Intermittent no start issue

Hello everybody,1st time user. I own an 03’ Altima 2.5 S with 142k miles. Car hasn’t ever givin me any grief in the 3yrs i’ve owned it,until lately. So what happens is I’ll get in start it & everything is good,get to where I’m going,then try & restart and it wont light/start. Cranks over with no problem,just won;t fire.sometime’s I let it sit 10mins & It’ll start other times its gotta sit for several hours or overnight before it will start. Thanks in advance for any/all help. I am supposed to be driving to CO at the end of month to visit family & do not want to get stranded. It’s also done this while the engine is cold as well.

Next time it just cranks, try doing the “key dance”. turn the key from off to run (but not to crank) for 5 seconds to get the fuel pump to run, then turn it back to off. repeat this 5 times, then try to start the car.

A faulty crankshaft position sensor will prevent an engine from starting once the engine gets hot and is shut off.



Thanks for the info, I will be trying that the next time it acts up. So it could be a fuel pump on its way out?

The crank sensor Mr. @Tester mentions is an excellent suspect. Same as the fuel pump like @pyrolord314 suggested ( I think he mentioned the fuel pump because it is semi related to making a fire and we know how much he loves fire)…

In this instance you need to think about electrical items that get hot and begin to malfunction… and electrical items usually show their weakness when they are heated up. Then when they cool down they operate normally again for a bit… this will go on until said item fails completely.

This can be that crank sensor… or a fuel pump motor that is on its way out or the fuel pump relay that is responsible for powering up that fuel pump.

Those are the parts i would be testing and proving out.

I mean…you’re not wrong. And I learned many effective ways to build fires during my time in Boy Scouts many years ago :wink: :fire::fire::fire:

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thanks for help/advise. Now I’ve got just to learn how to test & check these parts components lol. Pretty mechanically inclined but most things I’ve worked on still had a carb & distributor. Thanks again for the help.Are a Multi Meter & fuel pressure tester the only specialty tools I will need??

Well @scottadams650_166242. I still use my trusty and very dusty Actron CP9087 … a friend gave it to me many many moons ago because he didnt understand what it was or how to use it.

Granted the unit is old, but Im tellin you man it sure does work and has been directly responsible for sussing out parts that were suspect…

It can test “hall effect” sensors, ignition modules, ignitors and a whole bunch of other sensors… the instruction manual walks you thru most of the setup and what to do.

That Actron has become a really good friend of mine and has made or helped to make a large pile of roadside rescue cashish… so it was worth every penny. Lol. Oh thats right it was a gift but they are still floating around out there cheap… $50 or less usually. I think they still make it actually. There are probably more modern equivalents out there? I wouldnt know what they would be, but this old 9087 is very basic and “analog” and it works fantastically well and theres nothing id change about it…esp since I’ve nearly memorized the thick instruction manual that gives you detailed instructions on what pins to probe or connect to during testing… whatever it reports back to you, take it to the bank (literally and figuratively) lol. I don’t know what id do without it honestly

The sensor tester and a good OBDII Scan tool will get you very very far down the path of troubleshooting I promise you. Pick one up along with an OBD2 scanner and for about $100 you will be surprised what you can accomplish with it and it almost goes without saying that it will easily pay for itself on the first or second use. No doubt about it

If it were a fuel pump issue, the OP would have to do the key dance before the engine would start.

A bad crank sensor can be unpredictable as to if/when the engine will start.


Tester,thanks for the advise & starting points. Appreciate you taking the time.

Thanks for the help & advise. I’ve got another issue with the car that I cant seem to get much help on other than suggestions of taking it to dealership, that maybe you might be able to shed some light on. So the car has pwr dr lks & windows & something called vehicle interrupter to help with theft or whatever. The car is supposed to go into a “self program” mode when the ignition key is inserted 6-10 times within 10 sec. The car will not go into that mode. Any thoughts as to why?

When u leave the key inserted into the ignition… does the car chime at you telling u the key is in the switch?

If not the sensor inside ignit sw may not be recognizing “key present events”… if thats the case u need a new ignit sw.

Or the system works via a chip in the key… so either scenario would mess up that program mode entry

It does not chime. The ignition switch lights up(circle surrounding tumbler) but does not chime.It does have an aftermarket key(my only key) thats got a battery in it so,I’m assuming its got a chip or something. So you think it may be the ignition tumbler it self. Thanks for the help,appreciate you taking the time.

