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#3014982 - 05/27/13 04:53 PM 2002 Nissan Maxima Oil Selection / Burning Issues
soundwavefd Offline

Registered: 11/27/12
Posts: 28
Loc: DE
Our family owns a 2002 Maxima SE (Over 125k miles) and I had two questions:

1. It consumes a good bit of oil between changes. I always drain out much less that I put in, and I finally started searching and see that this is a common problem in this generation of Maxima (2000-2003). Other than checking my oil often, and replacing what I have lost, what can I possibly look into to reduce this consumption? Some threads suggested 1. Ring Job, 2. PCV valve replacement, 3. Just leave it alone and check oil often?

2. What is a good oil to use in this engine (I know this usually sparks a heated debate, and I cannot seem to find a general consensus after reading oil threads). I have heard to go conventional or high mileage for an oil burning 3.5 VQ? Unfortunately the car has not seen consistent use of either conventional or synthetic during its life as both have been used (Sometimes back and forth). I was thinking of now using and sticking with Pennzoil Ultra 5W-30 full synthetic or Pennzoil Platinum 5W-30 full synthetic.

I hear good things about the Pennzoil Platinum and Ultra in Nissan/Infiniti VQ37 engines and have just started using the Ultra in my Mom's G37x so I was thinking it might also be a good oil for the VQ35?

Thanks for any help!


#3014994 - 05/27/13 05:01 PM Re: 2002 Nissan Maxima Oil Selection / Burning Issues [Re: soundwavefd]
artificialist Offline

Registered: 09/23/07
Posts: 8440
Loc: Florida
replace the PCV now, then record your oil consumption. It should go down.

If it doesn't, there is something else happening.
2010 Lancer Ralliart Sportback

#3015051 - 05/27/13 06:08 PM Re: 2002 Nissan Maxima Oil Selection / Burning Issues [Re: soundwavefd]
The Critic Offline

Registered: 08/30/04
Posts: 19262
Loc: Walnut Creek, CA
Some VQ35 engines simply burn oil. The issue seems to be a bit more prevalent on those with MTs. There isn't a whole lot you can do aside from checking the oil level frequently. Nissan specs 5w-30 conventional for most versions of the VQ35 with 3-mo/3750-mi service intervals for most driving conditions.
11 Prius, 158K, ACDelco Syn 0w20
07 Accord I4, 122K, M1 EP 0w20
10 Altima 3.5, 40k, M1 EP 5w30
92 Previa, 167k, Chevron 5w30

#3015095 - 05/27/13 06:41 PM Re: 2002 Nissan Maxima Oil Selection / Burning Issues [Re: soundwavefd]
asiancivicmaniac Offline

Registered: 01/12/05
Posts: 4280
Loc: FL
Just check often and top off as necessary. I think mine currently leaks/burns 1.5-2 qts per 5000 miles. Make sure you park on level ground when you check or the dipstick will deceive you.

Try Mobil 1 0W-40 or Rotella T6 5W-40. It basically runs well on anything. I don't know how much you're burning, but if you're using more than a couple quarts over an oil change then maybe you're better off using a good dino so you're not literally burning money.
2002 Nissan Maxima (beater): Napa Syn 5W-30, Proline 14459
2016 Ford Fiesta ST (fun car): Pennzoil Platinum 5W-20, Bosch D+ 3330

#3015137 - 05/27/13 07:24 PM Re: 2002 Nissan Maxima Oil Selection / Burning Issues [Re: soundwavefd]
Mau Offline

Registered: 03/11/07
Posts: 700
Loc: Thornhill, Ontario, Canada
Correction 02+ vq35's have this common problem. 01 and below have the bulletproof vq30 that doesn't burn any oil at all...
17 MB C43 AMG - Mobil 1 0w40

#3015165 - 05/27/13 08:02 PM Re: 2002 Nissan Maxima Oil Selection / Burning Issues [Re: soundwavefd]
fdcg27 Offline

