Question about 1996 Nissan Sentra

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1996 Nissan Sentra doesn't have sparks

Hey guys, I have a 1996 Nissan Sentra and it doesn't have sparks. Me and my father-in-law changed the head gasket and ever since we can't start the engine. We don't have any spark. We put new crankshaft position sensor, new distributor and still nothing. I measured the 6 pin connector to the dist. and I have voltage on #5, also on one of the 2-pin connector to the dist. All the fuses are OK. What else could possibly be? I was thinking about the output signal from the ECM to the distributor, if any? Can someone give me a clue? Thanks.

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  • roko77 Jan 06, 2009

    I already tried that. No spark on any of the spark plugs. Fuel is fine. Tried with a new distributor and still nothing. Where the ignition module switch is located? The crank and cam sensors are new.

  • roko77 Jan 07, 2009

    Thanks Benimur,

    but what do I do with this chart. How do I check all this on the chart? Do I check it somehow from the ECU? Thanks.



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Trying to diagnose and replace whatever is causing your Nissan 1.6L or 1.8L Sentra (or NX or 200SX) to Crank but Not Start can have you pulling your hair out. Especially since so many things can cause a no start condition... like: a BAD fuel pump, a BAD crankshaft position sensor, a blown head gasket, and the list can go on.
Well, there is 'light a the end of the tunnel' because with a solid diagnostic strategy, you can do it yourself and replace the failed part, whichever it may be (or take it to have it done). In this article I'll show you the basics of testing/troubleshooting such a problem.
Here are the contents of this article at a quick glance:

  1. Important Tips and Suggestions.
  2. No Start Condition Basics
  3. No Start 1: Checking for Spark.
  4. No Start 2: Checking for Fuel.
  5. No Start 3: Checking Engine Mechanical Condition.
  6. No Start Summary.
  7. Related Test Articles.
How to Test the Starter Motor (Nissan 1.6L, 1.8L).
No Start Condition BasicsThe most basic and the most important thing you need to know, to begin troubleshooting the No Start Condition, is that your Nissan Sentra's engine needs 3 things to start and run. These are:
  1. Air.
  2. fuel.
  3. spark.
When your Nissan Sentra Cranks but Does Not's because one of these 3 things is missing from the mix.
So, troubleshooting the problem requires that you and I check for Spark (with a spark tester), check fuel pressure, and if necessary, check the engine's health with a compression test.
I'll go into more specific details in the following headings:
1.) Ignition System
  1. The Ignition System is the one responsible for creating and delivering spark. Without spark, the engine will crank but Not Start.
  2. The Ignition System of the Nissan vehicles covered by this article use either distributor type system or a COP (Coil-on-Plug) ignition coil system. In a COP ignition coil system, each cylinder has its own ignition coil; thus eliminating the distributor entirely.
  3. In my experience, the most common component failures, of the Ignition System that cause a No Start No spark Condition are:
    1. Ignition control module (ICM) -most commonly known as the igniter (if distributor equipped).
    2. Ignition coil.
    3. Distributor cap (if distributor equipped).
    4. Distributor rotor (if distributor equipped).
  4. All of the above Ignition System components can be tested in a methodical way to find out exactly what has failed (if indeed something has).
2.) Fuel System
  1. The Fuel System is the one responsible with supplying the engine with fuel.
  2. The Fuel System component that causes the majority of No Start No Fuel problems:
    1. Fuel pump relay.
    2. Fuel pump.
  3. The fuel pump can be tested to make sure it has really fried using a fuel pressure gauge.
3.) Engine Mechanical System
  1. The engine pistons and cylinder head valves (and all the other related components like: timing chain, etc.) are the ones responsible for the induction of the fresh air the engine needs for the combustion process.
  2. Although rare, internal engine mechanical problems can and do cause No Start Conditions.
  3. Possible internal engine problems are:
    1. Blown head gasket.
    2. Blown engine.
OK, the list of possible things that can go wrong looks pretty long... but it is rare to see (or have) two different components go BAD from two separate systems at the same time.
The cool thing is, is that there is a diagnostic strategy that you can use to figure out exactly what's wrong with your particular No Start problem. Let's find out more about it in the next subheading...

