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Nissan Altima Engine Failures

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  • keilsekeilse Posts: 16
    Continued from #414...
    So, what does all this mean? I believe the problem originates with the design of the exhaust system, having the 1st catalytic converter so very close to the exhaust ports. I don't know of any other car that has the 1st catalytic converter built into the exhaust manifold so close to the exhaust ports. The problem doesn't seem to arise until there is backpressure in the system that can cause the precatalyst material to blow back into the engine.

    The date that I unplugged the cat was 09/01/2007, and it has been running fine since then. I am talking about the SECOND CAT, the one under the middle of the car, right before the muffler. The car had been running very poorly for about a month before, because the cat was clogged. No problems since then, but we are watching to see how the oil consumption goes. We did not notice it consuming any oil between oil changes until it reached 97,000 miles. I am thinking the cat could have gotten clogged from oil in the exhaust. I was still debating if the oil in the exhaust caused the cat to clog, or did the cat clog and cause the engine damage and thus the oil to burn in the engine. I tend to think that they both contribute to each other, but most likely the problem would originate with the oil consumption problem first, which would make oil in the exhaust that would clog the cat. Did your original cat clog up too, or partially clog, or what? Since you have a new cat installed, is the engine still burning oil (a quart every 1000 miles, or using more oil than that)? If it is still burning a little oil, I think the cat will eventually clog again, but I don't know how long that would take, probably depends the most on how much oil it burns. Since you say it's not burning oil right now, the cat may last quite a while yet. Most important, see how much oil it uses between oil changes. I can't endorse unclogging the cat, because it is required by law to be on there. Don't mess with yours unless it's clogged. Mine is still on there, but it is a wide open pipe now. It was easy to remove if you are good at working on cars. To remove, jack up the car and set safely on sturdy jack stands. Safety First. Spray WD-40 on all the bolts before you try to loosen them, the bolts may be rusted tight. Remove the 2 bolts with springs at the front connection to the exhaust manifold (which is also the pre catalyst converter, the FIRST CAT, which is inside the exhaust manifold). There is a donut gasket that falls off when the pipe comes off, save the doughnut gasket or put on a new one, but the pipe won't come off yet until you take the other end of the pipe loose. Go to the flanged connection between the 2nd Cat and the muffler, and find the 2 bolts and nuts that hold this connection together, spray them with WD-40 to help loosen them, they will likely be very tight and rusted. You need good wrenches and a lot of leverage to get them to loosen and come off. Once the bolts and nuts are off, the gasket comes out of the connection, mine was metal and could be reused. This section of exhaust pipe with the cat (about 5 feet long) will be loose and hanging by the robber support in the middle of the pipe. If you carefully slide the pipe hanger out of the rubber support, it will come off. Once off, you can look into the end of it and see what looks like a fine screen, with the cat material ahead of that. What I did was to take a round metal bar and a large hammer and beat the stuff out of the pipe. The stuff crumbled up easily and came out, resulting in a wide open pipe. Then I put the pipe back in, the reverse of the removal procedure.
    It is strange that you had the cracked head gasket problem, my daughters Altima seems to also have the same problem, it had some combustion gas leaking into the cooling system. I put some cooling system sealer in it, and it is fixed it for now. I don't really want to tear into the engine if I don't have to. It is most likely a leaking head gasket, but it could be a cracked head or cracked block. I read one report where a guy said his had a cracked block and had to get another engine, but that cost almost $4,000.00, too much for me. I am struggling right now just trying to get my daughter through college, and there is no money for major car repairs, so I am hoping to nurse it along with the cooling system sealer. I used the Bar's Leak Pelletized Cooling System Sealer and it seems to work well so far. If worst comes to worse, I will have to pull the head off to see where the problem lies, but small head gasket leaks are very hard to see, and I would have to send the head out and have it checked for trueness and any cracks. And I hate working on those kind of engines with all those timing chains and tensioners, the timing chains on the passenger side being hard to see and reach.
