Nissan Altima Timing Chain Guide Noise

Reader Question :

Hi Austin,

I don’t need any repair –  yet. My question is when.  I have a 1995 Nissan Altima with a metal timing chain on the 2.4L 4-cyl engine.  That engine is great but the upper chain guides get misaligned and cause noise. Nissan eliminated the upper guides in later models, so the usual solution is to remove the upper guides.  That’s a real labor expense, so my question is, what if I just live with the noise?  I’m retired, drive 3k miles a year and the car has 50k miles on it. How much longer can I live dangerously?

Sincerely,

Larry

Larry,

if you are certain that the noise is coming from the timing chain guides….I would replace them. Worst thing that can happen is the chain jumps and causes internal engine damage.   I have not seen of these cars do that but I know they had a serious oil leak from the timing chain seals years ago and it was a big job to replace them. Overhauling this engine because of a timing chain failure would be more money than the car is worth. 🙁

This is a sound engine otherwise and will last for years if properly maintained so if you want to keep the vehicle I would recommend the repair now.

Austin Davis

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2 Comments on "Nissan Altima Timing Chain Guide Noise"

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  1. TIM says:

    HI AUSTIN, I’M CURRENTLY HAVING MY 99 NISSAN ULTIMA FIXED FOR THIS EXACT REASON. THE TIMING CHAIN GUIDE HAS BROKEN. MAJOR NOISE FROM TIMING CHAIN AREA. A CLICKING NOISE THAT IS LOUD. A LOCAL HONEST MECHANIC HAS GIVEN ME A COST OF $650 LABOR AND COST OF PARTS. THIS INCLUDES NEW TIMING CHAIN AND SPROKETS UPPER AND LOWER INCLUDING THE ONE ON THE CAM. REQUIRES DROPPING OIL PAN AS WELL AS REPLACING THE WATER PUMP. THE REASONING HERE IS IF YOU GO DEEP INTO THE MOTOR REPLACE THESE WHILE YOUR THERE. I DEBATED TRASHING THE CAR BUT IT RUNS GOOD, HAS NEW TIRES AND I CONSIDERED THE COST OF A NEW CAR. THE TOTAL COST IS $1500-$1600. I DID ASK ABOUT JUST REPLACING THE BROKEN PART BUT BASED ON THE FACT THAT HE WOULD TEAR DOWN THE THE CAR/ENGINE. IT WAS BEST TO REPLACE THESE ITEMS. I THINK ALSO, NISSAN PROVIDES A TIMING CHAIN REPLACMENT KIT. NOT SURE IF THEY SALE JUST THE ITEMS SEPARATELY. ON MY CAR THERE ARE 2 CHAINS. AN EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL. I HAVE A FAMILY MECHANIC AND HE WAS WILLING BUT FELT THAT THE COST WAS FAIR PENDING THE IDEA OF MAKING THE TIME AT HOME TO FIX IT. THIS WAY I CAN HAVE IT BACK ON THE ROAD WITHIN THE WEEK. NEVER UNDERSTOOD WHY THEY WOULD USE NON-METAL ON CHAIN GUIDES. THE CAR HAS NEARLY 200,000 MILES. I GUESS I SHOULD EXPECT IT. THE CARD HAS BEEN AWESOME FOR ME. I’M HOPING TO DRIVE IT FOR MORE YEARS TO COME.

    • Austin says:

      I think that is a fair price for the job, and if you are happy with the vehicle I think I would proceed with the repair as you described. Normally I would NOT recommend putting this kind of money into a vehicle with that many miles but in the current condition the car is basically worthless to resell so you might as well press on and keep a car you are happy with and want to hang on to for a while longer. The only other option you might want to consider would be call a few junk yards in your area and see how much a used engine will cost, and then ask your mechanic how much to install it. Might be a few bucks more than the repair but if you could get an engine with less than 100K miles…..might be money well spent.

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