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2003 Nissan Murano SE AWD
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Discussion Starter #101 (Edited)
Dropped the CVT pan last night to look at the magnets and do some light valve body cleaning. I was going to send the snake cam in through the CVT fill tube, but it was too big. There were some metal shavings and sludge on the magnets, and some scattered shavings around the bottom of the pan, but the other components of the valve body were very clean and the filter had no visible shavings. The neck of the filter was damaged, so I'm guessing it's slightly too long and while finishing bolting up the pan, it must be getting crushed against those ribs on the bottom. Drained out eight quarts, replaced with six of CVT. The old fluid looked great. Clear with no shavings in the catch pan. Given that it's only been about five weeks since I cleaned the magnets, I think the shavings are excessive. I don't know if they're from the elements on the drive belt, or bearings from a pulley.

Pressure was fine all day, but I had an issue where the brake and battery MILs came on just moments after I glanced at the running CVTz50 app and noticed the "battery" reading went from 13.-- to 12.-- to 11.-- then 10.--. It was raining, but I turned off my headlights and everything inside that I didn't need, and I pulled over to the side of the road for about a minute and waited. The MILs went off, the battery reading went to 13.18 and wouldn't go below 12.87, so I kept everything off and proceeded to my destination without any problems. Hours later, MO started up fine and I got home fine. I later discovered that an "oil event" apparently happened under the hood, and some dripped down onto the alternator, which is probably why it was glitching out.

2nd CVT pan drop...

New engine noise...
 

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Discussion Starter #102 (Edited)
MO's not going quietly... Threw four P0011s today over the course of about 180 miles. This morning, for the second time when checking the oil, dipstick's bone dry. CVT seems to be working okay but I finally threw a P1778 today. With MMO, no P1778. Without it...P1778 returns. I can't really tell for sure if the CVT has improved because the engine is creating a smoke storm behind MO when accelerating from a stop, and there's lack of power if I get on the gas too heavy, so I have to drive carefully. To save space...this is what I'm planning to do...

I have a feeling the Lucas engine oil leak stopper fluid may have plugged up something and is causing flow problems. During the first two hours of driving with that additive, the engine sounded different and power felt off. I'm going to change the oil 100 miles early once MO cools down to see if that can improve/correct things.

UPDATE: Only got two quarts of oil out of the system, and it was severely black and burned. To help purge the old oil, I cranked over the engine fives times without starting it. With new filter and oil in place, I jogged the engine a few times to build up some pressure, and she fired up and found a good idle after about a minute. Went for a quick test drive and the timing is still off, there's some initial rattling noises from the engine and MO's leaving a nice smoke trail all the way down the road. Maybe MO won't make it to 300,000 after all...
 

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Discussion Starter #103 (Edited)
Idle was good at the start of the day, acceleration caused lots of smoke and rattling around the front of bank 1 that sounds somewhat similar to how an engine running on a bad batch of gas sounds. About 35 miles into my trip, the torque lock reading on the CVT app kept locking/unlocking very quickly, and the slip revision numbers were going crazy while cruising at 57MPH, so I pulled over. As soon as I stopped, I immediately smelled a strong stench of burning plastic. It didn't smell like any of the fluids. I thought something had caught on fire. I looked everywhere but saw nothing, so I shut down the engine, restarted, and went on my way and the smell never returned. The only thing I could think of was that the plastic valve cover was somehow melting. After getting to my destination, I popped the hood and noticed some minor oil splatterings again, but this time I saw a good line of oil resting on the bottom lip of the bank 2 valve cover. I suspect some of the oil loss may be coming from there. Perhaps all the pressure washing of the engine I've been doing all month blasted away some grime/sludge that was actually sealing a failed gasket. Although I'd like to drop the CVT pan again to shorten that fluid pickup tube, the CVT had problems before replacing that filter, so I don't know if doing anything to it would really matter. However, the old filter had obstructed screens, so fluid flow then and now are similarly obstructed, but by different things... Today the line pressure dropped below .61 min. No MMO... Major downpour driving home 50 miles in 34-degree temps, and I was kind of expecting MO to crap out. Maybe on the last 100 miles.. :)

EDIT: After letting MO sit for a few hours after returning home, I checked the oil level and only the tip of the stick had oil. Funny how the tailpipes look fine, there's no oil dripping under the car and nothing is smeared/covered in oil...just some minor splattering under the hood that looks like less than a bottlecapful. Can the engine really be burning through a quart every 100 miles? Even the 307 in my old Nova didn't burn that much oil, and that engine was horrible on oil.
 

