Nissan to replace timing chains in 104,000 Juke subcompacts

Nissan will replace the timing chains, guides and crank sprocket on recalled 2011-13 Jukes.

Nissan Motor Corp. will replace the timing chains in more than 104,000 Nissan Juke subcompacts from the 2011-13 model years sold in the United States and Canada as part of a voluntary service campaign.

The action covers 104,439 Jukes produced in Nissan’s plant in Oppama, Japan, the company said today.

The timing chain runs on toothed sprockets -- similar to a bicycle chain -- between the crankshaft and the camshaft. In most engines, the chain is held in position by hardened plastic guides and is kept tight by oil-pressure fed ratcheting tensioners.

A loose chain could cause major engine damage, especially if it jumps off one of the sprockets. If a chain comes off, pistons could hit valves and destroy the engine.

Nissan spokesman Steve Yeager says the chain’s links are wearing prematurely, causing it to loosen. The major repair requires a technician to remove the front engine cover, a job that takes several hours, Yeager said.

Bob Hampton, a service manager at a suburban Detroit Nissan dealership, said today a loose timing chain, which causes excessive noise, is the most common problem he has seen with the Juke.

The automaker will replace the timing chains, guides and crank sprocket for free at all authorized Nissan dealerships.

Yeager said letters will go out this month in waves to affected owners.

A voluntary service campaign is only used for defects that have not posed a safety risk. Yeager said the timing chain problem eventually could have become a safety issue, but it was caught early enough.

“We want to take care of this promptly,” Yeager said. No accidents or injuries have been connected to the defect.

Richard Truett contributed to this report.

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