I have a 1998 I30 that I bought on CL about 9 yrs ago. Mechanically it is just like the maxima. I bought it with 230,000 miles and it now has 385,000 miles. The timing chain broke without warning 2 days ago. No rattling at idle and no check engine light. In the time I have owned it, I have had to do very little from 230,000 to 385,000.
Here is a quick break down to give you a an idea about reliability.
- I never replaced the MAF, and it is still the original from what I can tell. Same with the throttle body and IAC valve. I cleaned the MAF one time during ownership.
- heads were never off the engine, no engine repair was ever needed.
- original electric cooling fans lasted until about 356,000 miles. The motors still worked but the some of the plastic fan blades broke off while I was idling in a parking lot.
- at 385,000 I was still on the original transmission. Jatco might make junk cvts now, but the 4 speed auto in this car was very good. Bang shifted 2-3 sometimes, but I liked the firm shift. It worked the same at 385,000, that it did at 230,00. I never dropped the pan and the outside of the trans was bone dry and never leaked a drop in all the years I owned it. I drained and filled with valvoline import full synthetic when fluid would start to get dark. I never replaced the trans filter.
- still has the original water pump at 385000, car never ran hot idling in 105 degree California traffic jams, with the ac on.
- all the fuel injectors and coils are still original from what I can tell. I never changed them from 230,000 to 385000. The front injectors looked pretty crusty and weathered on the outside when I got it, and the original owner never said he replaced them. When I did spark plugs, all the coils were Nissan, the owner could have done the coils before I got it, but I never had to. I never had misfires that some people do with these engines. In the entire 9 years I did the spark plugs 1 time.
- original fuel pump as far as I can tell, I never had to change it.
- I never had to replace any power door locks or motors. They all still work. The front heated power seats both still work very good. I never had an electrical gremlin with this car. In the 8-9 years I owned I might have replaced 2, 3 at the most, brake bulbs.
- Parking brake worked perfect, I don’t believe I ever did the rear brake pads or rotors. I did the front pads/ and rotors only 3 times.
- alternator replaced 2 times. Once when I first bought it, and once about a year ago.
- front and rear valve cover gaskets replaced 2 times. Once 8 years ago, and once just recently.
- original rear suspension never touched, still has original coil springs and struts. No bounce, sag, or noises. I did the front struts and all the front strut rubber hardware twice, and the front springs one time. Nothing to the rear.
- 1 bad ball joint in the entire time I owned it, it was one of the original control arms. I ended up getting aftermarket moog, and pressing in energy suspension poly bushing. This helps were the were valve cover leaks oil on the passenger side rubber control arm bushing. I did the front sway bar end links 1 time because the rubber was rotted.
- I never replaced the steering rack, pump or lines. There was a small leak several years ago and I topped off with Lucas power steering stop leak. Leak completely stopped. That was a couple years ago. Last summer I used an eye dropper to replace the fluid 3x until it was clean. I believe I used full synthetic Walmart fluid, and a very small amount of Lucas. No leaks.
- The original air conditioning system lasted until 354,000 miles. Had to do the whole ac system when the compression grenaded. New compressor, condenser, dryer, etc. I never needed to replace any of the ac pressure hoses though.
- original charcoal canister leaked charcoal into the system at 365,000 miles. Replaced from part I bought at oreillys. Used the maxima tsb to fix the system. Blew out the system with air per the tsb.
- 2-3 fuel filters, I never was super strict about replacing these.
- original crank pulley came apart in the 350,000 mile range. The rubber came loose from the metal and threw the alt belt. I never did the idler pulleys and I only put 2 maybe 3 sets of belts on. I used dayco belts which are cheap and work excellent on these cars.
- never any problems with the antilock brake system, wiper motor, windshield washer, or sunroof motor. Sunroof never leaked and still operated very quickly.
Nagging problems with this model.
1) the rear valve cover will eventually leak If you drive this car like a daily. I you live in an apartment, it isn’t something that is easily replaced if your landlord doesn’t want you working on cars.
2) the dreaded rear main seal. $$$$ to fix, and you have to hope someone does it correctly. The are a lot of fragile wiring connectors to be disconnected on the drivers side of engine, some control evap. There is also a massive vacuum “ log” with a bunch of connectors, and a coolant hose and pipe to dissconnect. These parts will surely break when dismantled on a 20yr old car. If the harness gets screwed up, you get a check engine light for the emission system. Expensive and very annoying and time consuming to get the light off once it trips the evap code. In Cali where I live, smog inspection is a pain, and a lot of people have stopped working on cars older than 2000 year. My point on this is, if you are paying someone to do it, make sure you trust them. And if they plan to do it correct, you are paying an easy 1400 in Cali. If you do it yourself, and can put the car down for a week(s) and take your time, that is different. I solved the problem with Mobil high mileage 10/30, and 1/2 quart of Lucas oil stop leak at every oil change. Got the leak to almost stop. Some days it wouldn’t even drip. Whatever people say about Lucas, people are entitled to there opinion. It saved me a lot of money and kept my car on the road for a very long time.
- replace the oxygen sensors as your money allows, 3 on the 1998 fed cars. You will definitely get better mpg. Mine never through a cel, but I replaced them all last year and my mileage got better. I believe 2 of these were the original ones( at 352,000 miles!), I think one threw a cel 4 yrs ago.
I replaced them with the direct fit Bosch items, worked perfectly until the car died.
- look online for the airbag warning light reset procedure. My seamed to come on at least 2 times a year.
- the dreaded knock sensor. You can mount this in a different location if you live in a state that has relaxed emissions. But, if you live in Cali, and probably New York, they will get you for tampering with the emission system. I relocated mine and got the cel to shut off with a new sensor and harness, but they put my car in the system as “ tampered with” and failed me in Cali. This is a big job if you have the engine like my 1998, the space to get under the lower intake manifold is very small. It may be bigger on the newer year 3.0, and maybe the 3.5. But on mine it was imposible to get my hand even close to fitting. This is about 600 to replace a 40 part. If you do it your self, have a garage or an area where you are permitted to take a car apart. Upper and lower manifold have to come off if you have the engine with the opening that is toon small to get your hand in. Even if you get it off with a swivel socket and a flash light, you still need to get your hand in to start the threads when bolting in the new sensor. My mechanic is super honest. He had a helper in the shop with hands like a 12 year old, he was able to reach in and change it, only charged me 50$. The knock sensor died 2 times on my car. And insist on a new harness for the knock sensor, it can be damaged from heat.
- last item is the egr valve and passages. If the egr valve throws a code. Have the passages in the intake manifold cleaned out and install a brand new valve so you don’t have to do it again.
I think that is about it. Overall it is a Very reliable car for someone who is into cars. But, it is easy to spend a lot of money at the mechanic. There are a lot of things I did to completely avoid reparing items. A mechanic would have charged me a boatload to fix the charcoal canister explosion I fixed. Not to mention the preventative maintenance I did with the Lucas in the rear seal and power steering. And if you want to keep a transmission for 385,000 miles, follow my advice. Drain out whatever transmission fluid will come out every 5th oil change and replace with synthetic fluid. 35 bucks every 15,000 miles is worth it not to replace a transmission.