The Nissan KA24DE Engine Manual. The KA24DE inline-4 engine is a cult favorite in the Nissan community. The third iteration of Nissan’s KA engine family, the KA24DE, is noted for its dependability, ease of maintenance, and power potential.
The KA24DE is a pretty unimpressive engine out of the box. The KA24’s history began with its use in lightweight Nissan pickups in KA24E form, and it was never intended to be used in a performance automobile. The end result was a 2.4L inline-4 with 155hp and 160ft-lbs of torque. However, most KA24DEs were not available in stock for long.
The KA24DE became well-known for its application in the Nissan 240SX. As the ‘Drift’ class of motorsport became more widely recognized and celebrated, the 240SX became a popular starting point for drift builds. Because of the 240SX’s popular success, the KA24DE earned a sizable aftermarket following. While Nissan has more capable engines, the KA24DE has the genetics to provide adequate performance with additional modifications.
What Vehicles Make Use of the KA24DE?
During its 13-year production run, the KA24 powered 24 Nissan cars with varied applications. The KA24 engine was utilized in everything from first-generation Pathfinders to the Altima as a replacement for the Nissan Z engine, another jack-of-all-trades motor. The KA24DE was only used in a few US-spec vehicles, with the majority of KA24DE models being restricted to Japan.
- Nissan Xterra (2000-2004)
- Nissan Navara/Frontier (D22) 1998-2016
- 240SX Nissan 1991-1998
- Nissan R’nessa (4WD vehicle, Japan) 1997-2000
- Nissan Presage U30 (Japan) 1998-2001
- Nissan Bassara U30 (Japan) 1999-2001
- Nissan Bluebird U13, 1993-1997
- The Isuzu COMO
- The Nissan Largo
The only US-spec Nissans on this list that used the KA24DE were the Xterra, Frontier, and 240SX. The KA24DE engine in the first-generation Xterra and Frontier generated 143hp, while the KA24DE in the 240SX produced 155hp.
Nissan KA24DE Engine Specifications
The Nissan KA24DE has the following specifications:
As you can see, the stats aren’t particularly impressive. The KA24DE had a low horsepower per cubic inch ratio, especially when compared to other competing N/A 4-cylinder engines, such as the Mazda B-Series, which reached comparable figures with a smaller displacement.
It is also worth noting that the KA24DE was produced in two separate factories depending on the export destination. This is a critical distinction because KA24DEs made at different plants are not built in the same way. Except for usage in US-bound 240SXs, KA24DE engines destined for the US were mostly built at the Aguascalientes facility in Mexico. The rest of the KA24DEs were made in Fukuoka, Japan.
Japanese KA24DE vs. Mexican KA24DE
The main distinction between Mexican and Japanese KA24DEs is the engine block architecture. Because of the thinner wall construction, Japanese-built KA24DEs have lighter blocks. Japanese models also have larger diameter capped bearings and slightly higher compression pistons, which enhance power marginally.
While the Japanese-built KA24DE performs better overall, the Mexican-built KA24DE offers advantages as well. Mexican KA24DEs may withstand higher power with aftermarket performance modifications due to their thicker wall structure. This is particularly true in forced induction. Many enthusiasts prefer the Mexican KA24DE despite the fact that KA24DE turbo kits are a popular aftermarket addition.
Some parts are not interchangeable between the two because the overall construction of the KA24DE changes depending on where it was built. Japanese-spec camshafts, pistons, oil feeds, and oil pickups, for example, cannot be utilized on Mexican-spec KA24DEs, and vice versa. The position of the dipstick distinguishes a Japanese KA from a Mexican KA24DE. The dipstick on Mexican-made variants is positioned near the back, whereas the dipstick on Japanese KAs is located in the center of the engine.
Nissan KA24DE Engine Issues
The KA24DE is recognized as a tank of an engine in its standard condition. Because the KA24DE’s block is cast iron with a robust, aluminum cylinder head, it can survive some abuse before problems arise. The KA24DE also features a relatively low compression ratio, which means there isn’t a huge load of internal pressure, which increases longevity.
Due to its general robustness, there is surprisingly little information accessible about KA24DE reliability difficulties or common problems. There are just a few difficulties that often affect KA24DEs, and the most of them are minor. Keep in mind that this is true for stock KA24DEs; when major performance modifications are added, further issues may develop. The following are some of the most common KA24DE problems:
- Failure of the Valve Cover Gasket
- Distributor Error
- Chain Rattle Timing
Failure of the KA24DE Valve Cover Gasket
A blown or failing valve cover gasket is one of the most typical KA24DE problems. While aggressive driving and over-revving can both contribute to the failure of a KA24DE valve cover gasket, the most typical destroyer of the part is aging. With the majority of US-spec KA24DEs reaching 30 years old, a valve cover gasket repair is a wise investment. This is especially true if you can see oil pouring from the valve cover down the engine block.
Symptoms of Valve Cover Gasket Failure and Replacement
Overall, it is rather simple to determine whether the valve cover on your Nissan KA24DE is defective or needs to be replaced. The following are some of the most common warning signs and symptoms:
- odor of burning oil
- a filthy valve cover due to oil leakage
- Misfiring or rough running engine
Visible oil streaks on the valve cover or engine block are the most typical way to detect a failing valve cover gasket. This is generally followed by a burning oil odor created by the leaked oil contacting and vaporizing the block. A damaged gasket is the most likely cause of oil surrounding your KA24DE’s valve cover.
