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Mike V.
Mike V., Nissan Technician
Category: Nissan
Satisfied Customers: 24360
Experience:  Nissan factory trained and Certified Subaru Technician.
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Nissan 2003 Altima 2.5 wont start. It will hit, then just

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Nissan 2003 Altima 2.5 won't start. It will hit, then just cranks. I think I can hear the fuel pump run for a few seconds after I quit cranking. Have tried starting fluid with the same results.
Hi there,
So it will fire and then not fire again?
Not sure what you mean by hit
How many miles on the car?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The car has about 190,000-200,000 miles. It kind of fires, and then immediately goes back to cranking without firing again. If I spray starting fluid in it, it does the same thing. It acts like it is fuel starved, but maybe it is not getting fire. The last time it did this, it cured itself.

It's not getting fire or it would start off the starting fluid for a moment.
Was the check engine light on prior to it failing to start?
If so, do you know what codes are being stored?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I don't know, my daughter parked the car in the driveway before leaving for vacation. When I spray starting fluid in it, it tries to start, like it is getting fire, that's why I think it is not getting fuel, but when I stop cranking, I can hear whirring toward the rear, that leads me to believe that the fuel pump is pumping. Don't know if it has enough pressure or is clogged up somewhere.

The fuel pump will only pump for 2 seconds if there is no cam signal. Pull one of the coils and set it next to something metal on the engine and crank the engine. You should see a spark jump from it to the metal object.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

When you say pull one of the coils, what do you mean by coils? I'm more familiar with cars with spark plugs, a coil and a condenser and points. I don't work on injection cars myself, I'm just trying to diagnose this so I can estimate how much it's going to cost me.

Ok, this car has coils on top of the spark plugs. There should be 4 of them that look pretty much the same in the top of the head.
I think it's a single 12 mm bolt holds it on. Remove the bolt and the coil will come up and off the spark plug. Keeping it plugged in, set it so the end of the boot is about a quarter inch from one of the metal bolts and crank.
Do not hold the coil while cranking.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

If I get fire, then it is a fuel problem. I read that the fuel filter is in the fuel pump accessible under the back seat. But the filter/pump is one unit, and I might need a special tool to remove the pump, is that correct?

yes
if it's a fuel problem then it's not likely the pump, and the car would run off the starting fluid until it ran out.Not just fire once
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

When you say it is not likely the pump, then what would cause it to not get fuel. The pump and filter are a single unit, is that correct? How can I check the fuel flow?

The pump and filter are a single unit, that is correct. You need a fuel pressure gage to see if the pump is pumping. The injectors also need to be firing as well. You can have plenty of fuel pressure, but if the injectors aren't firing it doesn't matter.
The fact that you are bypassing both the fuel pump and the fuel injectors with your spray and the car still won't run doesn't seem like a fuel issue to me at all.
Hence the reason I am asking you to check spark/.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So what if I have spark (I won't be able to check until I get home tonight). Do I need to send it to a mechanic to run down another issue? I still won't know if the injectors are putting fuel into the cylinders (it seems unlikely that all 4 of them suddenly are not working) or will I have to get someone with a fuel pressure gauge?

If there is no cam or crank signal when cranking the engine you won;t have spark or fuel.
So the issue could be the cam or crank sensor. I need to know if the car has spark before I can make any kind of determination.
With the miles it has on it, it could be flooded and need some plugs in order to run
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Wife just called. The car started. We have been trying since Friday. She said she cranked it about 6 or 7 different times, and it finally started. What do you think might be causing this kind of issue?

Worn out spark plugs.
But you should also see if the check engine light is on.
I suspect the car was flooded
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Engine light is not on. Wife just turned off the car, and it started right up again. I guess I'll go to Auto Zone and get some plugs.


 


Thanks

You are very welcome, the light not on eliminates the cam or crank sensor as possible issues.
Please be sure to let me know if you need further assistance, if not, then please be sure to rate my answer.If you got here with the free trial, you still have to rate, you will not be charged.
Thank You
Mike V. and 3 other Nissan Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Actually, found out car was recently tuned up....didn't need plugs. We think that the ignition key lost it's identity (the chip) with the car, and was re-united with the car. The cars at my brother-in-laws work sometimes mess up, and the dealer told him to crank, stop, and re-crank, several times quickly and that fixes the problem with the chip in the key. That was what my wife did when it started. When I cranked the car, I would let it rest between the times I cranked it. I never heard of such a thing, anyway, it runs fine now. I don't need the membership.

JA handles the membership stuff, it really has nothing to do with me.
I have never heard of one of these sudedenly being able to pair the key with the immobilizer on it's own, but am glad the car is up and running for you.