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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I bought my Altima 2.5 SL in March of this year from the dealership with 55K miles on it. After a few weeks I noticed white/light grey smoke from the exhaust once a while. Took it to the dealership and they said the cat is flooded with fuel and driving with fix the issue. Issue never resolved. Checked the dipstick and it was low on oil by a little. As time went by, the smoke got worse and burning more oil. Free oil change at dealership and they didn't say anything about the smoke. Doesn't smoke in the morning, but in the afternoon it looks really bad. Took it to a local mechanic and they told me spark plugs are bad and needs to be changed. Changed them out myself along with the PCV valve and a few days later it was struggling to accelerate from a standstill up until 25mph and smoke from the exhaust was excessive. Got a compression test and all 4 cylinders were at 130 PSI, but the tip of the spark plug on cylinder 4 (closest to the drivers side) was covered in oil. Mechanic told me the 1st piston ring is bad, but the main certified mechanic won't be back until next Monday and he'll have to diagnose the vehicle to verify. Can it be something else?
No check engine light.

TLDR
Smoke from exhaust
Oil change
Changed spark plugs and PCV valve
Struggles to accelerate up until 25mph with heavy smoke
Compression test reads 130 PSI on all cylinders
Spark plug tip on cylinder 4 is covered in oil
 

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09 Altima 3.5SE 6MT Sedan
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7,040 Posts
I'm thinking cracked cylinder head...how is the engine temp through all this? Any coolant loss?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
No coolant loss and engine temp gauge is reading normal.

I started it up this morning and I could hear a faint knocking noise in the motor.
 

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09 Altima 3.5SE 6MT Sedan
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7,040 Posts
If you got even a 6 month warranty on purchase...I'd be heading right back to the dealership to try to use it. What you are describing is not trivial, not cheap and not fair. Maybe take it to a second dealer for a second opinion first.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
If you got even a 6 month warranty on purchase...I'd be heading right back to the dealership to try to use it. What you are describing is not trivial, not cheap and not fair. Maybe take it to a second dealer for a second opinion first.
I wish I had warranty... The knocking noise and heavy smoke this morning makes me have no hope that its nothing serious. I don't even know what the estimated cost would be on a piston ring/cylinder head, but I know 90% of the cost is gonna be labor. Maybe just getting a used engine would be cheaper.
 

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09 Altima 3.5SE 6MT Sedan
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That was where I'd go...get a good used engine...maybe a JDM and have done with this issue...plenty of miles left on the body.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
After doing countless hours of research, I've found that the most common issue with burning oil is the aftermarket valve cover design issue. I don't know if the valve cover is aftermarket or not but I decided to change it anyway. I ordered a new OEM valve cover and gasket. While taking apart the valve cover I decided to check the throttle body and sure enough there was oil. Decided to take off the hose in between the throttle body and air intake box. It was filled with oil and sludge. Looked inside the air intake box and there was oil on the bottom. Wanted to take off the intake manifold but I didn't know if I had to replace the gasket so I decided not to. Below is the pics of the old valve cover filled with sludge. I also cleaned out the pcv valve hose and the other hose that goes before the throttle body with brake cleaner. Initial start had some smoke coming out the exhaust as I expected, but nothing afterwards. No hesitation going from stop to 25mph and no smoke what so ever.

New valve cover and gasket was a total of $81.02. Two day shipping on the valve cover was about $20.
IMG_20190813_163535.jpg
IMG_20190813_163539.jpg
 

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There is no way that engine could have 55K miles on it. Looks as well like it has been eating coolant, why all the sludge is there. If rest of the engine looks like that it is likely dead, maybe not now but soon.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
My guess is that the previous owner didn't take care of it at all because they barely drove it. I'm planning on getting some sea foam top engine cleaner to help clean up rest of the sludge that I can't see. This is my first and last Nissan. Gonna jump on the Camry band wagon at the end of the year.
 

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What shows there has nothing to do with being a Nissan. Maybe a whopping humid environment and why I wish this site would list general locations of posters so it comes out instantly.

When I was working parts I sold seafoam but never recommended it, my question is..........where does one think all that crap if loosened up is going to go?? Asking for bearing issues doing that, it is far better to keep as much trash locked in place as possible to do no harm.

Car could be a flood car, that could explain that. I'd be looking at trans fluid.

If a plug tube leaks oil into the plug port then yanking plug will get the tip all oily to make you think motor did it when it didn't.
 

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dat man in a black sedan
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i sure hope that sludging like this isnt a common thing in not heavily driven 2.5's. I know Altimas are kinda disposable cars, but id like to hang on to mine for a while yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
What shows there has nothing to do with being a Nissan. Maybe a whopping humid environment and why I wish this site would list general locations of posters so it comes out instantly.

When I was working parts I sold seafoam but never recommended it, my question is..........where does one think all that crap if loosened up is going to go?? Asking for bearing issues doing that, it is far better to keep as much trash locked in place as possible to do no harm.

Car could be a flood car, that could explain that. I'd be looking at trans fluid.

If a plug tube leaks oil into the plug port then yanking plug will get the tip all oily to make you think motor did it when it didn't.
I purchased the car around Chicago and the original owner traded it in at the same dealership they got it at.

The reason I wanted to use seafoam is that I know there still has to be oil and sludge in the intake manifold and the intake valves. I just want to clean that up without taking it apart. It's been smoking for a while so I don't think it should be any worse if any leftover oil passes through. Any suggestions other then seafoam?

Trans fluid looks fine and it shifts good. I've read about the CVT on this altima going out early and I found that the problem is the trans fluid overheating. I originally had plans to add an aftermarket trans cooler to prevent that. I only drive 5 miles to work and I don't drive hard. But I'm going to hold off on that for now.

When I changed the spark plugs not too long ago, I only noticed a small amount of dried up oil on the insulator for 3 of the spark plugs. The threads didn't have much oil either.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
i sure hope that sludging like this isnt a common thing in not heavily driven 2.5's. I know Altimas are kinda disposable cars, but id like to hang on to mine for a while yet.
I would like to hang on to mine too, but I just got a bad taste from this dealership and Nissan overall. I'd like to think that the previous owner just didn't care for it. I'm going to be monitoring the oil consumption on a weekly basis. There was no sign of smoke or any hesitation when accelerating today, so I'm glad my issue has been resolved.
 
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