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32dmadden
32dmadden, Auto Repairshop owner
Category: Nissan
Satisfied Customers: 1207
Experience:  ASE master tech, L-1 37 years experience
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1999 Nissan Pathfinder: crank..time, else wont start at all

Resolved Question:

1999 Nissan Pathfinder will crank but not start. Will start very nicely 10% of the time, else won't start at all. I have spark and fuel. No fault codes. No recent repairs. Else truck runs fine.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Nissan
Expert:  Jay replied 2 years ago.

Jay :

Hello and thank you for using JustAnswer.com

Jay :

Do you know if you have any codes?

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

I have a OBD reader and it reads no codes every time.

Jay :

You have spark you say, correct?

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

I tested and observed a spark on cylinder 1

Jay :

what about the other cylinders?

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

didn't try the rest. I figured spark on one was good enough

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

The truck doesn't even stumble or sputter when it doesn't start

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

it just cranks and cranks with no kicks

Jay :

I would check more than one, maybe 2 or 3, then I would say yeah.

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

i can do that. how does this service work? do I just keep this thread open until the problem is solved?

Jay :

I can keep this open till your satisfied

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

right. is there anything else I can check while I'm out there? Its raining and I want to keep the trips to a minimum

Jay :

1 second please,

Jay :

phone

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

copy that

Jay :

Do you happen to have starting fluid?

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

like for BBQs?

Jay :

No for the car...

Jay :

hehe

Jay :

or a can of Carb cleaner?>

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

I do have a can of carb cleaner, but the PF is injected. does that matter?

Jay :

PF?

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

pathfinder

Jay :

oh..

Jay :

hehe

Jay :

ok

Jay :

Yes, well this is what I would like you to do

Jay :

Pull the fuel pump fuse

Jay :

and try using the carb cleaner if you can to start the truck

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

where does the carb cleaner spray into?

Jay :

It may be flooded, so try turning it over a few times with the fuse out before you use it

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

The truck has fuel injectio

Jay :

What you want to do is spray the carb cleaner after the MAF sensor

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

n

Jay :

I know it is

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

disconnect from the MAF, spray while cranking or before I crank?

Jay :

But another thought I have is the MAF sensor could be one of your problems

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

i tried tapping the MAF no go.

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

I've dealt with those before and those are usually rough idle more than no start.

Jay :

If you have a straw, just slip that in to the intake duct

Jay :

These MAF sensors can cause no start issues if bad

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

so spray while I crank or before i crank?

Jay :

They can cause all sorts of issues. No starts are the hardest ones to figure out.

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

would the MAF send a code?

Jay :

You want to have someone crack it for you while you spray to see if you get any type of running

Jay :

Most of the time it doesn't

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

ok I'll try this all out. be back in 20

Jay :

MAF sensors can fall out of spec which can off set the mixture and not allow it to run

Jay :

OK

Jay :

I will wait to hear back from you

Jay :

oh

Jay :

nm

Jay :

you had spark on that one wire..

Jay :

Talk to you in a few

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

hey i'm back

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

no bones. got spark on 5 of 6 cylinders

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

tried the carb clean, no kicks

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

I'm worried that its some silly thing like ignition switch or ECM fried

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

I have fuel, I have spark, its like the injectors won't open. what do you do about that?

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

not sure if there's an immobilizer or how that would work.

Jay :

99 I don't think has a chip in the key which would act up the Immobilizer

Jay :

You have a round key not a square key right?

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

Sad thing is I have a shop manual in front of me and still can't figure this out. I'm going over the starting system schematics and trying to find what would block the injectors from opening

Jay :

Do you have a noid light or something?

Jay :

Maybe a screw driver to put to the injector to see if they click?

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

what is a noid light?

Jay :

when turning over the engine

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

I have the original square PF keys

Jay :

A noid light is used to check injector pulse

Jay :

Oh

Jay :

You have the square key

Jay :

Turn the key to the ON position and tell me if the security light is solid

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

a noid light is like a timing light?

Jay :

No, this is what a noid light is.

