my4thgen 95-99


Member Credit: Sparky

This 1997 Nissan Maxima was towed in from another shop after unsuccessful repair attempts. I am not sure how many shops it has been to. Tried to crank vehicle, it spit and coughed and jumped and carried on but I managed to get it to fire a little by depessing the gas pedal to the floor {clear flood mode}.

I checked the plugs and they were black and fouled out and several showed signs of gas blowby at the insulator seal, so I installed a new set of plugs. cranked the engine and it ran. After a couple of minutes it had cleared up and was running good. Ran a few more minutes for good measure. Turned engine off and recranked. It cranked and ran fine. Did the other shops miss something this simple? I don’t know? Cranked it several times and no problems, time for a test drive. Backed the car out of the shop and took off on a test drive. Right, got 20 feet and it stalled and would not crank back up. Kind of figured it, plugs would be too easy.

Got the scanner out and checked codes P0325 and P0340 were stored. The P0325 code is for a knock sensor and will not cause the engine to not run, so I was going to concentrate on the P0340 code. The code P0340 is for a cam sensor error. Checked the cam sensor and it had been replaced.

I needed to check the continuity of the wires between the cam sensor and the ECM. The ECM is located under the center of the dash as shown below.

I removed the white plastic cover to have better access to the wiring.

I had to use an ohm meter hooked to both ends of the two wires. While the harness (shown below) was wiggled. Sure enough one of the two wires was broken. In doing this repair I had to try several things before I came up with a way to repair this vehicle in a cost effective way. The harness costs about two thousand dollars plus installation.

I clipped the two wires near the ECM harness connector. Then started to look for a way to run new wires. My first choice would be to attach new wires to the old, with splicing connectors and pull them through the harness, then splice at the other end. This would not work as the wires are glued into the grommet at the firewall. It would be virtually impossible for me to identify the two wires at the ECM so you will need to access that information from Mitchell 1. There is a link at the top right of this page.

My next choice was to try and run the new wires through, hopefully another grommet. The problem is the only other thing I could see was the a/c drain tube. Running new wires there did not seem like a good idea. To get a really good look the evaporator case needed to come out. Recovered the refrigerant and removed all of the interior mounting screws.

Problem, the evaporator case will not come out past the glove box support brace. A very close look and I determined that if I removed the metal brace. Then cut the plastic between the two screw holes on each side that the evaporator case would come out. When reassembling the two screws would hold the plastic pieces together. It appears to me that an engineer actually designed it to be cut, if the evaporator case needed to be removed.

The cut on the right side of the glove box opening.

At least now I can see where the wires go through the firewall. I felt around and decided that I could go through the original grommet. On the lower right side, as it is viewed in the pictures below.

I have a special tool for doing this procedure. The tool is similar to a screwdriver but it has hole running through it. Using the sharp end I pierced the grommet and ran the wire through the hole in the tool.

With the wire run through the hole in the tool and to the other side of the firewall, I pulled the tool back out over the remaining wire on the inside of the vehicle.

A close up look at the hole in the handle.

The sharp end of the tool that easily pierces the rubber grommet.

I purchased a special piece of shielded, twisted, pair wire cable from an aircraft supplier. The first thing that had to be done was to loosen the shielding and move it down the cable assembly enough to stagger the joints. I did have to split it length way also.

After prepping the cable, I connected it to the factory harness connector. I staggered the joints.

Heated the tubing and shrank it into place.

Twisted the remaining cable, around the repair.

Pulled the shielding back up and around the spliced wires, then used tape to hold it in place.

I repeated the process at the other end near the computer. I then taped and wire tied the new cable to the old harness. One thing that I learned through this whole experience is that if at all possible do not pull the harness out from under the dash. It is looped to the top of the ECM and is almost impossible to get it back into place. The reason I had pulled it out was so that I could pull the new wiring through the old harness and just attach it on both ends. The glue in the fire wall grommet prevented me from doing this, so in the end, there was no reason to pull the harness loose that far.

A closer look at where the wiring breaks inside the harness. My experience on this one also convinced me to not open the harness to actually see the damage. Way too hard to get it all back together that way. Just make sure the wiring is the problem with a meter and/or piggy back a new harness to the outside of the old harness and attach it at both ends.

Try to solve the new Formula Cube! It works exactly like Rubiks Cube but it is only $2, from China. Learn how to solve it or use the solver to calculate the solution in a few steps. (Please subscribe for a membership to stop adding promotional messages to the documents.)


my4dsc: 39

Member Credit: Sparky

Code P0325 stored in 1997 Nissan Maxima. Because the knock sensor is normally at fault I usually test it first. The knock sensor is located under the intake and is accessible on the driver’sside of the car.

Locate the knock sensor subharness connector. It is near the dipstick tube, red knob in center of above picture.

Disconnect the sensor and check resistance from terminal #1 (white wire) to engine ground. resistance should be between 500K -620K ohms. If the resistance is not within the specifications the sensor and subharness must be removed to do further testing. If it is within specifications recheck while wiggling the subharness wires. If still no problem is found the wire between the computer and the knock sensor must be checked for opens or grounds.

In this and in most cases it was not within specifications. Now comes the tricky part, the labor guides give 2.9 hours to change the sensor and it requires removal of the intake. I have a short cut if you have some tools and patience it can be done in about half an hour or so. I always try to see if I can break the attaching bolt loose with a swivel socket and extension. If it does then great ,simply remove the bolt and use the subharness to pull the knock sensor up and out. DO NOT BEND THE HARNESS . You need to keep it in it’s original shape to reinstall the sensor without any difficulty.