  • keilsekeilse Posts: 16
    Continued from 414...this message 3 of 3.
    I have to tell you one more thing...I am one of those peple that battled, and I do mean BATTLED, with Nissan for some compensation, or at least some fair treatment of ANY kind...it took a year, but Nissan gave me a brand new 3.5 engine and cats (on them) and reimbursed me for ALL expenses related to these problems, including rental car costs...which came to just over $8,000. Here's the thing though....the new engine has under 8,000 miles on it and already the cats have come apart internally and failed causing the vehicle to bog heavily with a lack of power. The cats need to be replaced (AS USUAL)...but this will ultimately lead to the engine being ruined for a 2nd time. I cannot afford this - no one can. The only other thing I can do is modify the vehicle's exhaust to permanently remedy the problem, and then SELL it. I have to purchase after market exhaust headers, (different pipes altogether) with after market cats, (which would place the cats in a different position), and then buy the 02 cheater mechanism so that the service engine light doesn't come on. The car will probably perform better than it ever has, and I will be able to be rid of it forever. I cannot sell it in good conscience as is to someone, knowing they will inherit these issues.. I hope you are able to glean some good information from these replies. Good luck to you - don't let Nissan suck you and your wallet into their MONEY PIT. And lastly....Try not to place too much credence in the advice you get from your Nissan dealer. I went through 5 dif Nissan dealers, and they all fed me a lot of [non-permissible content removed] and took my money all while smiling and shaking my hand. The above advice came from my 6th and final Nissan (dealer)...a Nissan technician...and he was THE ONLY HONEST ONE of all of them that pulled me aside and laid it out for me just like this...with the alternative suggestion being to get rid of the car. Hope this helps!!
    Sincerely,
    Sara Keil
  • keilsekeilse Posts: 16
    5% is 5% too many...and you wouldn't give a crap what the % is if you were one of the people that has experienced these problems and the financial hardship. I don't know of a single person that has NOT experienced these issues either in these forums or in person. Maybe you just got lucky.
  • brossrbrossr Posts: 2
    Thanks for the reply Sara. He didn't say why he thought I needed a new engine except to say that if we just replaced the head gasket he thought it would eventually still need a new engine. I believe it's the pre cat problem. I think they think that because the oil was 1/2 quart low some engine damage has already occurred and will just get worse. It's been 6 days now and the car is still running great and the oil is still full and clean and the antifreeze level doesn't seen to have dropped any and no lights have come on. In those 6 days I've only driven about 100 miles. I'm supposed to take the car back when the service engine soon light comes on again or when I detect that the oil level is down. They want to see how much oil it's using. If it is the pre cat problem, I have read that the exhaust system is warrantied for 8 yrs/80,000 miles. If this is true, repairs (including a replacement engine) should be covered under warranty. I have always had all maintenance performed at this dealership and even buy my tires from them, so I am hoping they will be on my side and help me in getting Nissan to cover this problem.
  • keilsekeilse Posts: 16
    That is true however every time that the cats have a problem, material is sucked back into your engine, and eventually, it will ruin the engine forever. Replacing the cats is a bandaid until they fail again, or the failures ultimately lead to the ruin of the engine. I would return the car under the lemon law.....because once you reach over 80,000 miles what will you do when they fail? Then you will be stuck like I am with a [non-permissible content removed] car that has the same problem over and over, only now the warranty has run out and the tab is on me....and believe me, new CATS installed from Nissan are around $1,800 - $3,000 to install. Your solution would be great, as it would've been for me as well when I did it if the poor design of the sytem wasn't a factor and the problem hadn't reoccurred. Do you know that prior to the new engine I had ALL cats replaced on my car a total of 6 times....only 4 of the times under warranty? It will kill your wallet my friend but I DO wish the best for you.
    Sara
  • From what I have learned about cars in my 19.5 years on earth it is that whenever cars get major redesigns, there are always problems with the first year of that redesigned car.

