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Old 12-23-2011, 09:37 PM
 
792 posts, read 2,600,985 times
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Last weekend my timing chain broke on my 98 Altima and bent two valves. The car is otherwise in good shape with brand new front and rear brakes, and tires with 60K left on them. Shifts seem to be solid. I do all maintenance on schedule and have since I bought it, used, in 1998 with 14K miles.

Money is tight, so I'd like to keep the car and either have the engine fixed for $2000, or get a used engine with many less miles and have my mechanic install it, for somewhat less. Which would you guys do? Should I take a chance on a much lower mileage used engine, or have this one fixed? Have people had good/bad experiences with used engines?

1998 Nissan Altima GXE, 172K, automatic, KA24DE engine.

Last edited by JBPisgah; 12-23-2011 at 09:46 PM..
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Old 12-24-2011, 04:40 AM
 
17,372 posts, read 21,226,478 times
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I'm curious about the type of oil change schedule that you used on this engine. In most cases, a timing chain breaks because of lubrication issues, such as sludge that prevents the chain from receiving enough oil.

Also--timing chains will normally give you an audible warning by making a lot of noise for at least a while before they actually break. Didn't your timing chain start to make a racket at least a few weeks before it broke?

Anyway--the problem with a used engine is that you rarely have any idea of how well it was maintained by the prior owner. If that engine was subjected to overly-long oil change intervals, you could be jumping from the frying pan into the fire, so to speak.

Personally, I would repair the existing engine, as it is a known quantity--unlike one from a boneyard.
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Old 12-24-2011, 01:51 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retriever View Post
I'm curious about the type of oil change schedule that you used on this engine. In most cases, a timing chain breaks because of lubrication issues, such as sludge that prevents the chain from receiving enough oil.

Also--timing chains will normally give you an audible warning by making a lot of noise for at least a while before they actually break. Didn't your timing chain start to make a racket at least a few weeks before it broke?

Anyway--the problem with a used engine is that you rarely have any idea of how well it was maintained by the prior owner. If that engine was subjected to overly-long oil change intervals, you could be jumping from the frying pan into the fire, so to speak.

Personally, I would repair the existing engine, as it is a known quantity--unlike one from a boneyard.
I did think it was running a little louder over the past six weeks, but this was subtle - no chain-on-metal noises, grating - more of a vague idea that it was louder than it used to be. I chalked it up to miles. Immediately before the failure, nothing at all. Going down the highway smooth as silk, then the engine just stopped. I've never been late on an oil change. So yeah, everyone thinks this is weird.
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Old 12-24-2011, 01:58 PM
 
792 posts, read 2,600,985 times
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The only other thing I can add is that I actually haven't seen the engine. So I supposed the mechanic could be pulling a fast one. Still, anybody willing to fraudulently claim the engine is dead can certainly snap the chain before I come over if I insisted on inspecting the damage, so I figure I have a broken chain one way or another. I have googled this and it looks like some other people have had this happen with over 150K KA engines.
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Old 12-27-2011, 08:29 PM
 
Location: United State of Texas
1,708 posts, read 5,856,960 times
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Timing chains failures are common on the KA24. It's what takes most of them out. They tend to make a bunch of noise before they actually break though. An owner paying attention should be able to hear the warning signs.

Timing chain replacement and a valve job with new valves is going to be expensive. A used engine might be a solution, but problem is, finding a used engine for a 98 model without a billion miles is tough. If you are willing to spend the cash to fix it, the engine will likely last another 100K.
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Old 12-27-2011, 08:37 PM
 
Location: United States
220 posts, read 310,265 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBPisgah View Post
Last weekend my timing chain broke on my 98 Altima and bent two valves. The car is otherwise in good shape with brand new front and rear brakes, and tires with 60K left on them. Shifts seem to be solid. I do all maintenance on schedule and have since I bought it, used, in 1998 with 14K miles.

Money is tight, so I'd like to keep the car and either have the engine fixed for $2000, or get a used engine with many less miles and have my mechanic install it, for somewhat less. Which would you guys do? Should I take a chance on a much lower mileage used engine, or have this one fixed? Have people had good/bad experiences with used engines?

1998 Nissan Altima GXE, 172K, automatic, KA24DE engine.
If it were my car, I believe I'd replace the engine.

172,000 miles isn't necessarily outrageous, but it's getting up there. You could have lots of other issues just waiting to make their appearance. You might also have shrapnel down in the oil pan.

Most used engines come with a warranty. It's not perfect, but it is what it is.


Good luck!
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Old 12-27-2011, 08:41 PM
 
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I have done engine swaps on altimas several times. It is not that hard and if your car is in decent shape it should well be worth the price to have another engine put in. Those cars are very well made .
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Old 12-28-2011, 12:18 AM
 
Location: Chicago
38,704 posts, read 95,613,191 times
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Have you priced used engines including installation? If so, what's the price difference?

I'd be extremely hard-pressed to spend 2 grand for repairs on a car that old and with that many miles.
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Old 12-28-2011, 05:26 PM
 
Location: Birmingham
11,787 posts, read 15,403,783 times
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Buying another used engine is just rolling the dice. It would make more sense to buy a refurb from somewhere like Jasper engines or pay to have the current engine rebuilt.

Autozone has them for $2469.99 + core charge.
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Old 12-28-2011, 06:20 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
15,805 posts, read 50,849,348 times
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Some boneyards have engines that they have run compression tests on and label them with the mileage on the car they came out of. Just a thought.

Something like a Jasper engine would be the safest bet, although it's the most money too.

Anybody know the life expectancy of auto trans in this model Altima?

I would want to know how much the valves scarred up the piston tops, before deciding on a used engine or repair the one you have.

Something to think about would be to put a new timing chain in a used engine. Although that means, probably either putting a new chain on used sprockets, or replacing the sprockets as well. Sometimes the crankshaft sprocket is a bear to get off on some engines.
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