I had no major problems, until late in 2006 when I began to have problems with the heater around 81,000 miles.
I took it back to the Nissan dealership, and was told that the problem was fixed, but then realized that it had not.
Later in June 2007, I took it back to have my WV annual inspection done, get an oil change along with the usual service, get a tail light bulb replaced, at about 81,000, and get the heater/AC problem fixed. The dealership said they did all the previous things, but it would cost several hundred dollars to fix the heater problem. I decided to pass on that at the present time.
I then had a major problem with burning oil, and the engine/catalytic converter needing to be replaced at a little over 82,000 miles.
The next week I unexpectedly had to drive to southern Wisconsin in the Altima. About 400 miles into my drive, I started hearing noises coming from under the hood while I was going at low speeds through Chicago highway construction. No engine lights came on, so I continued on to Wisconsin. That was a Saturday evening.
I picked up my son and we started back to WV, but the noises started getting worse. We decided to stop and stay overnight in Champaine, IL. The next morning (Sunday) we headed to a gas station where I checked the oil and saw very little on the dipstick. This was strange to me, because we had just had the oil changed less than 2,000 miles ago. I added a few quarts of oil and we continued on the drive.
East of Cincinnati, with the car continuing to make the engine noise and with about 100 miles to go, it suddenly accelerated on a hill to about 6,000 RPMs and then barely would run at all. With the help of a police officer, we pulled off the road to a convenience store/gas station near Peebles, OH. There we called a tow truck and learned that there was no oil in the engine. We had to leave the car there and call someone to drive 100 miles to come get us on that Sunday evening.
Then I had to get the car towed to a Nissan dealership in Kentucky, where I was told that the engine was destroyed and had to be replaced. The dealership submitted this job and my name to some kind of Good Faith program where it was denied without reason; with the exception of a few oil changes and tires, all my work has been done at one Nissan dealership. My local dealership would not give me any satisfaction either.
After paying $4700 to have a Jasper reconditioned engine installed, my son headed home in the Nissan (Although I knew it was a lot of money, I felt a little reassured that there was a 75,000/3 year warranty on the Jasper engine.) The "service engine" light came on so my son called the KY dealership who came and picked up the car; they called back saying that the whole engine problem had been caused by a bad catalytic converter, which would cost $800+ to replace. The service manager told me that this was not the first time they had seen this problem in 2002 Nissan Altimas. We checked around and found a business a little closer to home that could replace the catalytic converter for only around $250, but today they told us that they could not do the job after all, due to the catalytic converter being too close to the manifold?
For nearly 4 years, this car handled well, and was comfortable, attractive, and dependable. My son and I are at wit's end in this saga; I can't afford to buy a brand new car, but with all I have now spent on this vehicle, I probably should have done so.
I have been really careful to have all recalls done and to have all the recommended service done over the 4 years I have owned the car. I had done my homework before purchasing this vehicle used, and never dreamed that we would have experienced these problems.
Considering all the posts I have seen from people experiencing the same problems with their 2002 Nissan Altimas, I feel that Nissan needs to do a recall or help owners of these vehicles to make the needed repairs.