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pjbrownva

New to me 2003 SE 4WD - White smoke... (code P0021) repair or engine swap?

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Hello,

 

I'm new here, and posted an intro in the "start here thread".

 

Tuesday evening I bought a 2003 SE 4WD with 144,000 miles from an independent dealer.

 

The next morning, when I started it, thick white smoke billowed from the exhaust.

 

I called the dealer who said that his mechanic had changed the plugs and put in a fuel injector cleaner, so run it, and "run the hell out of it" for at least 100 miles,

and it will clear up.

 

about 75 miles later the "service engine soon" light came on, and the truck tried to overheat, but i slowed down, coasted in neutral and kept the heat running on full HOT, so I

I at least avoided overheating it...  I had an app hooked up to the OBDII guage, so the temp sometimes got up to 205 F, and once even 208 briefly, but overall, i was able to keep it at about 200 F or 

lower as I drove about 12 miles home.

 

So, the truck has a "power train" warranty that will supposedly pay up to $1,000 towards fixing any power train warranties.

 

I'm posting here for some ideas and advice.  

 

I can either head down the path of trying to have the vehicle repaired (I don't know what's wrong yet, but obviously I'm skeptical about trying to rebuild a new-to-me truck that gave me problems within the first 10 miles of driving it)... or I was thinking that maybe I should try to enlist the dealer's help in getting a low-mileage vehicle, maybe with body damage or rust, but a solid engine, and then doing an engine swap.

 

I'll have to see how helpful the dealer is... but I'm reasonable with people, and don't want to have to try to fight with them in court, since the contract says "as-is", so while i could try to make a case of fraud or some other claims, it would be an uphill battle.

 

Moreover, if I'm able to apply $1,000 from the warranty, and leverage the dealer's mechanics to (maybe) get a good engine with say 80,000 miles or fewer and get a swap, I think that might be a better tack, and I might get their help and cooperation, even if it cost a (hopefully) no more than $3K total, or an additional $2K out-of-pocket... it would probably be worth it for the piece-of-mind.

 

Any thoughts, suggestions or advice, especially on fix vs swap and/or approaches on trying to find a decent engine for a swap, how much rebuilds can run, whether it's worth trying... what to look for, etc?

 

i'm obviously feeling duped, but the money's spent and I need to manage the world the way it is, and try for the best outcome possible.

 

 

The trouble code thrown is P0021, which is described as "Cam shaft variable timing control, Bank 2".

 

The dealer said that they replaced the air filter and did an oil change and put in synthetic oil during the change (that seems believable... although I probably would used regular or a blended oil on a used engine with 144,000 miles).

 

I'm skeptical of the new plugs and fuel cleaner claim... I suspect that the dealer was either hoping it would go away, or maybe hoping the whole engine would blow, and that he could pass off the first $1,000 of any repair bill to the warranty company (I have a form from they stating the power train warranty with $1,000 limit... but it's not a whole contract with details)... or maybe the dealer was even hoping that I'd drive it hard and get some miles on it, and if it blew, that they could blame me.

 

I drove the truck home which was fewer than 5 miles, and the problem showed up immediately the next morning... so maybe the dealer was trying to get me to put some miles on it, to try to weaken any claims I might have if I tried to make them take the truck back...

 

Anyway, I'm inclined to try to solve the problem by finding a way to get the truck running well if I can do it without spending TOO much more money.

 

I accept that I was likely duped, but trying to sue, even in small claims court for only $5K or less, is a big hassle, and I might not win since it can be very difficult to get satisfaction when

a used car is bought with "as-is" paperwork...

 

So while I've shared my story, I'm really looking for thoughts and insights on how to proceed re: repairs or engine swaps, and ideas of price ranges, approaches, and sources for parts.

 

If there's any good news, it would be that I had my "ultrablue" wireless device in the OBDCII port, and their app running on my phone (image attached), so I was able to monitor the temp carefully, and keep it lower enough that I think I prevented the engine from over-heating (I would assume... because it never got hotter than 208 F, and that was only very briefly... because I know that overheating an engine can cause serious damage.)

 

Thanks, and good to meet y'all.   🙂

 

        Phil Brown

       Arlington, VA

 

 

Image from the cell-phone app attached.

