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Ask Chris(aka-Moose) Your Own Question
Chris(aka-Moose)
Chris(aka-Moose), Nissan Technician
Category: Nissan
Satisfied Customers: 615
Experience:  16 years of experience
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This is a bit lengthy, but please read and take note of EVERYTHING

Customer Question

This is a bit lengthy, but please read and take note of EVERYTHING before trying to solve the issue...
THE PROBLEM
My 2003 Maxima GLE is hard to start in warm weather, mainly during its first start of the day. It takes about 5 seconds of cranking for it to turn over and it usually fires “weak” when it finally turns. However, if I turn it off right after starting it, and then turn back on, it fires up quick and strong like normal. Also if I drive for over 15 min or so, it is hard to start again after letting it sit for a while. It also seems to struggle starting if I am parked up a slight hill--as if the gravity is making it hard for fuel to travel up to the engine. There is no engine light. However it runs and idles fine--just starting issues.
Now here’s the kicker--when the outside temp is like 40 degrees or less, it fires right up! Even if I’m parked uphill. During the cold months, it started great, but now that it’s hot again, the issue has returned...
THE HISTORY
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Nissan
Expert:  Jay replied 2 years ago.
Hi, My name is*****'m happy to help you. During our conversation, I may be presenting you with different things to try, and ask you some Questions to get a better understand of the issue so I can answer your question properly. So stick with me to the end, and I am sure we should be able to get this issue resolved for you! There is a couple things that come to mind that we will need to check. First can you tell me if you have ever replaced Cam Sensors? How long would you say it's been like this? Let me know..
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Never replaced any sensors. Its been like this almost a year. I think my question ended up getting cut off, but here is the detailed history of the problem...
THE HISTORY
The car use to start fine until August 1st of last year. That morning I started it up and it poorly sputtered to a start. This never happened before so I just shrugged it off and drove on to work. The car died while sitting at a stop light and I could not get it to start again--all crank and no start. I had the car towed to CarX and they said it was a bad fuel pump. I had them replace the pump and give me an oil change. Ever since I have had this hard starting problem, but at least the car hasn’t died on me since.I eventually had my local Nissan dealer run a diagnosis. They found NO CODES, but informed me that CarX had overfilled my oil by 2 quarts, and they said I needed a new air filter. They said those may be causing the problem, so I had them correct the oil level and change the air filter. They also replaced alternator belt. There seemed to be a slight improvement in starting but not much. I later changed the battery and got a fresh oil change elsewhere but no improvements. This was all done before winter hit.As mentioned earlier, I was surprised during the following winter months how well the car started. I thought the problem would get worse in the colder weather, but it was the opposite! It would fire right up like normal, but I would hear a brief sound like of pressure trying to escape somewhere around the front passenger side the moment it started, only for a second. That was only during the cold months. There is no pressure sound now that it’s warm outside again--just the hard starting So the problem seems to be temperature related…?So please tell me, what is up with my car?!
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
PS i recently changed spark plugs too, but nothing...
Expert:  Jay replied 2 years ago.
You like typing I can tell... What brand spark plugs did you install? Is it only in the morning when you first attempt to start the car you have the problems?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Im guessing its Nissan brand sparks since they installed them. I say it usually happens after letting the car sit for a while after use, but its the worst when I first start it for the day, whether that's in the morning or later...
Expert:  Jay replied 2 years ago.
If they installed them, then they used NGK plugs which is what this engine requires. How many miles on the car?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
a bit over 198k miles. I've also tried fuel cleaners and water remover like HEET, but nothing...
Expert:  Jay replied 2 years ago.
Any chance you can take a video on how it turns over so I can see? I have a few idea's, I would like to see how it turns over to see if my idea's fit what the car is doing. Let me know..
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
lol you know ive never made a vid, but I can try. so far what do u think it could be?
Expert:  Jay replied 2 years ago.
Cam Sensors and MAF sensors can act up with temperature change. I am thinking it could be one of the two.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
cool, i will still try to send a vid maybe 2mrw. I've been thinking MAF too, it's never been cleaned, but i thought codes show up when sensors start acting up?
Expert:  Jay replied 2 years ago.
No, most of the time the MAF sensor does not set codes. You can try CRC MAF sensor cleaner and see if that helps. But I would still make a video before you do that so you can see if your work changes the way it starts after it's been sitting.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Sry Jay, had trouble transferring the vids from my phone. I will try to make another tomorrow...
Expert:  Jay replied 2 years ago.
ok.. No problem. Take your time
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
ok Jay I attached an wmv file. This is from starting the car for the first time this morning. Takes about four sec of cranking. May want to max up your volume so u can hear everything clear. Tell me your thoughts...
Expert:  Jay replied 2 years ago.
Thank you .. Give me a few and then I will view it.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
This is a better vid I just shot. It's nighttime, but the cars been parked a few hours slightly uphill. As I first mentioned, it seems to be a bit worse from an uphill position. Takes about 5secs of mad cranking, then u can hear some "latching" noises right before it actually fires up...
Expert:  Jay replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for the video's. Are you the original owner of this car? If not, how many miles were on when you got it?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No, I bought it last July and it had 196kmiles. About two weeks after I bought it on August 1st was when the problems originated...
Expert:  Jay replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for that information. Do you know where the Cam Sensors are located?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
no
Expert:  Jay replied 2 years ago.
I am just starting work now.. Can we continue this later this evening.. I have some thoughts now since I have seen your videos Let me know..
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
sure i want all your ideas so take your time...
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
btw, I wish I shot in the last vid, but I turned the car off and then right back on and it started pretty quick then. So apparently this mostly happens after it sits for a while...
Expert:  Jay replied 2 years ago.
Thank you.. I will be online around 6 or 7 pm EST and be online till 10 or 11 pm. I will continue then.
Expert:  Jay replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for waiting. I have a feeling the previous owner may have changed the Cam Sensors and you have after market sensors in the car. After Market Cam Sensors can certainly cause what you are experiencing and not set codes. When it comes to after market electrical parts, they never work right.
Now let me explain so we can check this. This link below is a OEM cam Sensor. Meaning one you would get from the dealer. Notice the logo on it. That is how you know it's OEM. I would like you to check your cam sensors and see is they have this logo. If they don't, they are the first things I would change for this issue.
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/105565483/Cam%20Sensor%20OEM.jpg
Here is a link showing you where the cam sensors are located.
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/105565483/Cam%20sensor%20location%203.5%20frt%20wheel%20drive.jpg
Let me know what you find.