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:
72,349 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 13)

problem #256

May 092016

Altima 4-cyl

  • 208,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While driving at a low speed, the check engine warning indicator illuminated intermittently. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the crank position timing sensor was defective and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The contact was advised that the vehicle was previously repaired according to NHTSA campaign number: 01V357000 (engine and engine cooling). The failure mileage was 208,000. Updated 07/27/16 the consumer stated the vehicle frequently stalled at intersections and red lights. Sometimes when the vehicle stalled, it would not engage, until the vehicle was re-started. Updated 08/01/16.

- Bee Spring, KY, USA

problem #255

Mar 012016

Altima 4-cyl

  • 67,000 miles
2003 Nissan Altima. Consumer writes in regards to engine, power steering and brake system issues while driving. Consumer states "never received defective sensors replacement recall notice". the consumer stated the engine shut down while in the midst of driving. The consumer had no steering or braking capability. The consumer was informed his vehicle was not included in the recall. The consumer had to pay for the sensors out-of-pocket.

- Lockport, IL, USA

problem #254

Sep 162015

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle stalled while driving low speeds. In addition, the service engine soon light constantly illuminated. The contact was able to get the vehicle operational after manually restarting the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the ECM, crank cam position sensor, and cam position sensor malfunctioned and needed to be reprogrammed and replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The contact was made aware of NHTSA campaign number: 03V455000 (engine and engine cooling); however, the VIN was not included. The failure mileage was approximately 122,000. Updated 02/23/16; break down happening daily andservice engine light to come up updated 04/24/18

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #253

Sep 252015

Altima 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles


The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While driving 65 mph, the vehicle stalled. The contact was able to restart the vehicle after some time. The check engine warning light illuminated. The failure recurred on numerous occasions. The vehicle was taken to a dealer who diagnosed that the cam shaft and the crank shaft needed to be replaced. The cam shaft was replaced. The contact was aware of NHTSA campaign number: 03V455000 (engine and engine cooling), but the VIN was not included. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was unknown. Update 1/13/16 ln invalid VIN updated 4/17/18

- Watertown, CT, USA

problem #252

May 092015

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 218,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle stalled without warning while driving 65 mph. The vehicle was towed to the contact's residence. The contact performed a diagnostic test, which located failure codes at the crank position sensors and cam shaft position sensor. The dealer stated that NHTSA campaign number: 03V455000 (engine and engine cooling) was expired. The vehicle was repaired. The contact replaced the crank position sensors and cam shaft position sensor. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The VIN was unknown. The failure mileage was 218,000. Updated 8/10/15

- Leetonia , OH, USA

problem #251

Apr 102015


  • miles
I was driving on the highway with my kids in the car when my car shutoff all of a sudden. I was not able to get it started and cars were whizzing by me. Finally after several tries that seemed like forever, the car started and I took the first exit off the highway. Then once I made it off the highway the car check engine light came on. I made it back home but the car would not start properly. It comes on and then shutoff or stays on for a few minutes and then makes a sound like its going to cutoff if you put it in gear. Finally had the car checked and was told it was the camshaft/crankshaft sensors based on the codes. My family could have been killed if this would have happened during rush hour. Something needs to be done. These parts seem to continuously go bad and endanger the safety of everyone. I have less than 70,000 miles on this car.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #250

Feb 152012


  • 190,000 miles


Driving legal speed on interstate highway 59 South from meridian ms to slidell Louisiana. Car started using oil every 20 miles. I have taken vehicle to Nissan dealer on 3 different occasions. It ws determined that the engine and catalytic converter is bad. I have contacted Nissan North America to ask for them to repair under recall #03V084000. This recall states that the catalytic converter will cause engine damage. Nissan declined to fix my car. I contacted the better business bureau and they did not help. I don't know what to do next.

- Meridian, MS, USA

problem #249

Jun 282014


  • miles
In May 2014 I started to run my ac unit and was getting a very bad smell from the ac unit- the ac unit was replaced last year. I took the car back to the mechanic that replaced the ac unit last year and he found dead mice up in the ac unit so he replaced the ac filter and sprayed out the car good. My husband went underneath the car yesterday to find that the floor boards on both sides of the car are rotted and they are two large holes. We looked online at 2003 Nissan Altima's to find out that it is a car defective and we are not the only ones experiencing this problem. I plan on contacting Nissan tomorrow to make them aware of this issue as well. There is a 99.9% that Nissan's floor boards rot out over time for it is manufacturers flaw. Nissan should recall all Nissan's and replace all their floor boards.

