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Nissan Altima Hybrid Engine Questions



  • While I was at the dealership where my carbon buildup problem is being addressed, they mentioned I should use 91 octane. I said that it states in the manual that 87 is OK and they seemed surprised.

    Anyway, for an update on my issue... After the first dealership tried to rip me off badly, the second dealership actually took the time to look into the cause of the carbon buildup. Nissan Tech Support told them the first step will be to replace the cylinder head. I don't know too much about cars, but I think the cylinder head is the large piece that also contains the springs/valves. So, maybe the new head will address the cause of the carbon buildup. The dealership said Nissan is starting to realize there is really a problem, as the head is on back-order (I'm number 28 on the list now). Maybe there will be a recall in the future but for now, bulletin NTB10-056a covers the issue, and repairs should be under warranty. Luckily I did not listen to the 1st dealership who only wanted to charge me $400 to flush the carbon and not actually fix the problem.
  • popny85popny85 Posts: 15
    What symptoms were you receiving??? I don't know if this is the cause for the minor problems on my car, or if it's just the cold weather, I live in New York City, temps have been in the 30s where I'm noticing this...EV mode doesn't come on as often as it did in the summer, also, when I turn the car on, I hear a knock underneath me, not a loud one or anything, but a soft sounding knock, also occurs when I press on the brake a little too hard and release from a stationary position, I don't know if that makes any sense :confuse:
  • popny85popny85 Posts: 15
    What I mean by stationary position, is like if I'm at a stop light, and I just brake ALL the way down, and when the light turns green, I just release the brake slowly and try to accelerate to keep EV Mode on, I'll hear the knock
  • When it is cold the EV won't come on as often or stay on as long. The EV only works correctly when the engine is warmed up, and it takes a lot longer to get to that point when it's cold out, especially if you don't park in a heated garage. Also, when the car is moving in EV mode and it is very cold out, the engine can cool down quickly enough that it needs to run the engine again.

    The situation happens even more quickly when you are running the heat inside the cabin, and who wouldn't be when it's that cold out.

    One thing you will find in the summer is that the EV mode won't function correctly (per se) if it's really hot out (like over 90). This is a safety function so the battery doesn't overheat.
  • I use synthetic oil 0w-20 and changing them every 3750 miles. Since it costs $70-80, which is much more than regular oil, I switched to a 5000m schedule after 15000m.

    The mechanic at the Nissan told me it is OK to do it every 6000m and synthetic oil is not required for Hybrid. Synthetic oil lasts longer, that all. Is this correct? Do Toyota Hybrids need synthetic oil?
  • I have a 2009 NAH with 33k miles on it. I purchased it brand new and live in CT. I have the same carbon issue. It was first found when i bought it in to my nissan dealer for the typical engine rattling and grinding noise you hear upon startup while the engine is cold. I can't believe how many people have the same issue. If you all try to put the engine in Neutral while reversing you will definitely hear it more.

    My dealership has replaced the head on my NAH with a re-designed head which is supposed to put an end to this carbon issue. The car still had an issue a day or so later after it was replaced.

    On the second try when I bought the car back, the dealership replaced the Mass Air-flow sensor and reprogrammed the computer and it still has the same noise.

    On their third attempt, the dealership replaced the oil with 0w 20 synthetic oil, which also did not work. Now I started getting worse gas mileage and the engine was not going into hybrid mode as much.

    What makes it worse the rep from Nissan corporate that I was working with closed out my file. That's when I drew the line and called a lemon law attorney.

    I had a meeting this morning with a Nissan specialist at my nissan dealership and duplicated the engine rumbling/grinding noise. After he heard my car, he said it was bad and advised them to remove the head again and check for carbon buildup. My car is at the dealership right now and they are removing the redesigned head to see if there is more carbon buildup and will be working with Nissan Engineering.

