Nissan VQ40DE Engine: 3 Most Common Problems

It first appeared in the 2005 Frontier, Xterra, and Pathfinder as the VQ40DE 4.0L V6 engine. It has a respectable 261-275 hp and 281-288 lb-ft of torque to offer drivers. VQ40 engines are also known for their high levels of dependability while still being extremely fuel-efficient.

However, no engine is faultless, and the Nissan 4.0 engine is no exception. We’ll go over common Nissan VQ40DE engine issues, as well as reliability, specs, and more, in this guide.

What Cars Use the Nissan 4.0L V6?

The following year and model vehicles are equipped with Nissan VQ40 4.0L engines:

  • 2005-2019 Nissan Frontier
  • 2005-2015 Nissan Xterra
  • 2005-2012 Nissan Pathfinder
  • 2009-2013 Suzuki Equator
  • 2012-present Nissan NV1500 / NV2500 HD
  • 2012-present Nissan NV Passenger

Nissan uses the engine in the Frontier, Xterra, and Pathfinder models in the US. The VQ40DE engine is also used in NV full-size vans.

Nissan VQ40 Engine Specs

Engine code VQ40DE is broken down as follows:

  • VQ – engine family
  • 40 – 4.0L displacement
  • D – DOHC
  • E – Multi-point fuel injection

Nissan’s VQ40DE 4.0-liter engine has the following specifications:

Engine Nissan VQ40DE
Production 2005-present
Displacement 3,954 cc (4.0L)
Configuration V6
Valvetrain DOHC, 24 valves
Head/Block Material Aluminum
Bore x Stroke 95.5mm x 92 mm
Compression Ratio 9.7 : 1
Horsepower 261-275 HP
Torque (lb-ft) 281-288 @ 4,000 rpm

These are typical engine specifications for a contemporary V6. Despite this, the 4.0L engine’s displacement is substantial for a V6. Regardless, the aluminum body of the VQ40 helps to keep the vehicle lightweight, while the DOHC engine boosts the engine’s power and efficiency.

The VQ40DE 4.0L Nissan Frontier, Pathfinder, and Xterra all have 261 hp, making them popular choices. By today’s standards, it’s not a lot for a big 4.0 V6 engine. Despite this, the engine’s output is still commendable, given that it was released in 2005.

Common VQ40DE Engine Problems

The Nissan VQ40DE 4.0 V6 engine is prone to a variety of issues, including the following:

  • Timing chain
  • Low oil pressure
  • Oil leaks

Throughout the remainder of this article, we’ll talk about VQ40 reliability issues. This is an excellent opportunity to make a few quick additions before continuing. There’s a good reason why these are the most common issues.

This does not imply, however, that they are widespread in the true sense of the word. It’s more common for VQ40DE issues to manifest in these specific areas rather than elsewhere.

The Nissan 4.0 V6 is a dependable car in general. Many of these engines are still running smoothly after 200,000 miles. The engine, on the other hand, is from 2005, and older, high-mileage engines are more likely to develop issues.

At the end of this article, we’ll talk more about VQ40DE reliability. For the time being, let’s stick with the 4.0-liter Nissan engine and look at the problems listed above.

1) Nissan VQ40 Timing Chain Failure

The VQ40DE isn’t the only Nissan engine with timing chain issues; in fact, this isn’t even the first time we’ve written about it. At some point between 2011 and 2012, Nissan fixed the timing chain issues.

With the new upper timing chain design and stronger tensioner, this problem is much less likely to occur. So this problem mainly affects Frontier, Pathfinder, and Xterra 4.0L models from 2005 to 2010 only..

As a result of this, the upper timing chain, also known as the secondary timing chain, is prone to severing the tensioner. It appears that the timing chain tensioner is the primary source of the issue.

It didn’t help, however, that the Borg-warner timing chain design was flawed. The chain’s sharp edges dig into the plastic VQ40 timing chain tensioner, eventually causing it to break.

The Nissan VQ40DE’s timing chain and tensioner need to be replaced regularly, and this can get expensive. It’s not a pleasant situation to be in. A 4.0L V6 Nissan model from 2005 to 2010 may have been repaired; if you’re interested in one, ask if it has been.

It appears that problems begin to occur most frequently between 80,000 and 120,000 miles. Despite this, there are VQ40 timing chains that perform admirably even after many years of service.

4.0L V6 Timing Chain Symptoms

When the VQ40 4.0 V6 engine’s timing chain or chain tensioner fails, the following symptoms occur:

  • Whining/buzzing sound
    • Increases with RPM
  • Misfires
  • Rough idle
  • Poor overall engine performance

When there is a problem with the VQ40DE secondary timing chain, you will hear whining or buzzing sounds. As engine RPMs rise, the noise level should rise as well. If you’re experiencing any of these issues, you should have your timing chain checked out immediately.

Symptoms such as misfires, a rough idle, and poor engine performance may become more common if the failure worsens. Avoid letting it go this far because the timing chain can slip or jump a few teeth and cause serious problems.

Nissan VQ40DE Timing Chain Replacement

The most difficult part is swapping out the Nissan VQ40 timing chain and tensioner. This is a labor-intensive job, so expect to pay between $1,000 and $1,500 or more in repair costs. Nissan has issued a technical service bulletin (TSB) to address the timing chain problems. The video below shows how to replace the VQ40DE engine’s timing chain.

2) VQ40DE 4.0L Low Oil Pressure Light

Alright. We debated whether or not to bring up the subject at all. Low oil pressure is a common problem for Nissan VQ40DE owners, especially when the engine is idle. Several factors could be at play, and none of them appear to be particularly common. Low oil pressure, on the other hand, happens frequently enough to warrant discussion. Clubfrontier.org’s search for “VQ40DE low oil pressure” turns up over 450 results.

