Car Questions

Clear all

Why does my Maxima stall at stop signs after running like a clock?


Topic starter

Love your channel Scotty! Forever subscriber here. I have a '97 Nissan Maxima automatic with nearly 180K very reliable miles. Recently it has been stalling out occasionally when coming to a stop, after running great for miles. When I try to start it up again it might run me out of the intersection but all while bellowing white smoke and sputtering badly. It's never left me stranded for too long though; after turning off and on several times (around 10 normally) while it smokes, sputters, and stalls, it will suddenly rev on up and run great again. First I did plugs, wires, filters, fluids, and even replaced the MAF sensor. No change! My mechanic said "Can't help! It doesn't throw codes." It's never done it to him! Thanks for listening would love your advice. Hi  

3 Answers

If there are no codes and it's throwing white smoke, it's probably a blown head gasket (intermittently).  I would get a compression test to verify this.

I admit that 3.0V6 is a workhorse and I definitely pound on it, but after these "periods" it is back to the races and even passed emissions. I didn't realize a blown head gasket would have intermittent symptoms. Got a compression tester buried in the garage! So I'll get to it. Thanks!




We don't need no stinkin codes!

Fins a mechanic who knows WHY things work and isn't just a mindless code reader

Any codes a just a guide, not a solution.

codes are a godsend. They can save you hours of troubleshooting.


Since it's intermittent and it goes back to normal after a little bit and with that white smoke I'd suspect that you have a fuel injector getting stuck open.

Next time that happens go to the back of the car and smell the white smoke. Does it smell like gas? Well, there you go.

So is it a "sticking open" injector or do you have an intermittent short to ground somewhere in the wiring between one of the ECU's injector driver connection pins and a fuel injector connector that's Holding An Injector Open?

If you don't do your own work then you need to find a mechanic who is also a diagnostician. (( If your mechanic says: "Can't help! It doesn't throw codes" then find another mechanic ... enough said))

The guy you want will charge you 1 hour of time to try to drill down to what's causing this and if he's any good he won't come cheap.

He'll use a digital automotive oscilloscope to observe the voltage waveforms of your fuel injectors.

(he can observe the voltage and pintle hump on the individual injector waveforms to see if each fuel injector is opening and closing.)

He'll test from the ECU's injector driver connections to the fuel injectors' connections. He'll "jiggle" wires as he observes the waveforms. He'll look for potential, intermittent, short to ground areas in the wiring harness.

.....and he'll charge you for his time.

So when you're interviewing mechanics (and you should), tell him what you expect him to do and ask if he's capable of doing it.