No Start 1: Checking for SparkThe starting point, for any Cranks but Does Not Start condition should be testing the ignition system first. Specifically, making sure that all of the 4 cylinders are getting spark.
Your Nissan will either have a distributor-type ignition system or the more modern COP ignition coil system... either way, the first thing you and I need to do, to find the root cause of the No Start condition, is to make sure all four spark plug wires or all four COP ignition coils are sparking.
If the Ignition System is the cause of the No Start, you're not gonna' see spark at any of the 4 spark plug wires. If there is spark being fed to all 4 cylinders... then we can correctly deduce that the ignition system is not behind the No Start condition and can move on to other tests (like testing fuel pressure).
Remember, the idea behind checking for spark is to see if all of the 4 engine cylinders are getting spark. Here are the most common causes of a No Spark result:
CASE 1: Spark was present in all 4 cylinders This result tells you three very important things: 1.) the crank sensor is functioning correctly, 2.) the ignition control module (also known as the igniter or power transistor) is OK -this applies to distributor-type systems, and 3.) the ignition coil is good. You don't have to spend any time testing them or any money replacing them.
Your next step is to verify fuel pressure. Go to No Start 2: Checking fuel.
CASE 2: Spark was NOT present in all of the cylinders (DISTRIBUTOR TYPE): This test result tells you without a doubt that the No Start Condition of your Nissan Sentra (NX or 200SX) is due to a malfunction in the Ignition System.
Now, with no spark in any of the engine cylinders, this what I would suggest:
  1. Check for spark directly on the ignition coil tower using a spark tester.
    1. This is the best way to test the distributor cap. The distributor cap and rotor are infamous for causing No Spark No Start Conditions.
    2. If you do get spark coming out of the ignition coil tower, you now know beyond a shadow of a doubt the distributor cap and rotor must be replaced.
  2. Test the ignition coil and ignition control module (also known as the: igniter or power transistor).
    1. If no spark is firing from the ignition coil, then the next step is to verify that the ignition control (igniter) is activating it. This is a pretty simple test.
CASE 3: Spark was NOT present in all of the cylinders (COP IGNITION COIL TYPE) This test result tells you without a doubt that the No Start Condition of your Nissan is due to a malfunction in the Ignition System.
It's almost impossible for all 4 COP ignition coils to fail at the exact same time... so the most likely cause for this No Spark condition is a BAD crankshaft position sensor.

Posted on Nov 01, 2013

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Hi , the car was running before ?

if was your trouble is the timing marks are off the

right position

Posted on May 30, 2009

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Hi roko77
I think you have to check thoroughly ignition wiring for continuity, good and clean contacts.make sure also ground connection is tight an not broken.

Posted on Jan 18, 2009

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Hi and welcome to FixYa,

Initially, to my understanding, 1995 to 1997 Sentras share the same ECU (except the '97 1.6L). Below ECU pin configuration may be of help.
1996 Nissan Sentra doesn't have sparks - 4cb80e9.jpg
Additionally, depending on the regional version that you have, the '96 Sentra may be sharing the same electronic ignition with an Altima. If so, this might interest you.

Good luck and Thank you for using FixYa.

Posted on Jan 06, 2009

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  • Louie  Role
    Louie Role Jan 07, 2009

    Appreciate the postback/comment. 

    Pls re-check:

    • crakshaft position sensor - white wire goes to pin 53 of ECM, black goes to pin 51;

    • KPS sensor on the distributor - white/red goes  to pins 56 & 61 (must be +12 when IGN switch is RUN/START), black/white to ECM pins 41 & 45, blue to pins 44 & 40, black wire is not connected;

    • power transistor - green goes to + of IGN coil (must be pulsating when engine is cranked). It also goes through a resistor to pin 2 of the ECM. White/black goes to pin 1 of ECM (must be pulsating when engine is cranked). Black wire is not connected.

  • Louie  Role
    Louie Role Jan 18, 2009

    Have you checked the power transistor?

  • Louie  Role
    Louie Role Jan 22, 2009

    Any updates on the check of the transistor?


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Do below to determine if its fuel or spark issue

Disconnect a sparkplug wire or 2 and ground it to the engine -have helper crank engine over-do you have a snapping blue spark? If so-you have a fuel related problem, check the fuel pressure to rule out the fuel filter/fuel pump/pressure regulator and listen to the injector/s are they pulsing or hook up a noid light. No snapping blue spark continue to troubleshoot the ignition system-power input to the coil/coil packs,distributor pick-up coil, ignition control module, cam and crank sensors- Note: If it doesn't apply disregard it

Posted on Jan 06, 2009

  • Sandhya Madhavan Jan 07, 2009

    Is this manual will be helpful for you


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