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Nissan Altima Engine Failures

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  • Cars DO NOT NEED AN ENGINE REPLACEMENT IN 61/2 YEARS.

    I think there's a reason why most manufacturers only offer 5 years warranty on the powertrain. I know most engines can be last longer than 5-6 years but the chance that something will be broke down is higher after 5 years.
  • Sorry for the delayed response, I have been waiting for a call from a Regional Service Representative. Which I just received. Nissan USA will not be providing me any financial assistance for the Cat Converter problem. Their stance is that if it is past 80k miles it is no longer their problem. I can not convey my level of frustration. If this was a unique/isolated situation I would have no problem with the decision, but given the fact that the issue is widespread for a lot of Altimas I feel that this is very poor customer service. I would not recommend the Nissan Altima to anyone with the slightest interest of any model or year.
  • Well, they did it.

    I have a brand new V6 engine, 2 x new pre-cats and 2 x new oxygen sensors installed in my 7yr old car with only 45kmi on it ALL courtesy of Nissan. I have no idea of the final cost (~$6K), but the page of gaskets required must've run $500 or more alone... Acceleration rattle has *finally* gone away! Presumably so too the mysteriously disappearing oil problem... It took them two days to do.

    (BTW the car passed it's emissions test not 3 months earlier with flying colours, and no lights, no SES, no oil, ever came on)

    Dealership swears up and down that the new parts have improved formulations and won't suffer the same breakdown as the original parts. ECM was not reprogrammed. I'm going to keep the car, as I still like driving it a lot, and even if it does melt down in another 7 years...I'll probably have got my money's worth. That said, I'm so glad I hadn't packed the miles on it like I used to, or I would've blown the 8yr/130km warranty and be stuck with the mother of all repair bills (like so many on this site)...and be in a bit of a quandary, as in to how to dispose of the car-cass least recklessly...

    Thank you Nissan for standing by your product (well, to a point).
  • I own a 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5l with 73,000 miles. The SES light turned on 2 days after I had the oil changed and air filter replaced. I was able to find out the error code myself and it was reading ATF temperature sensor error. I then took the car to the dealership and was charged $100 to be told that it was indeed an ATF temperature sensor error and then an additional $200 to have the transmission fluid replaced. The dealership said the computer was reading a solenoid malfunction but when the mechanic checked it he concluded that there was nothing wrong so they just changed the transmission fluid.

    One week after having the light reset at the dealership and the transmission fluid replaced the SES light came on again. This time the code is p0302 (cylinder 2 misfire). I am not sure what to do at this point because the dealership told me that if the light were to come back on I would have to replace the solenoid which would cost about $600-$700. Although, I am hesitant because the error code is now something else.

    After reading several post from others with the similar dilemma I am not sure what to do. I feel like this SES light coming on is a chain reaction to many other problems and will only turn out to be money spent on a never ending problem. If someone could please give me some advice, it would be greatly appreciated. I am a girl and feel that every time I go to the Nissan dealership I am hustled and end up paying hundreds of dollars for minor problems all the while the mechanic is ignoring the major problem.
  • I check in here frequently, so myself and others here will be able to give you some advice.

    First, it is good that you are able to get the DTC's read for you, probably at an autoparts store or friend. Every person that drives a modern car should have or have acess to a DTC reader, one that can read the codes and clear the codes, at the minimum. There are better code Scanners that do more functions for more money, but those Scanners are for people who are more mechanical and work on their cars. I think owning a good Scanner is a very wise investment, I use mine for all my cars, and sometimes my friends cars. Seach for them with Google. So rule one is to be able to read the Codes and be able to clear the codes (turn off the SES light).
    Second, interpreting codes and repairing the problem can be done by places other than just the dealer. It would not hurt to have someone else look at the car and tell you what is wrong, what needs to be fixed and how much it will cost. A lot of places will take a look at it at no cost, so look around and find a good mechanic shop, and shop the market and the prices. If the car seems to be running ok with no problem, and the code is read and it does not seem to be a critical problem or a life safety problem, then clear the code to turn off the SES light, and see if the SES light returns. If it does, then investigate the problem further. If you have a real transmission problem or a real engine problem , you will be able to FEEL it or HEAR it, So rule two is to shop around.

