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Exploding car engine, what to do?
Old 09-05-2017, 05:58 AM   #1
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Exploding car engine, what to do?

grrr... so upset.

My 22 year old son purchased a used 2007 nissan altima from the local Nissan dealer on June 4, 2017 ( a little over 2 months ago).

Yesterday on our way home from the beach, the engine exploded. literally. we were driving in the center lane of a highway at 70 mph and heard a buzzing sound, 2 seconds later smoke was pouring from the engine and it was dead.

We were lucky no one rammed into us and were able to coast to the side.

long story short, had AAA tow it back to the dealership, unfortunately service was closed for the holiday.

Now after the dust has settled I'm scared the dealer is going to give us some crap and not fix it. It was not a "as is" purchase but the paper work doesn't say any thing about the warranty.

Haven't heard from the dealership yet (it's still early).

any advice??

My son dropped most of his savings into the purchase because he didn't want a car note. he's in his senior year in college and works part time.

ps. please don't say, he's 22 let him handle it by himself. Yes I know he's an adult but jeez louise, I'd like to help the kid.
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Old 09-05-2017, 07:07 AM   #2
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Sorry to hear that. I lack any advice for you, other than to arm yourself with some facts before going to the dealership. Looks like there were major problems with the 2006.

https://forums.edmunds.com/discussio...ngine-failures

2007 NISSAN ALTIMA Engine problems & defects. | Nissan Recalls and Problems
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Old 09-05-2017, 07:11 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by bclover View Post
grrr... so upset.

My 22 year old son purchased a used 2007 nissan altima from the local Nissan dealer on June 4, 2017 ( a little over 2 months ago).

Yesterday on our way home from the beach, the engine exploded. literally. we were driving in the center lane of a highway at 70 mph and heard a buzzing sound, 2 seconds later smoke was pouring from the engine and it was dead.

We were lucky no one rammed into us and were able to coast to the side.

long story short, had AAA tow it back to the dealership, unfortunately service was closed for the holiday.

Now after the dust has settled I'm scared the dealer is going to give us some crap and not fix it. It was not a "as is" purchase but the paper work doesn't say any thing about the warranty.

Haven't heard from the dealership yet (it's still early).

any advice??

My son dropped most of his savings into the purchase because he didn't want a car note. he's in his senior year in college and works part time.

ps. please don't say, he's 22 let him handle it by himself. Yes I know he's an adult but jeez louise, I'd like to help the kid.
Typically, used vehicles have a 30 or 90 day "limited" warranty when purchased from a dealer. I would think that "limited" can be defined in a number of ways - usually to the detriment of the customer.

Anyway, with this in mind, a dealer does have flexibility regarding how much they charge to fix or replace the damaged engine. They also have enough clout that, if they wanted to, could contact Nissan and ask for "SOME" Goodwill. You would probably have to have some documentation that the vehicle had been regularly maintained.

Now that I've given you the Good and the Bad news, I can share that my 2008 Honda accord blew its engine on 12/23/2014. It had 93,000 miles on it and it was out of warranty. I had proof that I had changed the oil at 5K intervals over the life of my vehicle (which I bought new) and had all major service done at the dealership. The Service Manager at our local Honda Dealership negotiated a settlement with Honda Corporate. The settlement was that I would pay $3,500 and Honda would replace the engine with a brand new engine (10K.) I was actually at the mercy of these guys - because my Honda with a working engine was worth 8K or 9K but without a working engine - I could sell it for 1,500 for parts. Hence, I took them up on the offer.

My 10 year old Honda drives like a dream, has no body damage, I pay little property tax and if possible, and I will drive it for the next 5 or 10 years.

The aforementioned is plain frustration that leaves a bad taste in regards to what auto companies do. You could try getting a quote on what a company will pay for the vehicle if Nissan doesn't step up to the plate.

Michael
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Old 09-05-2017, 07:54 AM   #4
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exploded? doesn't sound like exploded. No chunks being thrown off thru the hood. A water pump or oil pump seizing could do what you are describing. Could be other things.. and these could cause the engine to be a brick.

If the dealer does not have any warranty obligation, they may do something to save company image.
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Old 09-05-2017, 07:57 AM   #5
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If they cannot fix it, maybe the dealer will let him purchase a different vehicle from them, and use the amount paid as 'credit'.

Small claims court is also an answer.
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Old 09-05-2017, 08:01 AM   #6
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My thought is also try contacting the salesperson who sold you the car and tell him/her what happened.

