Altima Shakes During Idle And While Driving. Service Engine Light Comes On And Then Goes Away

Posted in Ignition Systems
  • Hi. I have a 2003 Nissan Altima with about 93,000 miles on it. About a month ago, I turned the engine on and the entire car started shaking. The check engine light was blinking. There was no noise, just shaking. I noticed that as I sat there with the car in park, the RPM was jumping around without me touching the gas pedal. I sat there a little while longer (about 5 minutes) and it stopped shaking and the check engine light went away and the RPM went way down and stayed down. For several days, everything was fine. Then it happened again. Only the car was warmed up and I was sitting at a stop light halfway across town. Then it was fine for another couple day. Then one day, I was on the highway going about 60 mph and it started shaking again and the check engine light went on again. I had also noticed that I seemed to be going through fuel a lot faster than usual. I felt like I was filling up the gas tank all the time.

    Annoyed and worried, I took it to AutoZone to do a check engine light diagnostics. They got the code and told me cylinder 2 was misfiring. They said I needed new spark plugs and to run some fuel injector cleaner through the gas tank. So, I took it to a mechanic and paid for them to replace the spark plugs and put the fuel injector cleaner in the gas tank. They recommended a tune up, so I also had a new air filter and serpentine belt put in as just a general maintenance thing. They said everything else looked great.

    Well, it ran really good…for about two weeks. Then yesterday I turned it on and it was shaking really bad. The service engine soon light was flashing, and it didn’t go away within a few minutes like it had done in the past. It continued to shake, and the service engine light continued to flash for the majority of my drive across town. It seemed to be worse when i was idling at a stop light. When I got on the highway, I had trouble accelerating. There didn’t seem to be enough power. The car surged forward a little bit as I tapped on the brakes when I made a tight turn. It was a little scary that it did that. I had not noticed that before. I finally stopped and shut it off. Then, about 20 minutes later, I turned it back on. No shaking. No service engine soon light. I drove home without any problems. I’m not sure what’s going on.

    Some people have told me it’s the fuel injector and others have said it’s the ignition coils. Any thoughts? The shop I brought it to before never really did an official diagnostics themselves (Auto Zone gave me the code and the parts) so they said they will charge me $79 just to figure out what the problem is. They said it could be upwards of $400 for the ignition coils (just for the parts!) and $600 or more for new fuel injectors. I get the impression that the only way to know for sure is by process of elimination-trying new parts until something works. Does anyone out there have any thoughts? I’d hate to get all kinds of parts I don’t need before I figure out what the problem is. Please help! Thank you!!

    There are 5 Answers for "Altima Shakes During Idle And While Driving. Service Engine Light Comes On And Then Goes Away"

    1. cowgurl says:

      go to a nissan dealership and tell them the problems your having and they will put it on a computer for u

    2. a says:

      Try cleaning the new plug so that the electrode metal is showing on both L and center electrode. If there is a factory black oxide coating, remove it.

      You may have a water leak, that generates steam.So fix any water leaks.
      If you have a distributor, check for water under the distributor cap.

      If you have distributorless engine, check for water at spark plugs or inside spark plug boots (remove them and clean and dry them). When the engine cools the warm air inside the boots cools and sucks water in.

      If still not fixed, replace the spark plugs because the insulator may be cracked from water hitting it while hot.
      —–
      You may have more than one problem. Also check for un-connected vacuum hoses.

    3. Mike says:

      Yup this car has a lot of recalls….i don’t think its an injector…And that makes sense that the car would be shaking if a cylinder wasnt firing…go somewhere else because coil packs are pricy but its not a 400 job..600 for injectors crazyz=.and they shouldnt be charging you 80 bucks just to check it…find a diffrent shop they want to rip you off….if the car has overheated i read the headgaskets go bad and coolant gets into the clyinder… causing misfire. checkout this site..with more problems just like yours …..http://www.carcomplaints.com/Nissan/Altima/2002/engine/runs_roughly_engine_shaking.shtml ^(http://www.carparts21.com/goto/http://www.carcomplaints.com/Nissan/Altima/2002/engine/runs_roughly_engine_shaking.shtml)

