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Nissan Altima Maintenance and Repair





  • ray_h1ray_h1 Posts: 1,134
    )) "I also noticed something else, the radiator fan keeps running even after the car is switched off." ((

    Nothing to worry about - it was designed that way (probably to save a little production cost). Nissan, as do a number of other automakers, routes power directly from the battery through the radiator's thermostatic switch that activates the radiator fan. Not having the ignition switch involved in the radiator fan circuit allows that fan to merrily drone on for some time subsequent to switching off the ignition. Sorry I wasn't able to help with the A/C prob. :cry:
  • ray_h1ray_h1 Posts: 1,134
    Chill, boggrobs15 - a "dry and grey" appearance on the porcelain insulator of the discharge electrode is the ideal. It indicates the heat range of the spark plugs is perfect for your typical driving conditions. ;) (Though you didn't mention it, I don't understand atma97's reference to "charcoal red", either... :confuse:)
  • ray_h1ray_h1 Posts: 1,134
    )) "the 6 cd changer failed with Err2 with 3 of my CDs. can somebody advice on how to get the CDs out? Also the 6-CD changer keeps whirring every time, I start the car and then stops with Err2." ((

    Welcome to the wonderful, wacky world of CD changers - especially the increasingly popular indash versions. Sorry - there's generally only bad news and worse news once a jam has ocurred. If you had affixed paper labels, there's a good chance they're responsible - the working clearances of the mechanicals in indash changers are incredibly small. The thickness of a paper label or sticker can be all it takes to jam a CD in the guts. Even without labels, these machines often become finicky over time. The remote possibility good news? If you car is under your basic warranty time and mileage limit, you may just be entitled to a free head unit exchange. (Some makes, such as Hyundai, have an even shorter time and mileage limit than the basic 5/50 for their audio systems - dunno what Nissan's policy is. Check your warranty supplement booklet.) If your car is over the limit, you will probably have to cough up out of your own pocket unless Nissan is comping these units as a goodwill gesture. (If not, and if you're on nitroglycerin for angina, you may wanna slip a tablet under your tongue before you hear the bad news - the dealer replacement cost of factory head units is obscene...) The only way to retrieve jammed CDs out of an indash changer is to disassemble the head unit to extract the CDs manually. Once jammed due to a malfunction, the captive disc(s) aren't gonna magically eject regardless how many times you attempt it.
  • atma97atma97 Posts: 47
    Sorry for not so clear about it because of my own terms. Please look at pictures from this web site: plugs/plugcolorchart.htm and pay attention to "Normal", "Oil Fouled" and "Overheated".
    Once a year, I check up my car engine to see how healthy it is. Usually after a good half of an hour trip while engine still hot I put on gloves and carefully remove spark plugs and compare them. If they are all similar and dry, engine is doing well. If not, start a basic tune up.
    My basic tune up is:
    Engine Cleaning: Once a year Flush Engine and put in Engine Restorer, use Synthetic Blend Oil to reduce engine wear.
    Electrical: Replace spark plugs (Bosch Platinum +4 $20), Distributor Rotor ($7) & Cap $15), Ignition Wires (OEM from Nissan Dealer $65).
    Gas: Replace fuel filter ($10), add Fuel Injection Cleaner ($3) into gas tank.
    Air: Replace Air Filter (Frame $5).
    You can buy good parts at discount price at website If you can do a tune up by yourself, you already save $ on labor, do not try to save $ on cheap parts. I have kept a good tune up on my 97 Altima car since the beginning. Now I got 284k and every mechanic drove my car said it could be a 100k more. In term of money, I will save money of buying another car.
  • hi ED

    i looked at the compressor while AC running & not running. Could not see whether the clutch engaged or not. It looks just the same both times. However I noticed the twin radiator fans started running when AC was on but stopped running while AC was switched off manually. But the belt attached to the clutch was always running. Are there any pictures on the internet where I can see an engaged clutch and a nonengaged clutch?

