Could one of these problems cause Morgan Freeman's car accident?
There seem to be some common issues among Nissan Maxima owners who have the 2000-2004 models. These tend to range from intermittent rough idle to reported transmission problems, to a drastic decrease in performance. We are looking in to the real cause of the problems, and offering our advice on what to do, and what NOT to do.
We looked into how to troubleshoot the intermittent rough idle problem in the latest article. It can be attributed to the ignition coils, which have proven to go bad in the first few years of ownership. The next issue we are going after is the supposed transmission problems I have been hearing about. This problem has been described as a hesitation in the shifting from 1st to 2nd, or 2nd to 3rd under half to full throttle. It also causes hard shifting, and the appearance of a "rev limiter" around 4000 rpms. The TSB (technical service bulletin) out for this says that the solenoid control assembly in the transmission is to blame. This assembly is responsible for the correct shift times for the transmission. Sounds like the right answer, right?
Maybe. These control assemblies can go bad, but it is only due to the build up of debris in the transmission system. This debris comes from clutch material and burned transmission fluid. With that much clutch material worn down, you would most likely have some slipping in the transmission occurring. If it is indeed slipping, then I would look at a transmission rebuild or replacement. Simply replacing the control assembly would just delay the inevitable, and cost you 500-750 dollars.
The issue I have described is NOT the transmission. I repeat. NOT the transmission. In my example, I have not described any slipping of the transmission. In a lot of cases, this "transmission" symptom is accompanied by a pinging engine and low performance. This is most likely a fuel related problem. The ping is from a lean fuel mixture (not enough gas). The poor performance could be from the same cause. If the knock sensor or the trans solenoids were bad, you would eventually get an engine trouble code from the ECU/TCU. The first place to check is the fuel filter in the gas tank. There is not an external filter on these cars, and that filter in the tank is SELDOM changed. The new filter should fix the engine ping, the performance issues, and the "transmission" type symptoms. The "rev limiter" feel is from the engine not having enough fuel to continue raising the rpms. The hard shift is from the transmission anticipating the faster shift needed at higher rpms, but the engine is not performing correctly, so the acceleration is not there to complete the smooth shift. All these systems work intricately together. Lower the fuel pressure available to the injectors, and all of the above symptoms can occur.
Be sure to have the codes checked. In a lot of cases I have seen, these issues come and go with no check engine light. That is a good sign it could be the fuel filter. You may also have a dirty throttle body, which I recommend cleaning when you replace the filter.
Good luck, stay TUNED, and quick recover to Moran Freeman.
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