 

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_34fa.jpg

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Posted (edited)

The OE temp thermostat is 205F according to rockauto, so those temps aren't really concerning. Did it rise above 220 or more? My VW runs at 210~ all the time. Sometimes higher. Did the gauge ever indicate actual overheating?

 

I know on a cool morning mine will put out what looks like white smoke, but it's just condensation. Did it smell like antifreeze? Not trying to squash your claims but it is extremely rare for a head gasket to fail on the VG or VQ engines.

 

 

Edited by adamzan

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Damn dude sounds like the dealer pulled a fast one on you. I am by no means a lawyer but usually there is some sort of recourse if a licensed dealer sells you a vehicle that is not road ready. *Especially if it does not pass inspection or emissions* Mobile doesn’t show your location but in California I’d contact the dept of consumer affairs if the dealer doesn’t work with you. With that said, get rid of it!!!

 

 

I should also add if the dealer sold you a specific warranty its most likely because they already knew about the problem and that would be their way of getting out of repairs.

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

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2 hours ago, adamzan said:

The OE temp thermostat is 205F according to rockauto, so those temps aren't really concerning. Did it rise above 220 or more? My VW runs at 210~ all the time. Sometimes higher. Did the gauge ever indicate actual overheating?

 

I know on a cool morning mine will put out what looks like white smoke, but it's just condensation. Did it smell like antifreeze? Not trying to squash your claims but it is extremely rare for a head gasket to fail on the VG or VQ engines.

 

 

That's very encouraging news.   No, it never went above 208 F...  but I really do think that it's smoking too much.   I'd be very happy if it's all fine.   I'm concerned that when I called the dealer today, they said that the boss is out of town until saturday afternoon.... so I can talk to them on Monday.   I'm not sure I buy that line.

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22 minutes ago, Astrorami said:

Damn dude sounds like the dealer pulled a fast one on you. I am by no means a lawyer but usually there is some sort of recourse if a licensed dealer sells you a vehicle that is not road ready. *Especially if it does not pass inspection or emissions* Mobile doesn’t show your location but in California I’d contact the dept of consumer affairs if the dealer doesn’t work with you. With that said, get rid of it!!!

 

 

I should also add if the dealer sold you a specific warranty its most likely because they already knew about the problem and that would be their way of getting out of repairs.

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

Yeah...  I think that they were aware of the smoking... there are several reasons that I won't go into... but, the vehicle was sold "as-is".. but has a service contract to cover engine repairs for up to $1,000.    When I called them, I said there is definitely a problem, we need to talk in person to figure out what to do.  Should I bring the truck with me?  If they had said, sure, come in and we'll figure it out, I'd feel much better.   But they said, nope... boss is out of town until Monday...    Then I asked if they had a mechanic who could look at it, and they said... we've gotta talk to the boss.   I told them about the code that was thrown during my drive (they said drive it 100 miles... I got a code after about 75 miles, and then took it straight home... about 10 more miles).

I'm thinking that if they talk with me, we can maybe get the $1,000 warranty money approved, and have them pick up a Pathy with lower miles and a good engine, and do a motor swap with one of their mechanics.   If they bought at rust-bucket or wrecked donor with a good engine,  I'm hoping maybe at a dealer's pricing, the who thing could be done for $2500.  I'd be willing to pay $1,500 more for the piece of mind of having a motor that I can trust.   

I hope it's a small issue, or even nothing... but I'm skeptical.  The tire guy smelled the exhaust and said he thought it was definitely a problem.

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I think you have already paid those $1000 for the warranty. I believe that is how those scams work; you pay for entire cost of coverage and they "pretend" to cover the same amount you paid. I really think you are being too nice and don't see a good outcome that doesn't cost you more money. If you are mechanically inclined and you feel you got a really good deal on the car then maybe you can replace the the camshaft sensor.

 

https://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo.php?pk=2417400&cc=1431952&jsn=364&_nck=ZExt1ysfqhqWnq%2BEvUNdS3Txyey60IDtnjPWF5UU9J0BWQv7pvqZbkEUk86%2BAYIh%2F8vGRbRbhjsCbJqXmfoD5tnah0vHFKhqLt1zGQCq8MLZGxGdiHR7gCwm8fUdgUDcLewXy9wg5BHfwlm8GMvMY5cUXuCPW9Td6FgpPN6y27bNWHyZ7BbM1OoSzbnHOf0jdsLmP9YO%2BwDj0DuIocY2zX%2BL5a1H%2FFqDz2%2B6kJKKL%2BuKgqTaS8NFhHPcfx3klKTCuzP1lwYHxQ%2F%2BcTInllLoiLwuLCZDCbkaCcGNOWEbD1NtTwiCVtP5pHEPf8RgF6WfYt6%2BQSItzSG%2BWl3T%2B7UoYzdF8IFpbXTaEYRmIljk1yFEtKnp7ypUhmsvGn6Weh%2Fo

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the link.    I download the service manual, and $38 for the part is cheap!

