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Nissan Quest/Mercury Villager problems



  • I had (sigh) a 2000 MPV that I loved. It unfortunately was the victim of a red-light runner (I think -- insurance adjusters haven't gotten around to looking at it yet). It would appear that we're going to have to get a new van.
      Ours was a LX with touring package. It had 91,000 miles on it and was scrupulously maintained. What would be a fair value for that car? Second, is a replacement Mazda the best choice now that we are forced into a replacement. Our Mazda was paid for as of June 15. I'm not finding anything comparable at our local CarMax. I did, however, find a couple of low-miles Mercury Villagers that were loaded... However, the offset crash results are giving me pause. I spoke with insurance agent and our rates would actually go DOWN with Villager. Why is this?
      Anybody with experience comparing the two vans, please let me hear... I remember when we bought MPV, I was dismayed to see all the bad reviews -- but it's now (and has been) a CR recommended buy. I absolutely loved it when we lived in Florida. We later moved and encountered hills where the lack of power that was never even a factor before came into play at times.
      Our other car is a 1994 Toyota Corolla (next in line for replacement until MPV crash). I'm trying to keep payment reasonably low as I figure Corolla won't last forever. So far, though, pretty good.
      Thanks for any help / insight.
  • wtd44wtd44 Posts: 1,211
    The original series of Villager/Quest, which is no longer being made as a joint venture, is an outstanding vehicle with a great engine. My wife drives our 2000 Villager, and we both think very highly of it. We bought it brand new. They generally require little to no upkeep beyond routine maintenance such as oil changes. Ours was one of the best automotive bargains we have ever acquired. There are probably some good used ones still available.
  • Does the "poor" rating for offset crashes not bother you? It's what's making me hesitate ... I test-drove one and loved it (a 2002 with 15K). Our old MPV was an excellent car and we had no plans to replace it... I could just be extra-skittish at this point because of the crash. My side air bag (Does Quest/Villager have one?) deployed. I don't know that it really made a difference in survival or injury -- it was the first time I've ever had anything deploy. Mazda rated "acceptable" for offsets, but I'm not sure how much better that is.
  • mn_patmn_pat Posts: 67
    I have a 2k Quest. I just got back from a 4th of July camping trip with our popup camper. My camper only weighs 1000lbs and the van pulled it ok. If I was in traffic or driving within city limits I turned off the overdrive. All in all I'd say the Quest worked ok as an occasional tow vechile. As far as the Xmission oil cooler I'm not sure if that is necessary for occasional tow jobs, I'd like hear opinions on that as well.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    I just updated my gas and maintenance logs tonight.

    93,330 miles (purchased my '99 Quest GXE 12/31/98).

    Cost to operate:

    $862.66 for taxes and registration.
    $3,141.70 for insurance.
    $7,860.85 for gas (est. @ $1.80 a gallon - 6373
    gallons burned)
    $2,617.16 expenses (service/tires/accessories)


    $7,675.00 TMV (clean, private party)
    $15,106.00 depreciation (paid $$22,781)

    So, 16 cents to own and operate; 32 cents a mile with depreciation included in the cost of ownership.

    My mpg is at an all time high of 21.3 combined, and I had two tanks in a row back in March of 29+ - one was 29.95 so I almost broke 30 for the first time!. The worse tank in the last 10,000 miles was 15.21.

    Non-scheduled maintenance includes front brakes and a battery. $1,138 was for scheduled maintenance and $293 was for aftermarket stuff and $956 was for 9 tires, a rim and a few flats.

    My driver's side power window is still balky (JimZ? <g>) and I had to reglue the side mirror for the 5th (?) time the other day from where I dropped a canoe on it. I haven't had to clean the throttle body for a while now.

    Otherwise no problems to speak of. I'm looking forward to a big bill for a new timing belt and plugs, fan belts, hoses and fluids in the next year or so.

    Steve, Host
  • wtd44wtd44 Posts: 1,211
    Looking at my 2000 Villager's engine, the changing of the plugs should be straight forward. I had essentially the same engine in a Pathfinder I owned a while back. I did serious acrobatics changing the plugs at 60K miles. It has everything to do with the layout of the engine-- front to back versus side to side.
  • harddrivetharddrivet Posts: 90
    I have a 2000 Nissan Quest and on the front cup holders one of them no longer will hold its position a keep a cup stable. Is there anyway to repair this, or how can I replace it myself?
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    On my '99 Quest, I can't even find one of the plugs. Looks like a big pain to replace three of them. I don't think I have enough socket extenders and swivel joints (or knuckle skin) to attempt it.

    Steve, Host
  • charles15charles15 Posts: 57

    We purchased our 99 GXE at about the same time - mine has 78K on it with few problems - did have to replace an alternator that was overcharging.

    Have you ever determined what was causing your coolant to go below minimum (earlier post)? I have a similar problem in that I have to top it off to bring it back up to full once or twice between oil changes. The dealer has pressure tested the system twice and found no leaks. Seems to be worse in the winter - maybe heater related. I can usually smell coolant when first shutting the vehicle down. My concern is it is internal and may mean big $$$.

