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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all, first post and hope to get some info to get my 2004 Frontier back on the road. A little history the truck, it has run pretty flawlessly for 12 years. I have kept up with maintenance and done all normal 30 60 90 k . About 6 months ago it started overheating due to the water pump failing which took several parts to discover that was the issue. I replaced the thermostat, water pump, temp sensor and went ahead and replaced the timing belt and all other belts while I was in there. Truck has been running great for 6 months until last week. When I start the truck it seems like it was not getting fuel but if I put the petal to the floor it would get gas and start and seemed to drive normally but would not start without putting the petal to the floor. That worked for 3 days and now it will not start at all.

I did get some codes and they showed as a knock sensor. I have read how to test a knock sensor but if the truck wont start I cant test it. I also haven't found that the knock sensor will prevent the truck from starting. I was hoping I could get some advice on that, could the knock sensor be the reason the truck wont start? What is the best way for me to test that fuel is getting to where it needs to be?

I also want to add that right before this started happening I used a radiator leak sealer that caused my heater core and radiator to get gummed up, I had to flush the entire cooling system twice because the truck started overheating again. After the 2nd flush the truck was running cool again but then 2 days later this new problem showed its ugly face.
 

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The knock sensor is used by the ECM to detect engine knock (obviously) and, if engine knock is sensed, the ECM will retard the ignition timing to help prevent damage to the engine. It will not cause a no start condition. It will, however, trigger a code if the engine is not running right, which seems to be your case. Fix your problem, erase the codes, and then recheck later to see if the knock sensor code returns before assuming it's faulty.
The first thing I would do is make sure spark is getting to the plugs. Distributor failure is very common on these engines, especially now that they are getting up in age and mileage. This is the easiest thing to check and there is no sense in checking for a fuel issue unless we know the ignition system is working. If you have spark, that leads to either a fuel issue or a mechanical issue (i.e. lack of compression). A quick way to determine if it is a fuel delivery issue (after testing for spark) is to spray carb cleaner into the engine and then see if the engine will "fire" on the carb cleaner. If it does, that's a good sign of a fuel delivery issue. The next thing to do (assuming you didn't run out of fuel), would be to get a fuel pressure gauge and install it on the fuel line before the rail. You can do this at the fuel filter, under the vehicle by the frame rail, just in front of the gas tank, or, at the fuel hose in the engine compartment on the inlet side of the fuel rail. Fuel pressure should be around 44-46 PSI (static) and, if it starts, 34-36 PSI running. You can get a loaner fuel pressure gauge from many parts stores if you don't have one. If you don't have fuel pressure, or it is low, try pinching off the return line to make sure the regulator is not faulty. If the pressure is still zero or low, you probably have a bad fuel pump, but should check for power and ground at the sender harness connector. If that is good, remove the tank, pull the sender and make sure the circuit continuity for the pump through the sending unit is good (there have been problems with these, but usually 2003 and earlier models). If that's good, replace the fuel pump. I'm not a fan of aftermarket pumps, so if you can afford a genuine Nissan pump, that's the way to go! Obviously, if you don't have power and ground at the sender harness connector, you'll have to diagnose the circuit problem. If the fuel pressure is good, then use a noid light for Bosch-style fuel injectors to check for power and ground pulse at the injector harness connectors. If the noid light doesn't flash while cranking the engine, check the harness connector for power with a 12v test light. If you have power, check the ground circuit between the harness connector and ECM harness connector. Hopefully you won't have to go that far! You can also check for trouble codes. You'll find the procedure at Nissan ? OBD/OBD2 Trouble Codes
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you so much for the response, I will get on it and respond with what I find. Thank you again!
 

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Hope the engine didn't start to seize since it has a history of cooling system failure and repeated overheating scenarios.

When you say "it does not start at all", does it seem that engine cranks at normal speed at about 4-500 rpm with a healthy battery when you turn the key?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
yes it sound like it is cranking fine and was running for 3 days after I started having the issue with it starting. It ran fine up until it didn't start but it does crank normally.
 

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That's a very good sign that engine is cranking at good normal speeds.

Here is a couple ideas that's simple but telling quite much.

1. Have someone crank the engine, then spray starting fluid (something like carb cleaner) into the throttle body inlet. If engine fires up or runs even for a second or 2, it means there is no spark or mechanical related issue. More than likely, it's a fuel delivery related issue.

