CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Hard starting Altima

I have a 2002 Nissan Altima that has a hard time starting but runs fine once started. It is very difficult in the winter when the temp is below 25 degrees. Sometimes it take me 5 to 6 tries to get it started. I have had the vehicle checked by two mechanics and recently had the battery replaced. The mechanics said the car looks fine. Could this be a fuel injector problem or moisture in the fuel system? Please help.

Hard starts in the cold are a good indicator you need new ignition parts, spark plugs etc. Other parts to replace if the car has them is the distributor cap, rotor, and spark plug wires. If the spark plugs are 5+ years old and/or have 30+ miles on them; have them replaced with new ones same brand and number as the OEM plugs.

Is This Car New To You Or Is The Problem New ?

A Nissan Technical Service Bulletin Was Written For Nissan Technicians To Help Nissan Owners With Nissans That Are Hard Starting In Cold Weather.

The January, 2003 bulletin indicates that if it’s cold and the engine is hard to start the owner should hold the accelerator pedal about a third of the way to the floor while cranking, until the engine starts, then release it. Don’t race the cold engine. It says this information is in your Owners Manual.

CSA

Does It Crank Well, But Not Start ?
Another Bulletin Has Additional Information For Some 2002 (Only) Nissan Altimas And Sentras That Are Hard To Start In Cold Weather.

If it’s hard to start and when it starts has a rough idle or won’t idle, has a ringing noise, or won’t start at all it could need a new ECM (Engine Control Module). Nissan technicians can diagnose this situation as outlined in the bulletin.

CSA

You Replaced The Battery.
Is That Because It Won’t Crank ?
Does It Crank Normally, But Not Start ?
CSA

Another Bulletin Covers Nissan Models, Including Some 2002-2006 Altimas That Won’t Crank At Temperatures Below 10*F.

It only applies in situations where the vehicle sat several hours in this cold temperature, was driven a short time, parked a short time, and then a restart was attempted and the starter does not work.

They possibly have to have the IPDM (Intelligent Power Distribution Module) replaced.

CSA

Another Bulletin Addresses Some 2002-2004 Altimas And Sentras That Crank, But Won’t Start After A “Cold Soak” (Engine Cooled To Outside Temperature).

If these vehicles crank, but don’t start or if the engine starts after being cranked for an extended period of time or if the throttle is held open and runs normally following a few minutes of running then there are procedures to follow. Some items include replacing the starter, adding Nissan Fuel System Cleaner, and checking to see if ECM reprogramming is necessary. Proper diagnosis needs to be done, first.

CSA

Bottom Line To Me Is That I’d Take The Vehicle To A Nissan Dealer. Others Would Probably Recommend Making Sure The Repair Facility Has Access To Nissan Technical Service Bulletins That Possibly Pertain To This Vehicle/Engine.

CSA