- Hatboro , PA, USA

problem #248

Mar 262014


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while driving approximately 50 mph, an unusual noise emitted and the engine stalled without prior warning. The vehicle was able to be restarted and resumed normally. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic, who informed the contact that the crank position sensor and camshaft position sensor both would need to be replaced. There was a recall related to the failure under NHTSA campaign id number 03V4550000 (engine and engine cooling), however the VIN was not included. The vehicle had not been repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the defect. The approximate failure mileage was 120,000.

- Coppell, TX, USA

problem #247

Nov 052013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 122,000 miles
Crank camshaft sensor was replaced due to having problems starting vehicle. Vehicle still continues to have problems starting. Always need multiple attempts to start. I am afraid vehicle will completely shutoff in traffic since I commute so much on highways. There is a high chance of an accident. Nissan refuses to include my VIN number on recall list. This is completely absurd.

- Cypress, CA, USA

problem #246

Aug 182013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 93,500 miles


When I was came home from shopping I stop car and switch off and go home after about 15 min going to some where but car take time to start after few second car start. Try 3 times same. Next day going to work and same starting problem start car and going about 1 mile drive power cut off and luckily no one behind me able to go on side because can not do anything no brake no gas god help me after one mint start car and rich work about 2 mile. At work we have mechanic he has software for car diagnosis he check and told me code P0340 for camshaft position sensor we change one bought from dealer after 2 hr going home same problem starting. Mechanic reset and go home next day going to work same thing happened power shutoff about 1 and 1/2 able to park onside and start again and drop to repair shop. He called me and told me you have to change another camshaft sensor after wok fine for up to now. But they recall some car before for this problem if I was in highway then what happened do you think I will able to write now or die. Can you check on this and do something otherwise some one die. [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Parsippany, NJ, USA

problem #245

May 282013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 63,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while entering the highway, the vehicle stalled without warning. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer where it was confirmed that the crankshaft and the camshaft position sensors needed to be replaced. The contact referenced NHTSA campaign id number: 03V455000 (engine and engine cooling), but was advised by the manufacturer that the vehicle was not included in the recall campaign. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and the current mileage was 63,000.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #244

Jan 152013

Altima 6-cyl

  • 147,000 miles
On January 15, 2013, my car shut down while driving down the roadway at about 40 mph while taking my daughter to school. I was able to pull over on the side of the road and restart the car and make it back home safely. Thankfully, the person behind me when the car stopped did not hit me from behind. This is the second time that this has happened with my car. This also happened previously about 2 years ago. I was informed today by the Nissan dealership that a failed cam shaft sensor was the reason that my car was shutting down. They are replacing the sensor for approx. $400. However, this exact issue is on the website as part of a recall. NHTSA campaign id number: 03V455000. My major concern is that my car could have shut down on 95, a major city highway, with my child in the car and no one wants to take ownership of this dangerous situation. I spoke to Nissan usa today, and they offered no assistance. Please assist me with this serious concern.

- Hanover, MD, USA

problem #243

Aug 232011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 94,301 miles
Multiple times while driving between 30-45 mph the vehicle has stalled and not produced full engine power when pushing on the accelerator. This has caused serious concern for the safety of my family and myself. Check engine light came on and I took the vehicle to Nissan service repair (August 2011, ~94K miles). Nissan ran diagnostics and stated that the circuit board for crank/cam sensors had failed. Paid $430 to replace crankshaft and cam/crank sensors. Fast forward to December 2012 (~110K miles) where I experienced the same exact issues along with reduced engine power when pressing on the accelerator. Another local mechanic detected that the cam/crank sensors needed to be replaced again. I did some research and found out about recall #03V455000, which describes the exact symptoms that I have been having. I called the Nissan service department that replaced the sensors in 2011 who said that my VIN wasn't included in the recall so I didn't qualify. After reading the complaints on this site for this specific year/make/model, it is beyond me how nothing hasn't been flagged about this being an issue. All these people are having the same problems (multiple times) yet they are told their VIN's don't qualify under the recall?? something is fishy there. Other complaints with the same exact issue include the following numbers: ODI id numbers: 10416743, 10384742,10370526,10342438,10332467, 10318898, 10318045, 10314479, 10283487, 10278805. Thank you for any assistance or light that can be shed on this issue.

