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Are you having problems with your Nissan X-TRAIL? Let our team of motoring experts keep you up to date with all of the latest Nissan X-TRAIL issues & faults. We have gathered all of the most frequently asked questions and problems relating to the Nissan X-TRAIL in one spot to help you decide if it's a smart buy.
You can tell a lot about exhaust smoke by its colour. If it's a blue-grey colour, the smoke is probably from burnt oil. If it's black, excess fuel is probably the cause. Make sure, too, that what you're seeing is not just water vapour that is a normal part of the combustion process and will disappear as the exhaust system heats up and turns that vapour into steam (which is invisible).
But if it really is blue smoke you're seeing, it could be a case of worn out piston rings, or worn valve guides or seals. If it's black smoke, you could have a problem with injectors, the fuel pump, intake system, spark plugs, any number of sensors that control the engine's fuel:air mixture, or about a thousand other things. That fact that the smoke disappears after a while suggests that the engine is happier when it has some heat in it, but really, it shouldn't blow any smoke of any colour at all.
It sounds like you've tackled the obvious causes of this type of vibration. The dual-mass clutch is a prime candidate and any car with worn engine mounts can vibrate when it's running.
Digging deeper will involve ruling things out in a process of elimination. So, to start that process, does the vibration go away when the vehicle is stationary or only when it's moving? If it's the latter, you could have some kind of transmission or tail-shaft problem. Ot perhaps even a warped brake rotor or seized brake caliper.
But if the vibration is there whenever the engine is running, then you need to start to look at things like the harmonic balancer on the front of the crankshaft and whether the engine itself is actually running smoothly (regardless of where the idle is set). The stepper-motor (which controls the idle) could be faulty leading to the engine flaring between gear changes, and an engine that has a blocked exhaust, dirty air-filter or even worn spark plugs can run roughly. It could even be something like camshaft timing that has jumped a tooth, leading the engine to run poorly and contribute the bad vibrations you're feeling. Also, check the rubber drive belt that powers the alternator and power-steering pump. A worn belt or worn out tensioners and pulleys can also create problems like this. Check the power steering pump itself for signs of its seizing or jamming as it turns.
All Nissan models officially sold in Australia with a build-date later than 2004 can use ethanol blended fuel with up to 10 per cent ethanol content. That can reduce fuel costs, because E10 fuel is usually cheaper at the pump. Bear in mind, however, that you might use a little more E10 than non-blended fuel because of the slightly lower energy content of E10.
Beyond that, your X-Trail requires regular petrol with an octane rating of 91, which is pretty much the normal brew on any service-station forecourt. You can use higher octane fuels without harming the car, but there would be little to no benefit in doing so. And your wallet will thank you for not bothering.
You've certainly gone to some extremes to check this out, but your investigations should give you a good clue that the problem is with front axle. So, it could either be the differential that is clattering and making the car judder or, perhaps more likely, the front CV joints which allow the car to drive its front axle while also steering the vehicle. Once you take the load off the front driveshafts (by disconnecting them) the noise stops because the worn CV joints aren't taking the strain of trying to move the car, so they don't make the horrible noise.
In some cases, you can simply replace the worn out CV joints, but there's also the option of complete driveshafts (with new CV joints already fitted) that are a simpler fix if a bit more costly. You can also buy driveshafts new or reconditioned. Its sounds like you're more than skilled enough to tackle this at home.
The X-Trail of that era has an unbraked towing limit of 750kg and a braked limit of 2000kg. On that basis, the short answer is yes, you need to have brakes on your caravan.
But the detail is a little more involved. While you do need a braked trailer (caravan in your case) for the Nissan to handle 960kg safely, those brakes don't necessarily need to be the electric variety. A simpler mechanical braking system would also be acceptable and should work fine on a relatively light van such as the one you've described.
Mechanical brakes are preferred by some users who like the fact that the trailer in question can be used on any car with the required towing limit. In the case of electric brakes, a control unit has to be fitted to the tow-vehicle. That gets a bit complicated and is an extra cost. Larger caravan (over 2000kg GTM) need electric brakes, but mechanical brakes are fine for smaller, lighter vans.
This issue will always come down to the documented service history that each car comes with. A switched-on previous owner will not only have serviced the vehicle by the book, but will also have kept the relevant receipts as proof of this crucial work being done. We'd always choose the vehicle with a big wad of service receipts over a similar car with no (or less) evidence of scheduled maintenance.
Beyond that, the Nissan clearly has almost 50,000 fewer kilometres on its odometer, so all things being equal it probably nudges ahead at that point. In either case, the CVT transmission fitted to these cars is likely to be the major source of mechanical grief down the track. Both brands' CVT transmissions have been known to give trouble. If that bothers you, then perhaps the one to buy is the Outlander AWD with the turbo-diesel engine option. In that guise, the vehicle has a conventional automatic transmission rather than a CVT.
The engines in the 2014 X-Trail were tuned by Nissan to run perfectly on 91 RON unleaded petrol. That means that if you use the more expensive Premium ULP available (95 or 98 RON) you’ll basically be wasting money. That’s because an engine that isn’t tuned for the Premium brew won’t run any better or use less fuel on PULP.
The other bit of good news is that your vehicle is also compatible with ethanol-blended petrol. That means, you can fill up from the E5 or E10 pump at the service-station and maybe save a few cents per litre in the process.
Engines and transmissions need to operate across a wide range of temperatures, from zero (or lower) on a cold morning, to extremely hot (when towing a trailer across the Nullarbor in mid-summer). Sometimes these differing operating temperatures bring out different behaviours.
The problem of selecting gears is often caused by wear or a fault in the transmission’s valve body, or it could be something else within the gearbox such as a worn clutch-pack or band. On a simpler level, you could be looking at something as easy to fix as a mis-aligned or mal-adjusted selector cable. Another possibility is a low transmission fluid level. If this is the case, you need to find the source of the leak, not just top up the level, as a transmission is a sealed unit that shouldn’t need topping up.
From what I can see in the owners’ manual, the X-Trail has the ability to display the vehicle’s current speed as part of the trip computer’s read-out. By scrolling through the various pages offered by the computer, you should be able to find one that gives a readout of current and average speed.
Later model X-Trails had a proper digital speedometer, but the trip computer version is the best you’ll get in this model.
The CVT transmission in the X-Trail has caused plenty of owners problems over the years. Jerking or shuddering is usually down to one of two things: Either the metal belt inside the transmission which provides the drive is worn and is slipping, or; the transmissions valve body is faulty and needs replacement. Either way, it’s a fairly major repair.
But what you haven’t told me for certain is that your car is, indeed, a CVT-equipped example. In the off-chance that your car has the much rarer conventional manual transmission, then the problem is more likely to be something wrong with the engine that is causing the problem at a particular engine speed (2000rpm in your case). Changing the plugs is a decent first step, but in the longer term, you’ll have more success by having the vehicle scanned and seeing what fault codes are thrown up by the car’s computer.