What Are The Most Common Issues With Nissan 3.5 Liter V6 Engine?

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During your research into exploring various engines, you are bound to come across Nissan’s VQ35DE engine. So you may ask yourself: What sets this engine apart from all the other engines manufactured by Japan in the 2000s? Released in 2000, this engine is one of the company’s most durable to date.

Part of the VQ family, this machine utilizes a 3.5L V6 engine and promises longevity and reliability. This makes the engine perfectly compatible with sedans and premium SUVs. The Infiniti G35 and Nissan 350Z popularly utilize it.

However, no engine is perfect, and the Nissan VQ35DE has four common issues which we will touch upon today:

  1. High Oil Consumption
  2. Engine Oil Leak
  3. Failures With The Timing Chains
  4. Minor Damages

While the Nissan 3.5 engine problems may be quite minor owing to its general reliability, it is imperative to explore them in detail so you can have a holistic picture of the overall engine.

The 4 Most Common Nissan VQ35DE Engine Problems

In this section, I will be elaborating upon the four issues mentioned above. Alongside that, I’ll also be looking at the extent to which the issues can appear, their symptoms, and possible repairs.

Without further ado, let us begin!

1. High Oil Consumption

The Main Problem

While some oil consumption is natural for any engine, excessive internal consumption can be detrimental. A major worry for you may be the extent to which excessive oil consumption appears as an issue with the engine in question.

Fortunately, this issue is not fatal with the VQ35, despite being a common issue that appears with age and mileage. The only reason it’s on the list is that this issue appears with almost any engine with time and lack of maintenance.

In the case of the VQ35, there are no major underlying reasons as to why excessive oil consumption can occur. One may argue that the sensitive catalysts of the engine may produce ceramic dust upon contact with low-quality fuel, leading to engine failures. Another reason may be coking or damage to catalytic converters due to bad weather.

However, such an issue usually occurs after the 250-300,000 mile mark of usage. The indication here is that the engine is quite reliable and durable for its oil usage.

The most that can happen upon high oil consumption is a frequent need to refuel, which may stress your budget. However, if proper maintenance is kept, such a problem may never arise.

Spotting The Issue

This is fairly simple. There are several ways to spot excessive oil consumption in your vehicle:

  • Crusted oil deposits on Spark Plugs or other parts of the Engine.
  • Excessive Smoke from the Exhaust (a sign of a major problem).
  • Upstream oxygen sensors.
  • Overheating.

The second symptom may indicate that the engine is nearing the end of its life. This happens when the engine begins to lose compression and burns oil much faster than is the norm. However, in general, you will not run into a detrimental variant of this issue during most of using this engine.

Fixing The Issue

The most obvious solution is to use high-quality oil. Using a heavier-weight oil may also be beneficial in tackling this problem. Another possible way to reduce oil consumption is to avoid idling the engine for too long. A noticeable issue with the VQ35DE is that it can consume greater oil over shorter distances.

This is also why choking may cause greater consumption. These solutions do not strike at the root of the problem. This is because reducing excessive consumption can be far too expensive.

You may not want to throw away so much money to solve an issue that has taken shape mainly due to the natural aging and wearing of an engine.

2. Engine Oil Leak

Overview

Once again, engine oil leaks are a common occurrence for engines that have undergone wear and tear. A common concern for owners then is the propensity for an engine to experience oil leaks.

The VQ35DE has valve cover gaskets (VCG) from where oil leaks occur. Since these valve covers are made from rubber material and go through many wear and tear during heat cycles, leaks can develop.

This cycle decreases pressure on the internal combustion engine, creating errors for the phase regulator where oil is squeezed. This leads to the material degradation of the VCG, and the oil can seep from the holes onto the vulnerable components of the engine.

Despite not being an urgent problem, excessive cracking can lead to greater and more hazardous oil leaks. This is because the oil may fall onto the hotter components of the engine as well, causing engine failure. Hence, it is advisable that you look into repairing the issue as soon as symptoms begin to appear.

Spotting The Issue

While visible oil leaks may appear to you the foremost indication, this isn’t always the case. The reason is that some of the leaked oil may burn off after coming into contact with hotter components, creating a burning smell.

Hence, it may actually be the case that by the time the visible leak appears, the damage to the VCG is fatal. In any case, here are the common symptoms that indicate a problem with the VQ35 engine:

  • Visible oil leaks.
  • Burning smells.
  • Emission of smoke from the engine bay.
  • Decrease in power and efficiency.

The last two indicators should prompt you to stop using your vehicle up until repairs are done. This is because emitting smoke and decreased power can be safety hazards, and your car shouldn’t be used while the engine is in such a precarious situation.

Fixing The Issue

You may be wondering about the expenses of repairing such a vital component of your engine. Yes, while excessive oil consumption may have expensive solutions owing to the aging of the engine, the same isn’t the case with VCGs.

