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maxima dies at startup then runs fine - salamander - 01-03-2017 10:45 PM

Hello all, have another little issue I'm having a hard time with. The car is a '98 maxima 3.0 automatic with approx. 180,000 miles.

About 2 months ago this issue started...In the morning after the car sat all night when my wife would start it, it would fire right up and then die immediately. wouldn't chug or sputter, just die. The car would not start again unless she pressed the gas pedal and then it would fire right up again and run fine. The car would start fine the rest of the day but then the next morning it would do it again.

I started by replacing the fuel filter. The fuel that came out of the old filter was really dirty. The car then ran fine for about two weeks, started with no problems. Then it began again...start and then die in morning, press gas, restart and no more problems till next morning.

Next I replaced the fuel pressure regulator. I thought maybe the fuel was leaking back over night. At the same time I took off the iacv and cleaned it and the throttle body. Next morning it started fine and we've had no problem for maybe a month and half until today when it did it again out of the blue. Been no change in driving habits and no sudden drastic weather change in last few days.

Kind of at a loss as what to do next...Thought about fuel pump, but I'm not so sure that it would be an issue? I really thought the pressure regulator was the culprit. Maybe the new one has failed? Any thoughts on this Y'all might have?

RE: maxima dies at startup then runs fine - Rupe - 01-04-2017 12:19 AM

At one time I was a master tech for Nissan and I suspect much of what I know still applies.

The pressure regulator only returns EXCESS fuel to the tank when the pump runs. Generally speaking I don't ever recall seeing one that leaked back to the tank after sitting for the night. Normally the culprit for "leak down" is the check valve on the supply side, which is part of the fuel pump. At 180k miles it's not out of the question but Nissan fuel pumps are not cheap so worth doing more than guessing.

That all said, you need to nail down what the fuel pressure is when the issue happens. That will tell you if it's a fuel problem or possibly the Idle Air Control for the base running RPM, which should be slightly higher when cold. These days a cold idle is not 1500 - 2000 RPM but maybe 200 above hot idle and only for a minute or so.

From where I sit it could be the IAC or the fuel pump is tired but I hate shooting from the hip so will ask a few questions. (starting with how much you trust what your wife says)

If it stays running with just a touch of throttle then I would lean toward the IAC. If not, then you need to dig deeper on the fuel pressure issue.

Let us know where this goes in the next few days, even if you have to go out and start it yourself a few times just to verify. There may be something the wife doesn't notice. That's how I would word it. (wink, wink)

RE: maxima dies at startup then runs fine - salamander - 01-04-2017 07:21 AM

Just walked out to start the car and test it before I leave in my truck. Car has been sitting overnight, and wouldn't you know it started right up and ran fine. Idle at start up is right at 1200...seems to be where its been for quite some time...maybe forever? Or does 1200 seem low at start up for this vehicle and possibly indicative of iacv wore? When I get home tonight I'll try to look up specs for idle on this vehicle.

RE: maxima dies at startup then runs fine - Rupe - 01-04-2017 11:12 AM

That sounds about normal for a cold engine with 800 rpm or so for hot. Remember that a 20 degree difference in the ambient temp can be part of the issue. 40 degrees is a major change from 20 degrees when it comes to normal weather.

RE: maxima dies at startup then runs fine - salamander - 11-12-2017 10:36 PM

hello, thought I'd revive an old thread here. My apologies for leaving this thing turned into another and here we are 10 months later
No fix to report on the has ran great for 10 months until this morning it did it again out of the blue. Give it a little throttle when starting it back up and it runs fine all day. Wasn't able to check fuel pressure, Didn't have gauge or time.
Only thing different about today was that car had not been started in about 48 hours, but then again that's fairly regular on weekends.
I tend to lean toward the iacv instead of fuel pump because when you turn the key it will fire right up every time, just not stay running. So there is fuel.
But, hate to throw money as an iacv is $150 at local parts stores, cheapest aftermarket pump is $60 and we don't want to talk about oem pump LOL.
Hate these on again/ off again hard to diagnose. got a dome light on same vehicle wont come on one time out of ten, go to check things out and it starts working, just like this idle thing.

RE: maxima dies at startup then runs fine - Rupe - 11-13-2017 01:22 AM

IAC is made out of aluminum and plastic so prone to wear. It would not be out of the question for this to be sticky with changing temps, such as happens this time of year. All I can suggest is to feather the throttle a little to confirm all else is working. If not then maybe time to start checking temp sensors and other things that will be relative to colder conditions. Also thinking if the fuel pump was marginal it would have failed by now. OTOH, temp changes could be driving that too! Most OEM fuel pumps last around 150K miles. Aftermarket units generally go 2-3 years so maybe 50 - 80k miles, which is why they are cheaper.

On the dome light, it could be just the door switch. Have you tried swapping the right and left sides? (passenger side has less wear) You can also take them apart, wire brush the contacts and coat them with some lubricant to retard age related crusty build up, not to mention the retaining screw also needs a good ground. At that age the small stuff tends to become an issue.

RE: maxima dies at startup then runs fine - salamander - 11-13-2017 07:36 AM

just started it up, 5am here, ran good. Did notice that upon starting it goes up 1200 rpm then settles in about 800 at idle which is normal, but in that one or two second interval it seemed a bit "fluttery" in between...around 1000. Then it smoothed right out.
I'm leaning toward iacv, may end up biting bullet and just getting one, even though it kills me to do it without knowing 90% or better

RE: maxima dies at startup then runs fine - Rupe - 11-13-2017 10:35 AM

Food for thought: It's an old car at this point. How about cleaning the IAC one more time to buy another winter out of the old gal, then put her out to pasture? That way you can take the money saved and put it toward a replacement next year.... and no worries about having to spring for another fuel pump on a 20 year old vehicle.

All kidding aside, let us know how this works out.

RE: maxima dies at startup then runs fine - Garner - 11-13-2017 10:22 PM

Have you ever had a scanner on it? Checked for codes? Run "Live Data" and see what the Temp. Sensors are doing, see if the fuel is lean, etc.? Sometimes a scanner can point you in the right direction, save time, and money. If you do have it scanned and find codes, record the NUMBERS and post them here for review. Have the computer cleared. Any new codes that show up may be directly related to the issue you are having.

RE: maxima dies at startup then runs fine - Rupe - 11-13-2017 10:37 PM

Garner has a point with the scanner idea, but it may be problematic in your case unless there's a trouble code. About the only thing that may be useful is the live data part, but again, it may be too little in too short a time span to put a finger on anything other than directly reading the temp sensors, both ambient air and coolant. The of course you'd have to know what "normal" readings are (based on experience with that engine) for other things like injector pulse width, throttle position, etc. Even those may shift a bit because with a cold engine you'd still be in open loop. IOW, they will be constantly changing till the engine reaches full temp.