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Nissan Altima Engine Failures



  • Yes, the stop leak can work for a while, maybe 2 to 6 months, depending on how big or bad the leak is. Usually the the leaks are small, more like a seepage past the head gasket. I used a half bottle of the Bars Leaks Radiator Sealer with good success. Keep the remaining half bottle in the trunk in case you should need to add more, also keep at least one gallon jug of water and a big rag in the trunk.
  • electricdesignelectricdesign Posts: 681
    edited October 2010
    The good news is that I bought my daughter a newer car, an 07 Pontiac Vibe, to replace her 02 Altima 2.5S, the worst car we have ever owned.
    The bad news is that someone else may own this crappy car in the future. We don't have the heart to sell it to someone, so we may give it to a dealer or send it to the crusher.
    So I won't be around here in this forum anymore, but may stop in to look once in a while. I drive a Vibe, wife drives a Highlander, and now daughter drives a Vibe, so we are happy family again.
    Good Luck to All.
    E.D. in Sunny Florida
  • rondholrondhol Posts: 32
    So your Altima is not running anymore? I thought you already fixed the head gasket and hollowed the pre-cat. Is there anything wrong after 2 years of head gasket job?
  • bdp1bdp1 Posts: 6
    I will be changing the 2.5 engine in my 2002 Altima. Any comments on sources of rebuilt engines would be appreciated. Right now I'm leaning toward Power Train Products. Also I am trying to figure out what to do with the precat. Replace, gut, or remove. If it is replace, then I wonder who has a reliable unit. I have heard EMI sells an aftermarket precat that is good. Anyone have any experience with these issues?
  • electricdesignelectricdesign Posts: 681
    edited October 2010
    Well, the Altima runs, sometimes. The precat repair is good, but the head gasket has began to seep a little again. I put sealer in the radiator to hold it, but I just don't trust this engine. Then lately the engine has been dying on her in traffic for no reason, After sitting on the side of the road a minute, it restarts and runs ok. The car would never act up when she brought it to me, check engine light is off, scanned computer, found no stored codes. No apparent reason for it to be quitting. She was also unhappy with it because she had water leaks near the rearview mirror and doors, the cheap plastic door handle broke off, and 3 electric windows would not work, the window in the driver door barley works. There were so many things wrong with it, she just wanted to get rid of it. Too many things to fix! Fortunately she got an inheiritance and a job and was able to have enough money to get another car. We have no faith in the cheap quality of these cars. Good luck with yours.
  • sjv3sjv3 Posts: 5
    I replaced the engine in my 2003 after having a blown HG at 93k miles and went with a reman'd engine right from Nissan. A good mechanic sold it to me at his cost ($2300) and installed it for $1000. Considered fixing it, but too many have the problem return. Nissan dealer was quoting $5k for the same job, same warranty. I never had any pre-cat issues, had the mechanic check that it was intact before reinstalling. 2 weeks later I got the 420 code for insufficient catalyst. I think the steam from the leaky gasket fried the pre-cat, but it never broke apart. I considered gutting it or installing the header, but went with a new Nissan pre-cat (another $500) to maintain the warranty and avoid the SES light. Mechanic installed for free since he felt bad he advised me to reuse the old one. The only other reman engine I considered was from a local installer selling RMP (Ford rebuilder), but stuck with the Nissan. Not sure it will be any better, but I hope to get another 90k miles at least.
  • bdp1bdp1 Posts: 6
    I was hoping to eliminate the precat one way or the other, but it seems to be an integral part of a replacement engine warranty. I haven't quite figured out if it is a weakness in the precat that causes it to fail or if it is an engine issue, as you describe, that starts the precat failure and then the total demise of the engine. I only hope that all the new stuff is better than the old. (And then a tree will fall on it.)
  • Additional note to my previous messege - the miles on the 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5S is 150,000 miles, so we consider ourselves lucky to get that many miles out of it with the original engine. Also the oil consumption was getting higher, my daughter never really kept track of it, she just bought 5 quart jugs of oil and dumped oil in the engine whenever it needed it, which seemed to be often. There were several of those empty large 5 qt motor oil jugs in the trunk along with two empty one gallon antifreeze jugs. Needless to say the engine was in bad shape, due to the damage caused by the previous precat and head/ring problems.
  • rondholrondhol Posts: 32
    edited October 2010
    thanks for the complete reply ED. I have been using it for 32k miles since the head gasket job, got new pre-cat under 80k/8years federal emission law (coolant poisoning). Everything runs Ok, except light pinging at part throttle during dry weather. Probably the compression is a little too high or my Oxygen sensor need to be replaced (coolant poisoning). I have unused Mass air flow sensor for $40 (for sell) if anyone need it.

