Stalling, otherwise running smooth

I’ve got a 1997 Nissan Altima (automatic, GXE). Recently it has started stalling. Usually this happens when the engine has warmed up to normal operating temperature (though last night it happened when the engine had just started).

Usually when it stalls it will start right back up, but sometimes it takes a few minutes. Sometimes it will start back up and die right away, other times it will turn over and over but not start. After a few minutes it will start back up. Sometimes it will stall momentarily and then restart right away, but not usually.

The rest of the time the car runs smooth as ever, no surging, no stalling, no erratic idling, no sputtering or anything. Usually the check engine light will come on after a stall, but I get a “no code” code when I check.

This started about two weeks ago, it did it once on a Saturday and then didn’t do it again until Wednesday. Since then it has happened at least once a day, and yesterday it happened a lot while I was driving home, but not at all when I headed to work. Today it was fine for about 15 minutes and then started doing it a lot, but the last 3 or 4 miles it was fine again.

Does anyone have any insight as to what may be the problem? I’m going to check the MAF and throttle position sensors, though I would assume if they were malfunctioning I’d either have more symptoms or I’d be getting a code. Any other ideas?

How many miles on this car, and what’s its maintenance history?

Who’s checking the codes? If the CEL comes on there should be a code.

Fuel filter? Has it ever been replaced? Fuel pressure? Have you tested it?

Check the MAF and the TPS, yes, but there are lots of other possibilities.

208k, I’ve done all the scheduled maintenance since I bought the car in 2006, couldn’t tell you prior to that. Plugs and wires, fuel filter were changed a year and half ago and the distributor was replaced. MAF sensor was replaced a year and half ago, too.

Replaced the air filter and cleaned the MAF with MAF sensor cleaner when this trouble started, but that hasn’t changed anything. Tomorrow I’m going to check the sensors with a multimeter.

I checked the codes with the CEL flash, got code 0505, “No self diagnostic codes present” each time the CEL was on that I’ve checked. I haven’t checked it since today’s stalling. I’ve got a bluetooth OBD2 scan tool in the mail which will let me check with my laptop. I’d hoped it would come today, but no luck.

Haven’t checked the fuel pressure since this started. (It did get checked back when the MAF sensor got replaced, fuel system was fine back then.) Perhaps I need to get a gauge and check that.

Or do autopart stores usually offer that as a service or a loaner tool?

You can probably rent one, I don’t know of any that loan them for free.

If you keep getting 505 codes, then maybe when the light is on, take it to one of those parts stores and ask them to scan it for you. Most will do it for free. Post the actual codes (not their description of the problem). We’ll try and help from there.

Does the car stall at idle/low RPMs only or does it stall at idle and at speed while going down the road?

Car stalls at speed. Usually when the RPM is between 1 and 2k. After it stalls then it will sometimes be hard to start, or if it starts it will stall right away (nearly instantly) or after I put it in gear and start moving (not just in gear, not revving in neutral).

Sometimes, however, it starts right away and is fine for a while, or for the rest of the day.

Alright, discovered one new thing, and got codes from the parts store. The new thing: It will stall while idling. I started it up and got it up to operating temp and let it idle for a while. After about 10 or 15 minutes it stalled. Started it back up and it ran for another 10 minutes or so and it stalled again. Did this at least three times.

However, later on I had no issues getting to and from the parts store 2 miles away.


2 instances of P0340 Camshaft Position Sensor A Circuit (Bank 1 or single sensor)
2 instances of P0325 Knock Sensor 1 Circuit (Bank 1)
1 instance of P1320 which is a Nissan specific code she couldn’t tell me any more about. Quick Google search says it is for “ignition signal”, which someone said is related to the distributor.

I’ll be searching the web for these codes related, but if anyone has any advice I’ll gladly accept it!

So I removed the distributor cap, there is a little bit of corrosion on the contacts and on the rotor. How much is too much, or if there is any does it need to be replaced?

If it does need to be replaced, how long do these things usually last before they have corrosion build-up? This whole distributor is less than two years old. If that is inside the normal life for a cap and rotor is there anything that I could check on that would cause excess corrosion?

Oh well, I guess I stumped ya’ll. :smiley: The stalling got a lot worse, as did the failure to restart after, leaving me stuck on the side of the road or in a lane for extended times… I broke down and took it to someone even though I can’t really afford to. I’ll be sure to post here to let everyone know what the problem was when they find out. Hopefully it won’t be something too major.

In other news: Listen to the reviewers who say not to go for the cheap OBD2 bluetooth interfaces on Amazon and Ebay… The one I got would connect to my phone or computer but wouldn’t send any info.

They got it fixed! (This mechanic has good prices and does great work, but it isn’t fast work, and they always have a lot of cars waiting to be looked at!) It turns out it was the distributor again. Not a mechanical issue with it, but an electronic one.

Just thought I’d share this in case anyone finds this post in 3 years and has a similar issue! :slight_smile: