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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Lately I've been noticing some odd fluctuations in the fuel gauge over the past week or so. The needle drops to the bottom when the car is off just like normal. When I turn it on, it jumps to the level where it should be, then over the next few minutes or it drifts downward or upward by as much as 1/8th of a tank. It's never really, really off. It's like the sensor can't make up its mind about exactly how much fuel is really in the tank.

I've also been having an issue with sluggish acceleration when stepping on the gas. If I accelerate normally, everything is fine. If I apply the gas enough so the car would jump forward, it goes into "creep forward mode" for about 15 seconds or so or until I shift into neutral and back. The engine RPMs increase, but the speed stays at around 5 MPH. I read this might be due to the brake light sensor, but the brake lights are working normally.

The "service engine soon" light came on yesterday. I immediately checked the gas cap, and while the seal didn't look damaged, I didn't notice the sucking sound I usually get when opening the tank.

The odd thing is, other than these two issues, the car runs fine. Starts right up on the first crank. Accelerates normally from a slow start or while in motion.

The weather has just started to get cold here. I was thinking the temperature may have caused the rubber seal on the cap to fail. I have not had the OBD error code read yet, but I was wondering if this might be the cause?
 

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When you describe the condition that the engine rpm's increase but the car doesn't accelerate sounds like a transmission issue more than anything else, except for maybe some odd electrical gremlin. Need to get this looked at since the tranny is still warrantied.

You describe the car starting fine and engine runs fine so that should rule out a fuel issue. Not sure why you are so concerned about the gas cap. While a loose gas cap can often be the trigger of a check engine soon light, you have described a pretty serious problem (engine revs but the car doesn't go) that would have nothing to do with a gas cap.

You can pull the error codes yourself without any kind of code reader. Just google "Nissan pedal dance" and you will find plenty of instruction on how to pull the codes by just operating the key and stepping on the gas pedal using a very specific sequence. I have done this to read and clear codes on the Versa.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
All the times the check engine light has come on before have been due to an improper seal on the gas cap. No whoosh means it's probably leaking air. I'm thinking the car may have two separate issues.

Tried the pedal dance, but I couldn't get it to work. I must not have been doing it correctly. Is the correct sequence turn off all the accessories, turn the ignition to the ON position, mash and release the gas pedal 5 times in under 5 seconds, then wait 7 seconds and step on it for 10 seconds until the SES light starts to blink?

I think I'll just take it over to Autozone and have them read the code. I hear they do it for free.

Edit: I finally got the pedal dance to work. It blinked out 0171. No other error codes.

According to Nissan help, the error is a fuel mix that's too lean. It mentions poor fuel economy as another symptom, and it definitely has that. Since the light came on, the car has slurped up a truly ridiculous amount of fuel. 1/4 tank in less than 40 miles of city driving.

Possible causes:

- Intake air leaks - Faulty front heated oxygen sensor - Ignition misfiring - Faulty fuel injectors - Exhaust gas leaks - Incorrect fuel pressure - Lack of fuel - Faulty Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor - Incorrect Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) hose connection

The bulletin mentions replacing the air filter and cleaning the MAF sensor first. It's been around 8 months since I replaced it, so I'll get a new filter ASAP. Is cleaning the MAF something I can do myself with basic tools?
 

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Cleaning MAF is super easy

First, be sure to only use MAF sensor cleaner. Nothing else.

Two small screws hold the MAF and it is right there in the air duct work by the air filter with a wire/connector going to it. The wires in the MAF are very small and very sensitive.

Remove the two screws, unplug the connector, carefully pull out the MAF unit and spray it good with the MAF cleaner. The goal is to get the tiny wires clean as dirt and oil residue that adheres to the wire affects the reading that goes to the computer. Don't do any cleaning other than spraying the cleaner. No rubbing, brushing, wiping, etc. The stuff is super volitile so it dries fast. Put it back together. Cleaned.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I remembered I bought a spare air filter when I changed it last, so I put it in right away. The old filter didn't look that dirty, but I did notice some dust and dead bugs at the bottom of the compartment.

I picked up a can of the MAF sensor cleaner, but it was too dark to mess around with tonight. I live in an apartment and I don't have access to a lighted garage, so I'll wait until tomorrow. Once I clean it, I assume it's safe to clear the code.

If cleaning the sensor doesn't resolve the issue, what should I look at next? O2 sensor? Aside from the accelerating from stop issue, here are no unexplained RPM drops/surges, stumbling idle or power drops under load, and it starts right up. It might take a bit longer to get up to highway speed than normal, but I don't usually push the engine hard and it could be my imagination. Does this mean I can rule out the fuel system and ignition?

I first noticed the problem with starting from a dead stop a day or two before the SES light popped on, so I'm not sure if that's related or not. When it happens I hear the engine rev up for a second, then the rev stops and starts the creep. If I press harder on the gas pedal, the RPMs build slowly but the speed remains constant. It could be a tranny problem, but I want to try everything I can to fix the SES issue before I take it into the dealer so they don't blame the lack of acceleration on whatever is causing the error.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Got out the toolset today and pulled the MAF sensor. I was pretty skeptical, since it didn't look dirty at all. The hot plate and wires inside were shiny, but I doused the thing with CRC MAF sensor cleaner for a good 30 seconds anyway. Waited until the liquid evaporated and reinstalled it. I let the V sit with the battery disconnected for about an hour, just in case.

Connected the terminal and went for a short test drive. All I can say is the stuff really works! The sluggishness is gone! The SES light stayed on, so I reset the ECU and after 25 miles it has not come back. What surprised me is the difference in engine responsiveness. I never noticed it getting worse over the years, but I think it was a "boil the frog slowly" situation. The engine noise is quieter and it feels peppier. Well, as peppy as a stock Versa with a CVT ever gets, anyway. :woot:

I guess the MAF sensor was sending bad data, causing the ECU to clamp down on the RPMs and keep the CVT in the equivalent of first gear. Best $8 I ever spent on a car, and probably saved me an expensive repair bill. I will keep the can and use it whenever I replace the air filter.

Thanks for the help! :thumb2:
 

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Got out the toolset today and pulled the MAF sensor. I was pretty skeptical, since it didn't look dirty at all. The hot plate and wires inside were shiny, but I doused the thing with CRC MAF sensor cleaner for a good 30 seconds anyway. Waited until the liquid evaporated and reinstalled it. I let the V sit with the battery disconnected for about an hour, just in case.

Connected the terminal and went for a short test drive. All I can say is the stuff really works! The sluggishness is gone! The SES light stayed on, so I reset the ECU and after 25 miles it has not come back. What surprised me is the difference in engine responsiveness. I never noticed it getting worse over the years, but I think it was a "boil the frog slowly" situation. The engine noise is quieter and it feels peppier. Well, as peppy as a stock Versa with a CVT ever gets, anyway. :woot:

I guess the MAF sensor was sending bad data, causing the ECU to clamp down on the RPMs and keep the CVT in the equivalent of first gear. Best $8 I ever spent on a car, and probably saved me an expensive repair bill. I will keep the can and use it whenever I replace the air filter.

Thanks for the help! :thumb2:
Glad the guys here helped you out, Nissan Owners FTW!
 
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