  • ray_h1ray_h1 Posts: 1,134
    Jack, with the engine running at idle and the A/C off, observe the central portion of the A/C compressor's pulley. Unengaged, that central 3" hub portion that is mechanically connected to the compressor's crankshaft will be stationary. (The outer pulley will be rotating, but the compresser will remain at rest.) However, if it's still stationary after manually engaging the A/C system, then you have a defective A/C compressor clutch, activation switch, fuse, and/or wiring harness defect. If you have automatic climate control in your Altima, be sure to set it to manual mode - otherwise there's no telling whether the A/C compressor was intentionally set up to run constantly when the engine is running or not. (Chrysler products used to be profligate fuel wasters with this questionable design "feature" that allowed virtually instant cold air - dunno whether they still are...) The radiator-A/C condenser fans should be running constantly when the car isn't moving with A/C engaged since urban crawl traffic conditions put an extra load on both A/C and engine cooling efficiency. I beieve at some vehicle speed above 25-30 mph, those fans will switch off unless the engine begins overheating. When everything is working as intended, those fans will normally remain off above that nominal preset vehicle speed since vehicle motion will effectively supply more cooling air through the radiator and A/C condensor than the fans will.
  • With the engine off, look it the front of the compressor. The belt runs around the pully, which is the round part around the outside of the clutch. The belt and the pully will always be moving when the engine is running. Now start the engine with the AC OFF, and look at the front of the AC compressor. You should see the belt moving and the pully turning, but the center portion should be stationary. Then turn on the AC and you should now see that the whole front of the compressor is turning. That means the compressor is now "engaged" and compressor is running. If the compressor cycles off, you will see the center part stationary again with the belt and pully still moving, which means the compressor is "disengaged" and NOT running. When it is not running, it is not cooling, so if the compressor is off when it is supposed to be cooling, then that means you have an issue with the electrical controls. But, if the compressor remains ON and the AC is NOT cooling, then you have an issue with the refrigeration portion of the system, which may be a faulty compressor or there may be moisture in the system and it may need a new accumulator or several other possiblities. If you have issues with the refrigeration portion, I need to know the system pressures, taken with AC on MAX COOL, doors and windows closed, at idle and at 1500 rpm, and what the Vent temps are at each reading and what the ambient (outside) temperature is at that time. Depending on the ambient temperature, the normal pressures on a warm 90 day would be about, Low Side = 21 to 30, High Side = 220 to 240. Vent temps should be 50 degrees or colder with car stationary in the shade and cooled down, and running down the road vent temps should go down to 46 degrees or colder.
    Good Luck,
    E.D. ISF
  • One person replied and said they had the same problem. They took it to the dealer and the replaced the d/s window motor. I don't plan on doing that until it actually quits so I am still looking.
  • Hi Experts,

    I have questions reg. the engine in Nissan Altima 2001 GXE 78K miles. The second piston from the left had oil surrounding the rubber-casing when the piston was pulled out of the engine. the other 3 piston rubber-casing was fine. no oil. the tech guy said it could cause a fire hazard as it was right above the spark plugs. Need to know is it true that a fire hazard and how expensive it is to replace the stuff. I had my engine gasket changed about a year ago. I just changed my axles on both front wheels.

  • kwk1kwk1 Posts: 39
    Hey Jack,
    There's no chance of a fire hazard with oil. It just makes for a dirty engine and the need to check the oil level on a regular basis between oil changes.
    As far as cost, don't have a figure I could give you, except it won't be cheap. If it were me, I'd see how much oil I'm losing on the dipstick, and if it's not much, I'd just add some between oil changes.
  • ccat1ccat1 Posts: 4
    Hi all!

    Last fall, I bought a 2004 Altima with approx. 32000 miles on it. About 12 days after the 90 day limited warranty expired, my service engine soon light came on, the car started bucking wildly. I took it to a mechanic and the first spark plug on the left was coated in carbon and the gap completely closed. This has happened 5 or 6 more times since then and it's also happened to other spark plugs. In addition to that, I just had a mechanic do a code search and it says that I have a crank shaft sensor error and something to do with the rpm's being off. Are these issues all related? Have any of you heard anything like this happening before? Is this a fixable problem?
  • ray_h1ray_h1 Posts: 1,134
    Happy thanksgiving. Isn't your car still under the original Nissan new car warranty? I was under the impression they come with the more or less standard, transferable 3 yr./36,000 mile general warranty, but is that wrong? Spark plugs carboning up under 50,000 miles means there's some serious misfiring and/or oil or other fluid intrusion into the combustion chamber. Does your car send out a cloud of smoke on 1st light-up? If so, what color and approximately for how long?

