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Nissan Quest/Mercury Villager Starting & Stalling Problems



  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    When my '99 Quest started doing something like that a year or so ago, it threw off a knock sensor code. I replaced the knock sensor (big bucks!), but before doing something like that, find out what made the code go off. You can get the code read for free at most auto parts stores. Fixing the problem may mean that the sensor itself is ok. I had some clogged injectors too, apparently.

    I say apparently because I don't really trust what the mechanic did and it took them all day to diagnose the problem. But it's been running ok since.

    So, please get the codes read and come back with that report, and someone mechanically minded should be able to suggest some ways to proceed. Like you say, it could be multiple things.

    Steve, visiting host
  • I just change the oxygen sensor and the knock sensor and drove it 2000 miles. All of a sudden, it started to run rough and then now today, the check engine light came on. I took it to the shop where they had fixed it the last time and they stated that the computer signal came back as "running lean". I know that the PVC valve could be in the way as well as the MAF sensor in the air filter. Any other idea? I don't want to spend another $500 for a simple fix.
  • past posts
  • Hello: I wrote post #310 about the 2000 Villager and I am not certain where to put this post but I have some new information. I had three error codes, in the order they read they are:
    P0325 Knock Sensor 1Circuit (Bank 1), P0303 Cylinder 3 Misfire Detected, and the last one P0303 Cylinder 3 Misfire Detected and the meter showed a little Pd symbol after it.

    I checked the plug wires at the distrubtor cap and at the plugs, one by one and they were clean, corrosion free and secure. I took the distributor cap off and it was nice and clean. The car was my wife's and only has 37,000 miles and she didn't work so it was in the garage most of the time. The rough running starting very suddenly.
  • Hello:

    Anyone following my posts will see that I had a combination of error codes, specifically P0303 and P0325 the infamous knock sensor. Anyway I eventually did what I usually do first with a rough running car and poured a bottle of Gumout into the gas tank. After a very short idle period it smoothed out then I erased the error codes, drove it around a couple times, re-checked, no more error codes. Moral to the story, check the basics first. Much cheaper than going to the dealer and don't rely on the codes.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Good to hear Gene (and yeah, been following your saga).

