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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
TLDR: Car wont start in cold or medium weather, battery is good, heat gun on ECM didn't help, only starts with a jump pack even after being driven for 2 hours+ and alternator charging battery.

-Gets a spark
-Has fuel pressure
-Requires a jump pack to start (even @50 degree weather)
-no problems once it actually turns over and starts
-battery is good
-alternator is probably good
-much harder to start in the cold (even with the jump pack)

Hey everyone! I've had my 2010 X 4wd (X trim) for about 4 years now and just had to get new tires so I finally decided to start building my truck out. With it I began to tackle problems I've had with it over the past few years and never really had the time to get to because of school. I've finally finished that entire to do list with the exception of my no start issue. I really need help figuring out what's wrong without spending 1000's of dollars on parts roulette.

That being said, I am highly confident the battery is not the issue. I am on my third battery now (the last two didn't fix the issue either) and I tested it to make sure it holds a charge when unplugged for a couple days. I haven't ruled out the possibility of the alternator being bad but the voltage across the alternator when idle is about 14.4 volts so I'm pretty sure the alternator is working well too. The battery sits at around 12.6 volts when it isn't connected.

The past two winters I've only had issues with no starts when it was colder out (<20° ), but this spring it wont even start at 50° without the jump pack giving the system a boosted voltage. I tried the heat gun on the ECM trick when its cold and it did nothing unfortunately. I thought it had something to do with heat because when the engine is at full heat the truck will sometimes start correctly if I do it immediately after turning it off, but more than 5 mins and I have to jump it again to start it.

I even measured for parasitic draw and found it was only 90 milliamps which I should still look into but shouldn't be making my truck require a jump pack every time it needs to start.
When I try to start it, I just get really hard cranking/movement of the pistons that sounds like its just about to turn over but it never does. Some guy said it could be my fuel pump and admittedly my car sounds just like this video @ 0:25 :
but I don't understand how it could be the fuel pump if the car has no issues once I use the jump pack to start it.

Recently it got to -4° where I am and I couldn't even get it to start with the jump pack. The battery was dead (presumably from the parasitic draw) and the starter just clicked and then my gauges fluttered a bunch. I've look at pretty much every thread on here that some what resembles what my issue could be and I'm still almost at a loss. At this point I've looked at possibly just getting the two cam sensors and the crank sensor replaced, replacing the starter and the fuel pump, and if that doesn't do it then move onto something like flagship one and have them ship me a preprogrammed ECM. If the ECM doesn't fix it maybe its in the IPDS? So there are so many possibilities and nothing that's really sticking out to me as being the absolute issue and that's why I'd really love some of this boards experience and I'm willing to test whatever you guys think of.
 

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Hmmm....I wanna say cam or crank sensor, but I don't see how that would be impacted by a jumpbox.

You have a 2010, which came with the black IPDM, so that shouldn't be it. I've researched the IPDM issue thoroughly and never found an instance of a black IPDM failing.

For the ECU - logic tells me (scary, I know) that when it's not starting and you plug the code reader in, you should get an ECU connectivity error on the code reader. When I was diagnosing my bad IPDM, whenever it wouldn't start and I plugged in the code reader it was unable to connect to the ECU, which tipped me off that the ECU relay wasn't working. I popped in a new $4 ECU relay and it roared to life. I then replaced the IPDM and haven't had a single issue yet. Every ECU reflashing company I contacted were happy to take my ECU and do whatever they do to it, but if they found out it was working properly it was a $100 fee for their time, so consider that.

Might sound basic, but if you're 100% sure your battery is good, thoroughly check both battery cables. It's not uncommon for them to corrode from the inside out. They'll look good, but when you flex them they'll either break or will be extremely stiff. They're cheap and some people even consider them a consumable item. Worth a check at least.

Last thing I can think of is your starter. I admittedly don't know much about them, but if the solenoid is going out, maybe that's why it the extra juice is helping it start? I don't know, just spit balling.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Hmmm....I wanna say cam or crank sensor, but I don't see how that would be impacted by a jumpbox.

