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 5 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #26

Aug 012005

Altima 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles


Excessive oil consumption. I have a Nissan Altima with the 3.5 V6, there was a recall on the catalytic converter that when on the 03 Altima the engine would leak oil past the rings and damage the cat that would destroy the cat and then let the material go back into the motor and cause oil consumption. My car after telling the dealer last year, still uses a quart every week (roughly every 600 miles). The dealer told me that Nissan consider this normal usage. I have tried over several times to get this matter resolved. All dealers and Nissan would say, you are pass your power train warranty. Now I see Nissan has a campaign out about the 06 alimtas. Why not extend the warranty on all Altima.

- Sandersville, GA, USA

problem #25

Jun 042006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,105 miles
: the contact stated a quart of oil needed to be added to the engine every week. Once the oil runs low there is a shaking noise until more is added. Upon inspection the dealership determined although there is no leak, the engine needed to be over-hauled because it burns excessive oil. Updated 7/3/2006 - although it was clear that eh vehicle used excessive amounts of oil the dealer refused to overhaul the engine free of charge because the vehicle was no longer under warranty.

- Cabot, AR, USA

problem #24

May 012006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 88,000 miles
One year into the ownership of the vehicle, while driving, the car would simple shut off. If you were moving at the time it would eventually come back on to the running position. If you happened to be at a stop sign or a light and the "stutter" would happen it would completely shut off then you would have to try and start the car again. It would turn over but sometimes it would take several tries to start the car again. This car was purchased in 2003 as a new car. Because of these instances of the car shutting off there have been two different accidents. Thank the lord none with any personal injuries. These occasions of the car shutting off became more and more prevalent, happening everyday almost all the time towards the end of the life of the car. The car is now not drivable because it literally caught on fire while driving it. It was towed home and there it sits. We are still paying on the vehicle and have to have full coverage on it.

- Ellijay, GA, USA

problem #23

May 122006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles


1. car stalled and once I held the gas pedal down and was able to hold the key over and crank the engine a huge puff of black smoke came out of the car and it seemed to run fine, although the service engine light came on. It eventually went away after a week or so. 2) a week or so later I started the car, it turned over fine but had no power, it simply would not go. It did not even realize I was pushing on the accelerator. 3) I removed the key from the ignition in frustration and then tried again. The second time the car worked fine. It revved when I put my foot on the gas pedal and then took off just fine. 4) this began to be a more common occurrence and if I took the key out or waited a few minutes it would straighten up. 5) not now! the car won't move forward. And now it is even starting to stall out and flood. 6) now the battery even seems to be running down. This has all taken place in the matter of about the past 5 weeks and now it won't move forward or run at all.

- Pickerington, OH, USA

problem #22

Dec 132003

Altima 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 23,619 miles
Re: action number RQ06001 manufacturer: Nissan North America I have experienced all four problems with my 2003 Altima that Nissan North America cited as reasons for the recall of the defective part. Service records document that the problem that my car would not crank was reported as early as 23,619 miles when I had to have my car towed in to the service department. Since it was an ongoing problem, other records since that time reveal the same complaint. Each time the service department reported that they could not locate the reason for the problem. The car was taken in recently because it began cutting off abruptly while traveling - an extremely dangerous situation. Now that the warranty period is over, with over 60,000 miles, the service department notified me that the problem was in the crank position sensors and they both would have to be replaced. They also informed me that due to the mileage, it was my expense to have the problem corrected. I called Nissan Consumer Affairs about the situation reminding them that the problem began before the warranty period was over and that I had read their information reported to NHTSA. I was told that my 2003 Altima was not among those produced June 1, 2001 through June 30, 2002 and they would not pay to have the car repaired. Obviously, my 2003 Nissan Altima is also one in which defective crank sensors were installed as evidenced by the on-going problems and the conclusive diagnosis given me by the service department. The cessation of the engine without warning while traveling the interstate "could" have cost my life. Just as my car had a defective part creating these problems, there may be others like mine that should have been included in the recall. I notified the dealership on yesterday to repair my vehicle. I was told that this would involve replacing the two crank position sensors at a cost of $115 for the sensors and $225 for labor ($340) plus tax. I assume the old parts will be available.

- Birmingham, AL, USA

problem #21

Jan 172006


  • miles
2003 Altima 2.5S events leading up to the failure: The car stalled twice during operation (almost caused 2 accidents) the crank position sensor was replaced (we found some info on the internet that others had issues with this and the car has not stalled since.

