Help! Sudden extreme rough idle & sluggish acceleration - Nissan Forum
GA16DE 1.6L Engine Engine Discussion: 91-99 Sentra, 95-98 200SX, 91-93 NX1600

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post #1 of 4 Old Oct 18th, 2005, 01:02 AM Thread Starter
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Question Help! Sudden extreme rough idle & sluggish acceleration

Okay, I'm skimming the posts and I'm getting an inkling of what to do but I'd still like some advice.

I have a 1994 Sentra XE with the GA16DE motor. 33500 miles (no that's not a typo - up until I started driving last year the car never went more than 5 miles from home all its life). It's always as long as I can remember had a little roughness to the idle (vibrates noticably at stoplights). I left work (NO problems driving there other than traffic that is), and headed to do some shopping. The idle seemed rougher than usual but it didn't really hit me until I was a few miles from work and suddenly the vibration got worse and it almost felt like it was coming from a tire. I pulled off into a parking lot and did a quick tire check - didn't seem to be a flat.

All the way to the mall and all the way back home the car was vibrating very roughly except when I was driving around 40-45 mph. To get moving from a stoplight I had to pretty much hit the floorboards with the gas pedal! The car has always been a reluctant accelerator but usually it will at least move when I hit the gas.

I did a quick peek under the hood when I parked at the mall and the only thing I noticed off the bat was the coolant was a bit lower than usual (the last time I remember checking it was just below max, had been there for ages, now it's just below halfway to the min line). I plan on doing a thorough check tomorrow (er...later today technically) since I have the day off.

My initial theory was the engine might be running lean or something knocked the idle off-kilter but why so suddenly? The car was parked for 7 hours. There was a good strong thrunderstorm (I have NO windows in my workplace but I heard the thunder) about midmorning but everything was dry by the time I finished work. I know there are a couple of leaks in the car that I've been trying to chase down for ages (one that's sopping up the trunk, one that soaks the front passenger floor after some rainfalls but not all), but what could water affect under the hood? (not that I've seen anything to indicate any leaks there but I wouldn't be surprised).

So any suggestions? Keep it simple though, I'm still learning And I don't have a lot of tools (and right now I'm not really talking to my boyfriend who DOES have all the good tools).

Phew, sorry so long! Thanks in advance for any help!!

Mary Jo

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post #2 of 4 Old Oct 18th, 2005, 02:11 PM
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I had the exact same thing in my 94 LE that had about 213,000 miles on it at the time. I currently have 219,000 on it. anyway, it had a really bad misfire and vibration, but at highway speeds, it seemed to smooth itself out. also, when I had it in drive and I was stopped at a light, it had a rough vibration too. and the drivability problem happened basically overnight. one trip, everything was fine. next trip, I had the vibration problems. after swapping the plugs, wires, cap, rotor, ECU, and entire distributor with known good ones from my other sentra, a 94 XE, I narrowed the problem down to a bad fuel injector. it was the #4 injector, the one all the way over to the drivers side.

there are 3 ways to check injectors. the easiest is to get a screwdriver or a long socket extension. start the engine, put one end of the screwdriver to your ear and the other end to each fuel injector. this is a really simplified stethoscope. you should hear a distinct "click" from each injector, in a pretty consistent pattern.

a better way is to start the engine and one by one, disconnect and reconnect the harnesses for the fuel injectors. each one has a 2-wire harness on it. disconnecting it meant pressing on a tab first. disconnect one injector harness. the engine should stumble and run worse. that means the injector was working. if nothing happens, that could be the faulty injector. plug that injector back in before moving to the next one. I did this test when I had the misfire problem. the first 3 injectors caused a reaction, and the 4th didn't. that's how I knew.

and finally, if you think you have a faulty injector, it can be verified with an ohmmeter. with the engine off, disconnect the harness to the injector that might be bad, and touch the ohmmeter probes to the pins on the injector. a good injector should measure 10 ohms I think. my faulty one read 0 ohms.

it was about a 2 hour job, I ended up having to get a new injector (about $70) and a new intake collector gasket ($5 from nissan). new injector fixed it, and even fixed the rough idle I had when I was stopped at the light.

but I'd start with the basics first, plugs, wires, cap, rotor, stuff like that. just because you have 33,000 original miles doesn't mean you don't need to worry about a tuneup. change that stuff out with new parts and see where that gets you. but if you tune everything up and still have the problem, I'd lay money on you needing a new fuel injector. it sounds like you have the exact same symptoms I did.

"if you aren't really shifting, you aren't really driving."

Last edited by blackmaxima88; Oct 18th, 2005 at 02:14 PM.
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post #3 of 4 Old Oct 18th, 2005, 10:19 PM
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well, since basically everything simple was covered up there^^, another off the wall theory is the ECU getting wet, and hopefully not.

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post #4 of 4 Old Oct 19th, 2005, 07:33 AM
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Something simple you can do... check and replace the air filter (it's right behind the battery, unclip the box) and try 93 premium gas next time you fill your gas tank.
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