Major Problem Nissan Altima


Old 02-08-09, 07:21 PM
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Major Problem Nissan Altima

98 Altima 5 speed manual 4 cyl 2.4 170,000

On Friday my wife's Altima suffered a meltdown. The motor statted making clattering noises and the transmission slips out of gear and the engine revs high.

I narrowed the clattering noises to the front (transverse mounted engine...the "front" is on the passenger side) and I believe the noise is coming form the timing chain slapping against the guide, which is positioned at the top of the chain, just under the valve cover. I imagine that the timing chain tensioner has given it up. Comments?

The real mystery to me is why the transmission slips out gear. Are the problems related/same? What would cause the the tranny to suddenly disengage?

Also, my mechanic is several miles away. Would driving the car in this condition cause further problems?

All advice welcome.

Thanks in advance....

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Old 02-08-09, 07:51 PM
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slapping noise, could be the timing chain or could be wrist pin slap a mechanics stethoscope will help to diagnose the problem, the trans slipping out of gear will be either not properly getting it into gear, bent shift forks, or worn gears and syncroes, most likely bent shift forks if it just started doing it. should be able to drive it to the mechanic with out any major problems hard acceleration will cause the slipping out of gear to be worse.

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Old 02-08-09, 07:53 PM
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If it continually slips out of gear but you can clutch it and put it back into gear, I would say the noise isn't coming from the engine, but from the transmission. Obviously the engine revs high when the tranny slips out of gear.

The timing chain tensioner wouldn't have anything to do with it. Although, if both were happening suddenly together, it would qualify for an odd coincidence.
Old 02-09-09, 04:22 AM
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Of course I'm somewhat biased, but I would have it towed rather than driving it. I lost count of the number of cars I've seen at garages where there was damage done by driving that cost more to repair than the tow bill would have been.
Old 02-10-09, 05:32 PM
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the_tow_guy may have been right. We drove the car about 500 yards on the way to the mechanic when it suddenly died. Had to tow it anyway. I'm not sure if the problem was exacerbated by driving it or not, but certainly a tow could have saved it.

The mechanic says broken timing chain and $1000+ in repairs. Since the car has 170,000 miles on it, we are going to pronounce it dead.

What do we do with the corpse? Should we donate it to a local charity? Should I pull parts from it and sell it piece by piece on ebay? Sell it to a junkyard? Suggestions?
Old 02-10-09, 07:33 PM
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the ebay idea can work but that depends on your level of commitment to cleaning the parts and posting them, I would probably check on the donation angle unless you need the money

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Old 02-15-09, 10:24 AM
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Timing chain break = dead altima. very expensive to fix a ton of labor. a lot more than $1000! Plus timing chain break means car shouldn't come close to running--valves would have been damaged as soon as the chain broke--I would think.
Old 02-15-09, 10:36 AM
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I can't find anything that says this is an interference engine....seems kind of high unless the other repairs were just unrelated to the timing chain. Maybe the trans had it's own issues as was mentioned?

Anyway...don't think a charity will want it non-running. Unless it's one of the places that does job training for mechanics.
Old 02-15-09, 01:16 PM
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I've never heard of anything like this, but then again I am from the old cars school: What if the entire crankshaft lost it's ability to stay put with relative little 'end play', and suddenly now the whole shaft shifts (relatively) wildly left and right. THAT could conceivably explain the sudden clatter of the timing chain from such movement, AND perhaps gears coming disengaged in transmission at same time. Like I said, I've never heard of this, but.......wild theory to say the least, but who knows.
Old 02-15-09, 07:51 PM
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I just replaced a timing chain on an Altima. I did a lot of research on the timing chain before I started work on the car. I can tell you they have nothing to do with each other.

There are two chains. One on top and a long one that runs from the crank to the top sprocket that turns the cams.

I would look at the trans.


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