You have a 2010, which came with the black IPDM, so that shouldn't be it. I've researched the IPDM issue thoroughly and never found an instance of a black IPDM failing.

For the ECU - logic tells me (scary, I know) that when it's not starting and you plug the code reader in, you should get an ECU connectivity error on the code reader. When I was diagnosing my bad IPDM, whenever it wouldn't start and I plugged in the code reader it was unable to connect to the ECU, which tipped me off that the ECU relay wasn't working. I popped in a new $4 ECU relay and it roared to life. I then replaced the IPDM and haven't had a single issue yet. Every ECU reflashing company I contacted were happy to take my ECU and do whatever they do to it, but if they found out it was working properly it was a $100 fee for their time, so consider that.

Might sound basic, but if you're 100% sure your battery is good, thoroughly check both battery cables. It's not uncommon for them to corrode from the inside out. They'll look good, but when you flex them they'll either break or will be extremely stiff. They're cheap and some people even consider them a consumable item. Worth a check at least.

Last thing I can think of is your starter. I admittedly don't know much about them, but if the solenoid is going out, maybe that's why it the extra juice is helping it start? I don't know, just spit balling.

Good luck.
I’m hoping it is just some kind of sync or timing issue that a new crank sensor would fix which I already ordered along with a ECM relay. If nothing changes I might do the cam shaft sensors too and hopefully it’s just that.

I do have the black ipdm, which leads me to my next question: is the ecm relay built in on the new one? On the older 9 relay ipdm I could locate it but I can seem to find it on this newer (4 relay) board that came with my truck. I only have one of those cheapo Amazon WiFi obd2 scanners so I don’t think it has anything for ECU connectivity, but I’ll have to look again. Good suggestion to try that.

I haven’t tested the wires but they don’t visibly seem to have anything wrong with them, so I’ll test the resistance of the main low gauge wires and compare them to where they should be at their gauge and length. I’ve considered doing the big 3 anyways as I still have all original wiring so that may help, but I still fear it may not fix my issue.





Bad relay very possible:


'Any contact problem can be overcome with more voltage' which is why the jump helps.
I would love if it was the relay but still brings me back to what I said above^
And logically it does make sense that a relay could work better on a higher voltage so it makes sense.

im going to look at my ipdm again and see if I can figure out where that relay* is.
 

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I do have the black ipdm, which leads me to my next question: is the ecm relay built in on the new one? On the older 9 relay ipdm I could locate it but I can seem to find it on this newer (4 relay) board that came with my truck. I only have one of those cheapo Amazon WiFi obd2 scanners so I don’t think it has anything for ECU connectivity, but I’ll have to look again. Good suggestion to try that.
That I don't know for certain. I'm at work and the X is at home, so I can't check. But my new IPDM did come with 3 spare ECU relay's - I bought it second hand, so no clue what's going on there. Doesn't sound like the IPDM is the issue for you.

What I mean by the code reader giving me connectivity issues is that it didn't read any code - it simply said it couldn't connect, which I feared meant that my ECU was toast.
 

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Assuming it cranks strong without the jump pack being used and assuming the issue is purely temperature related then maybe:

The jump pack used is likely a warmer, stronger battery compared to the slightly colder, weaker battery in the vehicle. It could be that the slightly higher voltage from the warm jump pack battery and eventually warmed up vehicle battery are enough to overcome some added source of unwanted resistance in a connection or wire somewhere.

For example, a crusty connector on a fuel injector adds just enough extra resistance such that it CANNOT be overcome with a colder, weaker battery voltage, but it CAN be overcome with a warmer, stronger, higher voltage jump pack battery. Some added resistance somewhere in an electrical connection/wire related to fueling or sparking/timing.
 

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I’m hoping it is just some kind of sync or timing issue that a new crank sensor would fix which I already ordered along with a ECM relay. If nothing changes I might do the cam shaft sensors too and hopefully it’s just that.

I do have the black ipdm, which leads me to my next question: is the ecm relay built in on the new one? On the older 9 relay ipdm I could locate it but I can seem to find it on this newer (4 relay) board that came with my truck. I only have one of those cheapo Amazon WiFi obd2 scanners so I don’t think it has anything for ECU connectivity, but I’ll have to look again. Good suggestion to try that.