    You can sell the altima to cheap autodealer that fixing car before they sell it. Some dealers do complete rebuild engine.
  • ramoallramoall Posts: 1
    edited November 2010
    I seem to be at the right place.I have a 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5s I bought in Jan this year. Everything went well untill my crank position sensor went. I replaced it, but my ses light came on and my engine overheated. Opened the hood found that I was burning oil and loosing coolent. It shakes when I start for the first five seconds. I took it to the Nissan dealer for the complimentary 100 point check. The joker got in the car started it up, felt it shake and told me it would cost me about 4 grand to fix the problem. Didnt even put it on the lift or pop the hood. I owe 3800 on the car. I called NNA and filed a complaint. I see some people talking about a class action lawsuit with the BBB. I live in upstate NY if anyone can give me some advice on how to beat these clowns at their own game it would be appreciated. Otherwise a mechanic told me he can do the head gasket timing chain and water pump all for 950 cash.. Worth it or not?
  • I am very sorry to hear about your situation. Unfortunately Nissan does not stand behind their product after the warrenty expires. If you read all the messeges in the Nissan Altima Engine Failure forum on, you will read many sad stories of 2002 Nissan Altima owners with the same problems, including my story. Unfortunately, none of us have a legal leg to stand on, because Nissan does not have any responsiblity after the warrenty expires. You would think that if they cared about their customers, they would help out the Altima owners with these problems. But they apparantly do not care, I think that the best thing to do is get rid of the car and never buy Nissan again, tell everyone you know not to buy Nissan, and spread the word as best as you can. I think this problem came about because 2002 was a brand new 4 cylinder engine in the Altima, and it is best to stay away from the "new" stuff until time proves them to be reliable. Nissan built a new engine plant in Dercherd Tennesee, and hired people to build the new engines starting in 2002. I believe that in the first year they did not have quality control in the engine building process, some of the engine rings could have been installed wrong, some of the power valve screws where not tightened well enough and some of the computers weren't programed correctly, causing the fuel mixture to run slightly rich at times and overheat the catalytic converter, which in turn threw ceramic dust back into the engine and produced early excessive wear of the cylinders, pistons and rings. In short, those first engines where put together with shoddy workmanship, and a lack of quality control, thus the early engine failures. I have not heard of any sucess with any lawsuits against Nissan. So your present position is that you are unfortunately SCREWED. Whoever sold you the car knoew it was a POS, and they wanted to sell it to get rid of their problem. If it did not have the problem before, they probably knew that it would probably get the problem. We sold our 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5S with 150,000 miles to a young man, He was told all about the problems with the car, but he said his wife wanted it bad and he was willing to fix it, So we sold it to him for $2,000.00 on 10/21/2010.
    The guy is not a Joker, because he knew exactly what is was, probably seen it hundreds of times before. I would have done the exact same thing. This is a known issue with these cars. The price you got for the head gasket repair is a very good price, BUT it will not do you any good if the engine is damaged and using too much oil. If you have to add a quart of oil in less than 1000 miles, it uses too much, and it will need a new engine. Tell the mechanic when he pulls the intake manifold off to be sure to check the power valve screws, it is best to remove them and put locktight on the threads and reinstall new screws. Also have mechanic check the bottom of the head and the top of the engine block to make sure they are perfectly flat and straight. The heads usally warp and need to be milled flat. Very important to replace or hollow out the Pre-Catalytic Converter (it is in the exhaust manifold). See previous 582 posts about all of this.
    Good luck to you. Let us know how you do.
  • 1. I have a whistling or whining noise which is particularly pronounced upon deceleration coming to a stop.

    2. Shortly after take off from the curb, the automatic door locks clink on, and shortly therafter, I have a " clunck clunck clunck clunck with vibration"noise coming from the underside of the car toward the back. All of my passengers in the car have experience these noises with me.

