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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anyone has this problem on their L31 Altima? It's strange that the 2002 & 2003 model years are not affected (not shown on the TSB).

From the reading I've been doing, it sounds like the Frontier trucks had quite a few with this issue. Sounds like not all are affected, so not sure what the root cause was on this problem.

TSB: NTB07-042
Description: VQ ENGINE; BUZZING / WHINING NOISE FROM TIMING CHAIN AREA
There is a buzzing / whining noise coming from one or both secondary timing chain /camshaft sprocket areas. The noise may increase with engine speed (RPM).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
On the 3.5s like yours, MOST likely it has a broken timing chain guide!
Yes, I have the TSB and I'm aware of the issue ... the chain tensioner guide slider for the two secondary cam-chains wears out very quickly, and the cam-chain starts chewing on the metal plunger and backbone of the tensioner. See this thread for some photos, page 1 and 3.

wierd engine whine noise - Maxima Forums

My question is - are the Altimas just as susceptible? It's very strange, because on the Altima boards there is hardly any talk about it. Yet, on the Maxima and Frontier boards there is all kinds of talk about it.

I talked to a couple Nissan dealer service departments, and they've never even heard about this problem. I think it takes about 60K miles for this to show up, so maybe there will lots of owner's who suddenly have this issue, and will notice it by the whining made by the cam-chain when it finally eats down to the metal on the tensioner. This issue seems to be a pretty hot topic on the internet too if you search for "NTB07-042".

I want to know what the hell Nissan was thinking. They have had cam-chain tensioner problems since the first generation Altimas (1993) and they yet haven't figured out a good design? I did notice the technical bulletin does NOT include 2002 and 2003 3.5L VQ V6s for some reason. I'm thinking they must have tired to save 5 cents per tensioner and switch to some junk plastic starting in 2004.

I just bought a used 2004 Altima 3.5 SE with only 18,500 miles on it and figured it was going to be trouble free after talking to the dealers and they claimed that motor was "bullet proof". Unfortunately, the power train warranty on the car was over Oct 2008.

I think Nissan is going to in for a rude awakening when all these VQ engines start whining in the next year or so. I'm assuming they all will eventual eat down the tensioner slide block ... unless there is something I don't know, like was it only a few bad batches of tensioner that made it into production? Anyone know? Since there is no VIN beak in the technical bulletin, I'm thinking every one listed in the bulletin is a ticking time bomb ... including mine.

I'm going to write Nissan about this ... there should be no excuse for such shoddy engineering. They should have their cam-chain system perfected by now on all their vehicles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
^^^Yup! Pretty much any year and any Nissan with the VQ in it.
Ouch ... so do you ever see any higher mileage VQs that do not have the cam-chain whine? In other words, does or will it happen to EVERY VQ on the road at some point, or was it a hit or miss deal dependent on if there were bad parts installed at the factory?

Supposedly, the cause of the tensioner blocks getting worn down is because the backside of the cam-chain that rubs on the block has sharp edges on it; probably from when the links were cut out of sheet metal before they were put together to make the chain.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
^^^Yup! Pretty much any year and any Nissan with the VQ in it.
There are actually 2 problems with these VQs!
1 - A rattle from the timing chain area. Broken timing chain guide, that now has slid down and now the tensioner isn't positioned where it should be!

2 - A whining or buzzing sound from timing chain area. Becomes more high pitched when rpms get higher! This is the worn camshaft tensioner guides. This problem is MORE labor intensive!


Problem 2 is notorious on the newer 4.0 engines, found in the new bodystyle Pathfinders, Xterras and Frontiers!
What's the lowest mileage VQ you have seen with these problems?
 
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