85 Nissan Sentra stalling

Tiny
GIFERCJ7
  • MEMBER
  • 1985 NISSAN SENTRA
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 120,000 MILES
My mom has a 85 nissan sentra. For years, really, years, she's a patient lady, but for years it just stops without warning. She usually pulls over and waits for help to arrive. If she waits over three hours, the car will start and usually allows her to make her 20 mile round trip to the store and back home. It happens after the car has reached full operating temperature. She has not be able to identify any other common circumstances.

Many, many mechanics have helped her and even referred each other. No one can identify the cause. We all think it is heat realted. I checked all the gas lines for proper routing and the required insulation looking for vapor lock clues.

Everytime she gets it towed to a shop or if a service man comes to her location, the car ends up starting. So, that makes it difficult for the guys to determine if it is electrical or fuel related! Then. When a shop keeps the car and drives it, they evidently do not drive it enough to get it to die. Or, they drive it much harder than my mom, and something from that style "keeps it from happening".

What has been done? Replaced. Carburator, fuel pump, fuel filter, plugs, wires, full distrubuitor assembly. I do not beleive any other electrical componets have been replaced. However, a visual inspection of all the electrical connections that have to do with ignition has been completed. I don't know if the coil has been replaced or not. She has had it regularlly tuned up over the 20+ years she has owned it

Like I said, a lot of the troubleshooting has been process of elimination. And yet to eliminate the root cause.

It is winter in Tennessee, and over the years, we have noticed the weather does not matter. I do not live near my mom, or I could try to help with a little more consistancy.

Are there some heat related electrical components under the hood that we should consider replaceing, inspecting, etc? I had a 86 Z that had a power transistor that would overheat and cause a similar symptom.

I'm not sure if she had taken it to the dealer; but if she did, they told her that they could not troubleshoot it unless they could recreate the problem, as several mechanics have struggled with.

She lives in Maryville, Tennessee if there are resources you may recommend.

thanks,

John
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Sunday, January 2nd, 2011 AT 11:11 PM

3 Replies

Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
John:
It is hard to identify a problem when it doesn't happen to the person driving. After reading your post, I do have a couple ideas, but I have to say without being there, it really becomes a guessing game. You see, when the engine dies for her, I assure you either the ignition system (spark to plugs) has stopped working or she is losing fuel pressure. Since it has gone on for so long, my first guess would be a bad crank sensor or something related to the ignition system. The only way to be 100% sure is to check those items when it won't start. I don't know where you live in relations to her, but is there any chance you could trade vehicles for a few days and I can explain what to check for if it happens to you? Do you think she would be able to check if I provided directions? One last thing. Has she ever noticed any black smoke coming from the exhaust before it dies?
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Sunday, January 2nd, 2011 AT 11:55 PM
Tiny
GIFERCJ7
  • MEMBER
Thanks. My thinking is the same as yours, except I do not live close enough to help her. She has a B210 Datsun that has been out of service for a while, with the same basic engine and powertrain. The motor runs; it is just a mess inside and needs tires. When I go home this summer, I will look at the relays and other electrical components for any suspect; smell and look for wear. I will do some research and swap out some electrical parts if they are like for like, from the Datsun, or, if the parts are too expensive, consider a few new electrical component replacements.

In the meantime, I will tell her to keep her eyes and ears open for any other symptoms she might notice just prior to the occurance if there is any.

Thanks,

John
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Monday, January 10th, 2011 AT 6:12 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Glad to help
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Monday, January 10th, 2011 AT 7:07 PM

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