2002 Nissan Maxima Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 2002 Nissan Maxima as reported by actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

Refine by vehicle
×
Choose your vehicle
14
Known Problems

The external seal on the engine oil cooler can fail and create an oil leak.

Rattling and tapping in the front of the engine on the 2002-2016 Nissan Maxima is very evident, especially on cold starts. This rattling noise should not be taken lightly as it warns of upcoming timing chain failure. 

The cause of the noise is faulty timing chain guide rails and timing chain tensioners that wear out well ahead of schedule. These components are there to keep the timing chain tight and properly positioned. When these parts fail, the timing chain becomes loose, and pieces of the timing chain guides break off, falling into the oil pan. 

To remedy the situation, Nissan/Infiniti has made revised guides and tensioners, but replacement can be very costly. 

Proper oil change intervals and oil type may help slow or prevent the situation. 

The throttle body for the Nissan Maxima is known for carbon buildup, and requires regular, light cleaning to maintain peak performance. After cleaning the throttle body, many owners notice a very high idle, erratic (bouncing) idle, and unpredictable power surging. 

The cause is normal ECU adaptation: When the throttle body builds up carbon, the rate of airflow is slightly decreased. The vehicles computer reads this decrease in air volume, and adjusts the throttle body settings to maintain the proper engine idle speed. When the carbon is cleaned out, the ECU now registers too much air, and cannot adjust back to the original settings. While it is trying to change settings, the idle will bounce from low to high, and the car will surge forward at times. 

It has been recommended to simply wipe inside the throttle body every 12,000 miles, and never to touch the flap inside. Also, the cleaning procedure may be best left to a qualified technician.

The solution can be as simple as disconnecting the battery for at least an hour, having the dealer reset the computer, or, in extreme cases, replace the throttle bodies. 

If the power steering pump develops leaks, it can drip onto the lower control arm bushing causing the bushing to deteriorate. A knocking noise will be heard when driving over bumps and it may become more difficult to control the vehicle.

The timing chain tensioner may bleed off oil pressure after the engine is shut down. This can cause a rattling noise when the engine is started cold and a revised timing chain tensioner and guide are available to correct this issue.

The Check Engine Light may illuminate indicating a primary ignition signal fault. Many times the cause is an ignition coil(s) that has failed. The problem in the coil causes the spark energy to feedback through the wiring harness into the other coils. If this is not repaired, it can damage the other coils (blistering on the coils may be seen).

The fuel injectors can develop leaks on some models, causing the engine to run poorly or to become less fuel efficient.

The crankshaft position sensor can fail causing the engine to run poorly or it may crank but fail to start.

The Camshaft position sensor can leak oil into its electrical connector causing the Check Engine light to illuminate. The engine may also stall intermittently as a result.

The thermostat may become stuck closed, causing an overheating condition. Replacement of the thermostat will be required to correct this concern.

Problems with the ignition coil will cause the vehicle to misfire or not start.

Failure of the vehicle's speed sensor can cause speedometer and the cruise control to become inoperative. A failed speed sensor will require replacement.

One or more wires in the engine wiring harness may break at the harness bend near the right strut tower. Symptoms include: Check Engine Light illumination, rough idle, drivability problems, and/or an inoperative air conditioner. Any broken wires will need to be repaired.