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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello. My father has a 2005 Nissan Altima 2.5S with roughly 130,000 miles on the odometer. It's been a great car for him until very recently.

One week ago, he backed into a car in a parking lot. It was very minor, just a couple of scratches on each vehicle. I'm not certain that this is relevant, but it could be more than a coincidence.

Three days ago he said the car didn't start right away on the first attempt, but it did start the next time he tried.

Yesterday, the car showed up to my house on a rollback. He went on lunch break and when he came out of a restaurant, roughly 35 minutes after parking, the car refused to start. I don't know what, if anything, he tried. All I know of that situation is that he says he couldn't get it to start.

I hopped in and turned the key on and it started right up. Shut if off and started it up again without issue.

I did a scan and came up with code P0304, camshaft position sensor malfunction. Easy enough, I thought. I got a new cam position sensor and had it installed within 5 minutes. The car again started without hesitation, so I told him I hoped that it was fixed.

He went to leave for work this morning and the car again would not start.

A few hours after that, I scanned it again and there were no codes. Before I attempted to start it, I removed the engine cover and got an HEI tester and 10mm socket and ratchet handy.

It didn't start, so I removed one coil and hooked up the HEI tester. There was a strong spark when the engine was cranked over. Before putting the coil back in, I removed the spark plug. There was a clear odor of fuel, but the plug was not wet. I reinstalled the plug.

I got back in and held the pedal to the floor and the engine struggled as if it wanted to start for a second or two, then went back to not trying to start at all. To be 100% clear, the starter turns the engine over just fine. I've had no issue there, and I've kept it on a battery maintainer to be certain there are no issues with voltage. When I say it struggled as if it wanted to start or tried to start, I mean I could hear signs of life as if the engine was firing but not well enough to start and run.

I then pumped the pedal as I held the key in the start position and is struggled for a bit and finally started. When it first started it was running rough, putting out a small amount of smoke, and smelling rich. Apparently it was flooded at that point, but quickly cleared up.

I drove it for about 10 minutes and it ran perfectly anywhere from idle to WOT. I returned and checked the codes just in case, and again no codes.

I had no trouble starting it up immediately after it was used, or again a couple of hours later.

It appears to be fuel/mixture related and only on startup. As far as I can tell, it doesn't matter if the engine is hot or cold.

I've looked through some other threads on the forum, but I'm not finding resolutions. I seem to find a bunch of people complaining of long term starting troubles that seem to go on unresolved.

I looked at a few service bulletins that were posted related to these issues. The cam position sensor was just replaced. The crank position sensor was replaced a few months ago after it set off the service engine soon light. It cranks over fine, so I can't see it being starter related as one bulletin suggests. I have not ran a fuel system cleaner through it or done a fuel pressure test, as I don't have a gauge to do so.

I thought perhaps this vehicle has an inertial safety switch that shuts off fuel in the event of a collision that could be malfunctioning post-accident, but search results seem to say there is not one.

Please let me know if anyone has any insight. I'm not inclined to take it to a dealer only to have them say they can't reproduce the issue or charge him an arm and a leg for simple sensor replacements that have already been done, as seems to be the case with most members complaining of this issue in posts here. I'm not well versed in late-model EFI to do all of the troubleshooting that perhaps I should, but I am otherwise capable of performing most tasks.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I picked up a fuel pressure gauge and checked that today. It's 38-41psi key-on. Running it's right on spec at 51-52psi. The service bulletin says to check it when the issue occurs, but of course it starts every time now that I don't want it to.
 

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I remember on my 05, I experienced nearly IDENTICAL symptoms. Random no-starts, and then a code popped up for the camshaft sensor. I did some searching on here (that's how I ended up joining this forum actually, now that I think of it) and I found some threads about the original sensors being defective. The original style sensor was all plastic, and supposedly got too hot, so hot that some solder points inside the sensor could melt and cause the sensor to fail. Nissan came up with a new revised version of the sensor, which had a metal cap over the end that sits inside the engine. I had to go to the dealership to get this new style sensor, all the parts stores sold the solid plastic version. Then when at the dealer, the parts guy said that they ALWAYS replace both the camshaft sensor AND the Crankshaft sensor at the same time whenever that code pops up. He said something about both sensors being in the same loop or something. I dunno if he told me that to just get me to buy two sensors or not, but I bought both sensors and replaced them both. Never had ANY more starting issues after replacing both sensors with the new style metal capped sensors.
If the sensors that you replaced did not have a metal cap on the end, I would replace it with one with a metal cap on it. That "might" be the issue, especially on the sensor that was replaced a few months ago.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Thanks for the reply. The cam and crank position sensors have been replaced. Both were originally the metal versions and replaced with metal versions.

I've still got the fuel pressure gauge hooked up and it still hasn't done it again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
After trying to let it sit hot, cold, short, and long time periods, I gave up for now and removed the fuel pressure gauge and put the stock hose in place. It may happen again the first time my father attempts to take it to work or go to lunch, but I can't reproduce the issue anymore. I told him that if it doesn't start, try either pumping the accelerator or holding it to the floor to see if it will start rather than spending near $100 to have it towed again. If possible, let it sit where it is and he or I can try to start it later before putting out the cash for a tow.

If it happens again, especially if I can resolve the issue, I will post here in case it's of use to anyone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I'll check it when he's around to be certain, but it's shown no other signs of problems. Definitely nothing I'd attribute to a head gasket failure. At least the plug I pulled had no signs of oil or antifreeze on it. The oil level was fine and it definitely wasn't a milkshake. I don't recall the coolant level being off. No overheating issues. No smell of antifreeze or oil burning. No steamy exhaust.

He's drove it 3 days now to work and errands as he normally would without a hitch. He keeps track of gas mileage and it's right on where it usually is. As far as I can tell, there are no symptoms when it's running and starting. He's afraid to drive it anywhere more than 20 minutes away for fear of a big tow bill if he can't start it and that's my main motivation for continuing to look into it. He's even considering trading it in when he has intended to keep it for at least a couple more years since it's otherwise been a great car till now. He's mentioned taking it to the dealer, but from reading other posts on the forum it sounds like that very often ends with the dealer making some money and not fixing the issue because they can't reproduce it or blindly replace parts that may or may not be the cause.
 
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