Engine missing badly [Archive] - Nissan Xterra Forum

Engine missing badly

Carlos Robles
03-12-2008, 08:29 PM
Yoo, new guy on the forum!
The other day my Xterra '00 (1st gen) started missing a little on mid rpm. I first replaced the rotor and cap thinking that it was my problem. The next day it got worst and left me stranded at the autoparts while buying the fuel filter. That was not it either. I felt for the trap of the Knock sensor. I wish I had done my research first! I bought it and now have to eat the cost. I did not get to replace it as I didn't want to get that far into the engine on my driveway. I replaced the spark plugs, wires and PCV. I still have a bad miss on iddle and also on all rpm. I will check the fuel system next. Please advise.

03-12-2008, 09:33 PM
Welcome! SES light? If so get the codes and let's see what we have to work with.

03-12-2008, 09:52 PM
Sounds like an injector going out.

Try this trick. With the engine running (be carefull!), start pulling off the spark plug wires one at a time. If the engine runs worse, then it's not that cylinder. Reinstall that plug wire and move to the next one. When you pull off a wire and the engine doesn't run any worse, then you've found the problem cylinder.

If, however, nothing changes, then you've got something else wrong.

Carlos Robles
03-13-2008, 04:25 AM
The only code that I get is the KNOCK SENSOR.
Yes, to best way to describe the trouble is like if I was not firing properlly on a cylinder. I checked all my connections to the injectors and they were not loose. I have not checked if they were injecting properly yet. I need to do the test with the wires.
I was looking into the IAC but really my miss is out of iddle too so I disrigarded that. I was checking my emissions system as the area under the plenum by IAC,PCV etc was dirty with oil like if a hose was plugged. That connection for the injector #6 was covered in oil and I cleaned it when I removed the plenum trying to replace the knock sensor. By the way, I could not remove the hoses at the back(by firewall) that is why I stopped from replacing the knock sensor. THe plenum would not come out easy. The spark plug #6 was real wet, then again I keep trying to run it with the miss. It almost feels like bad gas too, so I treat it the system when I changed the fuel filter.
How about on the ignition side? I had to remove some metal shavings that were by the coil. It was like a metal spacer shreded. I have no play on the ignition though!

03-13-2008, 07:55 AM
Ignore the knock sensor code that won't cause missing. This year has been "distributor year" and a few people have had to change them. The metal shavings you mention is something I'd look into.

03-13-2008, 08:25 AM
I think you might be over complicating things. Things to make a miss are spark or fuel. If a cylinder has both, in the right quantity, it'll fire.

Do the trick with the wires before anything else. The injectors don't fail (usually) due to a bad connection, they fail internally.

If you keep messing with stuff, you might cause another failure, and thinking that everything is OK, will running around in circles for a long time.

Carlos Robles
03-13-2008, 04:33 PM
I will check by removing the wires and next the fuel pressure on the system. Thanks.

Carlos Robles
03-14-2008, 04:41 AM
I checked the wires and you can hardly hear/feel the miss getting worst but it does. The miss is so bad that unless you are really paying attention you will not notice the cylinder out. I have spark on all wires, should I check the other components of the ignition to test if my spark is weak? I can hear it jumping at the boots.
One thing that I notice yesterday (hopefully I was not dreaming) is that the miss sometimes goes away for a few seconds. I also accelerated the truck to high rpm (4,000) and it stayed steady for a while.
IAC connected or disconnected doesn't do any difference.

03-14-2008, 07:56 AM
IAC disconnected doesn't change? Then your base idle is good. Disconnect your Mass Air Flow Meter and see if it changes then. If it does, then you've probably got a dirty unit. If not, then check the Ohms of each injector, make sure they're all good.

Carlos Robles
03-15-2008, 08:59 AM
I tested again removing the spark plug wires and nothing. I added a fuel injector cleaner (Chevron with Techron) to a 1/4 of a tank and cleaned the MAF. By the way, disconnecting it just turns off the car.
The miss was still there but I decided to warm up the car by accelerating it steadily or just quick revs. Like I mentioned before, at 4K RPM I was able to keep it steady with no miss. I was able to rev it steady after that quite a few times but if I would let it go to idle the miss came back until I repeated the high reving scenario. I don't know if the problem is dirty injectors or gas, related to the temperature of the car or something else. I will put another computer to read the codes again.

