Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

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Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby my12by60 » Tue Jul 30, 2019 4:07 pm

My son has been driving our 2000 Q more than me. Today he came home saying it was stuttering and idling poorly. When I went down to check it out the car would not even start. It turns over fine but does not fire up. The SES light is on and my code reader shows PO300 (random multiple cylinder misfire) and PO350 (ignition coil primary/secondary circuit/open) and P3068 (code not labeled). Based on reading here, my initial thought is to replace the ignition coils as that seems to be a common issue for the Y33. I have ordered a set of 8 Hitachi coils from Amazon for $45 per coil.

The spark plugs were replaced in 2016 when I had the valve cover gaskets replaced. According to the maintenance records from the prior owner, all of the coils were replaced in September 2013 when the car had 93,000 miles on it. Current mileage is 132,000. The receipt shows the prior owner paid for only labor at the shop and provided their own coils for the shop to install. Therefore, I have no idea what sort of coil is installed on the car now as the receipt does not show any detail. Based on the receipt, all that I can confirm is that the coils are 6 years old and have worked for about 40,000 miles of driving.

Based on the codes shown and symptoms, am I on the right track with replacing the coils as a starting point or are there other things I should check before going that route? I can always return the coil set to Amazon if something else solves the problem in the meantime.


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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby 04pathse » Tue Jul 30, 2019 5:40 pm

Could also be a spark plug issue. To your knowledge have they ever been changed? Maybe pull the plugs and see how they look.

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby my12by60 » Tue Jul 30, 2019 6:23 pm

Plugs were replaced in 2016, shortly after I bought the car.

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby 3Q Jay » Wed Jul 31, 2019 11:36 am

I think coil packs are reasonable, but when I had issues on the VH41DE the engine would start fine and generally idle no load fine.
I'd look at the camshaft positioner sensor (distributor). oil tracking on the optical 'shutter' will wreak havoc.

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby my12by60 » Wed Jul 31, 2019 12:36 pm

After reading Jay's comment, I went and tried to start the car again today. Today, it started and idled fairly well. I did not try to drive it. I did notice a heavy fuel smell in the garage. The tailpipe was putting out white smoke that smelled of fuel. I have looked for any detached or broken vacuum hoses but did not see any nor do I hear any sucking sound with the engine at idle. Does this new info provide any further diagnostic clues?

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby macgiver » Wed Jul 31, 2019 8:37 pm

2000 is an OLD car , just sounds like car came back from the Daytona 500 (116 F AZ ? ) - if you know what I mean , and it's been "trying to recover" upon subsequent starts . Poor little thing . :facepalm: Son came back huh , I remember bringing "Dad's" car back like that too :rotfl

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby macgiver » Wed Jul 31, 2019 8:49 pm

What do you maybe need an engine data "logger" (hidden )- you'll see WOT for a FULL 30 seconds , and other atrocities befelled on the motor - IF THEY EXIST ! ? :biggrin:
Those also may shed some light in diagnosing , live data record ?, you know.

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby my12by60 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:44 am

I just put the paid Torque app ($5 month) on my iphone the other day to try to get a better diagnosis. I am just not sure how to best use the app to allow it to help me to figure out what the problem with the car might be.

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby my12by60 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:38 pm

New Hitachi coil packs came in today. I put in the 4 on the passenger side and started the car. No change in symptoms, still putting out white smoke from the exhaust and not sounding great, but idling ok. If coil packs are the problem, then I am hoping it is one or more of the packs on the drivers side. Also, the outgoing coil packs appear to be an exact match to the Hitachis that I bought. Has anybody had replacement Hitachi coil packs fail with six years of use and only 40K miles of driving? I have a bad feeling that the drivers side coil packs may not solve my problem. I welcome any other ideas beyond coil packs.

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby Q451990 » Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:24 am

Since you have them, you might as well put the driver's side coils on to eliminate them as a cause. Reset codes, and see where you are. Is your oil level ok (not high), and not smelling like fuel? I'd be a little concerned about a bad lower injector o-ring dumping fuel into a cylinder. Injector issues aren't common on your series of Q, but anything is possible on a 20 year old car. Can the white smoke be isolated to one of the tail pipes? If the exhaust design is the same as the older Q, each bank stays separated all the way back.

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby my12by60 » Fri Aug 02, 2019 3:12 pm

I just finished the driver side coil packs and have no change to symptoms. All the outgoing coil packs looked fine, no bulges or cracks or much difference from the new coils other than a bit of dust on the old coils. The car is now starting fine and idling ok in park. When I put it into reverse, the idle gets a bit rougher, almost sounding like it wants to stall. With the car idling in park, I get the following codes: P3250, P3003, and P3064. Not sure what any of those mean. Any ideas?

