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 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
101,774 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 1 of 6)

problem #109

Jun 042019


  • 122,875 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While driving 45 mph, the engine seized and the vehicle powered down. The vehicle could not be restarted. In addition, the engine made an abnormal wrapping noise. The vehicle was towed to the contact's home. The contact called darling Honda Nissan (114 sylvan rd, bangor, me 04401, (207) 941-1460), but the vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired because the VIN was not included in a recall; however, the contact stated that the vehicle was included in NHTSA campaign number: 03V251000 (fuel system gasoline). The failure mileage was 122,875.

- Bradley, ME, USA

problem #108

Jun 022019


  • 175,000 miles
Takata recall while sitting in idle the car just shut off randomly. I was able to start the car back up after a few seconds, but it's been happening to often while in idle

- Tolleson, AZ, USA

problem #107

Nov 232018


  • miles
NHTSA shows 10 recalls for my car, went to Nissan bridgewater and they only found one recall to reprogram ECM and perform idle air volumn learning procedure, after this 2 days later service engine light went, now they want me to pay 140 for diagnostic test, they didn't want to see that my car has 10 recalls and to look into those issues, the car has no power while driving in on the highway, headlights keep going on and off, the gas gage fluctuates, the car goes through gas real fast, Nissan bridgewater needs to fix these issues, if not I will report Nissan bridgewater dealer to the better business bureau, this car has 90,403 miles

- Bridgewater, NJ, USA

problem #106

Oct 042018


  • 234,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle lost power intermittently and stalled. The vehicle was able to restart. Fred anderson Nissan of asheville (629 brevard rd, asheville, nc 28806, (828) 348-6850) was contacted. The vehicle remained at the dealer for months, but was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 234,000.

- Weaverville, NC, USA

problem #105

Oct 042018


  • miles
After about two months of having my vehicle to repair recalls, my service advisor informs me that the recalls will not be completed due to the absence of a specific code. I was informed of the recalls and the risks they create without repair; however, Nissan is still refusing to do them. This specific recall can cause the engine to stop running without warning during operation which would result in a crash. I have been compliant and patient with Nissan, and I feel taken advantage of. The service manager and my service advisor have both seen the problems first-hand while driving my car themselves. After speaking with corporate Nissan, Nissan still wants me to take my vehicle back to drive until the code appears. Having common sense, and a toddler, I do not think this is a smart or safe decision. I would like the recalls completed as I was originally promised.

- Weaverville, NC, USA

problem #104

Sep 172018


  • 95,200 miles
Excessive oil consumption starting at 94,000 miles. No leaks or exhaust smoke. Have read catalytic convertors were poorly designed resulting in low oil level and engine damage. Car still runs well but concerned about safety and reliability. Nissan forums full of similar comments including Nissan's awareness of the defect and lack of action. Car has died in traffic on a few occasions but runs well otherwise.

- Castro Valley, CA, USA

problem #103

Aug 082018


  • 149,286 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While driving 45 mph, the check engine indicator illuminated and the vehicle suddenly started jerking and sputtering until the engine turned off. The vehicle had to be towed to Nissan of mobile (1015 East interstate 65 service rd S, mobile, al 36606) where they replaced the coil pack. The contact stated that the same failure recurred multiple times. The vehicle was taken to Nissan of corinth (813 S parkway St, corinth, ms 38834) where it was diagnosed that the catalytic converter needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was contacted. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 149,286.

- Saulsbury, TN, USA

problem #102

Feb 172018


  • 4,300 miles
This vehicle is on its second catalytic converter and flex pipe, I previously changed them in autum of 2017. After installing a brand new one from eastern catalytic for $290 less than two months later I got a check engine light on my car. I took it to two mechanics and advanced auto parts where the diagnostic tool read code P0420 low efficiency bank 1. I had no money to replace it and now it's so clogged up it's shooting carbon monoxide back inside the vehicle causing me to end up at the emergency room where they told me I had symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. I am suffering from memory loss, noncoherent speech, unable to see 20/20 vision and chest pain. I hope you here at the nation highway transportation safety board can do something when it comes to all these cheap parts coming I from china and being sold to people as if there high quality goods. I have to drive with my windows down in the middle of winter due to high levels of this poison.

