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Nissan Altima Engine Failures



  • Thanks for the info...I had a bad feeling it would be timing chain. I have a guy thats going to look at it this weekend. He thought maybe fuel injectors but I'm leaning towards the timing. Just weird that I had no warning signs? and no lights?

    Thanks for your reply
  • ndiboyndiboy Posts: 36
    What can be the problem of this 05Altima. Wire sparked while trying to fix the A/C and since then it does start but cannot reeve above 1.5revs per minute on the tachometer. Can it be the brain box or the fusebox. Its been on for the past 7weeks and its really hurting.
    Can anybody come to our aid as different electricians have tried to no avail.
    The car is presently at Abuja Nigeria and belongs to my friend.
  • rondholrondhol Posts: 32
    Please, don't worry. Both V6 and I4 engine have this kind of noise after more than 1 hour park. It takes 0.5-2 s to build the pressure on the timing chain tensioner. That's normal. The engines also have tapping noise during idle after the the engine is warm from flat solid tapper valve lifter. It sounds like "quiet" diesel engine. This kind of lifter is noisy but more durable than hydraulic valve lifter. These noise problems will not trigger engine light.

    Injectors are fine as long as you don't have hesitation/bogging during acceleration and good mpg. Sparkplugs need to be change after 113k miles although this laser NGK platinum could last more than 200k miles.

    Just drain and refill ATF every 60k miles, synthetic motor oil 6k miles. powersteering fluid=atf fluid never need to be changed. Brake fluid can be changed at SEARS for $35 every 5 years, but I never did it since the brake is never faded in Florida.
  • rondholrondhol Posts: 32
    do you have check engine light? check it at autozone for free. The worst scenario, your ECU shorted and you need to buy it from junkyard from the same year and reprogram it. If the MAF(air flow) sensor failed you also cannot rev above 2k rpm, buy it from, never buy China made MAF, only OEM/Hitachi/bosch.
  • sjv3sjv3 Posts: 5
    I have been reading the posts with great interest after some recent troubles with an '03 2.5L Altima at 95k miles. The car has been perfectly maintained and in for all recalls from day 1.

    Had some rough idle at start up recently along with P0304 code (cyl 4 misfire) and thought it was a dirty injector. It would go away when warmed up, but then come back occasionally even after changing plugs, filters, using injector cleaner.

    Before a recent trip the coolant was a bit low and then the car would not start a few days later. Dealer found fouled plugs and the car started for him- they suspected cat problems but called later to say the head gasket was bad. Could not wait for them to fix it so drove the car home. One dealer here says trade it in or replace engine. Another says change HG for $1200. I do not think I have the pre-cat problem yet (oil consumption is zero), but am wondering if it is worth fixing this car. Any thoughts?
  • electricdesignelectricdesign Posts: 681
    edited July 2010
    Because your Altima is an 03, it may not be worth enough to spend the money to repair the head gasket. I did the work myself, and it cost me about $600.00, getting the head rebuilt at the machine shop and new gaskets and new head bolts. It's not an easy job. You might be able to get it done somewhere for about $1200, if you shop around enough. It's your car and your money, If you like the car and can afford to get it fixed, and the engine doesn't burn oil, it may be worth fixing. However, if you do fix it, you must fend off the PreCat problem by hollowing out the Pre Cat that is located inside the exhaust manifold. A $5 O2 Cheater is put on the Second Oxygen Sensor to keep the Check engine light off, or spend more money and buy an exhaust header pipe. Search for posts about all that, I have commented about it many times. See my posts and comments about replacing the head gasket and working on the engine, starting with messege #98 through #156. My first post was #75, it might be good to go back that far for general information.
    Good Luck,
    E.D. in Sunny Florida
  • altimaoilaltimaoil Posts: 6
    Hi I have just discovered this forum and I as well aprreciate all your information regarding the matters with altima's. Very impressed. I have an 2006 altima 2.5s that i need to last. I have had some of the similiar problems I have read in your postings. If there is any way you could point me in the right direction I couldn't thank you enough. I have no warranty and i'm not sure the easier way to find out if the recalls have been done? I bought the car when i was 18 in aug of 2006 with 17k miles on it and payed a fortune more than i should. like you say it was an awesome car. I've always did oil changes every 3000 or so. pretty much i'm going to be the one to fix this.