    I didn't say all 3.5 SEs were problem free, I said VIRTUALLY meaning it doenst happen too often if at all. THe problems with the cats are far more common on 2.5 S engines then on 3.5 SEs but they still happen every so often
  • Yes catalytic converter by law are covered for 80k miles. I have a 2003 Altima 2.5 S which I bought with 57k miles on it, carw as driving fine but I knew something was wrong

    The Nissan dealership around the corner diagnosed the car and explained my cat was bad and the engine needed to be replaced becuase it was sucking down oil like crazy

    When an Altimas's pre cat breaks down, backflow pressure causes pieces of catalyst to get sucked into the engine, scarring the cylinder walls and wearing out the piston rings.

    My car had 61,100 miles on it when I had the motor replaced (under the catalytic converter warranty as that was the cause) all I paid was a few parts which came to $285 after tax.

    So if you have a 2002 Altima with 66k miles (shocking since most Altimas hit 100k by their third or fourth year) Take it to your Nissan dealer and chances are they will replace your motor under the cats 80k warranty, your lucky you dont drive so much and you have such low miles on a 7 yr old car (most 02 Altimas Ive seen have at least 150k on them) Go get that motor replaced for free at your nearest nissan dealer ;)
  • barb07barb07 Posts: 1
    Has there been a class suit against Nissan. I am the owner of a 2002 Altima which has just been diagnosed with engine problem. I am the original owner and have always taken the car to Nissan for the recommended servicing. My car has about 85,000 miles on it. I have been in touch with Nissan but they don't seem willing to acknowledge there are any problems with this model.
  • fedfuzzfedfuzz Posts: 3
    I have an '02 Nissan Altima with 130K miles. I've kept in well-maintained by the dealer, but I've been having some engine problems since Aug. 2008. I've taken it back to the dealer on 4 different occasions complaining of the same problem each time (sluggish when I try to accelerate and oil consumption). Each time they've charged me from $325-$1500 to fix something different. Now they are telling me that the catalytic converter failed and caused debris to be sucked into my engine and therefore scoring the inside. Is my only option to have the engine replaced? Nissan USA said that it was not their problem that they did not catch it in time...what a joke.
  • dmforcedmforce Posts: 4
    I would definitely try to deal with Nissan regarding an engine replacement. Since you have all the work documented with a dealer, Nissan just may side with you.
  • I had the same problem with my 02.. Nissan will not side with you.. Take my advice, You are S O L as they say it.. Get the engine or get another car, But whatever you do... Do not buy a Nissan ever again.. This is a very common problem that they ignore..
  • keilsekeilse Posts: 16
    Do you have a 3.5? That is EXACTLY what happened to me and it took me a year of badgering the [non-permissible content removed] out of Nissan North America Corporate in Tennessee to get any resolve. I think I still have the email and phone number of the person you need to talk to for help. Her name is Lanae. Let me know if you want it. If I were you I would get yourself a frigging lawyer (lemon law) and go at it that way. I HAVE A BRAND NEW ENGINE & CATS THAT WAS REPLACED BY NISSAN AND HAVE DRIVEN IT LESS THAN 8000 miles and I already have the SAME FRIGGIN' problem. I had 118,000 miles when my 1st engine literally seized up because the car had NO OIL in it because Nissan forgot to put it back in after replacing my catalytic converters for the 6th time. And they are the ones that did my oil change not 3 days prior to the engine failing. I was successful in getting Nissan to pay me $14,000 back which was $5000 more than the amount I spent on rental cars and fixing the same probs with the car OVER and OVER. I have another solution for you to avoid this in the future, (that is if you decide to get a new engine)...and it works, and is way cheaper than replacing the cats every other week. I did it in lieu of paying 2500 for all new cats only to have the same prob again. Change the exhaust headers. This will place your catalytic conv in a different position which means that it won't come apart internally like now. Tthe new headers will provide different style pipes that don't have a 3 inch pipe with a 90 degree bend that goes to less than 2 inches in width before it ever hits the resonator and muffler. I took off all my cats and hollowed out the pipes (my Nissan guy recommnded this to me on the QT because he knew the cars were LEMONS)replacing the whole pipe with the bend, including the resonator, with one that is 3 inches wide from end to end. My 3.5 gets better gas mileage than ever now, and burns NO OIL. I still need to replace my headers and put one cat back on, then I am SELLING THE P.O.S. You will also need to get the $5 or $10 02 sensor gizmo that prevents your service engine light coming on. Mine is on right now, but only because there are no cats, and because I need to buy the 02 gizmo. Good luck to you - let me know if you need that Nissan contact info so you can hound the [non-permissible content removed] out of them and maybe at least get an engine or some cash or both.
    Good luck to you, Sara
  • keilsekeilse Posts: 16
    I took your advice about the replacing the headers and it's 10 times the car! Thanks!
  • yeah, I traded in my nissan for a car that ran. In terms of book value I lost a lot of money. In terms of a car that actually works I came out way ahead. I now tell everyone I know that the average Nissan Employee has the integrity of a child molester and they are better with anything else. I relate my personal story with Nissan to everyone I know, especially when the conversation turns to cars. I am sure that over the course of my lifetime Nissan would have been much better off not screwing me out of 12k, but since this won't show up on any of their metrics they don't care. I do...and it's one of my goals in life to tell as many people as possible my story. Every time I talk someone out of purchasing a Nissan, I feel a personal victory.
  • Wish I could delete that message. On occasion my anger at Nissan gets the better of me. Unfortunately this site doesn't let you delete your own posts..which is too bad.
  • fedfuzzfedfuzz Posts: 3
    Keilse, I would certainly like to get that information. I've already spoken to someone at Nissan USA and they decided that it was not their fault, therefore, they will not be providing any assistance. I've already asked to get that in writing just in case I decide to pursue this legally.
  • keilsekeilse Posts: 16
    fedfuzz...I have two names for you to contact...(Unfortunately, I am having problems finding the email addresses, but the names and proper addresses for mailing will also work.....)
    Fred Standish - Director of Corporate Communications
    Nissan North America, Inc
    P.O. Box 685003
    Franklin, TN 37067-5003
    800-647-7261

