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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All.. I'm new here just today looking for some answers.
I have an old beater, stripped down, all stock except for the engine wiring where the joker that had it before me made plenty of cuts and splices.
It's a 1987 Sentra, 2 door, sedan with a trunk (no hatch).
I drove this car for about 3 years with only minor problems, fixing them as I went along. Then, one day it sputtered once or twice. Not the fuel loss type of sputter, it was an ignition loss type of sputter. OK, with problems coming and going I figure this one will eventually get worse to the point where it's source is obvious.
Drove for a few more days, only sputtered again once, then after 50 to 60 minutes it (the engine) completely cut off. Battery, starter, lights, all else still works fine but it wont start up again.
So I walk home (1 mile or so) and come back the next day, it starts right up, drives a few minutes and dies again. Getting closer to home now. So I get the wife, the truck, tow rope and drag it home. Checked everything, filters good, ignition parts good, etc.
Now, I figure it's possibly the Engine Controller Computer and I want to get another one, and swap them to see if the problem fixes. I have two books, one Chilton and the other Haynes, both make reference to an Engine Controller Box but neither mention where it is.
Can someone please tell me where to locate that Controller Box in this car ??
PS my wife wants to donate this car to her daughter so I'll eventually have to work out the cuts and splices under the hood. Is there a Factory Service Manual or CD available for this car ??

Garage Sultan
1,173 Posts
The engine computer for your car is underneath the passenger seat. There should be a black cover on the front. remove it with a screwdriver and voila, the ECU. The Haynes manual describes how you can get error codes from the engine. (its a simply blinking light thingy, no code reader required).

Your problem doesnt really sound like a ECU probelm.

With all the slpices you have look for shorts in the wiring harness, focussing on areas around the ECU, spark plugs and ingintion.

Check your sensors, thermostat, temp sensor, coolant sensor, even the Mass Airflow Sensor. The Haynes manual describes all this.

Check you cooling systems. Make sure you check your coolant level, check that the radiator isnt clogged with bugs and stuff. If it is hit em with some pressureized water being carefull not to bend your radiator. If you can get the engine to start, fire it up and watch under the hood, make sure that the cooling fan comes on if its hot (dont stick your hand in there to push it though!!!).

Other stuff you could check are: fuel pump, Alternator, airfilter, fuel filter.

IF you can get the car running long enough, take it to a shop and then run super concentrated fuel system cleaner through it.

Just for the hell of it check that your exhasut isnt clogged.

Check oil levels too.
Hope something in there helps!!!


Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Nick, great advice. I did check most of the things you reference. The sensors and wireing is a bit difficult to diagnosis by following the Haynes cause too much is cut, and/or bypassed. But even with all the cuts, it was running smooth for a few years, and like I tried to describe, the Stalling resembles that of an ignition loss, you know what I mean.
Thanks again for all that !! Further diagnosis is now possible.
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