Strange issue with a 2003 Nissan Xterra not starting

I have a strange issue with my 2003 Xterra…least strange to me. I park my car on a steep driveway and when i park it where the front of the car is up the hill on most occasions it will not start. the engine does not even turn over but all the dash lights work and the radio etc work. I know its not the battery cause i had it tested and the battery is only 2 years old. I just had a new starter put in 2 weeks ago. Now the weird thing is that if i back into my driveway and the front is down hill its starts no problem. When i park in an even parking space etc its starts no problem. If i park uphill and it won’t start and put the car in neutral and let it coast a little to a more flat surface it starts with no problem. Anyone got any idea why? Thank you.

Battery connections are the first place to begin when you have a “No Crank” situation. Even
if you have a new battery, if the connections are loose, dirty or corroded, you will not be
allowing the full flow of current to pass thru the connections. The connection may be
enough to turn on the lights, but not enough for the huge flow that is needed to operate the
starter. This is where many people say that they know the battery is good….”because the
lights come on”. This is no more a battery test than licking a 9volt battery. It only tells you that there is electricity…not how many volts or the amperage that flows from the battery.
Jump starting may have wiggled the terminal just enough to allow the current to pass and start the engine, but tomorrow you have the same problem.

First remove the cables from the battery and use a wire brush to remove any corrosion and dirt from the battery posts and the cable terminals. There is a tool with a round wire brush for this purpose, found at any auto parts store for less than $10
Before connecting the cables, apply a coating of di-electric grease to the battery posts this will keep oxygen away from the connection so that it will not corrode as fast.

It is just as important that the other end of the cables also have a clean connection. Remove the negayive cable from the battery again so that you do not short anything out. Follow both cables to their far ends, remove this connection and wire brush the connection and the cable terminal clean and retighten these connections.

If there was work done recently, there may have been an “engine to body” ground that was not installed following the work. These grounds normally run from the rear of the engine to the firewall and are uninsulated and most are a braided wire. If any of these are found unattached…reattach them.
Remember….this is not a “Sherman Tank” don’t over tighten the connections.
Tight…tight………………too tight…broke!!!


Good ideas above. Also if you have an automatic trans, try starting in N rather than P, and try diddling with the gear shifter while you try to crank the engine with the key in “start”. If either of those help, you got a problem with the transmission safety switch. If you have a manual trans, try diddling with the clutch pedal while attempting to crank. If that helps, the problem is with the clutch safety switch.

If all else fails, the way to get to the bottom of no-cranks is with a couple of voltage measurements at the starter during attempted cranking. If you need to know what those are, post back.

your fuel pump drain-back valve may be not holding the pressure and fuel simply drains back into the tank when engine is higher than the tank

next time you park engine up, turn your ignition one but do nto start the car, let it sit for 2-3 seconds, turn off, repeat 3-4 times, then try starting: if it is a valve, you will start just fine

Possibility. But that wouldn’t cause a no-crank.

so, the wires may be getting pulled and a bad contact in the power or ground wires may become apparent under gravity-stretch in a “right” direction?

The next time this happens, with the dash lights on, step on the brake pedal and shift the transmission into neutral, and then try starting the engine.

If the engine starts, the transmission range switch is being effected by the parking pawl when the vehicle is parked facing up a hill.


going to try all of these great suggestions. thanks everyone