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
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
107,794 miles
Total Complaints:
8 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace catalytic converter (5 reports)
  2. new engine (3 reports)
2003 Nissan Altima exhaust system problems

exhaust system problem

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2003 Nissan Altima Owner Comments

problem #8

Sep 132011

Altima 2.5S V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 142,000 miles


Check engine light came on, by this point it was the 3rd time in a year, very pissed off. Took to auto dealer code read that it was exhaust system. Did my research online to find that if problem isn't taken care of right away could lead to devastating engine failure. Scared out of my mind. Found out that the manifold is attach to converter and when it stops getting any kind of a flow it actually blows back into the engine, yes you heard me right back into the engine. This should be impossible, but leave it to Nissan to create a design that is messed up! Had to have new mani/converter installed and luckily only one of the two O2 sensors. I feel incredibly lucking to have taken care of it before it destroyed my engine.

Please be aware that Nissan does not care about this problem, your car most likely will not be covered by the recall, because it does not meet specks required to be. It might look great, and feel like it has lots to offer for your money, but it is a LEMON!!!!! I will never buy another Nissan!

- , Ocala, FL, US

problem #7

Feb 072011

Altima SE 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles

i just got my car back from the auto repair shop today. my check engine light went on a week ago . went to autozone first to get the code pulled up. it was my both o2 sensors and catalytic converter. It turns out after all said and done it cost me 1400 to fix it . and this was not going to the dealer to fix it either.. definitely doesn't help me save money.

- , Centereach, NY, USA

problem #6

Sep 292010

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 138,101 miles

When my Galant was in the body shop, I rented a Nissan Altima during that time. I liked the car the way it drove, the way it looked and handeled. So when my Galant could'nt do no more (285,000 miles) I wanted a Altima for my next car. I thought I was really lucky, I found a wonderful 2003 pearl white Altima leftover in 2005. The plant thatI worked at was closed down due to anthrax contamination and was going to be reopening soon. The NJ Turnpike was just what I needed to prove this was the car for me! Well I got four good years out it untill one day in April 2010 while at a red light it just stopped. I did manage to get it started and took it to the dealer. 635.00 later back on the road. Sept 27th service engine soon light came on. Took to a shop ran a dionostic it the catalytic converter. This car still looks good and is paid for. Living in south Jersey in the pinelands you better have a car. So at the first sign of somethings wrong it goes to the shop. OK 2nd big ticket 1120.00 later. This thing is smoking like you would not beleive!! Billowing white smoke! Burned 4qts of oil in one trip with no leaks!!! They tell me the catalytic converter crack up powder clogged up some rings and blah blah blah bottom line you need a new engine.

Is it me or what? I buy cars to last at least 10 years. 5 years that I had it it's done? And they want 4200.00 for a new engine and only a 90 day garantee? Needless to say Nissan don't want to hear anything. But I will tell you this there will never be another Nissan ANYTHING parked in front my house again. Mitsubshi I comming home. catalytic

- , Pemberton, NJ, USA

problem #5

Sep 072010

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles


Was told today the converter needs to be replaced in order for car to pass inspection. Inspection is due this month of course. The price is roughly $700. I don't have a extended warranty on the car I purchased the car in 2005 with about 22,000 miles so all the mileage is from the highway.

I called nissan this morning to see about any recalls she said car had all recalls performed so I guess this is my problem. She did offer any solution at all when I told her my issue.

Not sure what to do.

- , Wilmington, DE, USA

problem #4

Oct 012009

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,252 miles

Took my car to Key Nissan to be serviced and the told me a spark plug misfire. Well it wasn't, it was the catalytic converter gone bad. But they couldn't detect it. Now It's out of warranty and they will not fix it. Already called corp and I am just now finding out that I am not the only person with this problem. I think we all need to file a class action lawsuit. Too many of us are experiencing the same thing.

- , Hampton, SC, USA

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problem #3

Oct 012006

Altima 4 cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 70,000 miles

I had to replace the engine because it "went out" according to Nissan of Poway, CA. They couldn't explain why. Luckily I foolishly got the extended coverage when I bought the car new. $50 was not a bad deal but the support given by Nissan Motor Corp was horrible. The repairs were suppose to take 3-4 days. 10 days later they returned the car to me but would not reimburse me for the complete amount of about $300. I know that's not alot but it was the lack of support for their products and the principle. I would never recommend to anyone due to the lack of support from Nissan. More complaints to follow regarding the Catalytic converter being failing at 80400 miles but it was only warrantied to 80000. I'm not a big numbers guy but we're talking about .5% I fought and fought with Nissan to replace but they wouldn't. So when I asked what would happen if I didn't fix the problem they told me it could ruin the engine...... Could it have been the Cat converter that ruined the engine in the beginning but their incompetence to figure it out caused me to have to pay out of pocket $790 more dollars for a catalytic converter? DON'T BUY A NISSAN.

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #2

Feb 122010

Altima 2.5S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles

I bought this 2003 Nissan Altima used for $ 4,600.00 , with 122,000 miles on it, not bad for this area everything looked great and was told that if I took care of this car it would last me a long time ( A bell should have went off ) I had this car (2) day's and the exhaust started leaking.... than I checked the oil and had to add 4qts ?? Finally took it to a realiable auto repair center and found that the catalytic converter had to be replaced.

As a single mom ,two kids and going to college I do not have the money to replace this car nor do I have the money to put a new engine in it. Nissan needs to step up to the plate, this car has had several recalls and is still being sold as a " good car" and they are doing nothing to help fix ,what is their problem. A faulty engine and parts. Yes, it is " Buyer beware" but it starts with the maker of the car, as this will not be the last that will be said. Nissan STEP UP! do what is right.

- , Timbo, AR, USA

problem #1

Nov 032009

Altima 2.5L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

As everyone else on the Altima complaint page, pre- converter overheated, turning substrate into ash and scored cylinder walls. Now using 1 quart oil every 50 miles. Converter warranty only 80,000 miles so with 87,000 on car we are out of luck says the dealer. Will replace engine for $4500 dollars. Dealer in Napa says even though converter caused the damage, Nissan is not responsible for engine replacement.

Please contact me if you are aware of any class action/attorney action. Nissan is criminal in their not fixing a design flaw that is obvious once you are on the net.

Larry Allen email

- , Glen Ellen, CA, USA

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