    Still have not changed my timing belt but am a little worried about going to 105 because I am pretty sure that we have an interference engine. I know we discussed this earlier but serveral automotive searches identify that I am correct.
  • vonbill3vonbill3 Posts: 20
    I recently changed the plugs on my '93 Villager.
    The front bank plugs are readily accessible, but the rear bank ones are very deep requiring socket wrench extensions. You must have a rubber-sleeved socket which will grip the plug. I also duct-taped the socket extensions so they wouldn't come apart.

    A warning. It's highly recommended that you tighten the plugs with a torque wrench. A relative recently had to replace the engine head (4-cylinder Mazda)because a spark plug came loose, stripped the threads and ejected. The repair cost was about $3000.

    He either tightened the plug too much and damaged the threads in the aluminum head or the plug was too loose resulting in thread damage each time the cylinder fired. It took about 30000 miles before the failure. Very expensive lesson.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    My coolant level has been fine lately and I've never smelled coolant. Maybe mine is winter related too, but I haven't had it pressure tested.

    Did you save the links showing that the engine is an interference one?

    I'm debating about changing out the timing belt early too, but that goes against my frugal nature (although being frugal doesn't mean I want to cheap out and break down somewhere).

    Since my mileage keeps increasing, I'm loathe to mess it up with a bunch of new parts!

    Steve, Host
  • wtd44wtd44 Posts: 1,211
    That's a very unusual tale concerning the sparkplug "blow out." While I don't use a torque wrench on plugs, I have so many decades of repetition and success, that I consider my arms to be very good spark plug torque detectors. I will be even more careful now.

    My experiences with coolant losses always have led me to try sealers that you pour into the radiator to circulate to the area of the cryptic leak. By golly, it almost always works!
  • charles15charles15 Posts: 57
    Here is one of several that I found suggesting that the Quest hs an interference engine

    The interesting thing is, I always find that these sites also verify that the Quest belt should be changed at 105K. I also have a VW Passat with a belt change interval of 105K but I know it is an interference engine and will change at 60k regardless. Seems to me some manufactures must believe their belts go longer. My problem is I doubt they would replace the engine if the belt breaks out of warranty and causes major damage.
  • dhoffdhoff Posts: 282
    Our 99 Quest is overdue for it's timing belt - it was supposed to get one at 105,000 miles, and it's at 115,000 or so now.

    From what I've read on the internet (insert disclaimer here) the Villager/Quest engines are non-interference. I have also read reports of them going much longer than the recommended change mileage without problems. I'm sure some of them break before 105,000 too, but I've never heard of one.

    I do plan on getting it changed probably next week, along with the water pump and accessory drive belts. I'm debating wether to have them try to fix a pesky little coolant leak somewhere under the intake manifold at the same time. It leaks a tiny amount, I have to add a bit of coolant once or twice a year. Not sure if it's worth it, or even if they could give an accurate estimate without tearing it apart.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    Someone was just talking about going 300,000 miles on a belt intended for 100,000 - his rig wasn't worth much anyway so he figured spending the $400 on stuff that did break was a better use of the money than replacing the belt. (spartanmann "Honda Odyssey vs Toyota Sienna" Jul 12, 2004 11:04am)

    I've seen the Gates link, but I wonder if they are just parroting the Pathfinder requirements since it has the same VG33E engine designation.

    I have a factory manual and it doesn't address the issue, unfortunately.

    The one legit looking scanned document I've seen on the net claiming that the Quest was a non-interference design (via the VillagerQuest FAQ I linked the other day) doesn't indicate the source.

    Interesting that several of us seem to have small coolant leaks at high miles. Anyone else?

    Steve, Host
  • wtd44wtd44 Posts: 1,211
    Is the driver's side electric window switch repairable, or only replaceable? Mine, like so many reported here, is getting balky and otherwise contrary to orderly operation. I predict it will get worse until I do something about it. I would think there may be a way to get into it and improve the function of the mechanism. Any successes or failures to report?
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    I've looked at mine pretty closely and I don't see any way to repair it without destroying the case it's in. But if you hacksaw the case apart, there's always epoxy to put it back together.

    Try jiggling the glass and lubing the edges too.

    Steve, Host
  • izaclown1izaclown1 Posts: 118
    My 2000 Villager switches still work fine for the front windows and the drive back vent. The passenger side vent window stopped working and then started working backwards from the rest of the switches.

    The other switch I am having some heartburn over is the turn signal and the high/low beam switch. Sometime the high/low beam flickers when I activate the switch and sometimes the signals fail to work.

