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Hello Everyone,

I am incredibly attached to my Nissan Turtle Truck and am hoping I can save it without replacing the engine.

2005 X, 190k miles. I can't diagnose what this isuue might be to know what to look for. My engine has developed a horrible noise over the last year (about 1000 miles). It comes and goes at will. It occasionally happens at startup for a second or two, but mostly happens if I drive for more than 20 minutes or it's 90+ outside temp. I've got my Haynes manual and the many resources of this site, and will be tearing into it starting this week.

The noise seems to be coming from the passenger side, front-ish of the engine. I have been told by a couple of people it's valve issues or timing chain issues. Two shops and one stealership told me I just need a new engine, and I am not paying $6000 for a junkyard engine install and it not be a vk56 swap.

The below video is after an oil change with Lucas Heavy Duty Oil Treatment and driving 25ish miles. I was hoping people with actual Xterra experience may have some useful info before I start the teardown. I do see two points where I have an oil leak (valve cover gaskets) so I will be tearing down to there at the very least.

 

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Got oil? Oil pressure? Did that get checked by the mechanic?
There was a post back a while ago with an engine that went without oil, but it sounded reeeeally bad? Is yours going that way?


If it's slap from the primary timing chain, not 100% sure if yours is though, you can probably try and use a redneck stethoscope to islolate where (broom stick handle to the ear) it it's a valve, you'll get it more on the valve cover, and if it's the timing chain, you'll hear it on the cover.
If the primary tensioner fails, or the guide breaks, it can slip down and cause slack on the chain, which slaps against the cover. This was more common on the 3.5 L though

There is an access cover that has a few 10mm bolts and RTV on the front left side that exposes the tensioner and a bit of the chain. You can check to see if it is loose without tearing apart the engine.

I replaced my timing chains for a few hundred bucks but it was a lot of work and time, and not without its challenges. Let us know what you discover.

123254
 

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Dude, that is pretty bad. I am almost 100% sure thats the timing chain flopping around in there. are you burning any oil?

You certainly need to fix that asap if you have any chance of saving that motor. if the chain is that loose its very possible for the chain to skip a tooth on the cam sprocket which will cause the valves to mash into the cylinder, ultimately destroying the engine..
 

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That's a death sound. I wouldn't be driving it much less idling it. Like others have said you need to start with at least inspecting the timing chains. That is going to be pretty labor intensive just to rule it in or out.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
It has oil and currently has good pressure readings. I went 1.5 years, only 1k to 2k miles on previous oil, but it sat for 8 months of that. I stopped driving it except for emergencies when this issue started happening while driving.

I just changed the oil and only pulled 4 qts out. This video is from right after the oil change. The dipstick never read low, but pressure was noticeably dropping when pushing the clutch and RPMs dropping, before the oil change. I inspected the engine bay last night and discovered that both valve cover gaskets are definitely leaking, so I will be going down that far at least. I did not know about the timing chain "inspection" cover, I will definitely be getting in there ASAP.

I don't know much about engines yet, but I'm handy with tools and can follow instructions pretty well. I replaced the head on my old straight 6 F150 with a Haynes manual, but that only had one camshaft! Had it for 7 years after that, until the frame rusted in half.

If worse comes to worst, Summit sells remanufactured crate vq40de Long Blocks!
 

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That's a death sound. I wouldn't be driving it much less idling it. Like others have said you need to start with at least inspecting the timing chains. That is going to be pretty labor intensive just to rule it in or out.
I'm going to move it 15 feet up my driveway and that will be it for the foreseeable future! It will be better than staring at the TV all evening.
 

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Also, replacing the engine would be about 10 hours of labor. Average cost of labor depends on your area, $100 hr is a good average. There are used lower mileage engines on car-part for under $2000. I'd have a low mileage OEM engine before a rebuilt from a catalog or website. No telling what was or wasn't replaced and with what quality parts. $1850 engine + $1000 labor plus fluids and misc you should be able to get in under $4000 or right at it. Just food for thought if they quote an expensive repair. If I had 200k on the clock and was facing a couple thousand repair, i'd probably just do an engine swap if I planned on keeping the vehicle for a good while.
 

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I don’t know if the Haynes manual will tell you everything you need to know about replacing the time chaining and what not, it was pretty basic for the frontier if I remember correctly years ago. I would go with the FSM since that is step by step, written by Nissan with pictures and torque specs. This helped tremendously when replacing my timing chain. Also where are you located?
 

