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Nissan Quest/Mercury Villager Starting & Stalling Problems



  • cprimmcprimm Posts: 2
    I purchased 99 Villager several months ago from original owner w. 124K on clock. She had just dropped $1900 on the vehicle attempting to resolve several issues the largest being phantom electrical problems. Without resolution to these issues she gave up and sold the car in disgust.

    She described the van as having had a "stroke" about 12 months prior with multiple electrical problems--tach stopped working, fuel and temp gauges worked marginally, window operation probs, radio inoperative, etc. The great side of all this was that all systems required for typical operation or inspection were working just fine. As I was ready to leave with the van, the owner related that a recent mechanic had described the alternator as putting out too much current and thought this was responsible for the many electrical failures. One last thing, the check engine light was on.

    I took the van to AutoZone and had OBD checked. The only code was a knock sensor fault. The alternator and battery were checked and given thumbs up. Van was running great, so I took my time in working through the issues. In short order I repaired windows--master switch replacement, radio--fuse, interior lights--bulbs, and so on. Car ran great for 8-9 thousand miles then began to exhibit periodic missing/stumbling episodes. This was sporadic then would clear on its own. I couldn't determine if this was a fuel or electric problem. On the one hand there was the history of electric probs per previous owner. On the other hand there was the occasion where I filled up with fuel and 7 miles later car was missing significantly as if fuel contamination. Over next 2 weeks, van was irratic in performance but began downhill trek. Finally, car left me walking. I reviewed the forum listings and saw a number of similar problems. I saw many attempted repairs but not a lot of definite fixes. I decided to work the distributor over. Upon removal of the distributor and removal of cap, rotor, and top components, I noted stray metal shavings and pieces in bottom of distibutor. Upon closer inspection, the top distributor bearing was missing the top dust shield and maybe 4 of the bearings. It looks as if the metal shavings may have been causing unintentional grounding. I cleaned all this out, reinstalled distributor, and started van. Van ran beautifully from 1st turn. I have new distributor coming in couple days and expect van to continue to run properly. Will post again and give results after several weeks.
  • rockmobilerockmobile Posts: 109
    The knock sensor fault is misleading and I think the computer sets it up when it can not determine what is really wrong.

    I am the original owner of a 99 Quest with almost 185k miles (original distributor, knock on wood). All in all it's been a good van but my tranny is beginning to shift rough in all gears, so I don't know how much life is left.
    Good luck with yours and keep us posted.
  • cprimmcprimm Posts: 2
    Thanks rockmobile for the reply. Just wanted to do my best to keep all in the loop as I go through this repair. I did receive my new distributor Saturday morning and installed it immediately. The van started up on first turn and after about a 20 mile test ride showed no evidence of a return of symptoms. I am going to keep close eye on this for few weeks but I feel fairly certain this was the fault. I am hoping that the knock sensor fault may disappear after a few more miles. I am wishing that the missing bearings in the top of the distributor allowed the shaft to bobble around, creating a noise the knock sensor is simply misreading. It would be great to avoid taking the top off to deal with the ks. Like rockmobile says the ks fault could be anything but actual ks itself. I will try to follow up after couple weeks and give everyone the outcome.
  • jwoodenjwooden Posts: 5
    I've had the 98 villager for about a year and a half. And put about 10,000 miles on it. It's been doing the surging from day one. Thought it could be fixed or wouldn't have bought it. It is most noticeable on a hill or accelerating onto the freeway. It is like a steady pulse - like you are on & off the accelerator. On shop replaced Map, rear O2 sensor, and I put in new plugs, wires, rotor and cap and fuel filter. Had it in another shop, and they did an intake manifold clean but didn't help.
    Said 3 injectors were not working 100 % - I've run a lot of injector cleaner through them - Lucas, Seafoam, Chevron didn't help much. I don't know if I should try replacing the injectors or go after the distributor like many do. How do you know if it's the distributor? I've tired looking for metal shavings on the top, but don't know how far down into you have to go to find them. Where is a good place to order one and what is a good price to pay. I don't want to just put parts in it for the fun of it.
    Thanks for your help in advance.
  • I had a 99 villager sport that would surge here and there and then got to a point where I was stranded because it would run for about 5-10 minutes and then die when it got warm. After reading the forums on this site about this van people have tried many different things and sunk tons of money into the vehicle trying different things and the problem for some on here and me was in fact the distributor. I told the mechanic about this forum and said i believe strongly its the distributor but he tried alot of different things first and a month later finally told me he needed to change the distributor. I am not a mechanic and if anybody wants to chime in please do, but from the reading I have done on here I think you have either a bad ground somewhere or your distributor is acting up and is on its way to failure. A common place for this car for a bad ground is where the fuse box under the hood mounts. Wherever that box wires mount can get a corrosion buildup. Also make sure your battery terminals and clamps are tight and free of any corrosion. If you get those things checked and still have the problem I would bet its your distributor. If you are going to try the distributor buy a new one yourself. Dont let the shop provide the part as they will add an extra $100 to the price. The labor I was charged was an hour for that job which is not bad. But keep in mind when I was shopping around I called another shop that was too far away from me and not worth the tow that said the computer told him 35 minutes labor charge to change the distributor. So dont let them give you a crazy labor rate because it should not take any experienced mechanic longer than an hour to do this. Please let me know what you find out about your van and when you got the problem fixed. I dont have mine anymore but I am looking again at these because once you get these kinks worked out I heard they can last up to 300,000 miles. Good luck
  • I missed a couple of your questions, I tried autozone because its usually the cheapest but in this case believe it or not napa was cheaper for the distributor. But your van is a year older so call around and see. Try autozone, pepboys, napa. Always ask is they sell a rebuilt if you dont mind rebuilt stuff because they always will try to sell you new parts and sometimes they do offer a rebuilt. Call your local smaller auto parts stores and see if they have a rebuilt. You can also try ebay. Shop around for the part and get the best deal you can and then shop around for a mechanic that will do it for reasonable labor rate and time. I was charged an hour labor which was $80 I think. I paid $225 I believe fot the distributor brand new. So you are looking at $300 roughly if you get the part yourself or cheaper if you get a rebuilt. Let me know what happens.
  • Couple of things.....

