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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Recent service history (excluding tire & oil change type stuff) for my 1998 Nissan Frontier XE Automatic 4 cyl is below. I've been having problems since mid-November. Problems in January and April may or may not be related, but I have listed. My regular mechanic can't figure it out. I had it towed to the dealer today because it had died on me in traffic on Christmas Eve. I'd appreciate any ideas and suggestions, but please read the mess below. This eliminates a LOT of possibilities. I was told that it can't be the O2 sensor because that would throw a code, but if you're had a different experience, that would be helpful to know. At this point, there is no code. She has around 132K miles now. Thanks.

Aug 24-29, 2006
Problem: Cracked exhaust manifold
Service: Replace exhaust manifold and gaskets.

Jan 10-11, 2008
Problem: Check engine light is on. Engine started cutting off and on. Time for 120K mile maintenance.
Engine Code(s): P0303 and P0400
Service: Fuel induction service, R&R spark plugs, R&R plug wires, R&R distributor cap and rotor button, R&R fuel filter, drained and filled cooling system, oil service.

Apr 3, 2008
Problem: Check engine light is on. Runs sluggish.
Engine Code(s): Not sure. Not on my receipt.
Service: Test EGR valve; test EGR control solenoid and test EGR bypass valve. Install EGR control solenoid, oil service.

Apr 17-18, 2008
Problem: Check engine light came back on. Runs bad around 40 mph.
Engine Code(s): Not sure, but same as previous.
Service: Remove EGR valve and clean. Replace back pressure transducer (BPT) valve

Nov 18, 2008
Problem: Check engine light on. Need oil service. (It’s not noted on my printout, but I did mention that the truck felt underpowered off and on, but that it was very subtle).
Engine Code(s): P0440 (Evap system small leak)
Service: Inspect evap system for leaks, replace gas cap, oil service, install oil pressure sending unit (oil pressure switch). (The oil pressure switch was unrelated, but a problem identified by the mechanic).

Dec 2-4, 2008
Problem: Feels like transmission not shifting at correct times. Feels underpowered. Stalled when pulling into garage last week. Check engine light came on yesterday. (Not noted, but when mechanic drove it, he noticed the feeling of being underpowered in the 40-45 mph range, which is when it was most pronounced for me, as well as at speeds just above idle).
Engine Code(s): P0304
Service: Locate problem with EGR system, replace vacuum hose w/ orifice valve for BPT valve. They manually cleaned my EGR valve again, although it did not appear to need it, but did not charge me because that did not solve the problem.
(Per my notes, they were not able to locate a problem with the cylinder, also no problem with the individual fuel injectors. EGR valve is supposed to be closed when accelerating, but it is sticking open. EGR is apparently mounted on back of intake next to #4 cyclinder. The hose they replaced was visibly damaged.) My problem appeared to be solved. My truck is running fine.

Dec 9, 2008
The truck is getting that slightly jerky underpowered feeling again, although this morning, it was at 70 mph, which is new. And I stalled while idling at a traffic light this morning. My check engine light is not on.



Dec 10-11, 2008
Problem: Same symptoms when driving as described above.
Engine Code: Check engine light is NOT on. No engine code noted.
Service: (1) Checked EGR valve. Working as it is supposed to; (2) Checked TSB; (3) Road tested; (4) Took fuel sample to check for bad gas; (5) Checked distributer for water in it via TSB; (6) Analyze emission system; (7) Checked base idle; (8 ) Adjusted ignition timing; (9) Adjusted fuel and air mixture; (10) Adjusted base idel; (11) Road tested vehicle; (12) Readjusted TPS sensor for right resistance; (13) Disconnected TPS sensor. Rechecked base idle and ignition timing; (14) Road tested vehicle; (15) Cleaned IAC valve.

They did something where they pinched closed a vacuum line to "avoid" the EGR, got the same problems and made the assumption that the EGR is not the problem. (I don't know if this was done this visit or the previous).

Afterward, she seemed to run fine, although still a slight feeling of shifting too soon. However, after a couple of days, the symptoms became more pronounced again. Died at a stop light. Almost died in reverse. Several times a feeling where I thought it would die. (RPMs got very very low). Yesterday while stuck in traffic (everybody left a mall at the same time due to a power outage, and all the stop-lights were out), which is the type of driving that bothers my truck the most. Very minor acceleration at low speeds, over and over. My husband and I drove my truck around a parking lot, idled and revved it, idled it until it died, repeat, and repeat. It was a bumpy ride home, expecially at about 42 mph. My truck died again at a traffic light. I had to put it in park and rev it the whole time to keep from happening again.