  • I just got my car back tonight after having the head replaced. When I started it at the dealership after it had been sitting outside for over 24 hours, it ran smoothly. During the part where it would normally rattle badly, it transitioned smoothly. Now this is only 1 night, so we will see how it acts in the coming weeks.
  • My NAH is at the dealership after the "service engine" light illuminated 3 out of 4 days. The service department contacted Nissan Tech Support (just like they did in the month in the shop from Dec 15, 2009 through Jan 14, 2010.....when all they did was clean out the carbon deposits and promise a recall.... which never came). Now, all of the sudden, Nissan Tech support was telling the dealership that I should have used 91 octane (never having mentioned this one year ago). The Octane misinformation seems to be a new misleading strategy. I pointed out that the 87 octane (AKI = R+M/2) mentioned in the owner's manual was equivalent to 91-92 (Research Octane Number or RON). I pointed out that 91 RON scale is not even used in the USA nor Canada. This is like someone intentionally confusing Fahrenheit and Celsius (ignoring the fact that 100C = 212F). Anyway, they now mention that there is a bulletin (mentioned above) so I will be getting a new cylinder head (which arrived Friday). This is the 3rd occurrence of this problem. I only have 17,700 miles on my car in 2 years and one month (one month, of course in the shop.....and now another week LOL). So I am near the lemon territory aren't I. I think that Nissan was very unethical about this whole issue. Why was there no recall for these engine problems. Did they just want to address one car at a time such that some cars would go pass the 60K power train warranty leading to no free repair for those unlucky owners (as opposed to a free repair with a recall). Hmmmmmmmmmmm. Class action suit anyone?
  • The last time they checked my car and heard the LOUD knocking, they had an engineer come in from somewhere, don't know where. At any rate, their final determination is that something is wrong with the engine but they don't have a' fix' for it yet., which is what they put on my official paperwork. So they adjusted something that was a short-time fix, but is now not a fix. It is AWFUL first thing in the morning. It takes it a long time to re-adjust itself and will eventually now go into EV mode and start to run like it is supposed to, although it does not go into EV mode on acceleration up to 40mph, like it is supposed to.

    So my thought is they wanted to get into the hybrid market but didn't work out all the 'kinks' first and now they are having the same problems over and over again, and still are not addressing it in a way they need to. Which is why some are promised a recall, some are told it's 'carbon', others are told it's the head. My gut tells me it's the computer and it's too costly for them them to fix all of them and they are indeed doing it one-by-one to keep people somewhat placated.

    I have thought of class action myself. I'm sick of the dealers sweeping this under the table, and although I am sure that corporate does know about it, they don't have a fix. Since my car is now making a horrible knocking, I am going to go back AGAIN. Believe me, they do NOT like to see me coming in there. My car before this one was on the third engine when I got the Altima although I did contact a Lemon Law attorney. I was thinking it would be better. What a joke THAT is!

    Yes, class action suit might just bounce them into action, me thinks.... :lemon:
  • Hi I live in NJ and have 62K on my altima hybrid. I have had the knocking problem also but did not take it to the dealer as I have learned over the years they don't know what they are doing most of the time! LOL The first thing I noticed when I scanned my car was that the mis-fire was happening in cylinder #3, which I am sure might be true in the other engines on this post. After this discovery I notice I was loosing coolant and I decided to do a pressure test on the coolant system. After pumping up the system over night I noticed the gauge dropped 2 pounds. Not good! I then started the car and the knocking was very severe and my garage was full of white smoke and we all know what that means that I am leaking coolant into cylinder #3. Bad head gasket! I have done some research and Nissan is having and has had head gasket problems, which I believe to be the problem. The problem is more severe when the car sits for long periods of time, because the coolant is leaking slowly into the cylinder and then when you start the car you need to burn off the coolant until it will run smooth. I am happy I least my car as I am returning it and it will be their problem!!
  • FOLLOW UP TO MY LAST POST: My NAH has been at the dealership since 2/8/2011 and I have been in a loaner since. The dealership has been working with engineering and have decided to replace the cylinder head a 2nd time and also replace the ignition system. This is supposed to bring the car back to a no carbon state and prevent carbon buildup as I was told few months ago. The parts are on order and I should be hearing soon from them. I hear from my dealer they are no longer selling the altima hybrid in CT. HMMM!! :lemon:
  • Wow! I just had my car in the shop for a week due to the fact that the check engine light has been coming on and going off (and its rough running). They said that there was a bulletin (NTB10-056a) (which I guess replaced the "recall" that never happened). They replaced the cylinder head. I was hoping that they had found the problem but judging by your situation, I guess they have not! It is running very smoothly right now (only one week since getting it back). But now I am not optimistic!
  • db59db59 Posts: 5
    I'd like to thank Nissan for building my beloved 09 Altima Hybrid, the best car I have ever owned in 35 years of driving. I doubt my NAH is built any differently than the ones people are lamenting about on this forum with carbon, rattles, electric mode etc..etc.. So what then is different? First off Nissan recommends a MINIMUM octane rating of 87. Well this is America after all and we all know what you get when you buy the cheapest.........garbage. I have never put regular in ANY car no matter how junky it is. I use the middle grade and occasionally premium in really hot weather. Why? Because I don't want problems. Nissan says you can go 7500 miles per oil change..... but recommends 3750 for hard use. (Northeast commuting qualifies as hard use in my book). Nissan doesn't require synthetic oil but states best results will be with 0w20 (which is only available in synthetic). I use 0w20 Mobil 1 every 4500 miles or so give or take 500 miles. Why? because I definitely don't want any dealers hands on my engine, again because guessed it, I don't want problems. I bought the NAH because I wanted the luxury and substance of a midsize car with the economy of one of those tin cans you see around. The NAH has not disappointed me for over 55000 miles. It runs like the day I bought it. I also make it a point not to push the gas pedal more than needed, unless I need to pass a drone, since spraying extra fuel is a waste and this driving habit will lead to excess carbon. The bulletin concerning carbon build up clearly states that only the cars driven under very specific circumstances develop this problem. I think its a nice way of saying that those who drive ignorantly and don't take care of their car will have problems. I resent those same people trying to rally others to sue Nissan and drive up prices for those who use their head in driving and maintaining their car. An ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure, even in this "enlightened" age. I've been an auto technician for over 30 years in case anyone wonders about my qualifications to comment. :shades:
  • I'm very happy that you love your NAH. I also love mine.

