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Limp mode when engine is cold

So my Nissan goes into limp mode (accelerates up to 30-40mph) when the engine is still cold, but turns into normal mode after a while when engine gets warm. I got a the MAF code and changed it and cleared the code, but it still happens. I also cleaned the throttle actuate bore, but still the same problem. Does anyone have ideas what it could be? Car is a 3.5 V6 2008 Nissan Maxima with around 120k miles.

What code numbers are you getting?

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None right now

If it is actually going into limp mode, the check engine light should be on. If it’s not, there could be something mechanically wrong with it.


I wonder if this is an electric throttle system problem ? If this car uses that technology – drive by wire – maybe the throttle valve isn’t properly following the gas pedal angle reading. OP should carefully inspect the gas pedal area to see if there’s anything that’s obviously amiss, broken or loose electrical connectors, broken welds, etc.

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It could be as simple as spark plugs… It is not uncommon to see vehicles that have never had their “rear” plugs never changed in a tranverse mounted V6… the “rear” plugs would be the ones nearest the firewall. Owners ask for a tune up which includes spark plugs…and what they get is the front 3 plugs changed…but not the 3 against the firewall. Not that these owners ask for this, but the shop that does the job figures nobody will ever notice if they just install the easy to get to spark plugs…and forego the back ones.

This happens a lot…and when it does you will get misfires on those cylinders associated with the rear 3 plugs… Just something that we see out in the real world.

You need to tell us the codes associated with this event…Im guessing they were misfires… those misfires may go away when the engine warms up… again…another common thing…

Dont just clear the codes and motor on… those codes will lead to the solution of this issue…so theyre important.


Is there any correlation to climate such as this being worse in cold damp conditions?

I had a car do something similar once. It would run like crap, miss, and spit when cold. The exhaust smelled like an old two stroke boat motor. It would run fine when warm like nothing was ever wrong and there were never any codes.

It ended up being poor grounding. Someone suggested I remove all the major grounds, clean them, and apply silicone grease before re-assembling. The grounds didn’t really look that bad so I thought I was doing all this for nothing but I used fine sandpaper until they shined, wiped down with carb cleaner, and put it all back together. The difference was amazing.

It could also be a fuel pressure problem so you might check that out. That doesn’t always throw a code.

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@Honda_Blackbird The thing is there aren’t any misfires or anything. It just electronically stops accelerating at round 30-40mph and then after some time (when the engine is warm) suddenly it releases all power and I can drive normally. It doesn’t seem like a mechanical issue to me to be honest. And I only cleared the code that the MAF was causing after I swopped it.

@tcmichnorth That’s why I am confused, too. It doesn’t read anything right now, no lights go on.

I will have a look, thanks.

If it runs fine, and runs like it’s using a governor at 30 to 40 mph, there’s two things I’d check next.

  1. You need a scanner that can read engine outputs. You can check the throttle position sensor outputs in voltage. Even if it’s fly by wire there should be some kind of PIDs to check.

  2. I once looked at a Ford full size van that acted like it was being governed at 40 mph or somewhere around there. I do not remember all the details but this was a governed engine. A speed sensors output didn’t match the output that fed the speedometer. At any rate the computer was receiving a bad output from a speed sensor and thought it was time to govern. I replaced the correct speed sensor, problem solved. This was also a different vehicle and also threw a code, but may be some fuel for thought.


So I tried what @George_San_Jose1 and @tcmichnorth suggested, unfortunately with no result.

Make sure you can see any transmission codes as well. I would think this would trip a check engine light but maybe not.

So I have been driving in the morning cold and noticed that it might not be limp mode, but the engine not releasing power in third and upper gears when cold… Might be something mechanical after all. Any ideas?
I will probably bring it to a Nissan mechanic on Monday to get it checked.

If your '08 Maxima uses a conventional automatic transmission, it’s starting to sound more like a transmission problem than the engine. “doesn’t work correctly when cold, but works ok after warming up” is a pretty common automatic transmission failure mode. When it starts happening , after you start noticing the problem, it often doesn’t take too many miles of driving before the car become un-drivable. Years ago my truck’s automatic one day began to refuse to shift from N to D when it was cold, but worked ok after it warmed up a few minutes. It was in the shop for a complete transmission rebuild within a month.

I was wondering about the transmission as well. A fluid change might keep it going a tad longer but I couldn’t expect miracles if it is about to die.

Do you ever see the RPMs continue to rise without an increase in speed?

Is this a conventional automatic or a CVT transmission? Some of those CVTs used on Nissans have been problematic. I have heard you NEVER want to go beyond the change interval on a CVT. You might be able to get away with this on another automatic but they say CVTs are far pickier than other types of transmissions.

Check out and see if any of the problems are what you are experiencing. It looks like there are some transmission problems that form a pattern here.

I think we need to clear up a few things… (possibly for only my benefit). You state the vehicle is going into limp mode. This is a real condition…

Many things can force an engine into limp mode… but none of them can happen invisibly…they will have codes and you will surely know about them… assuming you dont clear and ignore them that is.

So what codes do we have here? Any? If not…you dont have limp mode either… So what are we discussing at this point? Many of these have the CVT trans…which imho suck…but… they are also known problem children.

You may be inadvertently describing CVT problems here. Because you definitely arent listing any DTC’s

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It looks like this year came with the CVT as the only option.

Yes, Nissan had problems with CVTs. They were problem children as stated.

If you have a transmission code, it will likely be something in the P0700 range. Have the codes read and post them here. Can a CVT fail without throwing a code?

Here you go!

Go down to the P1700 range for your Nissan.