Edmunds Answers



  • zaken1 05/10/11 10:57 pm PST

    Your question would have been easier for most readers to understand if you had used the word "interference" instead of interface. Yes; the 1999-2004 Frontier 3.3 liter VG33E V-6 motor is an interference engine. The V-6 was changed to a 4.0 liter VQ40DE in the 2005 and 2006 model, but it is also an interference engine.

  • Stever@Edmunds 05/10/11 11:36 pm PST

    I'll edit it to make it read interference.

    Interesting tidbit, I have a '99 Nissan Quest with a variation of the VG33E engine. This engine was modified and is not an interference engine, per forum posts and a tech doc someone posted years ago. The story is that Ford required the modification of the engine as part of the joint venture they had with Nissan to build the Quest and Mercury Villager in Ohio.

    Gates.com says my Quest engine is an interference one. I think Gates is wrong. I'm still on the original timing belt at 155,000 miles. I wouldn't do that if I was driving a Pathfinder or Frontier with the "same" V6 engine.


  • zaken1 05/11/11 12:29 am PST

    Hey Steve:

    It's not only Gates that says your 1999 Quest has an interference engine: ACDelco, Goodyear, Dayco, and Beck Arnley all say the same thing!!! And the engine model is listed in the Rock Auto catalog as VG33E; which is the same as the Frontier engine. And Dayco, Gates, and ACDelco all specify "interference engine" on their timing component kits for the 1999 Mercury Villager 3.3 V-6. And they all use the same part numbers for timing components in both of those engines!!!

    However; Goodyear uses the same part number as well; and says "interference engine" in their Nissan Quest listings; but does not say "interference engine" in their Mercury Villager listings. My experience is that Goodyear is more accurate in such things than most of the other manufacturers.

    What this means to me is that Ford modified the engine for use in the 1999 Mercury Villager (which had VIN code "T"); but Nissan kept the interference design in the 1999 Quest, Pathfinder, and Frontier 3.3 VG33E motors (which all had VIN code "E"). You are treading on dangerous ground here; old buddy. Otherwise credible people can often be confused by these tricky issues. Better change that timing belt quickly!!!

  • Stever@Edmunds 05/11/11 9:40 am PST

    I thought you'd enjoy that. :-)

    But it was late last night when I posted that and I screwed up the engine number. Mine's the VG30E. Sorry about that. And apparently it's coded V40 VG30E on the Villager/Quest

    It's also a Nissan interference design, but the word is that it's modified to be free running. Details at the VQ Faq.

    Not many people on the Yahoo Villager/Quest group have posted about broken timing belts on the Quest. One guy with a '96 Villager had his break at 204,000 miles, and it just died. No damage report. Another Quest owner had his break at 180k and was replaced - no engine damage. And a 2001 Villager owner had a similar experience, which surprised his mechanic.

    It's interesting about the difference in the Goodyear part numbers. Back when these vans first started rolling off the (Ford) assembly line, there was a lot of supposition that Nissan did special things to the Quest that Ford didn't do to the Villager. Stuff like different parts, and extra checks along the assembly line or before the vans were shipped to the dealer. None of that made any economic sense and my feeling is that what you are seeing is just some internal part number for control or accounting purposes.

    When my belt breaks, I'll be sure to let you know how bad the damage is (mostly to my billfold I'm thinking, not the engine).

  • zaken1 05/11/11 2:49 pm PST


    Thanks for the interesting details. If your Quest really has a VG30E motor; then it is a 1998 model; because Nissan dropped the 3.0 motor in the Quest and changed the engine displecement to 3.3 liters (thus the VG33DE designation) for the 1999 model year. The Pathfinder had the 3.3 liter motor since 1996; but the Quest first got it in 1999.

    Sometimes a vehicle is not sold in the model year when it was manufactured. In that event; your title may state that it was first registered in "X" year; but there should also be a note about the model year somewhere on that document. The definitive mark of a vehicle's model year is the information on the underhood emission label; at the bottom of all the information is a sentence reading "This vehicle conforms to all US regulations applicable to XXXX model year new motor vehicles." That label also lists the original engine displacement, at the top.

  • Stever@Edmunds 05/11/11 4:44 pm PST

    Ah, I was right the first time; it is the VG33E.

    There's been a lot of controversy, among the few of us who care, for the last decade about the first and second generation Quests and Villagers (1993 - 2002) being non-interference engines, both the 3.0 and the 3.3. It's a long running issue in the Yahoo Villager/Quest group and the consensus is that it's a non-interference engine in both vehicles.

    One poster in the Yahoo group ("Gerry") actually worked on the joint venture for Ford and they demanded freewheeling engines since they had used timing belts on '81-'82 Escorts and when the water pumps seized on those cars, the engines were badly damaged (the timing belt ran the pump). Ford lost so much money on warranty claims they told Nissan to make the engine non-interference or they wouldn't use a Nissan drivetrain for the joint venture.

    Not sure if this link will work for you, but it's a file showing a page from the '02 Villager Workshop Manual stating that this is a free-wheeling engine. The Quest Factory Manual is silent on the issue, as near as I can tell.

    So, I believe Goodyear about the Villager, but not about the Quest. :-)

    (Sorry for hijacking your thread, Kevin).

  • firthtrumpet 07/25/15 12:44 pm PST

    The definitive answer is this IS not an interference engine. I just had my timing belt put into my 2001 3.3 Mercury Villager. At 177,230 miles my timing belt broke. My mechanic found all sorts of conflicting answers to this question and so did I. I decided to go for it and sure enough my engine is fine, my Villager is back on the road. So there ya go!

  • Stever@Edmunds 07/29/15 11:09 pm PST

    Forgot about this older thread. My timing belt on my '99 Quest also broke with around 174,000 miles back in April, 2013. Had it towed to my mechanic and got a new belt. He missed a cog (guess there are three of them) but after getting that settled, it ran fine and had no engine damage.

    It's probably still running somewhere. I sold it when the AC died right before moving to NM - managed to get a bit over 200,000 miles on it, although I had distributor issues right before the AC died.



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