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Nissan Altima Engine Failures



  • 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:

    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,

  • 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: - 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.
  • mainer70mainer70 Posts: 1
    I own a 2002 Altima 2.5 4 cylinder. I've owned it since March 2002. I just hit approx 86,000 miles. I took my car in to the dealership for a normal oil change & walked out needing a new engine. I had a knocking noice that happened when I would accelerate but would stop once I hit a cruising speed. It started happening about a week before I was able to get it in. They checked it out & found that the engine was burning oil. I had an oil change in December & the oil had dropped 3/4 in less than 3 months. I've never had any indicator lights come on. I've taken my car to the dealership since I purchased the car so they have all my records. The service dept put in a "goodwill" request to Nissan for them to pay but it was denied. Even the service guy knows it's a Nissan engine problem, but they had to follow the protocol. I'll be getting out of this for $500. Nissan IS kicking in some (how much I don't know) & the dealership is kicking in. It helped that all the maintenance is done there & they have all my records. It hasn't been finalized yet so I don't know if it will be a totally new engine or a rebuilt engine. That will have to be discussed as well as what kind a warranty I'll have on this new engine. Until I get this done I have to check the oil level & add oil as needed. I travel at least 400 miles per week so I'll be doing this once a week, if not more, until I can get this taken care of.

    After reading the comments here, I don't think I should have to pay anything, but I guess $500 is better than other people have made out.
  • I hope someone files a class action lawsuit for the CATALYTIC CONVERTER that Nissan won't do a recall on. It is just RIDICULOUS!
  • I have the same problem recently too, I am still paying the loan and couldn't believe I would have this problem after 58,000 Miles.I thought this car was Japanese!! I have taken it to several mechanics and they all told me that I needed to replace the engine, I was thinking about going to Nissan and getting a diagnostic test, because it's still not evident on what the problem is all I know is im hearing my engine from the right side of the car and it sounds like I have a diesel car, I have been quoted 2500cdn to have a used engine put in and the warranty will toss me 1000$ so ill have to pay 1500$ from my pocket. I dont know if I should try and buy a brand new engine or just let it go as it might be a lemon and suck me for more. Any suggestions from anyone? I bought this car used only 3 months ago for 9000 and have 6000 to pay on it.
  • yelldogyelldog Posts: 3
    Yesterday, I went to get an inspection for my 2002 altima 2.5. I have had this service engine light on for a couple of days but it normally comes on and goes away. The inspector informed me that the service engine code was P0420 - Catalyst Efficienty. I asked him what that meant and he informed me that something was wrong with your catalytic converter. I immediately got a sick feeling. February 29, 2008, I had the same part replaced by the dealership. I went home and called the dealership and informed him that after one year and 10 days, my catalytic converter was going bad. The dealership informed me that it was out of warranty. That cost me $800.00. He had the nerve to inform me to bring it back in for another $800.00 replacement. This is on top of that I had to replace the engine in June 2008. I truly hate this car. I have always driven Honda's and will never purchase a Nissan again.
  • yelldogyelldog Posts: 3
    I posted #365. I called the dealership again and spoke with the Service Manager. A nice guy that suggested that I contact the Nissan Consumer Department. I contacted them and informed them that I bought the cat converter on Feb 29, 2008 and found out that it is going bad on March 10, 2009. The two representatives that I spoke to were very cool and made me believe that they had a heart and were going to assist me with this problem. I took it to the dealership to get it inspected due to protocal. It was a $100.00 but the Service Manager waived the cost, thank goodness. It confirmed it was a cat problem and that it must have just been a bad part. I contacted Nissan Consumer and informed them that it was validated by the Service Manager. The representative informed me that I had a great case that most likely, Nissan woud pay for the converter. The next day, she contacted me and told me that she went as high as she could and NISSAN decided to not help me AT ALL. I spoke to her supervisor and he was worthless. I will never ever buy a Nissan vehicle again. My car is back in the shop b/c when the first cat went out, it was drastic and the car completely shutdown. I want to get rid of it bad but it is paid for and another $1K is still less than a car note.
  • I purchased my 2007 Altima in July 2007. Recently, I heard an unusual noise and took the car to the dealership. They told me that I needed a new transmission. The transmission bearrings had worn out. How can this be on a recently new vehicle.

    I have 130 miles round trip commute to work. Therefore, I have put a lot of miles on my car. I have 66,000 miles when I drove it to the dealership. The dealership said to call Nissan1. The vehicle was over warranty and I do not have extended warranty.

    I called Nissan1, and they basically said no to my case. No assistance. It's my responsiblity. I'm totally upset over this poor service and quality of this product. I've had two Nissans prior to 2002 and the transmissions lasted over 200,000 miles.

    I returned to the dealership and spoke with the Service Manager. My dissatisfaction on how this problem is being handled. He listened and I'm waiting for a response.

    1) What's wrong with Nissan?
    2) They do not make quality products anymore - what can be done to change this type of business practices?
    3) Should they not take responsiblity for their poor product?
  • Response to #369:
    1) What's wrong with Nissan?
    They don't care about their products or customers after the warranty expires - therefore don't buy their products.

    2) They do not make quality products anymore - what can be done to change this type of business practices?
    They don't care about their products or customers after the warranty expires - therefore don't buy their products.

