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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been having intermittent engine misfires (at idle and running) on my 2005 Xterra Offroad (175k or 179k miles) since October. Here's some background.

October: First engine misfire, blinking SES light. I took it to the mechanic I thought I was beginning to trust and they said it was the spark plugs. They replaced all the spark plugs (NOT the coils) and the light went away for a month and a half. $1100. The truck drove well, in my opinion, but as soon as I got it back from them I noticed a slight 2-5 mpg decrease in gas mileage and a faint oil smell when running the heat in the cab.

Early December: Engine misfire returns, blinking SES light. I took it back to the same mechanic to see if they screwed something up. After "looking at it" for over five hours as I sat in their shop, they said it was some sort of engine thing, that they had not messed anything up, and they suggested taking it to the Nissan dealer. They thought it might be an engine oil light that was causing a skip in timing at idle that then tripped the SES light and caused a false misfire. $NoCharge luckily. So I took it to the Nissan dealer, they ended up finding that my oil pressure sensor was bad, so they replaced that for $400 and said they hope that fixes the problem, but they weren't sure if it would. They told me if there were any more issues they would probably go for the timing chain and fix all kinds of other stuff, which would cost $3100. The truck drove good for a day and the engine oil light never came back on, then I left the next day for two weeks of interview and holiday travel.

Late December (tonight): Less than 40 miles later, the engine misfire is back, the worst it has been yet with flashing SES light. It was even sputtering without the SES light on. I am now sh**ting my pants, because a possible $3100 bill (i.e., two months of my pay) looms on the horizon.

Now I will tell you that I have had a P0430 code since Summer 2017...could bad catalytic converters be causing the misfires (as I see others suggested in this string)? What thoughts might people have as to the cause of the continued misfires? Did the original mechanic screw something up (like not replace a gasket now oil is leaking onto the spark plugs, or something?). Maybe it's just the coils (what mechanic does not replace coils on a high mileage vehicle when they're already in there for the plugs...a bad one in my opinion). Is everyone giving me the run around?

HELP!

PS - if anyone knows a good Nissan mechanic in Albuquerque, NM area, please send them my way.
 

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$1100 to change your spark plugs? Is that all they did? That price doesn't make sense.

Plugged cats can cause misfires.
Running 2 years on a cat code is not good.
Are you getting specific cylinders misfiring or random misfires?

If it were my vehicle I would pull the codes, pull the cats and check for blockage and replace the bad one or ones, test the coils depending if its specific cylinders
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
$1100 to change your spark plugs? Is that all they did? That price doesn't make sense.

Plugged cats can cause misfires.
Running 2 years on a cat code is not good.
Are you getting specific cylinders misfiring or random misfires?

If it were my vehicle I would pull the codes, pull the cats and check for blockage and replace the bad one or ones, test the coils depending if its specific cylinders
Thank you for the response.

For the $1100, they did a tune up, serpentine belt tensioner, spark plugs and boots, as well as a synthetic oil change. At this point I am sure they overcharge for labor...they also charge $110 diagnostic just to run the codes...complete BS and a cheat of a mechanic in my opinion. The same mechanic just replaced my girlfriend's power steering hoses and they left a gas cap in the engine - that was the final straw.

I'll see what I can do about getting the codes pulled today - I don't have an OBD-II reader to do it myself. The crap mechanic cleared all the codes so that Nissan couldn't pull what codes were coming up when the misfire came back. Afraid to drive the dang thing down to road to AutoZone too, the sputter is very pronounced and bad, and I don't want to risk sucking up cat parts into the engine.
 

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Please disregard the opinions which I'm about to post.
To be clear, I'm a highly paid unproffessional.

You should have good reason to question if the work performed by your mechanic was performed correctly, if at all.

Typically a general mechanic will charge between $200 and $300 to replace the spark plugs in an Xterra/Frontier with a 4.0 engine. A dealership may ask more, but I would suspect this price wouldn't exceed $500. For this price , you should be expecting new plugs and gaskets on your intake manifold and throttle body.

The Xterra uses a direct ignition coil on plug ignition system.
In general terms, we dont have a wire that comes from a rotor to each spark plug.
Basically, we have a coil which sits atop a coil boot that is attached to our plugs.
Yes, you can replace the boot on it's own, but most people will replace the ignition coil as a single unit (boot & coil). Your coils have worked just as hard as your plugs have and after 100K miles may be failing.

