My Altima has 30% compression in two pistons

Asked by Dec 30, 2016 at 12:57 PM about the 2003 Nissan Altima 2.5 S

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Hi, I've had this car about 10 years, and it never had a lot of power, it's a 4
cylinder anyway, but it did display signs of weakness at times, like the
engine was laboring.  I just drove the car across country, from
Massachusetts to Nevada.  I had a very good and honest mechanic in MA
for the last few years.  He checked out my car and replaced some ignition
coils and gave me a tuneup before I left.  He didn't mention anything about
compression, but I don't know if that's a normal thing to check.

So my car wouldn't start the other day.  It just wouldn't turn over, like it
wasn't getting the gas or just couldn't quite get there.  Jumping it didn't
help.  I hadn't driven it for a few days and I kind of messed up when
starting it and stopped in the middle of starting it, if you know what I mean.  
Sometimes that messes things up, so when it wouldn't start, I thought
maybe I did something.  But I pushed it to a shop right around the corner,
and they called me an hour later and told me it has 30% compression in
two of the (pistons, cylinders, valves)?  I'm not sure which it is, maybe you
can tell me!

He said that it needs a whole new engine, for over $4000, which is over
double the Blue Book value of that car anyway, so that's not happening.  
But then he said they had some cars for sale, and would take my car as a
trade in and sell my one for $5000 or something.  That made me
suspicious.  Like he is just trying to steal my car, sell me another, and then
do some simple thing to my car and turn around and sell it.  

Does what you hear sound reasonable for my car?  I'm going there today
to figure out what to do, and I hope to have more info at my command first.  
Thanks for any help you can give.

1 Answer

72,365

If the two cylinders with the low compression readings are next to each other it's a blown head gasket. Personally, on a 14 year old vehicle I wouldn't bother fixing it. HTH. - Jim

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