Nissan VQ35DE Engine Problems

3 Common Nissan VQ35DE Engine Problems

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Nissan’s VQ35DE is a 3.5L V6 engine that began production in 2000. It’s a long running engine that Nissan is still making to this day. The 3.5 V6 offers 228-300 horsepower, depending upon the specific model. It’s a great performance engine that also offers solid reliability and longevity. However, the VQ35 still has a few common issues including oil consumption, oil leaks, and the timing chain. In this article, I discuss these Nissan VQ35DE engine problems and reliability.

Nissan VQ35DE Engine Problems

Nissan VQ35DE Engine Problems

  • High oil consumption
  • Timing chain / tensioner
  • Oil leaks

We’ll touch on these 3 issues in-depth throughout the rest of this article. At the end we’ll also discuss VQ35DE reliability and longevity. Before diving in it’s important to add a few quick notes. We’re calling these Nissan VQ35DE problems the MOST common for good reason. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re extremely common issues that affect a large percentage of engines. Rather, when failures do occur these are a few of the most common areas.

Nissan has been using the 3.5L V6 for over two decades now. We don’t believe they would stick with the engine that long if it didn’t offer an excellent balance of performance, reliability, and longevity. That said, the VQ35DE is a reliable engine that’s known to make it beyond 200,000 miles with few failures or major issues.

Nissan 350Z VQ35DE Engine Problems

*Nissan 350Z powered by the VQ35DE engine pictured above

1) High Oil Consumption

This is a topic we’ll be fairly quick on. The VQ35DE often burns oil at a pretty fast rate, especially with age and higher mileage. However, high oil consumption doesn’t appear to cause any reliability concerns. We’re not aware of any other underlying problems that cause higher oil consumption. It also doesn’t cause any other problems for the engine.

Of course, it’s important to pay attention to oil levels as you may need to top up between oil changes. Running too low on oil is never a good thing. Otherwise, there really aren’t any downsides to the high oil consumption on the Nissan VQ35DE engine. Apart from spending a few extra dollars on oil between changes.

One final note – though this isn’t a common problem by any means. If oil consumption gets too excessive you may consider looking further into it. This is especially true if it’s accompanied by excess smoke from the exhaust. As engines age they can lose compression and begin burning more oil. It’s usually a sign the VQ35DE is nearing the end of its life.

How to Avoid High Oil Consumption

There are a couple small things you may be able to do to help reduce oil consumption for the 3.5L V6 Nissan engine:

  • Avoid excessive idling
  • Use high quality oils
  • Shorten the OCI

There’s usually not many simple, cheap ways to reduce oil consumption. However, these few things may help a small amount. Avoid idling the engine for too long. High oil consumption also seems to be a bigger issue on VQ35DE engines driven short distances. Stick with high quality oils and you may consider running a slightly heavier weight oil. Changing the oil a little more often can also help.

2) VQ35DE Timing Chain Failures

Moving onto a more legitimate common engine issue for the 3.5 V6 VQ35DE engine. Again, most problems likely aren’t as common as the internet may lead you to believe. However, the timing chain guides and tensioners are two of the more common problems on the engine. As the names suggest, these parts help keep tension and guide the timing chain. They’re critical parts to the Nissan VQ35DE timing chain system.

If the timing chain guides and/or tensioners aren’t addressed in time it may also cause damage to the VQ35DE timing chain itself. We’ll touch on the symptoms below, but listen for any loud rattling sounds from the engine. It’s usually a sign the timing chain, guides, or tensioners are on their way out.

It’s good maintenance to check the timing chain around the 150,000 mile mark. Problems usually show themselves north of 100,000 miles, but some timing chain systems will last twice that long.

Timing Chain Symptoms

A few potential symptoms of timing chain, guides, or tensioners failure on the VQ35DE include:

  • Rattling / clunking noise
  • Check engine light
  • Limp mode / power loss

The main symptom of timing chain problems is a rattling or clunking sound coming from the engine bay. This is usually the first sign the Nissan 3.5 V6 timing chain is failing. We included a video below to highlight the sounds. If left for too long the timing chain can slip, which will throw off ignition timing. At this point you’ll likely notice a lot of symptoms like a check engine light, rough running, power loss, etc.

Timing Chain Replacement

Replacing the guides and tensioners on the VQ35DE does take some moderately intensive labor. The labor alone can add up to about $500-800. Of course, that can vary a lot depending upon your location and year/model. Parts usually come in around $100-400. If you’re just doing the tensioners or guides it’s on the lower end.

However, we recommend opting for a timing chain kit and replacing the full system on VQ35DE engines. This is especially true if you’re engine is high mileage and you intend on keeping the car.

3) Oil Leak Problems

Now for the last of the common problems on the 3.5 V6 VQ35DE engine. As these engines age they can develop oil leaks from the valve cover gaskets (VCG). The Nissan engine isn’t alone here as valve cover leaks are common on plenty of engines. After all, the valve cover gaskets are made from a rubber material. As the engine goes through constant heat cycles these gaskets take a lot of abuse.

