My car won't go!

My car has been working okay. But this morning when i was taking my mom to work. When i pulled into her jobs parking lot i heard a loud sound. I didn’t pay any attention to it because the car still acted fine as it been. That was around 7 or 8 this morning. Then around 4 when it’s time to pick my mama up. I got in the car it started right up. But i notice that it was jerking or vibrating real bad (but it always vibrates). Then when i started driving it i had to force it to go. When i came to a complete stop at red lights the car was acting like it was trying to cut off and it was jerking and vibrating out of control. It was doing that so much that i had to put it in park and run the motor to keep it going then when the light turned green i put it in drive and it still was acting up. It was so bad that i had to turn around and slowly get it back. I notice though that i smelled something burning. When i parked back at home it was smoke coming from the lights and hood. I know it didn’t overheat i didn’t have it on for that long maybe 10 minutes at the most. We just got a oil job not too long ago and the service engine light is on. The light has been on for a while now. But before we knew it was the crank shaft sensor. We keep replacing that but that continues to go bad. Can somebody help i really need to know what is possibly keeping my car from picking up speed and why is it smoking? We use this car for everything. My car is a 2001 nissan sentra.

I suspect that this car has not been maintained as well as it should have been, but that is just a guess from afar. In order to have some direction regarding the problem, you really need to have the stored trouble codes “read”, and–if I was a betting man–I would bet that there is at least one trouble code in addition to the one relating to the Crank Position Sensor.

If you go to an auto parts store (AutoZone, Advance Auto, O’Reilly, possibly Napa) you can have the trouble codes read, free-of-charge. Then, you can come back to this forum and can post those codes for further advice.

All of that being said, if your car is actually “smoking” it should not be driven, and should be towed to a mechanic who is known to be…competent and honest. A smoking, hesitating car should not be driven–unless you want to incur even bigger repair costs.

From what you’re describing, it could be that the timing chain jumped time.


There’s an assortment of things that could cause these symptoms. When it goes from running well to running poorly in the course of a day, I’d suspect something electrical more than mechanical. A sensor on the fritz, or an actuator not actuating. Start with having the DTC’s read. The experts here will probably be able interpret them for you. Don’t take these codes too literally. If a code comes up for example for the O2 sensor, there’s a good chance the O2 sensor is fine, and something else is the problem. But engines have so many ways to fail these days, if you just start replacing stuff you’ll run out of money before you fix the problem. So you have to rely on the computer’s built in diagnostics, the output of which is the DTCs. Best of luck.

You say it didn’t overheat, are you absolutely sure about that? The only evidence you present was that you only drove it for about 10 minutes. Did you look at the temperature gauge on the dash? Have you opened the hood to check the oil level and the coolant level?

I suspect that you have one spark plug that is not firing, have you had them replaced on schedule? If you have, you may still have one not firing for a variety of reasons ranging from a bad coil or spark plug wire to a blown head gasket.

Check those oil and coolant levels first. Also check the color of those fluids. If the oil looks like a chocolate milkshake or you see oil floating on top of the coolant, you have a major engine problem. If the coolant is clear and the oil looks like oil should, then the repair may be a lot simpler and less expensive.

Do you think it’s something serious maybe?

If you just start the car and sit at idle, how does it behave? Does it run really rough and shake and maybe flash the check engine light at you? Or does it idle just fine until you put it in D? How does it behave in reverse?

If it idles fine in park does fine in reverse, and only acts up when you put it in drive, try putting the gear selector in whatever is just past drive - it might be a 3 or a 2 or maybe just a D without a circle around it. See what happens then.

Either way you do need to have the error codes read as suggested.

Hmm. $2600 viscous clutch bill and car is worth <$2000? Oof.

Where did the $2600 and viscous clutch bill come from? It is not in the thread I see.

I just had my uncle look check out the car. He seen that it had a oil leak. He also has one of those handheld code readers. It said once again the crank shaft position sensor circuit malfunction or something. About to get the oil leak fix within the next few days. But the crank shaft sensor we have replaced more than 4 times in the last year and half. It still keeps messing up. We just got a new computer from midas a couple years ago. And my uncle last year changed the timing belt. He also did the engine as well. So what should i do about this crankshaft sensor?

Timing belt?

If your vehicle has the 1.8L or 2.0 L engine, it has a timing chain


There is no code that tells you that the crank sensor is bad. The code will be about the circuit. The sensor is only one part of the circuit. What was the exact code? Its a P with 4 numbers after it.

The oil leak is unlikely to have anything to do with it.

I’m sorry i meant a timing chain. I always get the two confused.

I can’t remember what the number was. All i seen was that it said crankshaft position sensor circuit malfunction.

The number may have been P335. But not 100% sure at all. I know it said crankshaft position sensor though.

Did your uncle check the harmonic balancer?

It’s basically a rubber energy absorber sandwiched between the front of the crankshaft and the front timing belt sprocket. It absorbs rotational shock from the pistons firing and returns it phased out of synch with the firing cylinders such that it smooths out the crankshaft operation. If it comes apart, everything related including the valve timing, the crank timing signals, and everything else that needs a clean crankshaft operation goes to heck. And if the crank position sensor is up front of the engine on this car a failing one can cause premature repeated crank position sensor failures.

This is just a guess, you understand. Just another idea to consider.

I will tell him to check it out.


Why did your uncle replace the timing chain in the first place?

Did he also replace the tensioner?