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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've been having this problem for about a year. If the car sits for 8 (?) hours or more, and I try to start it normally (not depressing the accelerator at all) it fires immediately and stalls immediately. Every time. Then I remember (it's my wife's car) to depress the accelerator pedal about 1/5 (?) open and crank it, and it starts almost normally. In 2 seconds it is idling fine no matter if it is 85 degrees outside or 20 degrees. But when the engine has been run in the last 4-5 hours, it always starts normally, without depressing the accelerator. Dealer checked it out "on the computer" and said the codes did not show a problem. 50 bucks.

Someone suggested it could be a flooding condition due to failed fuel pressure regulator ($178.00 at Advanced Auto - too much for a "maybe it'll work" replacement) that initially dumps too much fuel in while the throttle is closed. I DID have a condition one time that seemed like a flooded engine, when I persisted in trying to start it the "correct" way without touching the gas pedal, and it seemed like an old carburetor flooding problem. It even "smelled" the same, if you happen to be old enough to remember what I mean, before the days of fuel injectors. So I just did what my wife said i.e. "give it some gas" which was really giving it some air, I think.

I'm able to live with it, but afraid it will get worse, whatever it is. I intend to use the right stuff to wipe the inside of the TB clean, although it did not look at all dirty when I recently looked. It's got 143 K miles, but always used better filters (i.e. not Fram,etc) and Mobil 1 or other synthetic oil (when I couldn't get M-1) and this is the first problem I've had a problem with this engine.

I know it sounds like a stuck or worn injector dumping too much fuel. I've used many bottles of "the best stuff" - Redline, plus some dealer-only "professional" stuff that is $18.00 a can - and always run good gas - Amoco or Texaco-Chevron with good cleaning agents, so I'm pretty sure things are clean inside. Also frequent oil (Mobil 1) and Hastings or Wix filter changes, (but I use a Fram air filter - bad idea?) and it runs great otherwise. Plus, remember it starts fine if it has been running in the past 4-5 hours.

I hope someone finds the real answer to this one. I suspect it is in the circuit to the throttle positioning motor, or the on board computer, but I have not dabbled in that on this car and don't want to. I've got to sell this car, but don't want to until I get this fixed right. Trouble is the "professional mechanics" don't seem to know the answer either. If I ever find out I'll post the answer.

Thanks,

-TC
 

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`97 FSM, page EC-83 says high probability causes are fuel pump circuit, fuel pressure regulator system, fuel injector circuit, power/ground, camshaft phase position sensor, mass airflow sensor circuit... there are a bunch.

Reference pages EC-360, EC-26, EC-353, EC-99... etc. etc. etc.

I wonder if anyone else has any better ideas. Fuel pressure is ok from all of the injectors? You've changed the fuel filter?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
brianw said:
`97 FSM, page EC-83 says high probability causes are fuel pump circuit, fuel pressure regulator system, fuel injector circuit, power/ground, camshaft phase position sensor, mass airflow sensor circuit... there are a bunch.

Reference pages EC-360, EC-26, EC-353, EC-99... etc. etc. etc.

I wonder if anyone else has any better ideas. Fuel pressure is ok from all of the injectors? You've changed the fuel filter?
No, haven't changed the fuel filter but intend to as soon as the weather gets above freezing here when the sun is shining. Needs it anyway, but can't figure why that would only be a problem with the engine cold and having not been running for a long time. Thanks for the references. I'm not familear with the FSM acronym... factory service manual? Is that something that is available other than at a dealer's work bench? I appreciate your quick response. Will post results when I get it fixed or try stuff that fails to fix it.
 

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My moms car does this every morning she goes out to start it. It's also a 97. She's getting a little worried about it. We've have tried to figure out why it does this but still can't figure it out.
 

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Good News about Hard Starting 97 Maxima!

I finally had the opportunity with half-way decent weather to clean the area around the throttle plate last night. Of course the fact that the car started and ran fine last night meant nothing, since it always did that if it had been running during the past 4-6 hours. But this morning, after sitting in sub-freezing weather all night, it kicked right over on the first try and assumed the right idle speed. The car seemed as happy as I was!

It was one of the easiest fixes I've ever done, to have such a profound effect on performance.

Tools required:

WD-40 and clean rags; old toothbrush if available or sponge-headed small ~3/4" disposable paint brush with strong wood handle; large flat-tip screw driver; 10 mm socket wrench and 4-6 inch extension, ratchet wrench handle; or LARGE Phillips head screw driver; regular pliers; strong flash light or trouble light; new air filter element; sheet of cardboard to cover battery terminals.

You are going to remove the entire top half of the air cleaner, where your air filter element is housed. This is the only way to get access to the inside of the throttle body where the cleaning will be done.

1. Use a flat-tip screw driver to loosen the ring clamp around the 2 1/2" flexible air hose that connects the air cleaner to the throttle body housing. Just the clamp around the throttle body housing - leave the other end attached to the air cleaner housing. Wiggle the hose to get it loose - twist (rotate) it a little to break it loose, and make sure it will slide off later. Can't slide it off yet, though - that comes later when you pull the whole air cleaner assembly out. If it's really stuck squirt a LITTLE WD around it and let it sit until you get the rest of the plumbing loose.

