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Forums Nissan Models Frontier/HB/Truck '98 Frontier engine cuts out - my mechanic gave up!
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Old 12-28-2008, 02:38 PM
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Default '98 Frontier engine cuts out - I may have an answer now!

I noticed that some other posters had (maybe) similar problems, possibly EGR-related, but wasn't sure what the resolution was.

Recent service history (excluding tire & oil change type stuff) for my 1998 Nissan Frontier XE Automatic 4 cyl is below. I've been having problems since mid-November. Problems in January and April may or may not be related, but I have listed. My regular mechanic can't figure it out. I had it towed to the dealer today because it had died on me in traffic on Christmas Eve. I'd appreciate any ideas and suggestions, but please read the mess below. This eliminates a LOT of possibilities. I was told that it can't be the O2 sensor because that would throw a code, but if you're had a different experience, that would be helpful to know. At this point, there is no code. She has around 132K miles now. Thanks.

Aug 24-29, 2006
Problem: Cracked exhaust manifold
Service: Replace exhaust manifold and gaskets.

Jan 10-11, 2008
Problem: Check engine light is on. Engine started cutting off and on. Time for 120K mile maintenance.
Engine Code(s): P0303 and P0400
Service: Fuel induction service, R&R spark plugs, R&R plug wires, R&R distributor cap and rotor button, R&R fuel filter, drained and filled cooling system, oil service.

Apr 3, 2008
Problem: Check engine light is on. Runs sluggish.
Engine Code(s): Not sure. Not on my receipt.
Service: Test EGR valve; test EGR control solenoid and test EGR bypass valve. Install EGR control solenoid, oil service.

Apr 17-18, 2008
Problem: Check engine light came back on. Runs bad around 40 mph.
Engine Code(s): Not sure, but same as previous.
Service: Remove EGR valve and clean. Replace back pressure transducer (BPT) valve

Nov 18, 2008
Problem: Check engine light on. Need oil service. (Itís not noted on my printout, but I did mention that the truck felt underpowered off and on, but that it was very subtle).
Engine Code(s): P0440 (Evap system small leak)
Service: Inspect evap system for leaks, replace gas cap, oil service, install oil pressure sending unit (oil pressure switch). (The oil pressure switch was unrelated, but a problem identified by the mechanic).

Dec 2-4, 2008
Problem: Feels like transmission not shifting at correct times. Feels underpowered. Stalled when pulling into garage last week. Check engine light came on yesterday. (Not noted, but when mechanic drove it, he noticed the feeling of being underpowered in the 40-45 mph range, which is when it was most pronounced for me, as well as at speeds just above idle).
Engine Code(s): P0304
Service: Locate problem with EGR system, replace vacuum hose w/ orifice valve for BPT valve. They manually cleaned my EGR valve again, although it did not appear to need it, but did not charge me because that did not solve the problem.
(Per my notes, they were not able to locate a problem with the cylinder, also no problem with the individual fuel injectors. EGR valve is supposed to be closed when accelerating, but it is sticking open. EGR is apparently mounted on back of intake next to #4 cyclinder. The hose they replaced was visibly damaged.) My problem appeared to be solved. My truck is running fine.

Dec 9, 2008
The truck is getting that slightly jerky underpowered feeling again, although this morning, it was at 70 mph, which is new. And I stalled while idling at a traffic light this morning. My check engine light is not on.

Dec 10-11, 2008
Problem: Same symptoms when driving as described above.
Engine Code: Check engine light is NOT on. No engine code noted.
Service: (1) Checked EGR valve. Working as it is supposed to; (2) Checked TSB; (3) Road tested; (4) Took fuel sample to check for bad gas; (5) Checked distributer for water in it via TSB; (6) Analyze emission system; (7) Checked base idle; (8 ) Adjusted ignition timing; (9) Adjusted fuel and air mixture; (10) Adjusted base idel; (11) Road tested vehicle; (12) Readjusted TPS sensor for right resistance; (13) Disconnected TPS sensor. Rechecked base idle and ignition timing; (14) Road tested vehicle; (15) Cleaned IAC valve.

They did something where they pinched closed a vacuum line to "avoid" the EGR, got the same problems and made the assumption that the EGR is not the problem. (I don't know if this was done this visit or the previous).

Afterward, she seemed to run fine, although still a slight feeling of shifting too soon. However, after a couple of days, the symptoms became more pronounced again. Died at a stop light. Almost died in reverse. Several times a feeling where I thought it would die. (RPMs got very very low). Yesterday while stuck in traffic (everybody left a mall at the same time due to a power outage, and all the stop-lights were out), which is the type of driving that bothers my truck the most. Very minor acceleration at low speeds, over and over. My husband and I drove my truck around a parking lot, idled and revved it, idled it until it died, repeat, and repeat. It was a bumpy ride home, expecially at about 42 mph. My truck died again at a traffic light. I had to put it in park and rev it the whole time to keep from happening again.

Dec 19-22
The check engine light is not on and there is no code. The truck ran beautifully in the morning, and I took into the shop. They looked at it again that Friday and Monday and canít figure out anything else to try.

Dec 24
I was experiencing problems again, and this time she died while I was actually driving (not stopped). Twice. I pulled off to a side street and parked her. We had trouble getting her re-started, and only managed to get her to the other side of the street.