Years ago…when you inserted a key into an ignition the chime would begin as soon as the key bottomed out in the ignition switch…that is because there was a little pin switch at the bottom of the ignition. If that is the system you have…the switches go bad and a new ignition switch will have a new one on it.

When I say ignition switch…I am talking about the electrical switch…not your keyed lock tumbler…they are separate entities.

If you look up ignition switch for your vehicle you will see what I mean…there is a lock portion…and an electrical switch portion… You need the electrical part.

Thanks for the advice man,appreciate you taking the time. K, I hope I don’t sound completely stupid asking this but…say I’ve just driven my car for a solid hour,pull into driveway & pop the hood (car still running) shouldn’t both the upper & lower radiator hoses be about the same as far as temp goes? I can grab the lower hose & keep my hand there(its hot/warm) but the upper hose way too hot too keep my hand on it.I think i may have an air pocket in system? Again thank you & I hope I’m not bugging you.

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@scottadams650_166242 you would be surprised what measures it takes to actually bug me… I’m as laid back as they come. So you are far from that point at this moment.

Upper and Lower rad hoses…well after an hour the engine will be at the temp the thermostat will allow which means…fully warmed up and flowing thru the rad to shed the heat load from the coolant.

My degree in Thermodynamics being what it is (non existent) I am no scientist however I’m slightly smarter than the average Bear and I’m rather certain that hot things rise…and cool things fall (density my man…density). This is how radiators in cars of the early 1900’s operated… on a principle named Thermosyphon… no water pump involved. It just allowed things to flow their normal course…Hot water rose up…got cooled within the radiators core due to surface area and airflow…and the cooler liquid went out the bottom.

Modern vehicles do the same thing but since power levels and heat have risen…we incorporate pumps and fans to help keep temps down and we have sorta messed with the flow pattern but…thats not important here.

What you are feeling…in the difference in temp of the hoses…is your radiators effectiveness at cooling off what once was coolant as hot as that upper hose. What comes out of the lower…is the coolant that is going back into the engine to keep it cool. It wouldn’t work the other way round…

Of course the way we cool things today are a bit more complex and rad flow is actually side to side but the thermo principle is the same… We dont need to get into how different todays cooling systems are…this book I just wrote should satisfy your curiosity. If not…there are tons of resources online.

Thanks again man.I had no idea that the radiator was that efficient at cooling.Thats a pretty good drop in temp. Well you’ve given me some piece of mind with what I thought was an issue. Again,thank you for taking the time.

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Hello Honda-Blackbird, how you been with this Corona mess? Im over it.Anyways I was hoping you could give me some advise on yet another issue with my Altima? Was under the car today & noticed what looks to me like frame rails for sub frame have separated or moved apart a lil’ over an 1/8 in. You can clearly see a clean space on rail where it’s moved. Any idea why this would happen? I haven hit anything or bottomed out on anything.Could this be an indication of an accident from previous owner?

Whats up @scottadams650_166242… I am well, I am isolated and I am Corona free as far as I know.

Those “rails” that are basically part of the Uni-Body cannot or should not move… However the thick undercoating and or paint that is sometimes slathered on that area can peel off in a thick sheet…making it look like the rail is moving its edge over. Are you sure it isn’t something like this happening? I think a picture would clear a lot of this mystery up, so post one if you can.

Also… On this forum there are dozens of VERY Sharp people who know their stuff about cars and other topics. This forum represents a massive wealth of knowledge just waiting to be tapped. Not only about vehicles either… you’d be surprised what these folks know about their professions and cars, bikes, insurance, safety…and hell… their life experience in general…they represent an absolute Gold Mine of knowledge…so enlist them.

Please do not limit yourself to seeking only answers from The Blackbird as that would be a foolish waste of this massive resource at your fingertips. I’m happy to try an help where n when I can and if you do actually want my specific assistance, by all means seek me out as you just did, but please don’t only seek a response from me as a matter of course…as it is widely known that I am a moron, I do try to contribute valid info, I’m pretty good within the mechanical realm but a moron nonetheless… lol

The people here will bend over backward to lend you a hand and the fee’s they charge cannot be beat or bested…its the deal of a lifetime, an honor and a privilege to receive their assistance…please do not overlook this.

Now go snap that photo n post it so we can see Whatchatalkinabooot