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Jay
Jay, Nissan Technician
Category: Nissan
Satisfied Customers: 18890
Experience:  20+yrs experience with Nissan & Infiniti Trained & Certified.Currently still working for Dealer
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Once again I have another 01 Altima with no spark. I have

Customer Question

Hello, Once again I have another 01 Altima with no spark. I have alldata and I have traced it down to ECM wire 1 which is the signal wire from the ECM the power transistor inside the distributor. With key on I have 12v to the ignition coil and also to the W/R wire leading into the distributor harness.I have a pocket scope and when I scope the W/B wire (ecm wire 1) at the distributor the waveform does not look correct. Please see the attached pics and you will see. I checked continuity on this wire at the ecm and at the distributor harness and I have continuity. Furthermore, I checked continuity between this wire and ground and I have none with the ecm disconnected, but when I connect the ecm, I do have continuity to ground. So does that mean that the ecm is grounding this wire causing no spark?Thanks in advance for your help, you were greatly helpful before.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Nissan
Expert:  Jay replied 1 year ago.

Hello my name is ***** ***** thank you for your question

That wave forms, you can't use them if the car is not running.

Distributors are common on these cars. Did you do any type of Engine work on this car?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I purchased it from auction not running. It had no compression on all cylinders. All exhaust valves were stuck open with carbon buildup. I had a machine shop resurface the head and do a valve job. I removed/reinstalled the head with the engine in the car.
I suspected the distributor to be bad, so I replaced it with a new advance auto distributor, and still no spark. Its possible that I could have a bad distributor out of the box, but it seems unlikely since all power/ground and waveform tests look the same when testing both distributors.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I checked to make sure I didn't swap the cpk harness with the coil harness. I have made that mistake before.
Expert:  Jay replied 1 year ago.

Did you check to see if it has a after market alarm or anything?

Also what color wires do you have at the crank sensor connector?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I could not find an aftermarket alarm anywhere under the kick panels. I'll have to get back with you on the wire colors at the cpk, but I am pretty certain they are correct as I have checked them already.
Expert:  Jay replied 1 year ago.

Is there any codes?

Expert:  Jay replied 1 year ago.

Did you make sure the timing chains were correct? Also when it comes to after market distributors, they never work right. So you could still be dealing with a distributor issue.

When you did the cylinder head, you made sure you didn't get the Cams mixed up also, right? The intake cam is what aligns the Distributor. Another way to determine if you have everything right with the timing is to put the engine on TDC and see if the distributor rotor points to number 1 on the cap.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
None originally. From my testing I thought I had a bad ECM, so I swapped one in from a salvage yard. Since I have swapped back to the original ECM I now have codes p1610 and p1612 which is NATS immobilizer. From my understanding, this usually cuts fuel but I believe I should still have spark.If you think otherwise, I'll have a locksmith or a dealer reprogram the keys.
Expert:  Jay replied 1 year ago.

Those are all Nats codes... When you turn the key to the ON position, is the security light solid?

If so, that means it will kill injector pulse. Not spark.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I am certain on my cam timing and I know I didn't get the cams swapped as I labeled them and also the slot that drives the distributor is only on one cam.
Expert:  Jay replied 1 year ago.

Ok.. Good.. Just trying to cover everything since I am not there.

The P1610 is lock mode, you get this when it can't detect a programmed key. P1612, that is a communication issue from the Immu to the Ecm.

Are those two hard codes?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I can clear those codes and the p1610 comes back immiedetely, the p1612 takes a few start attempts before it comes back.Thanks for your help, I do appreciate it, and I completely understand your questions. You have to be thorough to be helpful.
Expert:  Jay replied 1 year ago.

If I don't ask questions, I can't picture the issue.

Are you sure you have no spark?

Expert:  Jay replied 1 year ago.

If you can, take a spark plug out and stick it in the spark plug wire and lay it near a ground to check for spark.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
That is the method I have been using to test spark. I tried each cylinder, a different plug, even a known good plug wire just in case they were all bad.
Expert:  Jay replied 1 year ago.

Can you please double check the color wires to the crank sensor?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I will. I'll get back with you in a few hrs. I'll also note the status of the security light.
Expert:  Jay replied 1 year ago.

ok, I am expecting the security light to be solid if you are getting NATS codes.

Talk to you later...

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
To the crank sensor I have a Black/Red and a brown wire.Key on the security light is solid.
Expert:  Jay replied 1 year ago.

That is the correct wire color to the Crank Sensor. So we are good there.

The spark thing is getting me. Allot of people replace fuel pumps cause they can spray starting fluid in the engine and it will run. So they think it's a pump issue. When it's really a key programming problem cause it kills injector pulse.