Registered: 09/25/09
Posts: 14646
Loc: OH
Take the advice offered by others on replacing the PCV valve.
Also check the tubing to it and ensure it isn't clogged.
If the problem is the rings, they may simply be stuck.
Ring replacement is not economically feasible for this eleven year old midline car, but it may be possible to free them.
Check the oil adds forum for suggestions.
You might try Valvoline Maxlife.
I'd start with the 5W-30 and go from there if necessary.
I wouldn't bother with an expensive synthetic in an engine that's going to drink it.
17 Forester 6K M1 AFE 0W20
12 Accord LX 69K SS 0W20
09 Forester 95K M1HM 10W30
01 Focus ZX3 118K PP 5W20
96 Accord LX 104K T5 10W30
95 BMW 318 163K

#3015314 - 05/27/13 10:19 PM Re: 2002 Nissan Maxima Oil Selection / Burning Issues [Re: soundwavefd]
FZ1 Offline

Registered: 02/07/08
Posts: 4638
Loc: Texas
+1. I would not use PP or PU. These are thin oils with lots of cleaners which may exacerbate the problem. I would try the 5-30 Maxlife blend.

#3016497 - 05/29/13 07:25 AM Re: 2002 Nissan Maxima Oil Selection / Burning Issues [Re: soundwavefd]
soundwavefd Offline

Registered: 11/27/12
Posts: 28
Loc: DE
Ok I will change the PCV and check the tubing etc.

I heard that maybe a blend oil might be good for this car? Would a straight synthetic be ok even though it might burn more of it?

I do not know too much about High Mileage oils but maybe I should look into that as well?

#3016531 - 05/29/13 08:13 AM Re: 2002 Nissan Maxima Oil Selection / Burning Issues [Re: soundwavefd]
dparm Offline

Registered: 04/19/10
Posts: 13427
Loc: Chicago, IL
I would definitely replace the PCV as that's fairly cheap and easy. A compression or leakdown test might be helpful, and visually inspect the engine for any obvious leaks (i.e. valve cover gaskets).

Otherwise, I'd say switch to a 5w30 high mileage and monitor for one or two OCIs.
2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport

#3072958 - 07/22/13 10:48 AM Re: 2002 Nissan Maxima Oil Selection / Burning Issues [Re: dparm]
vq35i35 Offline

Registered: 12/05/12
Posts: 4
Loc: Boston MA

Here is my experience on the oil burning issue on my i35 and my steps to corrective action:

My car: i35 2004 with VQ35.
Current mileage 125k. issue started at around 75k

I did a whole lot of research in the maxima forums, bitog and other infiniti forums for various solutions and the following helped.

What i believe: The oil consumption issue in the VQ35 is caused by the following:

a) Bad piston rings
b) bad valves
c) Oil leak in the Right Valve cover
d) PCV valve frozen ( but why ? see later)
e) Rear main oil seal ( infrequent)

Majority of the oil burn cases are a) c) b) d) in that order

At about 75k , i started burning a quart in about 800-900 miles. Shocked i started researching. Tried various weights of oils and brands and finally found that the following worked best on my car

Penzoil Ultra 5w-30 or 10w-30 in summer. Provides the least burn and moved by burn cycle to 1800 miles per quart.

I think PP also works fine , but never tried

What has happened to the rings ?

Bad design has resulted in the oil rings not being a tight fit / not cleaning up properly. This results in blowby which further causes the ring to accumulate carbon deposits. Over period of time the rings are fully packed with carbon deposits and largely fail to expand contract as needed. This causes higher blowby and heat into the crankcase which translates to the pcv vale pumping out more vaporized oil through the intake manifold. Your oil also turns black faster, by 1500 miles it has turned darker.

At this point oil is making its way into the engine via two routes: pcv-valve->Intake manifold and through the oil rings itself since they are largely frozen.
An example with pictures can be found below for the VK45 engine which suffers from the exact same issue.

We need two solutions to counter the bad design:

a) Clean the rings
b) prevent the rings from clogging up.
c) trap any possible oil in the intake manifold.

a) Clean the rings: There are several ways to clean the rings ( MMO soak, seafoam etc and numerous others). The two most effective ways that worked for me are as follows:

i) Do the KREEN treatment. drop kreen into the crankcase and fuel as directed ( dosage) and then run for 900-1000 miles. Do not extend oil with kreen in it for more than than recommended. kreen eats away varnish and gunk from the engine. Keep it too long and it will eat away gasket seals. After replacing Kreen check your valve covers and tighten the nuts. In my case oil was leaking out of the valve covers after the Kreen treatment and that also created a vaccum leak. I tightened all the bolts for the valve covers and that fixed the leak issue

ii) Replace oil and at the end of the next cycle run a BG109 ring cleaner in the engine and change oil. Follow instructions and do not overrun the engine. Instructions are to run for 10 mins in neutral at 1200 rpm and then flush. Follow the instructions !. play safe run for 9 min and quit.