2. Remove the top of the air cleaner box (good time to check and replace the filter). Remove two (~ 3/4" diameter) hoses and one small vacuum line. Regular pliers will work to pinch the hose clamps so you can slide them up the hose out of the way. Remove one small bolt (10 mm has a Phillips head driver slot too) on the rear edge (toward back of car) of the housing that is only there to support some electrical wires (don't lose this bolt, and remember to put it back in place when finished). This bolt is tight - you can use a LARGE Phillips head (cross pattern) or a ratchet wrench with 10 mm socket head on an extension. These wires will stay put where they are, and be in your way a bit when you pull this housing out. Be patient.

3. Disconnect the electrical plug connection to the air flow sensing module (instrument) that is built into the housing (be careful, this plug is a snug fit - press down on the tab you can see on the top of this plug by pinching the plug and gently working it loose while exerting steady pulling pressure).

4. Snap open the four metal spring-tabs that hold the top of the air cleaner housing to the bottom of the housing, the ones you normally loosen to change the filter element, (which you do at least once a year, depending on local conditions). You will have to wiggle this air cleaner housing a bit to get it free from all the cables, etc. that are routed close to it. Be careful and patient - if it seems to hang up on something, check to make sure you have removed all pieces connecting it to the car. Don't just rip it out. See Caution below.

5. Caution!

Carefully set this assembly aside - don't drop it! You can peek inside the air flow passage in this assembly and look though the mesh screen to see the wire elements that are suspended in there to get air flow and temperature readings. One looks like a light bulb filament. These guys send data to your on board computer to adjust the air-fuel mixture, and are super critical to good performance. You can see that they are a part of a module that bolts into the housing - pricey replacement, so be careful.

5. Now looking at the intake manifold on the engine, you can see the throttle plate just inside the aluminum housing that the air cleaner assembly hose (2 1/2") was connected to. This guy pivots in the opening (a butterfly valve) and is spring loaded to keep it shut; you can move it open and closed simply by moving the lever that is operated by the throttle cable. Try it a few times, and I'll bet it is "sticky". Take a piece of twine or wire, put a loop over this lever, and tie the end of the twine around the throttle cable bracket to hold the butterfly valve open so you have access to clean it. (It has a strong spring).

6. There are a number of posts that describe how to clean this area, and some good pictures. NOTICE there is a small hole (about 1/16 or less) drilled in the throttle body housing at the bottom of the sealing surface, where the throttle plate (butterfly valve) closes against the inside surface of the throttle body. Make sure this is not plugged with goo, and while you are cleaning, don't push any dirt into it. This is a sensor port and must be kept clear. I keep the cleaning safe and simple by using good old W-D 40. It is safe for you and for the surfaces you are cleaning (not to be used on brakes, however!). CAUTION!! If you use solvents, remember they are BAD to inhale, and are readily absorbed through the skin. They are ALL hazardous and toxic and not to be used without regard for your safety and health!!! This includes gasoline - big time! (They will play hell with your immune system - especially if you smoke and/or drink.) Just wrap several layers of old clean t-shirt or equivalent around your finger, (or the old toothbrush with nice big handle) and spray a liberal amount of WD onto the cloth, and start cleaning. You need to constantly rotate the cloth to get clean surfaces. Be gentle. This is easy and takes no real effort, just a little care and patience. I think an old tooth brush would work very well here, if you clean it every two strokes. I also used a wooden handled sponge paint brush (4 for a buck) with good success to get farther inside, and to clean the edge of the butterfly valve that swings inside where it is hard to reach and impossible to see. I was very wary about loosing the sponge part of the brush - do not use one of these with any sort of solvents, including gasoline!!! It will fall apart fast and you may lose pieces into your air intake manifold. Clean carefully all the way around the surfaces (360 degrees) where the butterfly valve closes against the throttle body opening.

Reverse the process to re-assemble, make sure all 3 hoses are on tight, the ring clamp on the throttle body is tightened with the flat head screw driver, the plug connector is snugly attached to the air flow module on the air cleaner housing, and the bolt is re-attached to hold the wiring assembly against the housing. Before you struggle to close those spring clamps that hold the air cleaner housing down on the air filter element, give them each a squirt of WD and life will be much happier - or squirt the flange they slide onto, that's easier. Inventory your tools to make sure nothing is left inside the engine compartment, and don't forget to release the throttle plate that you tied in the open position.

This worked for me, after having this condition for over a year (who's lazy!?) and paying a dealer for not finding the problem. Now I need to change the fuel filter, and remove this same assembly all over again to get good access. But I wanted to do one thing at a time so I could be sure which one really solved the problem, so I could share the results. Be careful, and good luck.
 

