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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Well boys trying to figure out if I am up the poop creek or not. A little background - bought the car used 3 years ago and the dealer did a rebuild because it have the precat death scoring and was drinking oil (Lucky fo have rich car dealer friend.) Basically I got really lucky.

Flash forward 3 years and 27K miles later and she comes home for break and it's kicking out P420 and P300 multiple engine misfire. It's the kids car while away at school and she said it had been starting hard occasionally. It had been putting up the p420 but I wasn't going to mess with the Cat until the spring. I had noticed that I was needing to add coolant to her car every trip home. Like half a bottle after 400 mile trip, and whatever driving she did around campus so maybe 700 miles. Now it is starting to burn oil pretty good as well. But not as crazy as it did when I had the precat problems (or at least I don't think so).

So did a compression check and from 1-4 I get 95, 130, 130, 120 for compression. I am not getting any foam on the dipstick suggesting oil and water mixture, and don't see any oil in the coolant. Usually it starts up fine but will run a little rough until warm. Then sometimes it is very hard starting, reminding me of a prior car with blown head gasket I had.

Looks like to do a head gasket job you have to pretty much take most of the engine apart. Whats odd to me is the only spark plug that looked at all oily was #4 that had 120 compression.

Anyhow open to ideas as to what I should do with this sucker. I could probably do the head job but I worry that I do the thing and then find out something else is wrong or I have a cracked block or something. Car has right at 140K miles, and interior is in great shape.

Help :frown
2003 sel 2.5 Altima
 

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09 Altima 3.5SE 6MT Sedan
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Should consider a JDM engine with ~50K complete with alternator etc. I wouldn't invest my time doing a head gasket with 140K on the crank and all the other parts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
How much are the new engines. The only reason I would consider the head gasket job is the engine was basically rebuilt 3 years ago, so the gasket is the only part seemingly failing at this point.

for $1050 plus shipping this might be a great option with probably about the same amount of labor. Thought about just putting in some of the "magic pixie dust" had gasket fixer and allowing carmax to buy it from me...

It runs good most of the time and I noticed a hole in the coolant overflow reservoir last night that could account for some of the coolant loss. However the oil consumption is a clear indicator of fubar.... Are the JDM engines plug and play? Do I need to do timing? Or just bolt the sucker in and make all the correct connections?
 

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09 Altima 3.5SE 6MT Sedan
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How much are the new engines. The only reason I would consider the head gasket job is the engine was basically rebuilt 3 years ago, so the gasket is the only part seemingly failing at this point.

If the price was right on a newer engine that might be a great option with probably about the same amount of labor. Thought about just putting in some of the "magic pixie dust" had gasket fixer and allowing carmax to buy it from me...

It runs good most of the time and I noticed a hole in the coolant overflow reservoir last night that could account for some of the coolant loss. However the oil consumption is a clear indicator of fubar.... Are the JDM engines plug and play? Do I need to do timing? Or just bolt the sucker in and make all the correct connections?
Start here. Some have found the 2.0 version of the block for $500'ish, the 2.5 version goes close to $1K. You have to tap 3 places in the existing casting, and re-use a couple of parts/brackets but otherwise it's plug and play. It's particularly interesting for those of us in the salt belt...where 10 year old nuts and bolts don't come apart so easily.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
This thing is so weird that I am beginning to think it might be a timing issue at the root of it all. But the low compression in cylinder 1 and the occasional super hard start sputtering smoke has me still leaning toward a gasket issue. The fact it runs great almost all the time (until it doesn't) is frustrating in it's own way. If I could sell the thing with a clean conscience I would, but I won't screw over some other guy.. CARMAX perhaps... but my fellow man.. no.

Going to let the shop guy slap on the super scanner and see what he comes up with. What sucks is I cannot reproduce the hard start, but the P300 is ever present.

Guess I will start clearing a place in the garage, just in case it's gonna be a heart transplant by yours truly.
 

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I had a similar problem with my 2002 Altima at 150,000 miles. I wasn't burning oil though. I also didn't have any smoke coming from the exhaust. I paid $1100 and had the had gasket replaced. I am now at 211,000 and have the oil disappearing act. I have the code p0420. I have faith in this car and will probably put a new pre-cat in it. I think I can get another 80,000 miles out of it so to me it's worth fixing. It still runs good now, so hopefully the pre-cat hasn't thrown any junk into the motor. If you can do the head gasket yourself then you should keep it. Good vehicle, The first year of the 2nd generation seems to have lots of bad issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
interesting that you mention P420 as that was what I was getting prior to the P300 random misfire. Mechanic was saying it might be a timing thing and the oil could be a leak in valve cover. It's not burning oil like the "black death" of pre-cat ceramic sand destroying pistons. I had that and had new engine dropped in basically,(obligatory thanks rick car dealer buddy!)

The fact I hear a bit of a rattle sometime more than a little bit of rattle at start up makes me think maybe timing chain.

My mechanic said to try some stuff from Pep Boys (only folks that sold it) he said. Catalytic converter cleaner? Not sure whether it worked or not but no longer getting P420.
 

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If you had a rebuilt engine the head gasket should have been in good shape or else your mechanic sold you a load of hoeeeeey. Change the plastic camshaft position sensor to the redesigned metal one for sure. I assume your car had the ECM reprogramming recall done to ignore the crankshaft position sensor. They are the same part btw just in a different place. Hit your cats with rubber hammer to see if they rattle. If they do replace. With car up on hoist check the precat by taking off underside cover. If you see any damage on underside replace both cats and the 2 oxygen sensors. It doesn't mean the precat isn't damaged on topside but unfortunately there is no top cover for the precat. Hope you didn't pay too much when you bought it. BTW have you checked the front floorboards Those cars are known as Fred Flintstone cars. They rust from the inside out. I did all of the above including new steel plates for the floorboards but to this day am still hoping that my engine was not damaged. I think I changed my cats and camshaft position sensor just in time. It looks like you might be too late. I explained the whole story in another recent post.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well flash forward. Replaced the catalytic converter, plugs, and two motor mounts.... and runs great! Except for the fact is has a blown head gasket!!!! ARGH! Which is what I told the Mechanic to begin with darn it.

SO I am going to pour in some of the magic pixie dust. I am thinking of trying K&W fiberlock or Blue Devil (as it worked temporarily on another car).

My one worry it that I FUBAR the heater core? Since the 2.5 is prone to getting air trapped in the heater core I wonder if I runt the car for a while on an upward slope will that fill the heater line and leave any air at the high point of the radiator?

thoughts before I pour some stuff in? Or brand of pixie dust you have success with?
 

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09 Altima 3.5SE 6MT Sedan
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With what you've described so far...the pixie dust isn't going to work.

Think you're gonna have to man up and either do the head gasket or throw that JDM engine in like I suggested earlier.

Oh, and the oil on the plug would be the cyl head spark plug gasket leaking in #4 . Need to replace the whole head cover...which is about 20% the cost of a whole JDM engine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
yeah I knew that I really needed an engine when I was spending the other money on repairs. Car actually runs great except for when it won't start,,, twice in last month. But starts up later if you let it sit.

Interior is still cherry and for me to drive around it would be fine. However to have my daughter driving it around 350 miles away and having a risk of it crap out is too much risk for me. The thing that bums me out is the $1500 I dropped on it because I got busy. Had I bought an engine for $1K replacing the engine mounts would have been a breeze with the engine out... and new plugs would have been a given.

My only concern is that I put in pixie dust and that it clogs the heater up because of air potentially in that end. So parked it on incline and had the heater cranking hot air so hopefully that is minimized.
 
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