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 / 3
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
62,022 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 2 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #86

Jul 132008


  • 32,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the crank handle sensor ECM does not work when the temperature is hot. While driving at an unknown speed, the engine stopped running and almost caused a crash. The manufacturer stated that the VIN was excluded from NHTSA campaign id number 06V242000 (engine and engine cooling). The VIN was unknown. The failure mileage was 32,000 and current mileage was 40,000.

- Bronx, NY, USA

problem #85

Jul 142009


  • 74,059 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While driving 65 mph, the vehicle stalled and completely shut off in the middle of the highway. There were no warning lights illuminated prior to the failure. The vehicle would not restart and had to be towed to a dealer for repair. The contact called the Nissan dealer and manufacturer and was informed that there were no recalls. The contact stated that the vehicle was experiencing the same failures listed in NHTSA campaign id number 06V242000 (engine and engine cooling). The failure mileage was 74,059.

- New Bedford, MA, USA

problem #84

Aug 102007


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While driving 60 mph, the vehicle stalled. The contact was able to restart the vehicle. The dealer repaired the vehicle according to NHTSA campaign id number 06V242000. The failure recurred and the vehicle was taken back to the dealer. The dealer stated that an issue that was unrelated to the recall repair was causing the vehicle to stall. No additional repairs were made at that time. On a separate occasion, while driving over 60 mph on the freeway, the vehicle stalled again. The failure still persists. The failure and current mileages were less than 120,000.

- Lansing, MI, USA

problem #83

May 242009


  • 104,450 miles


Well as usually I took my 2003 Nissan Altima 2.5S into the shop and for regular work. I have proof that my car is up to date on tuneup, coolant change, transmission change, and oil change. Tires are in good condition. I took a trip to Texas and the car was fine for the 2 1/2 weeks I was down there. Three days before leaving the ses light come on, but I thought it was a minor issue being the fact that they look at my car weekend before going on my trip. When I hit Louisiana I experienced a jerking back and forth motion when I was using the gas. Only things kept getting worse when I start seeing the lost of gas, lost power in my car, and hearing metallic noises coming from the engine. Lucky, I made it to my sister's house in augusta. I didn't want to cause anymore damage driving it back to columbia, SC so I had tow truck come and pick it up $190. So they look at the car and called me telling that one of the power valve screws came loose and damage two spark plugs. Now they want to replace the manifold and my catalytic converter is crack and needs to be replace. The cost of it would be around $1350. I know this is defect issue and Nissan should take care of this issue. I hope all the information helps for current and future Nissan buyers. I will never in my life buy another Nissan again.

- Columbia, SC, USA

problem #82

May 302006


  • 36,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While driving approximately 60 mph on normal road conditions, the vehicle did not respond when the accelerator pedal was depressed. The driver was able to coast to the side of the road. Suddenly, the vehicle resumed normal operation. The service engine, battery, and brake warning indicators illuminated intermittently on the instrument panel. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for diagnostic testing and they stated that the failure was related to the throttle body. The vehicle was repaired under warranty. The vehicle was taken to the authorized dealer on two separate occasions for identical failures, but there were no resolutions. The vehicle was repaired according to NHTSA campaign id number 06V242000 (engine and engine cooling); however, the remedy was insufficient. The failure mileage was 36,000 and current mileage was 56,000.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #81

Sep 282008


  • 66,000 miles
I bought a 2003 Nissan Altima with 66K miles on it 6 months ago from wilsonville Nissan. They promised this car was in perfect running order, even after the check engine light came on during the test drive, but the technicians there insisted that they just forgot to reset the computer after they performed an oil change. As I have come to find out, ses lights do not illuminate on Altima for this reason, but after I bought the vehicle and multiple problems arose, we ran diagnostics and cylinder 1 was misfiring. There are many more issues with this vehicle now, including problems with the head gasket, consuming 3 quarts of oil every 400 miles, and running terribly rough. There hundreds of thousands of people complaining of these same pre-cat related issues in their 02-06 Altima. The precat deteriorates and is sucked up into the engine, scorching the cylinders, causing massive oil consumption, and then followed by the engine running rough and then dying. We took the vehicle back to wilsonville Nissan and they refused to give the precat a visual inspection. They claimed that since the computer did not throw a code concerning the precat, they had no reason to look at it. Instead, they charged us $110 to tell us that the computer was giving a cylinder 1 misfire code. We already knew that and we told them that before they took the car in. Under the federal emissions warranty, Nissan has to pay for all costs to diagnose, repair, and replace all parts that are ruined by any faulty emissions part under 80,000 miles. The precat falls under this category, and the engine should also be replaced by Nissan as its problems are a direct result from the precat falling apart and getting sucked into the engine. Recall id# 5450 requires them to test and look at the pre-cat, and if there is any damage to the cat, then the engine must be replaced, free of charge. Nissan will not cooperate and will not even look at the precat. Please help.