If the bolt will not break loose easily, what I do is with the help of a telescoping magnet, I lower a long 12 point boxed end wrench into position on the knock sensor retaining bolt. Then I use a long skinny screw driver to hold the wrench in place while the magnet is removed.

Then while keeping the wrench in place with the long skinny screwdriver I put a heavy pry bar into position to use as a lever to move the wrench.

After the bolt is broken loos it is easy to remove with the swivel socket and extension used earlier.

With the sensor and subharness removed it is now easy to check the sensor. This one like many has an external split and tested faulty.

To install the new knock sensor, attach the subharness and drop the attaching bolt into the sensor. Using a long skinny screwdriver or a mechanics finger (actual name of tool) as a support and guide lower the sensor and bolt into position. Once you feel the the bolt drop into the threaded hole, use the harness to maintain this position. Next place your swivel socket and extension in place without moving the bolt from it’s centered position. Gently turn the bolt making sure not to cross thread it. It may take a few attempts. Be patient and very gentle as it will be a 3 hour mistake. Once the bolt is tightened with the swivel socket, I usually drop the wrench back in place and put a final tightening on it with the pry bar as outlined in the removal procedure. DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN.

Try to solve the new Formula Cube! It works exactly like Rubiks Cube but it is only $2, from China. Learn how to solve it or use the solver to calculate the solution in a few steps. (Please subscribe for a membership to stop adding promotional messages to the documents.)

my4dsc: 35

Member Credit: 95naSTA

The total time start to finish was 9 hours but my font end was a little mangled. I had to pull out one lower corner, slide hammer and sledge the passenger unibody rail, unkink the drivers side upper rad and unibody rail, and a few other things to get the new part to fit.  Ignore the miss alignments. They’re more of an upper rad, fog bucket and bumper support.

Other new parts: bumper support, support brackets, hood struts, and cross member bolts.

I welded it in either from the back through the holes drilled in the unibody during dismantling or I drilled new holes through the new support to weld it to the unibody. I wouldn’t suggest just bolting it in.

I lined everything up, bolted it in with the tow hooks, spot welded, then took the hooks off to do the last few spot welds on the bottom from the rear. There are 6 spot welds per side that are in the unibody rail and a pita to drill out. I used a die grinder with a long shanked carbide burr to burn through those. This pic shows the 6 inside:

my4dsc: 15

Member Credit: 95naSTA

I’m successfully running the Q45 MAF with my hybrid 3.5 swapped 98 4thgen Maxima.  You will need a 90-96 Q45 MAF which you can easily find on eBay.


  • Red – +12v
  • White – Signal
  • Black – Ground


  • Black w/ White stripe – +12v (could also be black with red stripe)
  • White – Signal
  • Black – Ground

Lightning MAF adapter will work if you re-drill it. It’s a little larger than the MAF opening but a 3.5″ coupler will still stretch over it.

The process was:

  • Chopped up a Q45 MAF with a band saw (you could use another MAF).
  • Grinded the outer edges of the MAF base to open up the radius
  • Drilled a hole big enough for the MAF in a 1′ long 4″ Dia aluminum pipe
  • Scored outline of MAF body onto the pipe
  • Sanded the inside radius of the MAF base and aluminum pipe within the scoring with 180 grit sandpaper
  • Taped off scored/sanded area on the pipe
  • Mixed up JB Weld KwikWeld, applied to to the MAF and mated it to the pipe
  • Cleaned up the edges of excess epoxy
  • Removed tape

Reference Photos:

my4dsc: 40

Member Credit: Tavarish aka Freddy

This how-to depicts how I did the swap. I am by no means responsible for what you do to your car, and any ill effects are your responsibility. I take credit in writing this how-to, and please do not use it without the author’s permission.

Tools Required

  • 1/2″ Ratchet
  • 1/2″ Breaker Bar
  • 1/2″ Torque Wrench
  • 3/8″ Ratchet
  • 8mm-24mm Hex Keys (assorted sizes)
  • 32mm Impact Socket (1/2″ drive)
  • Power rotary tool (Dremel) w/ cutting/grinding bits
  • 1.5 Ton Hydraulic Jack / Lift
  • Jack Stands
  • 2002-2007 Nissan VQ35DE Engine
  • Cam Timing Adapters

Getting started

So you’re ready to get rid of that old outdated 3.0 and put in a brand spanking new low mileage VQ35DE? You’ll have to get a few things before you start the swap.

Tools – I suggest about 2-3 sets. With tools scattered around everywhere, and possibly 2 people working on the car, tools have a tendency to disappear. (gremlins) Have a few sets handy for efficiency and less frustration during the swap. When you clean up, you’ll find them all, I promise. What you’ll need is a torque wrench, breaker bar, screwdriver set, Allen key set, 8mm, 10mm, 12mm, 14mm, 17mm, 19mm, 20mm, and 24mm sockets. Air tools are a plus. You’ll also need a cherry picker (engine hoist) with an engine leveler. A Dremel (rotary tool) and Drill are worth their weight in gold in this swap. Jack stands and a hydraulic jack are needed to lift the car up, and possibly support the engine/tranny from the bottom. Also needed is RTV sealant, wire ties (to clean up wires, vacuum hose, a can or two of WD-40, and 80-grit sandpaper.

Space – you’ll need space to work for a few days, make sure it’s ready in case you spill oil or other fluids on the ground, engines tend to spill coolant all over.