I think the the service department of dealerships tend to treat you like a number. By getting the salesperson involved I think puts more pressure on the dealership as now looks like (which isn't a stretch) that they sold you a bad car vs you bought a used car and engine blew up on you.
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Old 09-05-2017, 08:04 AM   #7
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Timing chain broke maybe and pistons/valves had unplanned interactions?
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Old 09-05-2017, 08:09 AM   #8
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I think before any decision can be made, you need to figure out what *really* happened when the engine stopped. It did not explode, as in parts removing themselves from the engine, it seems something locked up and the engine stopped running. *What* locked up is the question that is not answered at this time.

Once you have better info as to what failed, then you can make a better decision as to the course of action. The dealer can work with you to help, and I agree that the limited warranty aspect is usually not for customer's benefit.

Yes it sucks this happened, and would not be expected on a 10 year old vehicle. But before condemning the car to the junkyard and ending up in court, get info first so you can make a better decision.

Not stating this is the problem, but did your son check oil and coolant levels recently? Or any recent service where a part could have come loose (like a drain plug or similar)?
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Old 09-05-2017, 08:52 AM   #9
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I think before any decision can be made, you need to figure out what *really* happened when the engine stopped. It did not explode, as in parts removing themselves from the engine, it seems something locked up and the engine stopped running. *What* locked up is the question that is not answered at this time.

Once you have better info as to what failed, then you can make a better decision as to the course of action. The dealer can work with you to help, and I agree that the limited warranty aspect is usually not for customer's benefit.

Yes it sucks this happened, and would not be expected on a 10 year old vehicle. But before condemning the car to the junkyard and ending up in court, get info first so you can make a better decision.

Not stating this is the problem, but did your son check oil and coolant levels recently? Or any recent service where a part could have come loose (like a drain plug or similar)?
Thanks All,
I am waiting to hear back from the dealership.
I'm going out on a limb and said the oil and coolant were not check mainly because we've only had the car for 3 months. He basically just drives it to work (17 miles each way). so we haven't put 2000 miles on it yet. Yesterday when we went to the beach (65 miles each) was the first time it's been on the open road so to speak.
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Old 09-05-2017, 08:56 AM   #10
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Sounds like a good time to get familiar with whatever laws your state has governing used car sales from a dealer.
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Old 09-05-2017, 08:58 AM   #11
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Sounds like a good time to get familiar with whatever laws your state has governing used car sales from a dealer.
***sighs*** lol, and we all know how much fun that can be. thanks Chuck, I'm off to google.

actually feel worst for the little minion, he chucked (excuse the pun) in a big portion of his savings. I'm doing the usually "this too shall pass and that's why you save" mother routine but he's looking at me like I'm crazy.
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Old 09-05-2017, 09:04 AM   #12
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I agree you need to learn the laws... maybe a dealer has to cover something, but I would bet big time money an engine is not one of them...


The default position is a used car sale is 'as is' unless there is some written warranty..... you said you did not have one written, hence....


The problem you have if it is an oil problem is they recommend that you check the oil so often that nobody does it... so saying it was 2 months and 2,000 miles is not any help...

You did not say how many miles... but even so a 10 YO car should have a timing belt changed...
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Old 09-05-2017, 09:09 AM   #13
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I think before any decision can be made, you need to figure out what *really* happened when the engine stopped. It did not explode, as in parts removing themselves from the engine, it seems something locked up and the engine stopped running. *What* locked up is the question that is not answered at this time.

Once you have better info as to what failed, then you can make a better decision as to the course of action. The dealer can work with you to help, and I agree that the limited warranty aspect is usually not for customer's benefit.

Yes it sucks this happened, and would not be expected on a 10 year old vehicle. But before condemning the car to the junkyard and ending up in court, get info first so you can make a better decision.

Not stating this is the problem, but did your son check oil and coolant levels recently? Or any recent service where a part could have come loose (like a drain plug or similar)?
My initial thought too - maybe the timing belt broke? I had that happen and can attest to the fact that you lose power instantly
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Old 09-05-2017, 09:16 AM   #14
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***sighs*** lol, and we all know how much fun that can be. thanks Chuck, I'm off to google.

actually feel worst for the little minion, he chucked (excuse the pun) in a big portion of his savings. I'm doing the usually "this too shall pass and that's why you save" mother routine but he's looking at me like I'm crazy.
I think it's great that you are helping "the little minion" (love the sense of humor) out and not letting him deal with the situation on his own. But do hope he is taking notes on "the frustrations of car ownership".

Reminds me of a first car I had with a brother when we were in college age. Another brother had bought this used for us as we were totally green as to the car buying process. We got a total clunker that even after a tune up, didn't make it to the 100 mile drive to college and got stranded on the road. Welcome to the world of car ownership .