 

I'll read up on the procedure, but I'm pretty good with wrenches.   I'm just reluctant to start working on it, because the dealer / warranty company may

then claim that I did work and caused problems.

 

I paid $4,481 for the truck.   The body is good, and the undercarriage only has surface rust.   The rear seats are pretty dirty, as is the carpet in the cargo area... (despite clear signs that the tried hard to clean it)... it was well

used and the family clearly had kids... but overall, I'll be happy if it runs OK.     In terms of a return, it's really hard in a caveat emptor state like Virginia when you buy a

used car that's listed "as-is" on the disclosure forms...  so I figure that the dealership is well aware of the laws, and since they tend to favor the dealer, I'd rather spend a little more if I can address it, than try to fight (Verbally, of course), and have things get ugly.

Edited by pjbrownva

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If you feel like you have nothing to help you, I'd at least try going to get emission tested and get the receipt of FAIL. I'd like to hear what their excuse is..

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Posted (edited)

I think that's a great idea...  plus...  maybe it'll tell me that I'm wrong and just paranoid!

 

I also just sent a letter to a local attorney asking for him to write a letter for me to return the vehicle.

 

It's a technical legal argument, but I actually think that i have solid legal grounds to give back the car and claim that the sale was never completed.

 

In short, in Virginia, the person who owns the car is the person to whom it is legally titled.  VA law also says that when a car is sold and paid for, the title needs to be properly signed over and given to the buyer along with the vehicle.   When I paid for the car this week and took it home (cash purchase),  the dealer discovered that the endorsement  on the title was wrong, so they couldn't give me a title.  They said that they needed to get a new title from the dealer that sold the truck to them.    So, legally, it's not my truck... (not until they get a new title and endorse it over to me... and maybe even give it to me) thus, I'm asking the lawyer to review my logic (I'm not a lawyer), and if he thinks I'm on solid ground, to write me a letter telling them that I hereby cancel my pre-paid "buyer's order" and demand a full refund.   Then I'll drive over, park the truck and leave it there, put the key on their desk, hand them the letter, and take an Uber home.

 

As long as the lawyer thinks my logic is sound, them I'm fine with dealing with the issue of getting my money back... even if I have to go to small claims court to get a judgment (it's less than $5K, so small claims court is an option!).   But, I don't want to go that route without legal advice, so hopefully the lawyer will respond tomorrow.  I guess I should call his office in the morning.  He practices consumer protection law.

 

More to come...  I'll keep you and everyone else update on this as the situation unfolds.

 

BTW, I'd love to find out that it's just a bad sensor that cost $38, that the "smoking" was just moisture due to the cool weather, that the truck wasn't trying to overheat, since @adamzan informed me that the T-stats open at 205 F (and the truck never went above 208 F ).  I didn't know that the T-Stats opened at such a high temp. The outdoor temp was about 52 F, and the truck was running at about 194 - 198 F for the first 75 miles or so.  It was only after i refueled  that the error code came on and the temp started to go above 200, so I slowed down, put it in neutral and coasted, giving it light gas... maybe 3000 RPM, to keep up the cooling, and I put the heater on high and kept it there...  I didn't want to risk overheating and causing permanent damage.  I'd love to find out that this is all just a weird coincidence!

 

I guess time will tell (I'd love to be wrong)... but it just seems awfully fishy to me, and when you've got $5K on the line, it's worthwhile to be cautious and follow your gut on these things.   Plus, the truck is for my mom to drive, ands she's about 600 miles away from me... so I don't want to take it to her unless and until I know it's solid.

 

Afterall, what kind of son would let his mother drive a problem-child truck?