Clean-up gear – I suggest brakleen for the engine parts (degreases) and Simple Green. Put some old towels underneath the working area to control any spills. Wear gloves for easier hand clean up, I recommend Mechanix gloves, or disposable latex gloves. A shop vacuum helps with cleanup as well.

Manuals – The Nissan Factory Service Manual and Haynes were at my disposal, and helped me out in a few instances.

Engine – You can find these pretty easily; it all depends on the mileage you want, and the condition, and what the engines come with. I bought my engine for $650 shipped with harness and 3.5 engine cover, and a 1-year warranty.

Tranny/clutch – you can use your stock 5spd or auto trannies. 5spd, I recommend an upgraded clutch, I got my Spec Stage 2 for $295 shipped. 5th gen (2000-2001 OEM isn’t enough in my opinion) You can use any flywheel for the 4th gen, stock or aftermarket, and you’ll need it, because the 3.5L flywheel is different, and doesn’t bolt up to the 4th gen 5spd. Auto, I recommend a high-stall torque converter, upgraded valve body, tranny cooler, and possibly Jime’s drop resistor mod. When you have a vq35 and auto, it will hold the power if you floor it FROM A STOP. If you have a stock auto tranny, do not WOT downshift much, or else you’ll burn out your clutch packs and the tranny will slip.

Cam adapters – These are so the vq30 timing components work on the vq35 cams. You can get these for 100 shipped from Rob Tilley (tilleys99 on, or Stephen Max on I’m trying to make my own set, so I don’t have to go to a third party to get them.

IACV adapter – This is so you can use your 4th gen Idle Air Control Valve with the 3.5. This is optional, as I don’t have it installed on my car.

If you have everything ready, let’s start the swap!

1. Remove the engine

Turn off the car, remove the battery terminals and any extra grounds you may have.
Remove the air box assembly and put it in a safe place, you might want to use it again.

Under the air box assembly, you’ll see the starter connected to the tranny. Undo the 12mm nut connecting the power to the starter, and disconnect the ground for the starter (plug). Loosen and remove the 2 17mm bolts on the starter. The bolt in the back is the long one. You should be able to shake the starter loose and take it out of the engine bay.

Raise the car and place it on jack stands. Remove both the front wheels. Remove the 36mm axle nuts (air tools are pretty much a must, as you can remove it with a lot of WD-40 and a breaker bar, but you need the brakes to be pressed or else the axle will move) and remove the 2 bolts on the strut. One side is 17mm; the other side is 19mm.

Use a flathead screwdriver to lightly tap and take off the retaining clip on the brake line located on the strut. If you have ABS, take off the 10mm bolt on the strut for the ABS. The spindle should come down freely now, and with a rubber mallet, tap the axle out of the spindle. The driver’s side axle should come out without too much fuss, just pull it back a few times, and it should pop right out.

The passenger’s side has been a point of frustration for many people, due to the axle not coming out of the bracket. I’ve never had a problem with it, but the bracket holds 3 12mm bolts. Take these out, and you should be able to pop out the axle just like the driver’s side. If it won’t budge, take out the 3 14mm bolts attaching the bracket to the engine, and the whole assembly will come out. Make sure you have something to hold the oil; some tranny fluid will leak out of the axle seals.

While you’re down there, why not drain the oil and coolant? Remove the oil drain plug on the oil pan, and remove the oil filter.

Remove the radiator drain plug (Philips head screwdriver), and drain the coolant. Remove the 2 10mm bolts on top, disconnect the hoses from the engine, and remove the harnesses to the fans, and slide the radiator out of the engine bay.

Drain the tranny fluid, there’s a spot covered with a 10 mm bolts, connected to the shifter indicator pull it out, and the whole tranny should drain.

Now it’s time to remove the harness. Remove all the sensors in the engine, and put them to the side. There will still be a harness at the back of the engine, but we’ll keep that on for now, it’s the injector sub harness.

Remove the power steering lines; disconnect the one from the pump to the reservoir, making sure to have a rag to soak up the runoff. Also loosen the 24mm high pressure line for the power steering. This bolt is a bit stubborn, but it’s definitely able to loosen. Make sure not to lose the upper and lower gaskets for this bolt, because power steering leaks aren’t the prettiest.

Click the image to open in full size.Remove the O2 sensors (I use a 7/8” open ended wrench) and remove the y-pipe. There are 8 bolts, 14mm if you have an aftermarket y pipe (as you should), and 10 bolts, 8 14mm, and 2 12mm bolts holding in the y pipe.

Remove the shifter linkage (5spd) bolts on the bottom of the tranny, and let the shifter linkage hang there. If you have an automatic, remove the 2 shifter cables from the front of the tranny.

Taking advantage of being under the car, you can loosen and remove the 14mm bolts on the bottom of the tranny. There’s one 17mm bolt all the way in the back of the tranny, it’s kind of hard to spot, but you need to get it out. The bottom 14mm bolts can’t be taken out (crossmember’s in the way), but you can loosen them enough to take the tranny off. Get out from under the car, and remove the remaining 17mm bolts on the top of the tranny, you can remove these very easily with a breaker bar or air tools, you’ll have enough room. Now it’s time to support the tranny with a hydraulic jack (or engine hoist if you are so inclined, as was I) and take off the mount bolts (14mm). Use a flathead screwdriver to get in between the engine and tranny, and pry until the tranny is loose, then ease it out and lower it down, out of the car.

Click the image to open in full size.

Next, disconnect the feed and return lines for the fuel, and disconnect the coolant hoses coming from the firewall. It’s easy to do this from the side of the engine.

Click the image to open in full size.

Now here’s the (first) fun part: taking out the VQ30DE!!!!

