2017 Nissan Maxima 3.5 S Smoking On Start-up

Have a 2017 nissan maxima. Started to put out white smoke on startup, thick. Does not last long and goes away. Does not smoke while driving. Has never over heated, and I have not put any water in it. I checked the oil and seen that it had sludge in the cap, so I can imagine it is in the engine as well. Bought with 19k, now has 45k. I have changed the oil 3 times since owning. I drive around 6-7000 miles a year, and that is local miles only, no interstate travel. Why would there be sludge after only 5-10 miles driven between oil changes? This is my daily driver as well. Nissan dealership says it needs motor, and I do have the allstate premiere care package, which covers the powertrain or engine. Would there be any reason that allstate would not cover this repair? Also, I drove the car all the way to the dealership with no issues. Did not over heat, oil temp and pressure were fine. It never did give any check engine lights, no warnings that anything is or was wrong.

Check the PCV system.

If the crankcase can’t vent, moisture can accumulate and you see the sludge on the cap.

Are most of your trips short?


With a maintenance related failure, the warranty company will ask for maintenance records.
3 oil changes cover a span of 18 months and 15,000 miles, however you have been maintaining the vehicle for 26,000 miles, number of months unknown.

You drove the vehicle to the dealer because it smokes during start-up, that is the issue. The cause of failure is engine sludge (bad oil).

If the problem is due to oil sludging, and there is not some obvious cause which is not related to maintenance, such as a breached head gasket, it is likely that the “extended warranty” company will deny the claim. Often times, they will ask to see proof of maintenance, including all required oil changes since the vehicle was sold as new–even if you are not the original owner. This is an impossible task, because most used cars are sold without maintenance records.

Therefore, if sufficient maintenance records cannot be provided, and the “extended warranty” does not cover replacing the engine, then the focus needs to change to “what can you do to mitigate your losses?” and that is what you must do. In that case, I would see what can be done (cheaply) to make this thing run well enough, and to remove as much of the sludge as possible so you can trade this thing in and let someone else deal with the hassle and expense of replacing the engine.


Now I am not a mathematician, engineer or have any PHD’s, but my calculator says that you are changing you oil an average of every 8,667 miles… If you are required to change the oil every 5K miles then you have voided your own warranty…


Local miles are twice as hard on an engine as highway miles. That’s why the oil needs to be changed twice as often. From what you describe you have not maintained the engine according to the severe service schedule. It’s likely that your extended warranty will deny coverage based on that.

Ask your dealer or local shop about doing an engine flush or a performance oil change or something to try and clear out some of that sludge and see if that helps.


The OP drives about 6,500 miles per year, which works out to 48 months. The maintenance schedule calls for eight oil changes in that time instead of three. The chance of a successful warranty claim on this abused engine is basically zero (and the money spent on this warranty was essentially just thrown away). Maybe the OP will take better care of the next engine or car.


The problem is that for years, many people treated their cars like this, and they mostly got away with it. Back in the 1990’s to 2000’s, people bought a used Chevrolet Cavalier, Dodge Shadow, Ford Escort, etc, and they changed the oil sporadically and did little else, and these cars kept on running. As long as the oil level didn’t get too low, it was difficult to ruin those engines. Nowadays, you won’t get away with that. Modern engines are a lot less forgiving.

Before installing a replacement engine, OP could try something easier, for example changing oil and filter every 2,000 miles, see if that improves the situation. If it works, good. If not, same situation as now, no difference. May as well give yourself a chance to be lucky.

yes 20 30 miles daily

I change the oil once a year due to less driving. to work and home, around 20 miles. If something caused the oil to break down faster than normal, could that be an issue? Synthetic oil should last around 15000 miles and i have read sludge doesnt even begin to harm an engine until around 30000 miles after a due oil change. i take care of the car, as I do all of my cars. I have never had anything like this happen before. To add to, I never had any low oil pressure lights or warning, which would indicate low oil/pressure. If sludge was the culprit, wouldnt there be a low pressure warning for oil?

Since the engine oil sludge can block oil galleries, it will reduce the speed at which the motor oil circulates, and when the engine sludge reduces the oil circulating pressure, it will trigger the [check engine light]

MAybe run Seafoam through the engine and change the oil. DO NOT DRIVE IT. Just let it idle and then change the oil warm after like 15 minutes of idling. If it starts sounding terrible or you see a low oil pressure light or something like that, TURN IT OFF. The risk of flushes like this in a neglected engine is that big particles of crap can break loose and completely clog oil passages, doing more harm than good. I know people where it has gone both ways. Using synthetic oil and changing every 3000 miles might help too but over a longer period of time. If it stays the same and doesn’t get worse, it might be cheaper to live with the smoke and add oil each time you fill up with gas.

The people who designed and tested your car specifically said “whichever comes first”. They didn’t say that just for kicks.

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Sludge can clog the oil pump pickup screen and cause oil starvation and low oil pressure. Your symptoms are different: sludge in the camshaft/valve spring area, this prevents oil from draining from the top of the engine properly, then oil leaking down the valve guides and smoke during start-up.

I have never seen quality synthetic engine oil sludge in less than 15,000 miles, I wonder if your dealer has been putting the correct oil in the engine. That won’t make a good defense however since you exceeded 6 months/5,000 miles between oil changes.

30,000 miles? Seriously?

That phrase seems to confound many (perhaps most) drivers, for reasons that I don’t quite understand. It seems that all too many car owners focus solely on the odometer mileage factor without paying attention to the elapsed time factor.

And, this type of proviso is nothing new. When Chrysler extended their Powertrain Warranty to 5 years/50k miles in 1963, the maintenance schedule noted the following for oil change intervals:
Every 3 months or 4,000 miles–whichever comes first.

The only difference nowadays is that improved oil quality has lengthened both the odometer mileage factor and the elapsed time factor. But, the “whichever comes first” proviso still applies.


IMO engines have improved substantially too and that has also led to extended oil change intervals. Engine management sensors led to lower oil breakdown and improved mechanical tolerances allowed good lubrication with less viscous oils.

Yes, that too!
Even the higher operating temperatures of modern engines has helped, to a certain extent. When Ford extended their oil change intervals (1965 or '66), they began using a “hotter” thermostat in order to try to reduce condensation in the crankcase.

A service tech posted a story about a Mitsubishi Mirage that came in with a destroyed engine at a dealership on a forum. The oil had never been changed or any added for 60,000 miles. Eventually the timing chain jumped, destroying the valves and pistons, ruining the engine. Everyone was pretty impressed that the car ran this long but the warranty claim was denied of course. They said the oil didn’t resemble anything we know as oil when the engine was torn down and it was more solid than liquid.

That is one thing you always have to watch out for buying a cheaper car like this used. People often treat them as throwaways and neglect basic services. I hear ads for “rent to own auto” and other places that deal with lower-end customers. They have the remote disable/tracking features so they can repo the car if needed. They also include oil changes, tires, and other basic services until the car is paid off. I think this is so they have a decent car to resell when it gets repoed which is probably more than half the time. These cars cost far more than they should when you look at the overall costs, yet people continue to buy them.

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