The Infiniti QX50 is a compact luxury crossover that was originally known as the Infiniti EX35 prior to 2014.
When the second generation model debuted in 2019, the QX50 traded its sporty demeanor for better on-road manners and more upscale interiors.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the common problems and issues QX50 owners have had over the years.
Table of Contents
1. Gas Odor
Many second-generation Infiniti QX50 owners have reported smelling a strong gasoline or oil odor from both inside and outside the car after it has been parked following a drive.
Here’s how it’s been described on the InfinitiQX50.org forum:
“Just purchased a certified pre-owned 2019 QX50 from the dealer about two weeks ago. Only has 3,200 miles on it. Was great for about a week but I started getting a strong hot oil smell in the garage after driving it all day.”
“My wife purchased a 2019 QX 50 and it has an issue with gas smell. It does not happen all the time but usually 80%. The garage often has a very strong gas odor and the inside of the vehicle smells too.”
“I just picked up my 2019 QX50 yesterday morning and over these two days, every time I go into the garage, there is a very noticeable fuel smell. Of course, looking under the car or in the engine bay, there is nothing to see.”
This issue typically affects the 2019 to 2021 model years of the QX50, as well as the 2022 model year of the QX55 built before August 2021.
Infiniti released a TSB for this issue in early 2022 that recommends replacing the rocker/valve cover assembly and the PCV (Positive Crankcase Ventilation) separator, also known as the oil separator or crankcase breather, to get rid of the gas smell.
The Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) system is designed to reduce emissions by controlling the amount of blow-by gasses that escape from the engine’s crankcase. Replacing the valve cover and PCV separator with the updated parts should effectively contain the fuel vapors.
Older TSBs related to this issue also suggested replacing the PCV hose, but the newer TSB indicates that this is no longer necessary.
2. Radiator Leaks
Older Infiniti EX35 SUVs are prone to radiator failures starting at around 60,000 to 70,000 miles.
The radiator’s plastic end tanks are known to get brittle over time and start cracking and eventually leads to coolant loss. In extreme cases, it can cause overheating and stalling issues.
This is more common in the EX35 which used the 3.5-liter V6 engine out of the 350z. When it was renamed as the QX50 for the 2014 model year, it also got the 3.7-liter engine of the 370z and had an updated radiator. It can still crack and leak over time, but not at the same rate as the older models.
Signs that your engine has overheating problems include:
- Low or empty coolant reservoir
- Car goes into limp mode
- White smoke from exhaust
- Air conditioning issues
- Engine knock
- High engine temps on the dash
- Cooling fan always runs at highest speed
Here’s how a few owners described their experience:
“I have a 2008 Infiniti EX35 I recently purchased. The car has ~87K miles on it. Within a week of owning the car my radiator blew and I had it replaced.”
“My 09 Infiniti EX35 RWD Journey has been pretty trouble free. I’m the original owner with 70,000 miles. While running an errand on a 107 degree day I noticed the car start to run rough. Immediately pulled off the road into an independent auto repair shop. The next morning they called me with the bad news, the thermostat stuck, created a leak between the aluminum and plastic upper tank.”
When the radiator cracks and starts leaking, you need to have it replaced, which typically costs around $1,000. If you want to save some money, you can get an aftermarket or rebuilt radiator instead, but it’s important to make sure it’s a good quality unit.
3. Loud Cooling Fan
A few owners of the second generation Infiniti QX50 have complained about the engine cooling fan constantly running at high speed and making a loud noise.
Aside from the roaring fan noise, the A/C will also sometimes stop blowing cold air.
Here’s how a few owners on the InfinitiQX50.org forum described their experience:
“Fan started to run at full speed making a loud noise. Took it to dealer and they said that it happens very now and then and not to worry. Said it could last 5-10 minutes or couple hours. It’s not doing any harm. Still under warranty as only 7,000 km on the 2021 Q50.”
“I’m at about 37k miles and mine is doing the same thing. I noticed it after I got an oil change.”
“Wife has 2020 Essential Edition 30. Was at the dealer 3 weeks ago and I too complained about the horrid fan noise after turning off the engine. It only happened once before. They said it’s a known issue and there’s a TSB on it with a fix.”
“I have a 19QX50 which has 11,000 miles. Been in the shop five times due to A/C problem. When I randomly start my car it sounds like a giant fan or jet engine, it blows warm air, the GPS spins and the auto light flashes.”
This issue typically only affects 2019 to 2021 model years of the QX50, as well as the 2022 QX55.
Infiniti released a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) in September 2022 that recommends replacing the old cooling fan with an updated part to get rid of the loud fan noise. After the cooling fan is replaced, the IPDM (Intelligent Power Distribution Module) also has to be reprogrammed.
If the car is still under warranty, this repair should be done free of charge.
4. Clock Issues
Several Infiniti QX50 owners have reported issues with the digital clock randomly not displaying the correct time.
When the digital clock discrepancy appears, the option to manually change or update the time in the car’s settings also gets grayed out, so you’re constantly looking at the incorrect time that’s several hours ahead or behind.
