1998 Nissan Altima 1998 Nissan Altima wants to stall

Tiny
HCSO30
  • MEMBER
  • 1998 NISSAN ALTIMA
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 139,000 MILES
When the car is first started in the morning, and you put it in drive to accelerate it is fine. The first time you come to a stop sign or red light, and take your foot off the accelerator, it starts shaking and acts like it wants to stall out. So far it has not completely stalled out. After it runs for a few minutes, it is fine and does not do it again, until the next morning. I just had a tune up done and the vacuum lines replaced and it is still happening. I took it back to the mechanic and he said it was the Vac Switching Valve. So we had that replaced, to the tune of $125 and it is still happening. Any idea what this could be? I have already sunk $500 into repairs and I am very frustrated. I was also told I need a new radiator, water pump and thermostat. I have not had that work done yet as this mechanic wants another $900. I do not want to give him any money until he fixes this current problem.
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Sunday, June 21st, 2009 AT 7:55 PM

7 Replies

Tiny
KHLOW2008
  • EXPERT
Hi hcso30,

Thank you for the donation.

From the description, it seems the cold start idling circuit is the cause of the problem.

I would suggest cleaning the IAAC valve and throttle body.

You mentioned the radiator, water pump and thermostat requires replacement, are you having overheating issues?

Any fault with the head gasket can cause the problem described.
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Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009 AT 10:41 AM
Tiny
HCSO30
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Thank you for the response and the info! I did not think I was having overheating issues until last week, at least the temperature gauge did not indicate that. When I would turn the car off, the radiator fan would stay on, for about a minute, and then shut off. The mechanic said that was because the engine was running hotter than it should and the fan kept running to cool it off. He suggested that I put some radiator sealant into the radiator and that should repair the leak, at least in the short term, until I could get the funds together to replace the radiator, etc. He did mention that the head gasket could be "venting" onto the spark plugs if it is leaking and that could be causing the stalling problem. He did not say anything about the IAAC valve and cleaning the throttle body, so I will mention that to him. If I use the radiator sealant, and the problem is caused by the head gasket leaking, will the sealant fix the leak without having to replace the head gasket? I understand that that is quite an involved job, ( my mechanic says it will take him a day and half) and will cost me $850. He wants $800 to replace the radiator, etc.

PS. My husband tells me that they did clean the throttle body and the IAAC valve.
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Wednesday, June 24th, 2009 AT 6:31 PM
Tiny
KHLOW2008
  • EXPERT
If the head gasket is bad, radiator sealant would not fix it as the compression pressure is too high for any band-aids to work. It might work for leaking radiators, water pump and other leakages if leakages are minimal but bigger leaks would not work.

Does the radiator reserve tank keep overflowing? If yes then a bad gasket is the cause. There are chemicals availble that can be used to test head gasket leakages.

I believe the head gasket is bad based on the symptom of poor idling that is not rectified by cleaning the throttle body and IAAC. Your mechanic should be able to confirm if the head gasket is bad with the chemical test.
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Thursday, June 25th, 2009 AT 9:02 AM
Tiny
HCSO30
  • MEMBER
My husband decided to try the sealant so, following the instructions on the bottle, put it into the system and added water to the reserve tank and to the radiator, which were both very low. He did this yesterday. The car seemed to drive better this morning, although it still tried to stall first thing. After driving for about 15 minutes, it stopped the stalling for the rest of the day. The idle at stop lights seems better after we added the water and sealant. The reserve tank does not seem to be overflowing and the level of the water in the radiator and reserve tank seems the same as yesterday, after he added the sealant and water.
Can we do the chemical test for head gasket leaks ourselves or do we have to get the mechanic to perform the test? What is the name of the chemical(s)?
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Thursday, June 25th, 2009 AT 5:21 PM
Tiny
KHLOW2008
  • EXPERT
Since you have already used the sealant, monitor the situation for a few days first. If the coolant level at both radiator and reserve tank remains unchanged after a few days of driving, there should be no problem with the head gasket.

The idling could be due to other faults. After cleaning the IAAC, was the idling speed adjusted correctly?

If the problem persists after the cooling system has been confirmed to be ok, test the compression. If there are much difference between cylinders, it could be due to valve clearances.

I do not have the name of the chemicals used for testing head gaskets. At parts outlets, tell them the type used to test for presence of carbon in the cooling system.

Personally I have not used any because I have the required equipments to test for bad gaskets.
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Friday, June 26th, 2009 AT 8:12 AM
Tiny
HCSO30
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Will monitor for a few days to see what happens. Today it did not try to stall at all. Thanks for all your info and help. I have definitely learned a lot! I knew I should of taken Auto Mechanics in school!
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Friday, June 26th, 2009 AT 6:22 PM
Tiny
KHLOW2008
  • EXPERT
It is still not too late to start. If you have time to spare and would like to understand more about vehicles, try this link.

http://www.2carpros.com/kpages/first_things.htm

http://www.2carpros.com/how_to/index.htm

http://www.2carpros.com/how_does_it_work.htm

These links could be found on left of page, site menu.

Have a nice day. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.
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Saturday, June 27th, 2009 AT 10:12 AM

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