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Got some CEL codes (Dash related) need opinions please.

2911 Views 15 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  MadMike1
I have a 98 Nissan Frontier 2wd. Currently the speedo is totally inoperative, the temperature sensor works when it feels like it, and the gas gauge is slightly off.

I assumed the gas guage was off due to me running it completely dry a couple of times, and the temp guage I could care less about in the first place. Now though the speedo dosnt work and the ECU realized it so I'm getting the p0500 code which is for VSS malfunction.

I took it to a local shop and they're saying the cluster is bad. Personally I thought the VSS was messed up since the speedo didnt start cutting out til after I had the clutch replaced about 5000 miles ago. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe it really is the whole cluster, it just didnt make sense for the cluster to go to **** with less then 85k miles on the clock.

So I'm at a crossroad now where I can either replace the cluster like the tech thinks is the issue, or start tracing all the voltages in the wiring harness. I'd rather replace the whole cluster since thats easier then all the wiring, but I also dont want to waste money so what would ya'll suggest?

Also, if I end up swaping out the cluster, can I swap IN a cluster that has an RPM gauge and have it work right away without any modification? A tach would be extremely useful, or at least its better then the temp taking up all that gauge real-estate.
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Anyone know anything about swapping clusters with one that has a tach?
It should be plug and play. I can't see them adding extra wires to the harness just to run a tach. I will say it probably is your VSS that is causing the speedo not to work. Is it stick or auto?
Also I was thinking if you knew anyone else with a truck matching yours, you could borrow their cluster for a test drive and see if it works. Then you know if it's your cluster broken or something else. Maybe your friend's truck even has a tach that you can experiment with. If another cluster works then you can pay for one for your own.
I am having the same issue. I am going to try to swap the speed sensor first as that is the fault code its spitting out and that much easier to do. Where would one get a gauge cluster if needed?
In order from highest price to lowest price you could order a cluster from the dealer, find one on ebay or craigslist, get it from a junkyard, or borrow one from a really really good friend who has a truck like yours.
let me tell you how hard it is to find a tach cluster for a 98-99 4cyl fronty. And when you do find one its expensive!

Anywhoo.. the wiring is all there for the tach and everything.

You can see if your vss is working by testing it with a fluke. There are three sensors in the trans; park neutral switch, reverse switch, and vss. The vss is the biggest one iirc, read the fsm it will tell you how to test it.

I am having the same issue. I am going to try to swap the speed sensor first as that is the fault code its spitting out and that much easier to do. Where would one get a gauge cluster if needed?
ebay is your best bet.. if not

Anyone know anything about swapping clusters with one that has a tach?
just pnp...

couple of things,
98-99 are different than 2000.
2000, and 2001 are compatible with eachother.

if you have a 98, 99, you can swap in a 00-01 cluster however you'll need splice it in.
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Any updates on the problem? I got the p0500 code and gonna go out and test the vss.I'm wondering if I'll get an accurate read since it only happened twice
and is running fine now.

anyone ever test one? how accessible is the sensor?
just an update on this seems to be rare occurrence.I pulled the vss sensor and tested it with a meter.Spun the gear and got good voltage.Also checked continuity and passed also.cleaned it up and reinstalled it.plugged in my reader
and cleared the faults.Took it for a spin and had no problems till I went to work the next day where it started to buck for several seconds than go away on it's own and would not return till the next day.I never got the check light and never lost my speedo or any other gauges.I went to a u-pull-it auto junkyard in hopes to find a truck close to mine with no luck.I figured since this problem
is so rare I could take a chance with a used one from a junkyard and get away with it.

My next step it to check the ecm connections and wiring from the sensor to
the speed cluster.I have some info. on what terminals to check if anyone ever needs them.I will update this post once I find the culprit.
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Just wanna give an update on the speed sensor problem.I bit the bullet and replaced the speed sensor and got the same results.I finally got the cel
p0500 to come up.I noticed the truck stutters mostly at 2k rpm and I have to put in neutral then rev it and put it back in drive and it will fix itself for a while.

I'm kinda stuck on this one and need some help if anyone has any info. on what else it can be.Does anyone know if it's true that these ecm's have an 8 year
warranty on them? I thought I read that somewhere but not sure.

I guess I'm gonna try to check the gauge cluster and see if I find anything.
I unplugged the ecm harness and checked all the connections and everything was fine.Does anyone know what a combination meter is and where it's located?
It seems that I need to check continuity between ecm terminal 29 and combination meter terminal 2 according to directions I found online.

Hope none of you have to go through this one.It's a pain to drive with it and it's getting a bit dangerous. Thanks for any help....
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Combination meter is the speedometer.
The VSS is fed to that and then on to the ECM.
The signal from the VSS is a square wave pulse train with frequency dependent on the vehicle speed.
Since you replaced the VSS i'm inclined to believe the shop you went to and replace the cluster but before I did that I would search for any corroded grounds.
hey thanks for the info. makes sense that the combination meter is the speedometer.Wish they would just tell me Whats weird about the whole situation is that I never lost any gauges during the hesitations.That's when I checked the vss for voltage as I spun it.I probably needed to place it on a small electric motor so I can have a constant voltage to see if it ever had a intermittent signal.

I'm gonna check for corroded grounds today.Any specific places I should check
besides under the hood?
Remove the trim finish cover near the floor just ahead of the passenger door.
Look for a grounding lug in the vicinity.
I believe the cluster is grounded there.

There should also be a similar ground on the drivers side, but I don't believe the cluster uses that one. However, you may as well check it out.
Great info thanks! gonna check it out.
If the cluster messes up the computer will not receive the correct speed signal and performance will suffer especially if you have an automatic. The speed sensor sends a signal into the cluster and the cluster then conditions this signal and then sends it to the computer as a square wave equivalent to the analog signal coming from the speed sensor. If the cluster is defective the speed signal is still coming in but there is no square wave leaving thus the p0500 speed sensor code. (your speedometer may or may not be working properly when this occurs). Generally the speed sensor is not defective; the cluster is. We repair them visit Mr. Whizard Technical Services for more info.
Hi I am in the same boat replaced the VSS and still get the P0500 and the tech surg about 500rpm normally when I start out on a cold morning.
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