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I've had a car that burned a quart every 50 miles - a 1966 GTO that had been run VERY hard before I got it. (before I rebuilt it...)

Every time I let up on the gas for 2-3 seconds, then nailed the throttle down, it laid down a blue smokescreen for 200 yards.

It's hard to believe that you're burning that much oil without substantial tailpipe smoke.
 

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Discussion Starter #105
I'm getting a lot of smoke accelerating from a stopped position. Once I get past around 35MPH, the smoke isn't very bad unless I get on the pedal, which I'm avoiding doing for obvious reasons. But it's been tough to gauge the amount of smoke while crusing because it's been raining so much lately. At idle in P, very little visible exhaust. In D at idle, lots of smoke when I stopped at a Drive-Thru on the way home. It wasn't that bad yesterday or the day before when stopped in D. Things appear to be getting worse, as they should when a problem isn't properly addressed and the vehicle is still being driven for hundreds of miles anyway.

Driving MO reminds me of that line from Gladiator when Commodus says, "You simply...won't...die!" :)
 

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That makes sense. When idling you're probably getting some oil buildup past the rings, and it's burned when you accelerate.
Valve seals might be part of the equation, but I doubt they're the primary reason.
 

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Discussion Starter #107 (Edited)
Marvel Mystery Oil + Lestoil + Mobil 1 = ???

Success. I assumed that the oil leak stopper additive I dumped in a couple of weeks ago somehow contributed to clogging an oil port/passage for one of the VVTSVs (over three days, MO threw one P0021, six P0011s and three pending P0011s), so I did a couple of things... Last night I changed the oil again and refilled with a mix of three quarts MMO, one quart Lestoil and two quarts Mobil 1. I fired up MO, took a hard-plastic tack hammer and starting tapping around both VVTSVs in the hope it might unstick or dislodge something as the heavy duty degreaser and additives circulated through the system. Idle came down nicely and everything was smooth and quiet. Smoke cleared and I went for a 20-mile drive and really got on the gas. Came back, changed the oil again and refilled with Mobil 1.

This morning, MO fired right up with no unexpected/excessive smoke or rattling, and power seemed restored...and the tailpipes now have that unmistakable, over-powering Lestoil smell that reeks of clean. :)

Wasn't planning to, but I stopped by Nissan to check out a 2021 Platinum again. Side by side, I still think the '03 is sexier from all angles. Anyway...entering the lot, MO was at 299,999 and leaving she flipped 300,000. Check out that step motor count for March compared to February with I think fairly alike mileage. I don't know how MO runs as well as she does. Line pressure held at or above .57/.61 most of the day. Still undecided about what replacement vehicle I want. I think I've narrowed it down to the attached final four...

EDIT: Long to short... bank 2 valve cover breather hose and portions of wiring could not be removed (in the timeframe I was shooting for) without possibly breaking things, which didn't allow the valve cover to be flipped to remove the old gasket and properly clean everything and install the new gasket. So, I cleaned the lower portion and lower sides of the top of the head and applied RTV sealant to the area and bolted down the cover and will find out tomorrow if that solved the mysterious leaking/splattering oil problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #108 (Edited)
Red RTV sealant under the lower area of the bank 2 valve cover solved the oil problem. As an added benefit, the CVTz50 "battery" reading stayed primarly in the 13.54 to 13.95 range today, whereas most times it's floating around 13.18 to 13.41, and will randomly hit 13.57 or 12.87. In recent weeks, the range was usually 12.84 to 13.33. That the reading was consistently remaining in the higher range after fixing that minor oil leak indicates to me that a small amount of oil must have been, at times, making its way onto the alternator or wiring and affecting its operation a tad. Line pressure improved today, staying above .61. MO passed the State Inspection, despite the CAT not checking off as ready on my reader. A few days ago, my reader stopped checking off the CAT as ready, but gave me a green light for I/M Readiness. It's likely the burning oil that's been happening over the past few days affected the CATs and prevented them from doing their thing. I was expecting to fail the inspection and get a 60-day period to correct the problems, over which time I'd buy my new car and donate this one. This now gives me much more time to figure out what I want and what to do with MO. Or maybe I should shoot for 400,000??? ;)

