ANNOUNCEMENT: The Car Book 2018 is now online!

Ratings on over 1,000 new & used models going back 5 years, from the Center from Auto Safety. Learn more about The Car Book 2018 here. 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:
8 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
5 / 0
Average Mileage:
60,315 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 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #7

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 #6

Nov 212005

Altima 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,214 miles
The contact stated vehicle stalled and operated at a reduced speed. There were no warning lights when this occurred. The vehicle was taken to the dealership, and they replaced the throttle sensor twice. Updated 1/25/2006 - the vehicle lost all power and would not go over 5 mph. The dealer replaced the throttle body and knock sensor.

- Canyon Country, CA, USA

problem #5

May 252005

Altima 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles
The throttle body control operated poorly. The vehicle started but it did not accelerate. The vehicle is currently at the dealership, they did not know why this was happening. The problem started in may, they were able to jiggle the throttle, and it would start working, but it progressively got worse. Currently, it needs to be replaced. Consumer stated there were four on back order at the dealership.

- Lakewood, CO, USA

problem #4

Jul 162004


  • Manual transmission
  • 36,650 miles


We purchased a 2003 Nissan Altima 3.5 on 12/2002. On 7/16/04 the car wouldn't crank until the third try. After starting he wouldn't go but 15 mph. Took to dealer and their diagnosis was the throttle chamber was defective. It has been two weeks now and the part has not come in because their telling me its on back order. Called and talked to several service guys and requested a loaner car until my car got fixed. We don't do that anymore replied all the guys. So I called the GM manager and left a message, he called back and said he would check on a loaner and call me back in the am of 7/30/04 by 9am. He took to long so I called him at 934am went to voice mail.

- Lexington, NC, USA

problem #3

Apr 122004


  • miles
Consumer's vehicle accelerated from a stop and hit two vehicles head on. Upon impact, none of the airbags deployed. Driver sustained head injuroes.

- Sheridan, AR, USA

problem #2

Nov 152003


  • miles
Without warning the vehicle accelerated when the driver was backing out of the driveway. This caused the vehicle to hit a gate. The consumer made contact with the dealership on two occasions but the problem still occurs. Please add any further information.

- Corona, NY, USA

problem #1

Sep 082003

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,564 miles
While applying the brakes, the vehicle suddenly surged and accelerated towards traffic. The brakes did not stop and the vehicle had to be shifted to neutral to stop. The dealer kept the vehicle for 6 days but couldn't duplicate the problem.

- Clarksville, TN, USA

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