Get your cherry picker engine hoist. Hook up the engine leveler to the engine. Here’s what I did. There are 4 points of contact. Bolt it onto the 2 14mm bolts on the timing chain cover, right above the motor mount, and the remaining two, bolt them onto the 17mm bolts for the transmission bellhousing. This should provide a pretty sturdy base to hold the engine. Make sure no fuel lines are kinked, and make sure there is ample clearance for the chains, and none of them bind.

Click the image to open in full size.

Connect the cherry picker, and apply just enough pressure to hold the engine without it falling. Now, some brave soul (me) must go and disconnect the 17mm bolts that hold the crossmember on. Also, remove the 17mm motor mount bolts. Use a LARGE breaker bar, on in my case, a good impact wrench. There are 2 17mm bolts in front for the crossmember, and 2 in back. Be careful that you’re not underneath, it’s pretty heavy. When you disconnect all motor mounts and the crossmember, move it out of the way. You’re almost there. Well, almost halfway.

Click the image to open in full size.

Disconnect the 14mm bolt and nut from the remaining motor mount, and now the engine should be entirely supported by the engine hoist. Carefully lift it up, making sure that it is not binding anywhere. You don’t want the engine falling. Lift it until you can roll the engine hoist out of the way.

Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.

Put the engine down, and take a break and get a drink. You just took an engine out of a Maxima.

2. Prep the VQ35DE

Here are the meat and potatoes of the swap: Changing out the timing components.

First thing to do is remove the engine mount that sits on the timing cover, the crank pulley (20mm), and remove the various 10mm and 12mm bolts that there are. To fully remove the timing cover, you need to remove the lower oil pan, (all 10mm bolts), but be careful that you pry with a very small flathead screwdriver, and make sure not to dent. This can leak VERY easily if it’s dented and it goes back on the car. You can use either the 3.5 or the 3.0 lower oil pan (just the drain plug is different), it doesn’t matter, so if you mess up and kill one oil pan, don’t sweat it, just don’t do it again.

When you remove the oil pan, there are 2 12mm bolts holding the inner timing cover on.

Remove these, and pry the outer timing cover off. I recommend using a pry bar on the side where you can get some leverage, and be very gentle. Although it is aluminum, it can easily crack. The factory sealant that Nissan put is very strong, so give it a good 5 minutes of work to completely remove it. There are 2 dowels at the bottom of the timing chain cover that you need to clear for it to come off. It must come off these dowels at exactly the same time.

When the timing cover comes off, it should look like this:

Click the image to open in full size.

Now we’ll take off some timing components.

To take off the main timing chain sprockets: open the valve cover (front one will do for now), and hold the intake cam with a 1” open ended wrench. Use a 22mm open ended wrench to take off the bolt. This bolt is TOUGH, but do not use air tools on it. I cracked a cam before, they can be pretty fragile. This part it’s a lot easier to do with 2 people (one loosening the bolt, the other holding the cam.)

Once that’s off, you can take off the chain guides (12mm bolts), and the other cam sprocket in the same manner. Then you can take off the chain. Make very sure of where you put these parts. After you remove the timing chain, you can remove the water pump, which is held on my 3 10mm bolts, and be careful, when you pry it out, a lot of coolant will flow out. Also take off the tensioner (2 10mm).

*Side note: You will want to take off the intake manifold to gain access to the rear valve cover, so go ahead and get that out the way. You can cut any vacuum lines, you won’t be using them again, and it’ll be a lot easier. The hardest part about taking off the intake manifold is the removal of the throttle body. It’s connected to coolant hoses, vacuum hoses, and all these will need to come off in addition to the 4 10mm bolts that are on there already.

Click the image to open in full size.

Now we take off the secondary cam gears (exhaust cams). This is a 17mm bolt, and it comes off exactly the way the other ones did.

Now that we have the cam sprockets loose, squeeze the tensioners and hold them there with a thumb tack or small nail (there’s a little hole you can squeeze it into and hold it in place). Now you can simply pull out the cam sprockets from the cams, and the secondary chains with them.

Remove the various 10mm bolts that hold the inner timing chain cover on. Also remove the pieces that go in between the timing cover and valve covers, there are 4 10mm bolts on each.

Remember where you put all of these **VERY IMPORTANT**

Now you can pull off the inner timing chain cover. Use a pry bar, using any points of leverage that you can find. I found the inner timing chain cover was a bit easier than the outer.

Now that you have the VQ30DE taken apart, you guessed it. You have to do the exact same to the VQ35DE. First, make sure the engine is at TDC (top dead center). The way to do this is to line the crank pulley (second mark) with the mark on the water pump drain back plate. This is also explained more thoroughly in the FSM.

I’ll save some space, since it’s the exact same procedure, only the intake cams need 19mm bolts, rather than the 22 on the VQ30DE. The procedure for taking apart the engine is almost exactly the same.

When you’re done with stripping the VQ35DE you’ll end up with something like this:

Click the image to open in full size.

Here’s where you have to CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN!!!

Take out your gasket scraper and cans of brake cleaner. Scrape off every last speck of factory sealant (from the block and both timing chain covers) with the scraper (you’ll go through a few blades), and be sure to get in every nook and cranny. A sharp knife will work in places the gasket scraper can’t get to. When everything’s off, go over it a few times with the compressed brake cleaner (it’s non flammable and dries fast, but the cans get used up quickly.)

