Question about 1987 Nissan Maxima

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1987 Nissan Maxima with Trouble Codes - Rough Acceleration

I have a 1987 Nissan Maxima with a V6 and manual tranny. It runs rough (sluggish) when I'm accelerating in every gear. Once I build up rpm in each gear, it smooths out and runs great.

I pulled the ECM and ran diagnostics in all five modes. In doing so, I found that I have stored fault codes (mode 3) 13 and 21. From the research I've done online, I found that 13 is Engine Temp Sensor and 21 is Ignition Signal. In mode 5 (testing Crankshaft Position Sensor, Mass Air Flow Sensor and Ignition Signal) it showed that I had ignition system failure.

My questions is, Will a faulty Engine Temp Sensor and/or faulty ignition terminal cause my rough acceleration condition?

The car is my commuter and has 170000+ miles. But, it seems to still be strong.


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  • edge10 Feb 02, 2009

    A bad CHTS Cylinder Head Temp Sensor can cause poor performance and mileage or the car may not run, depending on how it fails. I have a 1987 with a similar problem, I had both 13 and 21 code. I fixed the 13 code and am still working on fixing the 21 code. The engine is still down on power and has 15 -20% lower fuel mileage with the remaining 21 code.

    The CHTS can either fail open circuit or with to low of a resistance. In my case, it was just corrosion on the wiring harness causing an open. Check it by using an DVM and measure the resistance across the terminal plug sensor side. If it is open circuit check the harness for corrosion on both sides of the harness. If you can't buy a new harness, clean it and the terminal side with Deoxit. If there is not an open circuit, you'll need the exact resistance value from the FS manual ( I don't remember it off hand) to see if CHTS failed low out of spec. If so, replace the CHTS and harness.

    The code 21 this is tricker and as I said I am still working on mine. This failure means the ignition on the ignition primary side is malfuctioning or not receiving reference pulses. A few things to check: all the harness grounds at the engine should be cleaned, all ground points at the power transitor should be cleaned, clean the ECM contacts with deoxit (pull the ECM fuse first) and wiggle the MAF sensor hardness to see if you get an engine miss from a bad connection. My power transistor fails the continuty test, but there are some reports of a bad test procedure . This part is US$125 so be sure it is bad before you replace it. Good Luck.

  • JB3oc Feb 18, 2009

    Codes 13 and 21. Engine is very sluggish, even appears to have one cylinder not firing. Not having ANY luck getting information on how to proceed after finding these codes from a Haynes service manual or the internet. I even find that different sources list different explanations of how to get the codes from the ECU, and the dealer is not giving up any 'trade secrets' about how to chase this down (or doesn't know). That's the biggest problem with OBD cars, especially OBD I series, is trying to figure out what the diagnostic information means...



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there is a screw on side of the ECM. turn screw counter clockwise all the way and monitor dash board/check engine light on and count the number of flashes on dash board. when you are done turn the screw back into original spot.

Posted on Sep 04, 2011


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