- Newark, DE, USA

problem #101

Nov 102017


  • 79,000 miles
Every 100 miles car start burning oil to fast..engine start running slow..check engine light start blinking on and off

- Amsterdam, NY, USA

problem #100

Nov 012017


  • 50,000 miles
I have received several recalls from Nissan and mossy Nissan el cajon refused to repair: Most recent today for airbags

- Spring Valley, CA, USA

problem #99

Jul 242017


  • 30,000 miles


My car had same identical problem (as verified by an independent auto repair shop) as cars subject to NHTSA campaign number: 03V455000 [I.e., sudden engine stalling & delayed restart due to defective sensors], but Nissan refused to expand the recall to include my car. Apparently, there are thousands of similar situations showing up on the internet, posted by unhappy owners similarly ignored by Nissan.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #98

May 132017


  • 25,000 miles
Takata recall engine was remanufactured April 4th, 2012. Engine burning oil, more then likely catayltic converter, throwing codes. Cost around 5,000. Engine having symptoms...again, for the same thing. Nissan offered to diagnose for free, but states the warranty period is over. Also found that the engine was used, by source other then the dealership. Would like someone to honor this recall, as in 2012 it should have been replaced for free upon recall. Is there anything anyone can do to help the situation? car began shaking, and losing power, on the road, had the car towed home. 25,000 miles on the reconditioned engine, oil blowing, 4 quarts in 3 miles.

- Akron, OH, USA

problem #97

Jun 042017


  • 100,000 miles
We purchased a 2003 Nissan Altima, after making a stop on the way home, 3 hours away, the car would not restart. We were stationary in a residential parking lot. Had it towed to a certified Nissan dealership in northern Virginia and it was determined it was the crankshaft/camshaft positioning sensors. Nissan would not honor the recall because our Altima has the 3.5 V6. Apparently the recall is only for the 4cyl. Well guys, the sensors in the V6S don't work either. So after paying the $1,068.17 repair cost and multiple trips back and forth to northern Virginia (if you have ever been there you know traffic is horrible) we finally brought the car home. Bad business!!

- Poquoson, VA, USA

problem #96

Jan 012014


  • 145,755 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle would suddenly shut down whether it was idling or being driven. The contact took the vehicle to a certified mechanic who replaced the cam shaft sensors, but the failure recurred. The contact returned the vehicle to a certified mechanic who performed the repair a second time; however, the failure recurred. The contact informed the manufacturer who stated that the failure was related to NHTSA campaign number: 03V455000 (engine and engine cooling); however, the VIN was not included. The manufacturer provided case number: 26771408. The approximate failure mileage was 145,755.

- Cartersville, GA, USA

problem #95

Mar 202017


  • 200,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While driving various speeds, the vehicle stalled without warning and would not restart. On various occasions, the failure occured while the vehicle was stationary as well. The vehicle was diagnosed as needing the cam shaft sensor replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 200,000.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #94

Mar 202017


  • miles
Takata recall my car seems like it won't crank up or like it is not getting gas

- Huntsville, AL, USA

problem #93

Feb 092017


  • miles
"takata recall". my complaint is that while driving my 2003 Nissan Altima, the engine stalls intermittently. I only have about 50K miles on the car and it has been well cared for. This is very dangerous as you can imagine. The code comes up P0335, but the mechanic believes it is a faulty crankshaft position sensor as well as circuitry issues involving the same part. Apparently, there has been a recall on the crankshaft position sensor for the 2003 Nissan Altima, however dealers are not willing to acknowledge this. I would like this investigated further, as I'm discovering upon further research this is a pandemic among 2003 Nissan Altima owners and an extreme safety hazard while driving. I was nearly rear ended at a stoplight a few weeks ago and while driving at a 45mph speed on a busy street where there were many cars around me.

- Palos Hills, IL, USA

problem #92

Dec 012015


  • 90,000 miles
Everything I have had to replace/repair on this car is linked to recalls, but Nissan is denying this & refusing to help. They said my vehicle was not part of any recalls but everything that's failing is related. It has died on me in the middle of highway traffic w/ my child in the car several times. This car is defective & no one from Nissan is concerned!!!! butterfly screw/valve issues, cam/crank shaft issues--related to engine cooling, high oil consumption; alternator failing; oil leaking

- Annapolis, MD, USA

problem #91

May 102016

Altima 6-cyl

  • miles
Nissan Altima recall I was driving down the road an my 03 Nissan died an would not start back it doesn't turn over.

- Pleasant Plains, AR, USA

problem #90

Jan 012015


  • 131,000 miles
The floor boards rotted out, just found out about it, give it a few more months. I can become fred flintstone and start pushing my car around when the camshaft/crankshaft sensor goes out again. Both sensors have been replaced and still had not corrected the problem. Brought the car in today and was told there are no recalls for your car. That's interesting when you can't go anywhere and you are sitting at a light with traffic behind you. That's were meet the flintstones comes in, using foot power to move the car.

- Hazelwood, MO, USA

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