- Seminole, FL, USA

problem #242

Nov 232012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
Suddenly starting using 1 qt. Oil every 600 miles. No leaks, no smoke, no check engine light ever came on. Took it to my local Nissan dealership. They said oil consumption was from catalytic converter breaking down and getting sucked into engine absorbing the oil and scoring lower engine (cylinder block walls), thus causing oil blow by. They recommend catalytic converter and engine replacement at $5,000 dollars. There is a history of these converter failures from 2002 in Nissan products. My local dealer said my vehicle wasn't on recall. The biggest concern in this matter was that check engine light never came on and had I'd gone another 1000 miles this car could have seized up on the interstate.

- Naugatuck, CT, USA

problem #241

Jul 012012


  • 63,000 miles
Brought vehicle to Nissan dealer in tewksbury, MA for diagnostic. (tapping noise when I start the car) they found some repairs necessary but told me they did not know what the tapping sound was. I took the car to my mechanic and he advised that it "sounded" like the timing chain. He did not work on the car and told me to bring it back to the dealer, which I did. I called Nissan and they told me I could bring the car to another dealer and have another diagnostic done. At a cost of another $110 to be paid by me. I was told that there was little oil in the engine and this is why the timing chain "went". I have paid $2500 out of pocket to get my car fixed. I need the car and was two months without it. I do not feel that I should have to pay for this repair. Two months before the timing chain went Nissan did an oil change for me along with some other repairs. I take very good care of my car and do not believe that oil was the problem I have all my documents regarding repairs and oil changes and would like someone to check into this for me.

- Billerica, MA, USA

problem #240

Jun 192012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 154,000 miles
My daughter was driving home from work in my 2003 Nissan Altima when the car suddenly stopped running, the steering wheel froze and she nearly ran off the road. Thank goodness there were no other cars coming and she was able to pull off the road with no incident. I pulled the codes and found it to be the P0335 (crankshaft position sensor) and P0725 (engine speed sensor). After searching the web, it appears there are many people with the same issue. I looked on the NHTSA website and found NHTSA campaign id number: 03V455000, Nissan recall no. R3022 that states exactly what did happen - the check engine light came on and the engine stopped without warning. The remedy is that a dealer replace the crankshaft position sensor. So, I called Nissan, found the other recall that is related to the sensor, took the car to the dealer (barely - I drove and the car stopped twice - again, lucky there was no crash). The dealer called and said he could not fix this recall because the sensor was bad. Now I have to go back and pickup the car and pray again that I don't have a crash coming home. Seems totally unreasonable that Nissan would have a recall for this exact problem - the crankshaft position sensor - for, among many others, 2002-2003 Altima and yet there are many people out there with these cars that Nissan won't fix. I was laid off and certainly cannot afford a $300 fix for a $40 part so we will have to drive this death car until I can figure out how to get it fixed. And pray every time I get in it that we don't end crashing the car, hurting myself, my young twins, my older daughter or anyone else on the road. This is a severely dangerous issue and Nissan should replace all cars - not just a select few.

- Clemmons, NC, USA

problem #239

Feb 102010

Altima 4-cyl Diesel

  • 139,000 miles
My air conditioner has always been running even when the button has been off. I've asked the dealer many times over the years and they said it's fine. Now about 2 years ago my airconditioner won't go on, it's intermittent but if it does go on it only works for 5 minutes. I finally paid the $129 to have it checked and was told the intelligan power distribution module has failed. This has been recalled in many other Nissan but not the Altima. During a search I found lots of other Altima owners with the same problem. I tried contacting Nissan but they don't care.

- Hartland, WI, USA

problem #238

May 022012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
The service engine soon light came on, and the car doesn't start or struggles to start. The heater isn't working, and now the antifreeze is coming from the exhaust.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #237

Apr 292012


  • 139,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the check service engine light illuminated on the instrument panel. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer and was told that the crank shaft position sensor needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign id number:03V455000 (engine and engine cooling). The failure and the current mileages were 139,000.

- Trenton, GA, USA

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