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Nissan Altima Hybrid Engine Questions



  • cephraimcephraim Posts: 31
    I have never had this problem in my 08 NAH.
  • Hi, new to the forum. Hate the fact that I have to resort to a forum to resolve issues with something that Nissan should take care of. Anyway, 2007 hybrid, 45K. Issue 1: When cold, the engine seems to misfire for about 5 sec, rattles the car, sounds awful, but it usually only does it once and then goes away until the next time I start it up cold.
    Issue 2: Again when cold, (and possibly damp or wet), the brakes really stutter the car the 1st few times I brake, but again, go away.
    Issue 3: When decelerating from 40 or 50 MPH, the car stutters (no brakes applied, just foot off the gas). I read somewhere the Nissan has extended the CVT warranty to 10yr/120K on the transmission. Could this be a transmission issue?
    Other than that, car runs pretty well, I average 36mpg in combined driving. Only other issue I see is that sometimes the engine continues to run while I am stopped even if the batteries are fully charged. Not sure if that is because I have heater/AC/radio, etc running. If I have the time, I just shut down and restart and it goes back to EV mode.
    Lastly, does anyone know if they have updates for the software used to control the hybrid system? Would be great if they would post at least that updates are available and to go to the dealer to have the update installed. Also provide a list of fixes just like a software company.

    Thanks and any advice would be appreciated. FYI, I live in VA so the local Nissan dealers are not equipped to do much more than standard engine maintainence.
  • Yaunches,

    I haven't had these problems, although the engine has always seems to run a little rough when cold on mine. Where in VA are you and what dealer are you using? I'm in NOVA. Since our dealers don't see many of these, it's difficult for us to really know what is normal for these and what is definitely a problem. If you are around NOVA, I'd be happy to let you ride in my Altima if you want to see if it feels anything like yours. Unfortunately I'll be pretty busy for the next couple weeks.

    As far as your issues go:

    1, the engine does rev and seems a bit rough when starting cold, but I have never felt mine is misfiring. With the issues some have been having with misfires, I wouldn't be surprised if yours really is.

    2, is this issue only when you are getting close to a stop, or even from higher speeds when you first start to brake? Mine brakes seems to be a bit, well, "rough" for lack of a better word right before coming to a complete stop, but I've never felt it was a safety issue as it doesn't affect being able to stop.

    3, the only thing I've experienced that this "could" be, is that the car does make a noticeable, well, "roughness" again when going into EV mode sometimes at the higher MPH levels that EV works (35-42), especially close to 42 MPH. I'm not saying this is your issue, but just throwing it out there.

    I haven't heard anything about an extended warranty on these, with exception of the battery being warrantied through 100K (don't know if that's true). I'd sure love for the warranty to get extended. I really do like the car, but the issue some are having are scary enough to consider moving onto a different car (when gas gets to $4 again and the economy has rebounded a bit so the resale is strong).

    I generally use Koon's (used to be Brown's in Arlington). They seem decent enough for this area, but I've yet to have an issue since it's been Koon's so I can't say how they'll handle it for sure. I'm 6000 miles and just over 6 months away from being out of warranty.
  • Thanks for the quick response. I live out by Dulles and have used Nissan of Chantilly. They actaully told me that there is not much they can do. I also called the local Toyota dealer to see if the would service the vehicle since the Hybird system is licensed by them. They agreed to do the 60K maintainence on the Hybird system when the time comes but stipulate that if there are any other issues, they most likely won't be able to fix them. As for the warranty extension on the CVT, just google it, you'll see plenty of hits.

    Braking shutters generally when I am getting close to stopping (20 mph and below)

    The shuttering of the engine is strange, it happens usually between 60 down to 40 BEFORE the EV kicks in.

    Thanks for the offer to drive your car, would love to take you up on the offer. However, for me, time is limited as I will be moving out of state (Iowa of all places) the day after Thanksgiving. So my time is being spent between work and getting the house ready to move.
  • Yeah, the timing seems like it won't work. Good luck finding a dealer in IA. I'm originally from a midwest state that borders IA. At least you should find the Toyota dealers there at least as willing to help as the ones here. It seems like customer service is better back in the midwest.

