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Altima engine problem

I have a 1996 Nissan Altima GXE, manual with 160 K. The car is behaving very weird recently.

While I am driving, the car could suddenly lose power, jerking back and forth. I then switch to neutral and try to get to gear again. Whenever I try to engage the clutch, the car does not get much pull. Instead, it just jerks back and forth. I pull over, and fiund that the car idles ok. However, when I try to press the gas pedal, the car could not go over 2000 RPM at all. It is just too rough. Then after about 1 hour, everything is working like nothing has happened. This has happened many times. I’m very confused.

BTW, the car has new distributor about 10 months ago and ignition coil several days ago.

Anyone has some idea of what is wrong?

Go to an auto parts store and let them scan the engine computer for trouble codes. Bring those trouble codes here for advice.

It’s also possible the fuel pump could be failing; especially if the fuel filter has never been changed or it’s been a long time.
A failing pump can be an off again, on again thing.

Thank you for the replies.

There is no CEL. I changed the fuel filter months ago but have no idea whether the pump has ever been serviced.

The pump does not normally get “serviced”. Have its output pressure tested, and if it is weak, it should be replaced before you wind up getting stranded.

The electric fuel pump, itself, could be faltering (getting old). Electrical power (12 volts) to the fuel pump could be intermittent. So, cheapest things first (at least, that’s the order I like things). Swap the fuel pump relay with a relay that doesn’t get used much…maybe the horn relay. If the fuel pump relay is unique, in the fuse / relay box, get another from a parts house.
If this cheap possibility doesn’t work, come back and we can go higher.

Thank you. I will put a new relay one. I also ordered a fuel pump from Ebay for $30. I will let you know how it works later.

Your problem may also be computer related.

Can you elaborate on this? Thank you.

The Engine Computer controls the fuel pump relay. If the engine computer is faulty, it’s control on the fuel pump relay can be faulty (intermittent, etc.). This can be checked by an experienced mechanic.
Here is the wiring diagram which shows the wiring to (and, from) the different parts. Check on Fig. 7.