Nissan Pathfinder Oil Consumption

kzriderkzrider Member Posts: 2
edited July 2016 in Nissan
My 2002 well maintained Pathfinder w/77,000 miles on it is burning oil like crazy. It has always used oil but recently has started to use a lot more. I have put 4 qts. in since the last oil change about 2,400 miles ago. I have changed the oil on this vehicle every 3,000 miles. It has never been abused.
I have discovered that the baffles in the right valve cover has been known to clog resulting in oil being sucked into the PCV valve to be burned by the engine. The only fix is to replace the valve cover with a newly designed one from Nissan. I am currently having this done.
I was wondering if anyone else has had this problem and does this fix work?



  • thelogixthelogix Member Posts: 2
    Good morning,
    I am having the same problem with my 2002 Pathfinder with 84000 miles. I have seen other blogs recommending this fix. Has it corrected the issue for you? Please let me know as I dont want to make a blind investment in fixing this.
  • nightmonkey1nightmonkey1 Member Posts: 5
    I just discovered the same oil problem on my 2002 pathfinder with 65,000.
    I was going to get the valve cover replaced this week.
    Did you ever get an answer to your question? (if the valve cover fixes the problem)
    Did you have it replaced? I assume you have seen this site:
    Based on that, it looks like the cover will fix the problem, but not permanently. Looks like we'll all be doing it again someday, if that's another 70,000 mile away that might not be too bad (vs. buying another car)
  • turbinoturbino Member Posts: 6
    Is the newly designed valve cover now available at Nissan? Do you know the part number? I want to get the new valve cover to replace the existing one because I am having the same problem on my 2003 Nissan Pathfinder with 107,000 miles on it.


  • nightmonkey1nightmonkey1 Member Posts: 5
    FYI, my 2002 pathfinder with 70,000 miles is eating around a quart of oil every 1,000 miles. It eats less oil on long highway trips. WIth daily city driving with short trips its consuming about (a little less than) 1 quart per 1,000 mi.
    I had the valve cover replaced at the dealer at 65,000 miles, that cost about $900.
    I unfortunately just bought the truck since my car was totaled. I bought it a few months ago with 60,000 miles on it. I noticed the oil light came on an the dipstick was dry, that is how I discovered this thing burns oil and I bought a lemmon. So I dont know the history on this truck and how long and how much oil is was burning before I was a sucker to buy it.


    The truck does not smoke and seems to run ok. The gas mileage is also OK. I'm getting about 17-18 MPG in city driving, that is normal per the EPA estimate on the sticker. My truck is a manual tranny.

    I now just keep a couple quarts of oil and a funnel in the back. I check the oil and top it off about every other gas fill up. It sucks but its not too big of a deal for me as long as it doesnt get worse.
  • turbinoturbino Member Posts: 6
    With your experience on the new valve cover I am thinking of not having the existing one replaced or at least postpone its replacement until I am sure its the culprit for the problem.

    My problem is similar to yours: my truck is consuming that much of oil although it does not smoke (no oil leaking from the valve cover nor trace of oily deposit on tail pipe) and it seems to run good, and this makes me wonder where the oil is going. Granting that either the rings or valves are bad oily deposit should at least show on the tail pipe.

    I am stumped and do not know what to do at this point to fix the problem so I will keep a couple of quarts of oil and funnel in the truck just like you and top it off to normal oil level when necessary.
  • thelogixthelogix Member Posts: 2
    (A little long but worth the read)In the past few months I've tried to chase this down but can’t get a straight up answer from anyone. I called the Nissan Consumer department and filed a case, however, never received a return phone call. I have gone to four different dealerships and gotten four totally different answers. The last one I went to (Mall of Georgia Nissan) was the one that gave me the most convincing answer. The shop manager told me that he had heard of this problem in the past with that engine but with Nissan Maxima's. To get a monster sized engine that big under the hood of a Maxima, they have to turn it and tilt it back towards the driver. This causes the badly designed valve cover to trap oil, get clogged over time, and burn it these circumstances.

    He added that the problem I have with this engine is "normal" and not due to the engine valve cover design. This engine, by spec, is supposed to burn through ".75 liters of oil every 1,000 miles." Those were his exact words. His recommendations were the following:

    1. I check the oil periodically and top it off when necessary. At around 1500 miles use a supplement that will cut and eliminate any sludge in the engine to keep it running as clean as possible.

    2. Use a Nissan branded oil filter at every oil change.

    3. Don’t waste money on synthetic oil as the engine was not designed to take advantage of it.

    If this problem does not exceed the specs above, the car should pass emissions with no problems at all. If it does not pass emissions because of excessive oil burnout then you have another problem.

    Because I depend so much on this car, I have chosen to take the safest route possible.

    1. I use synthetic oil. Valvoline 10w30. I know he recommended against it, however, I want the additional protection synthetic has to offer. If I’m on a long trip and I get low on oil, I need to be sure I can get home with that synthetic protection before permanent damage is done.

    2. I keep a case of oil and funnel in my garage. It’s a pain but necessary.

    3. At 1500 miles I use a “Lucas” brand add in to the oil to keep the engine clean.

    4. I have the Nissan filters but have yet to use one. Will do on the next change and will report back if I see any change at all.

    By the way…this problem can give your cars emission system several false positives on problems. Let me explain why. Several of the engine sensors are driven hydraulically. The hydraulic fluid is the engine oil. If it gets too low, your check engine light may come on before you low oil lamp. If you take it to a shop to get tested, the test will conclude that one or two of your sensors are shot and must be replaced. I got talked into replacing two sensors by a Mineke mechanic with a price tag of just over $500.00 after parts and labor. Close to my next oil change and before I knew about the oil consumption issue my check engine light came on again. This time I took it to express oil change and they actually tried to work the problem instead of throw parts at it. The tech reset my computer after the oil change (after noticing I only had 2 quarts of oil left in my pan) and told my about the hydraulic sensors. He said if I kept the oil level as close to normal as possible, it should not happen again. To this date, I have not had a repeat of this problem.
    I hope this helps someone out there. Let me know if you all come up with something else. Thanks.
  • turbinoturbino Member Posts: 6
    Yes, your posted message was worth reading and just happened to be long. The valve cover incompatibility with respect to the engine makes sense for the Maxima for the reason stated but not for the Pathfinder which has more room under the hood for the same engine unless its engine was installed the same way as the Maxima’s for whatever reason.

    It’s worth noting that the engine oil hydraulically operates several engine sensors. This makes the engine performance dependent on the oil level then. In this regard it is therefore absolutely necessary to have proper engine oil level before you operate the vehicle.

    Meanwhile we don’t exactly know what’s causing excessive oil consumption on Pathfinder it’s just logical to do something like the safest route possible you’re taking to avert low engine oil level occurrence that could result to other engine problems on the vehicle.
  • lousynissanlousynissan Member Posts: 2
    My 2004 Path, 50000 miles, well maintained. Found out it burns oil when I heard a knock and discovered I was about 2 qts low and no warning light, no leak, no smoke. Nissan says... normal. Yeah, right. Anyway, the knock went away, but about 6 months later developed again...with a full crankcase of oil and right after an oil change (10w30 Mobil1). Then that too went away after I parked it for 30 minutes before I was gioing to tow it in to the dealer. Well, since then, the warranty is up and I am NERVOUS. Probably going to trade it in...and not on another Nissan.
  • turbinoturbino Member Posts: 6
    For as long as there is no visible leak or smoke on our vehicles Nissan can always say oil consumption is normal. Unless excessive oil consumption on Nissan vehicles is accounted for I will never ever buy another Nissan.
  • nightmonkey1nightmonkey1 Member Posts: 5
    In addition to burning oil. I had some exhaust system problems. I took it to my trusted local shop. They checked my catalytic converters, they said that were clogged up. I had to have both CC's replaced for more than $1000.
    I presume the "mystery" oil that is being consumed is also fouling and clogging the CCs. I have no idea how long the fix will last.
    I will be trading in this piece of garbage as soon as my job situation is more stable.
    I was a loyal Nissan guy until now, my first was a 1972 240Z, my last will be this P.O.S. 2002 Pathfinder
  • turbinoturbino Member Posts: 6
    It's likely the "mystery" oil being consumed is clogging the catalytic converters. Having said that it's just a matter of time then before you spend $1000 again to replace the converters. And, how about other expense(s) that may also be incurred due to excessive oil consumption?
  • nissannomorenissannomore Member Posts: 1
    Add me to the list of dissatisfied 2002 Pathfinder owners mysteriously losing oil. For the longest time I could not tell where the oil was going. I have to add about a quart every two weeks. Now I have discovered oil dripping from underneath the front of the vehicle and I am not sure where it is leaking from. Any suggestions
  • poncho2010poncho2010 Member Posts: 3
    Everything I have read about the Pathfinder (Nissan) 3.5 liter excessive oil consumption problem, seems to suggest this is a right side valve cover filtering system for the PCV valve.

    I will to try installing a 'water-trap' unit, designed for air compressors, into the PCV hose. I will just empty the container, which seems cheaper and easier than replacing the valve cover.

    I also wonder, if the valve cover was 'dipped' in a degreasing tank at an engine rebuilders, if it could be pressure cleaned and reused ?