    *I cleared the KS code after replacing the distributor and it never came back. Your results may vary.

    *Check Ebay for the distributor. As of today, numerous NEW units are available for just over $100.

    *You absolutely do not need to pay a mechanic to replace the distributor. It took me all of 15 minutes to replace it. Just remove the cap and wires from the old unit, mark the position of the old unit on the block, remove the retaining bolt and slide the distributor up and out. Installation is the reverse of removal. Just make sure to line up the new unit with the mark on the block from the old. Easy-peasy!
  • [2000 Mercury Villager] I have been searching for the answer for this problem for a year and a half, and spent a bundle. i.e. replaced distributor, found and replaced a cracked head, broken knock sensor and more. Finally found the answer was simple. OEM plug wires and iridium spark plugs. I tried NGK plugs, Bosch and another brand before I bought the iridium (Autolite) and Nissan plug wires ($111). [Ford wanted $298, yes for plug wires, ridiculous, they also wanted $393 for the knock sensor.] Go to a Nissan dealer for the parts. I tried Autozone [Duralast wires] they were a waste of money.

    The problem was worse with the Air Conditioner on and the engine hot. I replaced the plug wires with OEM and the iridium plugs and it instantly cleared the problem up. I'm in KS now with a heat index of 105 and running the AC and not one miss or cutout. Have driven over a thousand miles since replacing them and still running better than ever.
  • rockmobilerockmobile Posts: 109

    When I had problems with my 99 Quest I replaced ignition wires, rotor and distributor cap with OEM parts purchased at the dealership. No more problems.
    I reasoned that if the first set lasted 10 years, the second set would do the same.

    When you use cheap after market parts you are playing the lottery.
  • We have an 02 Villager that we are having a sporadic starting problems with. I have replaced the battery and the starter but are still having problems and am looking for help. When the problem strikes it's like the battery is dead, it'll turn over slowly, alot of the time start the clicking, but if I hold the key over it'll eventually start turning over faster and start. When it does start the first few seconds it doesn't run very good but then its fine. Any suggestions of what I might look at next or try? Thanks Tom
  • It does seem to be electrical. I would check all the grounds first before doing anything drastic.
  • The clicking indicates low voltage and the solenoid is kicking in and out. The first thing I would check is that the terminal clamps on both ends of both battery cables are clean and making good contact.