Another possible explanation is related to the rear timing cover gasket. Low oil pressure is more common on VQ40 engines from the early 2000s. Also known as the timing chain and tensioner problems, it’s possible that this failure is linked in some way to them.

The rear timing cover gasket leaks oil onto the block, causing the problem. Some of the Nissan 4.0 V6 engine’s oil becomes “stuck” instead of circulating. This results in low oil pressure, which is most apparent when the engine is idle. However, problems with the oil pump and other components do arise from time to time. Do not immediately assume that low oil pressure is due to a faulty rear timing cover gasket.

Nissan 4.0 V6 Low Oil Pressure Symptoms

Aside from noticing low oil pressure on the gauge, there aren’t many signs of VQ40DE low oil pressure. Nevertheless, the following signs and symptoms should be kept in mind:

  • Low oil pressure light
  • Engine noise
  • Overheating

Again, low oil pressure is the most notable symptom. With a manual test, you can be sure there is no gauge, electrical, or other problem interfering with the oil pressure. You may hear strange clunking, ticking, or knocking noises if your oil pressure is critically low. Oil pressure is critical on the VQ40DE, as it is on any engine. It can increase friction, resulting in the noises you hear, as well as cause the engine to overheat.

VQ40 Low Oil Pressure Fix

Repairing the rear timing cover gasket can be expensive. It’s a lot of work, similar to what was discussed above regarding the timing chain. The VQ40 gasket should also be checked if you’re doing work on the timing chain or tensioner while there. This also holds true in the opposite direction. If you’re changing the gasket, make sure the timing chain and tensioner are in good working order..

Low oil pressure issues with the VQ40DE are less common than you might think. Low oil pressure is a serious problem, so don’t ignore it.

3) Nissan VQ40DE Oil Leak Problems

Many car engines leak oil, especially as they get older and have accumulated more miles. Rubber gaskets, seals, and other parts become brittle and crack with time. The valve covers and/or valve cover gaskets are frequently the source of an oil leak on a Nissan VQ40DE engine.

The 4.0L V6 cylinder head and valve covers are separated by valve cover gaskets. As a result of the constant exposure to heat, the rubber valve cover gaskets eventually degrade. They’ll eventually crack and start leaking oil. Cracks continue to grow and new ones develop even if the leak isn’t severe enough to warrant immediate attention.

With over 8 years and 100,000 miles on the clock, valve cover gaskets will most likely start to fail. It’s possible that the Nissan VQ40DE 4.0 engine will fail sooner rather than later, but this is more of an age and mileage issue than a design flaw. Timing covers and main seals are also potential sources of oil leaks (among some other less common leaks).

VQ40 4.0L Oil Leak Symptoms

The symptoms of an oil leak on a Nissan 4.0 V6 are usually easy to identify. If you notice any of the following symptoms, your VQ40 may be leaking oil.

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

The most common sign of an oil leak on a Nissan VQ40DE is to see visible oil leaks. However, valve cover gasket oil leaks begin slowly, so they may go undetected for some time. Due to the location of the gaskets at the top of the engine, hot oil may drip onto them and burn before it reaches the ground. If this is the case, you may notice some engine compartment smoke or smell burning oil.

Nissan VQ40DE Valve Cover Gasket Replacement

As each of the two gaskets should be less than $20, valve cover gaskets are not expensive. However, replacing the valve covers as a whole is sometimes necessary, and that costs more money. At 120,000 miles or more, it’s possible that the valve cover should be replaced as a whole.

This job doesn’t require a lot of labor because the gaskets and covers are located near the top of the VQ40’s powertrain. The driver’s side, on the other hand, can be more challenging. A repair shop will charge somewhere between $200 and $600 to make this fix.

VQ40 4.0 V6 Engine Reliability

Which engine manufacturer do you recommend for your Nissan Maxima? Yes, we believe the engine has above average reliability ratings. While early VQ40DE timing chains were a significant and costly issue, Nissan was quick to address it. The VQ 4.0L engine does not have any significant flaws. There will be some wear and tear due to age and mileage, but that’s to be expected with any car or engine.

Maintenance is a big factor in VQ40DE reliability. Use high-quality oils, replace fluids on schedule, and fix issues as they arise. Some of the VQ40’s resiliency can be attributed to pure good fortune. Every engine design has a few outliers, or engines that have a disproportionately high number of issues.

Anyway, make sure to keep up with maintenance and good fortune will smile on you. The Nissan VQ40DE 4.0 V6 engine frequently lasts well beyond 200,000 miles with only minor issues. Some have even made it over the 350,000-mile mark. If you ask us, that’s an impressive amount of time to be alive.

Nissan VQ40DE Engine Problems Summary

Frontier, Xterra, and Pathfinder all got Nissan’s new VQ40 engine for 2005. Most models have a powerful 261-horsepower 4.0L V6 engine. Although the numbers are modest by today’s standards, they still provide adequate power for the majority of people. Add to that its high level of dependability and efficiency, and you have a promising engine in the Nissan VQ40DE. Having said that, no engine is perfect.

The secondary chain and tensioner design on early VQ40DE 4.0 engines left them vulnerable to timing chain issues. Nissan fixed these problems in 2011; as a result, newer models aren’t as vulnerable. Low oil pressure, on the other hand, occurs frequently, but it can be caused by a number of different factors; none of which are particularly common.

Some Nissan 4.0 V6 engines are over 15 years old, and they’re only getting worse as time passes. As VQ40DE engines age, they are more prone to oil leaks and other problems related to mileage. This is a long-lasting engine that has been tested to last between 200,000 and 300,000 miles.

Which Nissan VQ40DE engine have you used? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!

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