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.