    Third, I am not sure why the transmission error code apppeared and then went away. The best thing to do with this is to monitor the situation and see if it comes back, instead of automatically throwing money at it. In fact, just because the SES light comes on, does not mean you have to spend money on it. So rule three is don't spend money on the car just because the SES light came on, check it out and research it first. Google the Code number and find out all about it, and then ask about it on here.

    Fourth, the PO302 code is cylinder 2 misfire, have you noticed and missing or engine not seem to run right, sluggish, hesitation, stalling, hard starting or anything like that? Reset and clear the code and see if it comes back. This could be caused by several things. If it comes back, you may have to have a mechanic do some general test to find out the general health of the engine and try to pinpoint the problem. Some test may include a cylinder compression test, a vaccum test, a cylinder leakdown test, ignition test, fuel injector test, sensors test, wiring test, etc. After researching the problem, ask back here if you need to.

    So in general, if the car seems to be running ok with no problem, and the code is read and it does not seem to be a critical problem or a life safety problem, then clear the code to turn off the SES light, and see if the SES light returns. If it does, then investigate the problem further. If you have a real transmission problem or a real engine problem , you will be able to FEEL it or HEAR it,
    Good Luck,
    E.D. in Sunny Florida
  • We also own a 2002 Nissan Altima and are also experiencing a very similar problem as yours. We just in the last month spend approx 1500 doing all the maintenance and changing all he oils and etc., etc. Something is definetely wrong with it now. The SES sign keeps coming of and on. THe car is sucking up the engine oil like crazy. We just put 3 qts in last week and the OIL SIGN is coming up again.
    One dealer ship says we need to replace the engine and another says our cylinder is misfiring. We also went back to the dealership we bought the car from, to check all the recalls and supposedly we've got everythig done and the problem we are having has nothing to do with the recalls. THe dealership, also suggested that we should call the MANUFACTURER, NISSAN USA and explain the problem to them and if they get enough complaints they may HAVE to do something. SO I WOULD SUGGEST, TO EVERYONE HERE ON THIS SITE TO CALL NISSAN @ 1-800-NIS-SAN1 AND COMPLAIN ABOUT THE PROBLEM WE ARE ALL HAVING. I KNOW, I'M GOING TO CALL THEM FIRST THING TOMORROW MORNING.
    I think it's rediculous that I have to pretty much get rid of this car and buy a new one, only after 61/2 yrs. I'm not giving up on this easily.
    Reading everyone's experiences here enssures me that there is obviously a manufactures defect in this model.
    By the way you should not feel hastled you because you are a girl. I am a girl , I understand how you feel. At this time, I can only suggest that you also make that one phone call to Nissan and lets see what happens. I'm ready to make sure that Nissan has a good explanation for this or they will never hear the end of it.
  • Hi, i have been reading some of these messages and i seem to be having similar problems with my altima. problem started while i was driving, i was going around 45 mph when all of a sudden my car turned off. later i tried turning it on but would, i tried again, this time it did start but after it did about five seconds later it turned back off. i don't know what could be the problem, i don't really have money right now to take it in to a shop, so i'm asking you guys if anyone could give me some hints on what could the problem be.
  • gp0137gp0137 Posts: 2
    I've just found this website and am in the very same boat with the rest of you!!! My 2002 Altima started having problems a couple of years ago, they performed all the recalls on it and it's been constant problems for the last year. They replaced the catalytic converter last April, then in Nov. we were astounded to learn that it's sucking oil at incredible rates. We are prepared to "dump it" as soon as possible, but it angers me to think that Nissan has produced such a horrible product. How can a car with 58,000 miles on it be ready for the trash??? Has anyone gotten ANY satisfaction from Nissan?
  • fbonerfboner Posts: 4
    You are under the 80kmi emissions warranty. Regardless of 4/6 cyl status, Nissan will replace your engine for you under this warranty. In my case, I got new cats and oxygen sensors too.

