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 6 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #154

Sep 102009


  • 60,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that intermittently the engine waring light will illuminate on the instrument control panel, and then the vehicle will stall. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, in which the technician concluded that she would have to pay $200 to replace the crankshaft position sensor. She contacted the manufacturer in reference to recall# 06V242000 (engine and engine cooling). Upon contact a representative stated that because the VIN number was excluded from the VIN range, she was ineligible for a free remedy. No repairs were made. The failure and current mileages were 60,000.

- Kalamazoo, MI, USA

problem #153

Sep 012009


  • 91,427 miles
I own a 2003 Nissan Altima 2.5.the car shut down as I was on I-85 N without warning. It took about 5 minutes to start. The service engine came on and I took it to the shop. I was told it's the cam shaft positioning sensor. I did some research and this is a continuous problem. I contacted Nissan they told me my car was not part of the recall. This issue started 9-1-09 and has stalled twice already.

- Decatur, GA, USA

problem #152

Jul 272009


  • 42,120 miles
I own a 2003 Nissan Altima, on the morning of July 27, 2009 I had driven only a few miles when I was slowing down to stop at a red light at that time the car began severely hesitating and then without warning, shut down, after which the engine light came on. I was extremely lucky the car behind me was far enough away to avoid a crash. I tried to crank the engine and it would only turn over, however after a few tries it did start. I then drove approx. Two miles to a repair shop where they used a code reader on the obd. The code reader indicated code P0335 crankshaft position sensor. I drove back home and checked the defects /recalls on where there are numerous recalls for this issue with various Nissan vehicles including the Altima. I called my local Nissan dealer, where the car was purchased and told them about the situation. I was then informed that my car was not covered under any of the recalls for the crankshaft position sensor. So far, the car has not been driven or repaired since the day of the incident. I am very concerned about driving it on the road even for repair due to the unreliable and unpredictable operation of this car.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #151

Jul 012009


  • 93,500 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle would not start. The dealer stated that the engine crank angle sensor failed. The vehicle was repaired at the cost of $297.25. Upon further investigation, the contact discovered a recall for the failure she was experiencing with the vehicle. The manufacturer stated that her VIN was excluded from the recall; therefore, no compensation would be provided. The failure mileage was 93,500 and current mileage was 93,533.

- York, PA, USA

problem #150

Jul 182009


  • 120,000 miles
2003 Nissan Altima's have a recall on the crank and cam shaft sensors. They are faulty and cause the car to shut off while driving. I had recently had the crank senor replaced by Nissan and paid for it, and now the cam sensor is bad. I have called Nissan Consumer Affairs, & they said it does not cover my particular VIN# even though it has the same problem as all the other 2003's "?? they say they will not cover this. ??? am I the only one who does not get this??" help!

- Ontario, CA, USA

problem #149

Jul 092009


  • 69,300 miles
Crank shaft sensor failure. The service engine soon (ses) light came on at approx.69,300 miles on 7/9/09. On 7/11/09 after driving the vehicle locally during the day, had parked it for about 90 minutes. Started the vehicle and all of the dashboard indicators remaied on. I shut off the car, and tried to restrat it. The car tried to start, but the engine would not run. It took about 5 times of turning the key and letting the car try to start for about 10 seconds each time before the engine kicked on. This time the dahboard display was normal. I drove the car straight home (1 mile). I did not try to start the car again until I took it to the shop on 7/13/09. On 7/15/09 I was advised that the ses code was the crank shaft sensor and the cost to replace is $250. The part was to come from a Nissan dealership (not aftermarket). They checked the VIN and although early 2003 Altima's are covered by a recall mine is not. Further internet searches have shown that this problem is rampent. Nissan needs to cover this! I am fortunate that I did not continue to operate my vehicle and have it stall in traffic as many others have. This is a safety issue and Nissan must expand their coverage of the repair. My car is properly maintained, and I have no problem paying for wear and tear. Known defects such as this should be covered.

- Arlington, MA, USA

problem #148

Jun 052009


  • 34,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While turning at 20 mph, the vehicle shut off without warning. The vehicle also shut off while driving 30 mph on the highway. The failure has been occurring for one month. The dealer stated that there was a recall for this vehicle, but the crank position and cam position sensor needed to be repaired first, and the ECM needed to be reprogrammed. The contact will be charged $500 for the repair because the vehicle is not included in NHTSA campaign id number 06V242000 (engine and engine cooling). The failure is due to the poor design of the engine. The vehicle is currently at the dealer waiting to be repaired. The failure mileage was 34,000 and current mileage was 35,024.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #147

Apr 012009


  • 145,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the service engine light illuminated and the vehicle stalled while driving 15 mph. The dealer stated that they needed to perform a diagnostic, but they believe that the crankshaft sensor was the cause of the failure. The dealer will not assume responsibility for the repairs. Through research, the contact found NHTSA campaign id number 06V242000 (engine and engine cooling); however, the manufacturer stated that the VIN was not included in the recall. The contact believes that the vehicle should be repaired according to the recall since the failures were identical. The failure mileage was 145,000 and current mileage was 150,000.