- Brush Prairie, WA, USA

problem #80

Mar 192009


  • 78,500 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that there were issues with the electronic control module (ECM), which caused the vehicle to stall. The vehicle was repaired according to NHTSA campaign id number 06V242000 (engine and engine cooling), which stated that the dealer would reprogram the ECM for free. On a separate occasion, the vehicle stalled while traveling less than 15 mph in heavy traffic. The vehicle was taken to a local mechanic, who verified that the ECM failed again. The manufacturer stated that the repair would not be covered under the recall a second time. The recall stated that if the interruption in the signal from the sensor is so brief, the electronic control module (ECM) logic does not have time to diagnose the condition. As a result, the engine may stop running without warning while the vehicle is driven at a low speed, thus increasing the risk of a crash. The contact was concerned for his safety. The failure and current mileages were less than 78,500.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #79

Mar 222009


  • 130,000 miles
Recall no. R0606 - part replaced 2 times in less than 2 years. Once again, the car is stopping while driving, which is very dangerous and unsafe. The dealership says the part is no longer covered under the warranty. Please help me to rectify this situation and obtain a reliable vehicle. Thanks,

- Hampton, GA, USA

problem #78

Jan 052009


  • 62,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the crankshaft position sensor failed and caused the vehicle to shut off while in motion. The dealer stated that they would repair the vehicle at the contact's expense. The speed was unknown. The failure and current mileages were 62,000.

- Gonvane, LA, USA

problem #77

Jan 312009


  • 138,000 miles
Engine light on car stalling chokes out in traffic has had tune up.

- Milledgeville, GA, USA

problem #76

Sep 222008


  • 61,174 miles


I brought my 2003 Nissan Altima into countyline Nissan in middlebury, ct; the dealership I purchased the car from. It was 5-02-08 and I had 58,294 miles on it, I told them I heard a knocking sound in the engine in second and third gear, I also told them it sounded as if the engine bogged down while I was driving up hills. I explained to them that my warranty was going be up at 60,000 miles and wanted them to fix the problem before the warranty was up. I also told them that while they had my car to do an oil change. When I went to pick up my car later that day they told me they were unable to duplicate my concern, meaning that they could not hear the noticeably obvious sound the engine had been making. I assured them that I definitely heard a noise and that my car was acting weird, they assured me there was nothing wrong, they gave me my oil change and sent me on my way. On 9-21-08 at approx. 61,174 the faint knocking I heard suddenly turned into a loud banging in my engine. I stopped my car and not knowing what else to do checked my oil. There was not a drop in it, after I had just had my oil changed not even three thousand miles earlier, I knew it had to be the dealerships fault. I brought my car to the dealership on 9-22-08 and told them of the problem, they said they would look at it and call me back. A few hours later I received a call from the manager, he told me I needed a new engine and it would costs $4,500. I told him I would not be paying that because it was there fault and they needed to do something to fix it. He said the only thing he could do was replace the engine for $4,500. I then had my car towed to my house, I looked into my options and needed a car asap so I had another shop replace the engine for a little cheaper. I called Nissan Corp. And told them of the situation they said they couldn't help me. I have found numerous complaints of similar situations and I have also found a recall on the same engine in Canada.

- Waterbury, CT, USA

problem #75

Aug 202008


  • miles
About 4 months ago my car started acting up then shutting down. At first it stalls while I slow down on stop signs, while turning, basically at low RPM. That's when my engine light came up. Then I got that checked and they told me that the crank position sensor was bad. So, I got it replaced. After that my oxygen sensor burnt out, got that replaced for $1K. Earlier last week my engine light came on again and brought my car to the dealer, they told me that the crank position sensor is burnt out and I said, "again!!" there's got to be some thing wrong with the engine if it burnt out twice, all they said was "well, there's no re-call for it". almost cost me my life plenty of times over for this problem. Something has to be done with this especially there's a lot of 2003 Altima owners having this problem. This can't be coincidental.

- Key West, FL, USA

problem #74

Dec 232008


  • 85,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the oil in the engine was burning and damaged the engine. The dealer stated that the vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign id number 03V084000 (engine and engine cooling:exhaust system:manifold/header/muffler/tail pipe). The failure and current mileages were 85,000.

- Brentwood, TN, USA

problem #73

Dec 222008


  • 84,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact received a recall notice for NHTSA campaign id number 06V242000 (engine and engine cooling) and took the vehicle to the dealer. The technician reprogrammed the ECM. Several years later, she noticed that the engine warning indicator was illuminated on the instrument control panel. She received a recall notice for NHTSA campaign id number 07V527000 (engine and engine cooling) and took the vehicle to the dealer. A technician repaired the vehicle and stated that she received the recall notice in error. The contact would have to pay $479.34 for them to release her vehicle. The manufacturer stated that they would not assume financial responsibility for the repair. The dealer still has possession of her vehicle. The failure and current mileages were 84,000.

