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:
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 1 of 6)

problem #106

Jan 042011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 97,000 miles


Campaign id 03V455000 engine and engine coolant campaign id 03V084000 engine and engine coolant exhaust system campaign id 06V242000 engine and engine coolant I have attempt to contact Nissan North America on several different occasions regarding the above mentioned recalls. After car failure, and money spent on trying to correct these issues, Nissan has not been responsive to my numerous request. I am currently experiencing the above mentioned problems with my vehicle. However, these recalls came to my attention after I learned from a Nissan technician, and after having my vehicle repaired. Problems relevant to the recalls, I am still experiencing.

- New Orleans, LA, USA

problem #105

Jul 012011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 30,780 miles
My 2003 Nissan Altima with 31,000 miles had the check engine light come on and then go out after a day or so. The light came back on again about a week later. It appeared the vehicle was sluggish and prone to stalling once this happened. I had the code read and found it to be a cam and crank sensor code. I took it to a Nissan dealer after contacting them. My vehicle was not part of the recall, though many Nissan suffer from this condition including Altima and Sentra of this year. I contacted Nissan and they informed me this VIN was not part of the recall, though it is the condition described. They also said it was out of the drive train warranty as well. I therefore had to pay for the repair, which was $382. Since the car was prone to stalling it appears that this known condition should have been included in the recall, since it is unsafe.

- Medford, MA, USA

problem #104

Sep 102010

Altima 4-cyl

  • 94,000 miles
On numerous occasions our 2003 Nissan Altima will just stop running while at a light or just slowed down in traffic. The car has been repaired numerous times for the same sensor replacement. I do not feel safe in this car any more.

- Davie, FL, USA

problem #103

Feb 062011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 41,000 miles


This 2003 2.5S Altima failed to start on February 6, 2011. Upon taking the car to mossy Nissan in san diego, where the car was sold, the mechanic working on the car diagnosed the car as having a screw from the power valve over the 4 cylinder that came loose and damaged the intake manifold and catalytic converter to the extent that they must be replaced. The car only has 41,000 miles. This problem has been documented extensively on the internet, including here: I believe there was a recall for the 2004 and 2005 Altima for this issue. My understanding is that the 2003 2.5S Altima has the same engine, yet no recall was made. After contacting Nissan customer relations, they offered no assistance with fixing the problem, despite the blatant design flaw. Other drivers that have had this issue with their Altima have been put at risk of death, as the cars have been known to stop running entirely while moving, because of damage done by the loose power valve screws to the engine. I hope that the NHTSA will take this issue seriously. Thank you for your help.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #102

Dec 092010

Altima 4-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
I have a 2003 Nissan Altima which engine turns off in the middle of the road with no warning. I had my car checked out and found out it was the crankshaft sensor. I spoke with a friend who works on cars and I was told that the original crankshaft sensor had to be updated to stop oil from getting on it. When I called Nissan they refused to help me and I was told I would have to pay for the repairs myself. This car stops in the middle of the road without warning and Nissan doesn't want to accept the fact that they have produce a faulty car that can cause a person to have a deadly crash.

- Columbus, GA, USA

problem #101

Dec 202007

Altima 4-cyl

  • 44,277 miles
2003 Nissan Altima stalls while driving. When I go in reverse and then put the car in drive the car continues to go in reverse. Stalls when I step on the accelerator but speeds up when I step on the breaks, I have to repeatedly slam my foot on the break to avoid hitting cars in front of me. The check engine light continues to come on, when it does the car stalls even more. I took it to a Nissan dealership they gave it a diagnostic test. They stated that they entered a code for the sensors, but were not sure if that was the actual problem with the car. I have been taking this car to Nissan mechanics since I purchased it in 2007 and it is still doing the same thing in 2010. The engine light continues to come on and it continues to stall. I do not feel safe in this vehicle.

