Last night I was driving home from the dog park and nearly got rear ended several times. Turns out not only were my brake lights out (which I didn't know) but when the traffic lights turned green and I stepped on the gas I would go.. nowhere.. Well not quite.. I would creep half way through the intersection before the car would actually pick up speed, and rather slowly at that. After getting home I got online here to see if anyone else had the same issue. Turns out several of us have and once I figured out what was wrong and got it fixed I got right back on the road! Here we go:
Issue: If I was at a dead stop for more than one minute in traffic and then applied power via the gas pedal, Rogue would not move forward from gas pedal input. It would ever so slowly creep forward from the engine idle, which it would do under normal conditions if I would just let off the brake but once I stepped on the gas..nothing. The engine wouldn't even rev. It felt like the CVT wouldn't engage or that it was in some kind of limp mode. If I was moving very slowly, like through the parking lot, I could press the gas and accelerate just fine. If I came to a stop and then pressed the gas within a few seconds I could accelerate just fine. It was only after sitting still for about a minute or more that the Rogue would then refuse to go. A dangerous situation since vehicles behind me expected me to go and the car would only creep forward from it's own idle power. A dismembered legless zombie could drag itself faster than the Rogue... GRRR!
Symptoms: My 2008 SL AWD had it's Skid and VDC lights come on several times last week on dry surfaces while under no duress (ie: straight and level dry roads). There were some potholes and street patches that I had assumed ticked off the sensors, but I was to learn it wasn't being super sensitive and finicky because of the roads. Also, I didn't realize it last night but after checking the 3 stop lights on the rear, None were working. So to recap the issues and symptoms:
1) No power for at least 3-5 seconds from a dead stop after standing still and idling for 1+ minute.
2) NO stop lights when stepping on brake pedal.
3) VDC+Slip lights periodically illuminating during the last few days/weeks. Those lights went out after I started the car the next time so It hadn't worried me, but now I know that it's a possible symptom in the future if my brake light switch burns out again.
Cause: Faulty brake light switch! Yes, a simple little plastic switch above the brake pedal that partially burns out will somehow cause the VDC+Skid lights to illuminate which must in turn report to, or confuse the engine/transmission management system into making the Rogue go into "limp mode".
Fix: Easy! Three minutes with no hand tools or automotive expertise needed. You may need a flashlight and a flat bladed screwdriver if it's too dark and the plug is stuck to the switch. I took several photos to help explain, if you are suffering from this issue (there are other causes, but the symptom of NO brake lights narrowed it down to the brake light switch being burned out/faulty) and wish to replace your brake light switch, you can do it yourself and not pay the dealer upwards of $115 in labor. I base that statement on the fact that the average rate now is $115 and some shops require you to pay a one hour minimum (or in one hour increments) even if it's a five minute job. Your dealership experience may vary and it pays to shop around but this fix can be done with no hand tools and with no experience necessary.
Begin by purchasing a new brake light switch. As of today, October 22, 2011 my dealership had two different parts in stock. They were both the same number but ended in different letters (B vs. C). The newest Nissan part no. is "25320-AX00C". That seems to supersede "25320-AX00B" Both are valid brake light switch stock numbers and I presume as Nissan upgrades parts for better reliability or to use them in new vehicles (this part is used by many different Nissan and Infinity vehicles) that they assign the next letter in the alphabet to the end of the item number to designate the newer or upgraded part. The description on the package is "SW STOP LAMP 99". Cost was less than $40. I purchased the one ending in C as it is the more recent iteration and will hopefully be better engineered and will last more than the 4 years I got out of the original stop switch.
Open the drivers door and move the seat all the way back. You may need a flashlight to see under the dash. Find the rubber brake pedal pad and follow the big thick black steel arm it's mounted to upwards and you will see where it's hinged and where the brake pedal arm has a bracket coming off the side of it. Mounted to that bracket are two white nylon(?) bumpers. The bumpers move with the pedal arm as the pedal is depressed and released. The bumpers engage two buttons mounted to two switches in a static non moving steel plate. When you step on the pedal, the white round bumpers move with the pedal and allow the buttons on the end of the switches to pop out. One of the switches is the "Brake Light Stop" switch and once it's button pops out it sends the signal to the brake lights in the rear to "turn on". Press the brake pedal with your free hand to see how everything works in conjunction with each other, it'll make sense.