2. Do a compression check if a compression gauge is available. Just make sure the readings are within no more than 10% different (delta) between each cylinder. For example, if the highest reading cylinder is reading 200 psi, then the lowest reading should be no less than 180 psi. A healthy/new engine is typically within 5% delta. This test indicates how tight or mechanically sound the engine is.
 

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Sounds like fuel pump to me but follow the advice of these other posters they sound like they know more than me lol

If you need a fuel pressure gauge they are cheap at harbor freight, I have one it works just fine
 

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I prefer to use carb cleaner as it's a little less volatile than starting fluid. It's also a bad idea to spray it into the engine while the engine is cranking. If there is a timing issue and it backfires, you'll may end up with an exploding can of starting fluid or carb cleaner in your hand...or, at least singing off some body hairs! Just open the throttle body, spray a little carb cleaner in, close the throttle body and attempt to start.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks all I have had the FLU so haven't started on this yet but am feeling better today. One more thing to add I tried to start it 3 days ago just to see what happened and it started as if there was no issue at all. I then test drove it and it drove for about 5 miles and then just started to loose power. I would have to put in neutral whenever I came to a stop and rev it or else it would stall and have trouble starting again. It did stall and I coasted into a parking lot. It wouldn't start back up but after about 20 minutes I was able to start it and do the rev in neutral do get the last mile home. When I have it in drive a about 2500 RPN, it seems run ok but when I come to a stop or let off the gas it putters out.

Thought this might help in my diagnosis.
 

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FWIW: I had recurring hard cold re-start issues in my '00. New distributor cap would fix this every time. Would also replace the rotor, but was pretty sure it was condensation due to humidity getting inside the cap via a seal failure.
Guessing your issue is more complex, but thought I'd throw this out there.
Good luck w/ trouble shooting.
 

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It sounds like a bad distributor. Run it until it stalls out and doesn't start and check for spark. We used to run the engine and put a heat gun at the base of the distributor to get them to heat up quicker and see if they would fail "back in the good ol' days." If after the engine stalls there is no spark, I would replace the distributor assy. From professional experience, the genuine Nissan reman distributors are far more reliable and last longer than the aftermarket units. If there is spark, then I would look for a fuel system problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Anyone have advise on finding the fuel pressure port on my 2004 frontier? I can not find it and have a gauge borrowed to see how my fuel pressure is. Truck is starting and idles fine this morning but imagine the same issue I had yesterday if I drive it a few miles it will die.
 

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Good afternoon all, so I checked for spark and fuel pressure and I have both. Today I just let it idle and never had an issue other than the truck would regularly idle at about 1000 RPM but would jump up to closer to 2000 and back down, I could gas it and would rev up until it got to running temperature. Then when I gas it would almost stall but not quite. I also took it back to check the P codes and all there was were knock sensor codes none others. When cold the truck starts right up and runs perfect until it gets to running temperature and then my problems appear.

I took a video and audio of what is happening if anyone cares to take a look and see if it helps diagnose the issue. I cant attach it but I can email it or text it to whoever might want to check it out for me. I really appreciate everyone. I don't want to take it to the shop but its getting tough not having a vehicle and my boss is probably getting fed up with me working from home.
 

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Has anyone has a chance to take a look at the video? I think it may help diagnose the issue I am experiencing. Thank you again.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
It turned out to be a bad distributor, but new problem. I marked the direction of the original dizzy so I could put the new one in same way. The truck was idling fine at this point but was sluggish after my initial timing attempt. I thought maybe my alignment wasn't perfect but was close to tdc. I decided to remove Sparta plug #1 and turn the engine until the arrow matched up with the tdc mark on the harmonic balancer. Once I did that I took off the distributer cap and was expecting the rotor to be close to facing #1 but it was facing #4 almost a 180 degrees from the 1 position. So I took out the distributor , made sure I was at tdc on the harmonic balancer marking and visible top of the stroke with a screwdriver in spark plug #1. I then aligned the rotor to the #1 on the distributor. Thinking all was aligned now I put the cap back on and tried to start to get the timing adjusted but now I have a no start situation. How could the truck start when the rotor was facing the #4 when the #1 is at tdc? But when at tdc and rotor adjusted to the #1 where it should be I get no start? I'm so confused.

Edit: I figured it out, I was not on the compression stroke. Once I figured that out it started right up then I went through the steps to time the ignition and everything is running smooth now.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
the problem is back, after 3 weeks of running great I am now stalling again once the engine is at running temp. Why would another distributer have gone bad so quickly?
 

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Poor quality, aftermarket distributor, maybe? I always stick with genuine Nissan reman distributors.
 
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