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Mike V.
Mike V., Nissan Technician
Category: Nissan
Satisfied Customers: 24196
Experience:  Nissan factory trained and Certified Subaru Technician.
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Put the 3.3 Nissan Xterra back together. Now it starts and

Customer Question

Put the 3.3 Nissan Xterra back together. Now it starts and dies. Also it dies when you try to give it gas to keep it from dying. With your help we diagnosed it as a bad distributor, clogged catalytic converters all has been replaced and hogged out. The problem all started when it blew a head gasket.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Nissan
Expert:  Mike V. replied 10 months ago.
Hi Jeremy,The site has been acting kind of weird, did you just send this request?
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Yes I did. Here it is again having problems with the same vehicle. Put the 3.3 Nissan Xterra back together. Now it starts and dies. Also it dies when you try to give it gas to keep it from dying. With your help we diagnosed it as a bad distributor, clogged catalytic converters all has been replaced and hogged out. The problem all started when it blew a head gasket.
Expert:  Mike V. replied 10 months ago.
So are you saying you took the engine all apart after all that we have done or we are back to square on on this.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Back to square. It was running rough last week and would not allow me to give it gas so I checked the timing and everything is set up correctly. I've tried advancing and retarding the timing by one tooth to see if that fixes it and still does the same thing. Starts, dies won't stay running.
Expert:  Mike V. replied 10 months ago.
Ok and geez....lol.Alright, try unplugging the maf sensor and see if the truck will start and idle with it unplugged. You won't be able to accelerate with it unplugged, but if it will idle on it's own it's a start.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Ok I will give that a try in a bit. This car has been the biggest headache lol
Expert:  Mike V. replied 10 months ago.
yeah, I hear that. It really has and to be honest, the only thing I can see at this point is either a possible maf sensor issue, a bad distributor issue, if it was an aftermarket it's very possible, seen it many times or actually a computer problem.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Ok ran a little bit longer but still died within a few seconds, but the exhaust did not smell like raw fuel like it did before.
Expert:  Mike V. replied 10 months ago.
Ok, did you use a factory distributor or an aftermarket?Also, disconnect the TPS when you set the timing with a timing light?
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Aftermarket distributor. It won't run long enough to set but I do remember about the TPS Sensor
Expert:  Mike V. replied 10 months ago.
OkLet's try another distributor if you can. I have at times been able to determine if the distributor was the problem by watching the timing marks. At idle if the timing wanders, then you know the distributor is the problem. Since you can't get it to idle long enough, might be the best place to start. Also, just not sure about the maf sensor. Usually if they are no good, it will idle with it unplugged. At this point I think we are running out of options here. Figure there is probably some kind of warranty on the distributor. Also, did you make sure the shims are all in the same place for the valves? If they are out of adjustment maybe it's causing some of this.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Ok I will try another distributor there is a warranty on it. There where no shims at all that ever came with it.
Expert:  Mike V. replied 10 months ago.
Ok, no worries there then and if I remember right it had pretty good compression
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
No compression was 120 across the board.
Expert:  Mike V. replied 10 months ago.
While low, it should still run. Just trying to think outside the box here. Yeah, sorry, I would like to try a different distributor.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Ok that's fine. I've been contemplating rebuilding this engine because the compression is low and also because of how bad it blew a head gasket
Expert:  Mike V. replied 10 months ago.
The compression is about 8 psi below min spec, it's really not that bad. I would like to at least see the darn thing run before you invest that time and money. I don't think this is a problem with the engine itself, but something electronic causing the running issue.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Ok and I agree. I just want it running and it doesn't want to. This will be the 3rd distributor that I have put in. I replaced it once before I started talking to you because it wouldn't start and threw a check engine light for the camshaft position sensor
Expert:  Mike V. replied 10 months ago.
Well, I didn't realize we were on #3. I do hope it's the issue. I can't really see anything else causing it at this point. Even the maf sensor unplugged should put the thing into a fuel mixture it can run on.Basically it leaves a possible issue with the maf, the distributor or the ecm in my best opinion here. It's mind boggling really
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Ok I will change out the distributor. Is there any way for me to test the ECM or does that have to be done by the dealership?
Expert:  Mike V. replied 10 months ago.
The dealer can't even actually test it. One time we went through this with the lead tech. He tried about everything on a pickup, same engine. When nothing else worked, he finally put a new computer in it and it solved all the issues. This doesn't have a chip key, you could get a used computer and install it yourself. As long as they both are out of a exterra with the same engine/transmission configuration it would work.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
How do I know what type of transmission is in the Xterra? I know the engine is a VG33E or something along those lines
Expert:  Mike V. replied 10 months ago.
Auto or manual is all you need to know.That and possibly if it's a 4x4 or 2wd, nothing else is needed.