Identify the correct switch. On my 2008 Rogue the brake light switch is the one with the WHITE electrical plug attached to it's other end. I don't know what the other switch does (it has a red/yellow plug) and it was slightly smaller than the brake switch.
That's the two switches. This is looking up under the brake/gas pedal area on the underside of the dash, as if you were on your back and looking up. Plenty of room to work in, and not too awkward.
Press in the tab of the connector to the brake light switch and pull up. It should slide off. No tools are needed but a flat bladed screwdriver might help push the tab in you can't do it with your fingers. The edge of a coin or other metal object that won't slip or gouge the connector will do as well. Mine came loose under finger power. Move the plug free of the switch as the switch will come upwards once released. Note how far the switch is mounted in that flange from the white spacers on the arm of the pedal. Those spacers engage the white spring loaded button on the switch and tell the brake lights when to go on and off so you'll want to reinstall the switch at the same 'depth' in the flange, so to speak.
DO NOT try and twist the wing nut style housing that the switch sits in. It's not a nut, it's a plastic mounting flange that the switch fits into. Look closely and you will see it mounted to the static steel bracket. Simply grasp the square housing of the brake switch and give it a turn counter clockwise about 60 degrees and it will come loose. Depress the brake pedal while doing this to take the tension off the white button of the brake switch. Again the pedal in it's resting position is pushing in the white button of the switch and that button is spring loaded. Once you turn the switch to the free position it will slide right out of the wing nut flange. Take a look at the 'threaded' base of the switch. You will see what look like threads, like on a bolt or screw. But they don't go all the way around the shaft. There are matching 'threads' on that wing nut flange. But you don't screw it in like a bolt, you simply turn it like a key and it comes out. How? Look closely as you will see the threads don't go all the way around. They are only on two sides of the shaft of the switch and there are matching ones on the wing nut flange. Once you turn and 'unlock' the switch, the smooth sides of the shaft will be facing the 'threads' of the wing nut and they no longer lock onto each other. It's only whey you turn it back, the 'threads' of the shaft and the nut will lock into each other and hold it firmly in place. I've not seen this system before but it's kinda cool.
Above is a picture that shows on the right (1) the switch before I turned it and (2) after I gave it counterclockwise turn and raised it slightly out of the wing nut flange gizmo. Again: Don't assume that is a plastic nut holding the switch in place. That "nut" is securely mounted to that steel plate and you have to turn the switch by hand to release it. There is no friction once it's been 'unlocked' so if you encounter resistance it's not fully unlocked and you don't want to strip the plastic nut. The switch will slide right out once it's fully unlocked.
Simply reinstall the new switch by reversing the order of diss-assembly. One note of caution: Make sure you put the new switch in with the locking tab "tunnel" on the base of the new switch facing the same direction as before so you don't have to turn the white connector plug 180 degrees around. It's just a caution to aviod putting any extra tension on the wires that could eventually pull loose or cause friction from rubbing and an possible electrical short. Also make sure you install it at the same distance from the white nylon spacers that the old switch was. That is, you can lock it at any distance up or down in that wing nut flange. It needs to have the button on the switch full depressed when the brake pedal is at rest otherwise it will not tell the rear brake lights when to illuminate. If you get it wrong it is very easy to remove the plug, turn the switch and set it at the right height.
Here are the two plugs. There were slight difference between the factory stock switch and the replacement I purchased today. The original one is marked "NILES 3" while the new one is marked "NILES 4". Also, the section that has a raised locking tunnel for the tab on the connecting plug is on the other side of base of "NILES 3" so in the picture it looks like it's missing but in reality it's on the other side of the base of the switch. Thus please heed my comment above to make sure you put the switch in the right way so you don't have to turn the connector plug around when it's time to reconnect the plug to the switch. If you put the switch in backwards you'll make it harder to remove the plug next time as the locking tab will be facing the carpet and firewall and all sorts of other wiring.
Start car, check for brake lights and that they illuminate at the proper time when pressing the pedal (IE: that you installed the new switch to the right "depth" in the wing nut flange), and test drive in a safe area. Once I had the new switch installed, the ole Rogue drove perfectly! I had errands to run, as well as meeting my wife at the airport with lots of luggage and I had NO issues what so ever today. I hope this helps solve any issues you may be having with your Rogue acting like a wet noodle in traffic. ~Beagle_Hauler