    The braking shutter might be the same as mine. Whether or not it's normal, I don't know but mine has done it since new. I've never felt what mine does was a safety issue. I don't know how long you've owned the car, but if not long, you might notice something else in the near future, especially with the rough roads in this area. When you are braking and you hit a pothole or a bump, it can make it so it won't charge the battery while you are braking. When this happens, the feedback on the brake pedal, and the ability to brake are greatly reduced. There isn't anything I've found that fixes this except just letting the system reset itself by coming to a complete stop or it'll eventually reset after a minute or two of normal driving. I'm pretty sure it's a safety shut off on the recharge system as I think priuses and camries do the same thing. Is that right for the plural of prius and camry? :confuse:
  • I have been back to the dealer recently with the same problems. My car resides in a heated garage, in the morning not too bad. Once I leave my office after one or two hours the car bucks while coming to a stop for about 5 minutes til the engine warms up. It was 60 degrees today and still had the same issue. I just had egr service done last week and $400 later I am still having the same problem. Does anyone know of an updated thermostat? It seems the car takes awhile even for the heat to kick in. The car always starts instantly. I've stopped using the auto temp control, seems to put more stress on the engine while warming up. I have an 07 with tech, nav, etc.

  • langjielangjie Posts: 247
    it's just like that for the first 2 items when it's cold. I live in New England and it's always like that on cold mornings...and afternoons...and nights (why do I live in New England?)

    the 60 to 40 seems it always like that, repeatable everytime?
  • Hello, are you still having this issue?
    I have an 07, 51k with very similar problems. Because it has began to snow, I go out to warm up the car. I'll start it and when out of EV, the engine will run and sounds HORRIBLE. The car rattles (I can feel the front end vibrating). If I do not drive off or shut it off, it almost sound like it will die on me. It kind of also sounds like something is grinding.

    Also, not from 40 or 50 like you are experiencing, but about 25 or so to almost a complete stop the car pulsates/vibrates and does the same thing. I originally thought it was a brake issue and everything looked good when they were checked. It too sounds like it may die and everything is vibrating.

    Does anyone know what is causing it. Im not sure if it is trying to kick back into EV and having an issue or not, but when the problems are happening, it will not go into EV and is strictly running gas.

    Any insight is appreciated. I love this car other than all the issues Im having (not the first issue).
  • I have a 2008 NAH purchased in Jan 2009. My car has been in the shop for 22 days now after a second service engine signal (it was a multiple cylinder misfire) (a different Nissan service department turned off the alert and told me to come back if it came on again). Well, it happened a again and the dealorship that is currently looking at it has ruled out faulty ignition coil as the culprit. They have finally found carbon deposits on the valves after removing the exhaust manifold and supposedly will now remove the cylinder head and clean out the deposits. All steps that they followed have been under the direction of Nissan technical support (who are very slow I might add..... I mean day 22 with no end in sight!). Now they are saying that this is a widespread problem among NAH's and that there will be a recall next month (not sure why they have to wait until Feb. 2010 for this recall). I am more than pissed! They are probably going to give me a bandaided up/ jury-rigged engine and make me wait until the recal in another month after being without my car for nearly a month already.
  • A recall to do what?
    Clean the cylinders???
  • They were kind of vague with me. The consumer affairs guy said he did not know. The dealorship service department implied a wide-spread problem with the valves. I took from the brief conversation that they might be changing valves to some new or different type. Maybe the scope of the recall might have something to do with the fact that they would wait until February (procurring material?) before institutting the recall. Meanwhile they have been tinkering with my NAH engine under the misguidance of their national technical support team since December 15th (and here we are on January 11th). I am very unimpressed and regret trading in Camry Hybrid for an Altima Hybrid!
  • My 2009 11000-mile NAH is now starting its third week in the dealership following my complaint of rough start of the IC engine. Initial diagnosis was "carbon buildiup", which led to pulling and cleaning the head. Following that the dealer reported that the IC still ran rough and they now believed that the initial rough running had stretched the timing chain (!). They then kept the car and replaced the chain, but with no improvement. The diagnosis now is "sticky valves" so they are going to pull the head again. The technician also told me that they are expecting a recall next month, and that it would probably be to replace the head with a new design. Sure hope that that cures the problems!

  • I just hung up with Nissan USA for basically the same issues I keep reading about. I got nowhere except that they will take care of me. I have now spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars trying to resolve this issue. To me it seems the car is not warming up fast enough and bucks and continually runs in engine mode until a complete 10-15 minute warmup. As soon as I turn off auto climate it goes into battery. I spoke to my dealer and they know nothing about a recall for next month, I hope you know more then them. I loved my car for the first 2 years, but now I am thoroughly disgusted. I keep it in a heated garage and when I start in the morning after about a minute without moving it will buck as if it will stall.
  • Hello Docs Larry and lightshybrid: So they finally returned my NAH to me on January 14th still indicating that there would be a recall next month. Between December 15th 2009 and January 14th 2010, all they accomplished under the incompetent misguidance of Nissan Tech Support was to detect carbon deposits after 10 days. The rest of the time was supposed determining if the valves were damaged, cleaning them and putting it back to gradually suffer the same issues (new carbon deposits) at least up to the recall. Here are exerpts of what I received by email from the Nissan Dealorship:

    January 7th 2010: "The cylinder head of your vehicle was off as of yesterday afternoon. My tech. needed a special tool to remove the valves from the head to clean and make sure none of them are damaged. The tool is available at our other Nissan dealer and a driver is en route to pick it up this morning. I should have that here within the hour and will start to remove and inspect the valves asap. Later this afternoon I will have more information to give you and I will either call or e-mail you when I have it. Hope you have a nice day and I will be in contact as soon as I can."

    January 12th 2010: I spoke with the tech that is working on your vehicle this morning. The vehicle is in the process of being put back together. The valves, once removed, were still in very good condition and just needed to be cleaned of carbon deposits. I am hoping to have the vehicle back together by tomorrow and get a good road test on it before we release it back. If there are any delays in the process I will contact you as soon as I know. Thank you for your patience"

    January 13th 2010: In response to my questions about the delay and if I am about to received a patched engine that has merely been cleaned (also about what he thought the recall was for). His response: "I apologize for not getting back to you in a timely manner. As you know last week was my first week at this location and subsequently I was very busy getting familiar with everyone,everything etc. As far as your vehicle goes there was no "damage" to your engine or to your valves. As with any fuel injected vehicle, the engine builds up carbon deposits in the fuel system. The Altima Hybrid has had an issue with this carbon building up with very low miles though yours is only the second one that I have come accross, Nissan has started to see a problem. Unfortunately I do not have any info. as to when the recall may come out. Any info. that I have on the problem has been given to us via the "tech line" help desk. From what they say the spring for the valve is too soft which allows the carbon to build up along the valve. I just found out from my tech that what they may do is replace the valve springs so that when the valve hits it, the valve will spring back hard enough to break any debris free therefore burning off any carbon. There may also be a reprogramming for the vehicles computer to adjust the air and fuel mixture and opening and closing of the
    valves. Your vehicle has been driven 2 times and the tech will take it out once more before we release it. I am also going to have the vehicle cleaned inside and out before we call you."

    I will say that I am thoroughly annoyed with Nissan about this issue. Nissan has this Weasel from Consumer Affairs offering me as a so-called "goodwill gesture". $200 dollars worth of Nissan parts and service that has to be expended in one service visit at a Nissan or Infinity service center. This same corporate weasel has been calling and trying to talk over me and my concerns since around December 18th. I was demanding a new engine since the 24th of December to no avail.

    So I have been driving the car for 11 days since return. Same crappy mileage but the service engine warning light has not come on yet at least. I sure do miss my Camry Hybrid (I was an idiot to trade Toyota workmanship for Nissan crapmanship)! I guess my 6 years with a 6 cylinder Altima convinced me that maybe they could do a good job with a hybrid.....wrong!. LOL! COL! Crying out loud rather!

  • How many miles do you have on your Altima Hybrid. I neglected to mention that I had 9,800 on my 2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid at the time of its one month stay at the dealorship (purchased new January 15th 2009). Mine had the occasional rough start right back to the beginning (purchased with 297 miles on it ....due to drive from New Jersey which is the nearest state selling NAH to Maryland)
  • Everyone, I finally got through to them after numerous times. I think I know who you are talking about at consumer affairs. She also never calls the number I requested. Anyway, after she told me I would have to clean the injectors every 3 months I let her know this was totally unacceptable since the last cleaning did nothing. I had the regional engineer review and understood my complaints. I got my car back yesterday from the dealer after a week of repairs and parts. They replaced the entire cylinder head and all gaskets and seals. They told me it was about a $2300 repair (no charge). Without too much history since last night the car drove like brand new on the way home and back to work. I guess you have to just keep complaining til you get your point across to them. Good luck to everyone.
  • wayne8888wayne8888 Posts: 19
    Actually the weasel at Nissan Consumer Affairs that I was forced to deal with is Owen Welch. Glad that your vehicle is running well and hopes that it will continue to do so. This recall that was supposed to happen in Feb has not happened. I think that Nissan knows that there is an engine problem but probably don't want the bad pub of having a recall at this time (since it is not a potentially fatal issue unlike Toyota). I am poised to seek protection from the state of Maryland and its "Lemon Law" if they don't correct this problem. I demanded a new engine from them while it was in the shop for a month but all that they did was clean the valves.
  • I just started having problems with my 09 NAH and was surprised to find so many posts from people with similar problems. A rude awakening for me since I have owned 4 Nissans (standard IC engines) in the past with no complaints. It has less than 12K miles on it so there's no excuse for this.