You may need to try another Ecm and see if you get spark. Other wise, follow the steps for the P0340 code to see what you come up with. Something is off.

Did you say you had another Ecm?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I purchased a salvage yard ecm that had the same serial numbers as the original ecm. I installed it and when I attempted to start it, I heard the car hiccup, or sort of fire for just a second then never again. I wonder if there is a short somewhere that has destroyed the "new" salvage-yard ecm. I then switched back to the original ecm but still no luck.I'll look into the p0340 diag.This is certainly a more difficult problem than most. Thanks for your continued patience. Usually you can fire the parts cannon and boom its fixed, but with this I am struggling. I know the cam position sensor is working because I scoped it and got the exact waveform/pulse as indicated in alldata. I have 12v to the coil. I checked most all grounds on the entire car, specifically F2 and F4. I can remove the distributor from the head leaving the harnesses connected and I can spin the back of the distributor by hand and hear a noise in the fuel rail like it is pumping fuel. It stops as soon as I quit spinning it.
Expert:  Jay replied 1 year ago.

That could be. Do you have the Ecm terminal References to go through each pin?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
There are somewhere around 80 or so terminals. Should I pay attention to mostly power and ground, and how do I go about finding it? Electrical is one of my weaker abilities.
Expert:  Jay replied 1 year ago.

The way I do it, I would take the info I am going to provide. Download it and print it. I would go through each pin. If it calls for engine running, I would skip that one. I would skip all the ones that would say engine running.

Hang on while I get this for you..

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Just checking in to see if you have found what you were looking for.
Expert:  Jay replied 1 year ago.

oh... Jezz.. I am sorry. I forgot to get you the ECM terminal reference.. I will get that for you now.. Sorry about that..

Expert:  Jay replied 1 year ago.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/105565483/0a.pdf

That is the Ecm terminal layout. Sorry

Let me know if you have any more questions on this.

Thanks Jay

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'll look into testing tomorrow morning. Thank you!
Expert:  Jay replied 1 year ago.

Your welcome

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I did some testing and nothing seemed abnormal except for the tps switch. I circled it. Check my attachment and let me know if you think I need to investigate further.
Expert:  Jay replied 1 year ago.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/105565483/Pages%20from%20ec5.pdf

You did that perfect. Exactly how I would have done it. Now that we found something incorrect in the test, we can look at that circuit to see if that i playing a factor in the issue.

Expert:  Jay replied 1 year ago.

I attached the wiring diagram that goes to pin 27 on the Ecm so you can try to determine if it's a wiring issue ( short ) causing this

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
I checked out that circuit and I found that the fuse is good and I get 12v at the connector for the tps switch, but I dont get 12v coming out of it on the yellow wire leading back to the ecm. I can assume the tps switch is bad. Do you think that could cause the no spark issue? see my attached notes. For testing purposes, I jumped the brown to the yellow wire at the tps switch and I then had 12v at the ecm. I tested for spark in this condition, and still none.
Expert:  Jay replied 12 months ago.

Well it is bad regardless so I would certainly start there.

Expert:  Jay replied 12 months ago.

What did you find at pin 18 on the ecm reference?

Expert:  Jay replied 12 months ago.

never mind.. Relooking at your readings.

Expert:  Jay replied 12 months ago.

If you have any more questions on this, please feel free to ask.

If not, and you're satisfied with my help, please Rate me. That is how I get credit for my work.

I hope I have provided you with Excellent Service.

Thanks Jay!

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
I would like to confirm that a new tps will fix thw no spark problem. I don't believe it will, but I will get one tomorrow if it's quickly available and report back. Your help has been great this far. Thanks again.
Expert:  Jay replied 12 months ago.

I said that was where you needed to start. I never said that would fix your problem. That has proven to be bad, so that circuit would need to be checked along with the TPS.

Let me know how you make out..

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
I ordered a tps yesterday. It will be here on Tuesday. I'll let you know how it goes.
Expert:  Jay replied 12 months ago.

Ok, let me know how you make out

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Ok, sorry for the delay. I got a new TPS (OEM hitachi) and in the process of installing it I found that the tps was out of adjustment. The old TPS is fine, and I shifted it just slightly in its mounting screws and now have 12v on ecm wire 27 with throttle closed, and 0v with throttle open.I still do not have spark.
Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

ok..

How are you checking for spark?

Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

Do you know if the car has a after market alarm installed?

Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

If you have no codes, no spark and the Ecm terminal reference check really did not come up with anything other than the TPS not being installed properly, the only thing I can think of that can cause no spark is if there is a after market alarm on the car that is keeping it from providing spark

Did you check for a after market alarm ?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Hey Jay, I am checking for spark by holding a plug wire with the spark plug attached and grounding the tip against the valve cover while an assistant cranks the car.I have been all underneath the dash panels looking for an alarm and I can't find anything that is not factory.I believe the lack of spark is a related to the ECM signal to the transistor. The waveform is not uniform when cranking. I know this test is supposed to be conducted with the engine running, but I would think that in the cranking condition, it should be at least uniform. It is completely erratic. Look again at my original post and let me know what you think.I'm open to any suggestions and I'm not letting this car win.
Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

I know I have seen the transistor plugged into the Crank Sensor. Those connectors swapped. But I think we checked that right?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
we checked that. Definitely not reversed.
Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

Does the distributor rotor turn when then is beibg turned over?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

Did you happen to have the key programmed to the car yet? I recall you said that the security light was solid when you turned the key to the ON position which is a indication that the key needs to be programmed to the car.

This shouldn't affect spark, but it will help with starting the car.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/105565483/2.pdf

That is the diagnostic steps for the cam sensor. I know you don't have a code for this, but lets go though this to make sure everything is there. I am leaning towards the distributor right now. That has to be part of the problem. You can't get after market ones though. Their operation can't be trusted and never work right.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Hey Jay,I have not had the keys programmed yet. I am going to do that after I get spark.Could you please check the link you provided? It shows a circuit diagram for Accessory power supply.I don't mind ordering an OEM distributor. I don't trust the parts stores and Chinese parts.
Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

There is not one particular sheet to give Accessory power, so this is the power supply and routing.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/105565483/0b.pdf

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Ok I'm confused. I believe you were originally trying to give me the diagnostic steps for the cam sensor, however the link you provided took me to an accessory power diagram.
Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

If you didn't download the data, I am constantly changing files in my dropbox so you may have viewed something else. Let me give it to you again, but please download the data as it's constantly changing in my dropbox

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Got it, thanks. I'll run some tests and get back with you.
Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

You got it. It sounds like it has to be a distributor issue. That is the only thing I can think of. We tested everything else. The only thing I can think of is the Distributor, it could have had a signal plate shift which would not allow it to fire.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
It just seems unlikely that I have 2 bad distributors. 1 of them new in the box (aftermarket). That's not to say that it isn't possible though.
Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

When it comes to After Market Electrical parts.. Nothing surprises me.

Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

80% of the time after market electrical parts don't work

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I orderd a new OEM Nissan distributor, installed it today only to find that I still have no spark. So between 3 distributors, it is safe to say that the distributors are probably not bad. Any other ideas? Set it on fire?
Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

That is just crazy. Are you sure there is no after market alarm in the car? For no spark I would think there has to be a code stored!

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I will look again one more time tomorrow morning. Unless it is hidden in a very unlikely area, I am pretty certain it does not have an alarm. I have thoroughly been in the dash looking for anything non-OEM on both the drivers and passengers side.I think the problem lies on ECM wire 1. Read my original post again and look at the attached pics. I understand that you should scope that wire with the engine running, but when cranking I would think it should look somewhat similar.
Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

Unless the timing is off. We may need to check the mechanical timing. If it's signal won't match the crank and it won't provide spark also.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I'll be happy to check it again. I'd love for that to be the problem. Lets say the mechanical timing is off...how would the ecm know? The distributor spins off the end of the exhaust cam. I cant understand how it verifies if the timing is correct. I don't believe it uses the cpk to determine this. Essentially what I am saying is even if the mechanical timing was off, wouldn't there still be spark but just at the wrong time?
Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

The crank sensor is a Reference. if the signals are to far apart, it won't produce spark. It's easy to check the mechanical timing. All you need to do is pull the valve cover. Put the bottom end on TDC and see where the upper cams line up.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I'll pull the vc tomorrow and check timing. I also want to check to make sure that there is no way I could have swapped the intake and exhaust cams. I really doubt the end of the intake cam is slotted like the exhaust. I seem to remember marking the cams when removing them anyway.
Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

you had the engine apart?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
we covered this earlier. It's in my 2nd post.From what I have read, the crank sensor can not cause a no-spark condition. In alldata, it states "This sensor is not used to control the engine system. It is used only for on board diagnosis"
Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

Yes, that is correct. But the signals between the Cam and the Crank should reference each other. That is how it's used to diagnose. Also, if the engine was turned over with out removing the fuel pump fuse, it could allow the timing chain to jump time cause the tensioner is not fully pressurized. anything more than 2 teeth can cause no spark and valve damage.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Could you explain? This engine has never had spark since I have owned it, so it has never ran in my posession. In this condition, how would the fuel pump fuse make any difference?I'm assuming the fuel pump fuse is removed in normal conditions to prevent the car from starting and achieving full-idle rpm before the oil pressure has engaged the tensioner. In my case, It's irrelevant since it has never ran.I'll be happy to check the timing tomorrow and post some pics for you.
Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