- Smyrna, TN, USA

problem #20

Feb 102006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,800 miles


Last month, as my '03 Altima 2.5S was nearing 65,000 miles, it would intermittently stall when stopping at red lights. After it happened 4 times, I took it to a local mechanic and they found no problems with it. 2 days ago, it happened again immediately after I started the car. It took several tries to restart the car. There was no warning prior to the engine stalling.

- Thornton, CO, USA

problem #19

Feb 132006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles
: the contact stated while driving at various speeds, the engine intermittently stalled. This also resulted in no start conditions at various times. The vehicle was taken to the local dealership for inspection. The dealer discovered the crank shaft sensor needed replaced. Since the repair work was completed, the vehicle operates normally.

- Pflugerville, TX, USA

problem #18

Dec 122005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,526 miles
2003 Nissan Altima 2.5 sl, engine stalls-8 times in last two months-took to dealer, they could not identify the problem. It always restarts either by key ignition or by motion. Some bulletin boards indicate a faulty crank sensor. Very dangerous when turning into traffic lane.

- Pass Christian, MS, USA

problem #17

Sep 022005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,981 miles
Starting September 2005, my car "service engine soon" light began coming on and the car stalled several times at slow speeds. I took the car to the dealer 4 times and the problem has still not been solved. The car continues to stall at unpredictable times and the dealer and Nissan's tech people have not been able to identify a problem. Phone interview update (Feb 1, 06): The dealer replaced the throttle sensor and airflow meter under "secret warranty", but the engine still stalls intermittently. The dealer does not want to do anymore for me. In most cases, the engine restarts right the way, sometimes it takes 3 or 4 tries before the engine restarts.

- La Crescenta, CA, USA

problem #16

Oct 102005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,000 miles


My 2003 Nissan Altima stalled in the middle of a busy intersection. I had to have the car towed 85 miles, back to the Nissan dealer in devon, pa. After several attempts to start the car, it finally started, but when I tried to drive it, it had no power when I pressed the accelerator. Also, the car jumped all around, so it was impossible to drive it. I was away on vacation in NJ, so I wasn't even near my home. Dealer determined it was the 'crank sensor', and replaced it, but charged me $180. This should be a recall item!

- Wayne, PA, USA

problem #15

Oct 182005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,557 miles
I have a 2003 Nissan Altima, I purchased in 03 while driving the vehicle it would just stop. At one point while turning in front of heavy traffic car just quit, and every time I cranked it would quit, which could have caused major accident for me and my 5 year old daughter. I work very far from home and, to get on a busy freeway and car would just quit is not safe. I was under the impression Nissan is a good car and reliable, but they have failed me. I was told by the dealership that due to 69,000 miles it would have problems. I have a friend with same 03 Altima, and over 100,000 miles, she has no problems and can drive out of town. When I am driving up to speed the car would start stalling out of control, and then eventually just quit on me. I can not even drive my car out of town, due to the fact I can not drive in town it may not crank. I noticed the problem when I first got the vehicle, but don davis Nissan said it was a recall on starter. I can say don davis Nissan service dept. Was very helpful, it did take them a few days to correct the problem, but they were very helpful and friendly. I missed many hours at work, and could not work because car was not dependable. The service dept. At don davis Nissan assisted me well, I just received my car back and they said it was the crank shaft sensor inop. They have a recall on the 2002 but not the 2003, good thing I bought extra warranty, but I feel this is a problem and should not have been paid for thru my warranty, I think Nissan should have taken care of it. I guess it's just the look of the vehicle, I will not purchase another Altima again.

- Arlington, TX, USA

problem #14

Jul 072005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles
Car cuts off while driving. Has cut off several times. Nissan diagnostics test says nothing is wrong, but car continues to cut off. The vehicle is getting harder and harder to restart after the engine stalled out. Once when making a left turn the engine stalled and almost got hit by an oncoming vehicle. There was a recall on an engine sensor for Nissan manufactured 2000 to July 2002. My car was manufactured October 2002, and they will not consider that this could be the problem. A cam or crank position sensor was replaced to correct the stalling problem.

- Fairburn, GA, USA

problem #13

Sep 162005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While driving at all speeds vehicle just dies. Consumer has not resolved this problem. While driving the vehicle stalls unexpectedly. The vehicle has been taken to the dealer numerous times. The vehicle also hesitates intermittently. The transmission intermittently slips out of gear when the consumer was accelerating from a red light. Update: Called the listed number but was told no one live there by that name.