Full Size Image
Full Size Image

Jay :

You unplug a injector and plug it in and it blinks to let you know your getting injector pulse

Jay :

Just quickly go out to the truck and turn the key to the ON position, not starting it, and see if the security light turns on solid or turns off.

Jay :

Let me know that.

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

security light flashes up until I go to ON or START

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

then it turns off

Jay :

Ok, so then it's not the security system

Jay :

There is only one other thing that can keep the injectors from pulsing

Jay :

That would be the distributor.

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

this thing

Jay :

The distributor sends two signals to the computer. Then the computer controls the injector pulse

Jay :

But lets just do this

Jay :

Take a flat head screw driver and place the blade of the screw driver on one of the injectors, and put the handle to your ear, and have someone turn over the engine and listen for them to tick

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

ok brb

Jay :

k

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

checked. I heard a pretty audible click once every second or so

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

during a crank

Jay :

Ok, so that is good

Jay :

Still raining?

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

is there such thing as 'quality' of spark? Should a spark be of a certain strength? when I checked spark some where small and blue and some where big and orange

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

yup raining.

Jay :

I was going to have you pull a plug and see if it's wet

Jay :

but if it's raining, maybe we can try that tomorrow

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

might just be where I held the screw driver.

Jay :

Spark should have a nice snap to it

Jay :

That to

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

I can pull a plug out easy enough. checking for fuel?

Jay :

Yeah see if it's flooded

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

plug is wet. smells like gas and carb cleaner

Jay :

Ahh, ok

Jay :

It's flooded

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

so the fuel system is ok, then its spark?

Jay :

Lets wait till tomorrow and remove all the plugs, and pull the fuel pump fuse and crank the engine and try to dry out the cylinders

Jay :

and dry out the plugs

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

ok, I can get to all but the back two plugs

Jay :

What kind of spark plugs are in this engine? Also how many miles on it

Jay :

?

Jay :

You can leave number 6 in. That one is a pain

Jay :

But pull the other 5 out

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

ngk iridium, maybe 4 years on those plugs

Jay :

The reason I am asking cause if your pulling them and they have mileage on them, then maybe change them

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

I should change out those things anyways. am I getting quality of spark?

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

what would be bad spark?

Jay :

Hard to say with out seeing it

Jay :

It should be a nice snap

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

right.

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

how do I get you back tomorrow?

Jay :

Just log back into JustAnswer and go to my questions and come back to this question

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

online

Jay :

Yeah, I am normally online in the evenings around 6pm till 10 or 11 pm

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

ok. lets start up again tomorrow.

Jay :

EST

Jay :

You got it

Jay :

Talk to you tomorrow

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

thanks. I work and will be home 6pm PST

JACUSTOMER-ofrxbhvk- :

thanks

Jay :

Your welcome, talk to you tomorrow

Customer:

Jay are you online?

Jay :

Sorry I missed you. I am normally online in the evenings around 6 or 7 EST till 10 or 11 pm. I will continue to assist you then. Thanks Jay!

Jay :

I will be online most of the day if you care to work on this issue

Jay :

I have been waiting to catch up with you to continue to assist you.

Jay :

Never heard back from you.

Jay :

Let me know if you need further assistance on this. Thanks Jay!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Relist: I still need help.
100% won't start when it rains. Else it starts fine.
Expert:  32dmadden replied 1 year ago.
Check for a small crack or break in the distributor cap that would let moisture in. Also there are two pick up sensor in the distributor. I've found that these go bad in the older models. One of the sensors is for firing the injectors at the correct time. If this sensor is having an intermittent failure it will cause a no start. The bad news is you have to get the distributor because the sensor is not sold by itself. I use an oscilloscope to test them. It might be possible to use a volt/ohm meter and look for A/C voltage. I'll have to look up the correct wire to test when I get to work. Then I'll get it to you by this evening.
32dmadden, Auto Repairshop owner
Category: Nissan
Satisfied Customers: 1207
Experience: ASE master tech, L-1 37 years experience
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