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VQ35DE Maxima with timing chain rattle #5446827 06/05/20 11:19 AM
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Polkaman Offline OP
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Hi all, I did some searching but couldn't find a definitive answer.
I have a 2002 Maxima with the VQ35DE at 144k with what I assume to be the timing chain rattle that these cars get.
I'll get rattling that sounds kinda like fast lifter tick when I cold start the car for about a second. The rattling can also be heard when I'm on the throttle from 1.5k to ~2.5k RPMs, more so when I'm heavy on the gas. I've noticed this start to happen probably the last 6k miles.

What I'm wondering is what does this mean for the life of the engine? I've read some people say that they've had the rattle for tens of thousands of miles and just to ignore it, and some say that it'll cause engine failure sooner rather than later.
Does driving hard affect the longevity of the tensioner? Should I baby the car until I can get some engine work done or just drive like normal and keep the oil topped?

Re: VQ35DE Maxima with timing chain rattle [Re: Polkaman] #5446868 06/05/20 12:19 PM
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Is it actually chain rattle? Probably a costly repair .


2015 F150 2.7
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Re: VQ35DE Maxima with timing chain rattle [Re: Polkaman] #5446886 06/05/20 12:39 PM
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Chain rattle can come from worn guides, a 'stretched' chain, or a worn / maxed-out tensioner. At best, the chain can jump a tooth or multiple teeth, suddenly throwing the engine out of time. Far enough out of time (if it's still able to run), pistons can start striking valves, which leads to a catastrophic event. You'd have to consult with an engineer regarding your odds if you baby it, versus wringing it out every chance you get. Logic would say to baby it, but I'm not convinced it matters. The minimum RPM you're going to achieve during a normal, conservative drive is 2,500. Ever seen engine internals moving at that speed? It's enough energy to allow the chain to do whatever it's going to do.

At 144K, if the car's been receiving 'by the book' oil changes with conventional oil, your story is not surprising. Get the noise diagnosed, and the source fixed. Ask pretty much any early GM 3.6, or 2.4 owner who followed the OLM. The lucky ones just dealt with the noise until they could get it fixed. The not-so-lucky...well, you can picture it.


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Re: VQ35DE Maxima with timing chain rattle [Re: Polkaman] #5446895 06/05/20 12:55 PM
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+1 on the expensive repair. Good friend had the same problem. He did not get it repaired and it ended up damaging the engine which required replacement engine.

Re: VQ35DE Maxima with timing chain rattle [Re: Polkaman] #5446908 06/05/20 01:12 PM
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I used to have one of those cars. A lot of peeps on the Maxima forums kept driving for years with that rattle. Some have said 10w40 helps quiet it down.


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Re: VQ35DE Maxima with timing chain rattle [Re: Polkaman] #5446909 06/05/20 01:15 PM
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Check your oil level! That engine was an oil burner. Nissan had a number of years where that engine would burn oil. When the oil level gets low, the timing chain rattles. Had this issue on my 2004 Nissan Quest. It affected a number of Nissan models around this era.

Do a quick search on 2002 Nissan Maxima oil burning.


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Re: VQ35DE Maxima with timing chain rattle [Re: Polkaman] #5446937 06/05/20 01:43 PM
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Polkaman Offline OP
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Thanks for the replies. It certainly is an oil burner! I've been using full synthetic for as long as I've owned it, might try switching to a semi-syn and see if that helps with the burning/rattle. I've probably been adding around half a quart per 700ish miles for a while now.

For the past couple days I've been feathering the throttle and letting it rev to just past 3k when I shift, it seems to make hardly any noise when I do that.

I'll give the 10w40 a shot, it seems experimenting with different oils might be my best shot at quieting this thing down until I can look at swapping in a later generation VQ35HR motor with the oil burning and tensioner rattle issues addressed. (not to mention more power grin)

Re: VQ35DE Maxima with timing chain rattle [Re: Polkaman] #5446949 06/05/20 01:55 PM
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How long have you had the car? Do you know it well?

It's kind of normal for them to sound like a tractor in the morning when first started. Can you tell if it is definitely timing chain rattle vs. light detonation? I believe chain rattle will not be affected by acceleration, it should rattle at a steady state, while detonation would occur while accelerating, possibly lightly through that range.

Source: I've had a 97, 99, and 01 maxima and an '05 and '06 G35 that all rattled and knocked lightly at low rpm under load.


'06 Infiniti G35 Sedan 6MT - 180k
Re: VQ35DE Maxima with timing chain rattle [Re: Polkaman] #5446994 06/05/20 02:58 PM
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IF the rattle goes away after start you're good, if you keep hearing it at various RPM Id get it fixed.

