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Nissan Quest/Mercury Villager Starting & Stalling Problems

Has anyone heard of any problems with a Mercury Villager spontaneously starting itself while sitting overnight in the driveway? My 2000 Villager just did that. I looked out the window and saw the parking lights on, went out to shut them off, saw the switch was in the off position, but the dash lights were all on, and the engine was running with no key in the ignition. My husband came out to see, and the darn thing shut itself off, including the lights. Help!
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Comments

  • robbk6robbk6 Posts: 13
    Did you buy this van new or used? If used, it sounds like someone installed a remote starter and failed to enlighten you.
  • You, my friend, are a GENUIS! My van came with an extra remote that said "Viper", which I assumed was an alarm system. My toddler grabbed my remote this morning, and had it for about 30 seconds before I got it back. He must have hit the right combination of buttons, 'cause I've played with it before, with no effect. I asked my husband to try it and see if he had any luck, and presto! Van started. Thank you soooo much, I was going to bring it to a wiring shop downtown tommorrow morning, you just saved me at least $50 (their charge for diagnostic). FYI, anyone reading this, the correct buttons to press on my remote were the lock and unlock at the same time.
  • My dad owns a 1997 Villager. I had it for a month last February and I must say that I had never had a problem with the RPM's dropping in traffic but the RPM's did drop really badly on start-up's. I kept the van overnight in the garage but everytime I went to start it the next morning, the engine would roar to life then the RPM's would drop almost immediatly and the engine would stall. This would happen only once - twice on really cold mornings. If I didn't let the van run for about 3 minute before putting it into reverse it would stall about 2-3 times before getting it out of the driveway. It would only happen on start-up's the rest of the day, it was fine. I figured the van was just a little cold/damp sensitive on start-up and never gave it much thought. But - this hapened to me in the middle of July. The van would just not start. I think it might have been the fuel injection - flooded the engine. When it did start there was a huge blue cloud of smoke from the exhaust. I told my dad what had happened but he never experienced it so he wasn't going to spend the money to get a problem fixed he is not aware of. We havent really had much difficulty since but as soon as Old MAn winter arrives, I am sure it will start right back up again....pardon the pun. I don't know much but I think it might be the fuel injection - but it is hard to say.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,144
    As a test, next time turn the key on but don't start the van for ~3 seconds or so to let the fuel pump send some fuel to the injectors.

    I'm not sure what this will prove, but it may alleviate the symptoms for a while.

    Steve, Host

    Moderator
    Need help navigating? stever@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • I have a 97 Mercury Villager I bought used and decided to replace the spark plugs. Originally it came with NGK's but I replaced them with AC Delco's(standard) and ever since then for some reason every once and a while (started at 34K miles) my van cuts off while idling, intermitent slow acceleration and also cut off when I was entering my driveway at 3 mph. Is it because of the spark plugs or is it maybe because of a fuel problem?
  • druiddruid Posts: 14
    Hi all,

    First, an apology - I'm new and this might end up as a double posting.

    Quest 1999, 61,000 miles ran well. Now it stalls after 20-30 minutes.

    Fuel pump pressure at fuel filter - 38psi - stable, even when stalling. Not able to measure pressure after fuel pressure regulator.

    Replaced: fuel filter, cap & rotor. Plugs look good.

    Is there a way to test the oxygen sensors with a meter? If replacement is suggested, which one (there are two) both? Any way to test the MAF with a meter? Any other ideas on finding out what is causing the problem is greatly appreciated!

    Many thanks,
    Druid
  • kymikekymike Posts: 115
    You may want to run by an Autozone and have them read your OBDII diagnostic codes. This is a free service that they provide. At least this should indicate which (if either) O2 sensor might need to be replaced.
  • druiddruid Posts: 14
    kymike,

    Good suggestion, but fate is against me. I found an AutoZone store near me that has the equipment (in fact, very helpful) but the van now dies after about 5 minutes and won't restart after 40 minute "cool-down." So, a short mile or so walk home did me good <smile>. Will head back later to see if I can get the machine running....maybe making it to AutoZone.

    Appreciate the help!
    Druid, a.k.a. John
  • kymikekymike Posts: 115
    Seems odd to me that it will run a bit and then die. It almost sounds like a fuel-related problem but you already tested the fuel pressure at the filter. Did you ensure that fuel was making it through the filter or just test on the inlet side?

    I once had a VW Beetle that had the same problems - would run for a while and then die. Letting it sit would temporarily solve the problem. Turned out to be a (severely) clogged fuel filter. I would also test the fuel pressure at the throttle body to ensure that fuel pressure there is OK.
  • druiddruid Posts: 14
    kymike,

    An update. I put in a new fuel filter so I was wondering about the pressure regulator.