 

🙂

 

 

Edited by pjbrownva

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You may be overthinking the whole title thing but I see what you're getting at. I think the attorney will see what the issue is and tell you to first give the dealer a chance to fix, then if that doesn't happen, consider what can be done without legal action. As much as lawyers like to make money, they also have to consider what will not make them money.

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White smoke is coolant burning in the combustion chamber if there is an actual problem. Pop off the radiator cap with the engine cold and see if it is low. If not, it is likely the fuel system cleaning is the source of the smoke and it will go away over a few days of driving. 

 

The code 0021can be a bad solenoid, a bad cam phaser, low and/or dirty oil, or an internal oil leak inside the timing cover. 

 

If there was a serious problem with the engine, you would have more than a cam timing code. As was said, 200-210°f for the engine is normal operation temperature and nothing to worry about. 

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8 hours ago, Astrorami said:

You may be overthinking the whole title thing but I see what you're getting at. I think the attorney will see what the issue is and tell you to first give the dealer a chance to fix, then if that doesn't happen, consider what can be done without legal action. As much as lawyers like to make money, they also have to consider what will not make them money.

 

The attorney can meet today and prepare a rescission letter to fax the dealer on Saturday.

I'll check the vehicle out this morning.  I'm happy to keep it if there's only a minor issue or none at all.

 

 

7 hours ago, Mr_Reverse said:

White smoke is coolant burning in the combustion chamber if there is an actual problem. Pop off the radiator cap with the engine cold and see if it is low. If not, it is likely the fuel system cleaning is the source of the smoke and it will go away over a few days of driving. 

 

The code 0021can be a bad solenoid, a bad cam phaser, low and/or dirty oil, or an internal oil leak inside the timing cover. 

 

If there was a serious problem with the engine, you would have more than a cam timing code. As was said, 200-210°f for the engine is normal operation temperature and nothing to worry about. 

Thanks for the info.  I will check it this morning re: coolant level.  I'll also check the oil, and probably get an emissions test.

That's good to know about the temperature.  I'll have to drive it some more.   Maybe I just had a scare and over-reacted, but it certainly seemed suspicious, and it's not like used car dealers have told a fib or two.

 

Would a mechanic be able to check out the truck for me and tell me more about it's condition.

 

How big of a deal is a bad cam phaser in terms of getting it replaced?   The solenoid should be easy if that's the issue.  Dirty oil could be the cause... I'll check it out.

oil leak... I'm not sure, but I'm assuming that could be handled too.

 

With the p0021 code thrown, will the truck run properly, or does it go into a restricted mode until the code is cleared?

 

Should I clear the code now?  Would it throw the code again if necessary if I don't clear it?

 

Thanks everyone.

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8 hours ago, Astrorami said:

You may be overthinking the whole title thing but I see what you're getting at. I think the attorney will see what the issue is and tell you to first give the dealer a chance to fix, then if that doesn't happen, consider what can be done without legal action. As much as lawyers like to make money, they also have to consider what will not make them money.

Well,  I do think about a lot of things, but for those who are interested legal things (I'm not a lawyer), there's a VA supreme court case that states in part:

 

Quote

VA code 46.2-628, entitled "How certificate of title
transferred," provides, in relevant part:
The owner of a motor vehicle . . . registered
under this chapter, when transferring or
assigning his title or interest thereto,
shall fully and correctly endorse the
assignment and warranty of title on the
certificate of title of the motor vehicle
. . . to its purchaser, with a statement of
all security interests on it, and shall
deliver the certificate to the purchaser or
transferee at the time of delivering the
motor vehicle . . . .

 

They cite other case  law, and say that in VA the owner of a vehicle is the person who legally has the title in their name.

The case was about someone prosecuted for fraud because they forged a lien-release letter from the finance company, and then got a duplicate title showing no lean.

The VA supreme court overturned their conviction on several grounds, one of them being that when the dealer was paid by the bank, and the title was put in the buyer's name

(even with a lien), that the buyer then owned the vehicle...  so they can't steal a car from themselves if they already own it.    I suppose the prosecutor was too aggressive in charging theft, and should have just gone after the person for fraud... I think a fraud charge would have survived an appeal.

 

There are also cases about people having accidents when they bought a car, but the title wasn't signed over yet, and the court is clear that because the title wasn't signed over, the prior person still owned the car... it has legal implications on the technicalities of who is responsible, who's insurance has to pay, and other issues that the court weighs in on.

