The QX80 is a large and comfortable, full-size luxury SUV, and is Infiniti’s upscale version of the Nissan Armada
It has been sold since 2014, but it was also known as the QX56 in prior generations.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most common problems and issues that QX80 owners have had over the years and give ideas on how to handle them.
Table of Contents
1. Timing Chain Issues
The QX80’s predecessor, the QX56, was prone to early timing chain issues caused by the plastic chain guides wearing out and breaking prematurely.
This affected the 2011 to 2013 model years the most. Infiniti also issued a recall for these early vehicles.
Here’s how two owners on InfinitiForum.net described their experience:
“My 2012 QX56 has been in the shop for 3 weeks because of a “timing chain and sprocket issue” . The problem we took it to dealership for was the sound of a slipping/squeaking serpentine belt. The dealership diagnosed it as the timing chain problem and the associated maintenance notice. This is all very concerning on a car with 35,000 miles.”
“My ’11 is in the shop now. Had the same sound on start up that sounded like a belt rubbing something. The shop said it was the timing belt and it was a known problem. My QX56 only has 50k miles.”
When it was renamed the QX80, Nissan had already updated the weak timing chain components of its 5.6-liter V8 engine.
Most QX56’s that are affected by the timing chain issues should have already had the recall done by now. But it’s still a good idea to check the service records, just in case it hasn’t been done yet.
Timing chains, chain guides, and tensioners should still be replaced on higher mileage cars after about 80,000 to 120,000 miles because these components can still fail due to normal wear and tear. Following the recommended service interval for oil changes should also prevent premature timing chain wear.
2. Exhaust Manifold Cracks
The Infiniti QX80’s V8 engine has a reputation for developing exhaust manifold leaks after a couple of years.
The Nissan Armada and Titan, both of which use the same engine and platform as the QX80, also suffer from exhaust manifold issues.
When the exhaust manifold develops cracks and leaks, the engine computer will have issues calibrating the right Air/Fuel ratio (AFR) and will start running rich. This eventually damages the catalytic converters as well.
Issues became less common starting with the 2017 model year after Nissan fitted an EGT (Exhaust Gas Temperature) sensor inside the exhaust manifold.
Symptoms of exhaust manifold leak in a QX80 or QX56 include:
- Ticking or rumbling sound when revving engine
- Louder exhaust note
- Smell of exhaust near the engine
- Check engine light
- Rough running
- Poor fuel economy
With the exhaust leak and check engine light, you’ll also have problems passing vehicle inspections.
Exhaust manifold issues are more common in older models, but it can happen to newer vehicles as well, especially once you go past 100,000 miles.
The QX80 and QX56’s exhaust manifold and front catalytic converters are an integrated unit. So you’ll be replacing both at the same time in most cases. You can also have the exhaust leak welded at a muffler shop if you catch it early and it hasn’t damaged the catalytic converters yet.
If you want to inspect the condition of the exhaust manifold, you’ll have to remove the heat shield first which can be a bit challenging.
If you keep running the truck with worn out catalytic converters, its internal parts can disintegrate and get sucked into the engine.
3. High Fuel Consumption
One of the most common complaints QX80 owners have with their truck is its poor gas mileage.
The QX80’s V8 engine has a reputation for being thirsty and EPA estimates for newer model years are only 13 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway. In the real world, owners have reported getting even worse gas mileage.
Here’s how a few owners described their experience with the QX80’s gas mileage on Edmunds:
“Maybe 8 MPG in town and 14 on the highway. This is 2021 and there is no efficiency built into the motor.”
“This thing barely gets over 13 mpg on the highway keeping up with traffic.”
“Cruise control at 55 mph got 13 mpg on flat terrain.”
“They do drink lots of fuel. Mine averaged about 9 mpg in the city but I got as much as 23 mpg on long trips.”
Infiniti also recommends using premium fuel for the QX80, which increases running costs even more.
The QX80’s V8 engine hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years that it’s been used. Although it’s a bit outdated and inefficient, it’s also very reliable and only has a few minor faults that can be easily addressed.
4. Transmission Shudder
Many Infiniti QX80 owners have complained about how the transmission shudders and shakes when accelerating lightly at low RPMs.
This issue affects the second gen QX56 from 2011 to 2013, the QX80 from 2014 and onwards, as well as newer Nissan Armadas that use the same drivetrain.
The shuddering or stuttering doesn’t affect the truck’s overall drivability, it’s just mostly a minor annoyance that makes the driving experience less smooth at slow speeds. If you drive more aggressively and keep the RPMs higher, the issue completely goes away. It’s also more pronounced when going uphill.
