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1995 Nissan Altima Stalls

1995 Nissan Altima with 230,000 miles stalls while driving within the first 5 minutes and could immediately restart and was fine for the next 20+ miles. Well now she stalls when I try to gas her or when she switches gears (when going from 40 mph to 45 mph) and she needs a little time to rest before she will start up again.

My dad seems to think she got a little low on oil at some point and the computer is freaking out. He has already tried replacing the fuel filter. This was my first car so does anyone have any advice?

I’m glad that your Dad already replaced the fuel filter, as that would normally be something I would recommend, based on the symptoms. Where Dad is off base is in his belief that “the computer is freaking out” because the engine was run low on oil at some point. Trust me–the computer knows nothing about how low the oil level may have gotten in this engine–but the bearings may have intimate knowledge of running the car low on oil.

In other words, even though being run low on oil is not a cause of the symptoms that you are talking about, the engine may have been damaged by a low oil situation. However, with 230k miles on the odometer, I wouldn’t worry too much about the engine at this point. If it begins losing oil pressure due to worn bearings, or if it begins burning way too much oil, you could just have a junkyard engine installed.

But, to return to your current problem, there could well be multiple causes, as stalling while driving and having a hard time with a hot restart are probably not related. For the stalling, you might want to try cleaning the Mass Air Flow sensor (MAF). The problem with hot restarts could be the result of a leaking fuel injector. A bad fuel pressure regulator could be related to both issues, however.

Also, while you are under the hood, you might as well replace the spark plugs and plug wires if they have not been changed in the past 3 years or so.

If the original fuel pump is still in the car, 230K and 17 years means it could be on its last legs. This really could be many, many things. How well has the car been maintained? Basic stuff like new plugs and an air filter were replaced last when?

Do you have any check lights on, on the dash board?

Computers don’t freak out. They have no emotions. They simply take inputs and provide outputs based on how they were programmed.

This is a distributor-based ignition system. Start with the basics and replace the ignition system components; the distributor cap, the rotor, the spark plug wires and the spark plugs. All of these items deteriorate over time, and they could be the source of your problems. They should be done anyway at this mileage, even if you had no problems. The only relationship that running low on oil likely has to your current problems is that it suggests negligence in maintaining the vehicle.

If the engine operation doen’;t improve, you’ll need to go deeper. You may want to take it to a shop where they can check things like the waveforms of the ignition pulses to see if there’s an igniteror coil problem, check the pulse amplitude for a coil problem, check the signals from the crank sensor. etc. etc. And yup, fue line pressure and the regulatior may need checking too.

The car is well maintained and gets regularly oil changes by dad. Yes, the check engine light is on but it has been on since 1998 when it stopped being under warranty. While it was under warranty, they changed the oxygen sensor every time the check engine light came on.

We will give the suggestions a shot…one by one. Thanks!

Yes, the check engine light is on but it has been on since 1998 when it stopped being under warranty.

Oy. Get the error codes out of the computer. 1995 was a “fence” year for some cars in terms of the computer system. Yours is probably OBD 1 but it might be OBD 2. If its OBD 1 you should be able to access the codes yourself according to these instructions: http://www.extreme-check-engine-light-codes.com/Nissan%20OBD1%20Decoder.htm

Yours is probably OBD 1, but you can look here to see how to figure out if you’re OBD 2: http://www.scantool.net/support/index.php?_m=knowledgebase&_a=viewarticle&kbarticleid=2 If so, many auto parts stores read codes for free.

Get the error codes and post the exact codes. (2 digits for OBD 1; “Pxxxx” for OBD 2).

“Well maintained” doesn’t say anything about maintenance. Some people do nothing but change the oil regularly and believe this means “well maintained.” Its not.

+1 to Cigroller’s comments.
While there might have been only 1 stored trouble code back in 1998, by now there could be…8…or 10…or a dozen…or God only knows how many stored trouble codes. To assume that in the intervening 14 years, no additional trouble codes were stored is…naive…and very likely incorrect.

And, as Cigroller stated, there are a whole lot of folks who believe that car maintenance consists of only changing the oil, and who do not begin to think about other maintenance issues until their car begins behaving badly. I hope that you are not one of those folks!

You are right. I guess I never thought there could be more than one code. Rookie mistake. I will get it read and post the codes.

Thanks!