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:
4 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
72,438 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 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #174

Jun 012010

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 121,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While the contact was driving approximately 25 mph the engine completely stalled without warning. The engine restarted and resumed normally for less than one mile. The failure occurred whenever the vehicle was in operation intermittently. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealership where the vehicle was repaired under NHTSA campaign id number 06V242000 (engine and engine cooling). The vehicle exhibited a jerking motion with a decrease in engine power after the recall remedy repair was performed. The vehicle was in the process of being taken back to the authorized dealership for diagnosis. The failure mileage was 121,000. Updated 04/15/11 updated 05/02/11

- Staunton, VA, USA

problem #173

May 112010

Altima 4-cyl

  • 86,958 miles
2003 Nissan Altima-86,958 mi. Purchased new March 2003 rusted floor boards I, too, am a victim of rusted floor boards(front driver and passenger) that will not pass inspection. This was found during an oil change on 4/21/10. All my maintenance work is done through the dealership on a regular basis. Why wasn't this noticed 3/30/10 when I had a catalytic converter replaced or on 10/23/09 at another oil change and multi-point inspection or at any of the other many garage appointments? my auto-body technician found manufacturer's tape over the drain holes. They sent pictures to the Nissan regional specialist. I was told by this person they handle things case-by-case, and they were not going to help me financially to get this repaired! the auto-body technician needs a section of floor. The hole is so bad patching with a piece of metal won't do the job. I have since been searching the web and found this is a common problem-Nissan not taking responsibility for a flaw in their product. I have also found many people have had the rusted floor board problem and/or the catalytic converter problem. Neither are inexpensive repairs. I'm ready to complete all the consumer forms I need to and spread the word that Nissan will not stand behind their product. As much as I love my Nissan, from what I've been reading I need to get rid of it(if I can). I have to foot the bill for the rotten floor boards-$1756.73. I never filed a claim with Nissan for the catalytic converter because I was told it was a rare problem. So, I paid the $865.10. From what I've read on catalytic converters one must figure out what caused the converter to go bad or it will happen again.

- Indiana, PA, USA

problem #172

May 012010


  • 28,700 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While driving at 20 mph, the vehicle suddenly stalled and shut off. The contact stated that she noticed that the vehicle failed to accelerate when she depressed the accelerator pedal. She also heard a noise while making a left or right turn. She was able to restart the vehicle. An authorized dealer informed that her vehicle was not included in recall 06V242000 (engine and engine cooling). The vehicle had not been repaired when the complaint was filed. The VIN was not available. The current and failure mileages were approximately 28,700.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #171

Apr 262010


  • 70,000 miles


We have a 2003 Nissan Altima with a " malfunction in the crank position sensor a circuit" (obd2 code PO335) which causes the vehicle to stall out while in drive creating a very unsafe driving condition. Nissan has a recall but all they will do is reprogram the ECM which doesn't fix problem. Either the circuit needs to be repaired/replaced or the sensor needs to be replaced. There have been many complaints about this problem and we feel it is Nissan's responsibility to remedy it... so far we have not had any luck in getting it resolved...

- Lomita, CA, USA

problem #170

Apr 242010

Altima 4-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
2003 Nissan Altima- issue crankshaft position sensor description: Vehicle starts having brief interruptions in the engine causes the car to halt for a very brief moment. Changed three sensors, two from autozone and one oem from Nissan. Checked the recall with the dealer, shows no recall in the dealer system. Car still have issues with engine stalling for very brief moments. Car died twice in the past due to same issue at low speed. It happened this morning again.

- Macomb, MI, USA

problem #169

May 262009

Altima 4-cyl

  • 66,000 miles
My 2003 Nissan Altima with 83,700 miles was driven to a local dealership where I bought it used a little over one year ago. But prior to leaving home I read at the NHTSA website about similar problems I was already having, hoping this dealership would also have similar, if not, identical results. To my dismay, they had neither. Thereby no type of recall was showing on my model's history via the manufacturer, so I was told. My vehicle problems are as follows, per dealer diagnosis: Tw catalyst sys-B1 (code P0420), engine over temp (code P0217), and cyl 1 misfire (code P0301). Furthermore, my complain essentially was about the car over-heating and taking longer than usual periods to restart, usually up to 10 minutes. This dealer said it could cost upward from at least $400 to fix either one of the problems which may still not correct them all. But the most serious was the catalytic problem that involves hot gases and debris being drawn into the engine instead of going out the exhaust, resulting in engine damage. The problems began when the check engine light remained lit after about 6 months of ownership. But the problem with starting didn't show up until the one year point. Just recently, I have purchased a tune-up as well as a new battery for my vehicle in order to remedy what I thought were owner service issues. Sadly, this local dealer either does not know about your recall or somebody is hiding this from not just them but from owners like me as well. I plan to call Nissan-1 tomorrow as they were closed after leaving the dealership. I hope no fire results from this or any serious problems relating to injuries as we try and resolve this issue. Thank you for your service in advance.