    My tailpipe is black with soot, and initially I thought this was an excessively rich fuel problem, but my mileage is between 18 and 20mpg consistently. The engine has lots of power and torque. I worry this oil consumption will clog the catalytic converter.
  • lousynissanlousynissan Member Posts: 2
    I traded it in on a 2010 Ford Mustang GT !!!!!!!!!!!
    Did I mention my diff was leaking? dealer said its "over full". Sure a diff that's never been touched "over full".Well of course it started leaking again after a 150 service. Just too much. I work too hard to keep paying on a pain in the [non-permissible content removed]. Bye bye Path.
  • turbinoturbino Member Posts: 6
    After my mechanic replaced the pcv valve on my 2003 Nissan Pathfinder (with one for 2000 Nissan Pathfinder), I was surprised to know that only about half a quart of oil was consumed after almost 3000 miles since the last oil and filter change, and I consider this to be normal.
  • dpeter3425dpeter3425 Member Posts: 1
    My daughter has an 03 pathfinder le We have had it for 4 years bought used, THe engine light stays on and it burns oil and she always has oil with her and puts it in never had the oil light come on. The truck runs great sometimes and then others the rpm's go up but it wont change gears. Had transmission check it is ok IT is all the oil consumption Do you really think the pcv valve will help I told mechanics this and they say new engine Do you think the timming belt and water pump should be changed? I have not spent any money on this truck but OIL OIL OIL IT has 125,000 miles on it now
    Thanks Dawn
  • nightmonkey1nightmonkey1 Member Posts: 5

    i had a brand new passenger side valve cover (which also includes a new PVC valve by default) installed at the dealer a few months ago for $1000. My 2002 pathfinder had 65000 miles at that point. this $1000 did not help my oil consumption in any significant way. i still mystery burn about 1 quart per 1000 miles. i keep oil on hand and just refill, i check it every other gas fill. just live with it or trade it in, dont waste money trying to fix it. the truck runs fine, so at least things are tolerable as long as the oil deal doesnt get to the point where i have to refill every other day, right now i refill 0.5 to 1 quart about 1 time per month.

    this problem may be due to bad piston rings, block or valves, probably a design or manufacturing tolerance issue, i am 98% sure it is one of those issues, and any of those cost at least several thousand $$$$ to fix

    again, live with it or trade it in.

    for what its worth i am a mechanical engineer (without time to work on my cars), i understand engines, there is a unspoken or not understood design or tolerance issue with that engine that can only be fixed with a lot of money
  • badnissansbadnissans Member Posts: 1
    My son bought an '04 Pathfinder brand new in '04. Just out of warranty it started clogging cat converters and burning oil. Nissan said, sorry its out of warranty. He has had it in the Nissan shop at least once a year since then, They make $1,000 repairs but it has not fixed it. Last week it got worse. I had my mechanic look at it. He found an air intake flap value under the intake manifold. The screws on these had all backed out. One of these silver dollar sized flappers fell into a cylinder and beat the heck out of it. There was to much metal pieces in the engine from these pieces to repair. We are now putting a new engine in it. If you have a mysterious oil leak check these valves. You have to pull the intake off to get to them. Looks like a design flaw and grounds for a recall to me!
  • nightmonkey1nightmonkey1 Member Posts: 5

    what u describe has been reported before under bad "power valve" screw falling out of these engines into the internals. look up on google to find more info on that issue. it is a definite problem




  • scpilotscpilot Member Posts: 2
    Hi everyone. I have a 2003 Nissan Pathfinder with 140k miles that has slightly elevated oil consumption - about one quart every 2000 miles. I wanted to make the suggestion to use Blackstone Labs for oil analysis to determine whether your oil consumption is being caused by excessively worn rings, which would cause excess fuel to show up in your oil. They can detect the content of several wear metals and tell you how your engine is wearing. I had a report run on mine and they found nothing wrong with the internals of my engine, no fuel, and no coolant, so I'm going to attempt to determine if the baffles in the valve cover are clogged. Removing looks like a lengthy process, so I am not sure when I'll be able to get to it.

    I've run Mobil-1 5/30 and filter since birth, every 7500 except 3000 when towing.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    edited July 2011
    I know that Nissan would say consuming a quart every 2,000 miles would be within normal limits, but if that was happening on my Nissan minivan, my blood pressure would be "slightly elevated." :shades:

    An analysis on my '99 Quest would be interesting (I'm at 158k miles), but it's running okay and isn't worth much anyway, so I have a hard time justifying the $25, when I can do an oil change for that and have $10 left over. I use SuperTech or whatever is on sale at NAPA and change at 7,500 mile intervals too. Don't tow. Never have to add oil between changes.

