Should I have to replace my timing chain?

Q. Our 2005 Nissan Altima has 59,000 miles and at the latest maintenance visit we were informed that the timing chain needs to be replaced to the tune of $1,450.00.  Is this problem specific to all Nissan cars or is it just part of the aging process of the car?   The mileage seems pretty low to have such a major repair.  We’d appreciate your thoughts on this.

A. It is unusual for any engine that uses a timing chain rather than a timing belt to require any kind of periodic maintenance. Both the four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines in the Altima use timing chains. In a limited number of Altima models with the six-cylinder engine, there was an issue with noise from the timing chain. If the technician hears a noise that increases with engine speed it is possible the timing chain and associated hardware will need to be replaced. If the shop is suggesting replacement for preventative maintenance only, find a new repair shop.


Q. I have a 2006 Ford F-150 pick-up with the 5.4 liter Triton V-8 engine. I have replaced the following parts, ignition coils because of misfiring, crankshaft and camshaft sensors, fuel pump, fuel filter, all spark plugs, and my truck is still acting up. I don’t know what else to do. It runs good for a bit, and then it starts acting up again. Any thoughts? I’m putting too much money into this truck.

A. Over the years, there have been a fair amount of drivability problems with this engine. One of the issues seems to come from using anything other than Motorcraft spark plugs. Some other brands, for one reason or another, will cause a misfire. The other issue with this engine is oil pressure; if the oil pressure is low or improper oil/filter is being used there can be drivability problems. At this point, I would retrace my steps, performing a complete diagnostic inspection looking at not just the computer and sensors, but overall engine condition.

Q. I purchased my Acura TSX in June of 2008 and I haven’t put too many miles on the car. I am very meticulous and I take good care of the car. I have it serviced regularly by the dealership where I bought it, once a year. I had it serviced in June of 2012 and the battery check was satisfactory. In early November, the battery died. I jumpstarted the car with no problem and took it to the dealer. They checked it out and the only suggestion that they made was to replace the battery. The battery never gave me any indication that it was weak, it was charging okay. Is it possible for the battery to completely die in 24 hours? I have a theory that the electrical system/battery was remotely deactivated. Is that possible? Since you have a lot of knowledge on cars, I would be very interested in your comments.


A. At AAA, we have found the average original equipment battery lasts just under four years. Certainly some last longer than others. Since the battery in your car was four years old, it could have just been time. Regarding testing the battery, depending on the equipment used, some is more accurate than others. Regarding the possibility of the electrical system being remotely deactivated, this would be highly unlikely.

Q. I may be interested in looking into buying or leasing a Cadillac CTS Coupe.  I see that all their engines are the same size, a 3.6 liter V-6.  At an advertised 18 city and 27 MPG on the highway, I feel Cadillac could do better. To address this, I heard that Cadillac is going to introduce a hybrid CTS Coupe next year.  If that were the case (or if they were going to offer a 4 cylinder model,) I’d be more interested due to the better mileage. Are you aware if Cadillac is planning on introducing either of these options (hybrid or 4 cylinder engine) for the CTS Coupe next year?

A. Recently, Cadillac introduced an extended range electric car that is reminiscent of the CTS coupe. This car is going to use a variation of the Chevrolet Volt drive train. Although horsepower won’t match that of the pure gasoline CTS, torque will be impressive. Cadillac expects the ELR to be ready for delivery in early 2014.

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