Over time, the material degrades and begins cracking. This allows oil to start seeping from the valve cover area slowly. It’s usually not an urgent repair on the 3.5L V6 Nissan engine. However, leaks will continue to get worse over time as existing cracks expand and more develop.

The main concern is oil dripping onto hot components that may cause fire or safety hazards. Since the valve covers lie at the top of the engine the oil can also make a mess in the engine bay. Oil may end up on other parts like engine mounts, which can cause premature wear. Point is – it’s not an urgent repair but it’s still a good idea to replace VCG sooner than later.

Valve Cover Gasket Oil Leak Symptoms

  • Visible leak
  • Burning oil smells
  • Smoke from engine bay

A visible leak on the ground is one of the first symptoms you’ll notice. However, it’s possible the VCG has been leaking for a while by the time you even notice. These leaks start small and any drops may be caught in the engine bay and burn off before dripping to the ground. As such, you might notice burning oil smells or small amounts of smoke from the VQ35DE engine bay.

VCG Replacement

Fortunately, valve cover gaskets are dirt cheap. Each VQ35DE VCG will run about $10-20. However, the labor can be a bit intensive so labor expenses can add up at a repair shop. For an experienced mechanic labor will likely come in around 2-4 hours so expect about $200-400 in labor costs. It’s not a challenging DIY as long as you have some patience and basic knowledge.

Nissan VQ35DE Reliability

Is the VQ35DE 3.5L V6 engine from Nissan reliable? Short answer – yes. We believe the VQ35DE earns above average marks for reliability. There’s a reason Nissan has been using this engine for two decades. The 3.5 V6 offers an excellent balance of performance and reliability.

Overall, the engine doesn’t suffer from many common issues. Most problems don’t even pop up until 100,000+ miles, and it’s natural for all engines to have a few failures with age and mileage. As such, the 3.5L V6 earns great remarks for reliability.

Of course, some reliability comes down to how well you maintain the VQ35DE. Stay on top of maintenance and change the oil on time with high quality oils. If and when problems occur fix them in a timely manner. Maintain the Nissan VQ35DE well and chances are it will offer a reliable, long life of 200,000+ miles. Not too bad for longevity.

VQ35DE 3.5L Common Problems Summary

Writing about common problems for engines can be tough. It brings up the bad side of an engine and suddenly you begin thinking the worst. However, that’s not what we want to accomplish with these guides and certainly not for the Nissan VQ35DE engine. It’s truly a good engine all around. Reliable, efficient, and solid performance. There isn’t much to complain about with the 3.5 V6, but no engine is perfect.

A few common problems with the VQ35DE include oil consumption, timing chain parts, and valve cover gasket oil leaks. They’re all minor issues in the grand scheme, especially considering the failures usually don’t occur until 100,000+ miles. Considering these engines are capable of making it upwards of or beyond 200,000 miles some problems along the way are natural.

Looking for more on the Nissan VQ35 engine? Check out some of our additional guides including the best 350Z engine upgrades, VQ35 vs VQ37, and more.

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  1. Never been more disappointed in any other vehicle than the Nissan Murano. I have had to replace oil pan, heater cooler gasket, mass air flow censor, control arm. The left window will not roll down. The drivers side lock does not work, loud idle, now both timing chains need replaced. I would never ever buy another murano.

    1. Sounds like you have a bad mechanic giving you misdiagnosis and not only charging you for work for part replacement that doesn’t even exist like the heater cooler gasket but their also intentionally telling you that you need work done that you really don’t need done or needs to be done because of their screw up such as your oil pan. Unless you hit something the only other way you would need a new oil pan is because some one either cross threaded your drain plug or decided to use a impact to put it back on after a oil change. The control arm if only one would be something driver induced (or your mechanic salesman as work such as that the part is relatively inexpensive for the shop which gives them a large room for mark up, it’s also a repair thats rather simple for your average mechanic and can be done in a hour with lift and air took, 2 hrs using jack and hand tools but alldata (used to figure their flat rate billing and pay for the mechanic doing the job) can easily list it as a 4-6 hr job meaning the shop bills you for 6hrs of labor at $60-100 and hr but it only holds their lift up for a hr. Shops do this all the time it’s a really evil side of the automotive industry and it’s why after paying over $30k to go to college to be an automotive technician (I’ll explain difference between a mechanic and technician next) I refuse to work for a garage. If I was to work for any repair facility it would have to be the a dealership it’s self, not used car lot but a manufacturers repair and service facility as they tend to do these scams and unnecessary repairs a lot less as it’s in their interest to keep their brand name a reliable name in the automotive industry which keeps track of manufacturer issues and repairs to make consumer recommendations as well as to make sure these companies are producing quality vehicles and upholding their warranties and claims to reliability, performance, safety ECT so doing unnecessary repairs to over bill a customer makes their vehicles not look all that appealing) now difference in mechanic and technician is technician diagnoses and fixes the cause and effect of whatever is wrong as often by time you notice something wrong it’s normally the effects of a underlying issue so your technician will fix what has noticably failed or is failing and check to see if their is a underlying problem that causes this unless it is a part that has lives it’s normal life expectancy. A mechanic will just throw parts at it and cost you extensive amounts of money for parts And labor you never needed in the first place. My recommendation is pay the extra hourly rate for dealership technicians where their trained specifically on your make of vehicle so they know what to look for and how to effectively and effectively repair and maintain your vehicle. What you pay extra in the labor fees you’ll save in the long run vs having bubba j at diffy lube replacing what he thinks is the issue and often causing more repairs needing to be done like oil pan replacement because he messed the threads to the oil drain up vs a dealership technician that has had to go through extensive training that they paid for their selfs so they can pay to take and hope to pass multiple different tests which can only be taken after select hours of classroom and hands on learning and training before they can have the title and pay of a technician. Do you want a cardiac specialist doing your heart surgery or the nurse who takes your vitals? Their both in the same industry. I’m sorry for the long reply and it’s not to belittle anyone only hoping to educate