    However, the complaints that we have on the NAH started very early after we purchased the vehicles; mine at 2,000 miles. Nothing had changed. And although you 'resent' people for trying to rally others to sue Nissan, I resent the inference that we don't know how to take care of our cars and you know best. I am married to a mechanic. He too, has been a technician for many years. We aren't trying to get Nissan to do anything other than to fix a problem that our cars all have and that Nissan dealers are trying not to fix, probably for a variety of reasons.

    My last visit to the Nissan dealer has a report that states in writing that they know that there is a problem, but they don't have a fix for it. Yet. If you got a good car, you're one of the more lucky one's. Maybe the '09's were manufactured with something done differently. I don't know. Mine is a '10 and I am religious about maintenance. I read the manual. So please don't assume that you have all the answers and we don't know what we're doing because we are truly frustrated by the dealers for being given the run around and no fixes for cars with engines that are BANGING so loud that you can hear them a block away coming down the road.....
  • db59db59 Posts: 5
    I wrote an educated response to you but having given it further thought I think its a waste of time. Every manufacturer has a small percentage of PIA customers to deal with. Good luck!
  • cptcmpostcptcmpost Posts: 25
    edited February 2011
    Hmmm... this is the old, "my car doesn't have any problems, so everyone else must be doing something wrong" argument.

    db, it's obvious that enough people here have the exact same problem that it can't be something that these people are doing, or aren't doing.

    People like you and I have dodged the bullet so far, but that doesn't give you the right to come here and blindly call these people stupid and proclaim Nissan as having made a perfect vehicle.

    To everyone else: Apparently this message board isn't immune to trolls, unfortunately.
  • shelsonushelsonu Posts: 6
    You must work for Nissan to make a comment like that.
    My car is still at the dealership since Feb 8 and its now March 13th. They are working with Nissan engineering and have replaced 2 heads, ignition system, Mass air flow meter, the computer, tested the firing of fuel injectors and now have decided to replaced the fuel injectors. This is my 4th Nissan vehicle and I too have a technical background. I always used synthetic oil and have changed it around 4k miles. BTW... My attorney and I have reached a "good-will" settlement with Nissan. SO OBVIOUSLY they are keeping it quiet. :lemon:
  • kenultikenulti Posts: 1
    Just bought my 11 NAH. The sale person told me that the car has two gears. D = drive; B = Battery. I shifted to B driving around city couples miles and noted the battery never went down. I noted something does not add up. I start to do the reading and B = low gear.
    I also note that my $23K car does not come with the floor mat.

    I called the sale person to confirm the B is for battery. He did not return my call.
  • cephraimcephraim Posts: 31
    Your sales person is an a-hole.
    B is low gear. Has nothing to do with battery.
  • tomscot2tomscot2 Posts: 33
    Last July 2010 my 3 year old 2007 NAH started having intermittent start problems. You had to really mash on the brake pedal to get the Ready light to come on. When the following the car home one evening, I noted that the brake lights were not coming on. I realized that the problems were one and the same.

    I took it to my dealership and they adjusted the brake switch.