I've spoken with one school about donating my car, and they declined, saying there's too much liability with an unknown vehicle being brought into their establishment. Never thought of that. I might go to some local high schools and post a contest flier, asking if someone wants my car to write a paragraph telling me why they'd like or need the car, and the entry I like the best gets it. I don't know. Maybe I'll park it in the field and let nature consume it (I'll drain all the fluids, of course)...
 

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I've spoken with one school about donating my car, and they declined, saying there's too much liability with an unknown vehicle being brought into their establishment. Never thought of that.
That's a load of b.s. Every time a car shows up at a professional automotive repair shop, chances are it's an "unknown vehicle". Plus, you would think that a tech school would have individuals capable of doing a thorough vehicle inspection. My guess is they only want newer vehicles.

Glad you made it past 300k. For fun, you should go back to the Nissan dealership and ask them how much they'd give you on a trade-in :cool:
 

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I'll bet your local NPR station will take it as a donation!
 

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Discussion Starter #111 (Edited)
That's a load of b.s. Every time a car shows up at a professional automotive repair shop, chances are it's an "unknown vehicle". Plus, you would think that a tech school would have individuals capable of doing a thorough vehicle inspection. My guess is they only want newer vehicles.

Glad you made it past 300k. For fun, you should go back to the Nissan dealership and ask them how much they'd give you on a trade-in :cool:
So, you think they were sparing me the heartache of having to hear that they just didn't want my obsolete sh!tbox? :D I wonder if they have a "trusted" source for their automotive training needs (or perhaps even a contract) that has some insurance thing around it in case someone gets hurt as a result of a car being worked on that suddenly explodes in a student's face. Maybe there's some Homeland Security critieria/protocol at work at their end.

Given the age of many of the original parts (big, small, mechanical, electrical), I really think the only things MO has going for it are the very good interior, no significant/deep rust on any of the subframe areas, and exterior body panels that are 99.9% rust-free, but that, due to parking at Walmart while shopping, have sustained a few minor dings here and there because clueless/careless people suck. I think it's a great candidate for dropping in a rebuilt engine, CVT, complete exhaust system and some support components and going another 300,000 miles. However, it's not like an old car that has few electronics where you'd jsut drop in a rebuilt engine, maybe pop on a new rotor and distributor cap and you're good to go. Even my no-frills MO is loaded to the gills with electronics that really should be replaced, which would cost thousands of $$ on top of a new engine, drivetrain, etc, etc. So, in that regard, maybe these old Muranos are just disposable vehicles that really aren't worth fixing up.
 

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With the number of mods and alternative types of service that you have done to that car, I would be reluctant to sell it to anyone, unless you give them the same info shown above.
 

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So, you think they were sparing me the heartache of having to hear that they just didn't want my obsolete sh!tbox? :D
Basically, yes. :LOL: But seriously, if you have a place to let the car sit and some patience then another possibility is to tear it down and sell the good parts on eBay. You might actually get a big chunk of cash--certainly more than you would get (trying) to sell the car or trade it in. Also, as Pilgrim was alluding to, you shouldn't let this car go into anyone else's hands unless they have full disclosure. I doubt you'll find anyone with your fortitude that would want to take your car on--even as a project car.
 

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Discussion Starter #114 (Edited)
I thought I've been very obvious about the fact that I wouldn't try to sell it. Donate or give to someone who might like a project car that looks great and runs well but that needs some special care, etc. I know I could part it out, but I don't really feel like doing that. I'd rather give it to someone who's mechanically inclined/curious and who can tinker with it. If they want to part it out for $5000+, that's their choice.
 
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