    Lanae Burton
    Executive Specialist - (Works for Fred Standish)

    I emailed Fred Standish directly and Lanae was the person that responded and was assigned my case from start to finish. I think my Dad may still have the email and phone numbers for these two, so let me check and I will shoot them to you. If you mail a letter to Fred, he will respond by having Ms. Burton contact you directly. The initial response will be a flat denial of all accountability, but the more tenacious and organized you are with documenting the facts of your case, diplomatically, you know non-threatening, other than the threat of legal action...the more they will want you gone so bad they will pay you. I got the first $8,000 on my own with Lanae's help, and then I got a Lemon Law Lawyer that got me the other $5,000. Nissan didn't even care that they had already paid me AND replaced my engine and cats on their dime...because they'd have had to pay me well over $80,000 if they had decided to go to court and lost...so another $5,000 was nothing. It took a year, and my Nissan sat, with the new engine and cats, parked the whole time, and I bought a Toyota instead. I will work on the email addresses and phone numbers for you but do keep me posted.
    Good luck,
    Sara
  • casper17casper17 Posts: 1
    I'm having the same issue with my 2002 Altima. This the 2nd time I replaced this catalytic Convertor :sick: . I replaced it in 2006 and now they telling me today, I need to replace it again along with a new engine. The total cost of this will be $3700. I'm so unsure if its worth fixing or just investing in a new car. I was looking over the blogs and people are having the same issues and after they fix it, more problems are occuring. I currently have 149k miles on my car and counting. What do you think?
  • keilsekeilse Posts: 16
    Honestly Casper....I say dump the car. If you don't dump it, then change the exhaust hjeaders and the cats and sell it. It's only a matter of time before your engine is ruined. Either that, or contact the people I gave to fedfuzz in my last post. The problem's only going to continue - on that you can be certain...and my friend this I can GUARANTEE...having been through it SIX times myself. It's got too many miles to pursue the Lemon Law - at least realistically - and battling with Nissan like fedfuzz might be is always an option...but it takes a lot of time and who knows if that will pan out? Make the car run - legally - if you don't live in CA you will have a much easier time of this - and sell it. I am changing my exhaust headers and this puts my cats in a different place...(I have to replace the cats after the headers-I hollowed out all my pipes and removed the cats because they showed signs of the same prob AGAIN) . The car runs a little loud, and it smells like crap currently, but tell you what, it gets better mileage than ever, and it's got more speed....as soon as the headers and cats are replaced she's going to be a screamer....and then I am selling it. I have 125,000 miles on it, and even at that mileage she's still blue booked at just over $6,000. So I will make her healthy and legal and DUMP her, take the cash, fix my toyota tranny, and move the hell on. Good luck to you...I will help you if I can! Sara
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Please do not post phone numbers here that cannot be verified by a search engine. Thanks.
  • jd10013jd10013 Posts: 779
    tough call casper. 3700 isn't going to buy you much car if you go that route. if you do the repairs, at a minimum you'll have a car with a new motor. a 3700 car will probably either be a POS along the lines of a focus or neon or a decent car with 200k miles on it and the motor.
  • keilsekeilse Posts: 16
    Sorry about that...I forgot. Got any suggestions as to how I can get fedfuzz the phone number and email I promised him without breaking the rules?
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Either of you could make your email address public in your profile so that you could contact each other that way. A "public" email address in a profile is only available to logged in members so the spambots cannot get to it. And of course you wouldn't need to leave it public beyond getting in touch with each other if you didn't want to do so.

