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Nissan Altima/Bluebird randomly cuts out completely, please help!

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New User

Dec 23, 2012, 8:51 AM

Post #1 of 5 (4044 views)
post icon Nissan Altima/Bluebird randomly cuts out completely, please help! Sign In


I have an old family car, an automatic Nissan Bluebird U13 (aka Nissan Altima in the US) built in 1994.

It had been running fine till the start of this year when all of a sudden, as I was pulling out of a parking lot, the car just shut off completely - consequently the steering wheel became very hard to turn and the brakes were very hard to
depress. The immobiliser light came on, as if the car had just been locked (indicator lights light up solid green). I could not turn the car back on.

I called the RAC (roadside assistance in Australia), and they told me they thought it was the crank position sensor. I got it towed to my regular service station and the guy changed this part. The car ran for a while after this, however after a few weeks it happened again, but this time I was able to start it up again. Now it's happening much more often, it'll run ok the first time I start it up but then after I park and start it again shortly afterwards, it just switches off completely like before. The accelerator becomes unresponsive and the car just stalls.

Please help me diagnose this problem, I need my car and am keen to learn more about cars and car repairs (though I am strapped for cash so spare parts will be hard to afford and probably not worth it for such an old car). This is also quite a dangerous problem, I would not dare take this car on the freeway for now.



Another important point is that the "!" light on the dashboard (which is normally associated with the handbrake) and the battery light (but this battery is quite new) would sometimes light up randomly while I was driving (well before the first stall incident) and would flicker or fade when I turned the radio volume knob (which caused heavy distortion in the speakers as well) or turned on the front lights.

Another thing to note is that a few weeks before the first incident, the car would actually not start at all. The fuel at this time was near empty, and when the RAC came they injected fuel directly into the engine and knocked on the fuel tank from underneath the car, this seemed to let it start up. The RAC guy told us that this problem is associated with the fuel pump and will probably start to occur more often but I'm not sure if the crank position sensor problem is related to this [plus, fixing a fuel pump on an 18 year old car would probably not be worth the expense right?]

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Dec 23, 2012, 9:21 AM

Post #2 of 5 (4020 views)
Re: Nissan Altima/Bluebird randomly cuts out completely, please help! Sign In

Anytime a vehicle stalls you lose power assisted steering and brakes and lights will light so that means nothing.

Running it low on fuel if that's a habit will be hard on fuel pumps so your RAC person's trick pretty much says it needs a fuel pump but you won't know for absolute certain unless you can quickly do the diagnosis while it's not running. Lack of fuel seems like the targeted problem. Now to be sure it would need to be caught in the act long enough to find out why but fuel pump would be high on the list,


New User

Dec 23, 2012, 9:33 AM

Post #3 of 5 (4008 views)
Re: Nissan Altima/Bluebird randomly cuts out completely, please help! Sign In

Is there some way to check the fuel pump? Would it cause the whole car to suddenly cut out (on half a tank) while its running?

Could the new crank position sensor be faulty, or some other part in the alternator?

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Dec 23, 2012, 9:41 AM

Post #4 of 5 (3999 views)
Re: Nissan Altima/Bluebird randomly cuts out completely, please help! Sign In

Alone it doesn't matter if the gas tank has enough or not if the fuel pump isn't pumping it. Could be other reasons but in that whacking the tank worked that time does suggest the pump itself.

Alternator would be a dying battery problem not indicated. Crank sensor or any other reason like the silly plug to the fuel pump, a relay just isn't known.
The shock on an electric motor (pump in this case) can make some work again but isn't a fix just a chance to get going in a jam.

This is pre OBDII computer diagnostics so it would have to be witnessed just exactly what the issue is while it wont run.

To add - I didn't think a brake warning light would come on with a stalled engine. You may be low on brake fluid but should be tending to those things all along anyway,


Veteran / Moderator
nickwarner profile image

Dec 23, 2012, 2:17 PM

Post #5 of 5 (3976 views)
Re: Nissan Altima/Bluebird randomly cuts out completely, please help! Sign In

This is OBD1 but it should still be able to show codes. Get it scanned. That holds good information. The guy who hit the tank and got it to start should've told you to replace the fuel pump immediately. He jarred it enough to get a barely working pump to somewhat hold up but its on its last legs. You must replace the fuel filter too when you do this and stop running it low on gas or you will wreck the new pump too. You can measure the pump's output by using a fuel pressure tester connected to the fuel rail at its test port. There is a specification for fuel pressure and if it gets below spec it will cause stalling and misfires. Eventually it just won't start until it is replaced.

Pay some good attention to your battery cable connections as well. Take them apart and use a battery terminal cleaning tool or sandpaper to clean them shiny. Coat them with dielectric grease to prevent future oxidation that will give you a poor connection. This likely has nothing currently to do with what is happening but is important routine maintenance and will hold off future issues.

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