 

Anyway, enough legal talk...  since this is a car forum.   

 

Also, thanks for all of the info.  I'll be busy this morning evaluating the condition of the truck... but it seems like the little title SNAFU has given me a  unique chance to unwind the sale -- on that I normally wouldn't have, because in VA an "AS-IS" sale with disclosure, really is AS-IS, and it's very hard to prove that someone *knew*  about a problem before they sold the vehicle.

 

If it had these problems, but they didn't know, then any issues (other than the warranty... to the extent the warranty pays up to $1,000 for repairs) are probably on me.

 

Anyway... that's the update so far!

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8 hours ago, Mr_Reverse said:

White smoke is coolant burning in the combustion chamber if there is an actual problem. Pop off the radiator cap with the engine cold and see if it is low. If not, it is likely the fuel system cleaning is the source of the smoke and it will go away over a few days of driving. 

 

The code 0021can be a bad solenoid, a bad cam phaser, low and/or dirty oil, or an internal oil leak inside the timing cover. 

 

If there was a serious problem with the engine, you would have more than a cam timing code. As was said, 200-210°f for the engine is normal operation temperature and nothing to worry about. 

OK...  I have some clarity about what to do... but I need a little help.

 

Here's the question.  Once the "Service Engine Soon" light comes on, does it stay on, or will it turn off by itself?

 

That's a critical question, because during my test drive, the "Service Engine Soon" light came on.  I'm positive, because I saw it, and my mother commented on in.

Not being familiar with the Pathfinder, I didn't realize (but need to confirm) that this isn't just a "oh.... you're due for an oil change" type of reminder, but rather it

means that there's an error code.

 

Please share with me how the light works.  If, once the light comes on, it stays on, then that would mean that it got an error code during my test drive, and the dealer

cleared it after the drive but before I picked up the truck a few hours later.

 

If that's the case, then sending a rescission letter, and giving the truck back is definitely the right  decision, because it would mean that the dealer sold the truck to me,

knowing that it had an error code, but they simply cleared it and failed to disclose the issue.   Under that scenario, there's no question in my mind that I should give the  Pathy back

to them and get my money back.   I'm willing to assume the risk inherent when buying a used car, but I do expect that any known flaws (like error codes that aren't repaired) will be disclosed.

 

The title snafu gives me a unique chance to give the Pathy back, which normally I wouldn't have.

 

Info please?   Thanks!   -Phil

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Posted (edited)

It depends on the code. The light can come on and off on its own. It doesn’t always require a reset. And 208 degrees is definitely too hot for normal. Mine never goes above 196 in AZ at 105 plus temps. That combined with the white smoke has me thinking you have a bad head gasket 

Edited by Sjackson2
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Posted (edited)
On 5/16/2019 at 10:28 PM, Astrorami said:

You may be overthinking the whole title thing but I see what you're getting at. I think the attorney will see what the issue is and tell you to first give the dealer a chance to fix, then if that doesn't happen, consider what can be done without legal action. As much as lawyers like to make money, they also have to consider what will not make them money.

 

You may be right. The attorney is more focused on misrepresentation and other related issues.

Edited by pjbrownva

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Posted (edited)

Found out some info on the T-Stat.

 

On a repair site, I saw this post:

 

Quote

yes,there are two..one at the water outlet and the other one is at the water control valve is in the coolant pipe at the back of the engine. It looks like a traditional thermostat. It goes in from the top and is held in with a couple of bolts. It appears to be a little over on the drivers side.the one at the water outlet is 170 degree thermostat,and the one at the water control valve is a 203 degree thermostat.the one at the water outlet is the Primary Thermostat.and yes that could be the problem. according to what i'm seeing,"On the 3.5L V6 engines, there is a secondary thermostat (called the water control valve) that can be accessed only after removal of the intake manifold"

 

So, the primary T-Stat opens at 170 degrees.   There is also a second water control valve, that opens at 205 degrees.

 

It seems like the second one is more of a safeguard... as in, if the temp gets to 205 degrees,  do even more to bring it back down so that it doesn't overheat.

 

This would be consistent with my before-code readings of 194 to 198 degree temps,   and my overheating concerns where it would go up to 203, 205 and once even 208 before coming back down...   I guess the 205 water control valve opened in those cases, and the extra water flow brought the engine temp back down to within range.