Mount the cam journals (thing in between the timing cover and valve cover) from the 3.5 on the engine, then test fit the timing cover. There should be two bolts out of place. This is where you must drill to ensure the bolt goes through. Only a small amount needs to be taken away. Make sure you clean any metal fragments that remain on the inner timing cover. While you’re on this step, you can install the cam tensioners from either the vq30, or the vq35, they both fit.

Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.Make sure you have The O-rings on the engine (the orange ones) before you put on the timing cover. I used Black RTV sealant, and applied a nice, even bead so it doesn’t puddle up and make a mess in places. Oil leaks are the last thing you want when this thing goes together.

Put sealant everywhere designated. If you don’t know where, consult the FSM, but it’s pretty self explanatory. Any small, smooth surface needs sealant. Double check you have everything properly covered with sealant, then *carefully* place it on the engine. Now you secure it with the 10mm bolts. The tightening sequence is pretty important, and you have to torque them down to 10-15ft-lbs. The tightening sequence can be found in the FSM.

After you have the inner timing cover, comes the hardest part: setting the timing.

Get the cam adapters and gently tap them on (the set I got needed some slight grinding with my dremel to make them fit.) They’re a TIGHT fit, so be persistent, but don’t smash them on, the cams could crack, and then you’re S.O.L.

They should look like this:
Click the image to open in full size.

Now you can start putting on the timing components. Put on the timing sprockets, and the secondary chains. Install the water pump. Line up the notches on the sprockets with the marks on the chain. Tighten the exhaust cam sprocket to 85 ft-lbs. It has to look exactly like this, on both sides:

Click the image to open in full size.

Next, put the main timing chain sprocket and crank sprocket on, tighten the main bolts to 85 ft-lbs, and install the chain, making sure the marks on the sprockets and crank line up with the marks on the chain. There are two similarly colored chains, and one “oddball”. The oddball belongs right at the mark on the crank sprocket. There’s an indentation where it belongs, and there are arrows on the main sprockets where the other links belong. This is also outlined in the FSM. If not everything lines up, turn the cam VERY carefully and line it up. Put on the chain guides and tensioner. This is what it should look like:

Click the image to open in full size.

Now that we have our timing set, double and triple check. You might want to move the whole assembly to see that it all moves and doesn’t skip a tooth, it’ pretty easy to mess up in this stage.

Install the outer timing cover, making sure to put a clean bead of sealant on it, and getting rid of any old sealant.

Click the image to open in full size.

Make sure the two dowels go in at exactly the same time, and install all the bolts. I personally didn’t worry about the order of the bolts, I just made sure they were tightened down to 10-15ft-lbs. Be very careful, they can crack easily.

Now bolt up the engine mount, and crank pulley.

Here’s the finished product,

Click the image to open in full size.

Now it’s starting to look like an engine. Next we’re going to install everything else that we need from the 3.0, which are the headers (6 14mm nuts), the AC compressor, PS pump, belt tensioner, both belts, alternator, thermostat, and coolant tube on the right side of the engine (the one that houses the Engine Coolant Temperature Sensor). You need this coolant tube because the 3.5 is missing one sensor the 3.0 has, not to mention the various vacuum lines that run on the top of the coolant tube. This tube can be taken off with 4 12mm bolts. The injector sub-harness has to swapped (in the rear of the engine) and the crank REF sensor has to be installed on the bottom of the crank pulley. Connect the oil pressure sender and run the harness so it doesn’t touch the headers, or the power steering pump.

Cut off the 3.0 injector plugs on the harness and make sure you have a lot of wire on the harness. Now cut the 3.5 injector plugs off, and splice them into the harness. If you’re confused about the power and ground, the red one is always the power. You’re only going to do half of the injectors now, as we’ll do the rest when the engine is in the car.

Now you’re ready to install the flywheel and clutch. Make sure the timing ring is on the flywheel (secondary ring behind the flywheel), or else the car won’t start. Take the flywheel off the old VQ30 by first removing the clutch (9-12mm bolts), then removing the 14mm bolts in the middle, and easing out the flywheel. It’s a bit stubborn, but try and pry it on each side and pull gently. Toss the old clutch, it might as well be a Frisbee now.
You can have the flywheel resurfaced, but mine was in good shape, so I just went over it with some 80grit sandpaper and simple green to get the dirt off. Works like a charm. Install the flywheel on the VQ35, making sure not to get grease on the contact area. Then install the clutch, torquing the 12mm bolts to 35ft-lbs.

Now that that’s installed, we can lift the engine from the same mounting points as before, and install the lower oil pan. As with any old sealant, scrape it off, and make sure the surface is clean and smooth before applying the new gasket. Carefully place the oil pan on the engine, and tighten all the bolts.

3. Install VQ35DE

Now the engine’s ready to go into the car.

Again, I’ll save some space and write that it’s the reverse of removal, and through experience, I’ve found it’s a bit easier to put the tranny on the engine outside the car, then lower them into the engine bay, both at once.

You can start putting the harness back on, and now you can wire the other half of the injector harness. The coil packs plug right in, just as they should, just make sure not to overextend the wires for the rear coils, there’s not a lot of room to work with. After you run those wires, you can put on the intake manifold.

Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

Reinstall radiator, hoses, coolant lines, power steering lines, y-pipe, crossmember, axles, and shifter linkages. Fill The radiator, engine, power steering reservoir and tranny with their respective fluids.


We have two more things to deal with: The throttle body and fuel.