    like others The problem also started with ses light coming on and code reading catalst effiecny below threshold.Things that i can tell you are that it burned alot of oil on two separate occasions. The first time it happened it burned oil it was like two quarts low. never got a hot reading. it wasn't wanting to turn over. maybe low compression? I took off the air filter and got the oil level correct.eventually it started. It threw out alot of whitish smoke but could have been gray.Didn't smell like anything really. Also it was violently shking for a few moments then it stabalized. I changed oil, air filter and spark plugs. The plugs didn't look bad. they were tan in color but the tip was kinda black with carbon maybe? after that it ran for another 20k miles with no obvious problems. Then today my it went dead at a couple of redlights. Started back up both times fairly easy compaired to the first time. When i got to look at it i checked oil was kinda low. i added half a quart and it started fine with no problems after that.

    Thats when I found this forum. I guess my questions are ... what steps should i take from here that i can do myself that would possibly point me in the right direction to diagnose. I mean how many diff. problems are there? I know about the cat stuff but there was a few other things like pcv i think right?

    thank you so much for everything you've posted so far.
  • altimaoilaltimaoil Posts: 6
    Hi i have a 2006 altima that did this today. also it burned a lot of oil between changes on two separate occasions. what did yours turn out to be? did yours burn oil?
  • altimaoilaltimaoil Posts: 6
    Hi I have a 2006 2.5 s altima and i have experienced these problems as well. its like the air and the heat only work correctly at high speeds and rpm's?
  • pibzzpibzz Posts: 6
    It is very very bad. Watch this video on You Tube, everyone that owns one of these 2.5 Altimas, you MUST MUST MUST get the pre-cat out of your engine before your car reaches 80K miles

    After 80K your pre-cat warranty expires, and you are SOL

    Briefly: The PRE CAT inside the manifold, runs way too hot - and it breaks down the gaskets in the engine, leading to an oil leak

    Oil drips into the PRE CAT causing it to plug, and break apart - the PRE CAT is ceramic type media, and when it breaks down, it turns into a fine crystallized dust

    The CVVT engine has an air pump, that recirculates some of the exhaust air back to the cylinders , this is how bits of the PRE CAT gets sucked back inside the engine - unfiltered.

    By the time your engine starts burning excessive oil, its too late, the engine has been scored and scratched with this crystallized ceramic dust - and the engine is trashed

    If the car has less than 80K the Nissan dealer SHOULD give you a new (re manufactured) engine - but prepare for a fight - the PRE CAT has a federal warranty for 80K regardless of manufacturer warranty

    Once you get a new engine - get the PRE CAT OUT OF YOUR CAR ASAP !

    See videos

  • altimaoilaltimaoil Posts: 6
    edited September 2011
    well thats bad news i just hit 100k. thanks for the videos. Going to inspect for blockage and remove the cats today if needed. Also schedule a compression test to see how much damage has been done already. I still owe a ton on this damn car.
  • electricdesignelectricdesign Posts: 681
    edited July 2010
    Well, that's just horrible, just like mine and everybody elses on here with all these problems. Nissan should be ashamed, and take care of there customers, but NO, it's not their problem anymore and they don't care about us. About the best thing you can do Is spread the word about these problems and these postings, and try to convince people to not buy these cars. I owned Chevys & Fords, but now Toyotas, and never a Nissan. The Altima was my daughters car, and I told her to NEVER buy a nissan again, get a Toyota or a Honda.
  • altimaoilaltimaoil Posts: 6
    I agree a 100%. Ever since i found this forum it's pretty much all i talk about. I'm calling this morning to see if the crankshaft sensor was recalled on my vin. Cause i seen a few people on here saying thats what was wrong with theirs when it starting stalling at red lights and difficulty cranking. hopefully it was and they fix it and my problems go away. I've been trying to gather the symptoms of my problem. So far it's having problems cranking, it takes a few seconds to turn over sometimes more. Also tried to look into radiator for gas bubbles, didn't see any but i did see some black swirling around in there. Am i suppose to have car running when i'm looking for bubbles? Also there is alot of moisture coming out of tailpipe, doesn't smell abnormal to me though.
  • Yes, when looking for bubbles in the radiator, the engine must be running. The bubbles you are looking for are combustion gas, gas that is created by the engine running. Keep your face away from over the radiator cap opening, to be sure that hot coolant won'r spit out on your face.
  • altimaoilaltimaoil Posts: 6
    thank you much. I took it to the dealer today and the crankshaft position and engine speed code are keeping the ses light on and they can't do the recall for computer reprogram until i get those fixed. When the recall is what causes the sensors to overheat and burn out. I knew they wouldn't cover it but I made a fool of myself up there cause they made me wait for an hour just to tell me that. I told him it was on over the phone and he said bring it on in. Any advice on these 2 sensors would be appreciated. I know you've got to be getting tired of giving free proffessional advice. All i can give in return is plumbing advice.
  • ndiboyndiboy Posts: 36
    Please I just want to know the consequences of hollowing the CAT. I know the advantages already.
    My 02/03 Altima is at 95800miles and I changed the head gasket in March, had the thermoststs( it has 2) removed, its been doing well since then though the ses light has been on since then. I want to hollow the cat near the engine now. Is it necessary? Are there anything I should worry about? I live in Nigeria and nobody worries you with the ses light on.
    Thanks, I need response urgently.
  • Plumbing Advice?...Haha! Only 3 things you need to know about plumbing, Hot on the left, Cold on the right, and Crap runs downhill!