    Any ideas what these may be related to? The car is brand new, only has 4000 km on it.

  • 1. I have a whistling or whining noise which is particularly pronounced upon deceleration coming to a stop.

    That's called the engine breaking. You will feel more when you go down the hill.

    2. Shortly after take off from the curb, the automatic door locks clink on, and shortly therafter, I have a " clunck clunck clunck clunck with vibration"noise coming from the underside of the car toward the back. All of my passengers in the car have experience these noises with me.

    That's the ABS activation. I'm not too happy with the noise as well but that's how it's. You only hear that first thing in the morning after the car has been stopped for a couple hours.
  • i've never had a problem with my 98 altima runs (ran) great and driving home tonight the check engine light came on and at the very same second the engine just stopped like a switch was turned off and brakes went out too, did not putter or nothing , now the lights on dash comes on and it makes the turn over noise but its like there is nothing there for it to catch on to turn over. any ideas what happend? I am 5 payments tull paid off :(
  • not sure if I posted this correct I am new and just wanted to see if anyone could help me.
  • The engine on our 2002 Altima 2.5L has failed at 76,000 miles. I won't bore you with the details since they are the same as everyone else's. The car is junk.
  • I just had my 2002 2.5L nissan altima engine replaced by the local Nissan dealership, fort pierce nissan, at my expense, almost $4500. I called Nissan NA consumer affairs dept. today and was told that they would not re-imburse me for my expenses. I feel very strongly that Nissan sold me a defective automobile and that this expense should be their's , not mine.
    What are my options ..? Have I any options..?
  • sjv3sjv3 Posts: 5
    You can try talking with Nissan reps, but probably will not get anywhere. I had a regional rep promise help when my engine HG went bad (he said if any further repair was needed contact him) When the engine needed replacement he said nothing could be done based on mileage (94k) and age of car. This was a perfectly maintAined car and I am the original owner. This engine is bad news. Nissan lost me as a customer. Just bought a V6 Ford fusion and it gets better mpg than the altima 2.5.
  • Is the engine failures a problem on the new Altimas also? The 2010 and 2011 ??
    this may make me reconsider the car. Also, has the Maxima had this type of problem?
  • sjv3sjv3 Posts: 5
    Not sure about the 2010s. Same size engines, but may be different. Maximal only has v6s
  • I'm having the same issues with Nissan. I have a 2003 Altima and never had one issue with this car until the cats went out in November. Come to find out there were recalls I never got from Nissan (single owner) and one is the Exhaust System, including a hanger pin on the muffler that becomes loose and causes road debris to get into the cats and then that causes the head gaskets to blow. Nissan refuses to help with anything. I need a new engine but because it's an 03 with 104000 miles I'm SOL. I think that Nissan is being completely irresponsible with their decisions regarding this issue. I feel like I got the run around. First rep I talked to was very nice and understanding and she told me once I got my car to the dealer and got the results to call her. I called 3 times leaving messages each return call. The 2nd person I talked to said that is normal procedure. They considered my case "closed" because I hadn't gotten back to them. It was 1 week after I got my results plus 3 un-returned phone calls. Nissan refuses to stand behind their product. I'm at a loss as to what to do. I'm lucky my husband has a car that we are having to share at this point in time. I'm disgusted by Nissan but won't give up yet. Any advice is appreciated! Good luck to us all!
  • tonderstonders Posts: 3
    My grandfather just went out and bought me a 2002 Nissan Altima. He bought the car on his own and bought it for me as a surprise gift. I've been reading about the 2.5 engine and how the catalytic converter ruins the engine. Being that I don't want to be ungrateful, since I just received a fairly new car for free, I am going to take the car even if it is a 2.5. My question is what can i do to prevent the engine failure? I suspect that the catalytic converter was not replaced considering there is only 86,000 miles on the car. If the catalytic converter is taken out before it ruins the engine will the car then be ok? I apologize for such basic questions, but I've become very paranoid that my grandfather just bought me a car which is doomed from the start. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  • If he bought the 02 Altima from a Nissan dealership they may have extended the warranty out to 100K miles. Check with the local Nissan dealership if the vin number has any recalls outstanding, they had several on mine. This will also inform them of the total service history of the vehicle since it was built by Nissan and the dealership that sold it originally. You could have the dealership do an oil change and test the oil for evidence of contamination with the pre-catalytic converter medium. If there is evidence of contamination, then the damage has already been done. My 02 Altima lasted 160K before the engine gave out... keep me informed and good luck. Dave.
  • Take it to your nearest Nissan dealer and ask if there are any open recalls on this particular car. If there are...get them fixed. It's a recall so it shouldn't cost you anything. My issues would have been fixed if I'd known about the recalls on my 03 Altima. Just watch the vehicle and if it starts to burn oil get it check immediately. The closer to 100,000 miles the more you need to watch. My car was fine til I reached 100,000....then it went down the tubes. Good luck!
  • ndiboyndiboy Posts: 36
    My 02 2.5s altima just refused to start so what could be the problem? Initially the mechanic said its a fuel pump problem but after changing the pump it was still same old story. Then the throttle body which was also changed to no avail. I had to use a friends car to do the test myself as the spending was becoming too much. I later discovered that it seems the AIR FLOW METER was the problem as it didnt start my friends car but his own was able to start mine after i removed the new fuel pump and put my friends own as they also condemned mine.
    The problem now is can air flow meter make a car not to stop??
    Down here they sell the stuff inside the casing and not with the casing and to lose the stuff is not easy as it doesnt use the regular allen key.
    Need your response fast as the car has been parked for 3weeks now.
    Thanks, Chuma.
  • pibzzpibzz Posts: 6
    Go to a race shop - and have the precat taken out