    Black - rich fuel mixture
    Blue - oil
    White (briefly) - condensation in the exhaust system evaporating off and recondensing in the cool air after exiting the tail pipe until the engine warms up - harmless
    White (continually) - very bad; high liklihood of a warped/cracked head and/or blown head gasket; if coolant is making its way into the crankcase and contaminating the motor oil, the engine is or could soon be on life support without prompt attention. Because of its inability to lubricate under high load situations, antifreeze is very erosive to the soft bearing metals encountered in crankshaft main and connecting rod bearings.

    All problems are "fixable". The question really comes down to whether fixing your car's problem will cost more than the car is worth. I'm not qualified to answer that, but hopefully not. You do need to find out why your engine's spitting diagnostic codes, though, regardless whose nickel it'll be on. Best of luck.

    (By the way, the following parts are covered for free replacement including labor charges under your car's Federal vehicle emissions warranty for 8 yrs./80,000 miles from the orginal new car date of sale:

    the catalytic converter
    the engine control module {computer}
    the onboard diagnostic device)
  • ccat1ccat1 Posts: 4
    Happy Thanksgiving to you as well! The problem started after the factory warranty had worn out. At the moment the car has just over 59,000 miles on it. There is no exhaust other than the harmless condensation cloud. I've had a couple of different mechanics look at the car(no, none of them are certified Nissan dealers, I originally thought it was something small and didn't want to be charged 94.50 an hour..yes, that's what they charge in Rhode Island). I've had 2 tell me that it's something that requires me to have the engine taken apart and the top half of the engine cleaned and resurfaced. Another thinks it's an electric problem causing a misfiring. Unfortunately, the car isn't worth what I owe and it's not feasible for me to trade it in. I've already tried. My only option is to try and fix the problem. I'm just hoping that someone else has had this issue and can tell me how much I'm looking at. It's good to know that those things are covered for a bit longer though, I didn't know that and I thank you for the info!!
  • To get the answer you are looking for, you need to provide all complete information, such as what engine is in your car, they make a 4 cylinder inline and a V6. The engine situation does not sound good, it should not be fouling plugs for many many years, well over 150,000 miles. You mention errors, but do not give the Diagnostic Troble Codes (DTC's), you must get them from the mechanic and post them here. I don't have a cystal ball to see what kind of engine you have and what is wrong with it. Give us all the information, and all the history.
    The fouling can come from too much oil in the combustion chambers, or it can come from a faulty ignition system.
    I seem to remember reading that some of the Altimas in some years had a problem with bad piston rings from the factory. I would look into that further, maybe Nissan would take care of it, but I am not sure how many years or miles they cover. They may be able to tell if you had the problem by your VIN number. Do some Google reasearch on it, and you should uncover something on it, like this:

    Nissan Altima Recall # 06V223000- ENGINE AND ENGINE COOLING


  • atma97atma97 Posts: 47
    If there is no oil consumption and spark plugs are not flooded with oil, it’s good news. Engine rings, pistons and cylinders are still tight together. You just need to focus on electrical parts. The car bucking wildly is because of misfired due to ignition problem. I would replace both spark plug and ignition coil on the bad one. Crank shaft sensor problem is easy to fix. If not sure how to get it done, just buy an oem one from a Nissan dealer and ask a mechanic to replace it for you. It should not take him more than 10 minutes (I’ve done it myself.) Drive the car at least a few days to break-in new parts before any further adjustment. I believe this is not a big problem since I’ve been driving Nissan and Infiniti cars for many years.
  • ccat1ccat1 Posts: 4
    I can't provide any codes, I don't have them. I'm a mo and didn't write them down. I just know what they say when they run a diagnostic. The first time it happened it said it was a misfire. The next few times, it's been the crank shaft sensor and this last time something about the rpm's being off. I've read on this board that you need to replace the cam sensor when you replace the crank shaft that true? The spark plug has been replaced each time this occurs. Not so for the ignition coil. I'll have to get these parts and have the mechanic replace them. I'm going over there today, I'll see if I can get the codes...oh and there is no major oil consumption. It appears to be burning oil normally...
  • The OBDII codes (DTC'S) will provide information on where the trouble is, they DO NOT pinpoint the problem and tell you what parts to replace. The codes steer you in the right direction towards resolving the problem, the mechanic still has to use logic and diagnostic skills to find and repair the problem. Just throwing parts at it (Plugs, coils, etc)is NOT the answer. The plugs would have to be replaced since they are badly fouled, but the codes will point at the crankshaft sensor circuit, or engine missfires, etc, and the mechanic must know how to test each circuit and each component of that circuit. For instance, if the code was for "EGR excessive flow", that does not mean replace the EGR valve, because it might be the EGR regulator, or a broken or leaky hose, or a clogged passage or orifice.
    BOTTOM LINE IS: A good mechanic will know how to read and interpret the codes, and know how to troubleshoot and repair the problem. If the mechanic doesn't know how to fix the problem, find another mechanic.
  • ccat1ccat1 Posts: 4
    I was at the mechanics again on Friday, getting yet another spark plug replaced. I can remember 2 of the codes. P0420 and P0735. I can't remember the third. At my request, he stuck a magnet down into the shaft and the magnet came out with oil on it, as well as small metal shavings. I saw them with my own eyes, I was standing there when he did it. This to me doesn't sound good. He made some remark about how it could be a ring smashing up against the spark plug causing it the gap to be closed.
  • lynvalynva Posts: 1
  • amaoamao Posts: 38
    I can jump start the car and it will drive fine. Head lights work and no battery light comes on. If I drive it at least once per day, I will be OK most of the time. But if I let the car sit for more than a day, the battery will be completely drained. I have had the clamp terminal cleaned. My battery brand is "interstate" and is less than 2-year. Is it a bad battery or alternator? Please help!
  • You need to do some electrical diagnosis or else have it done. You need to connect a volt meter to your battery and measure how many volts you have before cranking, then with motor idleing and headlights off, then at with motor idleing with lights, AC and wipers on. There should be at least 12.6 volts with motor off, 13 to 14.2 volts with motor idleing with lights off, and at least 12.7 volts with motor idling with lights and everything else on, and volts should go up to over 13 volts if you rev up the motor to fast idle. If car sets over night and volts go way low, you have a heavy parasitic current draw, look for any lights that may be left on, dome, glove box, trunk, etc. If you can't see it, I can post how to check for it, it you are electrically capable.
    Good Luck,
    E.D. ISF
  • Wow, this does not sound good. How did the spark plug look, smashed up? Your first descriptions were that they were dark and gaps closed up, I took that as being that the gaps were bridged with carbon. But if the gaps are BENT closed and you have metal particles in the combustion chambers, it sounds VERY serious, it could go back to what I said about the piston ring problems. You may need to Check with Nissan about that piston ring Recall problem.
    The codes I'm not sure about:
    P0420 is Catalyst System Efficiency below Threshold, which is likely caused by oil contamination caused by the engine in the catalytic converter.
    P0735 is something about an incorrect gear ratio, not sure about that one.
    You big problem is OIL CONTROL in your engine. You should have the mechanic do a cylinder compression test on each clyinder of your engine, and report the compression of each clyinder here. They should all be within 20% of each other and not very low overall. If you have low compression in one or more clyinders, it could be Rings, or valves, or head gaskets or the valve timing or cam timing could be messed up.
    Good Luck
  • amaoamao Posts: 38
    E.D, thank you very much for the detailed message! Let me input more for my story. At one time, I called AAA for the jump start service. A guy came and before he jumped my car, he measured the voltage of my drained battery and it read only 5.x volts. Then he said I got a bad battery and tried to sell me one for more than $100. I knew he was trying to rip me off and was thinking:"how can you get a proper reading if my battery is completely drained?" But after reading your reply, I am now not so sure about my thought. Was he right on my battery or I was right?
  • My 93 GXE has 150K and is extremely difficult to shift. If I were to guess, I would say that it takes anywhere from one to 15 pounds of applied arm strength to shift (to the point where I almost stop pushing, for fear of bending the shifter).