- Bristol, TN, USA

problem #146

Jun 212009


  • 78,000 miles
Recall #06V242: Check engine light came on 6/21/09 took to independent mechanic who diagnosed it as the crank angle sensor in my Nissan 2003 Altima needed to be replaced because it was being affected by temperature variations due to the location of the sensor. Called dealership they said it was not covered under my VIN number. They suggested calling Nissan of North America. They kept my car for 4 days before getting back to me saying they would not cover repairs. Dealership is charging $150 to get car back for the diagnoses. Engine is cutting off during low driving causing very hazardous conditions. It has also stalled after starting the car several times.

- Roselle, IL, USA

problem #145

Feb 072009


  • 80,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While driving approximately 65 mph, the engine stalled without warning. The engine restated after the first attempt. There were no warning indicators illuminated on the instrument panel. The vehicle was able to resume normal operation and was taken to an authorized dealer for inspection. The technician recommended a diagnostic test, which was not performed on the vehicle. The identical failure recurred on fifty separate occasions. In addition, the engine warning indicator illuminated. Recently, the vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer and they stated that the crankshaft position sensor failed. The vehicle was repaired. The VIN was unable to be entered into the system. The failure mileage was 80,000 and current mileage was 105,000.

- Buckeye, AZ, USA

problem #144

Jun 162009


  • 93,638 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While the vehicle was at a local repair shop, the mechanic noticed that the camshaft position sensor and crank position sensor were not working. The contact noticed that the vehicle hesitated and attempted to shut off while driving. Through online research, the contact found a recall for the 2002 model with the same problem, which generated a recall by Nissan. He feels that this is a life and death situation and should be reimbursed and that all the vehicles need to be repaired. The current mileage was 94,000 and failure mileage was 93,638. Updated 07/08/09. Updated 07/08/09.

- North Potomac, MD, USA

problem #143

Apr 152009


  • 57,000 miles
I've been driving this 2003 Nissan Altima since March 2009. Since April the car shuts off while moving every time I use it. The check engine light came on, so I brought it to my local auto parts store to have the engine codes read, and they said I have a bad crankshaft position sensor and a bad camshaft position sensor. After hearing of this I researched the parts and problems I've been experiencing and came across the recall. I then called a Nissan dealer to have the recall addressed, and dropped the car off to have on 6/24/09. I received a phone call from the service department on 6/25/09 saying they can not perform the recall (ECM reprogram) unless I pay $300 + tax to have the sensors replaced and then they can perform the recall fix. I insisted he perform the reprogram before the sensors and he refused. So I said thank you and I'll pick my car up later on in the day. Now my real complaint is the sensors are going bad because Nissan has a faulty ECM program. Nissan needs to be responsible for fixing the entire problem not just a simple computer fix. Nissan is making money off of a blatant defect caused by their own manufacturing at the cost of safety and their customers expense. This recall is only addressing the initial problem, not the results of the initial problem. Nissan is performing a slapstick recall campaign and the consumers need to have relief. For me to drive a safe car I and everyone else will have to pay an additional $300 for someone else's mistake...not fair and this should addressed asap.

- Levittown, NY, USA

problem #142

Jun 052009


  • 83,088 miles
My wife was unable to start her car (a 2003 Nissan Altima) for several tries (and with very weak power when it finally did start), so we took it to a nearby mechanic who informed us that there was a problem with the crank position sensor. After paying to have it repaired, we encountered the same problem again. This time, the car would not start at all. We had the car towed to another local mechanic, who again informed us of a problem with the crank position sensor. He repaired it using a dealer-specified part and informed us that the car might stop running while driving. He also gave us information about a 2003 recall regarding the crank sensor that states: "Nissan has determined that some 2000-2003 model year Nissan vehicles may have a defect which relates to motor vehicle safety. The engine might stop running while being driven if the crank position sensor or cam position sensor fails. This may also result in the 'service engine soon' light coming on or reduced engine power. If the engine stops running while driving, this could result in a crash without warning." This particular recall applied to the 2003 Sentra, maxima, murano, and 350Z, as well as the 2002 Altima, but not the 2003 Altima. Unfortunately, we are now encountering the same problems described in the recall. Several other complaints on the NHTSA website indicate that their 2003 Altima have stopped running while driving, including some which have indeed resulted in crashes. Although my family has not yet encountered this tragedy, it seems as though it is only a matter of time. To me this represents a significant safety hazard not only to the owner but to other drivers on the road as well, yet Nissan insists that they are "not liable" for any repairs beyond the original recall. I have asked them to honor the recall for other cars from the same model year that are now encountering the same problem, but they refuse.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #141

