My girlfriend drives a 1994 Nissan Altima and recently she’s been having problems with it stalling. She just got stranded when “Willow” refused to run despite the warm engine. I’m fairly inexperienced with car repairs but my first thought was water in the gas tank, which her mechanic assured was not the problem. Any ideas?
Water in the gas tank? Sure, its a possibility, but it is a remote possibility, more than likely.
We need to know the following:
Is the Check Engine Light illuminated?
What is the ambient temperature when the car stalls?
What repairs have been already done by her mechanic?
When it stalls, how long does it take before the car can be restarted?
What is the car’s maintenance history?. (Please do not give us a general statement such as “it has been well maintained”, as that is essentially meaningless.)
Mileage is around 165,000.
The Check Engine light is off.
Ambient temperature = outside temp? In that case, it’s been cold, roughly 25 degrees
They replaced the muffler this last trip and it hasn’t been in because of this problem before.
It’ll start, run for about 5 seconds, and then stall again. I drove her car once and it threatened to stall but I got it to keep running by giving it a little gas while in park. It ran for the entire duration I had it out (about 15 minutes)
I’m not too sure about the car’s maintenance history since she bought the car used but I know that she takes good care of her car as far as tire and oil changes, that type of thing.
Hope this helps, and thanks for helping.
Oil changes and tires are one thing. Maintenance items like changing spark plugs, plug wires, air filter, fuel filter, PCV valve, transmission fluid, coolant, brake fluid etc are something else entirely, and those items are vital if the car is to keep running and if it is to keep running reliably.
When someone buys a used car and has no clue as to what maintenance it may have received from its previous owner(s), unfortunately the new owner has to assume that NONE of the required maintenance has been done.
Open up her glove compartment and take out the Owner’s Manual. Find the section for Nissan’s Maintenance Schedule. Since the car has so many miles on it, you have to look at the earlier maintenance intervals for guidance. Take a look at the items listed for 150k miles. If that number of miles is not listed, look for a list of 120k mile maintenance items.
Give that list to her mechanic and have ALL of the items on that list performed.
It will be very expensive–probably in the area of $500, but it is not possible to accurately diagnose a problem on a car until all of its maintenance has been brought up to date.
Incidentally, take a look for a listing of Timing Belt Change at 60k, or 90k, or 105k. (Assuming that it has a timing belt, rather than a timing chain.) Unless she knows for sure that this was done within the appropriate span of both elapsed time and/or odometer mileage, that will need to be done also or she risks losing her engine to the damage that results from a snapped timing belt. If this needs to be done, she will also need to have the water pump, serpentine belt, and all belt tensioners replaced. Add about another $500 for these procedures.
Maintenance is not cheap, but it is invariably cheaper than the repairs necessitated by lack of maintenance.
I’ll be sure to let her know about this. She won’t be happy about the price of the maintenance update but it’s a whole lot cheaper than buying a new car. Again, your help is much appreciated.