    Went back to vehicle and started it - very bad idle, can't drive the van. Decided to go to the Nice Fellows at AutoZone and confessed my problems. He said that it sounds like a bad throttle position sensor or a grounding issue. Throttle rang a bell.

    Bought large can of Gumout and flushed out the throttle plate area - a load of "stuff" came out, black and several shades of brown. Started the van - real rough but smooth out at high RPM...ran for a few seconds and it started to idle... pack everything in the van fast...head home...4-way flashers...a green traffic light...made it home...van is running smoothly.

    After it cools down, will look to see how much more "stuff" might need to be flushed out - but it seems to be the problem (I hope).

    Thanks for pointing me to AutoZone !!!

    John, a.k.a. Druid
  • druiddruid Posts: 14
    Well, I'm back.

    Though the initial cleaning of the throttle plate area did get the car running, the problem returned (never left) and just took a little longer to show itself.

    To recap: After 15 minutes or so, the engine gets very rough and will stall. It needs to cool down to run again. New fuel filter; 38PSI pressure at filter; new cap and rotor; plugs look good. Will try to get to AutoZone to see if I can get a diagnostic (didn't make it two days ago and walked home).

    Anybody see this engine problem before? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks,
    John
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,144
    Try the Got a Quick, Technical Question? discussion too.

    Steve, Host

    Moderator
    Need help navigating? stever@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • druiddruid Posts: 14
    Steve,

    Didn't know of the area - will post a note - Thanks!

    John
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,144
    This link points to your fuel pump:

    Owners Resource (scroll down a few sentences)

    Steve, Host

    Moderator
    Need help navigating? stever@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • druiddruid Posts: 14
    Steve,

    Good link. I thought about this, I even have a spare fuel pump but I would not like to drop the tank if it can be avoided. The item here is that I put an gauge on the line and the pressure was a constant 38psi even in the process of stalling. If the pump was dying or if the screen (tank filter) was clogging, the pressure would drop.

    Here's something - I tried running the car and it was rough, very rough. I sprayed the throttle area again (Gumout) and restarted, after initial roughness, it smoothed out and ran Ok for about 20 minutes. It appears to be someting in this area that is acting up. Any thoughts on this?

    John
  • kymikekymike Posts: 115
    Could it be a ground wire or other electrical connection vibrating loose? A cracked vacuum hose?

    Let us know what you find.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,144
    I'm not a wrench turner John but I like the ground wire suggestion a lot.

    The fact that it happens when it gets hot should help the diagnosis - reminds me of the old vapor lock days. Maybe something shifted and now gets too hot.

    The throttle body clogging up sounds like a sensor issue, like it's running rich and finally stalls out.

    Steve, Host

    Moderator
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  • kymikekymike Posts: 115
    Would a clogged catalytic converter cause the car to act this way?

    I don't see how spraying cleaner into the throttle body would help out if the O2 sensor was bad as I would think that the cleaner would fully burn prior to getting to the sensor to make any impact on it. But, you never know. There is probably a sensor somewhere that is sending a message to the ECU which causes the car to run rough and stall.

    Two quick issues that I have had in the past -

    My '99 BMW recently had the check engine light come on and started running rough. I didn't realize at the time that the problem occurred when the A/C was on as I run the A/C quite a bit in the summer. Turns out that the A/C compressor was starting to freeze up, which put a strain on the engine. The electronics on the car sensed the problem and tried to compensate by providing more fuel to the engine which caused it to run rich and stumble. BMW must use a very strong belt on the A/C pulley as it would have broken on most other cars in that circumstance.

    A few years ago I had a Merkur XR4Ti that would stall when I made a quick right turn. It turns out that the battery was not fully secured and by taking a hard turn, the battery would shift causing one wire to pull loose and cut power to the engine. No sputtering here - only a quick stall. The problem arose after I replaced the stock battery with one in a smaller case which did not secure quite right with the factory hold-down clamp.

    Troubleshooting can be very frustrating and you can almost always look back and say "yeah, why didn't I figure out that problem" after you shell out big $$ for a professional evaluation and repair.
  • wtd44wtd44 Posts: 1,211
    Better take this rig to a dealer post haste, and at least get a computer diagnosis.
  • druiddruid Posts: 14
    Kymike,

    A good thought and something now being investigated.

    In traveling yet again to AutoZone to get a diagnosis the van failed, and failed, and....

