batteries each year thinking I had a power problem. I learned about the real problem because this last time it happened on 07/03/12, the help came from someone who knows about cars and he told me about the recall on the crank & cam sensors. I took the car to the nearest Nissan and, yes, that is exactly the problem with my car!. but they said because I didn't service and didn't buy the car from an authorized dealer and my car isn't on the "list" they won't fix it. The cost isn't the problem I told them, the fact the car came out of your factory defective should be your responsibility to correct it, never the less your responsibility to recall all units with the problem not just a few. I am taking the car to them to fix the problem right now and pay for the repair because I have a 4 months old baby and I don't want to be hit by another car when my car stops running in the middle of the street but I do want help and have them be responsible for reimbursing me on the cost of the repair and recall all and every single unit involved with this issue. Nissan corporate (yes, I called them too) will not take any responsibility on the case either.

- Roswell, GA, USA

problem #7

Jul 142012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
My car began to shake uncontrollably and my check engine light started to flash. I've brought it into a shop 3X now and they can't seem to find the problem so my car has been sitting in my driveway since the incident. My oil is burning at an extreme rate. I only drive max. Maybe 20 miles in 2 days and keep having to put 2qts. Of oil in my car. It's smoking really bad too. I keep paying for labor when the problem hasn't been solved. I found the following on Ntb03-070C safety recall campaign -revised- 2002-2003 Nissan Altima, 2002-2004 Sentra; voluntary recall campaign engine exhaust pipe hanger pin and pre-catalyst for 2002-2003 model year Altima and 2002-2004 model year Sentra, there is a possibility that certain engine operating conditions may cause damage to the pre-catalyst. Material from inside a damaged pre-catalyst could enter the engine and result in increased oil consumption. If the engine oil level is not checked on a periodic basis and drops below the low level, and the driver continues to operate the vehicle ignoring noticeable engine noise, engine damage may occur which could result in a fire. I don't know what to do. I keep paying money, but no one seems to fix the problem and I need a car.

- Manteca, CA, USA

problem #6

Jun 212012


  • 116,000 miles


My camshaft position sensor, bank 1, was diagnosed by sears as needing be replaced. My service engine light went off is what first made me aware of this issue. I read online that it's a faulty part, which has been recalled for certain years/VIN numbers by Nissan. I contacted Nissan directly, and they told me that my particular VIN is not covered under the recall. It is a cheap plastic part, and the new/replacement ones are made of metal is what I'm reading in the numerous cases discussed online from fellow Altima owners who have experienced the same issue with these years of production.

- South Setauket, NY, USA

problem #5

Jun 052012


  • 140,223 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle was burning excessive oil and the exhaust pipe was emitting black smoke. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, who diagnosed that the catalytic converter was defective and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileages were 140,223.

- Toledo, OH, USA

problem #4

Oct 011999


  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the intelligent power distribution module (ipdm) failed several times. The contact also experienced failures with the head lamp housing unit. The manufacturer denied assistance with any repairs because the vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign id number: 10V517000 (engine and engine cooling). The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was unavailable and the current mileage was 129,556.

- Jackson , TN, USA

problem #3

Apr 012012


  • 142,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The vehicle was included in the recall under NHTSA campaign id number: 03V455000 (engine and engine cooling). The vehicle was taken to the dealer, where the technician stated the crankshaft sensor would have to be replaced at the contact's expense before the recall repair could be performed. The recall repair would include reprogramming the ECM. The contact stated the recall mentioned the replacement of the sensors. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 142,000.

- Maitland, FL, USA

problem #2

Jun 012012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 166,963 miles
I was driving on the highway, 60 mph, coming back from a friend's house when the car started shaking violently I felt like I was in a lot of danger so I got off the highway and came home through the streets, even though it was shaking a lot. While I was going home the engine felt so weak and sounded like a diesel truck. After research online I found out that many 02 and 03 Altima owners are experiencing the same problem because of the butterfly valve in the throttle body went into the engine, Nissan North America refuses to address the problems in the 2002 and 2003 models even though they have recalled the 04 and 05 models with the exact same engine in the 02 and 03 models!!!! please help the 02 and 03 Nissan Altima owners because Nissan North America is refusing to help even though they know the engine has major problems!

- Kansas City , MO, USA

problem #1

Feb 012012

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles
Due to faulty cat converter which Nissan failed to replace the engine is burning oil excessively due to debris from cat converter going inside the engine. Roughly at around 100K miles car needs new cat converters and new engine block. This issue is very famous among 2002-2006 Altima and Nissan is well aware of this. The oil indicator fails to inform the driver of pretty much zero oil in engine and this creates a catastrophic damage to engine which can result in fire.

- Framingham, MA, USA

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