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you mr. STbdtac, i have been having the same problem but somebody at work told me it could be my starters is starting to go out and tha tmaybe one of my crank sensors could be covered with metal shavings (seeing as to how it is a hall-effect sensor) Did u consider those two or u knew that they were in good shape?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
wannaboostbad said:
you mr. STbdtac, i have been having the same problem but somebody at work told me it could be my starters is starting to go out and tha tmaybe one of my crank sensors could be covered with metal shavings (seeing as to how it is a hall-effect sensor) Did u consider those two or u knew that they were in good shape?
to wannaboostbad:

Your friend may be right if you have a hard time starting EVERY time, no matter how long the car has been turned off. In my case, the only time it was hard to start was after it had been turned off for 6 hours or more. That was an obvious clue that the problem was probably not in the ignition, or elsewhere in the electronics. The simple job of cleaning inside the throttle body where the throttle plate contacts the throttle body didn't cost me anything. I'll bet a new starter will cost a small bundle, especially if you pay to have it installed. Try the easy and cheap things first. Also it is pretty logical for an older vehicle to be a little bit crapped up inside the intake manifold. Probably is worse on cars that idle in traffic a lot. Good luck with yours. Here's a simple thing to try: after the car has been turned off for a few minutes, reach in the engine compartment and manually operate the throttle plate by lifting the lever with your finger. Notice if it moves freely. Then let it cool off for 6 or more hours and try it again, without trying to start it first. If the throttle plate seems sticky (if it is a little bit harder to open) you most likely need to clean it as I did. If there is no difference from hot to cold, it is less likely to be your problem. BUT IF YOUR CAR HAS OVER 75,000 MILES ON IT, CLEAN THE THROTTLE BODY INSIDE ANYWAY!!
 

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Hard starting 96 Maxima

I just read your article describing your hard starting 97. My 96 has exactly the same symptoms (started at 130K miles). I have already replaced the fuel filter (which improved startups but didn't eliminate specific over 8 hours cold start problem). I then replaced the fuel pressure regulator (after my mechanic had checked engine codes and fuel pump to say they were all Ok). Some improvement occurred but underlying problem persisted on cold starts, That is, I went from not starting when cold, to starting after 5 or 10 seconds of engine cranking (instead after 1 or 2 secs of engine cranking normally) The cold starts have been getting worse now up 20 or 30 seconds of engine cranking and a few desparate pumps of the gas pedal.. then a stumbly start stop... retry and sometimes it runs. Once that cycle has occurred the engine has been running for 10 mins, it will restart in 1 or 2 secs of cranking (no gas pedal) providing the restart has occurred within 6 or so hours.

I've read your posted solution (cleaning the throttle plate) and will give that a try. I'll let you know how it goes.
 

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I have this same problem on my 95 with 168,000 on it. When I install my new intake I'm going to try this because my throttle plate does stick. Thanks for the write up. Hope this solves my problem!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Good Luck and remember ...

jonwepa said:
I have this same problem on my 95 with 168,000 on it. When I install my new intake I'm going to try this because my throttle plate does stick. Thanks for the write up. Hope this solves my problem!
Be careful with those tedious steps taking things off and putting them back on, and keep track of every part - especially changing out intakes. Your life will be easier, and a lot happier. I sold this car to my daughter a little more than a year ago, and she loves it. I had just about forgotten I'd had that problem... I promise you, it made the car like new as far as starting is concerned. I was very impressed, because I couldn't believe something like that could make such a difference.

That WD-40 is amazing stuff - cleans up hands after painting, and removes glue left behind by peel-off labels, when alchohol won't work. And it is safe to use.
 

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stbdtack said:
Be careful with those tedious steps taking things off and putting them back on, and keep track of every part - especially changing out intakes. Your life will be easier, and a lot happier. I sold this car to my daughter a little more than a year ago, and she loves it. I had just about forgotten I'd had that problem... I promise you, it made the car like new as far as starting is concerned. I was very impressed, because I couldn't believe something like that could make such a difference.

That WD-40 is amazing stuff - cleans up hands after painting, and removes glue left behind by peel-off labels, when alchohol won't work. And it is safe to use.
I'll be very careful and thanks again for this write up. I really hope it works because the guy i bought it off of tried everything to fix this and for it to be something so simple would be amazing. The car runs like brand new justs starts funny (sometimes).
 

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I've just started having the same problems with my '96 maxima...replaced the fuel filter, fuel pump, injectors and starter all work fine. My mechanic seems to think that it might be electrical. Anyone else have any ideas what might fix it? Thanks.
 

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Well over at max.orrg they are telling me coolant temp sensor or crank position sensor ,which both have to do with starting. I'm going to try them both and I will let you know how it works out. The coolant sensor is 18 buck and the cps is 60 bucks ,so I'll try the coolant sensor first.
 

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sounds good...i just took my car to the mechanic again, we'll see if he has any luck. Also, my tachometer has been acting up...when i am driving 70 to 80 mph the tach will drop to zero or just fluctuate between 1000 and 2500 rpms. Engine runs fine though. Would this affect the starting or not? Doubtful is my guess!
 
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