Here is how a few owners described their experience:
“My clock is 4 hours ahead. The “Manual time adjustment” is grayed out. Occasionally my radio station presets change then the next time I use the car they are back.”
“I have the exact same issue, both with the clock and radio presets. I got a software update, which fixed the clock issue for 3 weeks, but then it jumped ahead 4 hours.”
“I bought a new QX50 in 2022. The clock setting is grayed out. Wrong time forever. Went 4 times to service, with short term fixes.”
“My clocks randomly change from EST to PST. Sometimes the dashboard and screen times are 3 hours apart, sometimes they are both changed to PST. I live on the east coast, so I’d never need to change them to pacific time.”
Software updates don’t seem to resolve the issue completely. A few owners have even gotten their infotainment system replaced, only to find that the problem reappears after a few months.
One effective workaround to this issue that doesn’t require a trip to the dealer is to simply reset the infotainment system’s settings back to default by going into the ‘Others’ menu option on the bottom screen.
Once you’ve reset back to factory settings, you should be able to manually adjust the time and date settings.
This workaround might also be able to resolve infotainment glitches such as:
- Screen restarts or freezes
- Bluetooth connectivity problems
- Distorted audio
- ‘Performing Security Check’ or anti-theft warnings
If the issue persists or if you’re having trouble navigating the vehicle settings for some reason, you can also try disconnecting the negative battery terminal for at least 5 minutes, then reconnecting it again. This should force the car’s electronics and computer modules to restart and power cycle which can clear up a lot of software glitches/bugs.
5. Automatic Braking Issues
A few second generation Infiniti QX50 owners have complained about problems with the car’s automatic emergency braking (AEB) system.
Some people just get a persistent blinking AEB light on the dash, while others routinely have issues with the car hitting the brakes on its own even if there are no other vehicles or obstructions in front.
Here is how a few owners described their issue:
“Three times in the last month my 2020 QX50 has automatically braked while I was accelerating, today on the NJ Turnpike while passing a semi. There was nothing in front of me any of these times.”
“The driver “assist” controls are dialed back as far as they will go, and yet the car will still: – Slam on the brakes when a car up ahead slows down, even when it’s still very far ahead; – Slam on the brakes when passing into an underground parking lot, going from light to dark.”
Automatic braking systems are still in their infancy and many implementations from lots of other car brands can get confused by changes in light or reflections, so it’s not just exclusive to the QX50.
However, if you’re constantly having braking issues with your QX50, it could be caused by either of the following:
- Outdated software
- Faulty hardware
- Dirty sensors
Before taking your car into the dealer, check if there’s any dirt or cracks on the windshield that could be obstructing the lane camera that’s mounted near the rear view mirror. Fog or frost on the windshield can also affect the automatic braking system.
If the windshield and camera look fine, it’s best to have your dealer take a look at the problem. They’ll be able to scan for codes and check if there are any errors that could be causing the AEB warning light to flash, as well as any unintended braking issues. If the lane camera is faulty, they should also be able to replace it under warranty.
Your dealer should also be able to reprogram the car’s driving assist system with the latest software to eliminate any false positives or bugs in the system.
6. Poor Fuel Economy
Many first and second generation QX50 owners have been disappointed with the car’s fuel economy, especially considering its small size.
The older Infiniti EX35 and QX50 models had an EPA estimated fuel economy rating of around 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. But this is offset by its high horsepower rating and impressive acceleration.
The second generation QX50 uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine which does a little better at 23 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. Fuel economy is helped by the CVT gearbox, but it makes the car feel a bit sluggish compared to the previous generation.
Here are a few owners’ thoughts on the second generation QX50’s fuel economy:
“The MPG this car was supposed to get was a joke – it averaged 22 MPG, and I was at the gas pump constantly.”
“I have not put the car in sport mode yet and have been driving very gently as I am breaking the car in an I am getting 19.7 avg MPG.”
“I was expecting a much better fuel economy. my dashboard shows an average of about 17MPG.”
“Infiniti and the EPA are overstating real world mpg by at least 15% as measured by the in-car system, and by over 20% if you calculate mpg on your own.”
Another concern that some owners have is that the car requires premium gasoline, leading to higher fill-up costs.
Most of the complaints about fuel economy can probably be attributed to brand new cars that are still in their break-in period. As the engine’s internal components settle in and reduce friction over time, the car’s overall efficiency should improve.
7. A/C Issues
Some second gen QX50 owners have had issues with the A/C controls acting erratically.
In some cars, adjusting the temperature just one or two degrees higher can cause the system to blow hot air instead of the desired temperature. While keeping the temperature lower is an option, there may be instances where you’re forced to endure freezing cold air from the vents.
Here’s how it’s been described on the InfinitiQX50.org forum:
“I notice when I set the temperature to 61 it blows cold air and once you move the temp to 62 the air rapidly becomes hot.”