Throttle body: The 3.5 uses a drive-by-wire system that the 4th gen simply doesn’t have, so you’re going to have to make your own bracket to house the throttle position sensor, and throttle cable. First you break the housing of the drive-by-wire system, then you take out EVERYTHING. This should leave you with a rod that you can mount your 3.0 throttle wire bracket to. There’s a little piece of metal that you must use, in conjunction with a lock nut to keep it all in place. I made a bracket out of metal, secured it with bolts, and put the throttle position sensor on that. The hardest part is making the throttle position sensor turn cleanly with the throttle body. You also have to make a bracket to hold the throttle cable in place. Any piece of scrap metal cut to shape will fit. Use your imagination.

This is how mine came out:

Click the image to open in full size.


The Vq35 uses a returnless fuel system, and the 4th gen has a return system. The solution?

Get a tee and adjustable fuel pressure regulator ($25 shipped on eBay), and run the fuel lines like this:

…..Adjustable FPR set to 52psi —-return line………| Feed—-fuel filter—–tee —– fuel rail

Now make sure you have everything connected, wired up, and sealed.

You can use your stock air box, with a coupler or two. Connect all vacuum lines, including PCV and brake booster to the rear of the intake manifold. Connect the starter, and all grounds.

Connect the battery terminals, and start the car. It should be a little rough starting in the beginning, but it should run pretty well. Let all the carbon and grime burn off, and make sure to give it a tune up after 1000 miles.

Notice I didn’t include a guide on how to hook up the variable intake manifold. I did so for a reason – I didn’t use it. I modified my intake manifold (dubbed V-Spec), so I have more air volume at all rpms. If you want this done, please inquire.

Click the image to open in full size.


Any ECU will work with this swap, I’m running a 1998 auto ECU (stock), but I do have some Check Engine lights. Personally, they don’t bother me, but a bit more work and planning has to go into the swap if you don’t want check engine lights. I have codes for the IACV (not connected), and EVAP system (not connected)

You cannot use a strut bar with the 3.5, the manifold sits too high. I’m currently working a way around that, however.

How long does this swap take?
Mine took about 4 days, doing everything carefully, but it can be done over a long weekend. There was a point where I had both engines taken apart, where it was a bit overwhelming, and I thought “I’m not going to have a car to drive next week”, but you get over it when you’re working at a steady pace.

Is it worth it?
In one word: Definitely.


  • NYCMAXIMAS.ORG – Can’t thank you enough.
  • Vipervadim – couldn’t have done it without him & his green tea!!!! He’s very knowledgeable, and I’m glad to have him as a friend.
  • *~Dark~* -He built by engine hoist while we were taking apart the car, saving precious time. He also offered his help here and there. Thanks!
  • Tilleys99 – For making the cam adapters
  • M&RMAX – For giving me an awesome deal on the VQ35’s I bought. – It was my first experience with Rob and it definitely won’t be my last!
  • CMAX – For giving me advice over the phone about the shifter linkage and clutch
  • Meccanoble – For giving me a new shifter bushing, and helping me with the same problem
  • Liquidvenom – For using his strength in lifting my tranny and aligning it with the car. Thanks, Will!
  • SMX95 – For helping me with any questions I had automotive related
  • Krismax – father of the 00vi – for letting me drive his vq35 4th gen and getting me hooked!! Should you have any questions, PM me on or, username tavarish.

my4dsc: 484

Member Credit:

* Means that the track car has done part or all of the step.  Other numbers have come from research and other members that have kindly donated their numbers.

Specs/Weight from a 1996 Nissan Maxima (These weights are without fluids):

  • GLE 2982lb (extra weight items include the moonroof, climate control, automatic, dual power seats, BOSE, heavier wheels)
  • GXE 2886lb (bare bones 5 speed)
  • SE 2895lb (bare bones 5 speed)

Stage 1: (Still an everyday car.)

  • Aftermarket y-pipe (15lbs)*
  • UR or RVM UDP (3lbs)
  • Aftermarket Cat-back (5-10lbs)*
  • Remove Carpeting, cardboard, and everything else in trunk (6lbs)*
  • Remove Plate Under Steering Wheel. (2lbs)*
  • Remove support bar behind glove box. (2lbs)*
  • Remove plate behind back seat (6lbs)*
  • Remove Sound deadening under hood. (2lbs)*
  • Remove handles on ceiling (1lb)*
  • Miscellaneous bolts due to removing things. (2lbs)*
  • Aftermarket Cat (2lbs)*
  • Lighter rim/tire combo (I have not personally fulfilled this with my 18”s, but it really does help.) (Varies)
  • Aluminum Flywheel (12lbs)*
  • Swap stock seat for ultra light racing seat (32lbs each/64lbs total)
  • Swap out hood for CF hood (29lbs)
  • Change body to CF (Bumpers, fenders) (Fiberglass Bumper 5-10lbs , Fiberglass Fender 12-18lbs)
  • Ground Control Coilovers (34lbs)*
  • Floor mats (Can switch to diamond plated and still save (3lbs) or remove for (10lbs)
  • Switch from glass headlights to plastic (95/96-97-99) (4lbs)
  • Stock Fog lights (6lbs)*
  • Lighter Battery (Varies)
  • Replace Stock antenna with aftermarket(2lbs) (Get rid of antenna all together 4.5lbs)*
  • Fast Brakes Kit (Those with at least 16” rims) (32lbs)

Total Savings of Stage 1: 229lbs-+274.5lbs

Stage 2: (Even more, maybe for track use.)