For me, once when a car is out of warranty, I avoid going to dealers for service or repair unless recall work. Plus, when buying used, I go the CarMax route. Don't mind paying a bit more but having the peace of mind of lower chance of sudden surprises.
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Old 09-05-2017, 09:17 AM   #15
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Be sure to take it to the dealer that sold you the car to determine what the problem is and perhaps give you a break on the price of fixing it. This seems intuitive but some people use a third party and then go B%^&th to the dealer.
Also check very carefully for any recalls that maybe haven't been done on the car. Since it came from a Nissan dealer (which is good) they should have checked all the records on that car and fixed any recall problems before selling it. Nissan will have all records pertaining to this car and recalls so it can be checked.
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Old 09-05-2017, 09:17 AM   #16
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... I'm going out on a limb and said the oil and coolant were not check ...
When my son was maybe 18 he had an old pickup that he managed to run out of oil and the engine seized. I gave him a ride to a junkyard where a guy I trusted sold him an engine. He then had the opportunity to learn how to replace the bad one. It was a lesson both in consequences and in self-reliance that served him well as he matured.

BTW, I doubt that your son's engine seized. I incline more toward the broken timing belt theory. If that ends up being the diagnosis, the engine may need no more than a junkyard head, which your son could probably change pretty much by himself.
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Old 09-05-2017, 09:44 AM   #17
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I hate to tell you, but you may be out of luck on a 11 year old vehicle bought without any extended service plan. Hopefully the dealer is willing to help.

The Maxima 3.5 engine is a very high tech motor and it is built with a lot of forged parts and it has real guts. Unless it threw one of its forged connecting rods through the block, I would think it had a timing chain break. Such repairs can be very expensive in parts and they're very time consuming.

Thus one constant is with any car dealer service department. On engine repairs, they will all eat your pocketbook alive. And until they tear into the engine, there's no way they can give an estimate of repairs.

If the dealer doesn't meet you at least halfway on repairs, you need to find an independent auto repair shop to do the work charging half the labor rate of a dealership.

I had an engine failure a few years ago and the car body was too good to scrap. I went to a local quality auto salvage yard and picked up a 43k mile engine and had it swapped into the car. It was a 1 day job for the shop.

If you find re-engining to be an option, good sources for engines are Car-Parts.com. You filter it by zip code.
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Old 09-05-2017, 09:56 AM   #18
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I hate to tell you, but you may be out of luck on a 11 year old vehicle bought without any extended service plan. Hopefully the dealer is willing to help.

The Maxims 3.5 engine is a very high tech motor and it is built with a lot of forged parts and it has real guts. Unless it threw one of its forged connecting rods through the block, I would think it had a timing chain break. Such repairs can be very expensive in parts and they're very time consuming.

Thus one constant is with any car dealer service department. On engine repairs, they will all eat your pocketbook alive. And until they tear into the engine, there's no way they can give an estimate of repairs.

If the dealer doesn't meet you at least halfway on repairs, you need to find an independent auto repair shop to do the work charging half the labor rate of a dealership.

I had an engine failure a few years ago and the car body was too good to scrap. I went to a local quality auto salvage yard and picked up a 43k mile engine and had it swapped into the car. It was a 1 day job for the shop.

If you find re-engining to be an option, good sources for engines are Car-Parts.com. You filter it by zip code. Nissan 3.5 engines are inexpensive and very plentiful but finding a low mileage engine can be a challenge. Many different models started using that engine in 2002.
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Old 09-05-2017, 10:04 AM   #19
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I agree you need to learn the laws... maybe a dealer has to cover something, but I would bet big time money an engine is not one of them...


The default position is a used car sale is 'as is' unless there is some written warranty..... you said you did not have one written, hence....


The problem you have if it is an oil problem is they recommend that you check the oil so often that nobody does it... so saying it was 2 months and 2,000 miles is not any help...

You did not say how many miles... but even so a 10 YO car should have a timing belt changed...
2 months after it was purchased. We were told that the car was a "certified used vehicle" meaning it was supposed to be checked.

Wow, I'm not a car gal, my late husband was more in tuned with them but I would have never thought to change a timing belt on a car I just purchased. All my cars were purchased new and I think I'm going back that route. I know it loses so much of the value driving off the lot but seriously I'd rather have the peace of mind that it will work longer than 90 days.

I just never thought a certified used car would have to be rechecked in 2 months.
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Old 09-05-2017, 10:11 AM   #20
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Interested to hear what caused the explosion - like others have said, probably timing belt and/or valve train failure
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