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 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 1
Average Mileage:
35,698 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Nissan Altima Owner Comments

problem #14

Jul 022010


  • 97,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While driving 5 mph, the vehicle began to hesitate and jerk violently as the contact attempted to accelerate. The vehicle was taken to a local repair facility where the mechanic stated that the transmission needed to be replaced. There were no prior warnings. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 97,000 and the current mileage was 98,000.

- Geneva, NY, USA

problem #13

Jun 152010


  • 58,000 miles
I was driving to work on the hwy going about 55 and my gas pedal stopped working for about 15 seconds. I pulled into a parking space at a nearby apartment complex and sat there for another 10 seconds pumping the gas pedal. It started working after that and I drove to work to no further issues, but this could possibly lead to an accident or even a possible death(s).

- Melbourne, FL, USA

problem #12

Sep 252008


  • 76,000 miles
The car began to hesitate at a stopped position. It took extra pressure on the gas pedal to get it to go. At speeds of 60 mph, this same thing was happening. It almost needed to be floored to get it to go. It revved very high when I tried to give it extra gas. Sounded like it was in neutral. Took it to a repair shop and they said the transmission solenoid pack needed to be replaced. Only has 76,000 miles. This is a safety issue because if I need to pass or get rapid acceleration, I could be in an accident.

- Solon, OH, USA

problem #11

Mar 032006

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles


The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. While driving approximately 35 mph, the engine shut off without warning. The engine restarted after several attempts. No warning lights were illuminated on the instrument panel. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer and they stated that crank case sensor failed. Recently, the transmission began slipping and shifted erratically. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic and repaired. The failure mileage was unknown. Updated 01/03/12 updated 01/05/12

- Columbia, SC, USA

problem #10

Oct 172003

Altima 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 7,435 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. In 2003, the vehicle began jerking and would come to a complete stop without warning. The vehicle was taken to two dealers and the radiator and crank sensor were replaced. The manufacturer was notified and a report was taken. The investigation concluded that the vehicle could not be replaced under the lemon law because the time had expired. The speed and powertrain were unknown. The current mileage was 55,000 and failure mileage was 7,435. Updated 02/12/08. The consumer stated the vehicle stalls and then shoots forward. Updated 02/12/08

- Atlanta , GA, USA

problem #9

Aug 082007

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 127,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Altima. The contact heard a loud snap underneath the vehicle while driving. He attempted to place the vehicle in drive and reverse, but it failed to move. The vehicle was towed to his residence and was later towed to the dealer. The mechanic stated that the vehicle needed a new engine and transmission. Through online research, the contact discovered that the 2006 Altima's have a recall for the same failure. The speed and recall number were unknown. The current and failure mileages were 127,000.

- Elizabeth, NJ, USA

problem #8

Aug 252006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


My 02 Altima has had four recalls, including the last one in question. I began having problems with the car lurching this summer. It acted as if it was going to die. It even began to die on me once or twice at idle speeds. On Aug 24th, when I pulled out of the parking lot, the car died. It died three times while I was trying to turn around and get back to the parking lot. I took the car to a reputable, ase certified mechanic. Meanwhile, I checked the web. No additional recalls were listed.) the mechanic diagnosed that the crank shaft positioning sensor needed replacing. The car continued to lurch and act like it was going to die while I was driving. The techs recommended I take it to the dealer. The Nissan dealer informed me that the problem was known. Nissan had issued a recall, the car needed the ECM reprogrammed. After they reprogrammed the ECM, Nissan stated that the crank position sensor still needed replacing. I took it back to the mechanic that had already replaced the sensor. They also said it needed a new cam sensor. They replaced both sensors at no additional charge. Within a few days, the car exhibited the same, previous symptoms. I took it back to Nissan. The serv dept informed me that the issue was the throttle body assembly. The bad news - the cost was $1000. The part was estimated at $550 and labor was around $450. Estimate time of repair = 1 1/2 hour. The warranty is 5 yrs / 60K miles. He stated if the mileage was 60K miles, then the throttle body would be covered under warranty... but, since the mileage read 65K miles, then it would not be covered. The service manager applied for a goodwill warranty. The request was denied. I contacted Nissan. After filing the complaint and waiting for a response, I finally opted to have the car repaired at my own expense. To date, Nissan declined to pay for any part of the throttle body repair. However, they have promised to reimburse me for the crank position sensor.