- Paterson, NJ, USA

problem #100

Sep 252010

Altima 4-cyl

  • 76,102 miles


2003 Nissan Altima severe engine problems with stalling while driving! Nissan dealer states "power valve screw failure" in which the screw became loose, shot out, went through the engine and went out the exhaust. This caused over $1200 worth of damage to my engine and hope that there is not further damage that has not even been identified yet. Nissan will not cover the cost of repair, my private extended warranty will not cover the cost of repair. Apparently, Nissan has a "voluntary service campaign" for only for specific VIN# /years and will not cover the repair cost even though they are aware this is a known manufacturing defect ! this could have caused a serious injury/accident had my son been on the highway going 70 miles per hour when the car stalled in traffic!

- Sarasota, FL, USA

problem #99

Sep 022009


  • 180,000 miles
I have a 2003 Nissan Altima 2.5 sl, in approximately 2008 February, my car stopped on me while driving on the freeway. It turns out that the catalytic converter needed to be replaced. Had the work done at buena park Nissan then I realized that the car had also starting burning excessive oil. I was told there was an oil pan leak, had that work done at another dealership. Approximately 9 months later, the car stopped again, had the car diagnosed at the Nissan dealer ship in antioch, ca, was advised that the catalytic converter needed to be replaced, again. At this point, I was frustrated with the car and I contacted Nissan of North american, and the dealership in buena park who both denied me any help. I was given a reference number of 6594593 when I called for a solution in 2009. Now, 8/2010, I am having acceleration issues again, my check engine light is on, my antifreeze is evaporation along with the engine oil every 300 miles. I called Nissan North America again today and spoke with lisa byrne at extension 41661 who told me there was nothing Nissan would do at this point because my previous claim had already been denied. I am replacing oil on a weekly basis as well as the antifreeze. I called Nissan again today, ref # [xxx]. I asked her who could I contact other than the regional office and she stated no one and that there was nothing Nissan was going to do to right my situation. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Brentwood, CA, USA

problem #98

Jun 072010


  • 118,000 miles
I had trouble starting my 2003 Nissan Altima about 3-4 weeks ago after returning from shopping. It started a few hours later. Check engine light was on for a few weeks, then went off. On my way to work last week driving down highway at 65mph with the cruise control I lost all power and was unable to restart the vehicle and had it towed home. Check engine light back on. The air filter was clogged and changed. My car started and I drove to work 2 days later without a problem, but the car would not start after returning home that day. Code reader stated code P0340 camshaft position sensor malfunction. Car started he next day and we checked codes again with car running and received the same code. Called dealership and they advised no current recalls for my vehicle. Estimated $281 for diagnostic, labor and part replacement.

- Fresno, CA, USA

problem #97

May 252010


  • 151,000 miles
I own a 2003 Nissan Altima 2.5S. The car has a low idle and suddenly dies without warning while at stop signs and red lights. I've taken great care of this car but can't seem to pinpoint the problem. Then I read here and all over the internet that this is a common problem. Could it be a bad sensor? I called Nissan but they do not recognize this problem. Unbelievable.

- Milwaukee, WI, USA

problem #96

Nov 202008


  • 89,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While driving at speeds of 30 mph and up, the vehicle would intermittently stall or would hesitate to start. He also noticed that the check engine light would illuminate on the warning panel intermittently. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the cam shaft and crankshaft were replaced; however the contact would continue to experience the same failures after repairs. The current and failure mileages were under 89,000.

- Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #95

Mar 022010

Altima 4-cyl

  • 67,000 miles
My 2003 Nissan Altima started making a knocking sound on the engine and runs rough. I tried using fuel system cleaner but it did not work. I also tried oil treatments and changing the oil but non worked. I took to a Nissan certified mechanic and told me intake valve screws were loose and creating a knocking sound that the butterfly is half open causing the car to idle roughly. The mechanic also said the this happens alot with this cars, Altima and Sentra and that there is a recall for 2004 and 2005 models but not 2003 even if it has the same engine. He also informed me that if I don't get it fixed the it will break my engine and could cause an accident. On the same car I also had to pay for a crank sensor the failed on me. Nissan said the same thing, recall on the 2004 and 2005 but not 2003. It caused my car to stall and run roughly. Took it to Nissan and they said nothings wrong and take it back to them when the check engine light turns on. After a month it did turn on. Luckily have warranty but they still charge me. Please help, I'm not looking for someone to replace my car just to have Nissan fix what they messed up on.

- Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, USA

problem #94

Feb 012010


  • 70,000 miles
I own a 2003 Nissan Altima with a 2.5 L engine. I am having issues with the car dying and sputtering and sometimes not starting. I have done research to determine that Nissan had a recall for the crank position sensor for my particular vehicle from 2002-2003 for the crank sensor. I called them and gave them my VIN number and they said my particular car was not covered for the recall. I have had this plugged up to a computer and it confirms that it is the crank sensor. Also I have already replaced one for about $600 in 2008 for my car. It seems Nissan knows that there is a problem and recalled some of the cars and other people like me will have to keep taking their car to the dealership every year or two and spending lots of money to keep the car from getting them killed in a wreck or stranded. I have contacted Nissan several times and they tell me there is nothing they can do other than charge me full price for the repair. I have done a lot of internet research and found out that many people have this same problem.

- Manchester, TN, USA

problem #93

Dec 202009


  • 124,584 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. Immediately after the vehicle was started, the check engine light came on and the vehicle shut off. The vehicle had to be turned on and off in order to restart it. The dealer was contacted and stated that the vehicle was not included in the recall # 06V242000, engine and engine cooling. The Nissan manufacturer was also called and confirmed that the VIN was not included in the recall. The failure mileage was 124,584.

- Coventry, RI, USA

problem #92

Feb 252010


  • 145,000 miles
2003 Nissan Altima, car jerks violently while traveling 30 - 70 mph. Car shuts off while slowing down to make a turn. It will operate correctly for weeks then shut off three times in 10 miles. Taken to dealer two years ago and could not diagnose since check engine light did not come on and save a code. Paid my $100 and drove away. Told can't diagnose without a code so next time it stops tow it in if I survive. Told there are 25 things that can cause this so which one do you want to pick and how much do you want to spend?

- Rockford, MI, USA

problem #91

Sep 072009


  • 103,000 miles
2003 Nissan Altima I've had two different problems that are safety issues that I've noticed many other Altima owners have experienced. First, I've had two ignition coils go bad. Each time it occurred the engine would misfire and stalled out in the middle of intersections when traveling at low speeds. After the second ignition coil failed the mechanic recommended replacing of the remaining two original coils due to the likelihood of future failure. The second problem was the failure of the camshaft and crankshaft position sensors. This prevented the car from starting altogether and stranded my daughter and myself late at night. Both sensors were replaced. Fortunately this failure did not occur when I was driving the car on the highway. I've seen that other people have had this failure occur when driving. Obviously an extreme safety hazard. These problems were readily and quickly diagnosed by the Nissan mechanic, which led me to believe that he knew that my car was prone to these problems and that he has seen them many times before.

- Swedesboro, NJ, USA

problem #90

Jun 282009


  • 68,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that there was a recall for the crankshaft position sensor for her vehicle. The vehicle was repaired according to the recall, but the failure recurred soon after and the check engine light was illuminated. The contact took the vehicle back to the dealer, but they stated that they would not repair it again. She filed a complaint with the manufacturer. The NHTSA campaign id number was unknown. The failure mileage was 68,000 and current mileage was 98,000.

- Ripley, OK, USA

problem #89

Dec 142007


  • 50,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the crankshaft position sensor was failing on his vehicle. As a result, the vehicle loses power, jerks violently, and stalls in the middle of the road. The contact paid to have the crankshaft position sensor replaced two years ago after the ECM was reprogrammed; however, the failure still persists. The manufacturer stated that the vehicle was not included in a recall or warranty due to the mileage. The failure mileage was 50,000 and current mileage was 135,000.

- New Britain, CT, USA

problem #88

Jul 272009


  • 66,881 miles
Faulty crankshaft position sensor in Nissan Altima.02 03 04 05.

- Oliver , PA, USA

problem #87

Jul 272009


  • 66,881 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the check engine light illuminated. A diagnostic test was performed, which produced two codes related to the engine. The codes were for the engine speed input circuit and the crankshaft position speed center. The failure was causing the vehicle to slow down and the engine to shut off. The manufacturer stated that nothing could be done to assist because the vehicle was not included in a recall. The failure mileage was 66,881.

- Oliver, PA, USA

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