So, my question rests on a few details
1. Did your mechanic replace your intake/ throttle body gaskets, or do you have an air leak?
2. Did he replace your spark plugs or just those on one side of your engine?
3. Is there a chance the connections to your plugs are all firmly attached or has one become loose?
4. Have you developed a coil problem . (I prefer new coils whenever replacing plugs if it's a pita to easily replace later.)

The exorbitant cost of your repair draws me to question your mechanics character.
 

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Test your catalytic converter

This video shows a couple diagnostic tests for your catalytic converter.
You will need a infrared digital thermometer. ( $26 Harbor Freight)

Watch this video
Note, the video shares what you should notice from a bad catalytic converter and a good catalytic converter is tested for comparison at the end of the video

 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Please disregard the opinions which I'm about to post.
To be clear, I'm a highly paid unproffessional.

You should have good reason to question if the work performed by your mechanic was performed correctly, if at all.

Typically a general mechanic will charge between $200 and $300 to replace the spark plugs in an Xterra/Frontier with a 4.0 engine. A dealership may ask more, but I would suspect this price wouldn't exceed $500. For this price , you should be expecting new plugs and gaskets on your intake manifold and throttle body.

The Xterra uses a direct ignition coil on plug ignition system.
In general terms, we dont have a wire that comes from a rotor to each spark plug.
Basically, we have a coil which sits atop a coil boot that is attached to our plugs.
Yes, you can replace the boot on it's own, but most people will replace the ignition coil as a single unit (boot & coil). Your coils have worked just as hard as your plugs have and after 100K miles may be failing.

So, my question rests on a few details
1. Did your mechanic replace your intake/ throttle body gaskets, or do you have an air leak?
2. Did he replace your spark plugs or just those on one side of your engine?
3. Is there a chance the connections to your plugs are all firmly attached or has one become loose?
4. Have you developed a coil problem . (I prefer new coils whenever replacing plugs if it's a pita to easily replace later.)

The exorbitant cost of your repair draws me to question your mechanics character.
I think the character of these mechanics are definitely in question - last week I saw them charge an 85 year old man $1500.

I doubt they replaced gaskets, as these are not on the itemized receipt. I was charged for six spark plugs and spark plug boots, but no coils. Considering the oil smell I noticed soon as I got the vehicle back from them leads me to worry oil is getting on the plugs due to a shotty job putting all the pieces together (and screwing up a gasket). My guess/bet is that the cats are bad AND the coils are going bad...which pi**es me off supremely since they didn't replace them the first time around, leading me to think they purposely didn't do it so I'd be back soon.
 

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Misfires are usually caused by either plugs, coils or injectors. im surprised neither the mechanic or nissan mentioned those, though there would probably be a p0300 code if that were the case.

usually what happens is a bad coil/plug allows unburnt fuel to go into the cats which causes them to degrade, which can cause them to deteriorate and then get sucked back into the cylinder. but that doesn't sound like your issue. if the cat is clogged i guess it could prevent exhaust gas from exiting and cause a mis fire.

i recently had a misfire issue, blinking ses, no power.. it was a single bad coil. shortly after that that banks cat died , indicating to me that unburnt fuel had passed into it.
 

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Keep us updated in regards to what you learn.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you for the insight @mtnbound

I just went out and bought a cheap OBDII reader from Harbor Freight. The expected suspects came up (P0430 and P0420), and I got some closure on which cylinder(s) misfired most recently. Whether it's the same code(s)/cylinder(s) as two weeks ago is unknown considering the crap mechanic cleared and deleted all codes.

So Cylinder 1 misfired (P0301), as well as a random misfire (P0300)...so maybe it could be the coils. However, the cats are in bad shape too I'm sure, considering I've been running the P0430 off and on for two years...P0420 is relatively new in the last three months. Being that it says Cylinder 1 AND random misfire...maybe it is the cats? What I'm getting is the coils and cats both need attention. I crawled under a minute ago and the bank 1 (passenger side) cat looks pretty rusty. Bank 2 looks okay but it's an aftermarket, so it was replaced over 40k miles ago...probably bad too.

I'm hoping come Monday I can convince a mechanic to just take the cats out and straight pipe it, because I hope to be in a county that does not require emissions testing by next year. Unfortunately I don't have the tools or the garage space to attempt it myself...it does not look that difficult to replace the front cats (except taking part of the wheel well plastic out).

