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2007 Nissan Quest Timing Chain Epic Tale

2007 Nissan Quest I bought used 3 years ago. Currently has 115k miles.

So while I was at my regular shop getting new brakes, I asked them to listen out for a rattling noise that would go away a few minutes after I started it up. He did, and reported back that he’d bet money it was a timing chain tensioner being a little loose and that as the oil pressure comes up, it firms up enough to stop the noise. He also indicated that it was a huge job, bigger than he was even interested in, but estimated around $2000 to fix.

So I stopped by the Nissan dealership (I know, I know, but at that point they had done what I thought was good work for me about a month previous) and asked how much it would cost to replace a timing chain. He poked in the computer, asked some questions, and came back with $1500. Since that was lower than my regular shop (a first!) I asked how sure he was about that and how much the price might vary if things went wrong. So he asked another guy “$1500 for a timing chain right? The one we got the tech bulletin about?” and the other guy assured him it was.

So I make an appointment to have it done since it isn’t even paid off, and we frankly kind of love this van otherwise. I drop it off, and he calls me back mid-day with “We think the engine noise isn’t a timing belt since it was crazy low on oil. Who did your last oil change?” I get a little crabby at this point since they had done the last oil change. The previous work I mentioned earlier was to seal up an oil leak (and it had indeed stopped leaking) and had only been about a month ago. So he hangs up and calls back later in the afternoon. “Okay, so we usually can get by with the $1500 version of a timing chain but you actually need the $3000 version of the timing chain. And since you say it isn’t leaking oil, it must be eating it. So at this point we’d actually just recommend a whole new engine. We could put a used one in for about $3500.” So aside from the obvious issue of my having asked specifically if $1500 was the max charge for a timing chain, this was sounding crazy.

So I take it to a third shop recommended by a coworker and tell him the story. He listens to the van, agrees with the first shop about the oil pressure causing the timing chain tensioner to slack a bit, but says I should be able to just keep it topped off with oil and drive it for years and years, but I will probably need to get it changed eventually.

So this long and epic tale has left me with a pile of questions.

  • Should I try to trade it in now while it’s still in relatively good shape? I still owe about $6500 on it.

    • The tech bulletin talk makes me weary of another Quest even though we otherwise really love this one. Any thoughts there?
    • I did find a class action lawsuit related to this exact issue (mentioning the tech bulletin specifically) and applicable to my Quest, but it seems unlikely to benefit me directly. Any advice there?
  • Should I just drive it until it fails? I know a timing chain failure is a big deal, but if I’m looking at replacing the entire engine anyway, is there any real harm?

  • If I discover that the engine isn’t eating oil, and is instead an excuse for them to cover their mistake, does that change the answers to the other questions? Should I push for any action from the dealership if that’s the case?

If you’ve made it this far, I appreciate your masochistic streak.

First, you need to determine just what your rate of oil consumption is. What gets me is first they say you need the $1500 dollar version, then they say it’s not the timing chain, then they say you need the $3000 version. Wish I could hear the rattling noise.

Just another thought, did adding oil have any effect on the noise. If so,I would lean towards the third shops opinion as long as the oil consumption isn’t more than 1000 miles per quart.

I wouldn’t make any hurried decisions. Keep the oil topped up and check the level regularly. Now you know how often you need to check it, like once a week. I don’t think you have much leverage with the dealer on the oil level issue. Don’t waste your time trying to get anything from them.

The class action lawsuit may take a long time to be settled and may not get you anything. Shop around to find competitive prices on having the timing chain replaced, but first make sure that the noise is in fact the timing chain.

If the noise is indeed the chain, then decide whether you want to invest the $$ on a repair. Given how much you owe on the vehicle, you may not have much of a choice.

Here is a cheap fix for your problem of the timing chain rattle.

If it were mine, I’d keep the oil level up and ignore it until/unless it needed further work in that area anyway.

By the way, WAS the oil low when you took it to the dealer? Do you monitor your oil level?

Great link, knifenmore.

c’mon mountain, its good advice, but you know that if it was yours that sound would drive you bonkers and keep you up all night dreaming about it… :slight_smile:

I’m already bonkers. I wouldn’t notice the change. Besides, I don’t dream about car problems… there’s this gorgeous blond that fully occupies my dreams… no room for car problems.

But I’m still curious about the oil level and the OP’s monitoring practices.

There’s a class action suit about every single manufactured product on the face of the Earth so I wouldn’t read too much into that. Class action suits have become de rigueur in today’s litigation happy society.

Don’t be too quick to blame the Quest. You bought a used vehicle and the great odds are that the previous owner, or owners, were a bit lax in maintenance habits so it could have been damaged goods before you bought it.

The lingering questions for me is how many miles had elapsed since the dealer did the oil change and how many times since that was done have you raised the hood and checked the oil level?

Even if the class-action suit is successful, Quest owners will probably end up with a coupon worth $500 toward a new Nissan and the lawyers will pocket $millions.

Class action suits usually suck. The damaged individuals get next to nothing and the lawyers get a lot.

Exactly right. Apparently I was part of a class action filed against eBay for screwing sellers over on final value fees.

I received a letter in the mail one day stating this suit had been settled and enclosed please find a check for my share of the settlement; a whopping 3 dollars and change.
I actually framed that check and keep it around just for laughs.

The check could not have been cashed anyway. The check was dated the first week of November, was not postmarked until the first week of December, and I did even receive it until the end of February the following year.
My award letter stated the check had to be cashed by the first week in December of the prior year…

sounds like you have a whole 'nother class action suit there @ok4450, said the lawyers…
conspiracy to defraud plaintiffs out of their awards in previous suit.

I wonder if the lawyers got their portion on time…

A couple of years ago my wife received a letter in the mail and a check for her share of some class action suit she knew nothing about.

I’m as serious as cancer; that check was for 17 cents. Weigh that against the cost to print the letter and check along with the postage… :frowning:

I’ve gotten those notices before, join the plaintiffs now or forego compensation. After having heard about stories like those mentioned here, I just throw them in the recycling bin. Then I heard about a class action suit for diamond price fixing (not news to anyone really) so I figured I’d go along on that one. I remember filling out the claim form and then years later hearing the agreement fell through but was being re-negotiated. Figuring it was no different than all the others, I pretty much wrote it completely off. Would have liked the $0.17 check just to frame. Then after having almost forgot about it a couple years later, viola, a check for more than $4,500 shows up in the mail. Sweet…

must have been quite rock you purchased…

This is slightly off topic… We have a 2003 Honda Odyssey, about 108K miles. Last summer I was having the dealer (reasonably priced and convenient to my job) change the oil. The service adviser came out to me, serious look on his face, and informed me that I had a rear main seal leak. It was going to involve pulling the transmission, cost about $1800 to fix, and oh, they could get to it today too! Knowing this van has a history of transmission problems, and based on the wisdom I’ve gleaned from this website… I declined the service. My thinking was if the transmission ever dies, I’ll have the seal replaced at that point. Plus, $1800 buys probably a pallet of oil, and I’ve been checking it weekly for the past year. The oil has never dropped more than about 1/2 a quart between changes that I can tell.

So my advice is to keep on driving and keep a close eye on the oil level. Good luck.

I strongly recommend to the OP to read the full four pages of the link provided by @knfenimore There is much information there by people who have done the same repair. So either replace the tensioner and plastic piece for $100 and spend 2-8 hours yourself, or do the full timing chain replacement for the $1500 plus. Putting in a used engine would only mean that the repair would also need to be done down the road. Seems to be a Nissan design issue.

Oh wow. So as you might have noticed, I’m new here and expected to get emails when someone replied to my post. So I had no idea all of this conversation was going on. Thanks so much everyone for responding.

It sounds like the consensus is that I should just keep driving and keep an eye on how fast it eats oil, which is about where I’ve landed as well. In the two weeks since, it hasn’t dropped a noticeable amount, which furthers my theory that it might not be eating oil at all and they’re just covering their tracks for failing to fill it up last time.

The sound genuinely doesn’t bother me (it goes away after five minutes). My only concern is that it was a signal of impending doom, but hopefully that doom will continue to sit idly in the distance for awhile now.

Your advice seems solid, but how do I “make sure” it’s the timing chain? I’ve already taken it to three different shops.

Thanks for the link very much.That solution definitely sounds outside of my skillset, though the first shop I mentioned might be willing to give it a shot for me (they’ve helped me figure out “good enough” solutions before). I confess that I mostly skimmed it since I didn’t always understand everything being described, but I saw a lot of people saying they tried it, found problems with it and didn’t see a lot of solutions. Lots of references to it being a short-term solution which isn’t my goal. But I’ll definitely send it to my shop and see what they think.

That was my thought on the used engine as well—it probably has the exact same issue. Nissan has effectively acknowledged as much among their technicians.

@"the same mountainbike"‌
Yes I think it probably was low. I had been checking that one about every two weeks but after the repair fixed the leak, I hadn’t thought to check it nearly that often (once a month of so at most I would think). And the engine did sound notably better after they refilled it.

Yes, I agree in general about class-action suits, though I confess that I wondered if this might be different since Nissan has acknowledged the issue internally. Also, the suit is about 18 months old, so I just figured I’d ask in case someone here knew something I didn’t. Consider it forgotten.

Also, I didn’t hear anyone chime in on the damage done by a broken timing chain. Would that require significant repairs beyond a new engine?

Thanks again to everyone who chipped in.