Neither of my Nissan V6's had it, nor does my nissan V8.

When you say hard on the gas are you sure you aren't hearing detonation?

Try 40 something and see if it quiets down, but if its heard everywhere you are on borrowed time.

Id be curious to know if it got steady oil changes or if it had an owner like my sister that " let it go every now and then"



If it makes you feel any better if it were a toyota V6 of the same era you would have already put in 1.5K in it in timing belts, tensioners, rollers, and water pumps I think the max is 90K or 10 years. If timing out vs miles you'd be closing on another 1.5 in a year and half.




UD




Last edited by UncleDave; 06/05/20 03:11 PM.

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Re: VQ35DE Maxima with timing chain rattle [Re: Polkaman] #5447030 06/05/20 04:01 PM
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The start-up rattle is almost guaranteed to be the chain. I wouldn't worry about that.

The rattle at 3-4k under load is likely pinging. Almost every VQ35 I drive has bad pinging because people use cheap 87 octane in them. Those engines LOVE 91+ octane, don't cheap out.

Run your tank low and fill it up with a full tank of premium and a bottle of techron. Give it 1/4 tank or so and see if the pinging gets better or goes away.


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Re: VQ35DE Maxima with timing chain rattle [Re: Polkaman] #5447032 06/05/20 04:03 PM
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I've had an '03 and currently have an '04 VQ35DE, and neither ever burned any oil, so it's not all of them. In my experience, it's one or both of these things that are causing your noise:

1. The top of the chain guide (under tension from the tensioner) breaks off allowing the chain to rub on the metal part of the tensioner. There is a re-designed guide that fixes this issue.
2. Oil galley gasket ages and breaks apart, causing an internal oil leak, lowering overall oil pressure.

Both fixes require the timing cover to come off and I would recommend doing both over just one of them. I've had quotes at the dealer around $2000, but I did mine myself on my '04 Quest. Not overly difficult, but can be pretty time consuming.


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1990 Nissan 300zx VG30DE - Castrol Edge 0W-40
2004 Nissan Quest VQ35DE - Pennzoil YB 10W-30
2003 Ford Excursion 7.3 PSD - Rotella T6 5W-40
2005 Ford Taurus 3.0 Vulcan - QS HM 5W-30
Re: VQ35DE Maxima with timing chain rattle [Re: Polkaman] #5447128 06/05/20 05:59 PM
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Polkaman Offline OP
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The noise on startup sounds like a bad case of lifter tick, but more high pitched. It always lasts for maybe a half second then goes away. But its still pretty loud.

The rattle I hear under acceleration is only from 1.5k to about 2.5k, and only happens if I'm 70%+ pressed down on the throttle. If I had to describe the noise, I'd say it sounds like keys jingling in your pocket.

Previous owner, who had it the 133k miles before me might have ran 87 in it because of the altitude. I've always put premium in for the 12k miles I've owned it. Issue only started about 6k miles ago.

Do you think doing the chain guide/oil galley gasket be worth the time/effort compared to swapping in a newer VQ engine? Considering my engine already burns oil for a living. I'd be doing either of these projects myself

Re: VQ35DE Maxima with timing chain rattle [Re: Polkaman] #5447225 06/05/20 08:34 PM
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The '03 I had was a G35, and I don't remember what octane it called for, but my '04 Quest I've only ever used 85, or whatever the lowest is when I pump it (I'm in Utah, high altitude like Colorado) and have never had an issue. It's at 196k miles, runs great, and looks like this, at least 30k miles ago anyways. Not sure how the Maxima is tuned or calls for octane wise, however, but I've never heard a hint of pinging, ever in mine.

Hard to say what is the best in your situation though. Fixing it, I think, would be easier than yanking the motor, but if it's drinking oil, yikes. There's actually an inspection port you can pull off if you want to check the chain guide. That will tell you for sure if that's making at least part of the noise. Just takes a little mirror on a stick to get down to it once you take the plate off. Here's a good WRITE-UP and explanation of it all, except it doesn't cover the oil galley gasket, but you can see it in the pictures. It looks daunting, but can be done with the motor in the car. My secondary chains/guides looked fine, so I didn't replace them.


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1990 Nissan 300zx VG30DE - Castrol Edge 0W-40
2004 Nissan Quest VQ35DE - Pennzoil YB 10W-30
2003 Ford Excursion 7.3 PSD - Rotella T6 5W-40
2005 Ford Taurus 3.0 Vulcan - QS HM 5W-30
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