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Nissan Altima Engine Rattle



  • I posted a message here regarding the similiar problem with the 2007 Altima 2.5 S. After three visits to my Nissan dealer over a 8 month period, they finally agreed that something was wrong. Here is the stange part. Based on advise from the Nissan tech line, they replaced my engine (new), but up to this day, they remain elusive about what the problem was. I'm still concerned that my new engine will develop the the same noise problem.

    I suggest that you keep pressing Nissan. The 2.5 S engine has problems...
  • Well where should i start i had a 2008 altima and i now drive 2008 malibu and love it. my altima stayed in the shop more times than i can count.. mine sounded like a tractor when it was cold. it was the heat shield; we had four new ones put on did not stop the problem!!! they would not put another motor in for us. they could not fix the problem but kept giving us a run around. we filed a complaint with the better
    business bureau guess what they said------------- because the car was still drive able
    they would not do anything i had 3 mechanics look at mine and said it was internal in the engine!! got tired of missing work trying to deal with mine so i traded it off i have had my malibu 5 months and i have not had a problem. i wish you lots of luck
  • I have the same problem in my 2003 2.5L Altima. Of course mine in out of warranty so I have not brought it in to be looked at as of yet. I’ve been doing some research before I do that. I have read many posts on this and have a little automotive knowledge. First off I know without a doubt it is not the heat shields. Nissan must have idiots for mechanics because if you listen to the engine you can clearly tell that it’s the valve train and not a rattle from a loose shield. In some vehicles this can be the case but I have read post after post of people having these shields replaced and the sound is still there. What does Nissan do? They change them again and end up with the same result. My engine makes the sound only when the engine is cold and goes away when the engine is at normal temperature. In the summer, I hardly ever hear the noise after the engine has had a cold soak (sitting over night). Now in the winter when it’s cold out is when I hear this noise at its worse. Another interesting find is that the noise is only when the engine is under load. At idle it’s very quiet and you can even rev it up without hearing the clatter. A heat shield would rattle if it were lose regardless if the engine was idling or under load. The theory is that once the exhaust heats up the shield expands and becomes snugger eliminating the noise.

    I have a 5spd and soon as you put it in gear and start to accelerate I can hear the noise and like I said, it sounds exactly like an engine with no lubrication to the camshaft and valve train. I changed my oil filter to a high grade filter thinking perhaps the oil filter bypass valve was not functioning and was starving the engine for oil at cold temps. This makes perfect sense. Oil filters have a oil bypass valve in them because when it’s cold out the oil is very thick and too thick to push through the filter medium. So when the engine is cold, the pressure from the oil not getting through the filter medium causes the bypass valve to open and allow oil to circulate throughout the engine. When the engine gets warm and the oil gets thinner, the pressure will drop and the bypass valve in the filter will close. Then the valve shuts and the oil is able to begin going through the filter medium. I also used thinner oil to help in cold weather and that and the filter change did not resolve the noise.

    So this brings me back to the valve train. Nissans have what is called a “cam timing solenoid”. This is a valve that controls the cam shaft timing sprocket, it changes the oil pressure to the sprocket for cam timing, and if it loses pressure it will cause the sprocket to rattle. It seems to be a problem when the engine is cold. I have come to the conclusion that this has to be the problem.
  • This is factory defect!
    EVERYBODY must fill complain at
    I don’t know how many complains needed to issue recall.
    I hope we will get it soon!
  • zfro22zfro22 Posts: 1
    I was very happy to see this thread and find that I am not alone.

    I purchased a 2009 Nissan Altima 2.5 S on March 6th at 31 miles on the odometer. I have noticed a slight puttering noise when the car is idle. I am not sure if the noise is loud enough to be classified as a 'rattle,' but I do know that the engine does not sound clean. I know what a new engine is supposed to sound like and this one definitely sounds like it needs an oil change or something.