    1. Ask them to check signal voltage from the mass airflow to the PCM as well as the short term fuel trim under load, not sitting there idling. Does it only initially bog down then pick up? Or just has no power and struggles to pull?

  3. 2016 maxima, had to replace timing chain system at 205,000 miles. Great engine and expect to get 350,000 miles out of the car.

  4. Nissan Quest 2015 SV – Already put 114,000 miles in 6 years of ownership. No issue with engine or anything in the car except tire. Tires are wearing out from outside. I have changed Tires 3 times so far (all 4). Not regular with Oil change or scheduled maintenance. Avg Fuel economy 23 mpg. Engine is so far great. I want to drive this car till 200000 miles without any major issue or investment. It seems to my best buddy so far.

  5. I have a 2006 350Z MT with the Rev Up Engine. The engine is a rev monster, pulls strong after 3500rpm and hits just shy of 7000 redline with ease. Early on after buying, had slight oil consumption of about 3/4 – 1 QT US for every 2500-3000 miles using Mobil 1 5w-30. Changed over to Castrol Syntec 10w-30 due to only fair weather driving. Now oil consumption non-existent…and I drive it pretty hard. This little engine is real gem. if you a lucky enough to get a good build.

  6. I’ve been very well pleased with the VQ35DE engine, and our 2008 Infinit G-35 (automatic transmission) as a whole. We bought it new with 6 miles on it, and it now has 208,907 miles…a great testament to longevity. You’re absolutely right about using high-quality oil. During our ownership of this car, back in 2013, I purchased and drove for a few months a used 2004 (Generation I) G-35 with the 6-speed manual. It had 176,000 miles on it when I bought it. A quart of oil would disappear every 600 to 700 miles. It was a one-owner car, driven by a traveling salesman, and he used regular (conventional), Group I base stock motor oil for changes at quick lube centers at 3,500 mile intervals. For 25 years, I’ve used Royal Purple Synthetic oil (Group IV base stock) exclusively in all of our vehicles. I was told by a Nissan mechanic not to use synthetic oil in our 2008 G-35 because based on his experience with the motor, “Eventually these motors consume a lot of oil, and synthetic spreads thinner, therefore disappears faster.” I felt like if you always used high-quality synthetic oil from the beginning of the car’s life, you’d experience substantially less wear on internal motor parts, and that oil consumption would be a non-issue. I was correct, all these years and all these miles later. At 3,000 miles on the odometer, on the first oil change I installed and have continuously used Royal Purple Synthetic. I also did a complete evacuation of the o.e.m., conventional Nissan J-Matic transmission fluid with a transmission fluid exchange machine, replenishing the fluid with Royal Purple Synthetic multi-spec transmission fluid. When the car was new, it would use one-half quart of synthetic oil on 7,500 mile oil change intervals. At 186,000 miles, it would use one full quart of synthetic oil between 7,500 mile oil changes. At that mileage, our daughter got her driver’s license and took over the car, driving it to high school. That’s a five-minute, 2-mile drive door-to-door, that takes 30 minutes in the morning traffic with all the teenagers driving into high school, and a 30-minute drive back home when all the teenagers are leaving high school at the end of the day…lots and lots of idling time for the motor with a foot on the brake constantly. In that type of driving, oil consumption has become one full quart of Royal Purple Synthetic motor oil every 4,000 miles. A 5-quart jug of Royal Purple Synthetic 5W-30 is $37.95 plus tax at Walmart or on Amazon, and worth every penny. The same goes for the Royal Purple Max ATF automatic transmission fluid…$15 per quart plus tax, and worth every penny. I’ve done 4, 3-plus quart drain & fills back to back with 5 mile drives between each drain & fill, every 50,000 miles. The 5-speed automatic transmission in this car might well out-live the engine. I just changed, at 200,000 miles, to the Royal Purple Synthetic 5W-30 HFX product, designed for engines over 75,000 miles, with lots of extra detergent as well as an abundance of zinc and phosphorus to help keep old valve stem seals from hardening, drying out, and leaking. Maybe I should have switched to that HFX formulation a few years and a few thousand miles ago:)

  7. 2009 Murano slight trans solenoid issue but 275000 miles on engine finally changed the spark plugs never used oil runs awesome great engine

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