    3) Should they not take responsiblity for their poor product?
    They don't care about their products or customers after the warranty expires - therefore don't buy their products.

    Spread the word.
  • gooddeal2gooddeal2 Posts: 750
    Spread the word.
  • pax4pax4 Posts: 9
    I will be leasing an 09 Altima for 39 months and 15,000. miles per year The dealer wants over $600 for The Nissans Security+Plus warranty. Question..... is this worth purchasing? I'll be going maybe three months with "no" warranty? Can warranties be purchased during the life of the lease? Can you shop arround for the same warranty at a cheaper price? Any advise would be apprecated.Thanks!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,579
    Unless I'm missing something this "lease" sounds like a really REALLY bad deal. Can you specify please what model, engine and what options? I think you need to go back and do some homework on leasing. $600 X 39 = $23,400.

    The most expensive Altima I can find has an MSRP of $25000 with at least $1500 in rebate money, so you could buy this car in about 3 years with the payments you are going to make just leasing it and turning it back in while owning nothing!!

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  • It depends on how you interpret what he said, I THINK he meant that the $600 was for a 36 month period, since he said a 39 month period with 3 months of that with no insurance. $600 over 36 months is $200 a year., but it depends on the car and options, and what the warranty covers.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,579
    Oh DUH you're right. I did read it wrong...although I'm *still* a bit confused by what he's buying in add-ons.

    Let's have him come back and clear this up (for me at least). I'm not sure why someone would be buying a warranty on a car that has a warranty already except for the last three months? So as you say that's $200 a year but it's double-coverage for the dealer but single coverage for the leasee, near as I can tell. Sounds more like it's $200 a month for 3 months extra coverage over and above the 36 months of the factory warranty.

    That's not good.

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  • kcvabkcvab Posts: 3
    I bought a 2002 Altima. 2.5, 4-cylinder in April 2002. I had problems from the onset. It wouldn't start on a few occasions. The dealer had to tow it a couple of times, but they never found anything wrong.
    It suffered catastrophic engine failure after about 90K miles.
    It started with high oil consumption, then knocking noise. No help from nissan consumer affairs even though I explained their engine cooling recalls didn't surface until a full year after I bought the car. Still no luck. No help from the dealer other than to qoute an engine replacement price of $5K.
    I replaced the engine with a used engine for half that cost at a local car repair shop.
    After an additional 40K miles it would misfire and suffer high oil and coolant consumption.
    I got the head gasket fixed, but it still consumes oil like crazy. I replaced the crank seal but I still see oil spots under the car. I've also had the SES code for the catalyic converter. My mechanic thought that was very strange, but after reading posts from E.D., it all makes sense now.
    Upon start up I see blue smoke from the tail pipe, which stops after several minutes of driving. I'm burning a quart of oil every 80-90 miles.
    I'm sure the engine is toast; possibly worn rings and valves. I will drive it til it won't drive any more.
    But I can ensure you that I will NEVER AGAIN purchase a Nissan!
  • In Aug of 2007, I bought a brand new 2008 nissan altima. In november of 2008, it started smoking out the exhaust, i immediately called the service center and told them about it, they pushed it off. Told me it was just "condensation." I told them I knew what that looked like, and this was not it. So after arguing with them about it for 2 weeks I took it to their shop, and told them I didn't want it back until they fixed it. A day later, they called and said they could not find out the problem, but was going to do an "oil consumption" test. Basically, I drive it for 1000 miles and then bring it back..and repeat the process until they figure out what the hell is wrong??

    450-500 miles later, my younger sister, her boyfriend, and his 3 year old daughter were driving down the road when the car caught on fire. They barely had enough time to get out the car before it was completely consumed in flames. I call Nissan and inform them of the problem, they acted as if they were going to help me with the situation. Today, exactly 2 months after the accident, I got a call and they told me that they were no longer going to do anything about it. What do I do?? This was a brand new car when I bought it...this should not have happened, and now Nissan isn't wanting to do ANYTHING?? Any advise?? Please help!!
  • jd10013jd10013 Posts: 779
    if its a brand new car, then either Nissan will cover it, or your insurance company will. If something on the car was defective, they don't have a choice. If it can't be proven that the car was somehow defective, then your insurance company will pay for it. again, they don't have a choice. the only way your screwed is if you don't have insurance.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,579
    Well also if he didn't have gap insurance he could lose some $$$.

    Gee I would think Nissan would be all over this car! I think a polite letter from an attorney with words like "fire" and "baby" would get a very quick response.

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  • jd10013jd10013 Posts: 779
    I think it would depend on why it caught on fire. If its nissans fault, I'd hire a couple lawyers.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,579
    How could it be the owner's fault, do you think? I"m trying to come up with something. I guess they could have set it on fire on purpose? :P

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  • joem5joem5 Posts: 201
    My sister had a 97 Nissan Altima and loved it. It had plenty of pep.
    Due to all the snow she purchased a Subaru Legacy GT AWD, and the only thing that's making her want to back to an Altima is that her Subaru eats tires.
    Now, after she sees these post,I don't know what she'll do. :(
  • Receive counsel from an attorney. The insurance company should not be responsible for covering this car if it's documented with Nissan that there was a problem. Assuming the car was still under warranty, Nissan has a responsiblity to replace this vehicle and find qualified mechanics to determine the problem with their vehicles.

    I'm considering contacting an attorney regarding my vehicle.
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