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Nissan will not start in the rain

My college sophomore son inherited a 1992 Nissan Maxima from his grandmother. 95,000 miles, regularly serviced and was basically an errand car. The problem is that when it rains, it will not start. Full tank of gas, new battery and alternator but it just turns over and will not engage. When it is dry out, it starts up and runs fine. We have baffled two mechanics with this and the only comment was possibly a fuel pump. Any ideas?


George from McLean, VA

Anytime a vehicle is hard to start when it’s damp or raining outside, the first thing to have serviced is the secondary ignition system. This comprises of everything from the distributor cap/rotor, plug wires, and sparkplugs.

You didn’t mention that this system has been serviced. And if these components are original to the vehicle, that’s where to start.


Replace the spark plug wires.

Old, dried out wires allow current to short to ground, meaning the engine block. You can see this by opening the hood and watching as someone tries to start the engine. It looks like lightning during a thunderstorm.

Tell your son to have new spark plug wires installed, along with a new distributor cap and rotor, and new spark plugs.

Perfect answer, 5 star rated for you and tester too!

Instead of just replacing components…find out what’s wrong.

I’ll agree it’s an ignition component. But which one.

When it’s dry out and the car can start easily…get a spray bottle of water and start spraying ignition components with water…spray liberal amounts of water on the components one at a time until the car won’t start anymore.

Instead of just replacing components…find out what’s wrong.

With 95,000 miles on it, I would guess the system is all original and I would just replace all the parts as a maintenance (not repair) project and likely it will take care of the problem, if not, they needed replacement anyway and would have made finding any other possible problem more difficult if they had not been replaced.