    You might also take it to a local auto parts store where they can hook it up to their diagnostic indicator and see if any codes show up. Many do it for free as opposed to a dealer who will charge close to $100.

    Good luck,

  • villager97villager97 Posts: 1
    edited October 2010
    :shades: Runs rough when warm. Loss of power. runs lean. Have replaced knock sensor O2 sensor cap rotor wires plugs spent lots. Could this be the distributor as well? it is not the MAP that was cleaned as well.
  • Yes, I would check Distributor shaft and bearings and also consider replacing Plugs with Iridium, and plug wires w/ OEM. If you buy from Nissan (Quest) parts are much cheaper.
  • Hi, I have a 1999 Quest (as does my Boss). We have both had the same problem. The car stutters...gets worse over time and then eventually dies. The first times it died, it would re start. The last time, I was going down the interstate and it slowly started loosing power (I was trying to accelerate.), died & wouldn't start. There were metal pieces found around the distributor somewhere. The distributor was replaced & the problem solved. Enter my 1999. I have replaced the distributor twice (1st time about 3 months ago & the latest 3 wks.ago) & the problems just happened again. I was on the interstate going 65 when it suddenly started loosing power. The engine was dead within 3minutes. It would re start but died immediately. The car was towed & I am sitting in a motel (Sun.). I am unemployed so scared about what the dealer is going to say tomorrow. Can ANYONE help?
  • I suspect the bearing or sleeve that the distributor fits into is disintegrating. Putting a new distributor tightens up the connection until the distributor shaft gets loose from whoppling (SP?). If you take a permanent fine point felt tip marker and make a line on the case and the distributor you can identify where to reinstall the distributor without changing the timing. Remove the distributor by loosing the bolts and lift the distributor straight out and inspect the bearing and case mount. Depending on the condition of this will determine what the fix will be and the cost. Hopefully it isn't too badly damaged, but if you noticed shavings I suspect it is in bad shape.

    If the case/bearing is not bad, I would suspect Faulty Plug wires and/or Spark plugs. I was tearing my hair out after replacing them both more than once until I got Iridium Plugs and Nissan plug wires. The Mercury Villager plugs and wires are the same but the p[lug wires have an unbelievable list price of $293. Nissan was less than half that which is still expensive. But unless you build your own wires from Hi performance racing components or buy the Nissan plugs and wires they won't work.

    Another option is to take the van to a Parts supplier like Auto Zone and have them run the codes on the problem. They will do it for free as to paying a dealer $100 to do the same.

    Hope this helps.

  • My dad owns a 2000 villager and around 1 month ago it started lurching really bad going down the road so he shifted into second gear and ran the RPM's up to almost redline for a few seconds and that cleared it up. however from that point on it does the same thing, You will be going down the road and running good then all of a sudden it will do the same thing. Now just the other day Dad was driving to work and it started acting up again. Well this time it stalled and would not start. Now that it is home it starts only after cranking and cranking. After it starts it spits and sputters. We where told that the mass air flow sensor is the problem so we got on and it made no change. Could this be a vacuum problem? What should I look at next?
  • My suggestion would be to check the distributor shaft, bearing and the case it fits into. They have a history of going bad and letting the shaft wallow around.

    I've replaced several different sensors and they don't seem to make a difference with symptoms similar to yours.

  • I would absolutely blame it on the plugs. I have a 2000 villager and had intermittent problems and spent thousands and replaced plugs 3 or 4 times and plugs wires twice. It turned out the correction was that I needed original equipment plug wires and Iridium Spark plugs. Once I put both in, it worked great and has for about 4-5000 miles. One symptom I had was that if you stopped at a light, in park, foot on the brake it would run rough, especially when hot or when the A/C was on.

    The price for new wires from Ford is incredible. List $298, seriously. I went to Nissan (Quest is the same) and got them for about $130. still high but it solved the problem.
  • pleggeplegge Posts: 1
    I have a 95 Villager that won't start consistently.

    It acts like the battery is dead (clicking but won't turn the engine over). Over the last few months I replaced the starter, the inhibitor relay and had both the starter and the battery checked repeatedly.

    I replaced the battery 3 days ago and had no more problems until today. I replaced the starter today and nothing. I confirmed 12v at the signal wire on the starter when turning the key. There was no significant voltage drop at the battery when trying to start.

    If anyone has any ideas please help.
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