If this provides any new insight I'd love to get some more advice to help nail this problem down. I don't think I trust taking it to the Nissan dealer at this point, considering they tried to sell me on getting my timing chain all replaced to help fix the misfire issue.
Electronic device Technology Gadget Games Multimedia
 

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I would start by replacing the coil on cyl 1 ( i want to say thats the same one I had die) and then the one cat that is older. it could also be to o2 sensors are bad, not the actual cat itself, there is a chance that cat that looks newer isnt bad. you could probably do the coil and cat yourself if your trying to save some $$. I did the passenger cat myself, not to hard really, but i like to think im mechanically inclined.

once you replace those items you'll be able to see if that solved it, or if you need to replace either o2 sensors, the other cat, or more of the coils.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
@mtnbound I have limited tools (no jacks, stands, or even a ratchet extension), but I think I could manage replacing the O2 sensors on my own (with some new tool acquisition), however I am not sure I could manage the coil.

Concerning the coils, I am looking back over the "bad" mechanic's itemized receipt, and I was charged $17 a piece ($102 total) for 6 Belden spark plug boots (BEL 702453). This is where I get confused - is this not the coil also ("coil on plug"). If so, I should have six brand new ones in there. There should also be 6 new NGK laser platinum plugs in there.
 

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There is a difference.

Follow this link


Notice no coil attached to top of boot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
There is a difference.

Follow this link


Notice no coil attached to top of boot.
That finally clears up my confusion - thank you.

After watching this video where the guy does not remove the plenum for the passenger side spark plugs, I think I might actually be able to replace the coil on my own, unless anyone has personal experience against this method. Cylinder 1 looks to be the most difficult to get to though (passenger side, front of motor, beneath the plenum, if I am looking correctly), so cylinder 3 would have to be removed too in order to get to cylinder 1.

Looks like for coil packs, a set of 6 are going to run between $70–100 (Duralast vs. Hitachi, respectively). I called a mechanic earlier and they quoted me $400 to replace only cylinder 1 using Hitachi (which I think is OEM) - more motivation to try it on my own.
 

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Looks like for coil packs, a set of 6 are going to run between $70–100 (Duralast vs. Hitachi, respectively). I called a mechanic earlier and they quoted me $400 to replace only cylinder 1 using Hitachi (which I think is OEM) - more motivation to try it on my own.
I think you may be confusing the price for 1 as the price for 6. These buggers are expensive, but common advice is to get the Hitachi OEM coils. Rock auto has them for $35.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I think you may be confusing the price for 1 as the price for 6. These buggers are expensive, but common advice is to get the Hitachi OEM coils. Rock auto has them for $35.
You are correct - thank you for pointing that out! I would have been quite bummed at AutoZone tomorrow. I will check Rock Auto since I am likely already ordering a cat from there tomorrow.
 

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If I am you, I would replace one by one unless you are in rush to repair because you are going to end up with so much money for parts and your time. I would go from ignition-- fuel-- air intake-- exhaust system because ignition and fuel systems are main cause for misfiring normally. I am kind of wondering if your scanner can read live data? If so, check O2 sensor, fuel trim, and mass flow sensor first. It would be very helpful information for you if you replicate the misfiring during you are checking data. If you can read live data, it will help narrow down problems instead of randomly replacing parts. Also factory manual explain how to diagnose the code you got. Just google it. You can find xterra service manual easily. Usually, service manual guides you and what value you should look for. Multimeter is very helpful tool which is cost $30 or $40. The manual asks to measure voltage directly in some of the case. I know that it is time consuming, but that is the choice if you do not want to spend so much money for ridiculous mechanic and parts. I used to be same position as yours, but I repair my car by myself and also repair other people's car now because some of mechanics are not unreliable and very very stupid. good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I just ordered a Hitachi ignition coil - going with @mtnbound advice I will try to replace this first and see if the issue persists...I won't be surprised if I burned up the bank 1 cat so I may be ordering a one very soon too, but holding off for now. Can keep posted if this fixes or not.

I ran into some confusion on what coil was OEM. A Japanese car mechanic told me Hitachi part number 1415091H, but everywhere I saw it online it was listed as part number IGC0006. Apparently these are the same, as someone at NAPA told me when they pulled one out of the box and it had both numbers on it. However the guy at NAPA said Denso was OEM. After some sleuthing on here, it looks like Denso and Hitachi are both considered OEM. My Xterra definitely has the Denso in there right now (with the gray O on the top of the coil), but it seems more people on here prefer the Hitachi, so I will give it a go. RockAuto has both for $35–40. Hope this helps anyone that may have had the same confusion.
 

