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:
5 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
57,188 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 2)

problem #24

Feb 012015


  • miles


I purchased a 2003 Nissan Altima with 106,000. As is no warranty. Within the first month it blew the head and needed a new engine which I paid for out of pocket. They supposedly replaced the enigine with a new crate engine once again the car lasted about 3 weeks before it was smoking so bad and will only drive at idle speed.. I dont think the place I bought it has a very good mechanic and I really would rather take it to a Nissan dealer.. but I dont want to pay for another engine I feel like ive already bought the car twice.

- Belfair, WA, USA

problem #23

Apr 032012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 90 miles
While at a red light, the car unknowingly stopped! I didn't even know until the light turned green and I attempted to pull off. I put the car in park and resterted the car with no issue. A couple days later the engine started a slight shake and each day the shake became more intense and the engine would shut off when driven for a while & while my feet is on the break the meter would jump from 0 to 2 and shut off wen it hit 0. also while attempting to pull off the car feels like it's stuck then it'll shoot off.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #22

Sep 262013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 191,431 miles
I was driving and my car just slowed down and eventually cut off. I put the car in park and started it back up. When I arrived at my destination and cut the car off and tried to cut it back on it would not start.

- Pearland, TX, USA

problem #21

May 152013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 123,000 miles


Car just died while driving on highway, then it will not start, paid 500 dollars to get fixed and there is a recall on these parts but not for my VIN, I feel that the recall should be extended for more cars.this is a dangerous problem.

- Sewell, NJ, USA

problem #20

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 #19

Aug 012012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 95,000 miles
Like many other complaints, my car stalled on highway at 70 mph speed and stalls at intersections and low speeds or will not start. I can't believe Nissan or NHTSA has not got serious about this issue. I checked your database and found following compliant numbers with same issue of Altima stalling due to crank or cam sensor failure. (ODI id numbers: 10416743, 10384742,10370526,10342438,10332467, 10318898, 10318045, 10314479, 10283487, 10278805, ..... and many more). I am lucky to be alive. I am sure there are my accidents and deaths that did not get reported due to this manufacturers defect. This is a very unsafe and dangerous problem that could lead to many deaths. I hope NHTSA looks into this and get it fixed.

- Bartlett, IL, USA

problem #18

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 #17

Oct 112011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 55,000 miles
Recently while driving my ses light came on. I took my vehicle to the nearest service center and had them read the codes which were 0725 engine speed sensor and 0335 crank shaft position sensor. Upon looking into the problem I found that this is a common problem with many Nissan owners, particularly the Altima models. Nissan has issued a recall to reprogram the ECM free however this does not solve the problem. The problem is the crankshaft sensor, and Nissan should be responsible for replacing the defective part (the part has been modified from plastic to metal because of other complaints however they will not cover the replacement, ridiculous!) this is particularly dangerous due to the fact that I can cause the car to stall randomly while driving, which has happened to me on two occasions (luckily not in heavy traffic of on the highway! but it has happened in more serious situations to others).

- Rochester, NY, USA

problem #16

Jun 062010


  • 74,000 miles
Driving 2003 Nissan Altima on two-lane country road, weather clear, no traffic. Car sped up, driver applied brakes, car sped faster, driver repeatedly & firmly applied brakes. Car overcorrected to the left, crossed roadway, crossed one dry ditch and made impact with inside wall of an irrigation ditch full of water. Driver received initial care at the scene and was taken to emergency room via ambulance. Driver sustained broken back, head and eye trauma, broken rib, dislocated shoulder joint, multiple cuts requiring stitches, glass embedded into skin. Driver spent several days in the hospital and was discharged under continuous family care. Car was totaled.

- Elmira, CA, USA

problem #15

Jun 062010

Altima 6-cyl

  • 74,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while driving at approximately 40 mph, the vehicle suddenly accelerated. The contact attempted to tap the brakes but the vehicle just accelerated faster. The vehicle jumped over a ditch and finally landed in a canal. The contact suffered severe injuries including open wounds, fractured ribs, two cracked disks, head injury and incidents of loosing consciousness. A police report was filed. The vehicle was totaled. The failure mileage was approximately 74,000. Updated evoq 07/20/10. The vehicle was inspected and the consumer was informed by the technician he found an electric crossover connection between the brake and accelerator pedals and may have been computer related. Updated 11/23/10. Updated 12/07/10. Updated 12/21/10 updated 12/30/10 updated 01/10/11. Updated 01/12/11. The consumer stated it was a clear day and traffic was very light. He had just left his home and was less than 2 miles from his home, driving about 40 mph, when his vehicle suddenly accelerated. He tapped the brake several times; each time the vehicle accelerated faster. The vehicle jumped over a ditch and finally landed in a water-filled irrigation canal. The consumer sustained severe injuries. The vehicle was totaled. Updated 01/13/11

- Elmira, CA, USA

problem #14

Mar 012010

Altima 4-cyl

  • 64,000 miles


Idle on car started to be erratic. Would go up to 1800 rpms down to 700 RPM..took car for repair was to the throttle bad assembly needed replaced. The car was a 2003 Nissan Altima. We were concerned that in the snow this could be a problem with forward acceleration. Dry conditions as only had 64,000 miles.

