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Nissan Altima Engine Failures

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  • Well it was a good couple of days when that was working. Sitting here confused because I am back to square one. The coolant reservoir is empty, could I have lost too much coolant? The radiator is almost full. Will try putting some water in the coolant reservoir, I suppose, tho I don't see how that could keep it from starting when it's 55degrees out.

    I have just relocated and am looking for a job myself, no money. This is not good.
  • Tripj, here is what you need to do. You need to fix the most important and pressing issues first. The head gasket leak is major in my book. If not fixed, it will destroy your engine. If you don't have the money right now, you must take measures to prevent further damage right away. If you have not put the sealer in the radiator as I suggested in messege #474, then do that now. Look for and note any external coolant leaks, if any. You are loosing coolant, and if is not leaking out where you can see it, it is leaking inside the engine head gasket. Keep the coolant reservoir filled up to the proper level. Water may be ok in the summer, but it may freeze in the winter. How cold does it get where you are? Make an estimate of how much fluid you have to add to the coolant reservoir each week. That will give us an idea of how bad the head gasket problem is. Once you use the radiator sealer, you should have to add less than 16 ounces to the coolant reservoir per week. Check the coolant level and the engine oil level every day to see what each usage is.
    Once that is under control, look to see what the starting problem is. Fixing the coolant leak may help fix the starting problem. The causes for the hard starting or no start could be many different reasons.
    Good luck, E.D.
  • tripjtripj Posts: 9
    ED,
    I appreciate your concern. As I mentioned in #475, before I left New Jersey for N. Carolina, my mechanic drilled the precat and put sealer in. In a nutshell, this is what has happened since:
    -Drove 500 miles to n Carolina, started car next day no problem, 2 hours later very hard start.
    -Next day: Start car no problem, start car 2 hours later, very hard start(giving gas to boost rpms to start)
    -Next day very hard start, Bleed radiator lines, car starts fine.
    -For 2 days car starts fine. Turned off and on maybe 15-20 times running errands.
    -Next day car won't start.

    Checked spark plugs yesterday. 1 & 4 wet and smell like gas (from trying to start it and giving the car gas, I guess) but they spark and so does 3. No spark on 2. 2&3 dry with no smell.

    I am changing the spark plugs today, tho I very much doubt that will help. That is the limit of what I can do with my automotive knowledge and available tools(not sure what I have less of). If it won't turn over, I'll have to have it towed to a shop and hope for the best. I have 3 more payments on it, so can't even have it hauled away cuz I have no title.

