Nissan QR25DE Engine Problems, Reliability, Specs

4 Common Nissan QR25DE Engine Problems

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The QR25DE engine has been around since the early 2000’s. It has developed into a very reliable engine, but it didn’t necessarily start out this way. Early versions of the engine were prone to a few problems that could lead to some serious engine damage. Fortunately, these have been fixed over the years but there are still a few lingering problems.

In this article we’re going to discuss issues with the QR25DE including exhaust manifold issues, intake manifold screws, oil leaks, failing timing chains, and CVT transmission problems. Additionally, we’ll cover overall engine reliability and discuss reliability by year and generation.

Nissan QR25DE Engine Problems, Reliability, Specs

Nissan QR25DE Engine Problems

  • Exhaust manifold pre-cat
  • Intake manifold screws
  • Oil leaks
  • Timing chain
  • CVT transmission problems

The QR25DE has turned into a very reliable engine. Over the years multiple updates and changes have been made to correct a lot of the issues with the initial engine design. While some of the newer engines still face problems which we’ll discuss below, it’s worth noting that the older versions experience most of the problems. We’ll clarify in each problem below which years are affected by each problem, since they aren’t all applicable to every one.

1) Exhaust Manifold Pre-Cat Material

The QR25DE uses a pre-catalytic converter located in the exhaust manifold. There is still another cat in the exhaust. However, the idea with the pre-cat was to put it closer to the engine. That allows the cat to heat up faster and lower emissions on cold starts. Unfortunately, the QR25 pre-cat material is known to break apart and potentially cause engine damage.

Since it lies so close to the engine some material may be pulled back into the cylinders. Pre-cat material can then damage cylinder walls and cause excess oil consumption problems for the QR25DE (among other potential issues).

This problem mostly affects the 1st gen Nissan QR25 engines from 2002-2006. Problems were most common on the Nissan Altima and Sentra. Given it’s been quite a few years most engines with this problem should be “fixed” now. Nissan did issue a service bulletin, but it wasn’t always a true fix. Our main concern would be if any damage occurred in the past, which could compromise long-term reliability and longevity of the QR25DE.

Symptoms

  • Dirty oil
  • Oil consumption
  • Low compression
  • Engine failure

Fix / Replacement

While Nissan did issue a service bulletin it wasn’t necessarily a long-term fix. The pre-cat material wasn’t changed nor was the pre-cat moved further away from the engine. As such, the only true solution is getting rid of the OEM QR25DE pre-cat material or an aftermarket header (exhaust manifold). Headers are pretty inexpensive, so many opt to go this route to get a little extra power too.

2) Intake Manifold Screw Problems

Intake manifold screw problems is another issue that mostly affects earlier 2002-2006 QR25DE engines. It’s again most common on Nissan Altima and Sentra models. These are also known as the butterfly screws or power valve screws. The engine uses a two-stage manifold with two runners in each primary. There are then 4 butterfly valves (also known as power valves). Each valve has two screws bringing us to a total of 8 butterfly screws.

Over time, these screws may become loose and then are pulled into the engine. As with the pre-cat problem it’s never good to have materials like a screw going through the engine. It may cause damage to the cylinder head, walls, or even the pre-cat as the screw exits the engine.

Nissan actually re-designed the butterfly screws in 2006, so the issue is mostly 2002-2005 models. There was also a service bulletin from Nissan regarding these failures.

Symptoms

  • Malfunction indicator lamp (MIL)
  • Rough idle
  • Power loss
  • Engine damage

Butterfly Screw Fix

Again, many 02-05 engines likely already have a long-term solution. Nissan did fix the issues with new screws in 2006. Still, it’s a good idea to double check your intake manifold. If you notice any loose screws then tighten them and apply some Loctite on the threads. You can also source the new screw designs and replace all 8 of the QR25 butterfly screws.

3) Oil Leaks

Oil leaks are another common issue on the Nissan QR25 engine. They appear most common on older engines. However, a lot of that simply has to do with age and mileage. Many cars and engines run into oil leaks as they age. Gaskets, seals, etc simply wear down with time and begin cracking. The primary oil leak these engines experience is the valve cover gasket, which tends to develop leaks around the 100,000 mile mark.

Other oil leaks are also possible and do happen. Look for potential leaks from the main seals and IVTC solenoid. It’s not an exhaustive list, but those are a few other common areas.

Oil Leak Symptoms

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

Valve Cover Gasket Replacement

Valve cover gaskets are a simple and pretty cheap fix on the QR25 engine. As with most oil leaks, it’s an inexpensive gasket causing the oil leak problems. The VCG costs less than $20 and is a straight-forward DIY for the handy crowd. You may find yourself paying an extra $100-200 if you go to a repair shop due to labor.

4) Timing Chain Problems

Timing chain issues are a hot topic on the larger Nissan VQ35DE V6 engine. It doesn’t appear quite as common on the QR25 engine, but timing chain problems do happen. Chains are common on many modern engines and typically avoid the hassle of frequent timing belt replacements. However, timing chain tensioners are a concern with chain systems. Over time, tensioners and guides can wear down.