    BEWARE.

    After the engine was replaced, I suddenly needed a new $800 MAF (mass airflow sensor) to cure stumbling problems on accelerations and a lot of unburnt gas smell on cold startups. I actually think the failed MAF was the root cause of all of this, as the excess unburnt fuel would be dealt with primarly by the pre-cats which would lead to premature breakdown (dealership told me the method of failure of the catalytic material is micro-detonations in the honeycomb structure...well blobs of fuel spraying out with hot exhaust gases ought to qualify).

    My biggest beef is that no warning light ever came on, not for the low oil, not for the failed MAF and O2 sensors, not for the failed pre-cats.

    As I stated in my post (Nov 23?) above I did get full satisfaction in terms of an engine replacment...though I only had 45kmi on it.
  • gp0137gp0137 Posts: 2
    Thanks for your reply. We, like you, got no warning light of the low oil- it just failed to start and had no oil in it! We called the local dealership and amazingly, they had no knowledge of any other Altimas with these problems!! We've decided at this point that we're not going to pursue this any further, but will dump it and be finished with this car! It's just no longer worth the headaches, and will definitely not buy another Nissan product!
    Again, thanks
  • You are exactly right with your attitude about this. Nissan is in a state of denial over this cataylic converter issue and excessive engine oil use issue, they just don't care about their customers if the car goes over the warranty period, I have been battling this problem with my daughters 2002 Altima 2.5S, had over 90K miles when the problem started, Nissan was no help, I had to take the engine apart and fix it myself. My first messege I think was # 75 and then many more after that.
    Good Luck
    E.D. in Sunny Florida
  • I have a 2003 Nissan Altima and my car was having the same problem and drove me crazy. When I went and had it checked they said it was the line pressure sylanoid that was causing my car to have a hard shift.
  • There is some fantastic information here, I really appreciate all of the work E.D. and others have put in! My mechanical knowledge is very limited, so I've tried to absorb what I've seen here and apply it to my situation.

    I have some conflicting information on my particular Altima, so I thought I would request advice. My 2002 2.5 had the SES light on a couple of months ago, so I took it to my local dealer and it was just a gas cap/tank issue (replaced the cap, and repainted inside the tank door.) They suggested not trying to top-up on fillups (stop when the nozzle first stops) to avoid reoccurrence.

    This month, my SES light came on again. Not worried, it went away after a fill up. A week later, it was on again and wouldn't go off. I took it to the dealership after another week (this last Friday), and was shocked to hear that the failure was P0420, that the precat was breaking apart/missing, the oil was low, the new noise I was hearing was the timing chain, and the engine would have to be replaced!!! With a couple of extra things like a new clutch, estimated cost for engine assembly, etc. $5900 CDN plus tax. So, I spent all weekend doing research on the problem, expecting that I would have to scrape around to get another used car. I'm trying to move overseas sometime this year - this would really hurt because I will want to get rid of it just before I go in 6-8 months and need it for work until then. I paid off the car a few years ago and have had it serviced regularly at Nissan.

    They did regular service, and the noise I had heard was gone. IMO, it was likely the low oil and the engine complaining. I took the car in today to a local mechanic, and gave them the story. They would perform a diagnostic for a second opinion, and could probably find me a new engine somewhat cheaper than the dealer (though still not super cheap). Their results - they said the cat was plugged, but they didn't think it blew into the engine! Spark plugs reasonably clean. Compression tests were ok (150's on all), and they noticed no noises from the timing chain or otherwise. No blue in the exhaust. Their suggestion was to replace the cat and flush the engine to clean out any residue.