    About the car, You MUST have all recalls done for the car to run correctly. The Camshaft Position Sensor and the Crankshaft Position Sensor are actually both the same, but in different locations. The Camshaft is in the head, sensor is on the drivers side of the head, easy to reach and change. The Crankshaft Sensor is harder to reach, behind the engine at the bellhousing, you have to crawl under the car to get to it. After sensors are serviced, then do the reprogram. This is actually an important fix for the Pre-Cat problem because the engine running too rich will overheat the Pre-Cat. With the proper reprogram, the Pre-Cat wil not overheat and last longer before giving problems.
    I don't have to give much free advice, just use the SEARCH BUTTON to search for what you are looking for in this forum. In fact this forum has so much useful information, I recommend that all Altima owners read this forum from beginning to end. Everything you need to know is in here.
    Have a nice day,
    E.D. in Sunny Florida
  • Please go back and read messeges #287 to #293. Messege #287 in the lower part tells specifically how to clean out the precat. These messeges are about the precats and engine temperature. The precat should be hollowed out or replaced with a header pipe, after 80K miles, when or before the precat goes bad.
    The "consequences" of hollowing out the precat is the "advantage" you will gain by saving your engine and increasing it's life.
    The next thing I will say is that you need to have the thermostat installed in the cooling system, because it gets the engine up to the required operating temperature. The only time the thermostat needs to be removed and replaced is if it malfunctions by either sticking closed or sticking open. The thermostat is a necessary part of the cooling system. Without it, the engine may run too cool, which may cause engine sludging over the long term.
    E.D. in Sunny Florida USA
  • rondholrondhol Posts: 32
    Hei, If you have altima 2006 you are under warranty 60k/5 years. They have bad piston rings and recall thousand of 2006 models. You have to claim this problem and ask your dealer to fight with you against NNA.

    You have the right to get new engine.
  • ndiboyndiboy Posts: 36
    Thank you sir, I have gone through all the previous posts as you pointed out and they have been helpful. I need to see those pics again, please how do i get to the site to view them again. I think they have removed the cat as i could remember seeing only a ring like iron but no whitish material when they removed the manifold to change the head gasket.
    Our temperatures down here in the tropics is between 90 and 107f from morning to midday and extremely hot so do i need to replace the thermoststs because i still kept them.The temp gauge only takes about 2-3 minutes longer to attain the usual temperature it achieves when the thermostats were there.
    Thanks and god bless.
  • electricdesignelectricdesign Posts: 681
    edited July 2010
    About the pictures of the teardown and rebuild of the 2.5L engine, I posted the links to both sets of those pictures at the bottom of messege #182. You can view all the pictures of the engine and the Precat. Pictures DSC06930 through DSC096934 show the inside of the Precat, looking in the bottom. In these pictures you can see the inside of the Precat is hollow, and you can see a large metal ring in there, it is loose, it is the remains of the bottom screen, it can be left in or taken out, as it poses no threat to the engine or exhaust.
    ANYONE can view those pictures. All you have to do is click on the link in the messege and it takes you to the photo album at the site. All you have to do is log in to the site (you will have to register, if you haven't before, it's free), it will automatically take you to the photo album where you can view the photos individually, view a slide show for free or buy prints of any that you may want. There are over 300 photos in each set.
    If clicking on the links does not work on your computer, copy and paste the link to your browser and click GO, to get to the photo site.