This can allow the QR25DE timing chain to stretch or jump a few teeth. It is an interference engine meaning there’s overlap in the area the valves and pistons travel. As such, if timing jumps too far the pistons and valves can actually collide. Not good. You’ll end up with a few bent valves at the least.

Premature failures and problems do happen with the timing chain. However, with original engines aging some may be coming close to the point these parts are naturally wearing down. If you’re north of 120,000 miles it may be a good idea to inspect the timing chain from time to time. Some do last 200,000+ miles, but better safe than sorry.

Symptoms of Failure

  • Rattling/clunking
  • MIL
  • Limp mode / power loss
  • Poor overall engine operation

Timing Chain Replacement

Labor can add up to be pretty expensive if you need to replace the entire chain, tensioners, etc. It does depend on the exact Nissan model and year with the QR25DE engine. Anyways, parts come in around $300-600 and labor can quickly add up to $500-1,000+.

The job isn’t cheap, but it’s better than the alternative of the chain or tensioners failing. Repair bills can get very costly if the chain slips too far and bends some valves.

5) CVT Transmission Issues

CVT transmission problems on Nissan QR25DE powered cars is another important topic. This article has been all about engine problems, but there’s more that goes into overall reliability. Unfortunately, some Nissan’s with the CVT automatic transmissions don’t have the best reputation. Early Altima, Sentra, and another models with the QR25 had a 10 year, 120,000 mile extended warranty for the CVT trans.

Even later models aren’t exempt from running into these transmission issues. Anyways, there’s ton of info on this topic and it’s also a little off-topic to this article. As such, we’ll leave it there for now. It’s simply worth the mention since transmission problems can be a costly fix if outside the warranty period.

Nissan QR25 Reliability

Is the Nissan QR25DE engine reliable? Yes, we believe this engine earns average to above average remarks for reliability. Half the QR25 issues we discussed mainly affect the original 02-06 engines. Nissan has kept the 2.5L engine alive for 20 years for good reason. They’ve also done a good job at improving reliability over the years with updates and upgrades.

However, early engines did suffer from many problems that could cause serious damage. Pre-cats, butterfly screws, and timing chain problems can all cause severe engine damage in unlucky cases. Again, Nissan did well updating the engine over the years so these concerns should be minimal for 2007+ QR25 engines.

A lot of reliability also comes down to maintenance. Ensure you use high quality oils, change fluids on time, and fix problems in a timely manner if/when they happen. Do all of this and the QR25DE can provide great reliability (with a tiny bit of luck on your side). Many engines live to see 200,000+ miles without many serious problems along the way.

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7 Comments

    1. Bob – the video is simply to give readers an idea of what timing chain issues sounds like. The timing chain noises don’t sound any different on the 3.5 than it on the 2.5 so the video is completely relevant to the 2.5 engine as well.

  1. I have a 2004 Nissan Sentra Ser Spec-V 2.5L with the QR25DE engine and recently there has been issues but I am not sure what is causing it. The check engine light is on, the car idles very rough and feels like it wants to die if stopped and left to idle, it feels like there is a hesitation when I push the gas pedal. From your article it sounds like a pre-cat issue but I am unsure. It has not been using an excessive amount of oil but I have noticed that it looks wet in some places near engine. I think the power steering pump is causing most of that issue because the hose coming from the power steering pump is covered in black sludge (not sure of any other word to describe it). Any ideas of what would cause this issue? If so can it be fixed and is it worth the money to fix it or should I just be looking for a different car?

  2. The QR25 is no longer used in the Altima or Rogue, the PR25DD replaced it in 2019 for the Altima and 2021 for the Rogue.

  3. Thank you, Zach, for a great article! bought my 2014 Rogue in 2017 with 36,000 mile on it … today it has 167,000 miles on it and all I’ve done is change the oil every 10k-12k miles, It still runs like a happy kitten and still gets great gas mileage. I am deciding to buy either a 2019 Rogue with 23k miles on it or a 2019 Honda CR-V with 30k miles on it. I hear that the direct injection Honda 1.5L engine on the CR-V can suffer from oil dilution because of the direct injection. One reviewer says the engine might be good for 150,000 miles but may start having troubles at 60k. The 2019 Rogue has the same port injection 2.5L as my 2014 and honestly my gut tells me to stick with the Nissan port injected 2,5L engine that has proved itself to me for the past 167k miles! If you have any opinion on the decision let me know. Thanks again for a great article!

  4. Thank you for this article that helps me understand the problem of my car which producing noise like in the video of worn tyming chain tensioner that must be replace. Far from the mechanic where I brought my car to fix, he told me to overhaul the whole engine of my nissan xtrail 2004 QR25 automatic transmision which will cost me much money. I am lucky to read this article…thank you so much🥰

  5. I have a 2009 nissan frontier with a 2.5 liter with 57000 miles..Some chain noise during ignition but changed from Mobil 1 synthetic 5w-30 to Castrol synthetic and noise has not returned,whew.

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