    :confuse: Any suggestions on which way to go?
  • We just had our '02 Altima repaired for the SES light. Replaced precat for $1200 at Nissan repair (was hoping to recoupe some cost from Nissan USA) After 7 miles of driving, the light came on again. New code = oxygen sensor(S). Nissan repair center only informed us of one - $270 for what we found out was a $60 sensor and wanted $200 more to install then $75 to shut off the light. We paid for the first sensor and walked away to install ourselves. Bought the 2nd sensor from auto store and my husband replaced both. I would recommend replacing the precat with your own auto mechanic (NIssan dealership repair charges are outrageous) and hope for the best. Monitor oil levels (weekly) and hope it doesn't start to burn through oil. If our car does start to burn oil (which means engine failure from precat issue), we will trade it immediately and take our losses. Also - Nissan USA denied any claims for recouping repair costs.
  • I'm going with option #2 (replacing the precat and the engine flush).
    I'll post again after I see how it goes.
  • I have not been back to this forum in a while, so I just saw your messages, sorry to hear your troubles, but many other people are having the same issues with the Altima. I suggest to anyone who has an Altima 2.5 to be sure to read all the messeges in this forum starting from #1 to the very end, they are all important. My first messege in this forum was #75. Please tell anyone you know that has an Altima 2,5 about this forum, and warn them of the possible problem that they may face. It is MUCH better to address this problem, BEFORE you need to buy a new engine.

    Here is what I have to say for you, your option #2 is probably the best thing for you to do at this time, but may not be the cheapest though. I don't know what State you live in and what the emission testing requirements are required there, but if allowable, you can take off the Precat and hollow it out, instead of buying a new one. That could save you hundreds of dollars, and you could do it yourself, even without having to remove it from the car. Before you start, run the engine and check to see if you have good exhaust flow out the tailpipes, if not you might have a restriction in the 2nd Cat to check for. Let the car cool down, then jack up the car safely on sturdy safety stands, and get under the car and separate the exhaust pipe from the bottom of the Precat, remove both of the oxygen sensors so that they won't get damaged (buy a special oxygen sensor socket for this), then through the bottom opening of the Precat, you can use some metal rods or screwdrivers to break the material inside the Precat apart and let the materal fall out the bottom opening. You might need to fabricate a metal wire hook to pull some parts out, like parts of the metal screens, and you can start the engine for 2 seconds to blow out loose pieces. Once it is hollowed out, reinstall the upper oxygen sensor, and you would have to put the $5 O2 cheater on the 2nd oxygen sensor to keep the SES light from coming on. Also, while the exhaust pipe is loose, it is a good time to check the second Cat that is under the car before the muffler to be sure that it is not restricted. In my case, the stuff from inside the Precat all came loose, blew down the exhaust pipe and plugged up the second CAT. That is why I had to hollow out both the Precat and the 2nd Cat.
    See message #256, that I have copied for you below.

    #265 of 356 Re: How do you avoid this? [lnesomdove] by electricdesign Apr 27, 2008 (7:58 am)
    Replying to: lnesomdove (Apr 25, 2008 5:46 am)

    "what do you do to insure that yours isn't one of those 5% if you choose to keep this car? "

    First, you have to be sure that the engine is not too far damaged, and using too much oil. Once it is using more than a quart per 1000 miles, it is probably too late. My daughters 2002 Altima was using about 1 quart in 1500 miles when I worked on it in Decenber 2007. The first Cat blew itself clean out and the second Cat was plugged up. Now it is running fine with both Cats hollowed out and a new head gasket. I estimate that it is now using 1 quart of oil in about 2500 to 3000 miles. We don't have an emissions inspection here in Florida, so we can run it that way. To keep the "Sevice Engine Soon" light from staying on, I put the "$5 02 Cheater", mentioned in previous posts, on the second oxygen sensor, and it works fine, keeps the light off. That's the way to keep the engine running fine, if yours is not too far gone.
    If the engine is too far gone & using too much oil, nothing will fix it but a new engine.
    If you start to get the problem and the engine is not too far gone, and you live in an emissions testing state, you would need to put on a new Precat/Exhaust manifold at the very first sign of the Cat going bad, before the engine is damaged. A new Cat will NOT fix a damaged engine.
    Owners and buyers Beware, Check that CAT at every service and check the oil level often, at least once a week. This is a known problem, so look out for it!
    Good Luck,
    E.D. in Sunny Florida
  • To electric design and any other forum techies ,

    I have an '05 Altima S, w/ I4 engine and 64K miles, with no know problems mentioned thru these posts YET, except cold heat air temp at idle {which I will address w/ burping technique in service bulletin see NTB02-047b (2002-2003 Altima: Poor Heater Performance) and possible thermostat replacement's }.