    About the thermostat, put the good thermostat back in. There is no reason or advantage to remove the thermostat, unless to replace it. it needs to be in there to assure that the engine reaches operating temperature quickly. You can test the thermostat by placing it in a pan of water with a thermometer and heating the water, it should start to open at about 185 to 190 degrees F.
  • E.D. In Sunny Florida,
    Thank for all your help and advice. The car runs good now.
    Larry in humid NC
  • belle42belle42 Posts: 1
    edited August 2010
    Nissan Altima 2002/ 4cylinder/ Automatic Transmission/ 91,000 miles

    In July 2009 (at 72,000 miles) my car began to overheat which was followed by the SES light turning on. I took the car to the Nissan Dealership and the code for the SES light was a CYLINDER 2 MISFIRE (P0302). The tech notes stated:
    -Fluid leaking into cylinder 3
    -Radiator leaking
    -Head Gasket Bad

    As a result, they replaced my head gasket and radiator hoses. What any of that has to do with a Cylinder 2 misfire, I have no idea. This repair cost me $1600!

    Following this repair my heater stopped working which cost $350 to fix.

    Now, in July of 2010, just 1 year after the head gasket was replaced and a cylinder 2 misfire error code my SES light is on again. I have the code read at a local auto shop and sure enough CYLINDER 2 MISFIRE AGAIN! Unfortunately, this happened on July 17 2010, and I took it into the dealership last year July 16 2009! The work came with a 12 month or 10,000 mile warranty, so I went anyways. Of course they said I was 1 day out of warranty.

    Along with my cylinder 2 misfire error code my engine begins rocking when I first turn on the vehicle and when idling at stops. However, if I put my car in neutral while at a stop the engine stops rocking, which made me think maybe there is a problem with the transmission and it is not down shifting to a lower gear...? Just a guess.

    To make things worse, my car is up for a smog test this August 2010. I take the car in to a smog test center, and pass every emissions, and 02 test with flying stars, unfortunately I was unaware that in the state of California if your check engine light is on its an automatic failure and the miserable woman working at the Smog Test Center did not have the decency to inform me before taking my money and running the test.

    I have no idea what to do and am in desperate need of help/advice! I spent approximately $3000 in repairs in the past year and a half and feel like I have been taken advantage of by the Nissan Dealership.

    I have read everyone's comments and am afraid, it seems like this Cylinder 2 misfire and rocking engine is a horrible problem to have.

    Please reply or email

    This car has caused me so much anger and frustration I am at a loss and would greatly appreciate any and all advice.

