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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
  • Do you know if theres a differance between remanufactured distributor or a new one from Autozone? Should I just buy a brand new one from somewhere else? Having same problems you stated and fixed all you fixed. Down to distributor. And do you know where to clean metal shavings from? Thank you very much.
  • You can also check ebay for OEM distributors.
  • bgraggbgragg Posts: 4
    edited February 2010
    I read tacobels distributor cap problem, I put an oem dist cap on it. Ran great for 10 minutes and went right back to poppin and not wanting to run. Almost stalled. Pulled out dist, the gear was fine, could it still be the distributor or could it be the coil? there is a small crack on tplug in part of the coil. This is a 1997 villager.
  • If you can not find any info at CarSpace, then try this old forum for a 97 Villager: Villager/Quest FAQs The drop down on the left displays lots of issues with these vans.
  • thanks 4 all the info went to take off yourself junkyard paid 20 bucks for distributer oem cap and coil runs great i did put 500 bucks of uneeded stuff but still happy
  • dogbardavedogbardave Grass Valley, CAPosts: 2
    LONG STORY: Borrowed a code reader for our van that misfired, and got worse when it was wet outside. It got so bad, the van barely ran. It said knock sensor bad, so I took off the two intake manifold and all that other stuff and replaced the sensor. The sensor case was cracked open about 1/16", so I could see why it would cause problems when wet (shorting out). Put it back together...started right up, but idle high. Book said possible vaccum leak. So I tore it all off again, and yep, lwr intake seal leak. Gooped it up w/high temp silicon and put it back together. Then would start but die after 5 seconds. Took it apart again (3rd time), and major leaks...worse than 1st time. Book has torque values too low, I think (12-20 ft lbs). Tried to start it up...same symptoms. Dies after 5 seconds. Fuel to injectors aok. Book says computer is supposed to kick in pwr to fuel pump after 5 sec. Book says some device w/in distributor (CMF sensor?) that should assist in sending code to fuel pump. Crazy story, I know...but before I give up and take this to a dealer...any suggestions? :sick:
  • dogbardavedogbardave Grass Valley, CAPosts: 2
    Oh, this is a 1997 Villager with about 195,000 miles on it. :confuse:
  • autodummyautodummy Posts: 1
    1.My wife's 2000 Quest stalls after the engine warms up,with the air conditioner on.The engine starts right back up.Its just started doing this about a week ago as it has been hot as hades here (Mid. Tennessee heat index today 105f) talked to the backyard mechanic we know and he says it could be the timing belt and would need to check the tension,or something to that effect (I wasnt there).2.Also does anyone know where to find the driver side exterior door handle and driver side sliding door handle.Thanks for any help.
  • canyonsvocanyonsvo Posts: 23
    If the stalling is occurring only with the a/c running, I would suspect the IAC valve needs to be cleaned or replaced. I would not suspect the timing belt. I have had good luck finding parts on Ebay.
  • I have a 99 mercury villager that wont start. it started up just fine this morning when i left for church. when i got ready to leave church again it started just fine however about 20 minutes later i pulled into the bank and turned everything off, went in for about 2-3 minutes and came out and it wouldnt start. I tried to jump start it but nothing happened. what should i look for next?
  • 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: 115
    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: 115

    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
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