- Tallmadge, OH, USA

problem #13

Mar 202009


  • 33,094 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact experienced unintended acceleration in the vehicle. While traveling less than 2 mph, the contact attempted to stop the vehicle. When the vehicle came to a complete stop, it suddenly lunged forward at high speeds. The vehicle crashed into a tree. The contact was uninjured. The vehicle was towed to the nearest Nissan dealer for repair, which was covered under his insurance. The current and failure mileages were less than 33,094.

- Columbia, MD, USA

problem #12

Nov 222007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,500 miles
2003 Nissan Altima. Idle fluctuation from 1000 to 2000 RPM. Also, automobile surges from 1500 to 2000 while driving. While in automatic mode 1 it will buck forward. The auto in my opinion isn't safe I feel there should be a recall. The check engine light indicates high idle. We are in the process of having the car repaired.

- Newark, DE, USA

problem #11

Jun 062007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,800 miles
On several instances the engine cuts off while driving. Major safety concern. Eventually, the check engine light came on. Took vehicle to dealer, and dealer informed me of recall campaign to reprogram the ECM. Also, they found error codes P0725 and P0335. They told me that I had to replace my crank shaft position sensor (at my cost -- this was not part of the recall). After the dealer completed the recall work, the car still stalled that very day on the way home. Took the car to my neighborhood mechanic who replaced the crankshaft position sensor. Check engine light was cleared by mechanic and has not lit up again, however, the vehicle has stalled while driving again. This sounds very similar to the symptoms which led to the recall of the 2002 Nissan Altima's. my car was manufactured in December 2002, but was not included in the 2002 recall. The 2003 recall only consisted of reprogramming the ECM -- which did not solve the problem. This is a serious safety concern as the vehicle still cuts out at random times in moving traffic. Please investigate -- this is similar to hundreds of other complaints under 2003 Nissan Altima's that I found reading through the complaints on this website -- please connect the dots and make Nissan own up to the problem.

- Seal Beach, CA, USA

problem #10

Feb 162007

Altima 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
Recalls on 2003 Nissan Altima concerning crank angle sensors and ECM, engine computer, received. Took it to a Nissan dealer, and they reprogrammed the ECM. They said this would fix my problem. 2 days later light was back on, and car continued to cut-off just as the recall letter stated it would do. Took car back to Nissan, and they refused to honor they recall, and have asked me to pay for it, and then they will investigate and will send me a refund for repairs. Over $200 for repairs. Advised them of their recall letter that I received only to say they were sorry. Check engine light is still on, car cuts off while driving are, and while just sitting still. It continued to jerk or drive like it was skipping, and they claimed it was the crank angle sensor that needed to be replaced, same as recall.

- Haughon, LA, USA

problem #9

Sep 132006


  • miles
Courtesy copy re defective 2003 Nissan Altima. She is seeking reimbursement from Nissan. The vehicle stalled weather the vehicle was acceleration from a stop or while driving at various speeds. The check engine light illuminated the vehicle was taken to a dealer who indicated that the vehicle needed the crank case replaced, throttle sensor adjusted, fuel injection flushed, power steering flushed, and brake fluid flushed. The consumer did some research and found recall 06V242000 in reference to faulty engine crank angle sensor. The consumer vehicle fell within the range of the recall but the consumer was told by the dealer that the vehicle was not included in the recall. Therefore the consumer had to pay for the replacement of the sensor. Several months later the check engine light illuminated again. The vehicle was taken to another dealer who checked the recalls. The dealer replaced a faulty chamber. The faulty chamber resulted in a throttle chamber replacement.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #8

Sep 272006


  • 49,868 miles
2003 Altima throttle body was defective causing check engine soon light to illuminate. Chamber assembly had to be replaced. The consumer believes that the recall she received for the crank angle sensor and electronic control module is related to the throttle assembly which had to be replaced.

- Tamarac, FL, USA

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

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