    P.S. I have been reset the error code twice since July 17 2010 and am currently driving the car because I do not have the money to fix the problem at this time, but would like to know how much it would cost to repair this type of problem. The engine is still rocking and the SES light still on.
  • Your problem is definitely the head gasket again, they obviously did not do a good job on it when they did it. The gasket must be replaced because it leaks coolant from the cooling system into the cylinder(s), in your case cylinder #2. The coolant leaking into the cylinder makes the engine miss and rock, depending on how big the leak is. The car Dealer did not do something properly when they did the job, the bottom of the head must be milled flat, the top deck of the engine block must be checked for trueness and corrected if not true, all surfaces must be wiped clean with a good solvent like acetone just before the head gasket and head are bolted back in place, the head bolts must be replaced with new ones, the head bolts must be properly torqued, etc. I have done all this myself on my daughters car, see all previous messeges, as there are many references to this problem, fixes and photos to guide you. You need to read all previous messeges and research this subject. This is a common problem with these engines, never let the engine overheat, or they will blow the head gasket!
    Your only recourse at this time is to get it fixed right, meaning it has to be done right like I stated above, no sloppy work! I would not go back to that dealer again, other than to give them a piece of my mind. Maybe if you complain enough, they might do the job for half price or less. If the job is done correctly, it should last for at least 6 years, as long as you DON'T overheat the engine. If you cant fix the headgasket soon, you can do a temporary fix by pouring some radiator sealer into the radiator, I used the Bars Leak Pelletized Sealer, about 3 bucks a bottle. Monitor how often and how much you have to add coolant to the radiator overflow bottle. The sealer can greatly improve the running of the engine for a few months, but you will still need to get the head gasket fixed. Carry a jug of coolant and bottle of oil in the back of the car, in case of emergency. never remove the radiator cap when engine is hot, wait until the engine is cool, put a rag over the radiator cap and loosen it slowly.
    And while you are at it, have you had the PRE CAT problem yet? That's another huge headache. If you have problem with using too much engine oil, you need to fix it RIGHT AWAY, or else you will need to buy a new engine! The cheapest & best way to fix the PRE CAT problem is to hollow out the precat and put a cheater on the second oxygen sensor.
  • mpjoltmpjolt Posts: 2
    i have a 2005 nissan altima 2.5s took to dealer for ses light came on after i replaced cam sensor and crank sensor they had car for two weeks could not figure out problem started replacing parts at my expense went to pick up car after researching web told them to stop and would not pay for trial and error parts. car wouldn't start when went to pick up they reinstalled my ecm car started and ran fine ses light still on selling car as fast as possible since it stillruns good only 87000miles nissan has a problem and will not acknowledge so all nissan owners beware
  • mpjoltmpjolt Posts: 2
    you can also find more info on the consumer affairs web site type in nissan altima problems on google or bing
  • sad8sad8 Posts: 2
    edited September 2010
    2002 altima: at 102000 had head gasket replaced along with thermostat. Since that time has had 4 thermostats replaced due to check engine light on/overheating/car idling hard/bucking. Again check engine light on, took back in and told coolant air pocket and needed 1/2 gal. coolant plus take to a Nissan dealer due to code P0420 (cat below threshold). Car ran great for 3 days prior to going to Nissan. Got to Nissan and told need new engine and catalytic converter. States leak from head gasket and coolant leaking into cylinders. Have not had to replace coolant so new problem never addressed. Per 1st car shop, nothing that catastrophic showed up on their diagnostics, pretty much suggested to get another opinion besides Nissan. Dealer admits problem with that year engine but since this car has 170,000 miles on it then oh well. Car looks great, runs great otherwise (in fact ran great on way to Nissan). Nissan says ~5000 in repairs. Would you believe them, quick fix it as some postings are suggesting, or do the new engine at that high of miles (since other items may then fail soon)? Nissan will not discount work and no response from Nissan consumer affairs as of yet.
    Need help and suggestions. SAD
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,480
    From my point of view (others here may differ) I can't see putting the cost of a new engine into this car, which is no longer worth that much.

    Also it's a bit distressing to hear that there would even be a dispute about whether the head gasket is bad or not---this can and should be easily diagnosable and no mystery should have to ensue about it.

    So my advice would be to find someone who knows how to diagnose a bad head gasket and have them SHOW you the evidence---then you'll have enough facts on hand to make an informed decision. I'd put $2K or so into it, but not much more than that.

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  • electricdesignelectricdesign Posts: 681
    edited September 2010
    I completely agree with what Mr Shiftright said. I assume that you have the 2.3L 4 cyl engine. That car is not worth throwing $5K into it. You had the head gasket replaced, and then afterwards had more problems with overheating, coolant and head gasket leaking again. Too much wrong with it. Possibly get a good used or remanufactured engine, if you can get one installed cheap, BUT, be SURE that you either hollow out the precat or install an exhaust header pipe. If you put a precat back on there, it will eventually destroy the engine again. READ ALL PREVIOUS MESSEGES IN THIS FORUM, YOU NEED ALL THE INFORMATION THAT YOU CAN GATHER. TYPE "NISSAN ALTIMA PROBLEMS" IN YOU BROWSER, TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT ALL THIS. My daughter still has one of these same cars, and it's hers and mines worst nightmare! We will both be glad when it is GONE!!! We are stuck now, jobless for almost a year and a half, not much hope! What did they promise, CHANGE, what change?! They said "Yes we can", but Yes we can What?!.....God help us from this 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5S!
  • sad8sad8 Posts: 2
    Would the stop leak that you mentioned work as temporary fix for now till other options explored prior to putting out monies for an used headache of someone else's? As I said, car ran great on way to shop. Thanks for all advice given so far.
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