Dec 26
She started right up, but I was concerned that she would act up again on the highway and didn't feel safe driving her to the dealer, so I had her towed. She is behaving for the dealer, so she's staying over the weekend. Hopefully she'll act up for them Monday. I can't drive a vehicle that will cut out unexpectly in the middle of traffic. It's one thing in a parking lot or a stop light, and yet another in traffic. It's dangerous.

I saw this article: http://www.vpnavy.org/nissan/graphics/1998_op044.pdf I know my regular mechanic has done some of this stuff, but I can print and take over there to see if they missed anything. I also need to go up and talk to the dealer service department in person (I've talked to them on the phone and emailed them all the service history stuff in this post). Is there anything I can suggest that they check that will be meaningful with no code and the engine running fine for them? Is there anything worth replacing "just to see"? I need my truck fixed and I can't leave it at the dealer indefinitely waiting for it to behave badly for them. I'm in a rental car, which adds up quickly. Thanks.

Last edited by rocketgirl; 01-02-2009 at 02:09 PM. Reason: hopeful that problem is resolved
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Old 12-29-2008, 03:10 PM
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The Nissan mechanics could not replicate the problem, i.e. the truck drove nicely Friday. I went out there today and drove the truck with the mechanic in the passenger seat, and I was able to get the truck to stall by pretending to be in a very bad traffic jam in an empty church parking lot. This did take about 30 minutes. Never got it bad enough to shake at 40-45 range, but figured this was a start, and that the mechanic would be able to hook a scanner up to it, drive it around, and make get some kind of information. (No code was saved from the incident). This was around 11 am. They called at 3 pm and can't get it to do it again.
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Old 12-30-2008, 09:13 PM
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When you changed your ignition components in Jan. 08, did you run with Ngk/factory parts or did you opt for the aftermarket? First thoughts were either a failing tps sensor or mass sensor, but I would still like to take a look at base idle (I know you said they checked it, as well as "re-adjusting the tps) and make sure all is good. I personally have never been fond of "cleaning" an iacv, mass sensor sure but not an iacv. If you suspect it, replace it. I have seen both tps and mass sensors go bad and never trigger any codes. I also have a problem where they say the performed an induction service on the vehicle, and I hope you meant injector service. Few people can accomplish this on this style of "throttle body", and if done wrong can totally trash a mass. A faulty tps will definitely give you a trans shifting concern, and cause a vehicle to stall out in extreme cases. I would monitor what the iac is set at when at idle (if it reads a 30-32 step, you have a base idle concern). I don't think I would worry too much about the egr. If you get egr at the wrong time, you would definitely know it. Yes they will stall a engine out, but it usually "violent" and not like you just shut the key off. Your p0400 code is for not enough flow, not too much. Which means the computer has commanded the egr "on", but for whatever reason the temp sensor does not see any flow at that time. Hit me back anytime, and feel free to pick my brain.
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Old 01-01-2009, 03:38 PM
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I'm not sure the source of the parts from Jan 08 service. Plugs and plug wires may not have been Nissan, but I'm pretty sure the distributor and button were. As far as I know, induction service means induction service. That is what is on my receipt.

I don't think IAC valve was specifically suspected at Dec 10-11 service. I think they were just trying stuff that didn't require parts replacement. They were pretty stumped by this time. If I hadn't been a long-time customer, they would have given up sooner. I wasn't charged for service this date.

The Nissan dealer adjusted the idle again. Apparently it is supposed to be 750-800 and was at 1000-1050. The screw is damaged and the dealer adjusted to 800. So apparently that changed from driving it.

I have it at another shop now that specializes in Nissans and other Japanese cars. The owner has a 98 Frontier, as does one of his mechanics, so they should know the vehicle. I wasn't impressed with the dealer and they were pretty inconvenient for me to check on (and showing up in person seemed to be the best way to get any information from the dealer service department). I'm hoping this other shop will have a chance to look at it on Friday and will have some ideas.

I turned in the rental car and borrowed a car from my inlaws. The check engine light on that one went on when I was almost home. I have bad Car-ma, I think.
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Old 01-02-2009, 01:44 PM
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Possible solution: The EGR ports to the intake manifold were clogged. They have been cleaned out now. This explains the intermittent poor performance at 40-45 mph range. They are not sure yet if this fixes the stalling issue, although it seems to be running well right now. They are using my truck as the "runner vehicle" on Monday to make sure it continues to do well (although truly, I'll need to drive it a few weeks with no trouble to really be sure). I hope this is the only issue and that it is now corrected. For the rest of you with similar problems, it's one more thing to look at.
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Old 01-05-2009, 03:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocketgirl View Post
Possible solution: The EGR ports to the intake manifold were clogged. They have been cleaned out now. This explains the intermittent poor performance at 40-45 mph range. They are not sure yet if this fixes the stalling issue, although it seems to be running well right now. They are using my truck as the "runner vehicle" on Monday to make sure it continues to do well (although truly, I'll need to drive it a few weeks with no trouble to really be sure). I hope this is the only issue and that it is now corrected. For the rest of you with similar problems, it's one more thing to look at.
Turns out it was 2 problems. They drove it (and stalled) today and it finally left a code! So I need a new air flow meter. NOT cheap. But I don't care. I want my truck back. It's still cheaper than car payments.

I hope this helps someone else. It's been a PIA.

Last edited by rocketgirl; 01-05-2009 at 03:02 PM. Reason: meter, not sensor
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Old 01-07-2009, 01:50 PM
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Glad to hear you got your truck back up to speed.
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