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I don’t know if the Haynes manual will tell you everything you need to know about replacing the time chaining and what not, it was pretty basic for the frontier if I remember correctly years ago. I would go with the FSM since that is step by step, written by Nissan with pictures and torque specs. This helped tremendously when replacing my timing chain. Also where are you located?
The Haynes manuals are pretty detailed, torque specs, pictures of tough spots. It's not written by Nissan, but it is a step by step teardown for all options of Xterra/Frontier. The company does them for just about every vehicle available that can be DIY maintained, and they've been around since the 80's. I just found the full service manual listed on here, so I'm definitely going to bookmark that as well.

I'm in Ohio.
 

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The Haynes manuals are pretty detailed, torque specs, pictures of tough spots. It's not written by Nissan, but it is a step by step teardown for all options of Xterra/Frontier. The company does them for just about every vehicle available that can be DIY maintained, and they've been around since the 80's. I just found the full service manual listed on here, so I'm definitely going to bookmark that as well.

I'm in Ohio.
Haynes manuals are complete junk in comparison to a FSM. I’ve bought them and they almost always have glaring oversights. Just stick to the FSM and you’ll be fine.
 

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Haynes manuals are complete junk in comparison to a FSM. I’ve bought them and they almost always have glaring oversights. Just stick to the FSM and you’ll be fine.
Mostly agreed from someone who has done the timing chain job. Get them both, they are both helpful. Also several helpful articles here.
 

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My initial spontaneous reaction was that the cooling fan was slapping the plastic cage.

But this sounds a lot worse. (Good, helpful video BTW.)

Take it to a Nissan dealer and get an estimate (if you can still drive it).
 
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My initial spontaneous reaction was that the cooling fan was slapping the plastic cage.

But this sounds a lot worse. (Good, helpful video BTW.)

Take to a Nissan dealer and get an estimate (if you can still drive it).
The nearest Nissan dealer refused to dig and diagnose the issue and charged me $109 to tell me that they want $6000 to replace the engine with a used one with 120k miles on it. They also tried to tell me I couldn't even drive it off the lot, but I convinced them otherwise.
 

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Situations like this are a bit tough. I've been on the other side of the counter too as a Service Advisor. Customer comes in with a high mileage engine, has terrible mechanical engine noise. In order to do a proper diagnostic, there needs to be some tear down for visual confirmation. However, mechanics are paid by the job and are not on the clock. Which means the shop needs to charge the customer 4-5 hours of labor in some instances to diagnose an engine that is nearing the end of it's useful service life.
 

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Situations like this are a bit tough. I've been on the other side of the counter too as a Service Advisor. Customer comes in with a high mileage engine, has terrible mechanical engine noise. In order to do a proper diagnostic, there needs to be some tear down for visual confirmation. However, mechanics are paid by the job and are not on the clock. Which means the shop needs to charge the customer 4-5 hours of labor in some instances to diagnose an engine that is nearing the end of it's useful service life.

thats makes sense, but they should explain that instead of just saying " needs a new engine"and acting like its more trouble than its worth for them to even talk about it.
 

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it sucks that it has to be that way, but sometimes old engines die, while the rest of the chassis is capable of living on. engines, like brakes, tires and wiper blades are consumables. if you really are as attached to your car as you say in your opening post, you will have to face up to some hefty expense, quite possibly the tired old overused comment of, "but a new engine is more than the whole car is worth!" this situation of course, happens with EVERY vehicle on the road that has depreciated down to at or near it's bottom value. so now is crunch time for you... are you attached enough to make the ultimate sacrifice to save it? (pay more than it's worth for a repair job to get back on the road)

hope I don't sound harsh. but you are in a harsh situation. if it were me, and it was a toy, and by toy, a mean that I had other primary means of transportation, I would pony up for the new motor... particularly if yours is a manual. I don't have ANY cars in the toy category that are automatics. my only automatics are boring appliances.

-Peter
 

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Do the stethoscope thing. You can buy an automotive stethoscope at Harbor Freight for a few dollars which makes it more convenient, but a long screwdriver or 2' piece of dowel works too. Find out exactly where it is coming from. To me it almost sounds like it could be coming from something on the fan belt - idler pulley, AC clutch, etc. You can probably tell that with a stethoscope.
 
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