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Nissan Primera - the dark side and shortcomings of the “legend”

Nissan Primera - the dark side and shortcomings of the “legend”
The Nissan Primera is a front-wheel drive mid-size car produced from 1990 to 2007. Available in sedan, liftback and station wagon body styles. In the USA this car is known as the Infiniti G20.

In Russia it was officially possible to buy second and third generation sedans. In August 2004, the car underwent a light restyling, affecting exclusively the interior trim and chassis. Are there any shortcomings of this “legend”, and what difficulties will the owner have to face? Let’s figure it out together.

Engines and their weak points

Nissan Primera was equipped with gasoline and diesel internal combustion engines, which were paired with a manual, automatic or CVT transmission. Let's look at the weak points and disadvantages of the most popular engines.


Rolled off the Nissan assembly line from 1989 to 2002. Two-liter units were also installed on Almera. SR20Di is a mono-injection version of this engine. For its time, the SR20DE was a real breakthrough - distributed fuel injection, an aluminum alloy cylinder block, a 16-valve head with hydraulic compensators, and a timing chain drive. ICE power varied from 130 to 165 hp. s., which made it quite dynamic.

The weak points of the SR20DE include floating speed. Contamination of the idle air control (IAC) is the main cause of this problem. Less commonly, the culprits may be a faulty mass air flow sensor or lambda probe. The SR20DE is equipped with a distributor that lasts a long time. However, the shaft seal may leak. It is also worth monitoring the condition of high-voltage wires; if the insulation of one of them is damaged, the internal combustion engine will function unstably.

Contamination and sticking of the USR valve leads to increased traction and unstable engine operation. Other problems include oil leaks from under the valve covers, short life of the knock sensor, and low efficiency of the crankcase ventilation system. On internal combustion engines with a mileage of 200 thousand km or more, oil burns are observed.


One of the serious problems of the engine is the formation of scuffing due to the rapid destruction of the catalyst. Most often this happens on internal combustion engines manufactured before 2004. The timing chain is not very durable and requires replacement every 100-120 thousand km, but on some units it lasts significantly longer. Its wear is accompanied by failures in traction.

Nissan Primera — темная сторона и недостатки «легенды»Under the hood of the first generation Nissan Primera. Photo: YouTube.com

Also on the QG16DE the alternator belt wears out relatively quickly. The problem is accompanied by a characteristic whistle from under the hood. The surface of the belt wears off, cracks appear on it, and the structure delaminates. There are no hydraulic compensators on these engines, so the valves must be periodically adjusted.


Chain stretching can be considered one of the weak points of the internal combustion engine. It is recommended to monitor its condition already at 100 thousand km. If the chain is stretched, you will hear a characteristic sound when starting the engine. The only solution is replacement.

Increased consumption of engine fluid on the QG18DE may begin at low mileage. Among the causes of the problem are wear of the valve stem seals and stuck piston rings. The consequences are engine coking and increased fuel consumption. Antifreeze leakage through the idle air valve gasket can also be called typical for Primera with QG18DE. With such a malfunction, the smell of coolant will be heard in the cabin.


A typical problem with this engine is airing in the cooling system. The main signs are engine overheating and unstable operation of the unit. The problem may be caused by a leak in the system or improper replacement of antifreeze. Overheating of the engine is usually also associated with air pollution, a malfunctioning thermostat, or contamination of the radiator. If this problem is not resolved in time, there is a risk of cracks in the cylinder head.

Nissan Primera first generation. Photo: YouTube.com

Gasket failure can occur at any mileage. Symptoms: oil or antifreeze leak, smell of gases from the exhaust pipe. The consequences are engine overheating, mixing of engine and coolant fluids.

The CD20T uses a timing belt instead of a chain. Its service life is about 100 thousand km, but it may wear out earlier. If the belt breaks, the valve bends. A typical problem with Nissan Primera is a turbine malfunction. If it cannot be repaired, a replacement will be required, and its cost will be about 8-10 thousand rubles. on the secondary market.

A drop in compression in the cylinders may be due to wear of the piston group or stuck rings. Usually the problem appears on engines with a mileage of 200-250 thousand km. The consequences of the malfunction include a decrease in engine power and an increase in oil consumption.

Disadvantages of the Nissan Primera body and interior

The Nissan Primera has good paintwork and a galvanized body that protects against corrosion. Spacious and comfortable interior, interesting design and decent finishing materials for its time. But this is not without its drawbacks.

Headlight glasses often become cloudy, which reduces the quality of road illumination. Door locks can get stuck, and this is a common problem on the Primera. Over time, the window lift drive wears out and fails, and this malfunction can occur on the road.

Inside the third generation Nissan Primera. Photo: YouTube.com

The noise insulation of the Nissan Primera leaves much to be desired, so street noise and engine operation are clearly audible in the cabin. Although the paintwork is not bad, rust will quickly appear on chips and scratches. The galvanized body provides good protection against corrosion. But the bottom, mounts and rear arches rust quickly.

Transmission Disadvantages

The most reliable include the 6-speed manual transmission RS6F51A and the “old school” automatic transmissions RE4F03A and RE4F04A. The service life of such automatic transmissions with proper maintenance will be up to 300 thousand km. The RS5F5A 30-speed manual transmission is quite weak and not suitable for dynamic driving. The bearings begin to hum already at 100 km. Although, in general, manual transmissions on Nissan Primera are more reliable than automatic transmissions.

The RE0F06A variator is relatively durable when used carefully. CVTs do not like frequent acceleration and driving without warming up; if these requirements are not met, they can fail by 100 thousand km. It is recommended to change the oil in the variator every 40 thousand km, and use only NS-1.


The suspension on these sedans is stiff, but relatively durable. Up to 100 thousand km, only the ball joints and stabilizer struts need to be replaced. Moreover, the latter have a rather low resource and usually amount to no more than 20 thousand km.

Third generation Nissan Primera sedan. Photo: YouTube.com

The steering rack is not the most durable and is prone to play. The power steering may also leak, although the pump itself is reliable. You will need to diagnose the unit to determine the problem area (usually connections or worn hoses). The rear calipers often become sour and need to be looked at periodically, but this is not a common problem. There are no complaints about the brake system of the Nissan Primera; the pads and discs last a long time.


The first generation Nissan Primera from 1990-1995 can be bought for 100-150 thousand rubles. Auto 1990-2000 will cost approximately 200-230 thousand rubles. Prices for sedans produced in 2006-2007 vary in the range of 500-650 thousand rubles.

Nissan Primera is, in general, a reliable and easy-to-maintain Japanese car. A typical disadvantage is poor noise insulation and rapid wear of the timing chain and belt on some engines. But otherwise, provided that proper maintenance is performed and high-quality fuel is used, the car does not cause problems.


Photos used: youtube.com

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