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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
About 7 months ago I had a P030x code, which is a cylinder misfire and which turned out to be a bad ignition coil. I went ahead and brought a replacement set of 6 from Amazon. Had my mechanic replace them all + a leaking valve cover and everything was holding up reasonably well until last Saturday when I started getting the same symptoms I had with original misfire code. I managed to limp home from where I was, about 1.5 miles and got the OBDII code reader out.

The code reader showed a P0302 code, which is a cylinder 2 misfire. I figured one of the cheap Chinese coils had gone bad. So ordered another set of different cheap Chinese coils, which arrived Monday. Swapped out the cylinder 2 coil and started the car up. It ran a lot better than it had Saturday but was now making some ugly noise I have not heard before.

I then turned the car off, cleared the OBDII code and did another scan. Again, I get the P0302 code! Huh? Could I have the bad luck to get another bad ignition coil in a new batch of 6 coils? I could change another coil out but unsure if whatever is going on in the engine is damaging them.

To me, it sounds like valve tapping but for sure it isn't normal.

Here is a link to the video/sound:
 

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Discussion Starter #2
63 views so far and no one has a clue? Whew. Disappointing.

Edit update - 3 Oct 2019
The sound is from a screw rattling around in the combustion chamber of cylinder #2! I had the abysmal bad luck to have a screw come loose from the butterfly flap in the intake manifold, which has destroyed the cylinder. At least $3k to repair the engine. $1500 of that is due to the whole engine has to come out the bottom of the car, which takes 12 hours out and in. Thanks Nissan!
 

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That is honestly pretty stupid.
I had not seen this thread. Not sure how I missed it.
How did you figure it out? I assume you tore it down or had it torn down.
Between the precat issue and the screw issue that is a disaster waiting to happen.
What is the condition of the car? Worth fixing?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Like I said, at first I thought it was an ignition coil that had gone bad and sounded sort of similar to a dead cylinder that I had previously. This was confirmed in my mind with the P0302 code. But when I changed the coil out, I still had the P302 code. Huh?

So I cleared the code and tried it again. Same P0302 code and the noise was still there. I've got a buddy who was a former Nissan chief mechanic. His first thought was that it might be a rod knock. But I didn't think it sounded right and didn't explain the P0302 code.

He suggested pulling the sparkplug and checking it or swapping it with another to see if that was causing the code. When I did that, I saw that there was no gap on the plug! Huh? How is that possible? I regapped the plug and put it back in. The code cleared but the sound was still there.

After pondering the missing gap on the plug for a while, I had the thought that something must have gotten into the cylinder that crushed the plug gap. It was then that my mechanic friend said that yes, there had been instances of this happening in Nissan cars. Gee, thanks for telling me now! In fact, he said there had been at least one recall on 4 cylinder cars to address this problem.

So to try and verify, I got a camera endoscope and looked into the combustion chamber. What I saw verified that something had/was bouncing around in there. The piston was all pockmarked and there was oil residue on the piston top, which indicates that the cylinder wall has been scored and oil is leaking up through the damage with the little time I ran the engine after the noise developed.

I have been fishing around in the combustion chamber with magnets but have not had any success in picking up anything other than metal particles. Yet if I turn on the engine I can hear the rattling noise, so some remnant of the screw is still there..

Today, I tool off the manifold/plenum to see if the metal piece had maybe gotten back up into the air tubes but didn't see anything. The screw is probably pretty beat up now and likely just a ball of metal. It's even possible that it has managed to get out of the problem cylinder and fell into another cylinder (apparently not unheard of).

Given that the car is 17 years old and has 95k miles on it (I am the original owner), I seriously doubt Nissan is going to reach out and say "Sorry 'bout that buddy, let us repair that for you".

I could rebuild the engine but I'd have to get it out of the car. Since it comes out from the underside of the car, that means I need a lift and a jack to lower the sub-assembly, things that I don't have or have access to. Even if I could get the engine out, at a minimum , I'd have to machine or replace the head, resleeve the damaged cylinder, pull the piston and put a new one in and probably put a new set of valves in that cylinder. And with 95k miles and the engine out, it might make sense to replace some other components like the timing chain, maybe new crank bearings, etc. Can't see me getting by for less than $800-$1000 in parts and work here.

Prices are really expensive in the SF Bay Area where I live, so as I said, price to get the engine out and back in is at least $1500 (12 hours at $125/hr or so)..

I could put a used engine in ($1000 or so) or I could buy a remanufactured engine ($2200 or so). Plus the cost of putting the engine in/out. Assuming I could find someone willing to do the work, which doesn't look good from a few local inquiries I made. And given that I am retired living on a fixed income, raising the cash to fund this or a new (used) car isn't easy.

