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Car idles fine, but dies when you hit the gas

I have a 1987 nissan maxima, has been running great and has 240000 miles on it. The other day i got in the car, started it, and it ran while i scrapped the windows, I then put the car in reverse and it died. so for the past week i can start the car ( relley warm to day so not a temp issue) and as soon as i give it gas it dies. i changed the fuel filter and can hear the fuel pump running whn i turn on the ignition. could it be a mass air sensor issue?


all for your help!

…or a problem with the Idle Air Control (IAC), or…

When was the last time that you replaced the air filter and the spark plugs?

Air filter is newer, and the same thing happens even if i take the air filteer out. Plugs about 3 years, but this car sees less than 5000 miles a year since the plug change.

Have you pulled the plugs to take a look at their condition?

Plugs are black ecectrode is clean but warn

They are warning you of something?


I had the same issue twice on an old Celebrity. Once it was the idle air control, the second time it was a bad wire leading to it.

Check the fuel pressure at the rail (if it has a rail…)

First check to make sure there are no big holes in the air tube between the mass airflow sensor and the throttle. The holes are usually on the bottom side of the tube where you cannot easily see them.

If the mass airflow sensor is bad, the car should run reasonably well in ‘limp home’ mode. Try disconnecting the mass airflow sensor and driving it. You may need to clear the check engine light afterward, but that should not be hard on an '87. If it runs poorly, but it runs, without a MAF, check the plugs and wires to the MAF carefully before investing in a MAF.

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I will Check these things out this afternoon and report back, Thanks for all the info!

I have fixed the car!!! right on with the holes in the tub… as was inspecting the air tube noticed that the MAS we completely disatached from the tube. I have re -attached the MAS and the car runs like a champ!! Thank you all for the great advice!

Don’t know how old this post is, but it sounded like something similar to what I had. Although maybe not. I have a 2001 Town & Country and I came out to start the engine to leave for work and it ran for about 15-20 seconds and then died. I tried it a couple more times and it did the same thing. I honestly couldn’t figure out even where to start diagnosing it. But then I tried starting it and then when I step on the gas, it dies.

I then turned off the engine and just turned the key on and could hear some kind of electrical almost a static-like sound coming from somewhere very near the alternator. So that makes me believe that it’s an electrical issue now and could be the alternator.

Any thoughts?

Thank God for your mention of the mass airflow sensor. I have a 92 Infinity M30 that just sits in the driveway. I quit driving it, but start it up every month or so. Last time I drove it on the road was a year ago, and it stalled at 2000 rpm every time. Since it’s just a spare with some sentimental value, I never looked at it. I figured a fuel problem. Thinking back, I’d fixed a rotted washer pump hose before this problem started. I looked at the MAF, and the connector is unplugged, right next to where I’d pulled the washer tank. Plugged it in and it runs great! A whole year of it just sitting in the driveway - makes me sick to think about.

I was going to tell you to unplug the MAF to see if anything changed… Sounded like textbook MAF failure…or unplugged… LOL

Thanks for telling us what it was…

Here some more info in case none of the above FIXED your problem.It can also lead to Remapped car(chipped).Most beginners tune up the parameters so high that the MAF stalls the engine.Solution : Change MAF sensor from higher HP car(example alpha romeo 156 has this problem.The solution would be MAF from Alpha romeo 159 2.4 engine).Or another option is to just reinstall original map drivers.