 

I also found this quote on a different forum... it's the second time I've read such a sentiment...

 

Quote

All Nissan vehicles have funky coolant temp gauges designed to indicate a wide ok region and respond SLOWLY to any changes and momentary spikes......................always use your OBD2 scanner to read the accurate sensors that tell ecu what the coolant temp is then you can develop a feeling for what is a correct range for the inside feel good gauge.

 

                 -Philip 

Edited by pjbrownva
Added more info...

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That quote is only true for the newer ones. My 1995 reads the actual temp, and will fluctuate depending on AC use, the time of year, etc. My 02 Xterra has the fake smoothed reading gauge. It doesn't start rising until the engine reaches over 220F. I have see on the r50 several times where the radiator is unable to cool the truck sufficiently when it is old. Flushing did not help.

 

Did the white smoke smell like coolant? That is an important question.

 

I think you should take it to another shop for a check. Then leverage that against the dealership. I'm not sure how things work in VA, but here in Ontario most places are reasonable and will work with you on a resolution.

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On 5/18/2019 at 6:06 PM, adamzan said:

That quote is only true for the newer ones. My 1995 reads the actual temp, and will fluctuate depending on AC use, the time of year, etc. My 02 Xterra has the fake smoothed reading gauge. It doesn't start rising until the engine reaches over 220F. I have see on the r50 several times where the radiator is unable to cool the truck sufficiently when it is old. Flushing did not help.

 

Did the white smoke smell like coolant? That is an important question.

 

I think you should take it to another shop for a check. Then leverage that against the dealership. I'm not sure how things work in VA, but here in Ontario most places are reasonable and will work with you on a resolution.

Yes.  Unfortunately the exhaust does smell like engine coolant.   I'm planning to go back to where I bought it tomorrow (Monday), and talk to them about taking the vehicle back.

 

All of the info indicates that the knew about the smoking problem, but hid it.  For example, when I first asked to see the truck, they sent someone to their storage lot to get it, and said it would take 10 minutes.   40 minutes later the guy shows up with the truck...  Why?   It seems clear to me that it was smoking, and he probably drove it until the smoking lessened.

 

Once it's heated up and has been running for a while, the smoke diminishes, but it will still show up from time to time, especially if you rev the engine while it's in park.

 

I really don't want to start out with a new-to-me vehicle that is burning engine coolant, and this fact was hidden from me during the sale.   I just shouldn't bear the expense and risk related to that repair, and if I start down the repair path, it's hard to turn back if things get too expensive.   

 

I'll post back when I've got some status, questions for the group or a resolution.   

I think I'll be successful, but it may take some work and careful strategy to make things happen

the way I would like.

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Yep. Sounds like a head gasket 

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Update...

 

Drove it some more on the highway... it started to get too hot, and headed towards over-heating (temp way too high... temp gauge about 3/4 towards "H") I pulled over, and let it cool down by idling on the side of the road with the heater on full at 90 F.   Once it cooled down, I drove straight to the nearest auto parts store, used a rag to carefully open the radiator, making sure to aim the lid away from my face so I didn't get burned (plus, my ultragauge told me the temp had come down to 220 F, which while hot, I know isn't hot enough to make the engine coolant boil... so I know I wouldn't have steam coming out).    Then I let it cool down, topped off the coolant, burped both radiator hoses to get rid of air, etc.

 

At that point, it ran better temp wise, but the smoking increased.

 

I wrote a four page letter to the dealer about the issue... It was carefully framed to give him a day to take the pathy back and refund my money, and was laying out all of the legal claim's I'd need to try to win a case if we ended up in front of a judge.

 

The dealer called me up, telling me -- not realistically -- that he was terrified by my fancy letter.  I played it cool, and nicely telling him there was no need to be sarcastic.  He continued, so I told him, 'look, you've been in business 15 yrs... I'm sure you've seen it all, and know the drill.  This isn't new to you, and I'm sure you know the drill.  I'm sure you've been through this many times before."

 

He agreed to take it back and refund my payment...   and he actually did!

 

I'm quite happy.   Yeah... I'm out $500 for my attorney's fee, but the attorney helped verify the things I had researched on my own, and also gave me other info that helped shape my letter.

 

I'm glad I sent my own letter first, because the attorney's letter probably would have put the dealer too much on the defensive.  My letter laid the foundation in case I had to sue, but all that I asked for was my money back in exchange for the truck, and nothing more.