    I am at my wit's end.
  • tripjtripj Posts: 9
    Put in new plugs, lo and behold, it starts right up. Big scary cloud of white exhaust. SES light is still on. I'll take it for a diagnostic ($100) and see what's what.
  • Glad to hear the new plugs helped the engine start. This means your engine must likely be in bad shape, because there is a reason that they fouled. Were they the original plugs? My daughters 2002 Altima 2.5 had the original plugs until 100,000 miles, and they did not look bad then. What did the plugs look like, fouled with oil or fouled with gas, or both? What color was the insulator tip? You may need to check general engine health, like check engine cylinder compressions would be helpful - they should be at least 140 lbs, up to 180 lbs - 200 lbs if the head has been milled. Vacuum gauge readings may be helpful.
    Wow, $100 for a diagnostic, hate to see you spend that much, but may be worth it if they give you valuable information.
    This all goes back to the Head Gasket problem and if you have the pre-cat problem or not. Even with the sealer in the radiator, the Head Gasket will still leak small amounts of coolant into the cylinders from time to time, that is why you need to daily be checking all the fluid levels. Please update on how much coolant that you have to add per day or week, and how much engine oil you have to add per day, week, or month, this will be indications of what is happening with the head gasket leak and if there are any problems with the cylinders. That would be helpful diagnostic information.
    To save your engine for as long as you can, make sure that the engine never runs hot or overheats & check and keep all fluid levels filled up.
    Good Luck, E.D.
  • rondholrondhol Posts: 32
    Your engine will not start when the cylinder is wet. If the leak is bad enough you will get Hydrolock and BOOM. Temporary fix with head gasket sealer in 100% water solution. :sick:
    I think you will need new engine because you let the head gasket leak for such long period of time.
  • tripjtripj Posts: 9
    so after I got it to start, I took it to the mechanic. He couldn't replicate the problem (it kept starting) but from the diagnostic he developed a couple of theories. Mainly, one of the sensors that tells the car how much gas will be needed to start the car(due to outside temperature) was messed up. He replaced that sensor and re-learned the idle, which was high. He also told me he saw no sign of head gasket damage-no leaks, no coolant in exhaust. I've had the car back for over a week and have had no problems whatsoever. I'm still nervous, but keeping the proverbial fingers crossed.
  • Let's get the whole story straight please... You just posted that your mechanic said "he saw no sign of head gasket damage-no leaks, no coolant in exhaust", But remember back in your first messege #470 on sept 17, you said "At a "free" car clinic at my dealership, I was told that the head gasket needs to be replaced ($1,600) because coolant is seeping in and causing the misfires". I assumed that they gave you a positive diagnosis of the head gasket failure. That situation DOES NOT CHANGE. Just because your mechanic does not see signs of the head gasket leakage, does not mean it is not there. Remember, by putting the sealer in the cooling system, it MASKS or HIDES the symptoms of the failing head gasket, but PLEASE remember it is ONLY A TEMPORARY REPAIR. How long it will last is anybody guess, 2 weeks, 2 months, 6 months?? But the day IS coming when it will get worse and the symptoms will come back and not go away and the engine will fail. You are kind of fortunate in a way, because this gives you some time to think about this and try to plan what to do, not like it was a sudden failure that cost you $6000 for an engine RIGHT NOW. DO NOT be lulled into a sense of false security just because the car is working ok for now. You should be feverishly working on a plan for what to do. I know what my plan would be if it were my car, I would get rid of that car as fast as I could before something else goes wrong with it. Putting money in that car is only throwing good money after bad. Get what money you can for it and then research your next car on the internet, and be sure to buy one that is PROVEN RELIABLE.
    Other immediate issues...the hard starting - The Altimas are known to sometimes have problems with the sensors and the MASS Airflow Sensor. Make sure that the Crankshaft Position Sensor and the Camshaft Position Sensor have the recalls done on them up to date and that they are working correctly. Check the MAF sensor to be sure it is clean and working properly. All of these things have been discussed in these forums, go back and read the past messeges, use the "search" feature to find what you want to read about using keywords such as sensor, etc.
    And finally, yes, I know about "keeping the proverbial fingers crossed" as I do the same every day, because my daughter is still driving her 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5S, and it scares me to death, especially now that I have been out of work for almost five months and have NO money to fix it. I say RATS of this darn Depression! I keep asking her the same questions almost every day, Did you check the oil today? Did you have to add any oil today? How much? Did you check the coolant today? Did you have to add any coolant today? How much? Yes, I certainly keep my fingers crossed, all the time!
    Again, Good Luck,
    E.D. in Sunny Florida
  • rondholrondhol Posts: 32
    E.D, I am sorry to hear that. I also always check the oil, coolant, and any pinging/detonation noise. Tripj, the Head gasket need to be replaced ASAP or just sell it ASAP.

    Don't waste your money and time to fix that Altima. I already threw more than $2000 to fix it in less than 1 year since 66k miles. (diagnostics, head gasket, CPS, struts, catalytic converter, engine mounts ). Exclude the $1000 maintenance like new brake rotors+pads at 80k miles, transmission+brake+ radiator fluid flush, inner+outer tie rod +alignment, new alternator (bad bearing) . I hate it's loud tapping noise during winter and lean pinging sound under light throttle + oil consumption.

    I keep driving it with DIY maintenance for 2-3 more years.
    I am looking for a mechanics that can re-program the ECU to fix the lean detonation issue. I hate to go to STEALERSHIP (dealership) with $95 per diagnostic.
  • jrc5jrc5 Posts: 1
    Well sounds like I have joined the band wagon. I know I need to replace my engine as I have the oil consumption problem and have replaced the cat. Now the head gasket is blown. Is there a replacement motor that want have the same problem?Any help will be appreciated.
  • Get new engine from 2004-2006 model and change the precat with after market header. Call Nissan 1-800# to check all recall (ECM-reprogramming, Pre-cat,etc) . If it is under 80k/8 years, you can get new engine + pre-cat from Nissan for free under Federal Emission Law.
  • Can anyone tell me exactly where and how to change cabin filter in my 07 Altima sedan 2.5 ?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,618
    REMOVAL

    1. Remove the glove box assembly.
    2. Remove the console side finisher (RH).
    3. Disengage the filter cover tab to remove the filter cover.
    4. Remove the in-cabin microfilter from the blower unit by using the pull tab on the bottom of the filter.