    I have made an appointment with my local Nissan dealer, Corona Nissan, and I will be taking the car in tomorrow at 9am. I am very cautious and nervous about my purchase now and hope to update this site soon.

    If anyone else is experiencing any engine problems with the brand new 2009 Altima's please respond. THanks
  • rayvalrayval Posts: 8
    I have the same problem with my 2009 Altima 2.5 which has 6,000 miles. The engine started making noise about a month after I bought it in October 2008. The car has been at the dealer for the same problem at least 6 times and it is still the same. The engine sounds like a diesel engine when it is cold and sounds the same after it has warmed up when it is under load and acceleration. The dealer has tried a different oil filter, checking the converter heat shield for vibration and even replacing some spacers, that were not the correct size on the rocker arms, however, that did not work. The noise is still there and getting worse!!.
    I really don't think that Nissan has a clue what is wrong with this engine. Fortunately, in Canada we have an arbitration program that can force the manufacturer to repair the vehicle or buy it back. I have owned Nissans for over twenty-five years, unfortunately, I think I got a lemon this time. I will give the dealer a chance to fix the car and if that doesn't work, I will go through arbitration. I just cannot drive around in a car that sounds like a diesel specially when it has a gas engine.
  • Same thing happen to me found out I blew 2 cat converters not sure how but I replaced them both now its quiet not with Nissan cats because they are garbage did you service line come on
  • rayvalrayval Posts: 8
    No, the service engine didn't come on. It sounds like the noise is coming from the top of the engine, ie: lifters, camshaft, that is not getting proper lubrication. The noise is a knocking sound, like solid on solid. It is definitely not a normal engine sound.
  • Judging from the postings in this forum and the fact that my 2007 Altima 2.5 is on engine number two and it still sounds the same, these are definitely not isolated cases.

    My engine was replaced 6000 miles ago and the dreaded sound is back. I regret purchasing this car.
  • dtownmildtownmil Posts: 23
    Our 2.5L Altima definately has some rattles, but I am convinced they are heat sheilds. Based upon posts that say even dealers could not fix the rattles, I haven't even gotten under the car to see if I could do it. If it is just a loose heat sheild, there are lots of ways to fix it.

    It seems those with newer models may have other issues by reading this post.
  • rayvalrayval Posts: 8
    Thanks for that!

    I am going to ask the dealer to remove the heat shield completely and see what this does. Because of our strict laws on catalytic converters (ie: fire, etc..), the dealer may not be able/willing to remove the heat shield. If that is the case, I will crawl underneath the car and try to remove the heat shield without breaking it. Heat shields are a real nuisance , they rot and fall apart in no time and you have to pay a ton on money to replace them.. They are only there to prevent grass fires in the event that a person parks where there is dry grass, which I never do.

    I'm expecting to bring the car in today (about the 7th time) for the rattle. I would be very surprised if the noise came from the heat shield it sounds more like a knocking that a rattle, but you never now.

    I'll post as soon as I have anything new.
  • I think Nissan is going the way of bad car companies. They sell lemons and don't back them up. It takes years for bad quality and service to catch up with a car company. I imagine market share for Nissan will shrink as people with bad experiences discuss them.

    My experience with Nissan is this....They explain these "noise" issues away over and over until it you give up or it is out of warranty.

    Then they tell you its the pre-catalytic converter, your engine will soon be toast and it's not worth fixing. Depending on how soon you catch it, a non Nissan Mechanic can fix it for a few grand, and you can expect it to last as long as the pre-catalytic converter does.....which is apparently a random thing.

    It is really sad too, we've had 6 different cars over the yrs...4 Fords, a Chevy, a Buick, and another Nissan. The Altima cost us more money in repairs than the other 7 cars combined!! The Ford I traded in for the Altima was 12yrs old. My Altima lasted me 5yrs. My 17yr old Ford is probably still the better car.

