This problem started gradually. The vehicle would be a little difficult to start, and would idle rather rough for 10-15 seconds before smoothing out and acting normally. If I gave it a little gas pedal, it would take a bit less time. Over a month or so, the time until it idled smooth gradually increased to almost a minute. No engine codes were given, weather not cold. The last time I got it started, it never did smooth out completely, and now it won't start at all. When I crank the engine, it coughs and sputters like it wants to start, but can't. If I crank it for very long, it often gives a very good backfire - popped the air intake hose off once. I've checked the primary and secondary resistance on the coil pack - it's fine, and there is spark to the plugs. There is plenty of fuel pressure. We just had our first child, and don't have a ton of extra cash to take this somewhere to get diagnostics done. If I knew the problem, I could handle fixing it myself, but without trouble codes, I don't know where to go next... Timing maybe, or PCM?
Do you have an anti theft system on it? Mine did that and it was the anti theft had been triggered. If you turn the key to the on position and the anti theft continues to blink leave the key in the on position for about 5 minutes and then shut it off and turn it back on watch to see if the anti theft light goes out or not. if it goes out it reset itself and should start.
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I have a customer with a 2000 Nissan Xterra 3.3 liter V6 with 180k miles. He stated that while driving on the highway the vehicle is fine. Once he exits the highway and drove on surface streets the engine stumbles, sputters and shuts down when he stops. The fuel pump is located under the right side rear seat. I removed the inspection cover to view the electrical connections. No problem there. I drove the vehicle for approx 20 minutes and it hesitated a little but not enough for me to come to a good conclusion. I needed the engine to heat up some more so I drove to Panda Express for lunch. I got my lunch to go, return to the vehicle and started the engine to eat while the engine idled. After my lunch was over I drove back to my customer's house. On the way God bless me with what I was searching for...the engine started to sputter. To shorten this story I replaced the distributor with a brand new assembly from AutoZone($233.65). Once I removed the factory distributor I spun it by hand and that's when I could feel that bearings were rough & worn.
Problem solved and my customer is happy.
Is your check engine light coming on? If so, please post what code it is sending. You can have it read for free at Autozone.
Generally when a vehicle suddenly has an issue, an electrical component has failed. A common component that fails instantly is one of the ignition coils mounted above the sparkplug. The check engine light code will indicate which cylinder is experiencing a misfire in this case.
Another component that goes out instantly is the MAP sensor. Usually the car won't even start when this unit goes out.
There are several components that feed signals to the Powertrain Control Module, and any given one of them will cause that unit to alter the performance of the car. Your quickest and least expensive method of finding out what component is defective is to pay for a diagnostic analysis at a reputable garage. Let them identify the problem and then you can gage whether to fix it yourself or not.
My 1990 S10 pick-up had a similar problem too. It would start up fine (while the engine was cold) then once the engine warmed up it would idle very rough, sputter, and even stall out. My grandpa and I found what was wrong finally. The fuel distributor had been cracked, so when the engine warmed up it would miss (giving either too much or not enough fuel). So I recommend that you check that. Hope this helps.
Have the fuel filter changed,then if this does not help,have the fuel pump pressure checked,and check for fuel contamination,fuel additives might help,heet,for moister,and lucas fuel treatment for contamination,and fuel cleaning,for the injectors.These are the best on the market.