Fortunately, a KA24DE valve cover replacement is a simple and inexpensive repair. Nissan still sells the valve cover gasket for less than $20. The spark plug seals must also be replaced as part of the replacement process to prevent oil from leaking into the spark tubes. Spark plug seals are also available from Nissan for roughly $30. If you have simple equipment on hand, anyone can execute the replacement by following a quick guide. Even unskilled KA24DE owners report that the job takes around an hour.
KA24DE Incorrect Distributor
A failing distributor is another common problem with KA24DE engines. The most prevalent reason for KA24DE distributor failure is age. The distributor’s primary responsibility is to give adequate voltage current to the KA24DE’s spark plugs in the correct firing order and for the correct period of time. If the distributor on a KA24DE fails, it might have a negative impact on engine performance.
Symptoms of a Faulty Distributor and Replacement
A faulty distributor can cause the following symptoms:
- Uneven engine idle
- Starting out is difficult.
- a loud whining sound
Another simple and inexpensive job is to replace a KA24DE distributor. KA24DE distributors are normally priced at $250 for an OEM-spec unit. Replacing a KA24DE distributor should be a piece of cake if you have even fundamental hands-on expertise.
The distributor on the KA24DE is positioned on the driver’s side of the engine and is easily identified by the spark plug wires that come off of it. The distributor is located in the same location regardless of the engine’s provenance. Unbolting a couple 12mm retention bolts, sliding the old unit out, replacing it with the new unit, and reinstalling the bolts completes the replacement. A 25-30 minute work in total.
Replacing the distributor on your KA24DE is a simple and easy approach to rule out spark/misfire issues. If the engine continues to misfire after a distributor replacement, the spark plugs or spark plug wires are most likely to blame.
Timing Chain Rattle KA24DE
Timing chain rattle is a common complaint with KA24DEs. If ignored, this can be a major inconvenience and potentially lead to problems later on. The engine’s overall design is the primary source of this discomfort. The KA24DE has an inadequate secondary balance because it is a 4-cylinder with a flat-plane crank. Most other 4-cylinder engines with comparable architecture use balance shafts to level out the engine’s performance. These shafts are not used by the KA24DE.
Because of the KA24DE’s “rattly” nature, troubles can emerge from the timing guides internally rubbing on the valve cover. The rubbing generates a sound that is typically characterized as akin to marbles in a tin can, therefore it is largely an irritation in the early stages. However, if the timing chain is not checked, it can become stuck on a rough component of the valve cover and jump the timing or cut the timing chain entirely.
Because the KA24DE is an interference motor, a broken timing chain can seriously harm the engine’s internal components. If you hear an unusual sound coming from the valve cover area, it should be evaluated and handled as quickly as possible.
Symptoms of Timing Chain Rattle
There aren’t many symptoms to notice because this problem is merely caused by the timing chain rubbing on the valve cover. Other than aural cues, there are no notable performance-based signs. In fact, because the rattle has no direct effect on performance, most KA24DE users who experience it tolerate it.
The phrase “marbles in a tin can” comes to mind.
Squeaking or rattling from the valve cover area on a regular basis
Fix for Timing Chain Rattle
Finally, there are a few known fixes to the KA24DE’s timing chain rattle problem. A broken or misaligned top or side timing guide has jammed itself into a troublesome position in many cases, causing the noise.
This is detected by removing the valve cover and examining the timing guides for damage. Nissan has judged the timing guides on the engines unnecessary since the debut of the KA24DE. To resolve the issue, just remove the top timing guide with no impact on engine performance.
If the noise persists after removing the timing guides, there is most likely a problem with another component of the timing chain system. The upper chain, tensioner, and guide would then be replaced. That will almost certainly solve the problem.
What type of oil does the KA24DE use?
The most critical component in KA24DE reliability is the frequency of maintenance. The KA24DE is well-known for being fussy about the oil it uses. So, which oil should you put in your KA24DE? Regardless of Nissan’s instructions, the ideal oil for a KA24DE is a 0W-40 completely synthetic oil, preferably Mobil 1. The 0W-40 oil is far more stable than the 5W-30 oil and is excellent for engine preservation.
Reliability of the Nissan KA24DE
Over all other aspects of the engine, the Nissan KA24DE is notoriously reliable. While it lacks the performance of the more updated and modernized SR20DE, the KA24DE will get you where you need to go with minimal fuss.
Aside from basic maintenance and time-related fixes, the KA42DE is a powerful engine with few typical problems. While valve cover gaskets and distributors deteriorate after decades of service, they are easily replaced on almost any engine of the KA24DE’s age. These difficulties have less to do with the engine’s quality and more to do with the expected lifespan of those specific components.
While the dreaded KA24DE timing chain rattling can cause major problems if left unchecked, it is usually a straightforward problem to resolve. Because the answer is as simple as removing a superfluous part that can be accessible from under the valve cover, repairing this problem is simple and free if you have the proper tools.
The simplicity of the KA24DE is the key to its dependability. During its production, the KA24DE did not include any high-tech or innovative technologies. Nissan simply created what they were confident would work. As a result, the KA24DE is a bulletproof engine that is simple to maintain and inexpensive to repair. While the engine itself is disappointing in terms of performance, aftermarket modifications can transform it into a beast.