- Stone Mountain, GA, USA

problem #72

Dec 292008


  • 131,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that in order for his vehicle to pass emission testing, he must get the crank position sensor light repaired. The check engine indicator illuminates as a result of the crank position sensor. The contact is displeased because the vehicle is not included in a recall. The failure mileage was 131,000.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #71

Nov 042008


  • 52,000 miles
My car died out while stuck in traffic. I put the car in park, turned it off & tried to start it back up only for it to shut off again. I tried a second time, and again it shut off. On the third try I was able to move to the right side of the road & park & left the car on, only for it to shut off again. I let the car sit, shut off, to let it cool off. I was able to drive home safely, but only staying on the right side of the road, hoping that it wouldn't idle off & die out. I called corporate Nissan the next day & explained the problem. I was told that an open recall on reprogramming of the ECM existed on my car & that was the reason why my car was shutting off. I took the car on Thursday, 11/6/08 to a Nissan dealer & had the ECM replaced. After the recall, I noticed that my car took a while to accelerate and that the RPM gauge was quickly shifting back & forth. On Saturday, 12/6/08, my car died out again in traffic. I called corporate Nissan & told them that the reprogramming of the ECM did not correct the problem because my car is still dying out. The car only has 52,000 miles on it & has never experienced any problems. The car has been maintenance with the necessary equipment. After much research, my car is not the only car which has experienced the same exact problems. Several complaints have been filed. Apparently the crank sensor is the source of the problem because the sensor isn't sending the signal to the ECM. Nissan has only recalled the ECM because the recalling of the sensor costs too much to recall. It's a safety issue to drive & then to suddenly have the car shut off. I am very disappointed in Nissan. It's a world-wide known brand yet their cars are failing at about 50,000 miles. If after the ECM is reprogrammed, and the sensors are replaced, some cars are still dying & Nissan recommends new engines. A car at 60,000 does not need a new engine. Engines are designed to last at least 100,000 miles not completely die out.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #70

Oct 042008


  • 95,000 miles
I am the original owner of a 2003 Nissan Altima with about 95,000 miles. On 9/19, I took the vehicle to my local Nissan dealer for service because the "check engine" light was on, the engine was running a little rough and had a slight rattle, and my oil light started blinking on occasionally. The dealer flushed and replaced the oil, and also replaced the catalytic converter and two oxygen sensors, at a total cost of $1700. The car was returned to me on 9/23. I was away 9/26-9/29 and did not drive the car. On weekdays, I typically drive about 10 miles to and from work each way. The next weekend I drove the car approx. 150 miles, at which time I noticed the rattle had not subsided and that my oil light had started to blink on again, especially as I drove uphill. I added 2 quarts to the engine on 10/4 and took the car to a jiffy lube on 10/8. the jl tech that replaced the oil told me that my oil was very low, so I brought the car back to the Nissan dealer on 10/13. The dealer diagnosed the rattle as "internal engine failure" and recommended a new engine for $5000. My conversation with the dealer mechanic led me to believe that the car was burning oil due to a leaky cylinder, most likely caused by failure of the pre-catalyst. The pre-catalyst or ¿pre-cat¿ filters exhaust before it gets to the catalytic converter. The pre-cat is closer to the engine than the cat converter, so it tends to get overheated. When it does, it can break down, and little pieces of it can get sucked back up the exhaust system the wrong way, back into the cylinders, which damages the cylinders & allows oil to leak into the engine. Because of the massive oil consumption, I was unknowingly driving without enough oil, and permanently damaged the engine. I park my car in my garage & have never noticed an oil leak or smoke from the tailpipe. I have never gone more than 5,500 miles without an oil change, and I have a receipt from every oil change I've ever had. The car has no outstanding safety recalls.

- Morris Plains, NJ, USA

problem #69

Aug 042003


  • 60,570 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While driving approximately 65 mph, the engine failed without warning. The check engine warning indicator illuminated on the instrument panel. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealer and they stated that the failure was related to the crank shaft sensor. The vehicle was repaired under warranty. On two separate occasions, the vehicle was taken to the authorized dealer for identical failures and repaired for the malfunctions. The vehicle was repaired for the crank position sensor recall, but the failure still persists. The NHTSA campaign id number was unknown. The failure mileage was 60,570 and current mileage was 222,000.

- Lancaster, TX, USA

problem #68

Sep 152008


  • 52,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While driving between 15-20 mph, the vehicle shut off and lost total power. The failure occurred without warning. The vehicle restarts immediately sometimes, but can take five minutes to restart at other times. Once it restarts, the vehicle runs normally for the next day or next 30 days. The dealer could not determine the cause of the failure. The internet states that the crankshaft position sensor module is the cause of the failure. The failure mileage was 52,000.

- Kihei, HI, USA

problem #67

Mar 032006

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While driving approximately 35 mph, the engine shut off without warning. The engine restarted after several attempts. No warning lights were illuminated on the instrument panel. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer and they stated that crank case sensor failed. Recently, the transmission began slipping and shifted erratically. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic and repaired. The failure mileage was unknown. Updated 01/03/12 updated 01/05/12

- Columbia, SC, USA

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