2002 Nissan Altima 2.5 4 cylinder from North America




Check engine light came on... no heat at idle. Rapping noise in upper front of engine. Using anti-freeze. Caught engine failure just in time. The cam chain tensioner piston was about to come out of its bore due to the cam chain stretching. This would have blown the engine for sure!

Nissan says these chains are good for 250,000 miles... BS!! Ripped engine completely down to the short block... checked head... not warped but changed gasket anyway. Installed complete cam chain kit with guides and tensioner. Assembled engine, installed new cat. and fired it up. Runs good with no noise, but after a couple of days the idle is high... around 1400 when warmed up. The posts say it has to be relearned. Got the procedure off another site. I will try it this weekend.

Before I read about the problems about this car and did the repairs, this car gave us no problems at all since we bought it new in 02. I am a mechanic and do all my own repairs. This job still cost me about 700.00 bucks. Nissan sells a brand new engine for around 2,200.00. For what they're charging for the repairs... you might be better off just swinging in a new motor. It's what I would have done if my engine blew. That's a lot cheaper than what people have been paying on this site. Nissan should own up to the defects in this car!!!

General Comments:

Nissan should have let the car buyers know about the defect in the cam chains and related parts... even though it's a costly repair, it is better to fix the engine before it blows up. Just like the timing belts, there is a warning about them. If I would have known about the problem, I would have fixed it before anything bad had happened.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 3rd November, 2009

5th Nov 2009, 17:56

People hear Nissan, they think reliability. Unfortunately with the newer Altima that's not the case. They really shot themselves in the foot with that one. Up until 2001 the Altima was a bulletproof rider that would take some serious use/abuse, too bad after that they re-did it, over-engineered the stupid thing and made it more complicated then it needed to be. Shame on you, Nissan! If it ain't broken, don't fix it.

8th Nov 2009, 16:46

Theres a reason for the newer models un-reliability. Up till '01, the Nissan Altima was still built in Japan (better quality?).. After that it was built in US and Mexico, I believe. Plus the last person was right, they did over-engineer the thing.

7th Dec 2009, 19:06

Most car manufacturers these days. They just want to SAVE MONEY on manufaturing cost by using low cost Pic N Save materials to make their cars (instead of using high quality materials)

2002 Nissan Altima SL 2.5 from North America


Piece of crap!


Catalytic converter blew @ 63,000.

Motor blew @ 86,000.

Another catalytic converter after new motor put in.

Motor sounds like a diesel now and is ready to blow again!

General Comments:

This car is crap and no one should ever buy one!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 28th October, 2009

15th Aug 2014, 15:14

I purchased an '02 Altima SL with 83,000 miles off Craig's List a year ago for my son and paid $6500. Four months later the Nissan dealer informed me my engine was blown and needed to be replaced or rebuilt.

The pre-cat was the problem. Since then I've replaced the catalytic converter, radiator, and just now will have to replace the tranny. I've probably spent well north of $12000 on this beast and there's no end in sight. When it's running right it's a sweet handling car and I love all the comfort features and Bose radio, but it doesn't begin to compare with my car - '03 Honda Civic EX with manual. My Civic is incredible and seems to get better with age. Still have the original brake pads all around and nothing ever seems to go wrong with it, 'cept the usual stuff (tires, battery, lamps etc.).

And I always thought Nissan made well engineered, reliable cars, but not after reading all the comments from previous owners on this site. Shame on Nissan!