III) Replace oil and filter ( penzoil 5w-30 with mobil 1 M110 filter)

Drive the car and you will see that the engine revs up very smoothly to 5k ( both standing / on the freeway). No sluggishness.

b) Preventing the rings from being clogged again:

Drop TCw-3 two stroke marine oil ( 1oz per 5 gal fuel into the tank). This lubricates Upper cylinder engine and may give you a mileage boost as well about 1-2mpg. The TCW-3 is clean burning and does not leave any residue. The particular one that i use is the

Penzoil Marine Premium Plus Synthetic Blend 2 Stroke TCW-3 Oil. A gallon goes for about $16 in the local auto stores and should last about 40 full tank ( mytank is 16 Gallon). The most important thing here is the TCw-3 labeling.

What does TCw-3 do ? Since it is in the fuel it helps lubricate the upper cylinder and the valves + being clean burn burns away any residue. It is also designed to prevent piston rings from sticking in the marine two stroke engines (2 strokes ahve no oil other than what is mixed in the fuel for lubrication). In the lower dosages it works wonders on the 4 stroke engines.

I carry a six pack 3 oz bottles filled with tcw-3 in my trunk. every full tank i drop a bottle in just before fillup . This is something you will have to do all the time. the six pack lasts me 6 weeks. You can go to wallmart and buy 3 oz travel bottles in teh travel section for 99cents each.

It will take about 2 full tanks to see the effect.

c) I added a catch can :

Please do not install the cheapo catch cans. this one has special sieve to allow oil to deposit when vaporized.


Oil burn is now down to a quart at about 2400-3000 miles. I basically add a quart about 2k miles and then go for an oil change at 5k. BTW i start with a full 5 quarts in the engine.

Engine Ping completely eliminated. ( caused by intake oil seep).

Even at 5k oil is not black on the dipstick

Mileage on the car went up by 1 mpg ( 24 in winter, 26 in summer).

Engine response is amazing.

Bad rings are not going to solve the oil burn completely unless you rering them. However this process is largely unintrusive and should take me to the 200k mark with ease with a little attention to the oil and the fuel mix.

On the oil front: PP Ultra 5w-30 is an amazing cleaner. I was an M1 fan for 20 years. I have switched to PP ultra at thi spoint. Not easy but the results convinced me otherwise. GC resulted in 1-2mpg lower mileage.

What else had i tried before this conclusion:

1) Replaced plugs
2) Cleaned MAF
3) Tried GC 0w-30, M1 0w-40 ( being heavier both burned less, but not by that much)
4) tried MMO in the oil and the tank ( helped some)
5) Tried the usual gas cleaners ( techron etc)
6) replaced PCV valve
7) checked for Right valve cover oil leaks and spark plug leaks ( mine were dry).

I have reached this conclusion after trial and error ( systematically) over 50k miles. Hope this helps. YMMV.

#3072988 - 07/22/13 11:25 AM Re: 2002 Nissan Maxima Oil Selection / Burning Issues [Re: soundwavefd]
Sayjac Offline

Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 11672
Loc: The Old North State
There is another possible explantion for the VQ35 burning oil. As the linked thread shows, similar to the 2.5L precats, the 3.5L can suffer the same fate.

3.5L Dead engine picture.

A general google search will also confirm this to also be an issue in VQ35 engines.

If this is the issue, oil choice will make little or no difference.

#3073073 - 07/22/13 12:53 PM Re: 2002 Nissan Maxima Oil Selection / Burning Issues [Re: Sayjac]
vq35i35 Offline

Registered: 12/05/12
Posts: 4
Loc: Boston MA
Agreed: I have seen the cat failure issue in the posts in the past. I think the damage is much more severe ( engine failure sooner).