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby my12by60 » Fri Aug 02, 2019 4:37 pm

We called an independent shop owned by a guy that used to be an Infiniti service manager. We told him our symptoms and read him the trouble codes. Based on the codes, he thinks we have fuel from the injector in cylinder #3 leaking into the spark plug area. This is the same idea that Q451990 had suggested. If he is right, is getting at that injector in cylinder #3 major surgery or is it DIY?

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby my12by60 » Fri Aug 02, 2019 5:13 pm

Just pulled the spark plug on cylinder 3. I see no moisture on the plug and don't smell any fuel. Does a dry plug confirm that the injector on cylinder 3 is ok? Do I need to start pulling all of the other plugs to check for moisture on any of the spark plugs? If a bad injector is the problem, I am rooting for cylinder 2 or 4 as I can see pretty easy access to those injectors.

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby my12by60 » Sat Aug 03, 2019 4:02 pm

Got lucky. Pulled plug on cylinder 2 and it came out wet and smelling strongly of fuel. Looks like I can gain access to that injector by unbolting and moving aside the throttle cable apparatus. Any tips on getting that injector out or on what are the preferred replacement injector brand(s)?

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby 3Q Jay » Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:24 pm

Sounds lucky indeed!
Here's a photo with upper plenum removed, should give you an idea, and I agree the throttle cable bracket should clear the way.
really really seat your #2 on the screw heads (I'd brush the screw heads first) so as to not allow any slip/strip. two small flat screwdrivers to pop it out. note the fuel pressure gauge I used to verify no leakage from injectors/rail prior to cranking engine.
replace both injector o-rings.

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby maxnix » Sun Aug 04, 2019 2:00 am

When you install the new viton rings on the injectors, use a little KY. Be very careful and gentle without high force.

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby my12by60 » Sun Aug 04, 2019 12:35 pm

Are you guys saying that I don't need a new injector? That I just need to remove the existing injector and replace the o-rings, then re-install the existing injector?

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby Q451990 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:36 am

It depends on what's wrong with the injector. If you see obvious damage to the lower o-ring, it would be worth your time to try replacing just the o-rings.

Without pulling the rail and being able to see if it's leaking down, it's a "try it and see what happens" proposition. Comparing before and after leak down times with a fuel pressure gauge placed in line would be preferable. I don't know if places like AutoZone offer fuel pressure gauges as a free loaner tool, but it would be worth checking.

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby Q451990 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:40 am


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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby my12by60 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 5:47 pm

I got the injector out today and went over to IOS to pick up the two o-rings. Since I was working with the rail in place and only the throttle bracket moved aside, I did not have much room for the two screwdriver method of removal. So I used a piece of shoestring as I had seen on this forum and lassoed the injector. That allowed me lift the injector up and out. It was in there pretty good after 19 years. Some penetrant allowed me to pivot the injector side to side to loosen it up, but it still took quite a tug to get the injector out.

The big o-ring looked fine. The little o-ring was not split full through but was cracked about half through on one side. The part that was cracked full through was the plastic cap that clips onto the spray tip. That cap stayed in the socket in the rail and did not come out with the injector. When I fished it out, I could see that it was cracked full through. The thing I am referring to as the cap is the white plastic tip shown in the link:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/8-set-For-1997 ... SwbsBXmFot

Is that cap integral to getting a good seal? What function does it perform? I don't see the cap itself shown on the fuel system parts diagram.

Any quick responses are appreciated as I don't want to put it back together until I know if that cap is mission critical or not.

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby 3Q Jay » Mon Aug 05, 2019 6:43 pm

that would be the pintle cap, and it's considered important. without it, you may blow fuel past the lower o-ring.....

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby 3Q Jay » Mon Aug 05, 2019 6:49 pm

oh, and if just one of the 4 fingers is missing, but the pintle cap itself can be resecured that might be good enough. but it sounds like you need a new pintle cap if it's split in multiple pieces.
it's a friction fit onto the injector, you get the pintle cap hot and 'soft' and then pop it on the injector tip, it won't come off without extreme force once the nylon(?) or delrin or whatever it actually is made of cools.

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby my12by60 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:10 pm

Thanks for the quick reply. I did reinstall the FI without the pintle cap. Initial results were not good, with even more white smoke coming out of the exhaust than before I installed the new o-rings. The install seemed to go well. I modified (made a cut out for the wire harness) a 3-inch long piece of PVC so that I could get a nice even push down on the injector. It popped into place with a nice sound. Possible causes of heavy smoke:

1) all of the disturbance of messing around with the FI;
2) pintle cap does in fact somehow participate with o-ring in holding fuel back
3) injector itself is just bad and is putting out too much fuel

Any other ideas?

I may need to drive it a local shop (5 mile drive) that I trust and see what they diagnose. If I decide to do that, should I disable cylinder 2 at the FI wire harness or just hope that it can limp to the shop?

