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Hey all, I need some help. While driving to the gym my car started spuddering then shut off while driving. So I coasted to the parking lot since I was about to pull in, finished pushing it into the parking spot. Engine turns but won't start. Left it there, next day though, starts right up. The fuel pump was turning on intermittently but it still started so I drove it to work where I could work on it off needed. End of the day comes in the heat and it won't start. Checked fuses, getting power to spark igniter sensors, but no spark. Four mechanics have looked at it and they can't figure it out. I keep hearing it a ground issue. Any suggestions?

Sup Mod keeping the peace
7,020 Posts
One of the first things to do is perform an ECU code readout with a portable scan tool to see if any fault codes are set. The tool can be purchased at most auto parts stores. Post the actual codes here on the forum so that we may be able to help you further. If there is one or more fault codes set, they can help point to the malfunction. If you have a copy of the FSM for your vehicle, the code readout procedure is described there along with a listing of codes. You can download a copy of the FSM from this web site: The section EC.PDF is the one you need to read.

At this point you'll have to determine if there's an ignition or fuel delivery problem:

* Testing fuel delivery:
An easy way to test the fuel pump and filter is to disconnect the fuel hose from the top of the fuel filter and insert a long length of spare hose into the top of the fuel filter with the other end draped over the fender going into a catch can placed on the ground. Now turn the ignition key to the run position but DO NOT START THE ENGINE. You should see fuel going into the can at a good rate for several seconds.

Tee-in a temporary fuel pressure gauge at the output side of the fuel filter. The readings at idle should be as follows:
  • with vacuum hose connected to the fuel pressure regulator: 34 psi
  • with vacuum hose disconnected from the fuel pressure regulator: 43 psi
If the engine is unable to start, turn the ignition key to the run position but DO NOT TRY TO START THE ENGINE. The fuel pressure reading should be around 43 psi which would be a static reading.

The fuel injectors may not be firing. This can be tested with a "noid" light probe for each injector harness connector.

* Testing ignition:
Pull several coil packs to test; use a spare spark plug in the coil pack to test; ground the plug base with a jumper wire to the engine block; see if you're getting a spark while trying to start the engine.

* The cam timing may be incorrect:
Check for a broken chain guide. See if it's broken or it may be cracked and has skipped some teeth.

* There may be a major intake system vacuum leak:
To check the intake system for a vacuum leak, attach a vacuum gauge to a full vacuum source. With the engine fully warmed up, the reading at idle should be 18 - 20 InHg. At 3,000 RPM, it should be 21 InHg.

If readings are under 18 InHg, check the intake manifold nuts to make sure they are tight. The gasket may have failed; spray a water mist at the gasket to see if the gauge reading changes. Also check the intake plenum bellows at the throttle valve and at the MAF for cracks or loose clamps.

NF Mod/Nissan Master Tech
2006 Pathfinder LE, 2003 Frontier SVE
9,818 Posts
Most of the time when you don't get spark on these engines, it's either the cam position sensor or crank position sensor. I usually replace them with as a pair and stick with genuine Nissan parts or Hitachi, if possible.
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