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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Need serious help
2002 Xterra 3.3l 2wd

Back story. I'm the 2nd owner after the owner died. His daughter sold me the car a couple years ago and I love it. Until now. Has about 155k miles. He had dealer maintain it on schedule I was told. I've maintained it myself since I bought it.

Problem started a couple months ago when I left it running for a few minutes to run inside. Came out to find it was overheated. I shut it off and let it cool. Started right up after and was ok. Drove it a couple short trips after and never overheated again. But I did notice the top seam of radiator had a pin hole leaking. I had to take an 18 hour trip in it so I decided to go ahead and do a bunch of repairs and tune up.
New radiator
All new radiator hoses
New thermostat
New Valve cover gaskets which were starting to leak pretty good
Plugs, wires, cap and rotor
Upper intake gasket since I had to take it off and had to replace the intake bolts because I found 1 was already broke off.
new coolant hoses on the back of the intake
New power steering hoses from the pot because they were leaking
oil filter and oil
Drained and refilled transmission fluid
(Was actually an accident because my daughter drained the tranny instead of the engine oil)
New tires, new break pads

So did all that and it wouldnt run. Would start and idle but as soon as I put it in D it would die. Had knock sensor and air sensor codes. Ended up being 1 of the wire connections under the back of intake wasn't snapped tight. Once tight problem stopped, codes gone and it ran great. Made the trip in it then drove it for a month after daily.

Then a few weeks ago it suddenly started running like garbage. No power and is in basically limp mode, can't get it over 40mph, and it will randomly die if I slow down to a stop at a stop sign sometimes, both codes came back, knock sensor and mass airflow.

Got a new knock sensor and did the mod splicing knock sensor into wiring harness and moving it to the top of the intake. Knock sensor code is gone now. Still has the air sensor code and still no power. Replaced mass airflow sensor, no change. Pulled the upper intake again and made sure the sensors on back are connected good and put liquid gasket on intake gasket toake sure it had a good seal, no change. Replaced PCV valve and it's hose, no change. I noticed now when it's idling and I step on gas a bit it seems to have more vibration than before and exhaust is a bit more smoky maybe? Honestly I'm not sure if it's any different than before because it's not like I was reving it in park prior to this. Also when i took off the intake again there was some dark oil residue in the intake tubes that I don't remember being there during the initial repairs.

Thinking maybe bad piston rings?
But what I don't understand is why it was having the knock sensor and mass airflow codes and they went away and it ran great, then they came back and it's barely running suddenly. No knocking or abnormal sounds, no warning. I was driving out of the store parking lot and it just cut off. I coasted out of the way. Then when I started it back up is when it had no power and the codes. I barely made it home. It drove perfectly normal to the store. And through the big parking lot until it just cut off. There are a couple speed bumps in the parking lot and it cut out the first time right after I went over the last bump. But I can't imagine that's related?

I can't deal with piston rings so im gonna try to sell it for what I can if that's the case. But I hate to sell it if it could be something much simpler to fix.

HELP!
 

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03 XE A/T, SC coming soon
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I generally see a cam sensor code if anything when the distributor is on its way out. Air meter code is usually vacuum leak or clogged exhaust. Could be broken wires or something else entirely. Having the code number would help
 

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Oily residue in the upper plenum on the intake and possibly more smoke? Check your fuel pressure regulator. With the engine running or at least with the fuel system charged pop the FPR vacuum line off the back of the intake manifold. If fuel dribbles out you need a new FPR.

Are you using a paper air filter or an oiled air filter like a K&N? If over oiled those can gum up a MAF sensor quick.

Also check the wire harness for the MAF for any fine cracks etc in the wire insulation. If the MAF is not reading correctly and is sending faulty data to the computer the computer may be overcompensating with a rich mixture, which would cause extra smoke out the tail pipe. A poor connection to the MAF will also cause the engine to stumble, lack power and stall. If you try to run your engine with no MAF it will likely just stall out right away.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Need serious help
2002 Xterra 3.3l 2wd

Back story. I'm the 2nd owner after the owner died. His daughter sold me the car a couple years ago and I love it. Until now. Has about 155k miles. He had dealer maintain it on schedule I was told. I've maintained it myself since I bought it.

