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Mike V.
Mike V., Nissan Technician
Category: Nissan
Satisfied Customers: 25200
Experience:  Nissan factory trained and Certified Subaru Technician.
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2000 nissan xterra: v6..engine running..idle rough..running rough

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I have a 2000 nissan xterra 3.3 v6 and while sitting in front of the the house with the engine running, it started to idle rough like it was about to shut off. Well, I thought maybe it was because it was cold and it needed to warm up. When I put it in drive and pressed on the gas to go it was running rough and would not go over 10 mph, well it shut off and I could not get it started. I thought maybe it was bad gas, and put more gas in it, well it was on E anyway. I wondering if it could be that there is no gas in the fuel pump.

Greetings and welcome to JA! I will do my very best to assist you with your problem. I have vast knowledge with your vehicle and will reply promptly!

Did the check engine light come on when it was running rough? Also, how many miles on the truck?

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I don't remember seeing the check engine light and it has 147000 miles
OK, if you have any starting fluid,or carb cleaner, try spraying some into the intake and see if the truck tries to run for a few seconds. If not, pull the distributor cap off and make sure the rotor is turning when you crank the engine. Let me know!
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
if the rotor not turning does that mean it has to be replaced?
No, if the rotor is not turning it means the timing belt has broken or the teeth are gone off the belt. So the timing belt will need replacement. If the since the truck was running so slow it may not have damaged the valves. You will have to put a belt on it and see how well it runs. It is possible because it is an interference engine that damage has occurred.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I just got a timing belt replaced back in dec. 2009
This is even more reason for me to believe there is a problem with the belt. You can also pull the distributor and make sure the teeth are still good on it.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
well I sprayed starting fluid in intake, got started ran good for about 20 minutes but started to run rough again than stops. After I let it sit for a little while and then spray starting fluid into intake, it runs fine for about 20 minutes and than does the same thing. I did notice that my air filter compartment was not closed all the way and there was sand in side. Is it a possiblity that there might be trash sucked up into the intake? Would I need to take apart trottle body, clean and change seals?
I would take a look at the mass air flow sensor to be sure. The air filter should stop the sand from reaching the engine.
I think you may be having a fuel pump issue here. Is the check engine light on when it is running?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
it was on but, it is recently off now, do you think maybe I got water or air in my fuel pump?

I am torn between the distributor dying on it or the fuel pump getting hot and stopping on it.

Plus, these had a problem with the fuel sending unit corroding and losing connection. You are going to either have to get a fuel pressure gauge on it and watch to see if it drops off when it begins to run rough, or possible a code reader and when the light comes on check to see if there is a cam sensor code.

Also, under the passenger rear seat is the access for the fuel pump.You can take a look at the connector on top of the tank and see if it looks like this picture.If it does, then it would be safe to assume the sending unit is the issue. Here is the pic.


Customer: replied 7 years ago.
there was a cam shaft sensor code and a knock sensor code

Ah ha! Ok, put a new distributor in it. The cam sensor is part of the distributor and the whole thing has to be replaced.

Don't worry about the knock sensor, it is not a factor and really doesn't even turn the light on. It is buried under the lower intake on the block.

You put a distributor in it and it will resolve the problem. It is getting hot and failing on you.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
ignition distributor? how much does that usely run for just the part
$400-$500. you could even try getting a used one from a salvage yard. After market replacements are not usually dependable. I would rather put a used one in then one from autozone
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
is there a recall on the fuel connector? and also if it is not the distributor what could it be.
Yes, there is a recall for the fuel sending unit. You can contact your dealer with you VIN and see if it is open and also if it applies to your vehicle. This recall was for vehicles in the salt states and not all got it.
If it is not the distributor itself setting the cam sensor code then you may have some faulty wiring. 99% sure you need a new distributor.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
thanks I will get back to you

Your welcome!


Customer: replied 7 years ago.
What if i just change out the cap and rotor
Nope, cap and rotor will not resolve the problem with the cam sensor.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
how bout cleaning out the throttle body, because after resetting the light, it has not come on when the car runs rough?
You can try the throttle cleaning and also check that connector for the fuel pump as well.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
thanks car guy, i will get back to you
Your welcome!
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
i was wondering if it could be the idle air control valve, maybe has to be cleaned
When it starts to run rough are you able to drive it? Also, does it start right back up?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
well it runs for about 20 mins, then starts to run rough, and shuts off. when it is running rough and I press on the gas it sounds like it is misfiring. No check eng. light comes on anymore when it does run rough. cleaned the trottle body and changed distributor cap and rotor. Now is there only one way to put the rotor in or does it have to be facing toward a reference point?
The rotor can only go one way. It has to be screwed into the distributor so it can only go one way.
I don't believe the IAC is going to resolve the issue.IT is just for idle, if you can't accelerate, then the iac is not even a factor. I am sticking with the distributor.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
how do I replace the distributor? Is it like an engine over haul, or is it pretty simple?
Pretty easy. One bolt holds it in place.Remove the bolt and it will pull up and out.The trick is getting it all lined up.
What you have to do is get #1 cylinder at top dead center, compression stroke.I do this by removing the plug on #1 and slip the dip stick into the hole. Then rotate the engine by hand until the dipstick comes up as hi as it is going to, when you see it start to come back down, stop. Then look at the crank pulley and make sure the hash marks line up with the pointer.If they don't, then rotate the engine some more until you can see the timing mark on the pulley line up with the pointer. This will be #1 TDC.
Next, pull the cap off and look at the rotor.It will be pointing at #1 on the cap. This is important because when you put the new distributor in, the rotor has to be pointing at #1.
Then you lock it down and start the truck. At that point you may need to have it timed. You can move the body of the distributor your self to get it running better, but it is best to have the timing set professionally.
That being said, I have had several I didn't have to time after. You will be able to tell based on the way it runs. Here is a diagram of the timing marks to help
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

is there a tutorial i can look at on the internet that you know of?

Nothing I am aware of, but that doesn't mean it isn't out there somewhere!
Mike V. and 3 other Nissan Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
thanks car guy you have been a lot of help
You are very welcome and thank you for the accept!