I haven’t tested the wires but they don’t visibly seem to have anything wrong with them, so I’ll test the resistance of the main low gauge wires and compare them to where they should be at their gauge and length. I’ve considered doing the big 3 anyways as I still have all original wiring so that may help, but I still fear it may not fix my issue.







I would love if it was the relay but still brings me back to what I said above^
And logically it does make sense that a relay could work better on a higher voltage so it makes sense.

im going to look at my ipdm again and see if I can figure out where that relay* is.
A relay works by a electromagnetic coil forcing a switch closed when power is applied. I am sure our relays are designed to close on a relatively low voltage comparative to battery voltage - however if you have a defective relay then it might only work at higher voltages - ie it might switch on 12.6 volts, but not at 12.4 volts - for example. I am sure its designed to switch at a very low voltage comparatively - but having said that - if its damaged or defective - its possible you get this type of behavior of it switching with the jump pack, but not on a weaker voltage battery - in theory at least.

Its a cheap test - I would try it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Assuming it cranks strong without the jump pack being used and assuming the issue is purely temperature related then maybe:

The jump pack used is likely a warmer, stronger battery compared to the slightly colder, weaker battery in the vehicle. It could be that the slightly higher voltage from the warm jump pack battery and eventually warmed up vehicle battery are enough to overcome some added source of unwanted resistance in a connection or wire somewhere.

For example, a crusty connector on a fuel injector adds just enough extra resistance such that it CANNOT be overcome with a colder, weaker battery voltage, but it CAN be overcome with a warmer, stronger, higher voltage jump pack battery. Some added resistance somewhere in an electrical connection/wire related to fueling or sparking/timing.
This is what I believe is happening also, the pack and the battery are in parallel so I am getting the battery's amps at the jump packs voltage and its making the car think there is a really powerful higher voltage battery which is enough to overcome some higher resistance somewhere along the line (such as a relay like some of you have mentioned or the wire itself). I'll be back by my tools tomorrow and can try some things.

A relay works by a electromagnetic coil forcing a switch closed when power is applied. I am sure our relays are designed to close on a relatively low voltage comparative to battery voltage - however if you have a defective relay then it might only work at higher voltages - ie it might switch on 12.6 volts, but not at 12.4 volts - for example. I am sure its designed to switch at a very low voltage comparatively - but having said that - if its damaged or defective - its possible you get this type of behavior of it switching with the jump pack, but not on a weaker voltage battery - in theory at least.

Its a cheap test - I would try it.
Right so the increased voltage would induce a possibly stronger magnetic field which would cause the circuit to complete and my truck to actually turn over. But I'm still not sure which relay I'd even test as the ECM relay isn't accessible on my version of the IPDM. There is an ignition relay which I plan on checking though.

I've included the IPDM schematic my truck has, the ignition relay is really the only thing that seems like it may have anything to do with this.

Edit 1*
Also decided I'm going to redo the ground cable on the battery. My engine was running and charging the battery for about an hour yesterday and the cable was so hot it was almost untouchable, which now that I think about it, that could be a huge factor in the issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Also, while I have this thread going, does anyone know what these black and red terminal distribution plates are called in this picture? I think a better setup like this could potentially help in a few situations, but I can't seem to find something like these plates anywhere.

Edit 1: Found them here: amazon
They only work with the xs battery, so now I'm thinking maybe something more like the rugged rocks connectors may help: ruggedrocks
 

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Right so the increased voltage would induce a possibly stronger magnetic field which would cause the circuit to complete and my truck to actually turn over. But I'm still not sure which relay I'd even test as the ECM relay isn't accessible on my version of the IPDM. There is an ignition relay which I plan on checking though.
Huh - I went an looked an your right - no ECM relay in the new IPDM's. There was one in the old white ones - it was actually the one that usually failed / corroded on the board which is why they upgraded. I wonder where they did with that??
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Huh - I went an looked an your right - no ECM relay in the new IPDM's. There was one in the old white ones - it was actually the one that usually failed / corroded on the board which is why they upgraded. I wonder where they did with that??
yeah so I’m just really at a loss of what to do. No codes. Injectors and spark plugs are new. So I guess I’m just going to start replacing parts starting with the cheapest.