    That's just my experience...but I'm not alone. Nissan will not back up their cars. They are a bit like the American car companies back in the 70's.
  • wstormwstorm Posts: 1
    i am a new owner of a 2009 SL altima .i have owned it for one month yesterday. on the 4th day of owning it i had to take it back to the dealer because driving at any speed higher than 60 miles the front end somewhat shakes. the dealership had to balance the wheels and do a front wheel aliment. WOW i still am having this problem is any one else have this shimmy problem at any spreed
  • jchd1340jchd1340 Posts: 13
    just picked up a used 07 2.5 altima with 29000 sounds like diesel on start up for 1 sec. dealer says its heat shield adjusted but noise is still there what do i do now need help
  • jchd1340jchd1340 Posts: 13
    update= car back from dealer. says noise (like a bag of rocks ) is normal oil drains down starts like a diesel i feel this is slowly damaging the engine it is not the heat shields!! we all should contact nissan corp. BBB and attorney general. and complain. strength in numbers!!!
  • rayvalrayval Posts: 8
    A while ago, I posted about my tractor, sorry! I meant my 09 Altima 2.5L that sounds like a diesel and getting worse. After a lot of ranting and raving, I finally got Nissan Canada to acknowledge that there is in fact a problem with the engine. It appears that there is a noise with the #3 cylinder, similar to a slapping noise. Nissan is deciding whether they will replace the engine or buy back the car. I was told by the Service manager at my local dealership that Nissan would not issue a recall until they get enough complaints and that replacing the engine would not guarantee anything as the noise could come back. If you have a similar noise, it is not a loose heat shield or anything else, it is definitely coming from the engine. I have given Nissan Canada until Friday June 5th to decide what they are going to do to rectify this problem, otherwise I am filing my claim with CAMVAP (Canadian Motor Arbitration Program) and I am going to ask for a buy back. If you have this problem, I would suggest you look at as they might be able to help you.
    I will post further once there are new developments.
  • jchd1340jchd1340 Posts: 13
    thank you rayval but who would i contact in the U.S. ?
  • jchd1340jchd1340 Posts: 13
    by the way. good luck!!!
  • jkobty2jkobty2 Posts: 210
    This really funny. I am taking my 2009 Mazda 6 with a 2.5L engine for a checkup this Thursday for exactly the same sounds you describe. A knocking sound at idle similar to a piston slap, and tapping sound on light acceleration. I noticed this sound started happening immediately after my first oil change. Could Canadian dealers be using the incorrect oil grade? I tried switching fuel grades but it did not make a difference.
  • jchd1340jchd1340 Posts: 13
    how did you make out?
  • rayvalrayval Posts: 8
    Well, Nissan Canada finally admitted that the engine was faulty and replaced with a brand new engine. So far so good! but I only have about 500 mlies on the new engine. I am keeping my ears wide open for that dreaded rattle which is not there yet. I will keep posting.
  • b777girlb777girl Posts: 7
    My 2007 has had the same issue with the rattling noise at startup for almost the entire time I've owned it (May 07). I have had the heat shields replaced and the noise is still there. It's most definitely an engine problem, which is quite scary when you think about how much money this could potentially cost. I've taken it to two dealerships in the St. Louis area and neither one appears to actually know what the issue is.

    In addition, my passenger airbag deactivates all the time, even when my dad, who is well over 200 lbs sits in that seat. ANOTHER annoying (and potentially dangerous) thing this car does that dealerships either don't know how to fix or don't want to fix because NISSAN will not reimburse their costs.

