2003 Nissan Altima S 2.5 from North America


I hate it


First off, this is the worst car I have ever owned. There have been so many problems, I even fix most myself, yet still find that I have to pay thousands of dollars to keep this heap running.

The biggest problem I have had, would be the BLOWN motor. At roughly 60k miles, the engine seemed to lose all power while driving, followed by a thick cloud of smoke. Took it to dealer, got the same explanation everyone on this site seems to have gotten: Bad pre-cat cause engine to blow. Cost $1,000 in labor, great...

Interior is terrible. Cloth and plastics are cheap. Front windows seem to stick when trying to put them down, resulting in windows smashing into the door. Also all the plastic tabs on the armrest, to the center console door, to the front compartment door, all have broken off.

Shocks feel as if they are blown. This thing has TERRIBLE traction from a dead stop, it seems to just spin the tires (even new ones) even when I slip the clutch ever so softly.

Headlights blow the bulbs so fast.

Steering wheel makes a creaking sound when turning.

Shifter boot is completely torn apart.

General Comments:

Never again! Worst car, worst dealer experience, worst manufacturer to EVER deal with. What a piece of junk.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 3rd September, 2007

5th Sep 2007, 21:30

Goodness, I can't imagine! The interior of our 2003 Nissan is quality similar to a luxury car. After 4 years, it still runs great and looks great. We have had it serviced on a regular basis, according to the manufacturer and driven it with care (we don't speed). We have never worked on it ourselves; but, always had it serviced (routine) at the dealer. We simply have never had a problem with it. We love it and it has served us well. It's a dream to drive on trips and it looks great! Still, after all these years, people stop to mention how pretty the car is. Perhaps you got a lemon; but, I'm guessing you might be a little provacative behind the wheel and a little rough with the interior.

6th Nov 2008, 14:09

I have had a 2003 2.5 Altima for 6 years and love it! I think it is still one of the prettiest cars on the road. My interior still looks good although I have had two of the latches on the console to break off. I have not had to replace any lights and recently had all the belts checked and they were still all okay. I have 90K miles on it and it has always ridden smoothly. My dad was a mechanic for years and always commented on how good it rode. I am hoping it will last me another five years.

2003 Nissan Altima S 2.5 from North America


- Automatic transmission shifter intermittently locked up when trying to shift into another gear. (first happened at around 34000 miles).

Soln: getting the brake switch replaced has remedied the problem for now; will monitor.

- Brake light intermittently did not work.

Soln: same as above.

- Car engine shut off after accelerating from a stop (happened at around 60000 miles).

Soln: replaced crank sensor after getting the part from Kragen, and having a friend help with the replacement (it's in a wierd spot and difficult to replace, but possible with slim, dextrous hands, pliers, and some mechanical visualization) ; crank position sensor was not available for purchase ANYWHERE, including the dealerships (who claimed out of stock for indefinite period of time!) ; problem has not recurred for almost a year now.

- Car would not start, but engine would crank (happened around 73000 miles).

Soln: have not resolved yet, but stepping on the gas pedal while cranking got it started, with smoke leaving exhaust... funny that a flooding problem could occur in a fuel-injected vehicle, the same remedy that works for a carbuerated car seems to have worked in this case; I suspect it's a fuel injection problem.

General Comments:

For the first couple of years, the car behaved like a dream. It seemed like the best car I could have ever gotten for the money: smooth performance and handling, roomy, great sound system, comfortable, decent looks, and pretty reasonably priced. I've moved quite a bit over the last few years, and there have been times when I felt like I couldn't have made a better choice in a car (what other mid-sized sedan could you have fit an IKEA queen-sized bed, 2 side tables, a full sized dresser, and a queen matress, all flat-packed mind you, without having to make 2 trips!). But for all of the good qualities of the Altima, the inconveniences caused by having to take care of the issues that come up from time to time leave a sour taste. The most frustrating thing is dealing with the Nissan dealerships that tell you "we've checked everything, and just made some adjustments", "we can't help you until the specific problems happen again", and "we know what the problem is, but unfortunately, the part is back ordered and we don't know when it will be back in stock". Luckily, I was able to find some good information online and get good help from a mechanic friend to either remedy the problem I was having, or work around the problem. Plus, finding a good mom'n'pop auto shop has cut down some of the headaches. Needless to say, I'll be thinking twice about buying another Nissan not so much for the shortcomings of the vehicle (all cars no matter what make will have some problem eventually), but for the seeming lack of support from Nissan to conveniently remedy situations.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 23rd July, 2007

12th May 2010, 18:34

I used to own a 2003 Nissan Altima. It was the 2.5l I-4.

What I found out, was that if I started my car and say backed it out of the garage, and shut if off and left it for a couple of hours, the next time I got in to start it, it would not start. The problem is that when you crank it and shut it back off after only a few seconds, like backing it out of my garage, it kept dumping gas in the cylinders. After a couple of hours, the gas would wash all the oil off the cylinders, causing what is known as a compression wash. That's why when you try to start it, it sounds kinda funny.

When we took our car back to the dealership, all they did was put a faster turning starter on it. The dealership told me also that if I start the car, to let it run for about 2 to 3 minutes before shutting it off, and that would stop it from doing that. We did that, and sure enough it stopped. The problem with that is when you compression wash those cylinders too much, it caused premature wear and engine failure.

We traded our Altima off when it had 105000 miles on it. We had purchased it new and I had always changed the oil every 3500 to 4000 miles. When we traded it, it was already using about a quart of oil between oil changes, and had a rattle to it. The power steering pump also started leaking at about 40k miles too.

This car was just bad. I do not regret getting rid of it. We own a new Ford Fusion now, and I hope it is a lot better than the Altima.