  • Remove Visors (3lbs)*
  • Remove rear view mirror
  • Underbody Plastics (Total of 15lbs, to include under engine and in fender wells)*
  • All non-essential hoses air boxes and other things Removed from engine (Net weight of 10lbs)*
  • Trunk arms (Things that hold up trunk when open) (2lbs)*
  • Extra bar in front bumper (97-99)
  • Windshield wipers (2lbs w/out motor 7lbs w/ motor)
  • Side view mirrors (5lbs)
  • Owners Manual (1lb)
  • Headrests (3lbs)
  • Underbody hitches (4lbs)
  • Brake dust shields (3lbs)
  • Remove Jack (4lbs)*
  • Remove Metal piece that holds jack (2lbs)*
  • Remove Spare Tire (May be included in stage one, if not afraid of flat tires.) (28lbs)*
  • Remove Heat Shielding for exhaust system (8lbs)*
  • Remove Sound Deadening under carpet (aka tar) (So far removed 13lbs)*
  • Remove Back seat (30lbs)*
  • Remove Passenger Seat (48lbs)*
  • Remove interior panels (per panel 3-4lbs)*
  • Remove ceiling (7lbs)*
  • Remove Carpet (12lbs)*
  • Remove Unnecessary dash pieces (approx 2lbs but could be more)*
  • Remove AC (~33lbs)*
  • Remove Power steering (Papasmurf does not recommend doing this one)
  • Remove all seat belts accept for driver (10lbs)*
  • Swap out steering wheel for aftermarket (3lbs)*
  • Remove airbags (May be illegal.) (Just driver side total of 12lbs w/ passenger 26lbs)*
  • Remove e-brake and all components
  • Remove Stereo, speakers and all sound components. (approx. for factory 18lbs)
  • Remove power windows and locks.
  • Cruise Control System (1lb)*
  • Remove Rear Heating Ducts (3lbs)*
  • Replace Gas Tank with Aluminum Fuel Cell (Weight reduction will be different depending on size of tank)
  • Replace sunroof with solid plexiglass roof (Will weigh less than even cars without sunroofs)
  • Cutout unneeded metal
  • Cutout spare tire well and replace over with sheet metal

Total Savings of Stage 2: 294lbs-317+lbs *Will be much more once all the items’ weights are included.

Total Savings of both stages: 523lbs-591.5+lbs *Will be much more once all the items’ weights are included.

Things to Remember:

  • Gas in tank (6lbs/gallon)
  • Water in windshield reservoir (8.3lbs/gallon)

Special thanks to ptatohed, Papasmurf, Dave B, and Nealoc187. 

Screen Prints (Courtesy of ajcool2)


my4dsc: 147

Member Credit: VQpower

The thermostat regulates the flow of coolant within the engine. At low coolant temps, it stays closed. As the engine warms, it opens to allow coolant to flow through the radiator and cool the engine.

It’s located on the left side of the engine, here:

If it becomes clogged with deposits it can malfunction. If it sticks closed, coolant will never flow through the radiator and the engine will quickly overheat. If it sticks open, coolant will always flow through the radiator and the car will take a very long time to warm up fully.

The replacement part is $15.99 from AutoZone and includes a new stat mounted in a new housing and gasket.

To change the thermostat:
Drain the coolant
Remove the coolant recovery bottle
Remove the windshield washer fluid filler neck (it pops out)
Remove the hose clamp and radiator hose from the T-stat
Remove three 10mm nuts holding the T-stat and the old gasket

Installation is the reverse of removal.

my4dsc: 20

Member Credit: Mishmosh

Typically, the water pump will need to be removed due to the water pump failing or the water pump O-ring seals (2) failing with age. You may get coolant leaking from the weep hole toward the front of the engine with the inner seal failing. Some will warn that the use of silicate-containing antifreeze will ultimately cause injury to the water pump impeller. If your seals are the only faulty items, it is possible to order the two seals separately and to re-install the old pump. However, the water pump replacement is technically difficult owing to the limited space with which you have to work, so for the sake of piece of mind, it may be just as well to replace the entire water pump. Some 4th generation Maxima’s also suffered from faulty timing chain tensioners and some would argue that the part can become “tired” over time (mainly the inner spring), so you can elect to replace the timing chain tensioner as well since it will have to be removed anyways.


  • Metric box-and-open ended wrench set — I highly recommend a ratcheting wrench set (ie. GearWrench)
  • Metric socket wrench set — standard 3/8″ will suffice but the smaller profile 1/4″ set will be better.
  • Telescoping magnet — you do not want anything falling into the timing chain cover. When removing hardware, apply the magnet so nothing is dropped accidentally, or if it does, you can hopefully fish out the part.
  • Telescoping mirror (optional)
  • RTV sealant — needed to reseal the tensioner and water pump covers
  • Two M8 x 40mm bolts — for “jacking” out the water pump

Water Pump Removal

The water pump is driven by the timing chain, so removal requires removing the timing chain tensioner to create slack in the chain.

(1)  Jack up the front end and place jack stands. Remove the passenger side wheel and plastic splash guard. Drain the coolant — save the coolant in a bucket for reuse if it is still relatively new.

(2)  Identify and remove the timing chain tensioner access cover and water pump access cover attached to the (passenger side) timing chain cover. They are boxy, outwardly bulging, black metal covers, each attached by four 10mm screws, as seen the centers of the pics below. You will have to gently pry them off because of the gasket sealant applied around the edges. The timing chain tensioner access cover (below, left) is rearward of the motor mount whilst the water pump access cover (below, right) is in front of the motor mount. Note that the water pump access cover is obstructed by the alternator tensioner pulley (removed in pic)–this will need to be removed along with the belt by loosing the center nut of the pulley, loosing tension on the belt, and then the three bolts on the bracket. Because the pulley will be removed from the bracket, be sure to make note of re-install order of the nut and washers before and after the pulley. Removing the power steering belt is optional: it is more work but may make the job easier by creating more room around the timing chain tensioner area.