Yes, the fuel pump fuse is removed to allow the timing chain tensioner to build pressure. You did have the head off and timing chains. I would look at the physical timing, take pictures of the front timing sprockets and front Cam lobes position closest to the chains. Then share them with me so I can check the timing with you. Just make sure the crank is on TDC and piston number 1 is all the way up

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
10-4. I'll send it tomorrow. Thanks for your help tonight.
Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

Your welcome. I should be online around noon tomorrow. I won't be on in the morning.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I had a chance to pull the vc and rotate to TDC. The link has images of it. Looks good to me. Let me know what you think.https://goo.gl/photos/8RudanQcRNFh7mFCA
Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

Thanks for the pictures. It does look good.

I have another thing I thought of checking for you. By the Ecm there is a Ecm relay. Try swapping that with another relay and see what happens after you get the valve cover back on

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Iv'e already tried swapping the ECM relay. It didn't change things. I also tried swapping the Ignition relay that is located above the drivers kick panel fuse box.
Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

Running out of idea's.. This is a good one.

Here is some things you can check for non detectable item which would be spark related.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/105565483/0b.pdf

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Looking at that diagram and with what I have suspected all along, I'm pretty certain the problem lies in the power transistor circuit. From the diagram it has 2 connections: ECM signal and ground. The ground is fine. I have checked that at terminals F2 and F4 on the intake manif.On to the ECM signal wire. I checked continuity between this wire and ground and I have none with the ecm disconnected, but when I connect the ecm, I do have continuity to ground. The wiring diagram is unclear and I don't know if this is supposed to be or not. Do you know what the diagram means when it shows a circular wheel with an arrow coming out of it? I'm guessing this is a spinning wheel inside the distributor that grounds itself at 4 points to fire the spark?Testing for this wire is on the 3rd page of what you just sent, and it tells me to test this circuit with the ecm disconnected. So according to that procedure, it is OK.
Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

That circle is the Power Transistor which is in the distributor.

http://www.build-electronic-circuits.com/how-transistors-work/

I am on my way out. I will be back in about a hour or two.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I read up on power transistors from the link you gave me. The way I understand that circuit is that the ecm sends a small about of current to the transistor to ground, then that allows a lot of current to flow from the coil to ground. So if that ground has issues, (removed with the intake manifold when doing head gasket) then could that be the cause? I have checked for continuity to ground on this wire (black wire 2 at the distributor) and I have it. But what if the wire is pulled and there is continuity yet not enough wire to make a good ground for high current?Should I just splice the wire and run a ground to battery for testing?
Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

I just recently had a question while working with you, same year Altima, and same thing. No spark. We talked a bit, and I gave him the terminal reference values also. He asked if I thought it was the Ecm. I asked him almost everything that we have talked about. It is very rare to have two cars this old doing the exact same thing. But in any case, I said yes it was possible it could be the Ecm. He went out on his own and got a Ecm and had spark. Got the key programmed and that is what resolved his issue.

If you messed up those major ECM grounds, it may have done something to the Ecm. So I am going to say this has to be a Ecm for your issue as well.

Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

If you have any more questions on this, please feel free to ask.

If not, and you're satisfied with my help, please Rate me. That is how I get credit for my work. I hope I have provided you with Excellent Service.

Thanks Jay!

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Hey Jay, I did try another ecm from a salvage car. I made sure that the numbers printed on the ecm matched. I cranked the car and it sparked for just a split second then never again. So somehow I am cooking/frying the ecm. How do I stop this from happening before buying another salvage ecm? Remember earlier that we checked every power and ground at the ecm and it all seemed ok.
Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

sounds like a dead short is causing the Ecm to burn out.

did you download that terminal reference chart I gave you?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
sure did. We covered that earlier in this thread. I tested all terminals on the ecm that could be tested without engine running, and I attached my sheet showing the results.
Expert:  Jay replied 11 months ago.

Going to need to go through each pin and ohm it to ground. If that doesn't show anything, the you may have a harness issue or a component that is shorting out the ecm

Expert:  Jay replied 10 months ago.

Do you have any more questions on this?

Expert:  Jay replied 10 months ago.

If you have any more questions on this, please feel free to ask.

If not, and you're satisfied with my help, please Rate me.

That is how I get credit for my work.

I hope I have provided you with Excellent Service.

Thanks Jay!

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