2003 Nissan Xterra - Two MIL Mysteries

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Crescentbunny
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2003 Nissan Xterra - Two MIL Mysteries

Post by Crescentbunny »

So we've got a bit of a head scratcher in here this week. Well two technically and both are these darn Xterra's. But this one in particular came in for a MIL for a Misfire on cylinder 2. We replaced the spark plugs, wires, and EGR controller. Vehicle ran beautifully after this, we did this repair in 2014. Fast forward to 1/19/16, thing comes in with a MIL for a cylinder 2 misfire. Found that the ignition wire was arcing. Replaced the wires on warranty. (Client had had the car at another shop before it came back to us and we found the bad wire; they replaced the plug on that cylinder and nothing changed. So cylinder 2 has a new plug and new wire.) Misfire went away, MIL didn't come back on. Fast forward to today 2/9/16, vehicle came in with MIL MIL showed random miss code. Cleared the code, drove the vehicle, Misfire cylinder 2 came back on immediatly, keeps coming back on immedaitly. You can feel it missing at idle, random miss code doesn't return. Things we have already tested:

1. Compression good on all cylinders

2. Leak down test on all cylinders good.

3. Swapped injectors, misfire did not follow.

4. Checked timing

5. Checked signal to and from PCM

6. Checked intake

7. Completely swapped the distributor out with another distributor

8. Swapped spark plug, checked all wires

9. Head gasket checks out

Any other ideas out there? We are butting our heads against the wall. Any help and time is super appreciated, thank you!!
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Re: 2003 Nissan Xterra - Two MIL Mysteries

Post by Tim Martin »

First of all, how many miles is on it? Then, what are some of the input values? Fuel Pressure is what?

I'd be putting my lab scope on the secondary ignition as well as the oxygen sensor. This could provide a clue of where the problem may be.
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Re: 2003 Nissan Xterra - Two MIL Mysteries

Post by Jeff @ Able Auto »

If cyl 2 is a consistent misfire I would use an inspection camera to chack for carbon build up. Was compression higher on 2 than the other cylinders?
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Re: 2003 Nissan Xterra - Two MIL Mysteries

Post by Crescentbunny »

Mileage is about 160k, oxygen sesnors are all checking out fine, Cylinder 2 is a definite consistent miss. Compression check shows only about a 2ish psi difference between all the cylinders. Cylinder 2 wasn't any higher than any of the rest of them. Fuel trims and fuel pressure have all been within spec in the shop and driving it. Im not sure exact numbers but I will ask the technician. He has had the scope on so many things I'll need to ask him for exacts. We just performed an EGR and fuel system service late last night once I've got some results from that I'll let everyone know. Thanks for your help!
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Re: 2003 Nissan Xterra - Two MIL Mysteries

Post by Jeff @ Able Auto »

I think at this point I might pull the valve cover and check the cam lobes and valve springs.
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Re: 2003 Nissan Xterra - Two MIL Mysteries

Post by ricmorin »

I noticed you haven't mentioned a running compression test. This will determine the volumetric efficiency of the affected cylinder.

I tend to do this when the usual suspects check out ok. The last time I used this I found a valve receding into the head. Regular compression and leakdown tests passed. Running compression did not. The valve was receded but still seating, however, the lift had changed which affected the efficiency of that cylinder.

My diagnostic guru taught me this cool technique about 10 years ago. If you're unfamiliar, google it. There are videos and articles on the technique.
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Re: 2003 Nissan Xterra - Two MIL Mysteries

Post by steven kiser »

What I would do is to put a spark indicator either between wire at cap or at plug then watch and see if the flash skips as the vehicle stumbles. I borrow another tech's one so I now have two in the system to make it easier to see. I'm feeling it is an ignition issue that may feed back to a PCM. I personally haven't had the pleasure of dealing with these beauties in a while but I remember sending out a few of the computers to have them rebuilt for an issue like this. BTW, all the pcm's we tested showed fine but the reman worked.
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Re: 2003 Nissan Xterra - Two MIL Mysteries

Post by Crescentbunny »

We did do a spark indicator test, we did not try a running compression test however thank you for that information that will be really helpful in the future for sure! After the EGR cleaning and fuel system services the misfire immediatly cleared up. We ran it in the shop and test drove it a full drive cycle and the misfire did not return. We let the client take it and I suppose time will only tell at this point! We recently had a Santa Fe in here that blew an intake butterfly through a cylinder ( Found the pieces in front of the cat) and it still had great compression. So we even unbolted the exhaust manifold cat on the cylinder 2 bank just to make sure there was no debris on this xterra!! By the way the other 2004 xterra was no MIL, intermittant no crank no start. It has had many re-curring electrical issues (We have replaced the IPDM to the upgraded new IPDM from the manufacturer, the Valve body in the transmission, starter, blower ,motor, etc) it's like the vehicle was over volted and it just fried so much electrical in it. This last time in waaay up inside the dash board we finally found an AFTER MARKET ALARM. UGH. Client had no idea it was there, neither did we. Once we took it out, voila, finally an xterra that starts! I HATE after market anything, honestly. Have I ever seen a lift kit that didn't destroy a vehicle's suspension or tires? Have I ever seen a radio or alarm that didn't mess something up? It seems awful rare. Anyway thank you all for helping us on this journey!
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Re: 2003 Nissan Xterra - Two MIL Mysteries

Post by steven kiser »

Call it fixed. May have been a piece of carbon in the EGR system. I've seen a teeny weeny bit of carbon cause all sorts of issues. I've developed a must do attitude when dealing with EGR systems. I have a piece of E / Brake cable that I twisted open at one end, slid a 4 inch piece of brake line that the cable moves freely in and slid the other into a piece of brake line and secured by crimping. The crimped end is what the drill attaches to and I hold and guide the cable with the loose piece of brake line. I load the system with intake cleaner and turn this loose inside it. It cleans Mr. Clean and sometimes the crud that comes out would make him look like a different man.
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