Here’s a pic of the alternator belt tensioner pulley removed:

(3)  Remove the timing chain tensioner.

First, familiarize yourself with the position and components of the timing chain tensioner. You can see it from the acute angle you have looking down into the open access port but I used a telescopic mirror to get a better view of the tensioner as shown below. The second picture is of the timing chain tensioner removed. Pay particular attention to the spring-loaded piston. You first must remove the two long retaining bolts (10mm) and then keeping your thumb on the piston to keep it from springing out, carefully remove the tensioner as one unit. If you let the piston shoot out (as in the picture, right), you run the risk of having the spring or the piston fall down into the timing chain cover which you must avoid AT ALL COSTS. Also note that the long bolts have washers which have the potential to fall in as well so pay attention to remove the bolts horizontally until they are removed from the cover area. With the timing chain tensioner removed, you will now see the timing chain tensioner guide fall into view. Now turn the crank pulley counterclockwise roughly 20 degrees to create chain slack on the water pump. Note: some will say that removal of the tensioner is NOT required to create slack on the timing chain; that only compressing the piston and holding it back with a pin/paper clip is sufficient. However, this was no where near sufficient for me when I tried this. Also, some have suggested putting a mechanic’s towel or a sheet of aluminum foil down to block any possibility of anything falling into the timing chain cover.


(4) Remove the water pump.

There are three 10mm bolts with washers holding the water pump in place. Remove these, again being VERY careful not to drop these short bolts or their washers down into the timing chain cover. Then use the M8 x 40mm bolts to jack the water pump out (see pic below, left). The top and the bottom holes (that you just removed the retaining bolts from) are also threaded for the M8,1.25 bolt. Take successive turns tightening the screws, no more than one full revolution each. As the pump gradually starts to come out, be sure to lift the timing chain off the gear teeth on the water pump so that the timing chain does not become damaged. Once the water pump is far enough out that you can move the unit by hand, remove the two M8 bolts because there is not enough clearance to remove the pump with them still in place. The just turn and wiggle the pump at different angles up and out of the tight space. Do not be surprised to see a gush of coolant spill out from behind the water pump and down into the timing cover. Loosening the water pump coolant drain bolt minimizes the spillage but it is still pretty significant. You will need to drain and refill the oil at this point because of this.


(4)  Drain and replace engine oil/filter.

Water Pump Installation

(5)  Install the water pump.

Place the new inner and outer O-ring seals on your new or reused water pump. Coat the seals with coolant. Once again, turn and rotate the water pump into position–paying particular attention NOT to let the new seals come into accidental contact with any metal surface or they can be easily damaged–and very gently push into place. While doing this, you will have to push the limp timing chain up and out of the way. Reinstall the 4 short retaining bolts with washers, again being careful not to drop anything into the timing chain cover. Make sure the timing chain falls clearly over the teeth of the water pump gear and turn the crank pulley 20 degrees clockwise to tighten up the timing chain Again, verify that the gear teeth are firmly engaged with the timing chain.

(6)  Install the timing chain tensioner.

To reinstall the timing chain tensioner, you must “cock” the piston all the way into the tensioner body and prevent it from “unloading” by inserting a pin or a small paper clip end into the small pin-sized side hole near the front opening. I would recommend attaching a string to the pin or paper clip in the event that it should fall out and accidentally fall into the timing chain cover. Next, you must position the cocked tensioner back into position by pulling back on the timing chain guide which has since fallen in the way. Then reinstall the two long retaining bolts. This can be frustrating because of the limited space and because this is mainly done by feel. Again (I can’t say this enough), do not let the bolts or their washers to fall into the timing chain cover and be careful not to accidentally pull the pin/paper clip out, unloading the tensioner. Once successfully bolted up, you can then remove the pin/paper clip. The piston should pop out and contact it’s similarly cylindrical counterpart on the chain tensioner guide.

(7)  Replace covers.

First clean both timing chain tensioner and water pump access covers and mating surfaces on the timing chain cover of any old gasket material. Use a degreaser (I used brake cleaner) to make sure no oil residues have fouled the surfaces. Apply high-temp RTV gasket sealant (ie. Permatex) to the cover borders and reattach and bolt securely. Note: this can be quite difficult and messy because of the limited space–have paper towels or cleaning wipes handy! Allow the sealant sufficient time to cure.

(8)  Final steps.

Replace alternator belt and tensioner pulley. Replace coolant. I would recommend filling the coolant reservoir a little ABOVE the “max” line in anticipation that a significant amount will be drawn into the cooling system to replenish the coolant that was lost to spillage when the pump was removed.

Start up the car. Do NOT be alarmed to hear a horrific chain rattling noise. The noise will eventually quiet but may not go away even when idling for a while. Rest assured that the noise will go completely away after a short drive around the block. You may also hear a gurgling/bubbling sound as the water pump is pumping coolant AND some air in the system. After a long drive to get the engine nice and warm (consider turning the heater on to speed the flow of coolant), recheck the level of the coolant reservoir and add coolant if necessary. NEVER remove the radiator cap when the engine is still warm.


To create more working room, it is also optional to remove the passenger side motor mount. You can also remove the power steering reservoir to move the hose out of the way. As was previously mentioned, you can also remove the power steering belt. Lastly, it is also possible that removing the crank pulley will also create more working room. All these require a little more time but may be worth it if you need the extra room ie. big hands, etc.

my4dsc: 29