So.. over the next two weeks I ordered a new crankshaft sensor and the two cam shaft sensors. I also ordered a new starter and the spectra fuel pump. I’m going to replace all those, and then I’m also going to clean the battery connectors and switch over to military style connectors along with a new ground wire that’s a slightly thicker gauge if it will fit through the sensor. Also going to try it without the sensor and see if that does anything...

So if anyone thinks of anything else I should try let me know. If none of this works then I am truly at a loss and I guess it’s time to start thinking about a new ECM, but I have my doubts that that’s the issue. After combing through some other threads, seems quite a few trucks have an issue along these lines that never gets fixed. I’m one of those people that likes what I like and I don’t plan on replacing my truck any time soon so I really need to get this fixed, otherwise the hardcore off-road rear bumper and hep rack I ordered are making me feel like a clown when I can’t even get the truck to start.
 

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yeah so I’m just really at a loss of what to do. No codes. Injectors and spark plugs are new. So I guess I’m just going to start replacing parts starting with the cheapest.

So.. over the next two weeks I ordered a new crankshaft sensor and the two cam shaft sensors. I also ordered a new starter and the spectra fuel pump. I’m going to replace all those, and then I’m also going to clean the battery connectors and switch over to military style connectors along with a new ground wire that’s a slightly thicker gauge if it will fit through the sensor. Also going to try it without the sensor and see if that does anything...

So if anyone thinks of anything else I should try let me know. If none of this works then I am truly at a loss and I guess it’s time to start thinking about a new ECM, but I have my doubts that that’s the issue. After combing through some other threads, seems quite a few trucks have an issue along these lines that never gets fixed. I’m one of those people that likes what I like and I don’t plan on replacing my truck any time soon so I really need to get this fixed, otherwise the hardcore off-road rear bumper and hep rack I ordered are making me feel like a clown when I can’t even get the truck to start.
To confirm - you swapped the battery twice - and it didn't fix the problem. Did the new battery fix the problem when first installed - even once? Does the jump pack fix the problem every time - immediately? Trying to determine if its 100%

I would get a clamp on DC ohm meter and have a budy crank the thing while I was looking to see if there was power to places it should be going - like the ECM, or the fuel pump. Additionally I would go ahead and change the positive battery cable end and the entire negative battery cable - and I might actually change out the fusible link assembly while I was at it. Weird crap happens to our solid state controls when there not getting clean power.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
To confirm - you swapped the battery twice - and it didn't fix the problem. Did the new battery fix the problem when first installed - even once? Does the jump pack fix the problem every time - immediately? Trying to determine if its 100%

I would get a clamp on DC ohm meter and have a budy crank the thing while I was looking to see if there was power to places it should be going - like the ECM, or the fuel pump. Additionally I would go ahead and change the positive battery cable end and the entire negative battery cable - and I might actually change out the fusible link assembly while I was at it. Weird crap happens to our solid state controls when there not getting clean power.
Yeah so I’ve had 3 batteries in the truck, and the most recent one I installed brand new directly in the Walmart parking lot and still ended up having to use the jump pack to start it. Other than when it was frigid cold out, the jump pack has started it every time. The jump pack has become as essential as my wallet at this point and it’s rather annoying.

I plan on replacing whatever cables I can this weekend (specifically the main battery ground) and I ordered a new fuseable link cluster that should be here tomorrow. Also going to try spraying some engine starter liquid tomorrow to see how it reacts to that.