    Hope this helps!
  • fedfuzzfedfuzz Posts: 3
    I have the name & numbers that you provided. Thank you so much. I don't know how, but I did get them. I will keep you posted.
  • tplotnicktplotnick Posts: 1
    I just read the post and I was hoping the phone numbers could be shared with me as well. I am having the exact same issue with Nissan. I entered a case with my regional office in New York. So, far I am being that I am SOL. My 2002 Nissan Altima Engine died @ 101K miles. The catalitic converter recall was repaired back in 2004. I was told the engine failure was as a result of catalitic converter recall but yet Nissan is unwilling to help on the repairs of $5800. They did not offer me a cent. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    As I mentioned, you can make your email address public (temporarily if you wish) in your profile and perhaps someone can email them to you.
  • rondholrondhol Posts: 32
    Is there any reason you unplugged the ECU before re-assembly the engine during head gasket job?
    My car is pinging at 1300, 1500, and 1700 rpm under light load at around 40mph after the head gasket. Only happened when the engine is hot (10 minutes drive) and worse when the weather is hot with AC on. Using 93 octane gas reduces the pinging intensity. Re-manufactured MAF from Autozone doesn't help either. :confuse: MIL p0171 (runs too lean) never comeback since the MAF was cleaned. http://www.flickr.com/photos/39740540@N05/3655762299/ The spark plugs after 12k miles with oil consumption 0.5 quart/1k miles.
  • tylerrosetylerrose Posts: 3
    I have similar problems with my daugther's 2002 altima engine which caught fire. Of course Nissan North America refuse to do anything about so here is what I have done to get justice:

    I filed a formal complaint with Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov; click on “consumer protection” then click on “file a complaint” the click on FTC Complaint Assistant” then answer all questions. The form will start out with question about identity theft but keep going because you will get to part to file complaint against Nissan North America.

    Now, this website: autosafety.org does provide a place for you to check the box if you desire a class action lawsuit. Go the website the click on “file a complaint” then fill out the questionnaire. You will need your vehicles VIN number.

    I also file a formal complaint to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nhtsa.dot.gov. This one is important because the more people file complaints the more they will see a need to force Nissan to conduct a recall. Most definitely, make sure you show if the vehicle caught fire or caused a hazardous traffic situation such as stopping suddenly without warning.

    I went one step further and file a complaint against National Highway Traffic Safety Administration because they keep record of all complaints on a particular vehicle and there are currently 196 pages of complaints regarding the 2002 Altima and the engine problems and nothing has been done. I mailed a letter complaint to U. S. Dept. of Transportation because NHTSA under their jurisdiction.

    If we follow through then I am sure something will be done but if we chose to just complaint on websites with each other – well – we obviously can’t help each other.
  • tylerrosetylerrose Posts: 3
    I filed a formal complaint with Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov; click on “consumer protection” then click on “file a complaint” the click on FTC Complaint Assistant” then answer all questions. The form will start out with question about identity theft but keep going because you will get to part to file complaint against Nissan North America.

    Now, this website: autosafety.org does provide a place for you to check the box if you desire a class action lawsuit. Go the website the click on “file a complaint” then fill out the questionnaire. You will need your vehicles VIN number.

    I also file a formal complaint to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nhtsa.dot.gov. This one is important because the more people file complaints the more they will see a need to force Nissan to conduct a recall. Most definitely, make sure you show if the vehicle caught fire or caused a hazardous traffic situation such as stopping suddenly without warning.

    I went one step further and file a complaint against National Highway Traffic Safety Administration because they keep record of all complaints on a particular vehicle and there are currently 196 pages of complaints regarding the 2002 Altima and the engine problems and nothing has been done. I mailed a letter complaint to U. S. Dept. of Transportation because NHTSA under their jurisdiction.

    If we follow through then I am sure something will be done but if we chose to just complaint on website with each other – well – we obviously can’t help each other.
  • #1 - Is there any reason you unplugged the ECU before re-assembly the engine during head gasket job?

    Yes, I followed the instructions per the Hayes manual and the alldatadiy site. When doing major work on any modern vehicle, the computer should be unplugged to protect it, due to all the sensor wires that are taken loose and reconnected. There is a possibility of a static electricity charge getting into the computer if it is not disconnected. Disconnecting the computer is for its own protection. If it is not protected, it can cause a problem like you are having, or many other problems.

    #2 - The spark plug seems to look ok. A lean condition or miss as you descibe could be caused by many different things, computer, MAF, injectors, air leak, vacuum leak, throttle body, head gasket leak, ignition timing, or several of the different sensors.
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