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Mike V.
Mike V., Nissan Technician
Category: Nissan
Satisfied Customers: 23636
Experience:  Nissan factory trained and Certified Subaru Technician.
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I have a problem with a 1998 Nissan Altima - It won.

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I have a problem with a 1998 Nissan Altima - It won.t start - it cranks over - has weak spark and good fuel

GreetingsCustomerand welcome to JA! I will do my very best to assist you with your problem.

Pull the distributor cap and rotor. Under the rotor you will see a plastic cover,remove the cover and check to see if there is oil under it.IF there is then you need to replace the distributor.This is the cam sensor, and if there is oil in there the sensor can't function properly.

Hope this helps!

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Does not have distributor - has coils. Perhaps you are confused about what engine I have, Also please address removing injector. Thank you for replying!
98 has coils on plugs? What engine does your altima have? Usually the injector has a clip that holds it to the fuel rail. Once you remove the clip it should come out.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
okay - sorry for the confusion, but I am writing for my nephew and don't know if all info is correct, but here it is - car is 98 - bought used and they were told engine was 97 - not sure of size but does not have coils to each plug, rather one coil with 4 spark wires coming from it. He insists no distributor. Apparently each injector has a hood like cover with 2 screws on each, not any retaining clip. He removed the screws, but injector did not come freely and he did not want to break. So obviously we don't know what we have, but hopefully this helps.
Well, the 98 doesn't use coil overs. Not on the altima, they did on the maxima, but the altima has a distributor. If there is no clip holding the injector to the rail, then it should turn and release, it is probably stuck in the o ring. He can try some penetrating oil.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Okay - will try that later but first the no start problem. Maybe we have a Maxima engine?? I don't know but we still need to get it going, What more can I tell you to help??

You can tell me if you have a 4 or 6 cylinder engine in this. Also, ask him if he had to remove any bolts on the "coils" to get to the spark plugs. The 98 altima has a 2.4L 4 cylinder engine. The maxi is a 6 cylinder engine. This was not installed in the factory so if it has the maxi engine,someone has put it in there. Here is the altima engine.


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Okay - I apoligize - I just went and looked at his broken down car - it is a 4 cyl 16 valve and DOES have a distributor at the end of the overhead cam!
ok! So lets go back to my original post and check for the oil. Chances are good it is full of oil in there. Let me know!
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Okay - will be later but I will get back to you!
Sounds good! Also, the #3 misfire is probably a bad intake manifold gasket. Very common on this car as well. Lets see if we can get it running and take it from there!
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
checked distributor cap - could not seem to get rotor off, but absolutely no oil - pristine condition.
If you couldn't get the rotor off, then how did you get the cover off to check under it? The rotor has an 8 mm bolt holding it on.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I will ask that and get back to you
Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX be interested to know :)
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
okay - just removed rotor and cover - perfectly clean - no oil
Ok, when you say it has weak spark, is it blue or yellow?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Ok, I think the next step should be checking the ground for the distributor and coil. These are the 2 grounds you can see up by the fuel injector rail. Make sure they are clean and tight.

Also, it is possible the car is flooded. Try holding the gas pedal to the floor while cranking the engine.

Let me know!

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
will check and let you know
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Checked all grounds - clean and tight - held pedal wide open - no go
Ok, try taking some carb cleaner or starting fluid and spray it into the throttle, then see if the car will fire on it. may only run for a few seconds,but try it and see.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Sorry it takes so long between answers, but vehicle is off site and nephew works it in arouind work. So sprayed carb cleaner and cranked - there was perhaps a feeble sput - sprayed more and nothing even with throttle wide open. Just cranks.
Check fuse #26 in the fuse panel inside the car and make sure it isn't blown.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
fuse is good - going to tow the vehicle so we can respond faster. Thanks again - we'll get this!

well, let me know and we can go from there!


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thanks for your patience - we now have access to the vehicle across the street. What is next?
No problem at all. We need a test light or a volt meter to continue, do you have one?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Again I apoligize as you can see this is not a prority project and you patience is greatly appreciated. We have both test light and voltmeter.
Ok, check for battery power on the black white wire going to the 2 pin connector on the distributor. Should be battery voltage on that wire. Then you have to try and check the trigger wire.I am not sure if you can check that or not. Should be a 0-5 square pattern on the trigger wire. This is a white/black wire going into the distributor 6 pin connector. Make sure it is plugged in when doing this test
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
will check first thing in AM and let you know. Thanks again!!
Sounds like a plan and you're welcome!
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Okay back again - have full voltage at black wire - not syre what you are telling me on other test - probe wire with test light with key on and cranking or???

Well, you have to check it while cranking. I think the problem is you will have to use a volt meter or a lab scope because it is the trigger wire. What I mean by that is that it is the wire from the ecm to the distributor that tells the coil to fire. It happens so fast that you can't normally see it with a test light or a voltmeter.

I want to say the car needs a distributor since it is all in one. I suspect there is coil failure. The problem is without being able to test it,I have to assume the rest is working. If the ecm is not telling the distributor to fire, you would have the same result. I think distributor because you did have spark,just weak.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Got it - do not have correct tool - so will go to local salvage yard to get used distributor and try it first - will let you know. Thanks for your continued patience! Bob
You are very welcome Bob, I hope it works! I understand not having all the tools,it makes it tough from my end because I don't want to give you the wrong info...hope you understand it is an educated guess at this point!
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hi - latest is found only one engine at salvage yard with correct distributor and it was damaged, but took it home and was able to transfer the coil from it to our old distributor with no change .

if the transistor for the coil is no good then just replacing the coil isn't going to help.

Here is an website I use for used parts. Works pretty good. You just fill in your information and salvage yards around the us contact you with the pricing.

I have had good luck with these guys.

Mike V. and 3 other Nissan Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
checked your website and found most are $100 plus. Have decicde not to put more $$$ into - just sell it to the scrapyard. Thanks so much for your trying to help!