I appreciate all the help you all are giving me. Especially you idn88! I’ll get back to you guys with an update when I have more details.

edit: small update, just tried the key on my rear hatch lock and the key doesn’t seem to be able to turn at all. Is it possible this is being caused by the security system?

edit2: just disconnected the negative voltage/ammeter gauge. Getting 14.5 volts stable charging the battery right now. Going to do about an hour and a half on the highway here soon and I’ll see how it is after.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Update: I disconnected the negative battery cable amp meter. I got 14.5 volts to 13.9 volts driving around all night. The battery was at a healthy 12.7 volts and the truck actually started on its own 2/3 times. I have the suspicion the new ground cable will help a lot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
HUGE UPDATE GUYS! I replaced the ground cable after measuring 1.8 ohms of resistance across the factory ground. The new ground only had like 0.8 ohms of resistance and I hooked it up and it started right up! I really didn’t think it was the cables you all weren’t kidding!
Now I don’t think that was my only issue, but the new ground has made a huge difference. I’m so excited!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Alright hey guys. Another update: left the truck sitting all night with my dash cam running and it still started the next morning!

So, since the new cable helped so much, I’ve decided to replace all three cables.

Now I was wondering, I know where the alternator positive cable is, but where is the engine to chassis wire at? I’ve been looking for two hours and I can’t seem to find it. Looked around and can’t really find any good threads describing where it is, not even in the frontier forums.

if my battery negative was that corroded, I assume my other main power system cables are as well and should probably be replaced.
 

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I really didn’t think it was the cables you all weren’t kidding!
Glad you're making progress. I can't tell you how many times people have had battery/electrical issues and when I recommend getting the battery checked and closely inspect your cables, they just brush it off. It doesn't seem logical to a lot of people, but it usually is the case. Bad batteries and cables can make crazy things happen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Glad you're making progress. I can't tell you how many times people have had battery/electrical issues and when I recommend getting the battery checked and closely inspect your cables, they just brush it off. It doesn't seem logical to a lot of people, but it usually is the case. Bad batteries and cables can make crazy things happen.
Yeah tucker that was a great recommendation. I saw in other threads it would get brought up and it totally gets brushed off but I’m so glad I listened! I’ll be the guy in other threads now saying to check the battery cables!

Now i just need to find that pesky chassis ground cable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Yeah tucker that was a great recommendation. I saw in other threads it would get brought up and it totally gets brushed off but I’m so glad I listened! I’ll be the guy in other threads now saying to check the battery cables!

Now i just need to find that pesky chassis ground cable.
update:chassis to engine ground was the built in to the connector in the middle of the battery to engine ground. That’s why I couldn’t find it.

So if this tells any who are having problems like me in the future, ALL POWER ON OUR TRUCKS MUST PASS THROUGH THAT NEGATIVE CABLE!
Keep it clean, keep it corrosion free, and tbh it really should be replaced with something bigger if you plan on doing anything electrically significant.

so take the max amount of amps you could be pulling at any time all together in your truck (speaker amplifier, lights, inverters, etc etc) and find the proper gauge wire. That’s how thick the ground wire on your battery to engine should be.

if your ground wire is stock and hasn’t been changed in 10+ years, it is likely the cause of many of the no start and bad ground issues we see posted here.
 

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update:chassis to engine ground was the built in to the connector in the middle of the battery to engine ground. That’s why I couldn’t find it.

So if this tells any who are having problems like me in the future, ALL POWER ON OUR TRUCKS MUST PASS THROUGH THAT NEGATIVE CABLE!
Keep it clean, keep it corrosion free, and tbh it really should be replaced with something bigger if you plan on doing anything electrically significant.

so take the max amount of amps you could be pulling at any time all together in your truck (speaker amplifier, lights, inverters, etc etc) and find the proper gauge wire. That’s how thick the ground wire on your battery to engine should be.

if your ground wire is stock and hasn’t been changed in 10+ years, it is likely the cause of many of the no start and bad ground issues we see posted here.
Sounds like you solved your problems - which is great!

I as confused by your chassis ground question - because that ground connects to the body just under the PS reservoir. I didn't know if there was another one somewhere but anyway glad you found it. I have thought about upgrading that cable but wondered what the affect of a larger cable on that current sensor might be? As well its beefier than it looks - its somewhere between 1 and 0 gauge by my attempted measure. Its also very short, so it should sink a lot of current.
Anyway great to hear your having progress, and also post anything else your learn for the rest of us plebs.
 
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