2002 Nissan Altima 2.5 from North America


The Altima is great for comfort and ride, but inferior in dependability because of engine issues


This car was great until the 80000 mile mark, and then it started running rough at start-up. I noticed that the coolant levels were going down slowly.

General Comments:

I took it to the dealership and complained about the rough start issue, but they pronounced the car to be in great shape. I took it to 3 other mechanics and all said the car was running OK. One mechanic did replace the plugs, and it helped, but soon it started running rough again.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 13th November, 2008

14th Nov 2008, 07:02

Hmmm... you are losing coolant and running rough? If you can't see the leak then you are probably going to have head or head gasket problems.

8th Jan 2009, 22:13

Altima 2002. 115,000 miles. I also have the same problem. Losing coolant but no visible external leaks from radiator, hoses and water pump. Brought it for pressure test and did not find any leak. I replace coolant about 1/4 gallon every week. Noted that when it temperature goes up radiator fluid level is low. Mechanic's diagnosis is head gasket needs to be replaced. Estimated cost $1500.00 2 weeks in the shop. Mechanic showed me why he thinks that is the cause. He got the device that is meant for emission test that is inserted in the tailpipe. Took the radiator cap and place the device above the filler cap and somebody rev-ed the engine and reading went up. He said HC from the engine is going to the radiator. I did not believe him, because if there is gas coming from the engine and through the coolant there should be bubbles, but there was none. Radiator fluid is clean. I bought a new radiator cap from the Nissan dealer for $26.00 and now I am not losing coolant from the radiator.

$1500.00 problem fixed by a new $26.00 radiator cap.

2002 Nissan Altima SL 2.5 from North America


Good look and performance, but a big headache, would not recommend it to buy


I bought my 2002 Altima 2.5 SL brand new in Jan. 2002. Until 110,000 km it was regularly serviced by Nissan dealerships. All recalls were done and everything else that they recommended was done. Until 80,000 km they replaced 6 times brake rotors (every time under warranty). Since I wasn’t getting any explanation after the 5th time I asked them why, what is the reason for that. I was told I should wait for the car to cool before I take it for wash. I was thinking that he was joking with me, but he was dead serious.

I experienced the start up issue and jiggle issue many times but that is not the worst. About 110,000 km “SES” came on and I took it to Nissan. They told me that the catalytic has to be replaced. Again they didn’t tell me what caused it to go bad and what else could be wrong. I paid $800 to replace it.

A few months after that I noticed that engine doesn’t sound right. There wasn’t any warning light on. I checked the oil and when I pulled out dipstick, the oil level was below the minimum. I immediately changed the oil and kept checking it regularly. Each day I was commuting about 200 km, mostly highway drive. Every 1000 km I had to add 1 L of oil.

I took the car to the Nissan dealership for oil consumption test. After few weeks of testing they determined that the engine has to be replaced ($5500). They didn’t have an explanation what caused it!? Because I was putting so many kilometers each day I didn’t want to throw money and buy a new vehicle. Also I was afraid that the new catalytic will die if I didn’t replace the engine soon. So I decided to replace the engine; big mistake. Since I don’t trust Nissan anymore I had the engine replaced at an independent certified mechanic. Brand new engine was put at 150,000 km for $3500. For some “reason” Nissan sold the engine for $2000, at half price. They gave 1 year or 20,000 km warranty.

Right from beginning I noticed that the new engine was burning oil, I had add a half of litre of oil every 3000 km. My mechanic started to be suspicious, but he was also thinking that it could be because the engine was brand new and I am driving at high highway speeds. After putting 15,000 km on it I took it to Nissan again to check consumption. They recorded that there is some oil consumption but they explained that is within normal range.

After 20,000 km the “SES” light came on, it says that catalytic is bad again. There is no warranty on catalytic converters. Nissan also told my mechanic when you replace an engine you should replace the catalytic at the same time. Now after 35,000 km (185,000 km total) and $6000 spent on the car in the last 6 months I have a new oil burning engine with a new bad catalytic. Of course Nissan doesn’t want to do anything about it. On top of that, I cannot start it every time I want it.


Don’t buy Altimas, their good looks and performance are not worth the big headaches.

Don’t buy any Nissan car, because Nissan is the worst dealership to deal with.

General Comments:

Very good performance.

Good gas consumption.

Average comfort, a lot of road noise

Very bad reliability, problems with the engine, catalytic, brake rotors.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 8th November, 2008

29th Oct 2009, 22:08

Another great example of those "high quality" Japanese cars. Thank you for an HONEST review. I drive domestics. I have no complaints.

31st Oct 2009, 10:44

Nissan is nothing compared to Honda and Toyota. I've driven Honda's my whole life, and have yet to have a single problem with ANY of them. Friends of mine have driven domestics, and have had them falling apart around 80,000 miles.

4th Oct 2013, 11:17

This is just terrible how dealers lie to the regular customer.

At no point does the catalytic converter need to be replaced when the engine is replaced.

Also, obviously the dealer sold a used engine as 'new'. Obviously, they took a damaged engine from a similar customer, cleaned it and sold it to you as new, and perhaps your damaged engine was sold the same way to another customer, making even some money in the process.

How possibly dealers can lie customers like this? It's a shame.