    1. Like other people's cars, the IC engine seemed to be running "rough." Driving along, I can feel irregular vibrations through the gas pedal. At times, it would rattle pretty bad when idling and internittently at low speeds, especially when cold. Also, when driving in IC mode on long flat stretches or on gentle uphill slopes, the car sounds as if it has a moped motor rather than an engine. Also, the Service Engine light comes on intermittently.

    2. Shortly after the car started running "rough," the brakes began stuttering as I slowed, generally when going about 30+ mph- moreso when braking pretty hard or cornering, as one would expect. I didn't think much of this since 2 of my previous Nissans suffered the infamous 12,000-mile brake breakdown and behaved in a similar way. I really don't know if these issues are related but it is quite a coincidence.

    3. After a week or so of rough running and brake stuttering, the car stopped switching into EV mode altogether. The IC engine runs continually even at very low speeds, when coasting down hills and lately even when parked! Last night, as I was pulling into my driveway, the MPG fuel efficiency gauge starting fluttering very fast like it was having palpitations of some kind.

    Two days ago, I brought the car in to a local dealership and they were not able to detect any problems using their computer diagnostic tool. They did say that there has been some sort of recall that requires a reprogramming of some aspect of the internal computer. They didn't have much information but thought it would solve the braking problem. Unfortunately, they were not able to observe any engine problems when they test-drove it themselves and since diagnostics were negative, I had to just take it home and keep an eye on it. I had them do the reprogramming and a complete inspection and fluid change ($95.00, holy ish). Since the reprogramming, the brake stuttering has stopped (?) but unfortunately the engine problems continue.

    Today I took it back in to the dealer and took 2 service techs on a test drive with me around the block. OF COURSE, the car performed perfectly, switching into EV mode properly and idling perfectly fine. I was aghast but the guys were super nice about it even though they probably thought I was nuts. Then as we were pulling around to the service area, the Service Engine light came on again. Thank goodness (I think.)

    According to the diagnostics, cylinder # 3 is misfiring and they say it needs to be REPLACED entirely. This sounds like something more serious than blowing out some carbon deposits. They are keeping the car overnight and will do the repair tomorrow. Aside: today, the service manager confessed that they have only worked on 4-5 NAH ever in their shop. Lack of hybrid-experience seems to be endemic in Nissan service departments.

    Will update tomorrow.
  • rrodonrrodon Posts: 1
    I have a 2007 NAH, ~42000 miles, that I purchased from CarMax a year ago. Recently, I noticed that the engine would buck and vibrate when the gas motor kicked in, especially when the engine and weather were cold. Then I noticed the same shuddering while braking symptoms as have been described.

    After a couple of weeks of this, I took the car back to CarMax, where I had an extended warranty. They almost immediately shipped it to the Nissan dealership, since CarMax had no experience with the hybrid version - turns out, neither did the Nissan dealership. After keeping the car for a week, Nissan to told CarMax that there was definitely an issue, but they didn't know what it was. They were "preparing a bulletin for release next month", but it could be as long as a year until they had any kind of resolution. They recommended de-carbonizing the engine, but could not say definitively if that would resolve the issue or make it better; they'd do this for the reduced cost of $199.

    When I asked whether this was either a performance or safety issue, and whether the car would get worse if I continued to drive it, I was told "we don't know".

    And that's it. I got the car back, no charges thankfully, but no fix and no idea whether this is going to cause serious issues - and no help any time in the near future from Nissan. I've had good luck with Nissan in the past, but this is clearly not acceptable.
  • timnah08timnah08 Posts: 1
    Wife and I bought a new 2008 NAH in June 2008 and now have just under 20k miles on it. We avg about 32 mpg overall, mostly city driving. Until recently, I has been a great car with no problems.

    Recently, my wife complained of rough idle and stuttering at low speed. I took it to the dealer last Saturday and noticed the Service Engine Soon Light was on (she didn't tell me that!). They checked it out and within a few hours reported that it had carbon buildup and they would need to replace the cylinder head. :sick: I know that is highly unusual for a new car with low miles that is serviced regularly. I asked the service manager how that is possible. The response: "I don't know."

    Fortunately the dealer gave us a loaner Cube to drive while they work on the car. But they said Nissan Corporate refused to cover the cost, so the dealer was picking up the tab. (I've bought 2 Nissans in the past 23 months; the other is a 07 Frontier).
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