    MODERATOR

  • Did I read you properly when you said you can get a new engine at less tha 80k? if true, can you advise procedure as i hav a multitude of these peculiar to Nissan Altima problems.
  • Under federal emission law. (Pre)catalytic converter is covered for 8 years/80k miles. If your engine is damaged by this part, you have right to get a new engine. Polite and Firm, your Dealer is your friend to fight Nissan North America. Some of our college in Nissanclub.com have same story and got new engine under this Federal emission law.
  • My Altima suffered the common fate caused by the pre-cat failure. Ended up replacing the engine through my local mechanic. This week my Altima stopped dead in traffic due to one or both crank or cam position sensors. I took it to the dealer thinking that this would be covered under the Nissan recalls.

    In fact, Nissan covers the cost based on Vin and since my car had been updated on the first engine, the $300 repair was not covered.

    One more reason that there are no Nissans in my future. :lemon:
  • ask them first by email/phone. firm but polite. i got new pre-cat but the engine doesn't consume too much oil. All altima have crank/camshaft position sensor design defect. The new POS has metal shield instead of plastic.
  • After I change my oil , on 70000 miles - I was surprise. On my dashboard, I found
    Check Engine Soon - what a surprise. I return, to oil shop- and check what is the problem : the problem is po 335 and po 725- and the technicians tell me , you
    need to change crankshaft sensor and Cam sensor, and speed-engine sensor.
    they give me estimate - both for 370 $, because I have a limited warranty on my nissan- Altima 2005 I went to the dealer ship North Charleston Nissan- and I want to check what is the problem. They explain for check the car - I need to pay 100$ , just for checking !!!! what a surprise , and because I complain - that I have a warranty - they say we need to check- I explain that I already check what is the problem , because i dont want to pay money for nothing.
    after I tell them what is the problem , they tell me that sensor- is not under the
    warranty, WHAT a Surprise!!!
    I decline this bla- bla - bla ...
    I make my research !! and gees what happen, if You do not want to loose
    your money, just search in the web- solution of the problem.
    what I make: Went to Autozone- and check what is the price
    for CAM AND CRANK shaft sensors- they are cheep compare with
    NISSAN dealer ship !!!! surprise a? not be
    28.00 $ EACH
    YOU need 2 - and they are the same !!!
    After a small research , i make decision me AND my friend- to change .
    simple and not so easy-
    1one is located on very easy place: thank to
    http://dentnshell.com/Projects/2005Altima/CamkPosition.html
    2one is problem!!!
    http://www.paulstravelpictures.com/Nissan-Altima-Camshaft-Crankshaft-Sensors/
    I replaced both with my friend , BUT I dont understand:
    WHY COMPANY LIKE NISSAN - HAVE this problem from 2003 year,
    and they dont CARE , for nothing , I am not surprise ,
    I thank to my friend - that hepl so much !!!!
    we spend more than 500 $- because we make at home
    Nissan Altima 2005 :shades:
    If someone have question about this problem:
    just simple write me a letter .
    I am going to be happy to help everyone , with this problem.
    After i change both sensor , I talk with Expert in engine : who explain to me
    that I need to go to some Autozone , that need to clear light on dashboard,
    I voala - that is resolve the problem .
    THANK TO MY FRIEND NICK!!!!
    AND thank to other people , with post how they resolve this problem
    AND on the END- i am going to call NISSAN - claim Afar .
    i care for THEIR CAR< this is unbelievable.!!!!!!!!
  • I just discovered this forum, and I have some questions. Let me start by saying that I am not very knowledgeable about auto mechanics.

    My Story: In 2008 I purchased a used 2003 Nissan Altima from my father. It had about 100K miles on it, and he told me to watch the oil because it was burning out. I checked the oil every week or two since then. Every time I took it in for an oil change, I would ask about the burning oil, and I was constantly told, that it was not uncommon for a car with over 100K to burn more oil.

    Just last month, my check engine light came on, and I had the Cam Sensor replaced. Three weeks later, the check engine light came on again and this time the car would not start. I had it towed, replaced the battery and Crank Sensor was replaced. Two weeks later the check engine light appeared again, and I took it back to the same shop. This time the computer read that the Catalytic Converter needed to be replaced. I told the mechanic that I was traveling from Atlanta to Baltimore for Thanksgiving, and asked if the car was ok without changing out the Catalytic Converter. He said it was fine, it just wouldn't pass emmissions.