    Gave up and hobbled along to an auto mechanic. Five days later and several levels of shotgun technology (replacing non-defective parts that "needed" to be repalced) we don't know what is causing the problem. The mechanic is now looking to replace the computer as he can't get consistent readings. My suspicion is a bad connection, not a bad computer - as your point points out. Don't have an explantion for the "cleaning" - coincidence...?

    This is going to be expensive.

    Thanks,
    John a.k.a. Druid
  • druiddruid Posts: 14
    Steve,

    Yep, being a tad on the older side, I understand your points well.

    Let's see if the mechanic can find the issue before I have to take out a loan.

    John, a.k.a. Druid
  • druiddruid Posts: 14
    kymike,

    I love the logic in your note - it makes sense.

    As it turns out, the system was checked with A/C on and off to see if there was any interaction.

    As for the battery and wires - I replaced the battery because it needed to be replaced and manipulated more wires than one would care to note. However, a secure wire doesn't mean it is making a good electrical connection.

    The real bad news is that the auto mechanic got the van to run for most of a day (great) and then after many hours the problem started again.

    Yes, I understand $$$ (the lack of it) rather well. But knowledge is sometimes expensive (ouch, sorry).

    John a.k.a. Druid
  • druiddruid Posts: 14
    Wtd44,

    Was trying to get to an AutoZone for this very purpose - ended up making it to a local mechanic.

    The computer readings are not saying much and have been unreliable - the mechanic is thinking of replacing the computer (a procedure I would really like to avoid as I don't believe that is the core problem).

    Thanks,
    John - a.k.a. Druid
  • kymikekymike Posts: 115
    Can you "borrow" a computer from a working vehicle (or junkyard) to test to see if it is the problem? Trial and error can get expensive.

    Could it be a slipping timing belt? I'm not certain if the vehicle would intermittantly work and not work with the timing belt slipping, but may be worth a look (if it is easy to get to).

    Are you using a dealer or a non-dealer trusted mechanic? Sometimes a dealer can be the best option as they are familiar with the car and may have seen similar problems on another car. Their higher hourly rate is still sometimes cheaper than the independent mechanic who spends more hours troubleshooting.

    Thanks for the update. We're pulling for you to get this fixed.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 14,278
    dealers also have access to the corporate tech line, which is the real knowledge base.

    I agree that once the local mechanic admits they can't tell and starts shotgunning parts, it will be cheaper (usually) to pay the higher hourly rate to the dealer.

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (when daughter lets me see it), 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again), and new Jetta SE (son's first new car on his own dime!)

  • druiddruid Posts: 14
    kymike,

    Thanks for the continued advice - greatly appreciated.

    OK - the problem 'looks' like it is resolved "timing" is everything....

    The distributor bearing (it appears to be a sleeve bearing) was grinding away and the mechanic believes it was throwing the timing seriously off. I did examine the distributor and the bearing was in miserable shape! In any event, replacement of the distributor seems to solve the problem. The distributor assembly is $600 but more importantly - the vehicle is running.

    Again, thank you one and all and add this one to the database!
    John a.k.a. Druid.
  • druiddruid Posts: 14
    Stickguy,

    I agree and would have headed in that direction but geography was against me and a tow truck would be needed.

    I did call a Nissan Dealer to arrange for service and he was not the nicest person I ever delt with; I assume it was an off-day for him.

    I may head over for a "check-up" in a month or so to make sure all is well before winter sets in.

    Thanks!
    John, a.k.a. Druid
  • i have '95 nissan quest which i had the engine rebuilt (because my daughter ran over something that punctured the oil filter so she eventually ran dry and froze the engine). after the engine was put back in, the mechanic says it's cranking but not firing and he can't figure it out. i think he was able to get it started once but after he had to disconnect/reconnect the battery again then it wouldn't start. he suspects it's got something to do with the security system (built-in when i bought the van new) and a probable ignition kill capability. can somebody give me any ideas on how to deal with this problem. my mechanic and i are going nuts over this.
  • What would cause the Van to start only after repeated tries. Once started it runs great. It has a new fuel filter. I have read all these messages about fuel pump, Oxygen sensor, throttle body. Anybody finally solve it?
  • My 95 had a bad temp sensor and sensor connector. Some times it would start fine and other times it would not crank or would billow black smoke for a few seconds like it was flooded (it was). I usally had trouble after driving it and letting it sit for an hour or 2 and it would act up. I do not think it will show up as having an error code. The dealership had to look at the computer output as it was running and noticed when the sensor was touched the temp reading varied wildly. They tech had to drive it to lunch and it stranded him before they could find it. I think the repair cost was around $150.00 for the sensor and connector, but the tech time to find it was steep.
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