2005 Altima Flashing Check Engine Light and lurching motion

My 2005 Nissan Altima has an odd habit. I don’t know how long it has been going on, I bought it in Oct and noticed the behavior shortly after. Here are some symptons.

While driving the check engine light will flash anywhere from 30 seconds to normally not more than 10 minutes.
When I am driving with the flashing light there is a jerky motion, like a misfiring engine, but only under 2100 rpm.
Above 2100 it is ok-ish
When I am stopped in P or N during that time the car vibrates more than normal.
When I am stopped in D during that time the car feels like it is about to stall. (It never does)
If I am in R it is ok-ish.

Once I park the car and let it sit during the work day, or over night the problem may or may not return. When it goes away, it can go away for weeks at a time.

I feel like it mostly happens when the tank has 1/4 or less of gas or was just refilled. But, I haven’t paid as much attention to that detail.

The mechanic can’t get a code read and can’t reproduce the problem.
One day only, I managed to get a code that cylinder 1 is mis-firing.
He has another Altima with the same problem he has been diagnosing for a while and can’t find a solution.

But, I find when I come here I always get good feedback, so, if anyone can help on this, I would appreciate it greatly.


I can’t diagnose your problem, but I can tell you that you’re supposed to stop your engine when the check-engine light flashes to avoid expensive damage, especially to your catalytic converter.


The flashing check engine light means stop driving because you have a misfire bad enough to damage things. You might need a better mechanic or at least one that will keep and drive the car with a code reader plugged in long enough to replicate the problem.


There’s a slew of recalls and customer interest bulletins on this car from what I can see. Make sure all those have been done probably as the first thing. At least there are for the 2.5 L engine. Some appear to be ECU problems requiring resetting the learn mode parameters. Another is a problem with what they call the “power valve” . You Nissan dealership should be able to tell you if they’ve already been done if you provide them the vin #.

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A cylinder misfire can certainly cause those kinds of problems. The most obvious would be a misfire due to spark plugs and/or coils. With the plugs out I would suggest running a compression test to make sure things are right mechanically inside the engine.

The car is aged a bit with ? miles on it and you just bought it. It could be that a serious mechanical issue exists and that is why someone decided to sell it or trade it in; depending upon whom you purchased it from.

Hopefully I’m wrong about the mechanical compression issue but I’m only pointing out that it should be checked rather than throw a bunch of parts at it in a vain attempt to cure it. Best of luck.

(If you run a compression test you would hope for 170 PSI or more. If it’s in the 125 range give or take then this means there are serious issues. Don’t know why the mechanic didn’t consider this.)

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I wonder is “freeze frame” would save anything for this situation.
CEL may be off, but trace may be left behind.

I’m wondering if you ever solved your problem? My Altima has been experiencing similar issues and the mechanic is replacing the ignition coil(s) to solve the problem.

I had the ignition coils and spark plugs replaced at about the same time. The plugs had collected oil in them. I cannot remember what the mechanic had to say about that with respect to the light, but the problem was solved after those two repairs.

Good luch Zachary-23

You just found out why the car was for sale.

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