    9 months later the problem came back. This time when I took it they told me that the switch could not be adjusted and that Nissan had issued NTB10-139 suggesting replacement of the both swtich and the harness sub-assembly. This cost my $430. I had to get done because you can't drive the car with no brake lights.

    I think Nissan should have covered this because you don't know that your brake lights are not working. It is a safety issue.

    Tom Scott
    2007 NAH with Tech Package
    Mileage as of today: 55,800
    Average MPG Computed: 32.8
  • shelsonushelsonu Posts: 6
    Update: After about $5500 worth of work detailed in my last post which was covered under warranty. I still have the same noise issue. I have returned the vehicle back to service department and now have then replacing the fuel pump and the CVT transmission... I almost have everything new under the hood. Let's see when i get it back if it still makes noise. I have my fingers crossed.
  • popny85popny85 Posts: 15
    When did you start to notice the infamous noise??? I'm curious, because it's looking like it may be a common problem, however, I don't seem to hear it yet My NAH is about 1 year old and with 7500miles 09MY. I'm hoping that frequent oil changes with synthetic Mobil 1 0W20, every 3 months, and using BP with Invigorate, as they are the only company around me that adds their special detergents to 87 Octane gas (I know, but who knows, maybe it does actually clean the engine) as a way to prevent buildups? However, every 3 months at 0W20 is getting kind of costly, and will probably switch to 5W20 or 0W30 which they say is also approved in the manual.
  • I'm having the same problems with my cylinder 3 misfiring. What type of lawyer did you hire?
  • matt4646matt4646 Posts: 2
    I have a 2010 Nissan ALtima Hybrid that i bought in August. I did my first oil change as instructed at 3,750 miles or about 3.5 months. I live in the city so I do not use it that often so I am just passed 6 months, but I only have about 5,500 miles. Do I still need to do an oil change to keep up with the warranty or can I do it at 7,500 miles. The manual says 7,500 miles or 6 months?
  • debbie49debbie49 Posts: 1
    I had the same problem last week. The car has done this intermittently so of course it never gets addressed until you are stranded and have to be towed and then pay to have something fixed that should have been fixed before! Even though there is a service bulletin on this issue there is no payment for the repair necessary because it isn't a recall.
  • ar_njar_nj Posts: 1
    This car is a piece of junk. 4 months ago the car started it self while parked in my driveway. I had to disconnect the battery to get the car to turn off. The dealer and nissan have replaced the cluster, the break controller, the shift controller and 2 shorts and the problem still comes back; it is intermittent. Started a file with nissan consumer affairs and that turn out to be a nightmare experience, my rep Michelle Mercer was extremly nasty. It is May and there is still no resolution. MY ADVICE, NOT NOT BUY THIS CAR, IT IS A PIECE OF JUNK! It might seem great the first 50k miles but it doesn't last beyond that mileage.
  • shelsonushelsonu Posts: 6
    I bought it into the dealer around 28k miles but I heard the noise at least a few months before. I just got my car back and it is still making the noise. I give up. They replaced the CVT and the fuel pump and did additional work on adjusting some settings. I happened to see another hybrid there for service and asked the service manager if i can check that car and that car as well had the same noise. I am gonna live with it for a while and maybe bring it in after few months since gas is $4.29 per gallon here in CT. :lemon:
  • royc100royc100 Posts: 1
    I just had the same problem with my 2008 Altima Hybrid, with 67K miles. Intermittment start problems this weekend. Took it Nissan dealer service center this morning. They confirmed the problem and stated an electrical short in the brake switch that starts the hybrid system was the problem, and recommended replacement of the wiring harness and brake switch (total parts and labor $472). Importantly, service personnel indicated there is a Nissan service bulletin on this, so Nissan is apparently aware of the problem, but its not covered by warranty because, they said, it was not part of the hybrid system. I'd like to know how many others have had this problem. This really is part of the hybrid system since it can't start without the switch working properly. Nissan should cover this as a hybrid system warranty item. I know I will be hesitant to buy another Nissan if they do not.
  • popny85popny85 Posts: 15
    So I've been changing my oil with Mobil 1 Synthetic 0W20 since I got my car, but paying $30 every 3 months was getting a little costly, so I switched to a conventional motor oil with a 5W20 grade, and I've noticed that I'm getting better mileage. I used to get 400-450 miles per tank with 0W20, with the 5W20, I'm getting 550-600 miles per tank, same driving styles, same commutes, everything. Is anybody else noticing this? I found it funny that a motor oil claiming to give me better fuel economy is giving me worse fuel economy than the regular oil :confuse:
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