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I have been having intermittent engine misfires (at idle and running) on my 2005 Xterra Offroad (175k or 179k miles) since October. Here's some background.

October: First engine misfire, blinking SES light. I took it to the mechanic I thought I was beginning to trust and they said it was the spark plugs. They replaced all the spark plugs (NOT the coils) and the light went away for a month and a half. $1100. The truck drove well, in my opinion, but as soon as I got it back from them I noticed a slight 2-5 mpg decrease in gas mileage and a faint oil smell when running the heat in the cab.

Early December: Engine misfire returns, blinking SES light. I took it back to the same mechanic to see if they screwed something up. After "looking at it" for over five hours as I sat in their shop, they said it was some sort of engine thing, that they had not messed anything up, and they suggested taking it to the Nissan dealer. They thought it might be an engine oil light that was causing a skip in timing at idle that then tripped the SES light and caused a false misfire. $NoCharge luckily. So I took it to the Nissan dealer, they ended up finding that my oil pressure sensor was bad, so they replaced that for $400 and said they hope that fixes the problem, but they weren't sure if it would. They told me if there were any more issues they would probably go for the timing chain and fix all kinds of other stuff, which would cost $3100. The truck drove good for a day and the engine oil light never came back on, then I left the next day for two weeks of interview and holiday travel.

Late December (tonight): Less than 40 miles later, the engine misfire is back, the worst it has been yet with flashing SES light. It was even sputtering without the SES light on. I am now sh**ting my pants, because a possible $3100 bill (i.e., two months of my pay) looms on the horizon.

Now I will tell you that I have had a P0430 code since Summer 2017...could bad catalytic converters be causing the misfires (as I see others suggested in this string)? What thoughts might people have as to the cause of the continued misfires? Did the original mechanic screw something up (like not replace a gasket now oil is leaking onto the spark plugs, or something?). Maybe it's just the coils (what mechanic does not replace coils on a high mileage vehicle when they're already in there for the plugs...a bad one in my opinion). Is everyone giving me the run around?

HELP!

PS - if anyone knows a good Nissan mechanic in Albuquerque, NM area, please send them my way.
Ugh! Sorry this has happened to you. I have a 2005 as well. First, I don’t know if anyone told you, but a blinking engine light is critical. Don’t drive the car! If it’s just red, you are likely ok, but blinking means something very serious is wrong and you shouldn’t drive it. I had the same issue. An oil valve cover leak caused oil to build up and continual cracking of cylinder 1 ignition coil. Unfortunately, when this happens it sends hot fuel directly to your sensitive catalytic converters and failure is likely. I drove with bad converters for approx 2 years and had to have them fixed to smog and register the car. My suggestion would be find a highly rated mechanic, fire these fools you have been dealing with, have them check your coils and look for any oil leaks. Then you have options and can budget - first replace coils, then address leak, replace cars when you have to smog. I have gone through some awful Nissan mechanics - I think finding a reputable mechanic will help you a lot!
 

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Hi GeologyJake!

I have a random misfire (P0300) as well on my Xterra, just happened this weekend. Normally I do not post but your issue matches mine exactly on many data points, down to the model year, cat codes for years, etc.

I have, like you, a 2005 Xterra 4x4 with the 6 speed manual transmission
I, like you, have run the truck with the codes for bad cats (P0420/P0430 codes come on and off) for about two years (30k miles)
I, like you, have about 175K miles on my Xterra as well

My Xterra was running fine until I drove her on empty to dry....I ran out of gas on the highway and she stalled for lack of fuel. Once I filled up, I got misfire codes with misfires at idle and throttle.

I highly suspect I sucked 175k miles worth of fuel tank crud into the fuel filter when I ran her bone dry and that is what is causing the engine to run lean and misfire.

If I were you I would find another mechanic, as your mechanic does not seem to be experienced as others have mentioned. When I solve the cause of my misfire (P0300) I will keep you posted.

Hopefully this helps you think about if perhaps you might have a clogged fuel filter or have a dying fuel pump from running the SUV dry too often like I have (I once ran her dry 2 years ago, and had the same misfire issue, but it self resolved after filling her up with gas and running her on the highway for a miles, this time my luck seems to have run out).
 
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