The Three Most Frequent Nissan VQ40DE Engine Issues. The Nissan VQ40DE is a 4.0L V6 engine that first appeared in the Frontier, Xterra, and Pathfinder in 2005. It generates a respectable 261-275 horsepower and 281-288 pound-feet of torque. VQ40 engines also provide an excellent blend of dependability and fuel economy. Yet, no engine is flawless, and the Nissan 4.0 engine is no exception. This page covers a few typical Nissan VQ40DE engine issues, as well as reliability, specs, and more.
What Vehicles Make Use of the Nissan 4.0L V6?
Nissan VQ40 4.0L engines are available in the following vehicle years and models:
- Nissan Frontier 2005-2019
- Xterra 2005-2015 Nissan
- Nissan Pathfinder 2005-2012
- Suzuki Equator 2009-2013
- Nissan NV1500 / NV2500 HD (2012-present)
- Nissan NV Passenger (2012-present)
The engine is most recognized in the United States for its use in the Nissan Frontier, Xterra, and Pathfinder. The VQ40DE engine is also used in NV full-size vans.
Nissan VQ40 Engine Specifications
The VQ40DE engine code is broken down below:
- VQ is an engine family.
- Displacement 40-4.0L
- D – DOHC
- E stands for multi-point fuel injection.
The following are the engine specifications for the Nissan VQ40DE 4.0 engine:
These are typical specifications for a modern V6 engine. Yet, the 4.0L displacement is quite large for a V6 engine. However, the VQ40 is made of aluminum to reduce weight, and the DOHC engine boosts power and performance.
Most versions have 261 horsepower, including the VQ40DE 4.0L Nissan Frontier, Pathfinder, and Xterra. By modern standards, it may not be much for a huge 4.0 V6 engine. Yet, considering the engines were released in 2005, it’s still a good power.
Common VQ40DE Engine Issues
Among the most prevalent issues with the Nissan VQ40DE 4.0 V6 engine are:
- Chain of events
- Oil pressure is low.
- Oil spills
During the remainder of this essay, we will address these VQ40 dependability concerns. But now is a good moment to make some quick notes before moving on. For good reason, we consider these to be the most common issues. That does not necessarily imply that they are common in the actual sense of the term. Instead, when VQ40DE issues develop, these are the most prevalent places.
Generally, the Nissan 4.0 V6 is a dependable engine. Many of these engines last well past 200,000 miles with little to no severe problems. Yet, the engine was built in 2005, and older, high-mileage engines are prone to issues. In the end of this post, we will go over VQ40DE reliability in further detail. For the time being, let’s focus on the 4.0L Nissan engine’s difficulties.
1) Failure of the Nissan VQ40 Timing Chain
This isn’t the first time we’ve written about timing chain issues on Nissan engines, so the VQ40DE isn’t alone in this regard. Nissan did solve the timing chain issues about 2011. This problem is much reduced with a new top timing chain design and a beefier tensioner. As a result, this problem predominantly affects 2005-2010 4.0L Frontier, Pathfinder, and Xterra models.
In any case, the upper timing chain, also known as the secondary timing chain, has a tendency to cut through the tensioner. The timing chain tensioner appears to be the root of the problem. Nevertheless, Borg-timing Warner’s chain design did not assist the situation. The sharp edges of the chain can dig into the plastic VQ40 timing chain tensioner, eventually causing it to break.
Timing chain and tensioner replacement on the Nissan VQ40DE is not inexpensive. It’s not a pleasant problem to encounter. If you’re looking for a 05-10 4.0L V6 Nissan, examine if the repair has been completed. Issues appear to be most common between 80,000 and 120,000 miles. Nonetheless, some VQ40 timing chains outperform that standard.
Symptoms of a 4.0L V6 Timing Chain
The following are symptoms of timing chain or timing chain tensioner failure on the VQ40 4.0 V6 engine:
- Whining or buzzing noise
- Rises when RPM increases
- Idle time
- Inadequate overall engine performance
The principal indicator of difficulties with the VQ40DE secondary timing chain is whining or buzzing sounds. The sounds should become more frequent as the engine RPMs rise. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s time to investigate the timing chain.
As the failure progresses, you may notice increasingly severe symptoms such as misfires, rough idle, and poor engine operation. Allowing the situation to get this far may result in serious difficulties if the timing chain slips or leaps a few teeth.
Timing Chain Replacement for Nissan VQ40DE
The real killer is replacing the Nissan VQ40 timing chain and tensioner. Because it’s a pretty labor-intensive job, repair costs can quickly pile up to $1,000-1,500 or more. Nissan has issued a TSB to remedy the timing chain concerns. The video below shows how to change the timing chain on a VQ40DE engine.
2) VQ40DE 4.0L Oil Pressure Warning Light
Alright. We were debating whether or not to bring this up at all. Many Nissan VQ40DE owners have low oil pressure, particularly at idling. It’s a little complicated because there are several plausible explanations, none of which appear to be particularly prevalent. Low oil pressure, on the other hand, is prevalent enough to warrant discussion. A fast search for “VQ40DE low oil pressure” on clubfrontier.org produces over 450 results.
One of the most common causes we discovered has to do with the gasket at the back of the rear timing cover. Low oil pressure is also more typical on early VQ40 engines. In other words, this failure may be related to the timing chain and tensioner issues we outlined earlier.