    Steve, visiting host
  • My wife has a 1999 Mercury Villager that hasn't been driven in over 2 years. I guess it started running rough then it started dying when she would come to a stop an wouldn't start back up for a little bit. I'm not sure what sensor was replaced but I think it was the mass flow sensor but when they tried to drive it around the block it still continued to do the same thing. If anyone has any idea what this could be please help, she's moving from Oregon to Kansas to come be with me where I am stationed and her other vehicle is a POS.
  • Not a lot to go on, but just an idea you might try and won't cost much. It could be the injectors that have gotten gunked up from sitting so long. Lucas injector cleaner does a good job of cleaning them if they are not too bad. You need to drive it a bit to get working though which might be tough if it is running poorly. Could have someone check the air filter too. Sometimes mice get in there and make a nest when it sits that long and could clog stuff up.
    Hope that helps
  • The problem isn't from it sitting too long cause she already thought of that and it didn't work, it's still doing the same thing it did before. I think it might be the idle control valve but it might also have to do with the distributor or an O2 sensor or one of the other many other sensors. I'm just not sure and I really don't have a bunch of money to dump into it.
  • also she just told me it runs fine till it warms up, once it warms up it dies unless you continue to give it gas.
  • dbd73dbd73 Posts: 1
    Thank you for all of the info. Cleaning the metal shavings out of the distributor has solved our problem.
  • daughter got a used villager, replaced plugs, cap and rotor. Runs well until it gets at operating temp then backfires and starts missing out, can't accerate, no power. Could this be the distributor?
  • It is advisable to replace ignition wires also. I had a problem with a '99 that would show up after warmed up. New ignition wires, cap a rotor took care of the problem.
  • dmillsdmills Posts: 1
    After 3 alternators and 2 batteries over 2 years, still have problem with lights and dash dimming, engine light sometimes comes on, and eventually van dies. Won't crank and sometimes won't jump start. Battery checks OK, and when running, alt checks OK. When lights dim, alt checks low output. New battery, new alternator, new cables from battery to other circuits, including starter and new ground cable. I think I have tried repairing or replacing everything, but obviously I'm missing something!
    This problem is intermittent. Van may work for months with no problem, then occurs every few days. Probably worse in cold weather (Ohio), but has happened in warmer weather also. Any thoughts or similar experiences and fixes would sure be appreciated!
  • eewayeeway Posts: 5
    Check distributor bearings, they are bad on Quest/Villager and will cause your problems.
  • tester1tester1 Posts: 33
    Hi Cheri6,
    Is it just using pressured air flow the sensor all over?
  • Our family van died for the first time on my wife and won't start back up? At 1st I tried to jump it off then checked the air filter and sprayed starter fluid in the the hose to see I it would help, nothing happened. I check the valve up under hood and when I pushed it nothing came out. It tries to turn over but ir won't crank. My thought is it might be the fuel pump. Any info would greatly be appreciated.
  • I have a '99 Mercury Villager and, as you can read, alot of these vans, including the Quest, around the same years, have the exact same problems. After a whole year, and fixing everything under the sun, including the fuel pump, it turned out to be the distributer. Check that out - it might save you alot of time and money! Good luck!
  • I have 99 Quest and I had similar problems. I brought it to my mechanic and the code he read was a 0340, camshaft position sensor. It is integral to the distributor so replacing the distributor fixed it. Unfortuately I paid $500 to have it diagnosed and fixed.
  • Just to post a prior experience with a 95 Nissan Altima which had these symptons: Runs perfect on cold startup for about 5 to 10 minutes could easily hit 60 mph. After that car started to idle low, about 500 rpms and then progressively idle up to 2500 rpms at stops, fluctuating between low and high as though it had a air leak. Soon after car would start bucking, hard to keep idling at stops, putting into neutral would help momentarily. Finally car would die. Would wait about 1 hour and car would start perfect only to repeat above scenario in about 5 to 10 minutes. This car was hooked up to a brand new $50,000 scan machine and printed out that the distributor was bad. purchased a $400 Cardone distributor along with cap and a set of new wires at Autozone and installed, same problem with all symptoms persisted. Everything under the sun was replaced: Egr valve, Fuel pump, injectors, Idle control valve, oxygen sensor, main car computer (two times), intake gasket, mass airflow meter (twice and I even modified it to vary voltage to cure lean mixture problem, car run much better but in the end would run too rich and not pass emissions), Did I leave ANYTHING out? LOL. Codes thrown during all this: Lean mixture, oxygen sensor and knock sensor (which was bad and fixed but no improvement on performance. HERE IS WHAT CURED THIS PROBLEM. It needed a Nissan OEM distributor cap which I bought used for 5 dollars at a wrecking yard. Car ran perfect and I do mean PERFECT once the NISSAN DISTRIBUTOR CAP was installed.
  • Forgot to add that the coil along with all other sensors on the car were also replaced. I think what was happening was that the computer was going into some kind of protection mode and running too lean to keep the car going. The computer was making the Idle control valve crazy (would explain fluctuating rpm's. Injectors running lean because computer got confused because of poor spark from NON OEM distributor cap.
  • Good observation tacobel. When my 99 Quest developed problems with its idle last year I decided to track the problem myself before sinking any money on it.
    The computer did not give out any codes but armed with a service manual and some tools I managed to check and clean lots of components under the hood. Most of the components checked ok.
    The problem was solved by changing ignition wires and distributor cap. I could have saved money by getting aftermarket parts, but instead I decided to buy OEM at the dealership and pay three or four times as much.
    That is nothing compared to the problems that may be compounded by buying cheap auto parts made who knows where. I do not advise anybody to buy aftermarket parts unless it is an old US vehicle.
  • It seems that once the distributor gear eats itself, other sensors begin to fail too. After replacing the distributor the car ran fine for about a month. Then, it began to stutter and die when coming to a stop. This pointed to a faulty IAC valve. I tried cleaning the IAC with no luck. I ordered a new IAC, disconnected the battery, installed the new IAC and the problem has cleared up. I am still kind of amazed that the faulty arrangement in this American/Japanese conglomeration is the Japanese part; the motor.
  • Funny you should mention that the IAC having to be replaced so that the computer could reset parameters and work with the new IAC. If you read my post about the 95 Nissan Altima, those were the reasons I replaced the IAC and computer twice. It was claimed that the IAC became faulty because of the bad distributor and a new IAC needed to be installed along with a new main computer following an exact procedure by a Nissan Tech using a type II Nissan dealer computer. Did I lose anyone yet? Yep, and I fell for it. It was claimed that if the new IAC and new Computer where installed not using this specific relearn method, both would be ruined, not idle correctly and only solution was to start new again. It was also claimed that even following correct relearn procedure using sophisticated Dealer equipment was not fool proof. It was a hit and miss thing. LOL I think thats when I started replacing everything, I was doing the hit and miss thing. I was even eyeballing modifying position of the distributor gear to change timing, some guys had luck doing that. Changing the Transmission was also on the list, but thats another story, LOL I am on this thread because someone has called me about a 2000 Mercury Villager which has the same exact symptoms as the 95 Nissan Altima in my above post. They installed new ignition wires, distributor cap, fuel filter and spark plugs and no change in performance. Over the weekend I will find out what it turns out to be.
  • Just to clarify on what I think is happening many times: Several things are changed at once, new distributor and cap when perhaps only the cap and rotor were faulty. Wires and connectors disconnected and reconnected and moved thus making a good connection when perhaps there was not a good contact before movement of wires and connectors, giving the illusion that an IAC was faulty. (Example, perhaps the distributor, distributor cap, rotor, distributor connector, ignition wires where also moved when the IAC was replaced), giving the illusion it was a faulty IAC. I am not saying this is always true but very possible. This could be true of other components being replaced. When I replaced all the different components on the 95 Nissan Altima, I tested all the components including the IAC,(for movement, was good) MAF (was withing voltage range). EGR (was clear and had movement) etc., but was under the impression that I had to fool, manipulate the car computer to reset itself. I got that impression reading posts from highly trained techs. Go figure.
  • As far as the 2000 Mercury Villager problem, it seems to be the coil. I didn't realize that in this year the coil is integral inside the distributor. Autozone and Kragen do not sell the coil separately, the whole Distributor has to be purchased. Symptoms are this: Van starts perfect and accelerates fine for about 5 miles. After this at about 60 mph Vans start to buck. Will buck when accelerator is applied to keep speed at 60 mph. Slowly and but surely the Van starts to drop speed on the hwy for about 2 miles. Finally at first stop the Van dies. Will not restart. Owner says that it will not restart for about 4 hours then will start perfect. Disconnected ignition wires at the Distributor cap held them a 1/4" away and observed spark (this is during the night) and the spark is very thin and a very weak yellow. Sometimes the spark is intermittent. Trying to find a place that will sell the coil separately to save at least a couple hundred. Oh, by the way it had a new distributor cap from Autozone. I insisted that he still buy the OEM hitachi distributor cap from the Nissan dealer. We installed but no improvement. Seems that the coil is too far gone.
  • You can find the distributor new on Ebay for between $140-$180. I think I paid around $150 with shipping included. The symptoms you list sound just like what the faulty distributor causes.
  • Thanks for the info. Looking on Ebay as you suggested I found a company that will sell the coil separately that goes inside the distributor for about $60 shipped. Could be worth a try even though paying $150 for a new complete distributor is a great deal. The person I am helping has hit hard times and is on a tight budget.
  • No problem. I would not even mess with trying to rebuild the distributor. The bearings are likely gone. Just get the new dizzy and forget about it. It took me about 10 minutes to swap out the old for the new. Good luck.
  • do you still have distributer for sale
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