Question about 1997 Nissan Maxima

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Car My car doesn't start. I know battery is fine. The last time i started, i had to pump gas to get it start. Do you know if it is a alternator or a starter?

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  • Daniel Jenkins
    Daniel Jenkins May 11, 2010

    does the car crank or nothing happen when you turn the key?



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Hi there,

Here's the deal. If it was the starter then the starter would not turn over the engine when you turn the ignition key - so if the engine is cranking well then that's good and you can forget the starter.

As for the Alternator, as you know, the alternator is a generator that runs off the engine. so when the engine is running you can use that generator to power your electrics and to recharge your battery that has been used to get the engine going in the first place. If the Alternator of the regulator on the alternator (Regulator determines what level of voltage is applied to your electronics circuitry from the generator to prevent over charging the battery and cooking it , and also to prevent having too many volts on your electronic components and blowing something up) but either way the alternator is not used during the engine start up sequence. Until the engine is going you are really only using the battery. So if your battery is really good at the time when your starting you don't have to worry about the Alternator either.

The things that are in play for starting are the starter motor to crank the engine, the timing of the engine set up to ensure the valves are opening and shuting at the right time to let fuel air mixture in and exahust gases out, the Computer system and sensors on the crank and the cam shaft position sensor so the computer can work the fuel injectors, and the spark plugs at the correct time to get the engine going, the fuel pump to ensure you have fuel pressure and the coils to make sure they are generating enough voltage to make the spark jump across the spark plug gap.

If you had to pump the gas last time it may be that the fuel pump is starting to play up , but its a case of working through these components to see what is not happening at the right time.

Do you have any check engine lights on ? that would tell you if the computer is having issues with the sensors. If yes you should go to an Autozone or some where where they offer free On board Diagnostic testing (ODB II checks) to tell you what codes the computer is complaining about at least and that may give you a hint on the road to a fix.

Hope that helps but its definately not the Alternator or starter if the engine turns and if your battery is good.

Posted on Sep 04, 2008


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