2006 Nissan Altima 'engine combust' blow out (owned it 6 mos)

I recently purchased a prev. owned Nissan Altima (2006) 113,000 miles from the Honda dealer. Two months later I took it to the Nissan dealer to have something checked and they told me the car was two & half qts. low on oil. I had only driven it to the store and back; not on the interstate. I allowed them
to fix motor mount and replace seals and fill oil. $700. I took it back 1 mo. later; everything ok. Again went back to have it chk’d. before driving it from PNS to S. Fl. Got the go ahead! Off I went thinking they had fixed the problem, when I noticed the rpm’s were between 3 & 4 at 60 mph on interstate. I kept the needle on 3 , to & from. Upon return, I heard a rattle under the hood, oil lt. came on. Next day, took it to Nissan dealer who said there was 1 qt. oil left in it. They examined the engine thoroughly this time. The verdict: a bad catalytic converter (neglected by prev. owner) engine sucked up micro gaskets…used a term ‘combust blow out’, and recommended I sell the car or get a rebuilt engine. I signed off on a dozen papers at the honda dealer; ‘as is’. they showed me a carfax but I did not receive a copy. salesman would allow me $4,500. even though I bought from them 6 mos. ago @ $8,000 ($9,000. out the door). what would you do?

Not checking the oil level regularly and adding as necessary is your fault.
The car was apparently damaged goods when you bought it. Odds are the oil consumption is why the previous owner unloaded the car and it’s quite likely the dealer who sold you the car was unaware of any oil consumption issues.
They buy them as is or take them in trade, clean them up, and then retail them as is.

Carfax should not be relied upon as a means of determining whether a car is good or not. CF only reports what is reported to them. CF at best is a minor aid used in making a decision.

You’re in a tough situation here. What to do is a tough call and there will not be a cheap answer to the problem as you’re upside down financially on this thing.
The easiest, cheapest way out would be to find a low miles, used engine and have it swapped out by an independent shop but even that along with a converter can add up very quickly.
This post is not definitive I know, but best of luck.

@bish I have a hard time believing any car which burns that much oil legitimately passed the smog inspection

Was it smogged before or after you bought it?

By the way, Carfax records often indicate whether cars passed or failed smog inspections.

I’m not knowledgeable on Pennsylvania statutes but a quick look shows that 42 counties in the state are exempt from emissions testing and the cut and paste below from the Penn. AG’s office tells me the OP may be out of luck; especially after signing off on all of those AS IS disclaimers.
It’s unclear to me how much leeway is involved between the time of sale and any complaint. In this case it was apparently several months and X number of miles.

•A vehicle that is sold “as-is” means that there is no warranty and the purchaser will bear the cost of repairs. However, vehicles that are sold must be roadworthy and be able to pass state inspection unless disclosures are made by the dealer. Be very cautious when purchasing a vehicle “as is.”

In my state used cars bought from a dealer have to be smogged.

I think I would trade it for what you can get for it and take the loss. Some of these cars were known for oil consumption which is why I didn’t buy a Nissan. Something is wrong though and doesn’t make sense. If the car was running at 3 or 4000 rpm on the highway, it was running too fast and should have been around 2000 or 2 on your gauge. So I suspect a transmission problem that put more load on the engine. Just replacing the engine might not resolve the problem. Trade it.

Always a good idea to be double checking oil and other items on a car new to you until you learn its issues.

Has anyone here heard of a bad cat causing engine gasket failure leading to oil loss?

I could imagine the cat is bad due to oil burning, but I wouldn’t have thought a bad cat could cause gasket failure leading to oil loss. I’ve never heard that phrase “engine combust blow out” before. Puzzling.

There is a story popular among Nissan owners that the “pre cat” or warm up cat was placed to close to the engine on the 2.5 liter 4 cylinder cars. The engine has a long overlap when both the exhaust valves and intake valves are open. The ceramic substrate in the warm up cat is under too much pressure and tends to break up and because of the overlap, gets sucked back into the cylinder, damaging the rings. BS IMO.

But there was a problem in the rings used in the late 2005 and 2006 2.5 liter engine and all were supposed to be recalled and a factory remanufactured engine installed. There should be a reman sticker on this engine, but I can’t remember where it is located. The Nissan dealer should know.