Symptoms of transmission problems in the QX80 include:
- RPM fluctuates
- Acceleration feels like you’re in a higher gear
- Jerky downshifts
Here’s how one owner on the NICOClub.com forum described their issue:
“Just bought a 2017 QX80 three months ago and have the same issue while starting off at low speeds, it sputters like it wants to die, but by the time I am at 45 or so, it’s fine. While cruising on hwy, no issue at all.”
Another owner on InfinitiForum.net had this to say:
“I just bought a 2014 QX80 with only 22k miles on the odometer. Very clean SUV. It has every option available. However, I am having an issue when first accelerating the transmission seems to shutter a bit. Not all the time, but on slow take off mostly. Also when flooring the vehicle from a stop it hits the rev limiter and doesn’t want to shift unless I let off.”
Infiniti released a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) for the 2016 to 2017 model years of the QX80 that recommends updating and reprogramming the ECM (Engine Control Module) and TCM (Transmission Control Module) software to get rid of the transmission issues.
Many owners also report that simply resetting the ECM so it can unlearn your driving habits seems to get rid of the transmission issues — at least for a while.
When software resets didn’t solve the issue, other owners have had mixed success with the following:
- Changing the transmission fluid
- Replacing the valve body
- Replacing the radiator fan clutch
- Replacing the torque converter
5. Air Suspension Issues
The QX80’s air suspension gives it a plusher ride, but is also a common point of failure.
Air suspension systems are more expensive and difficult to maintain, and they can start acting up after around 5 to 7 years. This happens to a lot of other vehicles equipped with air suspension so it’s not exclusive to the QX80.
The most common issue owners have reported is that the rear end tends to eventually sag which make it look like you’re carrying a really heavy load in the back.
Air suspension systems are more complicated and have lots of components that are all prone to failure such as:
- Air springs
- Air lines
- Control module
- Ride height sensors
- Compressor exhaust valve solenoid
Here’s what a couple of owners on InfinitiForum.net had to say:
“My 2014 QX80 was sagging. I checked the air compressor, it was bad. Got one on eBay. Replaced it. Working fine now.”
“I have a 2014 QX80 with a slow leak as well. Compressor kicks on as it should and seems to be operating properly, it raises the back up to @ 35″ at the wheel wells but will eventually drop down an inch or so after about an hour.”
“My compressor (2016 QX80) sounds like 2 rocks tumbling in a can every time it turns on! Dealership says it’s “normal”.”
“It’s a 2017 QX80 w/ ~37K miles. Noticed some sagging on the rear suspension the other day.”
Besides replacing various suspension components every couple of years, another option is to have it swapped out for a more traditional spring and strut setup, which is cheaper and easier to maintain in the long run.
6. Battery Drain Issues
Lots of QX80 owners have complained about battery drain problems where they have to keep replacing the battery every couple of months.
Here is how some described their experience:
“My QX80 is a 2019 and I’ve had it a year and 2 mos. Beginning in September of 2020 the battery died. We replaced the battery and now in November 2020 it has died again. There is something that is draining the battery.”
“I have a 2019 QX80 since Jan 2019. Twice the car has refused to start until jumped. One dealer replaced the battery but weeks the problem reoccurred. Another dealer did a software update. I don’t think the problem has been fixed.”
Battery drain issues are usually caused by the QX80 and QX56’s battery charging system. It never really fully charges the battery especially if you’re constantly taking on short trips. These battery issues are also common in the Nissan Armada.
Many QX80 owners have their mechanic or dealer cut the battery current sensor’s signal wire, located either at the fuse box (IPDM) or at the battery terminal, to bypass the charging limits and ensure that the battery gets fully charged even on shorter commutes. This modification has been found to be completely safe and easily reversible.
7. Inaccurate Fuel Gauge
Some model years of the Infiniti QX80 have fuel gauges that can rapidly drop to the half tank level after only driving a short distance.
Once it reaches the halfway mark, it’s usually more accurate and the fuel gauge needle doesn’t go down as quickly.
Here’s how one owner described their experience on the InfinitQX80.org forum:
“I have a 2016 QX80. Typically 40 miles or so and it’s down to 3/4 tank. Mine also rockets downward to 1/2 where it seems to slow down and become more accurate.”
Another owner had this to say:
“Have a five month old 2016 QX80 and the fuel gauge seems to be way off. After about 40 miles it reads 3/4 of a tank and around 125 miles it’s down to 1/2. When I fill up when it reads 1/2 tank, it only takes about 10 gallons.”