    Got any blue smoke? How are the plugs? Do you have to pass emissions tests where you live? Thought about switching to a 10W-30 oil? Replaced the PCV valve lately?
  • tschotttschott Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2003 Nissan Pathfinder Automatic. Would lose about half a quart + between oil changes (3K) no smoke, no drips. Upon careful inspection saw that there was a lot of oil caked on right cv boot and the surrounding area. Turns out the oil cooler had a very slight leak from the o ring. Not enough to drip but it just kind slowly covered the surrounding areas. Found that it is a fairly common problem. The fix is pretty straightforward two o rings that can be replaced by removing the bolt that goes through the center 14mm I think. Kind of a pain to get it off then clean it up as space is a bit cramped. I just sprayed carb cleaner to clear the caked gunk off. Once disassembled did the same with all the internals that I could reach. Put in the new o rings and reassembled. Little less than an hour an a can of carb cleaner + a little. O rings were about 10 for both and I could only find from a dealer. No more oil seep. If that is your problem you will see caked up oil on and around cooler and cv. Good luck.
  • scpilotscpilot Member Posts: 2
    Nope, no smoke. No leaks. No power loss. Plugs are clean. For all intents and purposes it runs like a new car, except a rich exhaust smell when it's cold, and a bad temp sensor in the transmission causing it to take forever to lock the TC when it's cold. No codes, no emission problems. I had a CEL light once when a gasket between the filler tube and gas tank sprung a leak and allowed the vacuum to collapse (EVAP Leak CEL).

    I really can't complain. It's been a fantastic car. I've put shocks/struts in it once, 3 or 4 sets of tires, and a complete brake system overhaul at 120K. Everything else by the book. In fact, it never even had to have an alignment until I had the suspension done at 130K.
  • nomorenissan4nomorenissan4 Member Posts: 1

    I have owned a 2003 Pathfinder Chilkoot from new. I now have 152,000 K on it and am on the third engine from the dealer. It sounds like I have been treated better than others but I am not happy about it. The "third engine" was only a top end rebuild and a new cconverter. The dealership says they will not do any more repairs when this engine is finished. I believe I have about 20K left on it. The symptoms seem the same as reported by others, increased oil usage until a quart with every fill up. Dealer told me to change my oil often and do not use back pressure for breaking. The parts guy says this problem does not come up with automatics. One explanation from Nissan parts guy was that the catalytic converter gets sucked back into the cylinder and chew things up. This is my 3d Nissan. Happy with the other 2. Will never buy another. It seems like short term thinking on their part not to do a recall.

  • 2choices2choices Member Posts: 2
    saw the oil burning in a sentra i did a head job on. posts on the net mentioned bad catalytic converter. because of positive and negative pressure waves in the exhaust, i can see the engine sucking in debris from the cat and because it's ceramic it eats the rings. my 2004 frontier with 110k just went a couple days ago. first oil consumption then smoking. seems nissan used inferior cats on several models but all in the year range 2002 to 2005. sentra frontier maxima etc. by the way, those knock sensor codes and evap codes, you need a gas tank. i've done 2 so far and i know of 2 more. so i'm looking at pulling the motor for a ring job and that badly leaking rear main seal. then i'll gut the cats [probably throw a code] and look for decent replacements. but despite all this, i would never buy an overpriced and no better quality toyota. good luck guys. 25 years ase certified auto tech and master machinist
  • 2choices2choices Member Posts: 2
    follow up on previous post. nothing in right catalyst, and evidence of melting in left. must say softest material i've encountered. after a couple days threw a po420 code which i thought was related to dirty induction system [ injectors and carbon on vales] but can readily see an obstruction in the pipe throwing a code. i haven't emptied y pipe or muffler of any possible debris, will with rebuild. using 3 qts in 100 miles. and seriously because the enterence to the fuel tank is between cab and bed, it gets hammered with rain, well here in hawaii anyway.
  • tomasito101tomasito101 Member Posts: 1
    edited April 2018
    I have a 2008 Nissan Pathfinder, 110,000 miles, I replace both catalytic, valve covers, and still consume a lot of oil, there are no leaks on the outside or smoke ..I have no idea where the oil goes ...
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Member Posts: 9,372
    Have you checked the coolant to see if it's discolored? (possible head gasket, cylinder head) Could also be PCV system problem, worm or damaged gaskets or valve seals.

    No smoke simply means oil isn't getting into the cylinders, but if a lot is disappearing and you see no apparent leaks, it has to be going somewhere.

    How much oil is it using?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481

    I have a 2008 Nissan Pathfinder, 110,000 miles, I replace both catalytic, valve covers, and still consume a lot of oil, there are no leaks on the outside or smoke ..I have no idea where the oil goes ...

    Maybe it's time for a "Cylinder Leakdown Test". That'll tell you for certain where the oil is going. It's either leaking or burning--there's no other possibility.

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