 

I'll do a separate post with the key points from the letter, just in case anyone else finds themself in a similar situation with a dealer.   There's no guarantee that you'll be successful, and who knows how it would have gone if we ended up in court, but my goal was really just to give back the vehicle and get my money back, since the cost to cure the problem was unknown, but could have possibly run into thousands of dollars.

 

Thanks everyone for the help and info.   I'm gonna miss that Pathy... I really liked it!

 

               -Phil

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Posted (edited)

-deleted-

Edited by pjbrownva
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Posted (edited)

Letter to dealer....  I think the letter, my earlier documentation that I sent them as this unfolded, and my keeping cool

and de-escalating any tension during conversations with the dealer, and even paying him respect if not compliments

("you've been in business 15 yrs, I'm sure you've seen and done it all.  This isn't something new for you.  I'm sure you know the drill and exactly how to handle it.") helped me get what I wanted, which was a return and full refund.

 

 Cheers!

 

         -Phil

--------------------------------

 

My Name
My Address
City, State Zip
Month 20th, 2019


Mr. XXX YYY
General Manager and Registered Agent
Car Dealership Name,  Inc
123 Main St.
Anytown, USA ZIP


--- HAND DELIVERED ---
--- with copies sent via email to dealerEmail@xxx.com ---

 

 Dear Mr. XXX YYY:

On the evening of Tuesday, Month 14th, 20nn at approximately 6:30 pm, more or less, I attempted to purchase a Color YYYY Nissan Pathfinder Vin #nnnnn  at a price of $x,yyy.zz from your dealership, Car Dealer, Inc, located on main St in Anytown, USA. Peter Piper handled the paperwork for the transaction, and I very much enjoyed speaking with Mr. Piper.  

 

Unfortunately, there are several significant undisclosed defects with the vehicle and I relied on multiple misrepresentations made about this vehicle, some of which were immediately revealed when I started the vehicle the next morning after having driven fewer than 5 miles on local streets from your dealership to my home at 456 Elm St, USA.  

 

For the reasons elaborated here and others, I am asking that you please accept this tender offer for your dealership to take possession of the vehicle and refund all moneys paid, and I will  work with you to see that we easily and smoothly unwind this contemplated transaction.  If you would kindly accept this offer by the end of the day on Tuesday, Month 21st, I will consider the matter closed, and I will not seek further compensation or restitution regarding this matter.

 

1) The problem became apparent before I drove the vehicle not even 5 miles after leaving your dealership that evening.

 

First and foremost, after driving the vehicle fewer than 5 miles from your dealership to my home, when I started the vehicle in the morning, the morning of Wednesday Month 15th 20nn – fewer than 24 hours later, it billowed a large amount of thick white smoke that filled the air behind the vehicle and took approximately 5 minutes before it lessened significantly.  These problems with white smoke have not abated and continue to reoccur, despite my contacting the dealership and attempting the remedy I was told to follow, which was to drive the vehicle “hard” for at least 100 miles, and the smoking would clear up.  

 

2) I promptly contacted your dealership to address the problem, and diligently followed the advice and instructions your dealership provided.

 

Although I voiced concern about this approach, stating that I would rather bring in the vehicle for a mechanic to look at it to ensure that nothing was wrong and to ensure that driving it would not exacerbate the problem or cause additional damage, I was instructed by your dealership not to bring the vehicle in, but instead to drive the vehicle at least 100 miles.  I was assured that this would cure the problem, and the issue would be gone.  

I reluctantly followed this advice under protest and drove the vehicle on the highway until it was time to refuel.  After refueling with premium grade gas, the vehicle continued to smoke, but this time it also indicated an error by illuminating the “service engine soon” light, and I quickly discovered that it had an error code of P0021, which is listed as a problem reading a sensor related to the variable valve timing. Later, the vehicle showed an error code of P0442 which is listed as an error code related the fuel system’s evaporative canister, that can have multiple causes. 

 

3) I took measures and exercised due care to prevent additional damage from occurring to the vehicle. 

