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Discussion Starter #1
Hello and good day Altima owners.
I own a very loved and cared for 1995 Altima. (GXE, 110K miles, Automatic) Recently the Distributor seemed to go bad (The engine would shut off with no reason and got an error code for the sensor inside the distributor unit) so ordered an replacement unit (aftermarket) and it seems like unless I hold it with my hand it wont run well ad eventually shuts off. Same thing with two new units already. Am I missing something or I should just order an OEM unit (thinking low quality aftermarket). I do have a light gun and it is nicely set on 20 Degrees as detailed on the specs.
Thank you for your help.
David
 

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09 Altima 3.5SE 6MT Sedan
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7,022 Posts
What exactly are you holding with your hand? I'm betting you cannot order an OEM unit.

My guess, pending more detail, would be wiring fault (connector, harness...I mean, 25yrs is a long time under the hood). Also possible that you have a grounding issue with the electronic ignition...the sensor inside the distributor provides a very weak pulse...so if it's reduced or distorted due to wiring faults, or poor grounds on your electronic ignition module (not sure if you have a full blown ECU back in '95 or not!). I could also be an internal failure in the ignition module...family onced owned a '76 Ford (351W with C6 for those that care) and in the summer, the EIM would overheat and the engine would shutoff....we used to place a bag of ice on top of the module, with more in a cooler for extended trips in hot weather...until we found a suitable replacement module :)

Anyways.. couple of things to try...inspect wiring loom and connectors. Inspect EIM (often epoxied into aluminum castings) for corrosion where it meets the body/chassis (a good connection here ensures a good signal ground which helps preserve that weak signal).

One last thing...sometimes if you get too much RF noise it can cause problems...older spark plug cables can start to emit large bursts of EMI as their insulation breaks down.

HTH
 

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Discussion Starter #3
What exactly are you holding with your hand? I'm betting you cannot order an OEM unit.

My guess, pending more detail, would be wiring fault (connector, harness...I mean, 25yrs is a long time under the hood). Also possible that you have a grounding issue with the electronic ignition...the sensor inside the distributor provides a very weak pulse...so if it's reduced or distorted due to wiring faults, or poor grounds on your electronic ignition module (not sure if you have a full blown ECU back in '95 or not!). I could also be an internal failure in the ignition module...family onced owned a '76 Ford (351W with C6 for those that care) and in the summer, the EIM would overheat and the engine would shutoff....we used to place a bag of ice on top of the module, with more in a cooler for extended trips in hot weather...until we found a suitable replacement module :)

Anyways.. couple of things to try...inspect wiring loom and connectors. Inspect EIM (often epoxied into aluminum castings) for corrosion where it meets the body/chassis (a good connection here ensures a good signal ground which helps preserve that weak signal).

One last thing...sometimes if you get too much RF noise it can cause problems...older spark plug cables can start to emit large bursts of EMI as their insulation breaks down.

HTH
Thank you so much for the reply.
I have replaced the harness all together with the connector (it just crumbled on me.) and in the attempt to be more clear I would add that I was holding the distributor cap. Not in any particular way. Almost like for it not to carry vibrations -- It runs great until I let it go and soon after it runs rough and shuts off. As I clean the original distributor and put it back in it all works great until oil leaks (fast) in the unit. (I should try just replacing the O ring...) I do wanna open it up for a good cleanup (trying to figure out how) with the sonic cleaner.
I have attached some pics of the distributor as a reference. For a 1995 the car is pretty "advanced" with an OBD2 and the tuning on the timing is very basic (no need to get to TDC etc -- goes one way in and adjusts a little with a timing gun, to add the RPM tuning.)
The spark plug wires are pretty new and do not show insulation breaks.
Cheers.
Dist1.jpeg
Dist2.jpeg
 

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09 Altima 3.5SE 6MT Sedan
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7,022 Posts
Ok, so to summarize:
  • old distributor works well, but leaks like the Exxon Valdez
  • two new aftermarket units have the same 'hold or die' behaviour
I notice in your pics the 'original' has an o-ring around where the distributor cap mates with the body...do the new ones have that o-ring too? If not, you could be having weird clearance issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Ok, so to summarize:
  • old distributor works well, but leaks like the Exxon Valdez
  • two new aftermarket units have the same 'hold or die' behaviour
I notice in your pics the 'original' has an o-ring around where the distributor cap mates with the body...do the new ones have that o-ring too? If not, you could be having weird clearance issues.
I believe a "weird clearance issue" might be the culprit here. Yesterday got to work on it a bit and tried multiple combinations with the two new units (switching caps and rotors around) not of which work. When cleaned up the old unit and replaced all the "o rings" it worked really great for two minutes and then just died and wont start again.
I am just going to buy one from the local store and see how that wokrs out.. ($160 vs $60) big difference there!!!
I"m guessing "17 YEARS MANUFACTURING EXPERIENCE ISO/TS16949 STANDARD FULL PROCESS QUALITY CONTROL FROM MATERIAL TO PRODUCTS" Does not always fit the bill!!!
I will update the post as I go. Thanks for your time and help!
 
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