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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello all. I'm finally desperate enough to attempt typing this. 1999 frontier 3.3 v6 4x4 155,000 MI. Here's the story:
3 or 4 mos ago I ran her out of gas. I doubt this has anything to do with my issue but it's where I'm starting as the truck has been VERY reliable for 6ish years. About two mos after run out of gas, on way home, out of clear blue, she started acting like she wasn't getting any gas or the Trans was slipping. Would chug down to dead with no restart in abiut 5 min. The next day she'd run for approximately 20-30 mins then same thing. Took it to some yahoo and he complained about some ambiguity regarding a potential ecm issue. According to him it wouldn't maintain communication with scanner long enough for whatever ..he couldn't get the plug out or couldn't flash it er whatever blah blah. Second place was real deal. 3 hrs of diag to learn it was distributor. Fuel pressure good. No back pressure issue. Vacuum good. $900 later I have a truck that will go from a to b OK but it ain't even close to right. Feels like it's slipping on patchy ice or missing a cylinder but it's intermittent. Mpg is in the toilet too. I took it back to second place and they suposedly drove it with scanner on it while driving and found/felt nothing. Said it runs great. It idols great but thats it. Ive cleaned the MAF sensor and will be changing plugs and wires this weekend but something tells me this ain't gonna do it.

Any input appreciated.

Oh...and there's this..every once in a while (maybe three times in 4 weeks since $900..i see the speedometer jump. I've only barely caught it and it's unpredictable and not often so that's all I can describe there.
 

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Nissan OEM distributor or new/rebuilt aftermarket?
 
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It could be another bad distributor (aftermarket distributors don't have a great track record in Nissan vehicles). I've also seen this occur due to a bad instrument cluster (a.k.a. "integrated meter assembly"). They develop poor connections internally at the solder joints which create driveability concerns; these can be repaired by several companies, including Circuit Board Medics and Mr. Whizard.
 
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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Non OEM but new. Two of my spark plug wires and their sockets in the old distributor cap were..not clean. The metal part of the wires that goes into sockets and the sockets had grey dust (arc dust?) in them. Metal part of wires had slight 'arc burns'. New distributor cap and bug now of course but I've wondered..hoped actually..if that might be because plugs are bad. They're probably 4-5 years old. There's no more money for this deal so I'm hoping for big things from wire/plug change. What's suggested for new plugs? Platinums? NGK's? I can't afford another new distributor. I'm also fearful of it being ecm. Interesting about the instrument cluster...just coincidence that this is happening right after distributor deal? Could it be timing?
Thanks for the replys.

Wait...are you saying a instrument cluster issue would cause truck to run poorly?...or does that just explain the needle jumping?
 

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New spark plugs wouldn't hurt. #6 will be a small challenge, but not horrible, did this on my daughter's '98 Pathfinder with same engine.

Hers needed a new distributor too few years later, I installed it. Be sure to check the timing at idle, and also make sure that the distributor advances as it should as rpms increase.

Her Pathfinder actually had significant power improvement with that new distributor, 2 shops could not figure out why the vehicle didn't have the power it should have had when (she bought it about 2012).
 
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Discussion Starter #6
Update:
I did the plugs and wires and it made a difference but it's still not right. Feels like I got some power/mpg back but I can still feel a intermittent "pulse". My bluettooth Obd2 scanner tells me I have P0325 knock sensor code. It seems to be quite persistent as I've tried clearing it like 10 times and it's back immediately everytime. Does this mean I have a wicked knock or a bad sensor? I've researched the sensor relocation using the 99 maxima knock sensor. I can get the sensor AND harness for $18 online. Parts store wants $85 for sensor alone so not sure if cheapie is reliable. From what I've read, all bets are off until I can get knock sensor replaced as it perpetually confuses the ecu and air/fuel computations. Thanks for any input.
 

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Use your timing light and confirm that the timing is on the right mark at idle, and then advances as the rpm go up.
 
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Discussion Starter #8
If the info can be trusted...my obd2 shows timing adv at +15° at idol and around +30-40° in 4th gear going about 40mph.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
So here's something new. Electrical smoke coming from steering column. Found black/white wire on ignition switch getting stupid hot where it's soldered to ignition. Would burn if given time. Only gets hot WHEN ENGINE RUNNING. With key at acc but not running...no heat. Any input appreciated.
 

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You'll have to break out the wiring diagrams and find everything that runs off of that circuit. You could have resistance in the circuit or something causing a heavy draw. I had a 1997 Hardbody that shorted the fuel injector power wire to the cylinder head and melted that same wire through the harness. It's a main power wire on the switch, so there is likely to be a lot running off of it. Sounds like you are getting closer to figuring out what may be going on.
 
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Discussion Starter #11
It's been suggested that I try to run it with alternator unplugged to take it out the the equation. Thoughts?

Tx from my MotoNCC-1701-G4 ResReMx
 

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It's been suggested that I try to run it with alternator unplugged to take it out the the equation. Thoughts?
I don't see why that couldn't be done.

I'll also throw in that I had a bad electrical part of the ignition switch on my 1998 Frontier, but that was an easy replacement.

Intermittent stuff can be real tough to diagnose. Last May, Mrs. Cusser was driving the 1998 Frontier home, stalled out just before the freeway in a bad traffic location, couldn't get it started again. I went there, couldn't start it either, had AAA tow it 4 miles to my house. I didn't check spark first (dang it !!!), I used aerosol starting fluid and it started up, and 30 seconds later it ran fine. There was an Check Engine error code, I had that read twice, indicated distributor or coil inside distributor. Code was cleared, I drove it 2 months with no hiccups, and then Mrs. Cusser started driving it again. No check engine code since, I take this out of town regularly, can't do anything unless this happens again. I expect to drive this 195 miles today. So I did NOTHING "to help" in this instance.
 
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