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Got fuel. Got fire. No ignition

The last time my '96 Altima started, it ran rough for about 3 seconds, then died. After that, it cranks strong, but will not start.

What I know:

- Year-old spark plugs and wires are firing.

- Fuel is flowing through new fuel filter.

- Fuel pressure is good: pump charges to 42psi when key is ‘ON’.

- Air intake tube is taking in air.

- Fuel pressure regulator is not spewing gas out the vacuum port (common fail condition, I’m told).

- Noid lights show that fuel injector harnesses are all energizing.

- Exhaust is smoggy-black (like unburnt gas, I’d guess).

I have tried spraying ‘quick start fluid’ into both the air intake and also directly into two cylinders, just to see if it would temporarily fire up (indicating a lack of fuel). No go.

The noid lights seemed to show that all four fuel injectors are energizing at the same time. I would expect any injector to energize only on its cylinder’s intake stroke. However, I vaguely recall hearing that injectors actually energize on several strokes…?

Q1: Any ideas what’s up?

Q2: If the fuel line has 42psi (Nissan’s spec, I think), does that indicate the fuel pressure regulator is working (and not just dumping all the fuel back in the tank)?

Q3: Are the injectors firing correctly?


You also need compression and for everything to happen at the right time. You say it cranks strong,maybe to strong,perhaps the camshaft is not turning for some reason.Have you done a compression test?

If this car has a timing belt I would take the plastic cover off to inspect the belt. Like oldschool said, maybe the camshaft is not turning, or the belt has skipped a couple teeth.

After a quick search it looks like you have a timing chain.

Good thought! I have not done a compression test, and I’ve never known if this is something easy enough to do myself. Is it as simple as replacing spark plugs with a standard pressure gauge, and then watching the needle?

I have not checked the chain. If I can get at it, I’ll do so.

If the timing got off, or if the camshaft stopped turning, wouldn’t sensors detect it and throw up error codes? I’ve got no error codes.

(p.s. Sorry if this repeats a previous reply – my first one didn’t seem to take.)

Its simple,don’t get shocked,some manuals want you to open the throttle (I haven’t seen it matter) cranking speed must be nominal. A Nissan with a chain in 96,is Altima considered “high end” at all? What is the layout 4 or V-6 DOHC? or what?.

About the codes or lack of codes,since your engine doesn’t run no misfire codes and since it doesn’t run no camshaft codes (I don’t know if it has a camshaft position sensor) The key is it doesn’t run=no codes.

It would be nice if there was a code “your engine doesn’t run because…” we aren’t there yet. I would think your car is a OBD2 car as even some 95 got in.
I have done little to nothing on Nissans. But they all snort,sneeze,pump,and wheeze. I once told a Manager “I can’t work on that car I don’t know it” and he told me that.

Cranking speed nominal? Check.
'96 Altima = “high end”? Negatory.
Layout? 4cyl DOHC.
Camshaft position sensor? Yes.
OBD2? Check.
Snort, sneeze, pump, and wheeze? At times, and has hiccupped once in while.

I may just give the poor man’s compression test a try. Thanks!