- Arnold, MO, USA

problem #7

Jul 012006

Altima 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,677 miles
: the contact stated the motor mounts are defective. There was a noise present in the vehicle. The dealer diagnosed the motor mounts as the source for the noise, which is a problem with the transmission gears. There has been no accidents with the vehicle and the dealer determined the part defective.

- Princeton Junction, NJ, USA

problem #6

Jun 182006

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,561 miles
The service engine soon light began to appear in mid to late June. I have taken my vehicle to two different mechanical establishments and they have ran the vehicle through their scanners and can not find the problem. They have replaced the resister on the transmission however the car continues to shift hard. Nissan has a bulletin about problems on the transmission solenoid but it has not been reported as a recall. My car has reduced engine power and has stopped on me once while I was driving. My vehicle has been serviced thoroughly and the service engine soon light is still on.

- Palmdale, CA, USA

problem #5

Sep 162005

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While driving at all speeds vehicle just dies. Consumer has not resolved this problem. While driving the vehicle stalls unexpectedly. The vehicle has been taken to the dealer numerous times. The vehicle also hesitates intermittently. The transmission intermittently slips out of gear when the consumer was accelerating from a red light. Update: Called the listed number but was told no one live there by that name.

- Guilderland, NY, USA

problem #4

May 122004

Altima 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


While driving at any speed vehicle stalled. Consumer restarted vehicle, and drove it to dealer for inspection, but mechanic could not duplicate the problem.

- Denton, TX, USA

problem #3

Sep 232003

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles
I had my car in park. I went to close my garage door and heard a noise from the car all of a sudden it started going in reverse. I could not stop the car and got pined under and the car took me with it about 15 feet. I know the cars gears sliped it could not have happened any other way.

- Garland, TX, USA

problem #2

Nov 132002

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 565 miles
We purchased a 2003 Nissan Altima S on November 12, 2002. We noticed a rough vibration when we are sitting at a traffic light in drive and when we have it in park. We took it back to the dealership the next day to be checked and we were told it was normal. We wanted to exchange the vehicle for another Altima of same value because we have friends with 2002-2003 Altima and they are not having this problem. We have taken it back several times but they still continue to say it is normal. Also, we are having a problem with acceleration on this vehicle. When you take off it hesitates before it picks up speed and the transmission doesn't seem to be changing out smoothly. We aren't having any luck with the dealership we purchased it from. It seems as though they don't care about the customers after they get your $20,000 + check. I really think there should be a better way for customers to receive quality service from these dealerships after purchase. We feel like we purchase a 2003 lemon and we think that Nissan Corp. Should make these dealerships that are selling their products satisfy the customer before/after the sale.

- Northport, AL, USA

problem #1

Jan 172003

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,539 miles
2003 Nissan Altima with 3,539 miles on Jan 17th my wife drove it out for the grocery shopping. When she came back she parked the car on the drive way in 'P' with the engine running as she was to go out after unloading the shopping bags from the trunk. She got off from the car and opened the trunk and unloaded the shopping bags and took them to the kitchen through the garage. She took few bags each time to the kitchen so she traveled few times from the car to the kitchen. Then she walked to the mailbox and then took the last bag from the trunk and after closing the trunk walked to the kitchen. Soon later she opened the kitchen door and walked into the garage when she noticed that the car was coming toward her. It happened so fast and as she looked at the car she got paralised and the car bumped into the water heater base and stopped with the engine running and in 'P'. my wife didn't get hurt by 1/16" or so... my daughter ran to the car to see what happened and verified if the car was in 'P' or not. It was in 'P' and the indicator light on the panel showing 'P' too!! I took some pictures of it since there was nothing I could do at that moment. My wife was in shock. So I stayed with her that evening and right next day early morning took the car to the Nissan dealer and reported the problem. The service dept checked it out and said that they were not able to find anything wrong with the car and told me and to my wife and my daughter that we have to use our insurance to fix the damages caused to the car and the house by the malfunction of the car. No further action was taken by the Nissan dealer regarding this issue although I requested to contact Nissan usa Corp to report the problem.

- Marietta, GA, USA

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