May 162009


  • 110,000 miles
My 2003 Nissan Altima stalls at lights, going slow, does not restarts sometimes, surges forward while driving. The dealer told me the crank sensor needs is faulty, cost 225 dollars with labor. I see some 2003 Altima with a different engine has a voluntary recall from Nissan, but not mine. On the Nissan website there are 40= pages of complaints regarding the same thing on many years of these vehicles with alot of safety concerns. I think all their sensors are bad and all these years Altima vehicles should be recalled.

- Hartland, WI, USA

problem #140

Mar 252009


  • 77,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact has experienced multiple failures with the vehicle shutting off in the last few months. While driving 45 mph, the check engine light illuminated on the instrument panel and the vehicle lost power. The contact lost control of the steering and brakes. The vehicle was taken to a local repair shop and inspected by a technician, who determined that the crankshaft position sensor failed. The vehicle was repaired at the cost of $35. Two days after the repair, the vehicle failed again and shut off while driving. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and they stated that the crankshaft position sensor was failing. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer would not provide compensation because there was no recall. The failure mileage was 77,000 and current mileage was 78,400.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #139

Apr 302008


  • 56,000 miles
Since may of last year, I have been a used owner of a 2003 Nissan Altima and have experienced the vehicle shutting off randomly while driving, as well as feeling sudden periods of loss in power while driving, like the car hesitates and almost shuts off while driving. The check engine light is constantly on. Upon getting my car inspected this past weekend, I was told I needed a new crank position sensor, ordered from Nissan. Did some research online and it appears there are several owners of the same year, make and model of my vehicle who have also experienced similar problems with car hesitations and car stalling while driving. When I called Nissan, they said my particular VIN number was not covered under the recall. I don't understand why it wouldn't or shouldn't be, given that I'm experiencing the same problems other owners have experienced with the crank position sensor. I'm requesting a formal complaint be made against Nissan for not caring in the slightest about consumer/customer safety due to faulty car parts that could have potentially deadly ramifications involving the safety of everyone on the road, as well as the horrible customer service and extremely unethical judgment call in not taking full accountability with not replacing the faulty equipment that they had originally placed in the vehicle to begin with. I was informed by Nissan that, with my particular year, make and model of vehicle, both the cam and crank position sensors were redesigned 3 times since 2003 - why would this be if there wasn't a legitimate issue with the part/S? I have been very lucky so far when the car does shut off while I'm driving it that, with no advance warning or anticipation that such a thing should happen at all, I haven't gotten hit from behind by another vehicle. So far. The engine hesitations and car shutting off while driving occur at least a few times a week. I would like the faulty parts replaced and installed, free of charge.

- Spring City, PA, USA

problem #138

Apr 302009


  • 71,000 miles
Nissan Altima 2003 stalled at red light, without any warning of any sort. Failed to start up again for multiple tries. Team Nissan of marietta ran a diagnostic and confirmed that it was because of a failed crankshaft sensor. I have to pay to replace the sensor though. Surprising even though NHTSA has a safety campaign 03V455000 that documents this problem. Am I being fleeced?

- Mableton, GA, USA

problem #137

Apr 012009


  • miles
2003 Nissan Altima has had multiple problems with the engine. The consumer was informed, the cylinder 1 misfired which caused the engine light to illuminate. There was a problem with the head gasket consuming 3 quarts of oil every 4000 miles and running terribly rough. The consumer believed her vehicle was among the hundreds of vehicles having problems with the pre-catalytic converter where it deteriorates and becomes sucked into the engine, scorching the cylinders causing massive oil consumption then followed by the engine running rough.

- Unknown, DC, USA

problem #136

Dec 012007


  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle burns oil. The vehicle had just undergone an oil change and all of the oil has suddenly left out of the engine. She took the vehicle to a mechanic, but the cause of the failure could not be determined. She is concerned that the vehicle could ignite into flames due to the burning oil. The current mileage was 129,000 and failure mileage was 100,000.

- Poughkeepsie, NY, USA

problem #135

Feb 252009


  • 39 miles
- hesitation at slow speed and check engine light - hesitation once every 50km - car stalled in oncoming traffic during a left turn - crankshaft position sensor was replaced.

- Richmond Hill, 00, USA

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