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 8 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #114

Mar 102007


  • 50,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While driving 40 mph, the check engine warning light intermittently illuminated on the instrument panel. The dealer made the necessary repairs to the sensors to make the light dim. When the contact took the vehicle to the dealer for routine brake maintenance, it was discovered that the undercarriage of the vehicle was rusted. The contact was hesitant to touch the vehicle due to the amount of rust and feared that something would fail. The failure mileage was 50,000 and current mileage was 98,000. Updated 01/09/09. Updated 01/09/09.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #113

Sep 042008


  • 65,000 miles
The car seems to not start once it ran for a short time. Example I drive to the supermarket turns on fine, once I leave it is hard to start. Almost seem to be flooded. It use to do it once a week know its doing it everyday. Just recently I was driving and it turned off on me. From the Nissan blogs it looks like this year has been giving problems. Another complain is the exterior lights they are faded or stain from inside, this could cause a visibility issue.

- Casa Grande, AZ, USA

problem #112

Aug 142008


  • 56,000 miles
2003 Nissan Altima 2.5. purchased used on 12/31/06 from Nissan dealer. On multiple occasions the car has stalled either whille driving at low speeds or while in gear while idling in traffic. On 8/14/08 about a mile into a trip, I turned a corner after stopping and the car began to sputter & buck. I could not accelerate and the car died in heavy traffic. I was able to restart the car and get into a parking lot. I was able to get the car started again but it would die if I got under 1500 RPM and would not accelerate past 2000 RPM. I found out that day that there had been a recall on 2003 2.5 Altima's for the crankshaft sensor, but Nissan says my car was not part of the recall. I think it's very odd that I've had the same issue as described in the recall of other 2003 Altima's but Nissan declines to accept any responsibility for a known dangerous problem.

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #111

Jul 202008

Altima 6-cyl

  • 145,000 miles


My Nissan 2003 Nissan Altima 3.5V6 has shut down and locked up while driving. This has occurred twice in the past 6 months. The last time it occurred was approximately July 20, 2008. Both times it has occurred, I pressed the brake prior to it shutting down. The steering and engine shut off in each instance and I could've been in an accident. Afterwards I put the vehicle in park, restart the engine and continue to drive. I have read other posts that claim they have had the same problem.

- Round Rock, TX, USA

problem #110

Jun 022008


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. After pulling out of a parking space at an unknown speed, the vehicle shut off. The vehicle was able to be restarted after several attempts. The contact took the vehicle to a local mechanic and they informed her that it would be best to take the vehicle to the dealer so they could reprogram the ECM. The mechanic also provided her with a recall letter identifying the defect. The dealer informed the contact that the repairs under the recall had previously been performed. They further stated that they would make the check engine light dim, but if it was the crankshaft sensor, the repairs would remedy the failure. The recal number was unknown. The failure mileage was 120,000 and current mileage was 130,000.

- Brewton, AL, USA

problem #109

Aug 012008


  • miles
In October of 2006, I had a problem the craft shaft position sensor on my 2003 Nissan Altima 2.5 S. the dealership replaced the sensor at no cost. It is August 2008, and once again this code is coming up. I was just informed that there is a recall on this part for all 2002 and 2003 Nissan Altima.

- Springfield, NJ, USA

problem #108

Jul 282008


  • 104,000 miles


I own a 2003 Nissan Altima 2.5 sl. The throttle position sensor is going out on the car. The car can be started but not accelerate. I push down on the gas and the car will not move or make a sound.

- Fresno, CA, USA

problem #107

Jul 242008


  • 89,296 miles
In August 2007, my 2003 Nissan Altima began to hesitate while driving. The check engine light came on. The light remained on for a few days and the car continued to hesitate while driving. It stalled at a traffic light in the middle of Washington, D.C., so I took it to the shop once I got it started. On Aug. 7, 2007, the dealer replaced the crank position sensor. On May 29, 2008, my car needed new brakes. A 100-point inspection was performed, and no other problems were found. About a week later, the check engine light came on. But dealer said it would likely go off and it wasn't a problem. A couple of weeks later, the car began to hesitate while driving (jumping, etc.) on July 23, the car again stalled while at a stop light at rush hour in Washington, D.C. after several tries, the car restarted. On July 24, 2008, the dealer again said that the crank position sensor that needed to be replaced. I asked about recall number 06V242000, but dealer said that did not apply to crank, only ECM. Now have spent $600 to have same problem fixed in 10 months.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #106

May 152008

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,110 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While idling at a stop sign, the contact depressed the accelerator pedal and the vehicle shut off. The dealer stated that there was a safety recall, but her VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign id number 06V242000 (engine and engine cooling). The current and failure mileages were 70,110. Updated 09/16/08 update 09/18/08.

