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2008 Nissan Altima Engine Replacement

My 2008 Nissan Altima 2.5S w/ 19K miles recently developed a rattling noise. The dealer traced the noise to the engine bearings. I’m being told the engine block will be replaced under warranty to correct the problem. This ia a much bigger repair job than I’ve ever had done with any car I’ve owned. Anything I should make sure and ask about? Anyone had a similar issue in such a new car? What does an “engine block” replacement entail as opposed to a complete engine replacement? Any help appreciated. Thanks.

Not much to ask about, perhaps how long the new motor is warrantied for is a good one. The block is the main part of the motor, cylinders, pistons, rings, crankshaft, bearings, etc. What they will do is take stuff off your old motor such as the AC compressor, power steering, heads, valves, spark plugs, all the intake and exhaust manifolds, the fuel injection system, ignition system, etc. put them all in the proper place on the new motor.

There are a lot of connections to make, hoses to tighten, fasteners, and clamps to tighten down. When you get the car back check everything frequently, the levels of coolant, the oil level, power steering fluids, etc. Keep an eye out for leaks and puddles under the car. Check the areas where you park to see if any “spots” of fluids show up. There maybe a few things that need to be adjusted and tightened up so don’t plan a cross country trip for a couple of weeks until you are sure all is well with the car. It should sound, run, and perform just as it did as a new car.

You will need to “break-in” the new motor just as you would a new car. Moderate speeds for the 1st 100 or so miles. Vary your speeds when driving for about the 1st 500 miles. This means no steady state cruising on the interstate. Vary your speed between 60 and 70. This helps seat all the moving parts properly. I’d do an oil change at about 1,000 to 1,500 miles then back to your normal routine after that, which for me is every 5,000 miles.

It is unusual to have a motor replacement in such a new car, hopefully all will be well from now on.

It’s unusual that an '08 Nissan with only 19k miles is rattling due to bearings.

Rather than go into details about what is involved I’m simply curious about the maintenance history of this car.
Who does the oil changes, how often is the oil level checked, and whatnot?

Any incidents before this rattling noise started?

Thanks for the responses. I will definitely keep these things in mind once the new engine is installed in another week or so.

As for maintenance history, oil has always been changed at the dealer between 3,000 and 3,750 miles. Vehicle is not driven hard or in any abusive manner. Was very disappointed when this situation happened and hope all will be well once the new engine is in place. No prior related incidents with the car. Thanks again.

Also, oil checked every other fill up. The car has never consumed any oil.

I had to have the engine replaced in a 1990 Ford Aerostar minivan that was under warranty. The van operated just fine after the new engine was installed. I don’t think you have anything to worry about. Keep your eye on the gauges, oil level and coolant level for the first thousand miles or so.

Can you tell the Dealer to get approval for a complete new engine rather than one put together in the shop? Your new car deserves a factory assembled engine.

The truth is EVERY car maker has a 1% failure rate like this no matter golden Honda or lowly Chrysler with good owner maintenance habits involved.

That is why new cars have reasonable power train warranty’s.

It’s extremely unusual for something like to happen. I worked for dealers (VW, SAAB, Honda, Nissan, Fiat, etc) for quite a few years and don’t remember ever seeing a fatal engine defect from the factory on any of them. One runs across glitches such as adjustments or a very minor part failure here and there but nothing catastrophic.
The only thing I can think of that someone at the factory must have been asleep at the switch during assembly, left something loose, and it took 19k miles for a not-noticeable problem to become a very noticeable one.

There’s nothing wrong with installing what is called a “short block” (engine assembly minus cylinder heads). There shouldn’t be a problem with doing this at all but my feeling is that a “long block” (engine block with heads) should be the way to go.
If they’re going short block only under warranty this means that Nissan Motor Co. will only allow that process under warranty rather than the long block.

My reason for wanting the long block is that you do not know how thoroughly the cylinder heads will be inspected before transferring them to the new engine block (checking for warpage, etc.) and if the bearings are disentegrating in the old engine one wonders if any debris will remain in the oil pump (if the new is not equipped with a new pump), in cylinder head passages, camshaft oil ports, lifters, etc.

The replacement engine is a new short block from the factory. I absolutely agree that a factory assembled engine is the way to go.

The replacement under warranty is a new short block using existing cylinder heads. The car is in the process of having the engine replacement done now. Anything I should question or look for regarding the cylinder heads?

There really should not be a problem with the cylinder heads at all as long as they’re thoroughly cleaned and the most important thing of all; inspection for any warpage.

While a very low miles, non-overheated engine should not suffer warped cylinder heads it is an inspection that should be performed nonetheless. Sometimes the simple act of removing the head bolts on an engine that has gone through repeated engine running and cooling cycles can distort the cylinder head surfaces.

Since this engine likely uses what are called TTY (torque to yield) head bolts these should also be replaced as TTY head bolts are supposed to be a one-shot deal.
They CAN be reused but it’s not adviseable and since this is a near new car, warranty should cover those also. It better.

Hope that helps.

Just got the vehicle back. Everything is great with the new engine. I did notice that my alignment is now off so I’ll be returning to the dealer to have an alignment done. Is this coincidence or in the process of removing the old engine (and the other parts to get to it) could something have caused an alignment issue? Car drives straight, but steering wheel no longer points straight ahead…it now points about an inch to the left when driving straight.

I have no idea what method they used in the engine removal as there are several ways of doing this. (engine only out the top, engine/trans out the top in one piece, engine/trans out the bottom with a subframe drop, etc.)

Some of these methods involve loosening or removing suspension components and it’s very easy to throw the alignment off unless care is used by marking the components before diassembly.

One would think that someone (mechanic or service writer) should have test driven the car a few miles to assure that everything is ducky before giving it back to the customer. I think they owe you an alignment now.

Thanks everyone for all the great input. Car is back in alignment and everything with the car and new engine are good. Drives real nice and nothing out of the ordinary to report. I’ve been watching my driving and varying the speed to give it a good break in. Again, appreciate everything. Hopefully all will be good with the car going forward.

I just want to comment on how fortunate you are to be getting this done by the dealer under warranty without having to force them. This is highly unusual and speaks well of the dealership.

You can drive on with confidence. If they were willing to go that far without a hassle then they have the intergity to do the job right.

Enjoy your Nissan.