    My state presently has no emissions testing done and I wish to gutt the precat and leave the 2nd -main cat converter in place. Needless to say, neither Nissan dealers, nor most repair shops will do this work for me. I will be trying to find some competent young neighborhood shadetree mechanic to help me with this extra-legal workaround. My question relates to the removal of Pre-CAT, and resolution of the required difference between the voltages of the upstream and downstream O2 sensors. Several sources and discussion groups talk of an aftermarket replacement/ and modified O2 sensor, cheater plug to augment the difference, lengthened wiring to aid in the voltage diff., etc..This is the same motor/pre-cat setup as the Nissan Sentra, and here is a link to a discussion in one of their forums elsewhere on the web regarding cheaters, and outright removal with an aftermarket header replacement, albeit the header solution is more work:

    http://www.b15sentra.net/forums/showthread.php?t=135241

    Does anyone know of a specific source/ supplier of these O2 sensor parts and the custom tool for removal that electric design used in his engine work (so laboriously photographed and posted on Snapfish.

    Thanks for any help,

    aquatect1951.
  • Here are your answers:

    The O2 sensor socket is available at any auto parts store, it is a thick deep socket with a long slot cut lengthwise. The socket slips over the O2 sensor and the wires slide up the slot as the socket slides onto the O2 sensor. The wires stay connected to the O2 sensor and are not damaged as you loosen the sensor. Work carefully, as the sensors can sometimes be very tight to break loose.

    The O2 cheater is very cheap, $5 or less. Buy two of the correct size spark plug non foulers, drill one of them out with a 1/2 inch drill bit, screw them together, put them in the O2 sensor hole and then screw in the sensor. It is simple and it worked for me. I have not got the bad cat code since then (over a year now). Below I have attached the link to the site that gives complete instructions:

    http://forums.evolutionm.net/evo-how-tos-installations/208195-5-o2-cheater-non-f- - ouler-how.html

    Note: The only physical difference that the O2 cheater makes is that the O2 sensor sticks out about an inch and a half farther.

    Good luck
    E.D. in Sunny Florida
  • gino45gino45 Posts: 52
    I am considering buying a used 2007 Altima SL 2.5L but am concerned about the reliability of this model. I currently have a 1998 SE and am quite please with it, but have read the horror stories on this site regarding engines that burn oil in the 3rd generation Altima. Are the 07 engines and catalytic converters ok, or are they experiencing the same issues as with the older Altima (2003-2006) cars?
  • have recently just started having problems with my Nissan. I have a 2003 altima SE. I just took my car in yesterday to Nissan for a routine oil change. I travel back and forth from north to south jersey every week and needed it even though i just had it done a month and half ago. There had been loud banging noises coming from the front right side of my car and i wanted them to look at it. They called me later in the day to tell me that my engine has to be replaced! A not even 6 year old car has to have an engine replacement, and to top it all off, my warranty might not cover it. The cost is over $5000.I mean i am a college student and don't know much about cars but everyone in my household-mother,brothers,sisters- all have older cars than i do, all in 1990's and they have yet to even consider an engine replacement! I bought this car not even 2 years ago and i have had nothing but problems with it. The Nissan dealer claimed that my engine has been burning oil so fast that there was nothing there when they looked to do the oil change. There had been so much burning and for so long, that it completely ruined the engine and i needed a replacement.
    I have read on this that there are so many people out there that have had this same problem, with Nissan rarely paying for this misfortune. My car has about 85,000 miles on it, all highway, so aren't engines supposed to last well over that mileage?? Why hasn't Nissan done anything concerning this year and model car that seems to have a recurring problem?
    My advise to anyone thinking about buying an altima, DON'T. they are nothing but hassle and only prove to not last. Im still paying off my car.I owe 9000, its only worth 6500 right now, and i have to put 5000 into it for a new engine. somehow, that to me doesn't seem right.
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