03-15-2008, 09:23 AM
Disconnecting the MAF should put it into limp mode. At this point, I wonder if your MAF is reading correctly. I'd try to rev it up to about 1200rpm and disconnect it again to see if it'll stay running. If not, I'd suspect the MAF.

But you could still have other issues as well.

Try this...

Disconnect a vacuum line and see if it runs better. If so, then you're running rich, causing a misfire. If it get's worse, then reconnect it and pinch off the fuel return line. This will raise the fuel pressure and, if you're running lean, will cause the engine to pick up and possible get rid of the misfire. If so, then you need to find out why she's lean (possible MAF).

Carlos Robles
03-15-2008, 11:12 AM
MAF at 1200 rpm, the car stays ON. WHen I remove a vacuum line, the car shhuts off. The iddle with the miss goes too low as it is and then with the vac. line out goes down even further until it shuts OFF. Pinching the fuel return line doesn't do anything. Now I have the SES light ON but I am assuming it is because I disconnected the MAF.

03-15-2008, 11:18 AM
Correct about the SES light. If you leave the battery disconnected for a while the light will turn off.

Try the vacuum and fuel pressure trick with the MAF plugged in, sorry, I forgot the put that in there.

But, when you disconnected the MAF, did it run any better? Sounds like no, so the MAF sounds like it's good.

What is the base idle at? Should be around 650-750rpm. Turn the base idle screw (you know the one, the PIA huge phillips head one on the side of the IACV,out until the idle comes up, then back down just until the idle stays the same. Kinda hard to explain. But that will get your base idle where it needs to be.

Then retry the vacuum and fuel pressure tricks.

We'll find it yet!

Carlos Robles
03-17-2008, 07:07 PM
I was reading in another forum that a lot of people had this same problem. Unfortunately, nobody responded with the solution. The threads were months old so I am hoping that they solved the problem and forgot to reply that they fixed it. I e-mailed (2) of the members. Lets see if they reply. They point out to check the crankshaft position sensor.

03-17-2008, 08:18 PM
Hey guys,

I really do not know about Nissan but I woked Chrysler for ~5+ and sometimes, I said sometimmes, this problem was due to a bad spot in the throttle position sensor. As this device "talked" or more accuratley sent a feedback position related signal to the computer to decide weather (or is it wheateher? ...thank GOD its not another spelling test anyway) the engine was at idle or full throttle for the propper dwell of the injector pulse PWM. I really cannot contribute much more than that. Possibly someone else on this fourm can elaborate or check the serice manual for detailed testing proceedures for thi omponent. Good luck man!


03-18-2008, 07:53 AM
I was reading in another forum that a lot of people had this same problem. Unfortunately, nobody responded with the solution. The threads were months old so I am hoping that they solved the problem and forgot to reply that they fixed it. I e-mailed (2) of the members. Lets see if they reply. They point out to check the crankshaft position sensor.

The crankshaft position sensor is not used on these motors for running the engine according to the manual. You'll have to look elsewhere sorry.

A couple of people on another forum have had similarly poorly running vehicles that a replacement distributor has fixed.

Carlos Robles
03-19-2008, 07:25 PM
You were correct my friend. I fixed it by replacing the distributor.
When I disassembled the distribuitor to see if I could find out what the metal shavings were, I found that it was the shaft bearing. It was all messed up. Even the degree wheel had wear.
Thanks to all that help me troubleshoot the problem.

No Pipe
01-31-2009, 11:10 PM
I have this same problem it will miss after I fill up with gas and then the next time I fill up it stops I thought it was the gas. And I have changed my spark plug wires' cap and rooter and spark plugs. This started in July and after I put my NGK spark plugs in and it stopped then during Christmas it started up again and after I filled up it went away but now itís back and I think it might be distributor what do you guys think.

PS my Catalytic Converter b is throwing a cod, and a random miss cod

02-03-2009, 04:17 PM
What is the base idle at? Should be around 650-750rpm. Turn the base idle screw (you know the one, the PIA huge phillips head one on the side of the IACV,out until the idle comes up, then back down just until the idle stays the same. Kinda hard to explain. But that will get your base idle where it needs to be.


The local Nissan dealership told me the IACV had to be set by a Nissan programmer. I couldn't find the screw, I guess I missed it. It's on the driver side facing wheel well, right?

I've had a rough idle for a while now and crappy mileage. Swapped the MAF and still had the same problem. Last diagnostic showed me running rich.

