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Pathfinder wont start if it below 50ish degrees,but starts fine when jumped off

2010 pf wont start,but it will turn over like it wants too, when its cold outside. Initially I thought it was a bad battery so I bought a new one about month ago to no avail. The terminal ends are tight. When I try to twist them,applying light pressure, they don’t move. The only way I can get it to crank is if I jump start it. With in 5 seconds of putting the jumper cables on it she fires right up like a brand new car. Again it will turn over as if it wants to start but wont. And Ive got this down to a science and it only seems to occur when its < 45 degrees outside so im baffled When > 50 outside it starts after a few turnovers but it does start w/out being jumped. Seems like a simple fix but i have no clue other than something isn’t getting enough juice apparently Any thoughts?

Two things stand out here:

2010 pf wont start,but it will turn over like it wants too

followed by the comment:

The only way I can get it to crank is if I jump start it.

These comments are quite at odds with each other. Its hard to understand what is going on here. On this site we very very often need to clarify how and what terms to use when describing a No Start issue.

You enter your car…turn the key all the way on… Then you enter the spring loaded Starter section of the ignition key. At this time the starter motor is supposed to engage and spin which…“Turns Over” the engine (Engine cranking)…you will hear the telltale signs of the engine turning over…and with luck…the engine will soon “Start” and then continue to “RUN”.

So its “Turn Over”…“Engine Start”… and “Engine Run” basically…

In your description above here… its sounds like you are not Turning the engine over at all…in any way. Then after charging the battery with jumper cables…you CAN then “turn the engine over” and get it to “Start” and “Run” after the battery gets more of a charge.

I THINK you could be describing a weak battery.

You need a volt meter to measure the resting voltage of the battery prior to inserting the ignition key. What is this voltage?

THEN…you need to start the engine and while running…measure battery voltage again. What is this voltage ? Normal resting battery voltage is usually above 12VDC…around 12.5-12.8 When the engine is running the voltage should read anywhere from 12.9 all the way to 14.2 ish VDC

This is either a weak battery, a Battery drain condition when the key is off…or your alternator output is not sufficient to keep the battery in a healthy state of charge to start the truck.

We need the voltage measurements as outlined above to begin to know which this is. Sounds to me like it might be a battery drain issue… Since your battery does take a charge when using jump cables… But to be totally honest the problem can be ANY of the 3 I mentioned… Batt draining, Weak Alternator or the battery is internally damaged and cannot accept a full charge.

Thats about it…


My apologizes, I thought I made myself crystal clear. When I put the key into the ignition and turn it the engine turns over(makes typical cranking noise) as if its about to crank but it doesn’t. It will start(go into run mode) after jumping it off. There are no clicking sounds or anything of the like that would indicate weak bat or bad connection. But its 51 degrees where I live and I literally just went and started(the vehicle is running) it with no problems. But this morning it was 21 degrees and a co worker had to jump me off because it would turn over(make typical cranking noises) but wouldnt start. And I doubt the battery is damaged since its new and this is the 3rd battery ive tried and its doing the same thing. But it still leaves the question why only when its really cold? I would think this would occur no matter what the temp was if it were batt draining or weak alt.

Still a contradiction. If the engine is cranking rapidly and doesn’t start, jumping the battery will not change anything, it should still crank at the same speed and not start.

Check, does it crank the same speed (whirr whirr sound) with and without the jump?

edit: jumping it from a battery in a car with the engine running will raise the voltage a bit and cause it to crank a bit faster, and that may be enough to cause your engine to start, if something is marginal.

So if you are accurate in your description…would it be safe to say that you are experiencing an extended cranking phase prior to engine start? Duh da da dadadadadadadadadad Vroom? LOL

If this is the case…this would be describing a possible fueling issue. Such as a leaking down FPR on the fuel rail which allows the stored fuel in the rail to drain down…and then it needs to build up appropriate pressure prior to starting… The delay is the pressure building.

Do this…when you anticipate an extended crank condition… Get in…turn the key all the way to the ON position…do not crank… Listen carefully…you should hear a 2-3 second PRIME phase… You will hear the fuel pump kick on for a few seconds…sometimes this does NOT occur…and when this happens…you have long crank times. There are a few ways of playing with this… If you DO hear the prime… Turn the key back of…then back on listen for the Prime…then off again…then on, listen for prime…then off… REPEAT… What this does, if the car does prime…is it pre pressurizes the fuel rail with multimple prime phases back to back. If you are hearing the prime phase working, after say 3-4 off and on again cycles of the key THEN try to start the engine. If she starts right up…you found the problem. The FPR…Fuel Pressure Regulator. Once you are suspecting the regulator…or even now actually…see if you can get some data on how much fuel pressure you have when you walk up to the vehicle. Take another reading when it is running… Take another reading after it runs…about 2-3-4 hours later to see if there is a steady drop in pressure while sitting sitting.

Back to the pump and relay…If you DO NOT HEAR the prime of the pump…then look in your fuse box under the hood for the Fuel Pump Relay…many times you will have identical relays that control other items… If this is the case, SWAP swap your current FPR with another identical relay…mark the relays prior to the swap so you dont get confused. See if this affects a faster start with just one cycle of the key…like you normally use to start her up.


“Check, does it crank the same speed (whirr whirr sound) with and without the jump?” It sounds the same to me Bill. Honda, thanks for the advice ill check it tomorrow when it warms up a bit.

If this is a “cranks but doesn’t start problem” , it’s possible there’s something overly voltage sensitive either in the ignition system or the fuel system that’s causing it. During cranking the battery is severely loaded - more so than any other time – so the voltage that powers all the car’s systems will droop considerably compared to when the engine is running normally.

It’s normal for this voltage droop to occur, and so the car designers make sure there’s plenty of voltage level tolerance in the other systems so it doesn’t cause problems during cranking. For example the engine computer might only need 5 volts to work correctly. But a part on the verge of failing could start showing the symptom by being sensitive to low voltage during cranking.

Honda’s ideas above are a good place to start. Generally I’d be suspicious of things that tend to be temperature sensitive too, such as

  • Fuel pump circuit, including the pump itself and the fuel pump relay
  • Fuel injection circuity, often there’s a FI relay involved
  • Ignition module
  • Crank and cam position sensors

A shop or dealer will have better chances of fixing issue vs your failed attempts to fix it via Internet.

well the tightness of the battery terminal clamps is often irrelevant as to whether or not you have a good connection.

the terminals and clamps could be oxidized or corroded under the tight connection and not making good contact or…

…more likely is that your battery wire or wires are corroded UNDER the plastic insulation.

peel back some insulation (maybe two inches) at the terminal ends and see if there is green or white oxidation or corrosion on the stranded copper .

when you jump the car it may be enough to overcome the resistance to current flow that the oxidation provides