    That was a bunch of green to lay down for the Estate package on a vehicle the has so many little nit-picky problems (switches, radio display, climate control failure, etc).
  • dhoffdhoff Posts: 282
    I replaced the driver's side switch and tried taking the old one apart just to see if there was anything I could have done. I got the case opened with some difficulty, and discovered the inside is packed with electronics and circuit boards. I couldn't see a way to get at the actual mechanical part of the switch. Someone with more experience with electronics might have more luck.

  • wtd44wtd44 Posts: 1,211
    Mine continues to work, but requires a little finesse from time to time, thus indicating it is developing a problem. I have to press the switch from a couple of different angles to get the contact to make. I guess I'll wait a while, and when the aggravation gets big enough, I'll kick for the bucks and buy a replacement. Thanks for sharing your experience on a similar one, dhoff.
  • harddrivetharddrivet Posts: 90
    I guess you folks have not had this problem.
    Well thanks anyway.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    Guess not - someone had an adjustment problem way back in '99:

    jpmri5 Dec 1, 1999 2:40am

    Maybe you have a lot of spilled Coke on it that's gumming it up?

    Steve, Host
  • wtd44wtd44 Posts: 1,211
    On 18 July my driver's side window switch took the predicted hike. I removed it with the entire module from the car with the help of my Haynes manual, and went to the Mercury dealership parts counter. I heard some mumbling about 82 dollars and a need to order it for overnight (possibly) delivery. I pointed out that the piece appeared subdivided, but the parts guy found only one level of assembly that could be ordered. I think I am getting a complete set of four switches and surrounding sub parts. It must be fixed, so I didn't put up much of a fuss. More later.
  • harddrivetharddrivet Posts: 90
    Hi and thanks for the response. No gum up that I can find. We just cannot adust the right most cup holder anymore, so it will not hold anything. I guess I will take it in for service but am concerned they will over charge me and my thought was I might fix it myself, but where to buy the part.
    Thanks again.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    My wife drives the van these days so I can't walk out and eyeball the dash, but the service manual just shows two screws holding the ashtray and cupholder assembly in place. The screws are on the outside edges of the console opening where the assembly fits.

    So you might be able to find one online or at a salvage yard and d-i-y for cheap.

    Steve, Host
  • wtd44wtd44 Posts: 1,211
    I have installed and "road tested" my new power window switch (see #1503). With sales tax, the module cost me $87 and change. No telling what the Mercury dealer might have charged for the labor, had I not done the installation myself. It is my opinion that the switch module price probably represents 80% profit, 20% cost.

    PS to steve_ HOST: I double checked my sparkplug access on my 2000 Villager, and I remain convinced that the engine is rolled to the front, so to speak, to a position that makes all six plugs accessible from the top of the engine. I noted that my Haynes manual claims that Villager plugs on one bank must be approached from below the engine, next to the firewall. The visualization I get just standing there, looking, is that you could never reach any of the six plugs from below on this year model! Do you suppose other years of models did not have the engine oriented at the angle of rotation I see in mine?
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    No, you just have better visualization skills than me :-)

    Guess what's a big problem on the '04 Quests?

    Replacing the driver's power window switch, which has a high failure rate.


    Steve, Host
  • The plugs on this V-6 are in the middle of the V, on the intake side, as opposed to most V engines, that have them on the outside of the V, on the exhaust side. Those are a real bear to get at on transverse mounted engines. Look at about any other minivan engine, and tell me how you'd get to the rear bank of plugs. The Nissan V-6 plugs couldn't be much easier, all you need is a long extension. The problem I ran into is the plug socket likes to stay on the plug instead of coming up on the extension. Someone in an earlier post used some tape to hold the socket onto the extension. That is a good idea. Our 95 had a plug change interval of 60K as I remember. The 2002 we just traded up for now has a 100K interval.

    Steve, why did you close out the Villager discussion? Just 'cause you can't buy a new one doesn't mean there is nothing to discuss.
    There aren't many problems to discuss on these vehicles....
    Our 95 didn't have any of the typical problems.
    Just some ball joints, tie rods, and it liked to lock the doors by itself.
    We just turned over 100K on it, and it still had original muffler, shocks/struts, rear brakes, hoses, all lamps.
    Scott 2002 Villager Estate Premium
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 24,931
    the '95 had an entirely different engine, a 3.0l derived from the Maxima engine. The '99+ models have a version of the 3.3l truck engine (I believe it also sees duty in the Frontier).

    I haven't really looked too close, but I don't recall the back plugs being comepletely buried. I seem to think that the engine is tilted forward, and the rear bank might be somewhat exposed.

    Of course, if they didn't insit on slapping on plastic covers to hide the engine, it would be easier to tell.

    2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.4i Limited Tech (mine), 2013 Acura RDX AWD (wife's) and 2015 Jetta Sport (daughter's)

  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    I didn't close out the Nissan Quest/Mercury Villager discussion. Discussions on Town Hall automatically go to the archives after ~6 weeks of inactivity.

    I considered reopening it (and I'm happy to do so if people want), but I figured most of the pre-'04 talk would center around problems anyway.

    Steve, Host
This discussion has been closed.