So I am basically f*cked. There isn't much that I can do now except to spread this story around and hope it helps someone else avoid this problem.

If you have a NIssan, good to make sure those plenum screws are all tight and secured with loctite. Or put some screening in the intake plenum so that screws can't get sucked into the engine.

Anyone want to make a GoFundMe pitch for me? I'd love to get a 2005/06 SE-R! [lol].
 

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63 views so far and no one has a clue? Whew. Disappointing.

Edit update - 3 Oct 2019
The sound is from a screw rattling around in the combustion chamber of cylinder #2! I had the abysmal bad luck to have a screw come loose from the butterfly flap in the intake manifold, which has destroyed the cylinder. At least $3k to repair the engine. $1500 of that is due to the whole engine has to come out the bottom of the car, which takes 12 hours out and in. Thanks Nissan!
I think there’s a recall for that. I know it is for the 2.5 4cyl.

just read ur last post. Why not call Nissan? Recalls have no mileage or time limit.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I followed the Nissan recall announcements closely for my car and I never saw one for this problem on 6 cyl cars. If I had, you can bet I would have been on it. As I relate above, my mechanic friend did say that there was one for 4 cyl cars.

Just more of my bad luck. Perhaps there SHOULD have been one for the 6 cyl cars? I wonder how many other reports fo this problem there were? Can I find that info on the NHTSA website or elsewhere?

I will try to call Nissan, now that you mention this but I am not holding my breath for any assistance.

I also will file an NHTSA report, so at least I can add this incident to whatever record is already there.
 

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Although I have not heard of this on the v6 which i read yours was I have to think that may be because the majority have the 4 cylinder engine.
Did you verify you are missing a screw?
Have you tried bumping over the engine with the plug removed?
And I would do a compression test on that cylinder.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Here are some photos. This engine is toast!

The top sparkplug shows the compressed electrode from the screw (or what was left of it hitting it). Given how hard it is to bend an electrode, that bit of metal was being driven around the combustion chamber with a lot of force!

Cyl 2 plug on top, Cyl 4 plub below.jpg

This is where the screw came from.

Missing screw.jpg

This is cylinder 4, which is the normal piston condition.

Cyl 4 (good).jpg

This is cylinder 2 (with the screw loose). You can see the gouging damage done and the oil residue on the piston. Piston wall must be a mess but I couldn't bend the camera to see it very well.

Cyl 2 (BAD).jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Found this thread for the same problem for Nissan Pathfinders, which apparently have the same 3.5l engine. So perhaps there should have been a recall on V6's!

I also spoke to Nissan customer support Monday morning. Nothing in the way of support for them. They told me I would need to get the car to the local dealership where one of their "certified" technicians would look at it. After that, they would discuss IF they could do anything. I would have to pay for the tow and if they did nothing, then the tow back also.

No matter which way I tried to go, I couldn't get any kind of guarantee that if the problem turned to be as I described, then Nissan would offer some assistance.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Does anyone know how difficult it would be to get the front head off of the engine w/o taking the engine out of the car? If this could be done, would it also be possible to replace the cylinder sleeve and piston with the engine in the car?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I am going to replace the engine on the car. Will be looking for a good used 3.5l JDM engine at a fair price.

Since the engine is coming out of the car, I will also replace the motor mounts. Was also wondering about the pre-cats. Should I replace them also? I am in Calif, so can't just gut them, as some have recommended. Th ecar/exhaust has 95k on it but I can smell the emissions more last year or so, especially sitting while warming up.
 

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If you are going to spend all that money on a new engine install...tough call. Aftermarket parts are probably only good for a few years (less valuable metal in them)...new OEM will cost more than the used engine. Replacing the precats with the engine in is a giant PITA. How long do you plan to keep it?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I'm having 2nd thoughts about whether the cost to fix everything that does or might need fixing is worth it. At best, the car is worth maybe $3k on the used market.

The replacement engine + labor to swap it is going to cost me $2500-$3000 ($1000 engine + $1500-2000 to swap). As you may recall, I need to repair/replace that ABS/TCS unit also ($300 if it can be repaired including removal /reinstall. Then, given that the car is almost 18 YO, it would seem that exhaust system is probably going to need to be replaced ($1000?). And the auto trans might be getting a bit funky as the shift lever sometimes doesn't go into park until I jangle it around and also sometimes is slow to shift). Unsure what this might cost to fix or replace. So all-in-all, I would be spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $4-5k on a car that still will not be worth more than $3k.

Oh and forgot the new tires I am going to need early next year., which is another $600-800. The numbers are not adding up. Looks like this is going to turn into a throw away.

This problem with the thottle body screws coming loose should have been subject to a Nissan recall.

Electric engines are looking a whole lot better (so much simpler mechanically), given this travesty.
 
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