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I've got a '96 Maxima, manual trans. I've had the car for almost a year now. The speedometer shows 145K miles, but the previous owner said that the mileage had been rolled back before he bought it. I replaced the radiator, thermostat and hoses a few months back.

I replaced the battery last month. The wire lug on the negative terminal wouldn't tighten down all the way. It didn't look to be factory and was just a tad too big around. I tightened it up as best as I could and meant to get the replacement but forgot. Last week I went to start the car and got no electric. I jumped it and was on my way. Later that day I realized that the negative lead had just worked itself a little loose, so I replaced it and it was fine.

I didn't go anywhere over the weekend. This morning I went to start up the car and everything seemed normal. After about 8 miles or so I was on the highway and all of a sudden the temperature gauge started to flutter. It always sits just at the half way mark and it began to jump erratically and it seemed to creep up as it flickered back and forth until it reached the overheating point. I thought it was awfully strange, but it did not steadily climb to overheating, so I'm pretty sure it's not actually overheating, just the sensor and/or gauge is acting up.

I could live with that, but it get worse....

It seems that once the engine heats up the temp gauge flutters when I give it a moderate to heavy amount of gas. At this point the engine will cut out for a couple of seconds and I'll feel a noticeable jerk, almost as if I'd down shifted, and sometimes the engine will stall. I'm able to get the motor back and running quickly though. It seems to stall whenever I put some load on the motor. It doesn't seem to have a problem at idle, but it will stall if I'm accelerating any faster than my grandmother would. It will also stall sometimes when I'm pulling in or out of a parking space. It seems like the longer it runs the worse it gets and the more prone to stalling it is. This all just started happening this morning and I don't really feel good about driving the car more than a couple miles at this point.

I've taken it by Autozone and had the codes read. The only one that pops up is the knock sensor, and that code has been thrown for months now, as far as I know, and may well have been thrown long before that. No other codes are showing up and the check engine light is not coming on.

I cleaned up the contacts on the temperature sensor and the temperature sending unit, then took it out for a spin. Sure enough, once the engine had warmed up it became problematic again.

Before I take it to the dealer to have it diagnosed is there anything anybody could point out or suggest? I have not yet taken readings on any of the sensors and was planning on doing that. I'm also wondering if there could be a computer malfunction due to jump starting it?

Thanks!
 

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So did you find out what was the problem? My car has a leaky water pump, so any antifreeze/water that I put into it leaks out and needs refilled every few days. Have you noticed if anything's leaking? how's the coolant level? It's not good to drive the car if the engine's actually overheating, just bring it to a shop and have it checked ASAP.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
temp gauge flutter

yeah, i found out what it was. I took it to the dealership and they put it on the diagnostic computer. There was a short in the main engine control wiring harness. I ended up selling the car and getting back into a Jeep Cherokee...something I can comfortably work on if something breaks.
 
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