Xterra Mike
02-03-2009, 06:52 PM
Have you reset the timing? 13-15* is what the manual calls for. Went through the same mess when i hydro locked my motor then broke some teeth off the timing belt. i'll get that pic for ya of the screw. Gotta find it.

Xterra Mike
02-03-2009, 07:17 PM
yea i looked for that pic and can't seem to find it. Sorry man.

02-06-2009, 07:04 PM
Well crap.. the '00 I bought in Dec (126k miles) has started doing this, too. It's not so bad it won't run - it was sputtering and missing all the way home (about 30 miles) but never shut off, and actually held road speeds of 65 fine, just sputtery. It would go maybe 1/4 to 1/2 a mile or so without it, then it would skip and miss steady for another mile, off and on. Doesn't sound like it's knocking or tapping or anything, just missing.

I'm thinking of just replacing everything it could be - plugs, wires, fuel filter, and full-on distributor - before having the timing belt et al replaced next payday. I'd rather spend the money to fix everything now while I can than keep tinkering with it only to fail later when I might not be able to afford it.

I already have a new fuel filter & PCV valve, just haven't had time yet to replace them. I cleaned the MAF already a few weeks ago, and ran a can of Seafoam through the fuel system a few weeks ago, as well. It's not throwing a Check Engine light, and I haven't had the codes read so I don't know if it's throwing any.

02-07-2009, 10:52 AM
Update... it's worse. :(

I started it up this morning, and it blew a cloud of black smoke out of the exhaust pipe, then ran fine. I drove it around for a bit and it didn't sputter, so I stopped back at home, then went back outside to tinker with it. I was pulling each plug wire from the distributor cap, to make sure they were getting spark OK (and they were), and when I pulled #6, the engine sputtered and quit. I put the wire back, and I've been trying to get it to start again for the past hour or so. It'll turn over, act like it's firing, then sputter out and die immediately.

Any suggestions on where I should start?

02-07-2009, 08:30 PM
Update #2 - replaced the Dist cap and rotor, and now it'll start up but still sputters - though not nearly as bad. I've got plugs, but haven't changed them yet, going to do that tomorrow. Still no check engine light! New wires coming in on Wednesday. Fingers crossed!

02-09-2009, 08:59 AM
Last update - Replaced plugs, no change. Replaced distributor, problem solved!

Case closed!

03-20-2009, 10:23 AM
This has been a very helpful thread. I am ready to order a distributor for my '00. Can anyone recommend which I should order:

CARDONE SELECT Part # 8458600 w/Module; Supplied w/Cap and Rotor $222.79
BECK/ARNLEY Part # 1855061 NEW $252.79
A-1 CARDONE Part # 3158600 More Info {Reman.}w/Module $270.99 (after core return)
RICHPORTER Part # NS40 More Info {New Distributor, Includes Cap and Rotor}
OE#: 22100-0w601 & 22100-0w602 $199.79

My inclination is to order the Beck/Arnley only because I have had decent fit success on other cars using their parts. Any experience would be welcome.


03-22-2009, 10:08 PM
I have a used distributor with cap/rotor for sale that's in good working condition if you're interested send me a PM.

05-29-2009, 07:56 AM
Same issue on 2000 3.3L; 245K miles on OEM Hitachi distributor; cleaned metal shavings out - problem went away and returned intermittently; extremely rough idle to no-run conditions; replaced distributor - problem gone for over four weeks now with daily usage; research the ebay sites carefully; I'm told there are some compatibility issues with certain aftermarket types on the 3.3L application; I ordered mine from FCP Groton; pretty good service with phone support and fast shipping; possibly free in some cases.

06-02-2009, 06:38 PM

i have an 03 Xterra.

idles very very rough. po300 shows and p1211

i replaced plugs and wires and a brand new distributor.

this thing still runs like crap, hard staring as well

06-02-2009, 07:57 PM
Tremor X, thanks for all of the updates. Good info to keep handy. Glad you got it figured out.

06-11-2009, 06:45 PM
Looks like mine is going to end up being the distributor also....

06-12-2009, 11:05 AM
Least its an easy fix... lol

06-24-2009, 01:25 PM
My xterra is still running rough after the dist replacement once its warmed up....

A borrowed a code reader and I'm getting the knock sensor code (P0328), and a Misfire code (P1336) according to the reader.

According to the reader it was a miss fire code, but looking the code up on the forums it says Crankshaft position sensor (P1336).