- Warner Robins, GA, USA

problem #168

Jan 012009


  • 90,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated when braking and coming to a full stop or driving at low speeds, the vehicle would stall intermittently. He was able to restart the vehicle and resume normal operation. The contact was able to locate a recall describing the failure he had experienced in his vehicle and when contacting the manufacturer, he was advised his VIN was not included with the recall (NHTSA campaign id number: 06V242000: Engine and engine cooling). The vehicle had not been repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 90,000 and the current mileage was 110,000.

- Buda , TX, USA

problem #167

Apr 152010


  • 45,455 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that on April 15, 2010, the driver stopped at a traffic light and the vehicle stalled. The service engine light illuminated. After several attempts to restart the vehicle, it started and was driven to a local repair shop. The contact called an authorized dealership and the dealer informed him that his vehicle was not included in any recalls. The vehicle was at the repair shop and awaiting a sensor replacement at the time of the complaint. The failure mileage was 45,455. The current mileage was 45,480.

- Redbank , NJ, USA

problem #166

Mar 292010


  • 129,463 miles
Driving down the interstate all of a sudden the car began to 'hesitate" and I was losing 'power/speed". got off freeway and a "rattle" type noise coming from engine bay. The muffler sounded like it was "sputtering". drove via city streets at 20 mpg - 40 mpg towards a repair facility ( all the while feeling as though the car was going to die) and 20 minutes later the "engine light" came on. Pulled over and had car towed the last 4 miles to the repair facility. First diagnosis was a "foreign matter" hit the #1plug and closed the gap. The plug was regapped and installed. Car seemed fine, but 2 days later the same symptoms happened on the interstate again. Pulled over and drove to repair facility where it was discovered a common problem with 2002 thru 2005 Altima have. The butterfly valves screws had come loose and they could not find the screws. Ran a magnet in that area but pulled nothing. Tech thinks it may have blown out of the exhaust if I remember correctly. So the first time it occurred was probably a screw hitting the plug and closing the gap and the second time was because of the missing screw/screws not letting the valve functioning properly. The intake plenum was removed and the secondary butterfly plates were inspected. The #1 plate lodged by intake valve and 2 plate screws were missing(passed into cylinder #1), all 4 plates were replaced and all screws secured with red loctite thread locker, total cost for first repair was $200 which included decarb service(because they thought "loose carbon" hitting the plug closed the gap). The second time to cure the actual cause was $460.87 which included replacing a gasket also.

- Tolleson, AZ, USA

problem #165

Mar 122010


  • 102,000 miles
I have a 2003 Nissan Altima which was just handed down to my daughter as her first car for her 17th birthday in January. While on her way to school one morning in March the car just shut off at a stop light at a very busy intersection. She obviously had no idea what to do and it was pouring rain. Someone behind her was kind enough to help a stranded teenager and she was able to call me. When I arrived to the intersection I hopped in her car, turned the ignition off and then back on, put the car in drive and it seemed fine. I noticed that the service engine soon light had come on. I immediately drove the car to a mechanic and he pulled up a recall for my exact vehicle and the exact situation. It reads: Crank position sensor recall - this could cause the "service engine soon" warning light to come on and the engine to stop running without warning during vehicle operation, which could result in a crash. He referred me to see the dealership right away. I drove straight to the dealership and they claim that this recall was VIN specific and my vehicle was not affected. I'm here to tell you that my vehicle is affected and that Nissan does not stand behind the product they produce. Furthermore, Nissan apparently has no regard for the safety of their customers and the peace of mind that the car we bought is reliable. The Nissan dealer said it will be no less than $350 to replace both the cam and crank position sensors with labor. The mechanic shop I went to quoted me $110 for parts and $50 labor totaling $160. Again, I was very disappointed with Nissan. I can tell you for sure that my family will never purchase another Nissan vehicle. I will do my very best to encourage car shoppers to stay far away from Nissan because of the simple fact that after the initial purchase you are on your own. I strongly encourage Nissan to reconsider this particular recall and perform better business practices and customer satisfaction.

- Woodstock, GA, USA

problem #164

Mar 312009

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles


2003 Nissan Altima ECM. The consumer is requesting reimbursement for the crank position sensor and the ECM that was reset. The consumer received a recall notice in the mail, however she was told the vehicle was out of warranty.

- Norwich, CT, USA

problem #163

Nov 142009


  • 86,300 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact was driving approximately 45 mph on normal road conditions; the engine stalled without warning. The vehicle restarted and resumed operation. The failure occurred intermittent. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic for inspection. The failure was contributed to the electronic control module (ECM). There was a recall under NHTSA campaign id number 07V527000 (engine and engine cooling). The VIN was included in the recall defect. However, the authorized dealer stated a diagnostic testing was required at a charge of $80 before the remedy repair. The contact was displeased to know an additional cost will be incurred for required repairs associated with the recall remedy. The failure mileage was 86,300. The VIN was unavailable and will be updated upon receipt of the complaint form.

- Disputanta, VA, USA

problem #162

Dec 282009


  • 86,300 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While driving approximately 55 mph, the vehicle shut off. She was able to immediately re-start the vehicle. The warning lights did not illuminate during or after the engine shut off; however, on December 30, 2009, the check engine light came on. A local mechanic stated that the ECM was the cause of the failure and that recall 07V527000, engine and engine cooling was directly related. The dealer confirmed that she would have to pay for a diagnostic test and anything other than the recalled component that needed to be repaired as well. The vehicle has not been repaired. The manufacturer advised her that her VIN was included in the ECM recall and if the ECM was the cause, the diagnostic fee should be refunded; however, the dealer refused to perform the recall repair. The current mileage was approximately 86,520. The failure mileage was approximately 86,300.

- Disputanta, VA, USA

problem #161

Jun 302008


  • 80,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The vehicle crank shaft sensor was replaced on June 30, 2008. Recently he noticed that when the weather was cold the vehicle will not start. The vehicle was towed to the dealer. The vehicle was not included in recall 06V242000 (engine and engine cooling), and will need to be diagnosed. The diagnostic fee cost $980. The vehicle will be repaired. The manufacturer took a report number 6690712. The failure mileage was 80,000, the current mileage was 119,000.

- Helotes , TX, USA

problem #160

Feb 092009


  • 98,697 miles
2/11/2009 check engine light made my 2003 2.5 Nissan Altima to stall during afternoon heavy traffic. Ironically, the vehicle was stalled less than a mile from an authorized Nissan dealership, which I utilized regularly. The outcome involved replacing the camshaft position sensor assembly @ a cost of $288.48. 6/23/2009-check engine light on again. Outcome was to replace the crankshaft position sensor @ a cost of $159.69. 12/9/2009 check engine light on again. Outcome dealership recommended installing a new engine, and installing a remanned transmission. I am livid that the issue was allowed to progress to the level that the engine needed to be replaced. When my vehicle stalled, I barely missed being rear-ended by a large truck traveling at least 55-65 miles per hour. This placed my family and I in a dangerous situation.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #159

Nov 152009


  • 99,000 miles
Nissan Altima 2003 - excessive oil consumption. This issue is a known defective that thousands of Nissan owners have experienced, as a result of a faulty pre-cat that shreds into small pieces and then gets stuck in the engine, damaging it. I have always taken care of my car, and am now forced to add oil once a week or else risk the engine blowing.

- Brookfield, IL, USA

problem #158

Sep 152009


  • 74,000 miles
My car shut of on me while driving at night which was hard to see because the headlamps didn't give much light and both airbags deployed and my seat belts don't work either...I own a 2003 Nissan Altima...the car would usually turn of on me like that but not a higher speeds...the car's engine has been making a loud noise it had 3 recalls for it( headlamp recall, engine exhaust recall, & engine cooling recall) before I had this done I had a service engine light on which came out as P0420, P0240, and had 3 P0335...after I had the "recall done"...a week later my car "blew a head gasket" and I had a code P0300...I immediately got it fixed for like $1300...after that...2 weeks later I got a service engine light on which came out as P0335, P0240, & P0420...I've also been in contact with Nissan Consumer Affairs...I've been in touch with a regional specialist which can't really help me at all...Nissan dealer like to take money for diagnosis and tells me the car is unsafe to car still shuts off and sometimes it doesn't even start...when the car start up it makes a loud engine right now my car shuts off at any speed rate now just low speeds, I don't have airbags in the car, engine makes a loud noise, sounds like there's something like a rock in the catalytic converter, and my car's seat belts don't work.

- Huntington Park, CA, USA

problem #157

Oct 162009

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,265 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While driving approximately 35 mph on normal road conditions; the engine stalled without warning. The vehicle restarted and resumed normal operation. The "engine service" warning light illuminated on the instrument panel intermittently. The failure recurred on two separate occasions and it was diagnosed by an independent mechanic. The technician stated that the failure was contributed to the crank position sensor and the motor mount. The vehicle was not repaired. NHTSA campaign id number 06V242000 (engine and engine cooling) is related to the failure. The vehicle was repaired; however, the recall remedy was insufficient and did not address the recall defect. The malfunction continued without warning. The contact had concerns of the safety risk involved. The failure and current mileages were 93,265. Updated 11/18/09. The valve cover gasket and camshaft position sensor was replaced. Updated 11/19/09

- Corpus Christi, TX, USA

problem #156

Jul 112009


  • 56,947 miles
1. a bolt falls out of the middle of the engine. Causes greater oil consumption and in time cause catastrophic engine failure. 2. how often? don't know, checking the internet it was easy to find. 3. replaced the engine, amazing for an engine with 55,000 miles.

- Ramsey, NJ, USA

problem #155

Jun 112004


  • miles
I was driving my car and it shut down on me while I was driving during rush hour traffic. My brakes locked up and steering became hard. I was afraid for my life because I was close to causing a crash. I found out there was an issue with the sensors on Nissan Altima, including mine. I called the dealership to speak to them on having the issue fixed. I was told by the mechanic in the service department (after pulling my car's information up) that there was no such recall on my car for the sensors. I'm looking on / for recalls, and it's clearly listed on there according to my specific make and model. I ended up having to buy the parts and had to get the service done somewhere else.

- Dallas, TX, USA

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