    We drove up to Baltimore and had to put oil in twice on the ride up. On the ride home, I put oil in when we left, and I started hearing funny sounds after 300 miles. I put more oil in, but the sound got worse. As I was pulling off the exit in Greeneville, South Carolina the engine ceased (2:30 am). I had the car towed the following day to te Nissan Dealership just off the I-85 Exit in Greenville. I was informed by the mechanic there, that the Piston Rod blew and went through the oil pan. He said this occurred because of oil burning through the Catalytic Converter. He mentioned that this was a common problem of 2002 aand 2003 Altima's and that this was bound to eventually happen. That there was nothing I could have done to prevent this. The solution he offered me was to install a new engine at a cost of approximately $5,500.

    Do I have any recourse with Nissan? The mechanic in Atlanta? Do you have suggestions? The only thing I have found is purchasing a used engine from a junk yard, and having someone install it for me. My problem is that I still owe $2000 on the car. Please advise
  • "I just discovered this forum, and I have some questions. Let me start by saying that I am not very knowledgeable about auto mechanics."
    Welcome to the Forum. This is a VERY unfortunate situation, but unfortunately most people are not very knowledgeable about cars. This topic is a matter of controversy, as it is all a matter of priorities. If having reliable transportation is important to you, and ESPECIALLY if you don't have a lot of money, it is best to learn as much about automoblies as you possibly can. These days, it is much easier to research automobiles with the internet and all these forums, not like 40 or 50 years ago having to dig through huge manuals and libraries, and not having the advantage to hear input from consumers who actually drive the car you are studying.

    Your problem, What to do? Too late now, Too old, Too many miles, chaulk it up to experience, and please don't make the same mistake again. Your only options at this point is to either spring for putting the used engine in the car, or else scrap the car. The car is only worth about 5 grand at the most, so it may be more economically feasible to junk the car. No sense to throw good money after bad, or to spend more on the car than what it is worth. Or maybe sell it back to your Dad, or he might forgive the $2000 debt on the car! I don't think you can hold the Atlanta mechanic to blame (obviously not a dealership), they work on lots of different cars, and don't know everything about every car. He evidently was not aware of the Cat Converter problem with the Altima. Maybe he can cut his price in half, since he gave you bad advice, but it is hard to prove that he caused your engine to blow. Too many variables there. You did not mention, but I assume you have the 2.5L 4 cylinder engine in your car.

    Remember, your best defense is a good offense, so be on the offense and research everything you can about a car BEFORE you buy it.
    Good Luck,
    E.D. in Sunny Florida
    P.S. My daughters 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5s has 126,000 miles and running ok, only burning a small amount of oil, with both cats cleaned out. It needs to keep running well up to 200,000 miles. I wonder if it might make it? It's quite a stretch for that car. Time will tell, it always does.
  • Encountered a new one to me today:
    2004 Nissan Sentra w/2.5L motor, driveability issue at roughly 90k miles. Owner of the vehicle said he was just driving down the road at a 35mph cruise when the engine started shaking (misfiring) and the check engine light came on. Reader came up with a generic cylinder misfire code, pulled plugs to find the #4 cylinder had a devastated plug.
    The plug looked like it had been shot blasted. The electrode was pressed against the center conductor (read:no spark) and it looked like it had been beat on. The plugs had been replaced once before, customer says about a year ago, and never had any problems. Inspected the cylinder through the boroscope located a small lump of metal about the size of a pencil eraser. The cylinder was far dirtier than the other cylinders as well, and the face of the piston was pitted (once again as if shot blasted).
    New plugs installed, all cylinders inspected. #1 is dirty too, but no signs of erroneous metal. Vehicle starts and runs great (although with the typical Nissan 2.5L tick). Cleaned induction system in an effort to tidy up the cylinders and went for a test drive. Returning from the test drive, the engine starts shaking again w/a MIL.
    Plug #4 is beat up again. Put a mirror on the boroscope and begin inspecting every inch of the cylinder wall. Found the head coming apart and the head/block juncture. What in the world causes this? Micro-fractures in the metal casting? Improper machining at the factory?
    I read the forums and see the head problems typical to this motor. Seems to be not too uncommon? Is this a pre-cat induced head failure I'm dealing with or something new? I know the fix: Junk/trade it or replace the motor. Was this a design flaw or a manufacturing flaw?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,618
    I think you'd have to pull the head to know better but it's possibly the sign of severe detonation. As you no doubt know, a badly pinging engine can have holes bored right through the piston tops. I just can't see cat debris breaking a cylinder head. Did you save the metal you fished out? That could be your clue.