If it doesn’t have the reman sticker on it, you might talk Nissan into helping you out with the cost of a replacement, but since you are not the original owner, they may chose not to do so. Anyway, it is worth looking into.

@keith I may have found what you’re talking about.

It appears that this recall doesn’t apply to OP’s car because it’s a 2006.
I’m not even sure if OP’s car has the same engine.

This other document refers to the piston rings and oil consumption


I agree with Bing that you might be looking at a transmission issue on top of everything else, so my vote is to dump the car now and take the loss.

I hope in the future you plan to check your oil far more often.

Keith, I think everybody is putting the cats in the exhaust manifolds now to get them to heat up faster hotter for emissions reduction. In Toyotas, that’s the only cat that’s monitored. There’s a second one in the pipe further back, but it isn’t monitored in any way.

The thing about the ceramic breaking up and getting sucked back into the cylinders sounds a bit far fetched to me too. The term “micro gaskets” is unfamiliar to me as well, and I suspect was a misunderstanding.

To the OP, it seems clear that the engine is burning excess oil under certain operating conditions, however if it were me I’d try to find out why before dumping it. I’d run a wet/dry compression test, and also see if I could see evidence that the oil was getting drawn in under deceleration as opposed to acceleration. You might even run some ungunker from the parts store through the lubrication system; it’s possible that the oil rings are gumped up. And, if it’s drawing oil in during deceleration, your valve stem seals may just be bad. Either way you’re stuck getting a new converter, but if the rings ungunk or if the valvestem seals need replacing, these things are workable.

I wouldn’t “throw in the towel” until I’d checked these things out.

I did leave out a part of the story, not intentionally, I just forgot. Supposedly this excessive overlap is designed on purpose with the intent to draw some exhaust gasses back into the cylinder during the intake stroke. The engine does not have an EGR valve and this is supposed to be its form of EGR.

Now that you mention it, I’ve heard of this approach being used. The diagnosis still leaves questions in my mind, however. If the converter substrate was getting pulverized by heat stress and its material getting drawn back into the cylinders, I cannot imagine that not having been discovered in the design phase during qual testing.

Nissan is very tight lipped about this issue, but the 2005/06 cars were recalled for new rings. The dealers tell this story about the pre-cat, but I suspect that it was a supplier issue. All they did was replace the rings with rings from another supplier, they did not redesign anything or replace the pre-cats.

Regardless of the blow by issue, cat problem, and oil consumption problem, it is yet to be explained why it was running at 3-4000 RPMs at 60 MPH? Just putting a $700 cat in is not going to fix this car.

Perhaps the transmission is not in top gear

You purchased a vehicle “as is” 6 months ago. But the dealer (of course) - did make some verbal representations about the quality and condition of said vehicle. They did not in attempting to sell it to you - state that it was ‘junk’. Two months later - you discovered that it was very low on oil; and you paid the dealer $700 to essentially fix the oil consumption issue.

The $700 work is under warranty. There is going to be some ‘warranty’ statement on that paperwork. You then took it back 1 month later for a ‘checkup’ and was told everything was ‘ok’. Possibly you paid a bit for that as well, but the check will be in the dealer records. You also then took it for a final check before driving to Florida. Dealer again stated ‘no problem’.

Now, you have a vehicle which the Dealer is stating put a lot of money into it; or we will cash you out for way less than you paid for it. The Dealer in this case - has made some verbal and written promises. Verbal all over the place; and written at a minimum - on the $700 work.

I would suggest you talk with a couple of attorneys. Usually some good ones will give you about 30 minutes totally free time to discuss the possibilities and look over any paperwork. Just give a call to a few and talk with them; and see if anyone will sit down with you. You will find a couple that will; and they will let you know what your legal options are.

I did not catch that you bought it from a Honda dealer; and then a Nissan dealer did the work. But still, I would talk to a couple of attorneys asap. Just to see.

your short trips tend to dilute the oil more. then when you blast down the interstate months later, the diluted oil burns off more than usually happens. i’m afraid you’re stuck. find an independant shop to put a used engine in and check your oil at least once a week until you know how much the “new” motor uses.
are you sure you were in “drive” or was the overdrive switch accidently pressed at some point?

Its a lot cheaper to just check the oil level every time you fill that gas tank and add oil whenever it gets a quart low. You can buy a lot of oil for the cost of a new engine. If its running good otherwise, just keep oil in it and drive it.