    you can either hollow it out, or replace it with a racing header. I opted to replace mine with a header / manifold the part looks like this hrome_Header_Exhaust_-_TS-HE-NA93-C/637902/

    but any brand is okay. The shop will have to install two "cheaters" which are small 2 inch spacers for the 02 sensors, so the SIS engine light does not trip. The first one goes into the new manifold, and the second one goes right in front of the back cat.

    These spacers put an extra inch of air flow in the cat, so it doesn't realize there is no pre cat upstream. The car will make a touch more polution but only when its warming up, once its warm the back cat does all the work anyway.

    You will notice about 15 hp increase in power, and about 10% better milleage - I did a new cold air intake with mine, and I'm very impressed with the power and mileage gains.

    My Altima had 80K on it when I did this mod, it now has 100K with ZERO problems.

    I had all the work done for less than $300 (including the cold air intake). Get it done ASAP as those pre cats can fail at any second. And your engine will be toast.
  • ndiboyndiboy Posts: 36
    Just to let you guys know that after changing the flow meter the car is back on the road again. the only problem now is that i have to start it like three times before it starts. i am thinking of what they did to the fuel pump ie changing the hoses when they initially thought it was the problem.
    Hope some people would have benefitted from this that is if you read the earlier post on mass ait flow meter.
  • pibzzpibzz Posts: 6
    I heard the the K&N cold air intakes , or the K&N filter (oiled) that fits in the stock air box, can DESTROY the mass airflow meter.

    So if you use an aftermarket stock filter, or a cold air intake, make sure the cone filer or box filter is NOT OILED. (Most K&N's are oiled)

    The oil somehow gets on the mass airflow meter and kills it.

    So use stock air filter OR if you have a cold air, make sure the cone is not oiled.

    K&N claims that the oiled filters do not affect the sensors

    But I have heard otherwise from mechanics I trust

    Two cents - for what its worth.
  • ndiboyndiboy Posts: 36
    Thanks for the information, I found it really helpful and I will have to check it out and make appropriate adjustment.
    Thanks, Chuma.
  • masterbigrahmasterbigrah Posts: 8
    edited March 2011
    pibzz - O how I wish I would of seen your post a couple months ago. I'm at 108,000 miles and now need a new engine (after recently fixing the head gasket on the failed engine and cat converter for a cool $2500). The dealer has agreed to put in a re manufactured engine in it at their cost (ie no labor $$) for all my troubles but I'm still concerned about the precat failing and destroying the next engine. Removing the precat sounds like just the answer!

    I loved the car for the first 80,000 miles but it has been a complete nightmare since if started burning major oil and engine cylinder misfires (at about 80K miles conveinently just after the warranty expired).

    If you own a 2002-2003 Altima 2.5L with under 100K miles, REMOVE the precat or sell that sucker ASAP. Nissan has lost this lifelong customer and anyone else that is willing to listen to me!
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