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For the past couple of weeks, my 2004 6 cylinder has randomly had trouble turning over (like it doesn’t have power). We chalked it up to not having driven it for about a week, but it persisted then today… would not turn over at all. We took out and tested the starter, replaced the battery, checked fuses/relays and tried jumping it all to no avail. We had to eventually leave it for the night and are at a loss. Any ideas what this could be? It gets power enough to do all lighting and power windows etc and we tried to turn it on in neutral and park.
 

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2004 Xterra XE 4WD Auto 3.3L NA V6
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The CEL:
  • Is it on?
  • If so, what codes are you getting?

The dizzy could be causing this.
  • Search threads about replacing the bearing if you find red metallic dust inside.
  • Also, if you replace it, use OE by Hitachi or Nissan.
  • Aftermarket seems to fail after too little time.

A little history:
  • How many miles are on this rig?
  • When was the timing belt last changed?
  • Were you aware that it needs to be changed on a regular interval?
  • Factory recommends 5 years or 105,ooo miles.
  • When replacing it, the smart folks on CX suggest that you get a kit that includes the t-belt, its tensioners, and water pump.
  • They also recommend replacing the 2 cam seals and the crank seal.
  • When I did the t-belt on my 2001 V6, I pulled the radiator out and replaced even more stuff:
    • Harmonic balancer
    • All 3 accessory drive belts (aka fan belts)
    • Both fan belt tensioners
    • All 3 PS hoses
      • Pressure
      • Return
      • Reservoir-to-pump
 

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2001 se 4x4 5spd 32"
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Is the starter turning the motor over at all? Or just slowly?
 

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I had a similar problem with a vehicle. The starter tested good, but under a load it was puny. Replace the starter. I am not at all impressed with starter tests at parts stores.
 

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I'm reading this as the engine isn't cranking strongly or at all.

Based on this I would lean towards the starter. A bad distributor will not cause it to crank/turn over slowly.

I would start by jumping the starter by connecting a cable direct from the positive terminal of the battery to the positive terminal on the starter (It gets its negative via being grounded to the engine block). DO NOT have it in gear and DO NOT have the keys in the ignition. So vehicle in park (neutral if it's a manual transmission) and the parking brake on. The goal here is to see if you can get a strong crank/turn over from the starter and not actually start the vehicle. Jumper cables will work great for this as they can handle the power, but be aware that you will get sparks when the cable makes contact. For this reason I recommend making the final connection at the starter to avoid a potential fire/explosion at the battery. Also keep all clothing, long hair and cables away from the belts as the engine will move when the starter turns.

If it cranks well then you likely have a connection issue and will need to troubleshoot the ignition circuit. If it does not give a strong crank then I would recommend jumping from a well grounded portion of the chassis or the negative terminal to somewhere on the engine block near the starter, as well as jumping the positive. If it has a strong crank then you know that you have a bad ground to the engine block and that needs to be remedied to give the starter it's negative.

If none of this gets a strong crank then you know that you need a new starter.

Likewise, if you crank it and you hear a click and a fast paced whiiiiirrrrrrrrrr....... It usually means the bendex gear on the starter has gone bad and a new starter is needed.
 

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95% chance that a new starter will resolve your issue. People don't understand that starter tests are done without a load.
 
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