Fortunately; you can purchase VCG’s at a very low cost of $20-40. Similarly, it is also quite simple for the individual car owner to make the repairs by themselves. This can help to bypass the intensive labor costs demanded by dealers.

To conclude, however, it is safe to assume that while oil leaks can be a definite issue with the VQ35DE, it is easily fixable.

3. Failures With The Timing Chains

Overview

The timing chain guides and tensioners are important parts of the vehicle’s timing chain system. If you ever hear loud rattling noises in your car, then it is possible that there is a problem with the timing chain system.

Unfortunately, this is one of the only issues that can actually be associated with the Nissan VQ35DE engine.

While the extent of the instability varies, you must be on the lookout for maintenance at around the 100k mile mark. This is when the timing chain guides and tensioners usually begin to wear out and show signs of failure.

If allowed to prolong, the complete failure of the timing chain system will lead to a loss in power and efficiency. Complimenting this would be loud and irritating sounds which ruin the driving experience.

Spotting The Issue

There are a few prominent symptoms that may indicate there is a problem with timing chains, guides, or tensioners:

  • Loud and rattling noises.
  • Check Engine Lights.
  • A loss in power and efficiency.

The first and most common indicator is the noise produced by the engine bay. This should be your go-to signal that maintenance needs to be conducted as soon as possible. If the timing chain slips and throws off ignition timing, additional indicators appear that includes a power loss.

Fixing The Issue

Now, you have two options when it comes to doing repairs. One, you could replace the parts responsible for the current issue. This includes replacing the timing chains, guides, or tensioners. While the cost of replacement parts is generally on the lower end at around $40, the cost of labor is quite expensive.

This is because of the intensive and delicate nature of the task of replacing individual parts. You can expect the cost to be somewhere from $200-400.

The second more advisable option is to go straight to replacing the timing chain system on the VQ35DE3 engine. This obviously depends a lot on when the specific failure occurs.

If your engine has aged to the point where components are failing en masse, then a complete tool kit change isn’t effective. However, if you intend to keep the car, then you should definitely aim for a complete replacement in order to avoid further issues.

4. Minor Damages

Overview

This is another ordinary issue that may arise in any engine. However, you may ask the question: how well does the engine do in the face of such everyday issues? The overheating of the engine in the VQ35DE3 may be felt most deeply in the 5th and 6th cylinders.

This usually happens because the valve cover may close early, causing oil to drip onto the Spark Plugs. Furthermore, the expansion tank of the system may experience a coolant leak, which can cause overheating.

However, since the cooling system of the engine is generally quite reliable, this issue never really becomes any form of existential threat to the engine.

Spotting The Issue

This is actually quite simple. The symptoms indicating a problem with the cooling system could be:

  • Abnormal amount of white smoke from the vehicle.
  • Low engine coolant and consequent overheating.
  • Visible puddle of coolant underneath the vehicle.
  • Fault codes and a check engine light.

However, you should know that overheating and cooling system failures are generally quite minor issues for this engine. If you feel that certain symptoms do not indicate a genuine issue with the system, then you should turn your vehicle’s heater on and allow the coolant to circulate gradually.

This should lead to a drop in temperature. But, if your suspicions turn out to be well-founded, repairs may be required. You might not feel like the problem is severe enough, but too much maintenance can never be a bad thing.

Fixing The Issue

When it comes to solutions, you should look towards repairing the expansion tank and the cooling system. The costs of replacing the complete system are relatively quite cheap, and you can avoid the labor costs by replacing it yourself. This means that the overall process isn’t very difficult either.

However, you should be prompt in your replacement because excessive overheating can lead to detrimental effects on other engine components. While this is rarely ever the case for the VQ35DE, you should take preemptive maintenance measures just in the case following the 150,000-mile mark.

What Is The Nissan VQ35DE 3.5L V6 Engine?

The Nissan VQ35DE is one of the earliest mass-manufactured engines in the world. Introduced in 2000, the engine has gone on to integrate into numerous sedan and premium SUV vehicles.

Popular amongst these are the Nissan 350Z and the Infiniti G35. It is a 3.5 V6 engine that offers great performance alongside brilliant reliability and durability.

The horsepower offers ranges from around 230-300 hp, depending on the version used. There are a number of different versions of the engine in use, with newer ones launching with significant modifications.

The major differences between the newer versions and the older ones are modified head ports, new intake manifold, less rigid valve springs, and reinforced cylinder blocks.

As is then evident, the engine has undergone significant upgrades over the years to increase its reliability and performance. It also has a lot of tuning potential; the installation of turbines and ready-made turbo kits can allow for significant increases in horsepower.

Hence, we can conclude that the VQ35DE is a very reliable engine with decent performance and great adaptability. It is a perfect engine for both passenger cars and premium SUVs.

