10th Jan 2007, 20:10


I have a 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5S sedan, which I purchased private party 8 months ago. The car had 42,000 original miles on it, and was in perfect mechanical and cosmetic shape.

Shorty after my purchase, I had to replace the O2 sensors, due to a check engine light diagnosis that the sensors had gone bad.

Shortly after this, the brake light illuminated, and has been unable to be cleared; brakes have been inspected, E-brake switch checked... to no avail.

2 months after purchasing the car, I check the oil (which I had changed when I bought it), and it had burned 2 quarts in a little over 1000 miles! I now use roughly 2.5 quarts of oil in between 3000 mile interval oil changes.

It gets worse... 3 months into owning vehicle, I notice knocking and rattling sounds coming from under car when going over bumps, and up or down driveways. I climbed under car, found nothing loose or damaged, figured it was just a rattly car in general, and became more unhappy with it.

Fast forward to 8 months after purchase... with 48,500 miles on the car... still adding oil every 1000 miles like crazy... still can't get the brake light on the dash to turn off... Heater and A/C work like total crap... and it gets even worse!

My fiance drives the car 50 miles from home to visit family... and the car just dies and won't restart right in the middle of the freeway. I have the car towed to her parents house, where I scan the computer and it comes up "malfunction cam sensor bank 1 sensor 1". I had heard this was a problem with these early Altimas, so I checked with my friend who happens to be a Nissan tech. He says that it IS under recall for that problem, among many others, and for me to bring the car in so he can pull up all the recalls for me and fix whatever he can.

HERE IS WHERE IT GETS UNBELIEVABLE! I trailer car to his Nissan dealer, and he pulls the VIN# to check for recalls applicable... by the time I sign the papers and leave the dealer, the car is getting a new subframe, new airbag sensors, new headlight assemblies, computer reprogramming, catalytic converter replacement due to faulty pre-cat, cam position sensor recall, crank position sensor recall, VTC sensor recall, fuel pump screen in tank installed, and several other minor service bulletin items replaced, including A/C control gear replaced (why do the heater and A/C work like crap on these cars).

IT GETS EVEN BETTER. He asks me if it consumes oil, I say "hell yes!" He tells me that he can run a consumption test on it, and that I will fail, 'cause they almost all do 90 percent of the time, even new ones. If it fails, he will recommend that the car needs a new motor, which they readily stock, because they change about 3-4 motors a week on 2002 and up Altimas. I told him that I didn't want to pay out of pocket for a motor, and that I have no warranty because I bought the car private party... so just skip the test and get the car running and the recalls taken care of, so I can sell this pile when it comes home. Amazing, huh?

So... he calls me the next day and says that he is giving me a motor for free, because my pre-cat is showing signs of breakdown at 48000 original miles, and that this is a known problem with most of these cars, and is also under recall! The cat has broken down inside, and created debris and small sand like particles, which have been sucked back into the motor this whole time, and ruined the rings and cylinder walls... hence the heavy oil consumption. He says this is very common, and that most Altimas will experience this at some point in their life, usually before 70,000 miles! However, most dealers skirt the issue, and besides, the recall is "voluntary" and not made common knowledge to consumers unless they search for it themselves.

Furthermore, the recall is only for 2002 Altimas, but this affects many cars made in later model years. He tells me that the subframe will be replaced, the motor will be replaced, the sensors will all be replaced, the airbag sensors will be replaced, the headlights will be replaced, the cat and pre-cat exhaust assembly will be replaced, the fuel pump will be replaced with a new one with a screen, the ECM will be re-programed, and the car will be ready to pick up in 3 days. 3 days? How do they tear apart the whole car and rebuild it for pickup in 3 days I ask? He answers "because we do this every day with these cars, every week, and it doesn't matter if they are 2002 or just sold off the showroom floor. Sensors go out with regularity, and most of these cars all burn oil once a few miles are put on them, and the cat starts to do its thing. We get very fast at rebuilding them! In fact, they keep about 15 2.5 motors in stock, to keep the regular motor replacements moving along smoothly.

Before I leave and thank him, he tells me..."when you get this car back... sell it ASAP... or you will be back here with many of the same problems, but not under recall warranty... They will wind up coming out of your pocket! Seriously dude... get rid of this car, and tell your friends who have Altimas to do the same" I will be heeding his word...

19th Jan 2007, 19:24

I have also experienced similar issues with my 2003 Altima SL. What I have found is that if the engine will not turn over, I unhook the battery for 30 seconds and then hook it back up. This resets the computer! I learned that after watching a technician do it. I was charged $150.00 for that "service". I will be off loading this vehicle soon. Also, beware... I just found my car more than 2 quarts low on oil and the sensor had not come on and the oil gauge was registering fine!

31st Jan 2007, 19:53

Hello all... haven't been on in a while. Let me get you all up to date with my situation.

Since my last post the car has went to crap! I now have a air/fuel mixture problem. Running way too rich! I have developed a misfire on all cylinders. My coolant, once the car is at operating temp is bubbling between the case and exhaust manifold.

Nice huh?! The engine is gone. I was thinking of rebuilding... but I think I will just buy a re-manufactured engine from Japan.

My advice to all Nissan Altima owners... no matter the year, swap out the engine and remove the pre-cat right away! Once the pre-cat begins to break down, you will have problems from that point on. My car was fine for years... and I was very pleased with it until... I read about the Crankshaft Position sensor and the Cam sensor. After replacing them the car ran like crap and continues to. I would love to fight Nissan every step of the way on this. But I can't. I have only 1 car and I have to keep shelling out a couple hundred dollars to keep it running. Every couple of months something happens. I have removed the plugs and inspected all cylinders from above with a small flashlight. Each cylinder head is covered with what looks like a grainy substance. Black and a little wet. The wetness is from the fuel being sprayed into the chamber for combustion. The fuel injection chamber when you remove the throttle body... looking inside from the drivers side, is completely covered with this black grainy material. No doubt that this is where all of my engine performance is being robbed. Everything is covered with this crap. And the only answer is... the pre-cat material sucked back inside the engine. I'm pretty regular on cleaning, so I know it's not something that I have done.

DO NOT ALLOW NISSAN TO REPLACE YOUR PRE-CAT WITH ANOTHER PRE-CAT FROM NISSAN! All they're doing is taking cores and cutting out the catalyst, then replacing with a new catalyst. Probably the same material as before. SO you end up with a pre-cat that was cut in the middle then a catalyst added and welded back together.

Save yourself some time, headaches and money in the long run... remove that pre-cat and go with an aftermarket exhaust manifold. I only wish... that I had done all of this sooner. Now every other month I'm replacing something. Sensors, engine parts, coolant, oil... Advil, Coors light. Not in that order.

These guys that work in the service dept. Have to know by now what the problems are with this car. Nissan has to make them aware of whats happening??? I hate going to the dealership for servicing because I feel like I'm always holding class. These guys are trained and certified right? I'm just a guy at home in the garage. C'mon Nissan, get on the ball and handle this. Everybody... if you haven't made your complaints NHSTA, BBB, California Consumer Affairs, shame on you. Nissan is not going to do anything unless we back them in the corner. They'll deal with us individually until the cows come home. Don't end up like me... with a bunch of aftermarket parts on your vehicle in order to enjoy your vehicle that you paid good money for. I get tired of the run around. And I find workarounds. I'm still in the fight though!!!