Nissan owners say timing chains are noisy and defective, but Nissan says the systems are just noisy.

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Nissan owners say timing chains are noisy and defective, but Nissan says the systems are just noisy.

— Nissan timing chain noise is what a class-action lawsuit is all about, not safety hazards caused by those timing chains, at least according to attorneys for Nissan arguing the case in a California courtroom.

Owners say the Nissan timing chain systems are dangerous and defective, while Nissan says the timing chain tensioners may be a little noisy, but those systems haven't caused a single crash or injury.

The class-action lawsuit includes California and Washington purchasers or lessees of the following vehicles:

  • 2004-2008 Nissan Maxima
  • 2004-2009 Nissan Quest
  • 2004-2006 Nissan Altima (VQ35 engine)
  • 2005-2007 Nissan Pathfinder
  • 2004-2007 Nissan Xterra
  • 2005-2007 Nissan Frontier (VQ49 engine)

The timing chain tensioning system connects the engine's camshaft to the crankshaft and controls the opening and closing of the engine’s valves. The system must work accurately and precisely for the engine to function properly.

A vehicle can experience numerous problems if the timing chain has trouble, including causing the pistons and valves to smash into one another, resulting in an inability to accelerate, maintain speed and idle smoothly.

Finally, the engine can experience catastrophic failure while driving, not to mention the extreme cost to fix the timing chain problems.

The plaintiffs report paying up to $3,000 to repair problems that Nissan allegedly has known about since 2004.

The lawsuit alleges each lead plaintiff heard whining, buzzing and ticking sounds during the warranty periods, but didn't know they were symptoms of timing chain problems. In each case, the plaintiffs had repairs performed after the warranties had expired.

Plaintiffs point to three technical service bulletins (TSBs) issued by Nissan to its dealerships. One sent July 17, 2007, instructed technicians to replace timing chain parts in the case of whining or buzzing noises.

The lawsuit alleges the automaker knew about the timing chain problems from early customer complaints, dealer input and from internal data. However, even with this knowledge, the plaintiffs claim Nissan continued to install the defective triming chain systems in the vehicles.

According to the lawsuit, Nissan redesigned one of the timing chain tensioner components in 2006 and 2007, correcting the alleged defect, but without informing consumers.

According to the plaintiffs, all affected Nissan vehicles use a uniform timing chain system consisting of the same slack guide, secondary chain and secondary tensioners.

Nissan allegedly tried to fix the timing chain problems but everything the automaker tried allegedly ended up failing. The plaintiffs say this is why the automaker finally redesigned the systems.

According to the automaker, there has never been anything defective about the timing chain systems and the most that owners can show is that the timing chains make noise, not that the systems are a safety risk. Nissan says the plaintiffs admit no crashes are attributed to the timing chains, even though the majority of the vehicles have been in service more than 10 years.

In addition, the automaker says two of the plaintiffs admit they didn't even have repairs made to their vehicles. According to the automaker, both those plaintiffs say the timing chains "whine," not that the systems are hazardous to them or anyone else.

The Nissan timing chain noise lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California – Kobe Falco, et. al., v. Nissan North America, Inc., and Nissan Motor Company, LTD.

The plaintiffs are represented by Baron & Budd, P.C., Capstone Law APC, and Strategic Legal Practices.

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