Nissan VQ35DE Engine Problems: The 3 Most Common Problems

VQ35DE Engine Problems

Nissan began production of the VQ35DE 3.5L V6 engine in 2000. It’s a durable engine – best known for its use in the 350Z and G35 – that Nissan continues to manufacture to this day. The 3.5 V6 engine produces between 228 and 300 horsepower, depending on the model. The VQ35DE is a high-performance engine with a reputation for dependability and longevity.

However, no engine is without flaws. We’ll discuss a few of the most common issues with the Nissan VQ35DE in this article, as well as the vehicle’s overall reliability.

What Cars Use the VQ35DE?

Nissan and Infiniti models equipped with the 3.5L V6 Nissan VQ35DE engine include the following:

  • 2003-2006 Nissan 350Z
  • 2003-2007 Infiniti G35
  • 2004-2017 Nissan Quest
  • 2003-present Nissan Murano
  • 2014-present Infiniti QX60
  • 2001-2004 Nissan Pathfinder
  • 2013-present Nissan Pathfinder
  • 2002-2018 Nissan Altima
  • 2001-2004 Infiniti QX4
  • 2002-2004 Infiniti I35
  • 2002-2018 Nissan Maxima
  • 2003-2008 Infiniti FX35
  • 2013 Infiniti JX35

As you can see, the VQ35DE engine has a lengthy list of years and models. We may have omitted a few years and models from the list due to the volume of information to track down. The 3.5-liter V6 engine is probably best known for its application in the Nissan 350Z and Infiniti G35.

As a long-running engine, it has received some minor updates over the years to improve efficiency, reliability, and performance. Having said that, some years and models may be more or less prone to the VQ35DE issues discussed here. Additionally, newer engines are likely to be more reliable in the short term due to their lower age and mileage.

Nissan VQ35DE Engine Specs

The VQ35DE 3.5L engine’s specifications are as follows:

Engine VQ35DE
Production 2000 – present
Displacement 3498cc (3.5L)
Aspiration Natural
Horsepower 228-300hp
Torque 246-274 lb-ft
Redline 6500 to 7000
Compression 10 : 1 or 10.5 :1
Bore x Stroke 95.5mm x 81.4mm
Block Material Aluminum
Head Material Aluminum

The engine’s longevity and breadth of application are, in our opinion, a testament to the engine. The horsepower and torque figures are excellent for an engine manufactured in the early 2000’s.

Additionally, it features a redline of 6500 rpm, which increases to 7,000 rpm on some “rev-up” Nissan VQ35DE engines. The point is that, based on specifications and real-world performance, the Nissan 3.5 V6 is a capable performance engine.

Additionally, the Nissan 3.5L V6 engine features a forged crankshaft and connecting rods. This contributes to the VQ35DE’s strength and durability, as well as its ability to handle additional power via bolt-on mods. This will be discussed further in a future article about tuning and modding the Nissan VQ35DE.

3 Common VQ35DE Engine Problems

VQ35DE Engine

Several of the most frequently encountered issues with the Nissan 3.5L V6 VQ35DE engine include the following:

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

We’ll discuss these three points in greater detail throughout the remainder of this article. Finally, we’ll discuss the VQ35DE’s reliability and longevity. Prior to getting started, it’s critical to add a few quick notes. For a reason, we’re labeling these Nissan VQ35DE issues as the MOST REGULAR. That is not to say they are extremely common issues affecting a large percentage of engines. Rather than that, when failures do occur, the following are a few of the most frequent areas.

Nissan has used the 3.5L V6 engine for over two decades. We believe they would not have stayed with the engine for as long as they have if it did not offer an excellent balance of performance, reliability, and longevity. Having said that, the VQ35DE is a dependable engine that has been known to exceed 200,000 miles without major failures or issues.

The Nissan 350Z is powered by the pictured VQ35DE engine.

1) Nissan 3.5L V6 High Oil Consumption

This is a subject on which we will be brief. The VQ35DE frequently consumes oil at a rapid rate, especially as it ages and accumulates mileage. However, excessive oil consumption does not appear to be a cause for concern regarding reliability. We are unaware of any additional underlying issues that contribute to increased oil consumption. Additionally, it does not cause any other issues with the Nissan VQ35DE.

Naturally, it’s critical to monitor oil levels, as they may need to be topped off between oil changes. Oil deficiency is never a good thing. Otherwise, there are no disadvantages to the Nissan VQ35DE engine’s high oil consumption. Apart from paying a few dollars more for oil in between changes.

One final note – though this is by no means a common occurrence. If your oil consumption becomes excessive, you may wish to investigate further. This is especially true if excessive smoke from the exhaust is present. Engines can lose compression and begin to consume more oil as they age. This is typically a sign that the VQ35DE is approaching the end of its useful life.

VQ35DE – How to Avoid High Oil Consumption

There are a few simple things you can do to help reduce oil consumption on the Nissan 3.5L V6 engine:

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

Generally, there are few simple, inexpensive ways to reduce oil consumption. However, these few items may help a little. Avoid idling the engine for an extended period of time.

Additionally, excessive oil consumption appears to be a greater issue on VQ35DE engines driven short distances. Maintain a high standard of oil quality and consider running a slightly heavier weight oil. Additionally, changing the oil a little more frequently can help.

2) VQ35DE Timing Chain Failures

VQ35DE Timing Chain Failures

Moving on to a more legitimate and frequently occurring engine issue with the 3.5 V6 VQ35DE engine. Again, the majority of issues are unlikely to be as prevalent as the internet may lead you to believe.