Dec 12 – 14

The check engine light is not on and there is no code. The truck ran beautifully in the morning, and I took into the shop. They looked at it again that Friday and Monday and can’t figure out anything else to try.

Dec 24

I was experiencing problems again, and this time she died while I was actually driving (not stopped). Twice. I pulled off to a side street and parked her. We had trouble getting her re-started, and only managed to get her to the other side of the street.

Dec 26

She started right up, but I was concerned that she would act up again on the highway and didn't feel safe driving her to the dealer, so I had her towed. She is behaving for the dealer, so she's staying over the weekend. Hopefully she'll act up for them Monday. I can't drive a vehicle that will cut out unexpectly in the middle of traffic. It's one thing in a parking lot or a stop light, and yet another in traffic. It's dangerous.
 

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1) Looks like you've checked for Technical Service Bulletins (TSB) that may affect this model. Might want to check TSB's for other years just in case the problem did not respect model years. I've had problems with clogging of the manifold EGR ports on my 2001 KA24DE engine (there is a TSB for this) but I did not see this TSB affecting the 1998. Look at All About Nissan if you want to check fot TSB's.
2) More advanced code readers (like the Nissan dealer's CONSULT system) not only read the codes but they can look at engine "trims" and record operating results. The trims are engine settings for the various sensors. A good technician can read the trims and diagnose which systems may be misbehaving.
3) Sounds like it could be a vacuum leak. Has anybody put a vacuum guage on the intake to see how much intake vacuum the engine is pulling?
4)
 

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1) Looks like you've checked for Technical Service Bulletins (TSB) that may affect this model. Might want to check TSB's for other years just in case the problem did not respect model years. I've had problems with clogging of the manifold EGR ports on my 2001 KA24DE engine (there is a TSB for this) but I did not see this TSB affecting the 1998. Look at All About Nissan if you want to check fot TSB's.
2) More advanced code readers (like the Nissan dealer's CONSULT system) not only read the codes but they can look at engine "trims" and record operating results. The trims are engine settings for the various sensors. A good technician can read the trims and diagnose which systems may be misbehaving.
3) Sounds like it could be a vacuum leak. Has anybody put a vacuum guage on the intake to see how much intake vacuum the engine is pulling?
4)Does weather have an effect?

Steve

By the way, are you into rocketry or does the name have some other meaning?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I'm not sure if my mechanic looked at TSBs for other models. I have looked at a few others, but either nothing is ringing a bell, or I can't find what you're supposed to do about it.

I asked if they checked for vacuum leaks and was told yes, but I don't know if they just checked those around the EGR system or checked everything.

It's hard to tell if it's affected by weather because it's been raining almost every day for a month. I've had problems and no problems on rainy days.

It also doesn't seem to be related to the amount of gas I have in the tank. It's not like I filled it while it was parked for 2 days where it died, and yet it started right up and was running fun at the dealer on Friday.

There is currently no code and the Nissan dealership didn't look at anything on Friday because the truck was running properly. I hope it misbehaves Monday because I'm currently in a rental car.

My regular mechanic actually talked to another shop that specializes in Japanese vehicles. One of their guys owns the same truck I do, has the same or similar problems, and hasn't figured it out either. But I don't know what he's tried.

I'm in the Rocket City, but am not a rocket scientist.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Possible solution: The EGR ports to the intake manifold were clogged. They have been cleaned out now. This explains the intermittent poor performance at 40-45 mph range. They are not sure yet if this fixes the stalling issue, although it seems to be running well right now. They are using my truck as the "runner vehicle" on Monday to make sure it continues to do well (although truly, I'll need to drive it a few weeks with no trouble to really be sure). I hope this is the only issue and that it is now corrected. For the rest of you with similar problems, it's one more thing to look at.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Cleaning the ports did not resolve the stalling issue (but did resolve the performance at ~ 40-45), but after more driving and stalling (at the shop, not me) today, it finally left a code behind! On the negative side, an air flow meter is not cheap. They have ordered one and should have it tomorrow. I will be very happy to get my truck back. It's still cheaper than car payments.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
They did not tell me the code, just that it related to the air flow meter. The truck is still running ok now, so I'm happy.
 
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