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:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
116,836 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 steering problems

steering problem

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2003 Nissan Altima Owner Comments

problem #10

Jan 192016


  • 86,000 miles


My wife was driving our Nissan Altima with our kid when all of a sudden the car started to stutter and then it just stopped in the middle of the road. Luckily the car behind her did not hit her. She was able to start the car again after a few minutes and then was able to drive it home. After she reached home, I then took the car to a nearby auto shop when the car just stopped again in the middle of crossing an intersection. The steering wheel was stiff and it could not be turned. I tried to start the car but it wouldn't start. I waited for a few minutes and then I was able to start and drive the car. I turned on the hazard lights and then drove the car to the auto shop. The mechanic mentioned the cam shaft sensor was bad and upon searching online I found similar drivers mentioned the same issue and that there has been a recall on this. I have all the paper work from the mechanic as proof that this was the same problem as mentioned in this link. I contacted Nissan Consumer Affairs and they claimed that there weren't any recalls. They weren't willing to admit this issue. It seems like they will act only when there is a serious injury or loss of life.

- Fremont, CA, USA

problem #9

Jun 262015


  • 133,000 miles
Whie driving about 45mph the engine shuts off, steering was very hard. Tried too restart engine, hard to restart. At tiomes the car is hard to start after sitting for awhile. Engine also stumbles, or seems to miss fire while driving. This not the first incident. Had the sensors replaced after the first problem.

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #8

Sep 252014

Altima 4WD 6-cyl

  • 168,365 miles
Was driving 45mph when the engine shut off, steering wheel got stiff, and I had to maneuver to safety. Tried repeatedly to turn on the car, but it didn't work. I came to a complete stop, waited a few minutes, and then the car turned on normally. I have a family of Nissan owners and this was the first incident of this ever happening. I just want Nissan to help fix this, or risk loosing a valued customer to another car brand. Considering infinity just lost 2 CEO's to other brands makes me (as a consumer) uncertain about this brands future.

- Puyallup, WA, USA

problem #7

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 #6

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 #5

Aug 232012

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while driving 13 mph, the vehicle stalled without warning. The failure recurred numerous times. On a separate occasion while driving 35 mph, the steering wheel seized after the battery warning light illuminated. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic for diagnosis but they were unable to determine the cause of the failure. The failure mileage was 96,000 and the current mileage was 97,240.....updated 12/20/12 the consumer stated the crank sensor malfunctioned, the motor mount was cracked and the A/C stopped working.

- Menifee, CA, USA

problem #4

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 #3

Jan 202010

Altima 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the check engine warning lamp illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who diagnosed that the timing chain was defective and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure who did not offer any assistance. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and the current mileage was 117,000. Updated 7/10/13 the radiator, timing chain, power steering pump, power steering hose, water pump, valve cover gasket, engine insulator, crankshaft sensor and motor mount were all replaced. Updated 07/18/13

- Huntsville , AL, USA

problem #2

May 142010

Altima 4-cyl

  • 49,000 miles
Progressive stiffening of steering at low speed turns. Problem seemed to lessen during rainy conditions. Leading me to believe it was a linkage problem. Inspected steering linkage ie knuckle/ universal joint, no lubricant visible and joint was rusted. There should be some sort of grease on this joint and a boot to protect it from corrosion. With front wheels off ground sprayed joint with WD40 and worked steering back and forth and steering became steady smoother. Have read some posts on internet about this joint and that Nissan is aware of it as they seem to have a back order issue with the replacement part. At 50,000 miles I don't believe I should be having a problem with the steering on my 03 Altima. People are having steering pumps replaced at a cost of 1,200 to 1,500 and when that doesn't resolve the problem there told it must then be the steering rack unit. (replacement cost similar), to still have steering problems. For what in my case so far seems to be a poorly designed lube lacking unprotected from the elements steering knuckle. With out a recall on this part the only repair in my budget for this problem is WD40. Thank you for your time and effort.

- Brick, NJ, USA

problem #1

Jul 202008

Altima 6-cyl

  • 145,000 miles
My Nissan 2003 Nissan Altima 3.5V6 has shut down and locked up while driving. This has occurred twice in the past 6 months. The last time it occurred was approximately July 20, 2008. Both times it has occurred, I pressed the brake prior to it shutting down. The steering and engine shut off in each instance and I could've been in an accident. Afterwards I put the vehicle in park, restart the engine and continue to drive. I have read other posts that claim they have had the same problem.

- Round Rock, TX, USA

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