Essentially, the rear timing cover gasket seeps oil against the block. Some oil becomes “caught” there instead of recirculating through the Nissan 4.0 V6 engine. This eventually results in reduced oil pressure, which is most noticeable at idle. But, oil pump and other problems do arise on occasion. There may be more than one fault causing low oil pressure, so don’t assume it’s the rear timing cover gasket.
Symptoms of Nissan 4.0 V6 Low Oil Pressure
Apart from seeing low oil pressure on the gauge, there aren’t many indications of VQ40DE low oil pressure. Yet, here are a few warning signs:
- Low oil pressure warning light
- Engine rumble
Again, the main symptom is experiencing low oil pressure. A manual test can determine that the problem is with the oil pressure and not with the gauge, electrical, or other components. If your oil pressure is really low, you may begin to hear strange clunking, ticking, or knocking sounds. Low oil pressure on the VQ40DE – or any engine – is bad. It can cause increased friction, resulting in these sounds as well as overheating.
VQ40 Oil Pressure Repair
Repairing the gasket at the back of the rear timing cover might be costly. It’s a lot of work, much like the timing chain discussion above. Check the VQ40 gasket if you’re in there for timing chain and tensioner work. The same can be said in the opposite direction. If you’re changing the gasket, double-check the timing chain and tensioner.
In any case, VQ40DE low oil pressure issues are less common than some may have you believe. Yet, low oil pressure is a major flaw that should not be overlooked.
3) Oil Leak Issues with Nissan VQ40DE
Many car engines leak oil, especially as they age and mileage increases. Gaskets, seals, and other rubber components simply get brittle and shatter with age. The valve covers and/or valve cover gaskets are a typical source of oil leaks on the Nissan VQ40DE engine.
Valve cover gaskets seal the gap between the cylinder head and valve covers on the 4.0L V6 engine. They are subjected to high temperatures, and the rubber valve cover gaskets wear out over time. Eventually they develop cracks and slowly begin spilling oil. Although it is not normally an emergency repair, leaks do worsen as cracks spread and new ones form.
At 8 years and 100,000 miles, valve cover gaskets are likely to be a problem. Failures may occur sooner, although this is due to age and mileage rather than a weakness in the design of the Nissan VQ40DE 4.0 engine. Timing covers and main seals should also be checked for oil leaks (among some other less common leaks).
Signs of an Oil Leak in a VQ40 4.0L
Oil leak symptoms on the Nissan 4.0 V6 are usually quite obvious. Check for the following indicators to see if your VQ40 is leaking oil:
- Visible dripping
- Engine compartment smoke
- The odor of burning oil
The most common sign of an oil leak on the Nissan VQ40DE is visible oil spills. Unfortunately, because valve cover gasket oil leaks start slowly, it is not always obvious. Because the gaskets are located near the top of the engine, oil may drip onto hot parts and burn off before it reaches the ground. In this instance, you may notice faint smoke from the engine bay or the odor of burning oil.
Valve Cover Gasket Replacement for Nissan VQ40DE
Valve cover gaskets are affordable, with each gasket costing less than $20. But, it is occasionally essential to replace the entire valve covers, which adds a little extra cost. Replace the entire valve cover, especially if you have more than 120,000 miles on it.
In any case, labor isn’t too expensive for this procedure because the gaskets and covers are located near the top of the VQ40 engine. But, the driver’s side can be a little more difficult. In a repair shop, this fix should cost between $200 and $600.
Engine Reliability of the VQ40 4.0 V6
Is the 4.0L V6 engine of the Nissan VQ40DE reliable? Yeah, we believe the engine is more reliable than normal. In the beginning, VQ40DE timing chains were a major and costly issue, but Nissan was quick to remedy the issues. Otherwise, the VQ 4.0L engine has no significant design problems. A few age and mileage-related concerns are to be expected, but that is to be expected with any car and engine.
A large part of VQ40DE dependability is due to maintenance. Utilize high-quality oils, change fluids on schedule, and correct problems as they arise. Part VQ40 dependability is also determined by the luck of the draw. Every engine design has a few engines that have far more issues than the norm.
However, keep up with maintenance and hope you get some luck on your side. It’s fairly uncommon for the Nissan VQ40DE 4.0 V6 engine to last well above 200,000 miles with few troubles. A few even exceed the 350,000-mile mark. If you ask us, that’s pretty good lifespan.
Summary of Nissan VQ40DE Engine Issues
The Nissan VQ40 engine first appeared in the Frontier, Xterra, and Pathfinder in 2005. The engine is a powerful 4.0L V6 that produces 261 horsepower in most variants. By modern standards, these are not large numbers, but they provide plenty of power for the majority of people. Couple that with good reliability and efficiency and the Nissan VQ40DE is a promising engine. But, as with any engine, it is not flawless.
Because of a weak secondary chain and tensioner design, early VQ40DE 4.0 engines were prone to timing chain difficulties. Nissan addressed these flaws in 2011, thus later cars are less vulnerable. Nevertheless, low oil pressure occurs frequently, but it can be caused by a variety of factors, none of which are particularly common on their own.
Furthermore, several Nissan 4.0 V6 engines are now almost 15 years old and just getting older. On these older VQ40DE engines, oil leaks and other age/mileage-related concerns become more common. Nonetheless, it’s a dependable engine that has been proved to last 200,000 to 300,000 miles.