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby Q451990 » Tue Aug 06, 2019 7:41 am

How long did you run the car after reinstalling the injector? Did you unplug the fuel pump fuse while running to burn off the fuel in the rail so that it didn't drain into the cylinder when you removed the injector? I think it's possible that the extra smoke you saw was residual fuel, but I'd be too concerned about hydrolocking to test it too much without some leak down test numbers. It might be worth sending your injector to someone for testing and a new pintile cap. https://www.deatschwerks.com has been around for a long time, and could be a good option. If the injector is stuck open, or it's still leaking, unplugging it probably won't help.

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby my12by60 » Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:52 am

No, I did not uplug the fuel pump hose and follow the procedure to burn off fuel in the rail as you describe due to ignorance on working with the fuel system, which I have never had to do on any previous vehicle. I did not run the car long when restarted as it was pouring out quite a bit of white smoke. Maybe ran for one minute at idle in the garage. Then I put it reverse and backed it out, but I quickly decided to pull it back in and shut it down when I saw the amount of white smoke. I think you are right that that cylinder took on extra fuel while sitting with the #2 injector out. Any ideas on how to proceed from here?

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby my12by60 » Tue Aug 06, 2019 5:18 pm

The only injectors that I can find locally are $90 at O'Reilly (special order arriving in 3 days) or over $200 at IOS. To keep the project moving, I ordered a cheap FI from Amazon which is supposed to arrive before 9pm today. Maybe I can install and run the cheap one while I get the OEM FI tested? Or, is there a chance I can just run the car as is and burn off whatever fuel leaked down while I had the FI out? My guess is that the original FI with new o-rings is not leaking or stuck open. Reading here, the pintle cap is supposed to "shape" the spray from the FI, not participate in fuel sealing. A leak from the half-split o-ring was probably causing the mis-fire.

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby 3Q Jay » Tue Aug 06, 2019 5:25 pm

Please don't experiment until you know that there is no hydrolock. the (undesired) results could be the death-knell of your vh41de.
pull the #2 pulg and let the gas/vapors escape. vacuum it out if you can.
put a teaspoon (5 mL, no more) of clean engine oil down the plug hole into the cylinder. LOOSELY put a paper towel over the hole
disconnect the fuel supply to the rail, and plug the hose end
pull ECU fuse so you dont get spark, and fuel pump fuse (you don't want to start it yet)
crank the engine over 10 revs (you'll hear the dead hole--no compression change in the starter pitch). leave overnight to let residual vapors evaporate from cylinder.
That's the remediation part.
is your injector fuel tite? I wouldn't chance it without the pintle cap. dont' run the engine yet. tow to mechanic if you must.
better: buy a new injector if you are in a hurry.
regardless, Please do a leak down check before re-introducing fuel to the rail.

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby Q451990 » Tue Aug 06, 2019 8:23 pm

So the way to release the fuel pressure is to pull the fuel pump fuse while the car is running. It'll burn off most of the fuel in the rail, then shut off. Also loosen the gas cap. I learned this when I had my first Q torn apart overnight, and found fuel dripping out under the car the next day. The back of the car was sitting in the hot sun, and the temperature change was enough to cause the fuel to expand and push it out of the hose.

A leak-down test that we're talking about would involve teeing in a pressure gauge, blocking the exit from the fuel rails back to the tank (the hose that doesn't have a fuel filter on it) - and priming the pump by turning the key on. You should see the pressure come up, and then drop off very slowly. The system isn't perfectly sealed, but it shouldn't drop fast. If you get the gauge, and want to try this let us know, and I'll take the time to dig up the procedure for the earlier Q. Nissan published a TSB on the procedure that I can post.

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby my12by60 » Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:33 pm

Ok. Thanks guys. I have a new injector in hand (with tight pintle cap) and will proceed to the remediation steps tomorrow. Thanks for the detailed outline. I will check back after the remediation is complete.

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Re: Car Won't Start; Replace Coil Packs?

Postby my12by60 » Wed Aug 07, 2019 2:07 pm

In process of completing remediation steps as advised. I was able to put the line from my Harbor Freight pneumatic brake bleeder down the plug hole to vacuum the cylinder. No fluid came out, which I hope is a good sign. I pulled the fuel pump fuse, which is under the hood. I am not sure which fuse is the ECU fuse as nothing under the hood or in the front kick panel is labeled as ECU. I see one 10A fuse in the kick panel that is labeled ENG CONT. Is that the correct fuse to pull?

Also, the instruction was to crank the engine over 10 revs. Does that mean to hold the key as if starting for about 10 seconds? Or to cycle the key from ignition and back to off for 10 times?

I ordered this fuel injection tester. I will have it tomorrow to test the system after letting the car sit overnight.

https://www.amazon.com/HFS-Injection-In ... way&sr=8-1

Thanks for all of the hand holding.


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