    4. quietman928 says:

      This is one of my pet peeves! Over and over
      people are advised to have AutoZone or the like read the codes and tell them what’s wrong. Or that you should purchase an inexpensive reader and do it yourself.
      Fact: A code that says misfire cyl. 2 does not
      always mean that you need to replace the spark plug, wires, cap, coil or whatever they try to sell you. A lot of the employees at those places don’t have a clue as to all that is involved to properly diagnose the indicated
      problem. I hate to say it but a lot of working mechanics will also simply replace the part that
      is listed in the code’s description. One common example is a code saying that a particular O2 sensor is reading rich or lean.
      Far too often the part gets replaced without any further testing, when in fact, there are a
      few (at least) other problems that could cause that code to come up; primarily anything affecting the correct fuel/air mixture reaching the cylinders.
      Before I forget: a steadily lit MIL or CEL is
      usually an emissions related problem and safe to drive. A flashing lamp means Shut Down!
      there is a very real risk of causing further damage by driving with a flashing CEL, as it
      indicates a mechanical failure (such as a cylinder not firing) that can get worse rapidly.
      In your case there are things that need to be eliminated as causes before replacing any parts. Cylinder compression on suspect
      cylinder AS compared to the others, don’t check just the one. A reasonably accurate
      spark tester should be used to ensure not that there is spark, but that there is spark at the required level. In other words you can check
      under no load and with a small gap and think that your spark is good, when in fact you lose the spark under more demanding circumstances. The ignition wires need to be checked for any obvious flaw and then tested with an ohm meter (DVM). Although here too
      the wire may check out fine while not being used, but start climbing a hill or accelerate hard and it then creates the problem.
      There could be a small leak in the headgasket
      between two adjacent cylinders. There could be a broken piston ring causing low compression. There could be a leak in the intake gasket at the suspect cylinder, affecting
      the mixture in that one cylinder.
      I’m sure that you’re getting my point. For every problem showing in the DTC there is a
      specific routine, or troubleshooting flowchart
      that should be followed; when it is, the odds
      of replacing only the faulty part are very high.
      If you feel that you have the tools and savvy
      to undertake diagnosing the problem yourself
      may I suggest thinking about a subscription
      at ALLDATAdiy.com For about what you’d pay for a pretty much worthless manual at
      an auto parts store you can get a one year
      subscription for your vehicle that will allow you
      access to Technical Service Bulletins, Recall information that isn’t always made public,
      wiring diagrams, flowcharts, specifications, etc., etc. (No I do not work for them in any way)
      As you can see, there really is no way to give
      you anything more than an educated guess
      as to what’s causing your problem. Granted,
      the first suspect is often the problem, but it gets expensive quickly if it isn’t in this one case.

      Good luck to you,
      quietman

    5. LEXUSRY says:

      YOUR FIRST MISTAKE IS TO LISTEN TO AUTOZONE EMPLOYEES. THEY ARE PART SALEMANS WHO JOB IS TO SELL PARTS. THEY DON”T KNOW HOW TO DIAGNOS CAR PROBLEM. THANK GOD YOU DID NOT ASK THE PRIEST FOR CAR ADVICES. HAVE A WELL TRAIN TECHNICIAN CHECK OUT YOUR CAR SO YOU DON”T HAVE TO SPEND MONEY ON PARTS YOU DON”T NEED. BASE ON YOUR PROBLEM, THE MOST COMMON PROBLEM ON ALTIMA IS A BAD INJECTOR. ALL,ALL ALL, 1996 AND NEWER VEHICLES CHECK ENGINE LIGHT WILL FLASHES WHEN THE COMPUTER SENSE THERE IS A BAD ENGINE MISS FIRE.ONCE THE ENGINE MISS FIRE SLOW DOWN ,THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT WILL STAY ON UNTIL YOU FIX THE PROBLEM. YOU NEED A SCAN TOOL TO CLEAR THE CODE ONCE THE PROBLEM IS SOLVE