“2019 Infiniti QX50. The A/C is horrible. It seems to get warm when the turbo kicks in and fades in and out. Been to dealer already with 200 miles on it and they say it’s working as designed. It cannot be working as designed when the Q50 & Q60 that I just had were freezing cold.”
“We have a 2020 qx50 edition 30. 20,000 miles on it now and lease is up in a few months, can’t wait! We’ve had issues with the AC.Iit doesn’t blow cold enough and when you are at the lowest setting and move like two degrees up say like 63 or 64 it’s a significant amount of heat that comes through the vents. It’s not even a gradual change from cold to warm.”
“Have a new 2019 QX50. If set above 62f it blast hot air recently recorded 94f coming out of vent with heater set at 67f.“
If you have issues with your QX50’s climate control system, it’s best to take it back to the dealer for a diagnosis.
If the dealership insists that the HVAC system is functioning correctly, you could ask to test the climate control system in another QX50 from their lot. If you encounter the same issue in other vehicles, it may indicate a design problem that’s beyond your control to fix.
8. Steering Lock Issues
Older Infiniti EX35s eventually have issues with their steering wheel lock which prevents owners from starting their cars.
Here’s how two owners described their experience:
“The steering lock box stopped working, and the car could not be started.”
“I started my vehicle this morning and a yellow light with a key came on for the first time, I thought is was the key battery so I paid no attention, got to my destination and turned the car off, a few minutes later got back into the car to head home and it won’t start.”
“Today my EX35 a yellow light with a key came on and car started fine drove it to for a few hours and it was fine, got to my destination and came back to the car 15 mins later and it won’t start, called a locksmith and my mechanic and after five hours got to the issue via Google. The faulty part is the steering wheel lock unit.”
Nissan did announce a recall for the 2008 model year of the Infiniti EX35 due to a steering rack issue which could cause extra play in the steering wheel or even complete loss of steering.
However, the recall doesn’t address the steering lock issue that has affected later model years.
If your Infiniti EX35 steering wheel won’t move at all and you can’t start the car, you’ll have to replace the entire steering rack. If your car is equipped with adjustable telescopic steering, you can try to readjust the steering wheel to free up the lock mechanism and get the vehicle to start.
9. Melting Dashboard
Older models of the Infiniti EX35 tend to have issues with cracking or melting dashboards.
Here’s how one owner described their problem:
“I have a 2008 EX35 (South Florida).I am the original owner. My dashboard is melting and all sticky. The front of the dash around the vents are all cracking.”
Melting or cracking dashboards are a fairly common issue with older Nissans and Infinitis from the early to mid 2000s.
If you want to avoid dashboard problems in your EX35, you can get an aftermarket dashboard cover or tint your windows to protect it from the heat and sun.
10. Transmission Issues
The second generation Infiniti QX50’s gearbox is a cause for concern for a lot of prospective buyers due to Nissan’s poor track record when it comes to CVTs.
Nissan has faced a number of class-action lawsuits over the years related to CVT issues, and in 2020 the company agreed to pay up to $37 million to settle a lawsuit over defective CVT transmissions in certain vehicles.
Fortunately, Nissan seems to have learned its lesson in the last couple of years, and the Infiniti QX50 hasn’t had many complaints as far as its CVT is concerned.
However, compared to conventional automatic transmissions, there are very few shops that are willing to fix or rebuild a CVT if it does break down. You’ll usually have to replace the entire gearbox, which will typically cost several thousand dollars.
If you want to keep the car for a long time, it’s a good idea to change the transmission fluid every 30,000 miles as a precautionary measure.
11. CVT Amplifies Engine Noise
One issue reported by auto journalists is that the engine is quite quite loud under heavy throttle and this is amplified by the CVT transmission, especially when driving around town.
The CVT transmission has also been criticized for its inconsistent power delivery, making it difficult to gauge how far to press the accelerator to achieve the desired effect. This means its not ideal for stop-and-go traffic.
Infiniti QX50 Pros & Cons
- Attractive and modern styling
- Comfortable ride
- Spacious cabin
- Lots of standard tech
- Low starting price
- Good value for money
- Decent performance
- Less than ideal fuel economy
- Outdated infotainment
- Uninspiring transmission (CVT)
What Do The Reviews Say?
“Value is one of the QX50’s strengths. It’s one of the most affordable models in the small luxury SUV segment yet offers a generous number of standard features. Higher trims are also reasonably priced. Its luxurious cabin is spacious for passengers and there is plenty of cargo room. The QX50 also offers a distinctive multi-tone interior with suede-like trim on the top-spec Autograph trim.”
“There is a lot to like about the QX50, but it falls short in some important categories. The combination of the variable compression VC-Turbo engine and continuously variable automatic transmission provides inconsistent power delivery and lacks the refinement found in most rivals. “
“Acceleration is pretty quick but it’s slow to start, and its real-world fuel economy is disappointing. The dated-looking dual-screen infotainment system is a big letdown in an otherwise elegant and well-built interior.”
What’s the Resale Value of an Infiniti QX50?
Here’s a quick look at used car pricing on Edmunds at the time of writing.