- Goochland, VA, USA

problem #105

Jul 012008

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While starting the ignition, the service engine warning light illuminated on the instrument panel. The engine lost power and shut off on one occassion. The vehicle was restarted and then taken to an authorized dealer. The technician stated that the failure was related to the crank sensor. Currently, the vehicle is being repaired at the authorized dealer for the crank sensor. The failure and current mileages were 75,000. Updated 09/16/08. Updated 09/18/08.

- Woodland, TX, USA

problem #104

Jul 032008


  • 32,955 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. On July 3, 2008, while driving 40 mph, the vehicle began moving slowly and the check engine light illuminated. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer for a diagnostic and they identified the cause of the failure as the crankshaft position sensor. There is no recall available; therefore, the crankshaft sensor and radiator will be replaced at the cost of $815. The current and failure mileages were 32,955. Updated 09/10/08 updated 09/19/08.

- Waterbury, CT, USA

problem #103

Jun 252008

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact attempted to start the vehicle, but it hesitated. She thought it was due to a drained battery. When she finally got the vehicle to start, the check engine light illuminated. The vehicle failed its emissions test due to the check engine light. The vehicle was previously repaired under NHTSA campaign id number 06V242000 (engine and engine cooling) in June of 2007. The crank position sensor was reprogrammed at that time. The contact was concerned that because the dealer only reprogrammed, instead of completely repairing the failure, she would have to continue paying for the reprogramming annually. The current and failure mileages were approximately 79,000. Updated 07/29/08. Updated 07/29/08

- Hixson, TN, USA

problem #102

May 042007


  • 85,000 miles
The engine light periodically flashed on/off. We had the car serviced at a Nissan dealer which cost $1000. 3 months later, we spent $300. Finally,2 months later the motor goes out and we spend $5000 to replace it in a car less than 4yrs old(bought brand new -not a used vehicle). Furthermore, the car would just slow down and stop periodically(no matter if you were on the interstate or not).

- Memphis, TN, USA

problem #101

Jun 082008


  • 100,000 miles
Car suddenly dies while driving down street or highway. Will not start. Nissan has acknowledged this problem as a crankshaft/camshaft sensor problem and recalled 2002 and some 2003 models. However they are excluding other 2003 models that exhibit the same problems.

- Madison, MS, USA

problem #100

Jun 122008


  • 1,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. Since the vehicle was purchased in 2002, the contact has smelled an unusual odor. The oil level was consistently low whenever he would take the vehicle in for a routine oil change. Recently, the check engine light illuminated. The vehicle was taken to an auto garage for a diagnosis and they stated that the catalytic converter failed. On June 12, 2008, the check oil light illuminated and the vehicle underwent a routine oil change. The manufacturer stated that there were no open recalls. The contact will take the vehicle to the dealer for repair. The failure mileage was 1,000 and current mileage was 101,000.

- Bronx, NY, USA

problem #99

Jul 262007

Altima 4-cyl

  • 62,924 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While driving 65 mph, the vehicle stalled in the middle of the interstate. The contact managed to pull off the road and have the vehicle towed to a local dealer. The dealer repaired the crank position sensor and the camshaft sensor at the cost of $373.57. The dealer also reprogrammed the ECM as stated in NHTSA campaign id number 06V242000 (engine and engine cooling). The current mileage was 67,976 and failure mileage was 62,924. Updated 06/16/08

- Olean, NY, USA

problem #98

Oct 092007


  • 58,650 miles
1. the failing of the engine was sudden and unexpected. 2. symptoms and diagnosed problem were identical to NHTSA recall id #03V4550. 3. the failed part ("crankshaft position sensor") was replaced.

- Mechanicville, NY, USA

problem #97

May 062008


  • 112,000 miles
2003 Nissan Altima 2.5 died unexpected while driving. Dealer says crankshaft sensor, and not warranted. Repeated problem for Nissan and not taking responsibility.

- Clermont, FL, USA

problem #96

Apr 262008

Altima 4-cyl

  • 56,183 miles
Check engine light came on, vehicle went dead in middle of intersection during heavy traffic, and was not shifting gears properly in city traffic as well as interstate driving. Car was taken in to dealer, dealer scanned system and found crank cam sensor bad, replaced sensors at a cost of $401.94 would not acknowledge problem was recall, stated our model was not included in recall. Contacted Nissan America, stated recall was for 2002 models and it was just a coincidence that we had the same problem. Refused to include and reimburse us for charges.

- Adairsville, GA, USA

problem #95

Apr 182008

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact took the vehicle to the service station because the service engine soon light remained illuminated. When the vehicle was started, it began to stall. The contact had to turn the vehicle on and off several times before it would remain on. The service center stated that the crank sensor and the engine speed sensor needed to be replaced. A few weeks ago, an oxygen sensor had to be replaced. The current and failure mileages were 55,000.

- Cray, TN, USA

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