The timing chain guides and tensioners, on the other hand, are two of the more common issues on the VQ35DE. As their names imply, these components assist in maintaining tension and guiding the timing chain. They are critical components of the timing chain system on the Nissan VQ35DE.

Failure to address the timing chain guides and/or tensioners in a timely manner may also result in damage to the VQ35DE timing chain itself.

We’ll discuss the symptoms in greater detail below, but keep an ear out for any loud rattling sounds coming from the engine. This is typically a sign that the timing chain, guides, or tensioners are nearing the end of their useful life.

Around the 150,000 mile mark, it is prudent to inspect the timing chain. Although problems typically manifest themselves after 100,000 miles, some timing chain systems can last twice that distance.

Nissan 3.5L V6 Timing Chain Symptoms

The following are some possible symptoms of timing chain, guide, or tensioner failure on the VQ35DE:

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

Timing chain problems are typically indicated by a rattling or clunking sound emanating from the engine bay. This is typically the first sign of a timing chain failure on a Nissan 3.5 V6. Below is a video that highlights the sounds.

If the timing chain is left unattended for an extended period of time, it can slip, resulting in incorrect ignition timing. You’re likely to notice a variety of symptoms at this point, including a check engine light, rough running, and power loss.

VQ35DE 3.5L Timing Chain Replacement

Replacing the VQ35DE’s guides and tensioners requires some moderately strenuous labor. Labor alone can cost between $500 and $800. Of course, this varies considerably depending on your location and vehicle’s year/model. Typically, parts cost between $100 and $400. If you’re only installing tensioners or guides, this is on the low end.

On VQ35DE engines, however, we recommend purchasing a timing chain kit rather than replacing the entire system. This is especially true if you intend to keep the car and the engine has a high mileage.

3) Nissan VQ35DE Oil Leak Problems

Now for the final of the frequently encountered problems with the 3.5 V6 VQ35DE engine. As these engines age, oil leaks from the valve cover gaskets may occur (VCG). The Nissan engine is not unique in this regard, as valve cover leaks are a common occurrence on a wide variety of engines. After all, the VQ35DE valve cover gaskets are constructed entirely of rubber. Due to the engine’s constant heat cycles, these gaskets are subjected to a great deal of abuse.

The material degrades over time and begins to crack. This enables oil to begin slowly seeping from the valve cover area. Generally, the 3.5L V6 Nissan engine does not require an emergency repair. Leaks, on the other hand, will continue to worsen over time as existing cracks expand and new ones form.

The primary source of concern is oil dripping onto hot components, which could result in a fire or other safety hazard. Due to the fact that the valve covers are located at the top of the engine, oil can also cause havoc in the engine bay.

Oil may contaminate other VQ35DE components, such as engine mounts, resulting in premature wear. The point is that while this is not an emergency repair, it is still prudent to replace the VCG sooner rather than later.

VQ35DE Valve Cover Gasket Oil Leak Symptoms

Examine the following symptoms to determine if an oil leak is occurring from the Nissan VQ35DE valve cover gaskets:

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

One of the first symptoms you’ll notice is a visible leak on the ground. However, it is possible that the VCG has been leaking for some time before you notice. These leaks begin small, and any drops that fall into the engine bay burn off before dripping to the ground. As a result, you may notice the smell of burning oil or small amounts of smoke emanating from the VQ35DE engine bay.

Nissan 3.5 V6 VCG Replacement

Valve cover gaskets, on the other hand, are extremely inexpensive. Each VQ35DE VCG will cost between $10 and $20. However, the labor can be quite time consuming, which means that labor costs can quickly add up in a repair shop.

For an experienced mechanic, labor will likely take between 2-4 hours, so budget between $200 and $400 for labor. It’s not a difficult do-it-yourself project if you have some patience and some basic knowledge.

Nissan VQ35DE Reliability

Nissan VQ35DE Reliability

Is Nissan’s VQ35DE 3.5L V6 engine reliable? Yes, in a nutshell. We believe the VQ35DE earns an above-average reliability rating. Nissan has been using this engine for two decades for a reason. The 3.5 V6 engine strikes an ideal balance of performance and dependability.

In general, the engine is free of numerous common issues. The majority of VQ35DE issues do not manifest themselves until 100,000+ miles, and it is natural for all engines to experience a few failures as they age and mileage increases. As such, the 3.5L V6 earns excellent reliability ratings.

Of course, some reliability is dependent on how well the VQ35DE is maintained. Maintain an eye on maintenance and replace the oil in a timely manner with high-quality oils. If and when problems occur, resolve them promptly. Maintain the Nissan VQ35DE properly, and it’s likely that it’ll provide a reliable, long-life of 200,000 miles or more. Not too shabby in terms of longevity.

VQ35DE 3.5L Common Problems Summary

It can be difficult to write about common engine problems. It brings up the negative aspects of an engine, and you immediately begin to fear the worst. That is not, however, what we intend with these guides, and certainly not for the Nissan VQ35DE engine.

It’s a truly excellent engine in every way. Efficacious, dependable, and stable performance. There is little to criticize about the 3.5-liter V6, but no engine is perfect.

Several common issues with the VQ35DE include excessive oil consumption, timing chain component failure, and oil leaks from the valve cover gasket.

All of these are minor issues in the grand scheme of things, especially given that failures typically occur at 100,000+ miles. Given that these engines are capable of traveling upwards of or beyond 200,000 miles, some issues are unavoidable along the way.

What are your thoughts on the Nissan VQ35DE engine? Leave a comment and inform us!

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