 

I have recorded and cleared the error codes, and carefully monitored the vehicle, including its operating temperature via both the built-in temperature gauge, and a far more accurate temperature reading using an appliance connected to the vehicle’s diagnostic port.  At one point, when the temperature started to rise rapidly, I even pulled over to the side of the road, ran the heat at high set to 90 F to allow the engine to cool down, and then drove directly to the nearest auto parts store, where I purchased compatible antifreeze, and after the engine cooled down, I carefully topped of the engine coolant, “burping” air out of the two radiator hoses, and taking other precautions to avoid air pockets.  While these measures succeeded in preventing the vehicle from overheating, and the addition of engine coolant allowed the vehicle to return to its normal operating temperature, these symptoms are evidence that  despite a good faith effort to try the remedy as directed by your dealership, after driving more than 100 miles, the problems persist, and the problems are of such a nature that they substantially impair the value of the vehicle for the purpose it was purchased,  which is to drive it for purposes of transportation.

 

4) Despite these good faith efforts and attempted remedies, the vehicle continues to exhibit symptoms of these undisclosed prior defects.

 

Moreover, the evidence indicates to me and others that this vehicle had and continues to display signs of undisclosed defects which we believe are most likely caused by coolant fluid somehow leaking into the engine’s combustion chamber causing engine coolant to appear in the exhaust as white smoke.  The exhaust seems moist and even has the smell of engine coolant.  These problems tend to appear in the exhaust under certain circumstances, such as after a startup when the vehicle has been sitting for a while.

These engine trouble codes and reoccurring white smoke in the exhaust and other symptoms and issues are contrary to the multiple representations made in the on-line advertisement for this vehicle as shown at xyz.com and other online sites, and are contrary to the several verbal representations made to me, on which I relied, about the condition of this vehicle and the services that had been performed.   Moreover, I believe that there is ample evidence to show that this defect existed prior to our contemplated transaction and that these issues were known by your establishment, yet they were not disclosed to me, and in fact were misrepresented while I was considering purchasing the vehicle.

 

5) An AS-IS disclosure does not cover misrepresentation regarding undisclosed defects.

 

While the vehicle’s sales documents include an “AS-IS” disclosure, given that you run a busy and successful vehicle dealership, I am certain that you must be aware that such disclosures do not cover misrepresentation.

 

6) Under Federal and MY STATE law, certain implied warranties are applicable, as they cannot be waived when a 3rd party service contract is issued by the dealership.

 

Furthermore, under Federal and state law, certain implied warranties cannot be successfully waived, even if waivers are stated in writing, when within 90 days a dealership sells a service contract, even a third-party service contract, such as the one included in the paperwork for this vehicle.

 

7) There are additional grievances, and curing them all could possibly exceed the vehicle’s asking price of $n,nnn.

These are only some of the grievances that I have, are not an inclusive enumeration of every basis for complaint or all issues regarding the misrepresentations, undisclosed defects and other problems related to this vehicle and the contemplated sale to me.  

Rather than continue to elaborate now, I would rather like to emphasize that for almost a full week, I have worked in good faith to try the remedies suggested by your dealership, and seeing that they have failed, and seeing strong evidence leading me to believe that this was a pre-existing and known defect that was present, but hidden and not disclosed to me as part of the contemplated sale, at this point I would ask that you please remedy the situation by having your dealership take possession of the vehicle, and provide a full refund of all moneys that I paid.   I firmly believe that this would be the easiest, most effective and least costly solution for BOTH of us, and so I ask that you please give this suggestion serious and careful consideration, and ultimately agree.

 

I look forward to your reply and a satisfactory resolution to my problem. I will wait until at least the morning of Wednesday month 22nd, before asking any third-party to contact you regarding this matter. Please contact me via email, fax or telephone using the following information so that we may resolve this matter expeditiously.

 

      Email:  MyEmail@xyz.com
      Cell: nnn-nnn-nnnn
      Fax: yyy-yyy-yyyy


Sincerely,
  (My Signature)
MY NAME
Re:  YYYY Nissan Pathfinder 
Vin #NNNNNNN

Edited by pjbrownva

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I’m glad this somewhat worked out for you! 

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Posted (edited)

For such a poor situation I guess it couldn't have worked out better, your legal fees were a lot less than it sounds like it would have cost to sort out that Pathfinder.

 

Now that you're still in the market, looking specifically for a Pathfinder or open to anything?  Perhaps you'll be swayed now that you know such a great resource about Pathfinders exist! 😁👍

Edited by mjotrainbrain
i blame autocorrect
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