Problem started a couple months ago when I left it running for a few minutes to run inside. Came out to find it was overheated. I shut it off and let it cool. Started right up after and was ok. Drove it a couple short trips after and never overheated again. But I did notice the top seam of radiator had a pin hole leaking. I had to take an 18 hour trip in it so I decided to go ahead and do a bunch of repairs and tune up.
New radiator
All new radiator hoses
New thermostat
New Valve cover gaskets which were starting to leak pretty good
Plugs, wires, cap and rotor
Upper intake gasket since I had to take it off and had to replace the intake bolts because I found 1 was already broke off.
new coolant hoses on the back of the intake
New power steering hoses from the pot because they were leaking
oil filter and oil
Drained and refilled transmission fluid
(Was actually an accident because my daughter drained the tranny instead of the engine oil)
New tires, new break pads

So did all that and it wouldnt run. Would start and idle but as soon as I put it in D it would die. Had knock sensor and air sensor codes. Ended up being 1 of the wire connections under the back of intake wasn't snapped tight. Once tight problem stopped, codes gone and it ran great. Made the trip in it then drove it for a month after daily.

Then a few weeks ago it suddenly started running like garbage. No power and is in basically limp mode, can't get it over 40mph, and it will randomly die if I slow down to a stop at a stop sign sometimes, both codes came back, knock sensor and mass airflow.

Got a new knock sensor and did the mod splicing knock sensor into wiring harness and moving it to the top of the intake. Knock sensor code is gone now. Still has the air sensor code and still no power. Replaced mass airflow sensor, no change. Pulled the upper intake again and made sure the sensors on back are connected good and put liquid gasket on intake gasket toake sure it had a good seal, no change. Replaced PCV valve and it's hose, no change. I noticed now when it's idling and I step on gas a bit it seems to have more vibration than before and exhaust is a bit more smoky maybe? Honestly I'm not sure if it's any different than before because it's not like I was reving it in park prior to this. Also when i took off the intake again there was some dark oil residue in the intake tubes that I don't remember being there during the initial repairs.

Thinking maybe bad piston rings?
But what I don't understand is why it was having the knock sensor and mass airflow codes and they went away and it ran great, then they came back and it's barely running suddenly. No knocking or abnormal sounds, no warning. I was driving out of the store parking lot and it just cut off. I coasted out of the way. Then when I started it back up is when it had no power and the codes. I barely made it home. It drove perfectly normal to the store. And through the big parking lot until it just cut off. There are a couple speed bumps in the parking lot and it cut out the first time right after I went over the last bump. But I can't imagine that's related?

I can't deal with piston rings so im gonna try to sell it for what I can if that's the case. But I hate to sell it if it could be something much simpler to fix.

HELP!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Sorry it's been crazy and I haven't had time to touch the Xterra. We're building a garage so I actually have somewhere inside with a concrete floor to work on my cars!

Anyway I did scan it tonight. 2 codes
p0101
p0103

This weekend I want to try to check the suggestions and mess with it more finally to see what I can find.

Ive never messed with intake systems or fuel systems. I've tried searching but I can't figure out what the 2 sensors are under the upper intake that have wire connections?

When I got the p0103 and knock sensor code originally it was 1 of these connections loose. Once I got it snapped tight the codes went away until recently. They both came back. I replaced the knock sensor and moved it to top of intake and knock sensor code is gone. Now I still have p0103 code and a new p0101 code which it never had before.

Its been sitting almost 2 weeks. I started it tonight while I was scanning it and it seemed to idle better and didn't try to die when I shifted it through the gears. But I didn't move it either.

Oily residue in the upper plenum on the intake and possibly more smoke? Check your fuel pressure regulator. With the engine running or at least with the fuel system charged pop the FPR vacuum line off the back of the intake manifold. If fuel dribbles out you need a new FPR.

Are you using a paper air filter or an oiled air filter like a K&N? If over oiled those can gum up a MAF sensor quick.

Also check the wire harness for the MAF for any fine cracks etc in the wire insulation. If the MAF is not reading correctly and is sending faulty data to the computer the computer may be overcompensating with a rich mixture, which would cause extra smoke out the tail pipe. A poor connection to the MAF will also cause the engine to stumble, lack power and stall. If you try to run your engine with no MAF it will likely just stall out right away.
I'll check the fpr this wknd.
The air filter is just a paper filter. The MAF looked brand new and was clean but I replaced the MAF sensor anyway. No difference. I also ran it with the MAF unplugged and it ran the same with or without it connected. The MAF wiring looks ok. I followed the wires and checked the plug and used maf cleaner and cleaned the wire connection anyway.
 

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2004 Xterra XE 4WD Auto 3.3L NA V6
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1,367 Posts
PO101 and 103 are both MAF codes. Moving the KS was the best thing to do for the sake of ease of maintenance.

What brand MAF did you replace it with?

Did you use electronics parts cleaner, like DeoxIT, to clean the terminals of the MAF plug?

Those other fellas will be able to carry this conversation farther than me, but these are questions that should be asked in the meantime.
 
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