Freakin' Recalls, How Do They Work?

So, long story short, I have to get the ECU on my 2001 Nissan Sentra repaired or replaced due to the incompetence of my local Nissan dealer (fried it while rewiring). But I’m having a hard time finding a used one because there is a recall out for them due to a problem totally unrelated to the problem that mine had.

So my question is: If it’s broken and there’s a recall out for it, will Nissan replace it for free, even if the problem with it is totally unrelated to the recall?

For more background details, like why the dealer didn’t replace the ECU for free, please see the jumbo-sized post in this thread:


When it comes to a Recall the Recall will ONLY cover exactly what is specified in that Recall; nothing more.
A look at ALLDATA shows the only ECU Recall is one for a case modification. If this case modification has nothing to do with whether or not the ECU is good or not then you’re out of luck.

Based on the other thread your story is still pretty hazy to me. You made statements that the vehicle had problems when you took it in, the dealer fried the ECU while providing no details as to how this was done, you’re comparing an eBay parts price to a dealer price which is totally misguided, and you have 2 other mechanics thrown into the mix who claim the dealer made a huge mistake.
There is also the comment you made about “trying to avoid telling the whole story”. This always raises a red flag to me because I often state on this board the devil is in the details and sometimes those details are accidentally omitted; sometimes they’re omitted on purpose.

People who turn wrenches for a living know that there is a certain percentage of mechanics/shops out there who like to play the Oneupmanship Game and will claim that every other shop on the planet is incompetent and/or crooked. They’re idiots, I’m a genius is their mantra. Sometimes there’s truth to it; many times there is not.

If you and these mechanics feel strongly enough about this then may consider suing or pushing the dealer to solve this problem. A blanket statement that the dealer screwed up is not good enough. You’re going to need these other mechanics to spell out exactly what the dealer did wrong and exactly how this, that, and the other affected the ECU.
These other mechanics should also expect to provide a notarized statement for court and/or be prepared to show up and testify about the details, along with a brief statement on their mechanical qualifications.

Thanks for your help. I assure you that I’m not intentionally leaving anything out for any reason other than to try and save everyone some time with details that I thought would be unnecessary (I tend to ramble, especially online).

Based on what you said here, and what I found on Google about the recall, I’ve accepted that I’m just going to have to pay to get the ECU repaired myself. The ECU specialty place on the mainland that I called said that they do my specific model of ECU all the time and cannot even keep them in stock, which seems to erase any lingering doubt that Nissan is not replacing them for free.

If you still want more details, you can see how most of it unfolded on these threads:

The diagnosis that the mechanic at the dealer fried the ECU didn’t come until the new mechanics, working together, finished undoing the rewiring job last week. I’m still strongly of the opinion that the ECU was damaged by the dealer’s Frankenstinean rewiring, where, among other things, he set it up to steal power from the airflow sensor to power one of the coils that was having trouble. The new guy’s diagnosis was that they forced 12 volts into a wire that was meant to carry 1/2 volt into the ECU in the wrong direction, overwhelming the diode.

I really don’t feel strongly enough to take the dealer to court, and like I said, they’re a major sponsor of the radio station that I work for. I’ll just get the ECU repaired by specialists and hopefully that’ll be the end of it.

Have you talked to the service manager at the dealership since you learned about the botched wiring job? He might provide a new ECU for free, or at least meet you somewhere in the middle since it was problematic to begin with. I’m sure that you are as level-headed with the dealer’s staff as you are with us, and that can go a long way to getting some relief. It won’t hurt to discuss it wht the service manager if you haven’t already.

I’m going to agree totally with Mr. Sanders. Meet with the service manager and lay out your concerns. Keep the conversation politefully firm with no yelling or cursing and I agree; you’ve been very level-headed about this.

It would not hurt to take a few pics of the altered wiring and maybe a short, one paragraph statement from one or both of the other mechanics about this. The statements do not have to be technically deep; just generic wording that there is an altered wiring problem.

Most of the time the service managers have no idea what’s going on, detail-wise, in the shop. They have a full plate (very full) and simply cannot oversee or possibly know what every repair entails. Also, the vast majority of service managers have never been mechanics and have little mechanical aptitude. Most of them don’t even understand a basic repair itself, much less trying to sort out a problem later.
Good luck on this.