This issue typically affects the 2015 to 2016 model year of the QX80 and was addressed by Nissan in a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin). To fix the inaccurate fuel gauge, it recommends replacing the entire gauge cluster with an updated part.
8. Camera and Sensor Issues
A few Infiniti QX80 owners have had glitches and strange electrical problems with the cameras and parking sensors.
One common issue is when one or several cameras just show a red x on the screen with no video. This indicates that there’s an issue with the camera or the video feed.
Some people have also had problems with the sonar sensors indicating that there’s an obstruction and making warning sounds even in completely open spaces.
Here is how a few owners described their experience:
“Our QX80 2015 has a red triangle on every camera. I have already changed the camera control unit behind the dash. 284A1-5ZA0A and it did not fix the issue. I also have a snap on Solus computer and have attempted to calibrate the camera with no luck either.”
“Mine started doing this yesterday, 10 mph and below, including stationary and the front sensors warning sounds continuously. Really annoying at junctions and slow moving traffic.”
In a lot of cases, camera issues are caused by wiring problems or water getting into one of the electrical connectors. Check each camera’s wiring and connector to make sure there’s nothing loose or disconnected. The camera itself could also just be broken and needs to be replaced.
The camera on the driver’s side mirror, for example, has a tendency to go out because water can pool inside the mirror and flood the camera’s connector.
If your sensors are triggering for no reason, it might just be covered by water, frost or dirt which is causing it to go haywire. Try cleaning it off first and inspecting it for any damage. Some of these sensors are more prone to get damaged by rocks and road debris.
9. Infotainment Screen Goes Black
Many owners of newer QX80s have had issues where both top and bottom infotainment screens go black.
The dual-screen infotainment was first introduced during the 2020 model year. Older QX80s shouldn’t have the same issues but they can still have glitches and freeze from time to time.
When the screens go black, it can take one or two days before they start working again.
Here’s how a few owners described their experience:
“This happened to me a month or two ago (2020 QX80). Went to the store and both screens went blank when I came back to the car. Happened on a Saturday and stayed like that until Sunday night.”
“So this has happened to my 2020 Qx80 twice now. The first time, screens were off for a day or two then miraculously came back suddenly. Just happened again, and I held in the radio power button for 10 seconds or so, and it went through a soft reset of sorts, and now it’s back on.”
“Anyone out there having issues with their 2022 QX80 infotainment screens going black? I’ve had my car for only 3 weeks! I can’t use my cameras, radio, phone, navigation. It’s extremely upsetting.”
To quickly get the screens working again, you can try holding down the radio power button for 10 seconds to force the infotainment system to restart. If this doesn’t work, disconnecting the negative battery terminal for 30 minutes to an hour should completely power down and restart all of the truck’s electronics. Power cycling the computers and electronics can help clear out bugs and glitches.
There aren’t any official fixes for this black screen problem as of yet. If it happens all the time, take the vehicle back to the dealer so they can check for wiring issues, software updates, and if the infotainment system needs to be replaced.
Infiniti QX80 Pros & Cons
- Good reliability
- Great towing capacity
- One of the cheapest in its class
- Comfortable and luxurious interior
- Lots of room inside
- Good off-road capabilities
- Dated design
- Poor gas mileage
- Outdated electronics and tech
What Do The Reviews Say?
“The Infiniti QX80 boasts a responsive V8 engine and one of the highest towing ratings in the class. However, it remains based on a vehicle that was introduced in 2011, and it feels like it. The QX80’s technology, while comprehensive, is dated, and it can’t compete with similarly priced vehicles in terms of performance or luxury.”
“The QX80 has some good qualities for a large SUV. Its weight, long wheelbase and tall tire sidewalls lend some cushion over rough surfaces and small bumps. But larger, uneven bumps tend to shake the cabin dramatically side to side.”
“There’s plenty of interior room. There’s no risk of feeling cramped in the first two rows and, although somewhat limited by the high floor, third-row space is better than in some competitors. The second-row captain’s chairs flip and tumble forward fairly easily with the pull of a lever, but not so easily that a kid could do it.”
“Infiniti packs a lot of features into the QX80, but the technology feels outdated. Operation of the QX80’s advanced driving aids isn’t stellar. Adaptive cruise control is sluggish to accelerate and brakes aggressively and late. Distance Control Assist, which essentially handles braking and tasks the driver with acceleration, works but feels clumsy and abrupt in something this big. Ultimately we think the hardware needs an overhaul.”
What’s the Resale Value of an Infiniti QX80?
Here’s a quick look at used car pricing on Edmunds at the time of writing.