- Guilderland, NY, USA

problem #12

Sep 242005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,750 miles
1) the power valve screws located in the engine intake valve on my 2003 Nissan Altima 2.5S have started to come loose, causing power loss in the engine. One of the power valve screws actually came loose and was sucked into the engine, damaging the cylinders, thus ruining the engine. The exhaust manifold, O2 sensor and other components in the engine compartment have been damaged also. This has resulted in several thousand dollars worth of damage, anywhere between $1500 to $7500+ worth of damage. 2) the failure is that these power valve screws have come loose and started being sucked into the engine causing high dollar value damage to the vehicle. More important is that the loss of power and the destruction of the engine during driving almost caused a fatal crash that would have resulted in my death and the death of other individuals on the highway. Additionally, exhaust is escaping the engine as a result of this problem because the power valve screw, after being sucked into the engine and causing damage, went into the exhaust manifold and cracked it. Exhaust fumes were leaking from the crack in the exhaust manifold polluting the environment and causing me personal damage from the fumes and other complications. Nissan North America is already aware of this exact issue in their 2004 and 2005 Nissan Altima with the same engine as mine, which is the 2.5S engine. They are in the midst of conducting a service recall related to this issue. However, they are not addressing the issue in my 2003 Nissan Altima. 3) Nissan has done nothing to correct this issue. My dealer, woodmen Nissan of Colorado springs has worked to communicate with Nissan North America to make them aware of the issue and add the 2003 model to the recall. However, Nissan North America has declined both my and the dealerships request to address this costly and seriously dangerous/fatal flaw in the automobile.

- Pueblo, CO, USA

problem #11

Sep 222005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,000 miles
2003 Nissan Altima - 2.5 liter engine: Engine stalled without warning and the service engine soon light came on.the engine was diagnosed and the cause was failure of the crank position sensor. There was no warning before the engine stalled. The engine stalled approximately 8 times before I was able to correct the problem. The engine did not start right away after stalling┐.the starter engaged for a lengthy period before the engine would start again. I did have some difficulty maneuvering the vehicle to a safe stop since the power steering doesn┐T work when the engine stalls. My wife had an even more difficult time due to strength differences.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #10

May 312005

Altima 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,400 miles
I brought a brand new 2003 Nissan Altima 3.5 from len stoler Nissan. We noticed a light mist of smoke from the tailpipe in the summer time. I called to the dealer the dealer stated that was normal. The car started blowing light white smoke, the dealer stated change my gas to supreme octane. At just over 25,000 miles the car started blowing heavy white smoke, we heard a water sound under the car, the oil light would come and go off, and it started losing power. I took it in to the dealer they told us we had sludge in the engine. We turned in all service records showing that the maintenance was keep up on the car. The dealer and Nissan manufacturer stated that sludge only comes from lack of maintenance and sludge do not come from nothing else and refused to honor the warranty. The dealer said for $700. They'll call the Nissan rep. Back out; look past the oil crank case opening and look in the bottom of the oil pan. I refused took it to nationwide Nissan they opened my oil pan took my money, did not let me see when it was open just claimed my pan was full of sludge. They did take a picture, shared it with the other dealer, and told me the same thing but they also said that the Nissan rep this time told them over the phone that Nissan will not fix the car. Where is the customer service" that shows how Nissan sticks together! so what now" I know I will not buy another Nissan and is telling everybody else also! these dealers/Nissan will sell U a car but will not honor there warranty!

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #9

Aug 102005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles
The contact stated while driving vehicle it will completely shut down. Once the vehicle shuts down the dash lights will illuminate. The consumer stated that once the vehicle stalled oncoming traffic did not know the vehicle stopped, and this could cause an accident. The service dealer could not duplicate the problem. But they did adjust the idle and suggested routine maintenance. The consumer took the vehicle to a service station to have the routine maintenance performed. This did not remedy the problem.

- Lilburn, GA, USA

problem #8

Jul 132005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
The contact owned a 2003 Nissan Altima. The engine failed, causing the power steering to lock while driving down the freeway. Check engine light did come on before the engine died. Consumer cited a recall #03V455000 concerning engine and engine cooling. This vehicle was doing the same thing, but was not includedin the recall due to VIN. Also, talked to the manufacturer. He has been having this problem for about one week.

- Ripon, CA, USA

problem #7

Dec 011901


  • miles
I own a 2003 Nissan Altima has problem with woodpecker noise. Dealer can't find problem. The noise is heard while the vehicle is idling.

- Washington, DC, USA

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