I found this link posted on the form, and it mentions "This sensor is not used to control the engine system."

But this is the other CKP code(P0335), is the P1336 something different?

06-24-2009, 04:10 PM
what a mess...

07-08-2009, 03:50 PM
Looks like it was the distributor after all, but the one I got off ebay (brand new) the first time was either bad when I got it, or didn't really work with the Xterra..... I replaced it with the (double the price) one from autozone, and it now runs great.

Might want to be weary if buying from this ebay seller (link below).... Not that they were dishonest to me (unless they know the dist wouldn't work with a 2000 Xterra), but as the member gulfcoastal said in this thread
"research the ebay sites carefully; I'm told there are some compatibility issues with certain aftermarket types on the 3.3L application;"

Here is the one I bought

The reason I think it might be a totally wrong distributor, is because when I marked the original position when removing the ebay one, it was lined way off when I tried to line up the autozone dist to the same line.

11-04-2009, 01:58 PM
get a richporter, check your casting numbers and order the right one.180-190.

01-16-2012, 07:40 AM
2000 3.3 w/120,000 miles
Pretty much same problems as others having. Runs OK for ~5 mins when cold then rough idle and runs irratic when revved up. Timing light revealed that timing was very irratic. Replaced distributor (Advance Auto $260). Problem solved.

01-16-2012, 08:38 AM
I had the same problem with mine within a week of buying my x from from a Nissan dealer. took it back to them and they said I bought it as is but they would fix it. pulled the original distributor off and cleaned all the shavings out and put it back together. ran great for about 2 weeks and then the same thing started happening. the bearing in it was so bad it was letting the rotor wobble about 1/8 of an inch. it had ground a noticeable bit off the rotor button and some of the plastic off from the plastic that is around the main contact that provides the spark to the rotor. got a new distributor that day and havnt had any problems yet in over 2 years. it was throwing all kinds of codes at the time. misfire, knock sensor lots of backfiring.

There should really be sticky about replacing the distributor on the first gens. its a common problem that is easy to fix and lots of people waste money by replacing the cap and rotor and plugs and wires first, only to turn around and have to buy a distributor that comes with the cap and rotor.

03-11-2012, 04:03 PM
2000 X 3.3L manual 5-spd 134,000 miles

I also had the same problem with my X about a year ago...First, I replaced fuel filter, spark plugs, distributor cap & rotor. Still sputtering...Looked through this forum and replaced entire distributor--problem solved!

I also agree that there should be a sticky re: replacing distributor on the first gens.

04-12-2016, 07:34 PM
Ok well i had the same problem start yesterday, my 2000 xterra started feeling like it had a dead miss and almost stalls at idle. Since this is my first xterra i immediately hop on here to see what everyone else has done to solve this issue. So i run through all the suggested fixes and nothing worked. I have new plugs, new wires, new distributer, new cap, and have checked the ohms on just about every electronic connection they have on it and still the problem remains. Now im a 3rd generation mechanic, so i know my way around a vehicle but i was stummed untill i got home tonight and put it in park to check my mail. What i heard was very subtle but distinctive of an exhaust leak so i check and sure enough bank 1 cylinder 5 had a crack in the manifold ahead of the heated O2 sensor. When the engine is cold it runs just fine, even better than when i bought it, but once it reaches operating temperature the crack opens up and i have the problem again. If anyone else is having the same issue, and have done everything exept sell the vehicle i hope this post will help you. As i learn more about this vehicle i will make many more posts, and hopefully help many other frustrated xterra owners. Again i hope this post will help someone.

04-13-2016, 04:49 PM
Manifold was cracked in three places. No sign of excessive heat on the head so it didn't really hot.

cuong nguyen
04-13-2016, 07:27 PM
It happens but those manifolds are such a pain to deal with along with all the emissions crap.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-N920A using Tapatalk

04-14-2016, 04:11 PM
It's still having the same issue, on a cold start it runs great but after about 10-15 minutes when it warms up i get a terrible "miss" feeling and it will stall. After it stalls it wont start until the engine has reached ambient temperature. I've already done plugs, wires, MAP sensor. My coolant temp sensor is reading right and has the correct volts and ohms at the corresponding temperatures, my dizzy is pulsing the correct voltage and amps according to my probes. Im running out of ideas and frankly out of forums to get ideas, and no one has really stated a fix. So far all I've seen is it might be this, or that. But so for nobody has even been able to determine if its air, fuel, or electrical.