    Eventually it will always shift, but I need to get the car inspected so this needs to be fixed (as inexpensively as possible as the car isn't worth putting too much $ into).

    What might be causing this to happen? (Bushings/transmission oil/clutch/other?)
  • YOU were Right! Just because the volts are low does not mean the battery is bad, it just means that it does not have much electricity in it. Think of a Battery, any battery, as being like a glass of water, it is a CONTAINER, and you fill it up full of water. Once full it is supposed to stay full. Now you drink some out of it, and the water level goes down, then you put more water back in it and it's full again to the normal fill line, or you can keep filling it up to the brim. You cars alternator charges your battery and will fill it to the 'brim'. If the alternator does not charge properly, the level goes down. If the alternator does not charge at all, the battery will eventually be 'empty'. If you have a full glass of water, and your leave it out at night, and someone comes and slowly drinks water out of it, it may be 'empty' in the morning. Or if you have a full glass of water and it has a small crack in the side or bottom, the water can slowly leak out overnight. A bad battery is like a glass with a hole in it. If you pour water in, it won't hold the water for long. A good battery may be empty, but if you fill it up, it will stay full and work properly. The only way to properly test ANY battery is to charge it FULLY FIRST, then "LOAD TEST" it to see how much power it holds. The measure of POWER is VOLTS times AMPS over a period of time.
    They measure and rate batteries in 'AMP-HOURS' The battery should produce a certain amount of amps output at a certain voltage over a certain period of time.
    So bottom line, always charge the battery fully before you test it, or it will test bad.
    In your case, I think someone is coming by and sipping your glass at night.
    Good Luck,
    E.D. ISF
  • what size bulbs are in there, and how do you change them?
  • Hi,

    I own an 03 Altima 2.5S, auto trans, w/ 70K miles on it. Lately, when I drive my car to work, the first time the speed hits 75 mi/hr, the car will lose power, or at least feels like losing power for one or two sec, yesterday, it got more severe, the speed was oscillating back and forth from 60 mile to 80 mile no matter how hard I hit the gas. I was scared a lot.
    I would appreciate any headsup, something must be wrong, I just don't know it's w/ transmission or w/ engine.

    Thank you very much!
  • Does it speed up and slow down while you have the gas pedal pushed all the way down? Does it do that if you try to hold the gas pedal steady? It could be a fuel or electrical ignition problem. Is all maintenance kept up? The fuel filter should be changed if it has not been recently changed(normally change it every 30,000 miles). Inspect and drain the old fuel filter out on a clean white paper towel to see if it has much dirt or trash in it. It is possible that there could be bad gas or contamination in the gas tank and fuel system. If the old fuel filter has dirt that pours out of it, you may have to drain and pull the gas tank and clean it out. You might pour some fuel system cleaner in the gas tank first and see if that helps. Remove and check the spark plugs, and see how they look. Do they look like they are burning clean? It would be a very good time to do a cylinder compression check on the engine while the plugs are out. This will tell you a lot about the general health of the engine. If spark plugs are dirty replace them and further check the fuel and ignition system for further problems. Do you have a check engine light on? If so, get the engine computer scanned, and post back the DTC (Diagnostic Trouble Code) numbers here, or look them up on the Internet at:

    Other things could also cause this, but these are some of the most likely places to look first.

    Good Luck,
    E.D. ISF
  • kwk1kwk1 Posts: 39
    My first guess would be a plugged catalytic converter.
    My second guess would be the ignition.
    It's unlikely to me that it would be the trans.

    Good luck.

    Let us know how you make out.
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