What Is The Reliability Of The Nissan VQ35DE3.5L Engine?

For most of you reading this, this is perhaps the most important section of the article. So, how does this engine fare when it comes to reliability?

It is generally agreed upon that this engine has very decent reliability. With proper maintenance, you can go at least 300,000 miles without encountering any significant issues.

The engine itself has no real inherent flaws, and common issues provide no real existential threat to the engine. Of course, the fact that this engine is still in use twenty years from launch means that it delivers brilliant results on durability and performance.

Of course, a lot depends on how you maintain the engine itself. Using high-quality oil and doing regular repairs to avoid timing chain failures are a must.

This will help avoid any of the major issues that can prop up, and you can rest assured that your vehicle will run for a very long time. This can be reassuring, to be sure, but it depends a lot on the care shown by the car owner for their engine.

Lastly, with new updates being done on a frequent basis; some newer models of the engine display greater durability in their vehicles than others.

What Cars Use The Nissan VQ35DE3.5L Engine

It is nigh impossible to track down all the models and years which use this highly popular engine.

However, here is a list of vehicles that may provide an overview of the cars which utilize this engine:

  • 2003-2006 Nissan 350Z
  • 2003-2007 Infiniti G35
  • 2013-2018 Teana L33
  • 2003-present Nissan Murano
  • 2014-present Infiniti QX60
  • 2001-2004 and 2013- Present Nissan Pathfinder
  • 2010-2016 Quest RE52
  • 2002-2018 Nissan Altima
  • 2003-2008 Cefiro J31
  • 2002-2004 Infiniti I35
  • 2002-2018 Nissan Maxima
  • 2002-2010 Elgrand E51
  • 2013 Infiniti JX35

This list does not cover all the vehicles which use the VQ35 engine since such a list would be quite long. However, this list still provides an idea of the diverse nature of vehicles that utilize this engine, both from Nissan and under the Infiniti model.

Nissan VQ35DE3 Engine Specs

Engine VQ35DE
Production 2000 – Present
Aspiration Natural
Displacement 3500cc (3.5 liters)
Horsepower 230 – 300 (can increase with turbo kit up to 500)
Torque 246 – 275 lb-ft
Compression 10:1 or 10:5:1
Redline 6500 to 7000
Bore 94.5 mm
Head material Aluminum
Block material Aluminum

The Benefits Of Choosing The Nissan VQ35DE3

Based on its specifications, it isn’t hard to notice the solid performance this engine may provide.

Here are some benefits of the VQ35DE3 which encapsulate what this engine has to offer:

  • It is quite versatile, as is apparent from the diverse range of vehicles that make use of it. It has a horsepower of up to 300bhp while also having a fuel economy of 22 miles per gallon.
  • Highly reliable and durable engine. With proper care and maintenance, you can expect to go around 250-400,000 miles without experiencing major issues.
  • It has fine-tuning potential and responds well to modifications. Whether it be mild engine upgrades on the exhaust manifold or extreme integration of turbochargers, you can adapt this engine the way you see fit.
  • Since the engine has been in use for so long, spare parts are always available. This makes repairs and replacements inexpensive and accessible.
  • The engine uses forged crankshafts and connecting rods which assist its power potential and durability. You simply cannot expect to have this vehicle and run into any major issues before the 200,000-mile mark at the latest.

FAQs

What Does The VQ35DE3.5L Stand For?

It is quite easy to be overwhelmed by the complex nature of the engine’s name. However, you can deconstruct it and make it more accessible.

Here’s how this is done:

  1. VQ: Name of the Engine family produced by Nissan 1994 onwards.
  2. 35: Engine has 3.5L displacement.
  3. D: It has dual overhead cams.
  4. E: Electronic Port Fuel Injections.

What Is The Approximate Life Expectancy Of The Nissan 3.5 Engine?

Depending on competent care and maintenance being shown, the engine can run smoothly for an upward of 300-350,000 miles without significant issues. At around the 400,000-mile mark, the car may show signs of aging and wearing. This is where proper repairs should be made to extend engines life.

What Type Of Vehicles Is Best Suited For The VQ35DE3.5L?

With its versatile qualities, this engine has been integrated into a wide variety of vehicles. This includes premium SUVs, Sedans, and Coupes. A wider list of cars which use this engine is given above.

Conclusion

So, what conclusions can you draw from this article? Well, the foremost one is that despite the Nissan 3.5 engine problems, it is a solid and reliable engine. Not only does it provide good performance to complement its durability, but its features also make it quite versatile.

This means that the engine is a great fit for passenger cars and SUVs alike. If such a versatile, modifiable, and durable engine meets your demands, you are highly recommended to look for a vehicle that has this engine.

The more you look for the latest versions of this engine, the less likely you are to find vehicles carrying all the issues mentioned above.