    VERY disappointing.
  • jchd1340jchd1340 Posts: 13
    my 2.5 altima has been to 2 dealers 5 times in 6 weeks. i have had enough. they both say the noise is normal. i have filed a complaint with the BBB and suggest anybody who has this problem do the same. how can a car that sounds like its starving for oil at cold start up last?
  • rayvalrayval Posts: 8
    That's the way my engine was and after a battle with Nissan they finally replaced the engine. I am not sure that will eliminate the problem, apparently the 2.5 litre engine casting is bad and that is affecting other manufacturers who use this casting ie: MAZDA. My engine only has approximately 1,500 miles, and I am waiting until the weather gets colder to see if the dreaded noise comes back. If it does, another battle will start, this time I will be going for a buy back. I can assure you this will be my last Nissan.
  • rondholrondhol Posts: 32
    I have 03 Altima that has that noise since 40k miles ago. The tapping noise comes from the "valve lifter" in qr25de that expand before the engine is warm. I only hear it during the winter (less than 50 F) and disappear after few minutes. This type of valve lifters"solid lifter" don't need adjustment in the entire life of the engine (Prius also use it). For instance, Honda need valve adjustment every 60k miles.

    That's the characteristic of QR25DE engine with noisy valve lifter.
  • Hello everyone.. Bought a 2009 in july and guess what I am hearing! yep temps are now down to low 50-40 range and I drove the car the other day, Fiancee drives it most the time. I heard what sounded like lifter rattle.. I asked her if she heard it she said no. So I took it to work the other day cause it was going in for some weird circles that were in the glass in the windshield.I mean perfect circles like in the laminating process? anyone else seen this? anyway I could clearly hear the noise right around the 2000 mark when under very light throttle and load! Yes it does finally sound like it goes away when warmed up ,but I know this is no good for long term!.. So I told them to listen to it, and this is all i get yes the mechanic heard it and thats normal for these engines in cold weather! I was like wtf?.. Brand new engine with 8000 miles and the tight tolerances these new cars have and its normal!. not!.. I then told her my Mom's 2007 avalanche doesn't do it with 40,000 miles! she's like I doubt that I worked for a Gm Dealer for 20 years and they all ticked when cold. I was like well her's doesn't and this car does! Kinda got mad with her. I told her well whatever i know cars work on them, race them etc its not normal and i want this documented.. she was like it is on the service record.I said well it better be cause I know this isn't the end of this problem.
  • gino45gino45 Posts: 52
    Just bought a 2009 SL and noticed the same thing when starting the car on cold mornings. It sounds like a diesel engine under slight acceleration. Should I be concerned about this? I decided to buy an Altima instead of a Ford Fusion, I just hope I didn't make the wrong decision.
  • add me to this list of 2.5L owners with noisy lifters. only 17,000 km on new car. did not notice it until a few weeks ago when temp went down to 10 deg Celsius. in niagara region of canada. any fix for this or do we live with this until nice weather returns? i wonder if using 5w-30 oil would help much?
  • rayvalrayval Posts: 8
    To answer your question, there is no fix for this problem, it has to do with a bad engine casting. I bought an 09 Altima in October 2009 and when it reached 4,000kms it started making a knocking noise on cold mornings. The noise got to be so bad during the winter that the car sounded like it had a diesel engine. I tried changing the oil to synthetic, adding additives, having the heat shield checked and just about anything you can think of without success. I started a long battle with Nissan Canada and finally got them to replace the engine at 15,000kms. Needless to say that "I was happier than a pig in ????", I'm sure you know what I mean. Well, my joy did not last very long, after 4,000kms on the new engine the noise returned ( @ 10C temperature). I was not prepared to go through a second battle so I traded ( at some loss, of course) the Altima for a Maxima. I am now back to being a happy pig with $10,000 less in my pocket. You are lucky, being in Canada, as you have some remedy. I suggest you check out the following link : , or you can always choose to live with a diesel sounding Altima. If you decide to keep the car you may want to invest in an oil pan warmer, it is a pad that sticks to the bottom of the oil pan to heat the engine oil and reduce the noise. Good Luck! Ray
  • rayvalrayval Posts: 8
    I joined this discussion in the hopes of providing valuable information on the problem that I experienced with my Nissan Altima, not to be judged on decisions that I have made to resolve the problem. Although I still have information that could be of use to other owners of Nissan Altima, I will no longer be posting to this site. Good Luck everyone.
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