    MODERATOR

  • The problem you witnessed is the intake manifold Power Valve Screw failure, a common problem on the Altimas. This is all over the internet and discussed many times in this forum.
    There are four power valves, one in each intake tube. Each power valve is held to the positioning shaft with 2 screws, for a total of 8 screws. The problem is that the screws come loose, and when they get loose enough, they fall out and get sucked into the engine, and bounce around inside the engine cylinder, destroying the piston, head and spark plug. The smashed spark plug is a dead giveaway for this problem. The Solution is to remove the upper intake manifold, Remove and clean the screws and threads and apply locktight sealer to the threads and put in new screws. Buy the new updated screws to fix this problem. Replace the upper intake manifold and you are done, as long as the head and piston were not permanently damaged.
    Again, this is a common and well known problem with these engines. My opinion is that this is an engineering and manufacturing flaw (The Screws should have been engineered to stay in place & the Screws should have been securely tightened in manufacturing to stay in place).
    Good Luck,
    E.D. in Sunny Florida
  • :sick: :lemon: Complained since 2006 about engine noise while under warranty and under 80K. Service dept. of dealership never addressed it satisfactorily. Was not 100% on time with oil changes but come to learn now that this was a known problem by Nissan. Now car has 120K+ miles and Dealership is trying to say I am completely responsible for problem due to late oil changes and only NOW suggests replacing engine to tune of $4,800!!! What can I do now to engage them in doing the right thing or simply losing a customer for life?
  • Complained since 2006 about engine noise while under warranty and under 80K.

    ...unless you bought the extended warranty, I think the warranty only covers the first 60k miles for the engine.
  • Actually, we DID take the extended warranty! I'm getting a copy of our complete service record and will take it (along with the recall/known issues info) to the owner of this and other Nissan dealerships and see what he'll do. Just want to trade it in at this point and NOT for another Nissan!
  • Nissan is replacing the engine in my 09 Altima 2.5 SL free of charge. It was bought in 11/09and has 2500 miles. I would like to know if the value of my vehicle is going to be negatively impacted even though the engine is going to be new. The reason the engine is being replaced was because of a oil pressure issue during a cold winter morn. As happy as I can be getting a new engine I am not happy this has happened to my 2 month old car thinking they should give me a new car if the value of it is not what it should be with the original engine.
  • ndiboyndiboy Posts: 36
    I just noticed that my 02 altima stalls when started but picks up later. What might the problem be? Is it the nozzles, injeector or what. It drives well once it gets over it whih takes few seconds.
    Thanks.
    Onuchukwu Chuma.
  • Watch the exhaust when you start the car.Does the exhaust emit smoke, and if so what color, black or white?
    To verify, the engine runs rough and stalls when you start the engine, How long does it take to run smooth again, 30 to 45 seconds? Taka a quick Smell near the exhaust to see if there is any smell of anti-freeze, then breath fresh air to clear your lungs.
    Once the engine is warmed up, and you restart it, Does it start and run smooth?
    If it makes white smoke and the engine runs rough for about 30 to 45 seconds on a cold start, check to see if antifreeze is leaking into one of your cylinders. If so, it could be a leaking head gasket. See previous posts about this.
    E.D. in Sunny Florida
  • danny44danny44 Posts: 14
    Hi,
    I have an 04 Nissan and am having a problem with no acceleration or rather decreased acceleration. I step on the gas pedal and then it seems as if the engine is groaning and I have to press the gas pedal hard. Even after pressing the gas pedal,the engine struggles to accelerate and it appears as though it is towing a heavy load. I checked the revs and they are revving to a maximum of 3500 only and I can reach speeds of 55-60mph but it appears obvious that the engine is straining hard.
    I hope it is not the cat converter ?? Also,I do not have any CEL/SES light or any other codes.. I checked the tire pressure in all 4 tires. Please advise.

    Thanks - you folks were very helpful when I had asked a question about Slip and TCS off lights that I had about 3 months ago and your diagnosis was pretty much on the ball - a camshaft sensor problem.
    Hope I dont have any more problems with my Nissan ! And hoping that this problem is not serious !
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