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:
2 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
52,363 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 lights problems

lights problem

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2003 Nissan Altima Owner Comments

problem #9

Jan 042012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 73,000 miles


I had to replace the steering at 84000 miles because the steering had a knocking sound everytime you turn it left or right, or when you go over a bump, ,,,it was very slack and eventually it felt as though it would fall out at anytime.....was advised at the dealership that it needed to be replaced no explanation could have been given. This was done yesterday 08/22/2013. Now there is a very huge rust hole on the passenger side under the car...this car is 10yrs old with 84000 miles and I take very good care of my car..I bought it in 2006 with about 25000 miles. The hole is about twelve inches by six inches. The lighting is so poor most times at night I always have to use myhigh beam....worst car I ever had...there were so many other problems I have had with it. This car spent many weeks at the dealership...

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #8

Feb 082013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 125,000 miles
On a visit to the Nissan dealership to have my headlight replaced, I was informed the floor on the passenger side was rotted/rotting and needed to be replaced. I've not had it repaired as of yet B/C I'm comparison shopping based on the price quoted by the dealership. I purchased the car in 2006, had the engine replaced due to failure in 2011, the radiator replaced in 2013 and now preparing to replace the floor panels. For a 10 year old car, which has been maintained and serviced regularly and garaged, rotting seems highly unusual and shouldn't be a normal occurrence for a car. I've never had a car require this many costly repairs, and especially never an issue with the engine or rotting. Please investigate.

- Bloomfield, CT, USA

problem #7

Oct 011999


  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the intelligent power distribution module (ipdm) failed several times. The contact also experienced failures with the head lamp housing unit. The manufacturer denied assistance with any repairs because the vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign id number: 10V517000 (engine and engine cooling). The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was unavailable and the current mileage was 129,556.

- Jackson , TN, USA

problem #6

Sep 052010

Altima 4-cyl

  • 86,000 miles


Nissan Altima 2003 exterior headlights started to melt around the low beam bulb. Dealer glendale Nissan, glendale heights il stated that they carried out a recall by putting grounding plates in 2006. No grounding plates were found and no physical mark of anything touching and absorbing the heat from the bulb was found. It is very likely that this recall item was inadvertently omitted when the car went to the dealer for other recall work on suspension etc.

- Bartlett, IL, USA

problem #5

Jun 012010


  • miles
I am on my 3rd set of tires on my 2003 Altima it has only 78,000 miles on it. I rotate my tires every 5,000 miles the tires sound like they are coming apart. The headlight lens are turning foggy and yellow cutting down on the headlight visibility. Motor busing went bad car would not pass state inspection. Alternator went bad at 50,000 miles. Driver door hinge is bad want stay open if car is a little uneven. Had to replace crank sensor cause car wouldn't start at around 65,000 miles the dealer said there were no recall on any these problems.

- Newport News, VA, USA

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problem #4

Sep 152009


  • 74,000 miles
My car shut of on me while driving at night which was hard to see because the headlamps didn't give much light and both airbags deployed and my seat belts don't work either...I own a 2003 Nissan Altima...the car would usually turn of on me like that but not a higher speeds...the car's engine has been making a loud noise it had 3 recalls for it( headlamp recall, engine exhaust recall, & engine cooling recall) before I had this done I had a service engine light on which came out as P0420, P0240, and had 3 P0335...after I had the "recall done"...a week later my car "blew a head gasket" and I had a code P0300...I immediately got it fixed for like $1300...after that...2 weeks later I got a service engine light on which came out as P0335, P0240, & P0420...I've also been in contact with Nissan Consumer Affairs...I've been in touch with a regional specialist which can't really help me at all...Nissan dealer like to take money for diagnosis and tells me the car is unsafe to car still shuts off and sometimes it doesn't even start...when the car start up it makes a loud engine right now my car shuts off at any speed rate now just low speeds, I don't have airbags in the car, engine makes a loud noise, sounds like there's something like a rock in the catalytic converter, and my car's seat belts don't work.

- Huntington Park, CA, USA

problem #3

Jul 132009


  • miles


Headlights are not sealed leading to the fogging of the lens which makes it hard or unclear for the driver to see at night while driving.

- South Jordan, UT, USA

problem #2

Sep 042008


  • 65,000 miles
The car seems to not start once it ran for a short time. Example I drive to the supermarket turns on fine, once I leave it is hard to start. Almost seem to be flooded. It use to do it once a week know its doing it everyday. Just recently I was driving and it turned off on me. From the Nissan blogs it looks like this year has been giving problems. Another complain is the exterior lights they are faded or stain from inside, this could cause a visibility issue.

- Casa Grande, AZ, USA

problem #1

Apr 242008

Altima 4-cyl

  • 48,264 miles
My low beam headlights keep burning out every 6 months or so. There is a service bulletin on this, but Nissan refuses to fix the issue. The tsb in question is: Service bulletin number : 05057. What should I do when a dealer refuses to perform service on an issue that the NHTSA has clearly recognized?

- Raleigh, NC, USA

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