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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've had problems with my Versa not wanting to start lately. Originally I thought maybe it was just when it was hot and humid, and when I would start it after having it off briefly, it would start right up (like, go into a store, come back, it starts up). Eventually I realized that if I powered on the car, then cranked it, it would start up every time. Based on what I saw online and also what I was experiencing, I thought it was the fuel pressure regulator, so I replaced it.

For a week it was starting no problems, very happy car.

For about a week now it has again been having trouble starting. It acts like the battery is dead, I get a slow chug on the starter, and it takes multiple attempts to get the car started. So far it hasn't entirely failed.

I had previously had starting problems with the car, and at that time (20 or 30k miles ago), the spark plugs were replaced. I replaced the plugs on Sunday with irridium ones (the guy who replaced them last used platinum ones). Now when it finally does start it roars to life, but it's the same symptoms.

Checked the battery, good charge, fully charged it up anyway. Same problem. Connected a device to check the alternator, alternator seems fine (battery was fine, just confirmed what I thought before).

Oil changed recently, fluid levels ok.

I smell an electronics type burning smell when I start the car up, which has me concerned, and I noticed that once I'm getting the car started, my trip counter resets (presumably my stereo presets and clock also go away, but I always have something hooked up to my aux in). So maybe it's electrical after all? After 5 minutes or so of driving the smell goes away.

I'm not seeing anything obviously melted or on fire, and I cleaned the posts and connectors with baking soda solution and a wire brush tonight. Same problems, slow chug when you turn the key, gets faster over time as if there was more electricity, and then finally after maybe 40 seconds (cumulative, multiple attempts) of trying, it starts.

I had major rear brake work done recently and in the past two years did the exhaust, and the car's been in two rear end collisions. The fuel pump seems to be ok, I get a reading on the fuel gauge and the sound of it coming on when I power the car without cranking it. I know from when I replaced the fuel pressure regulator that part of the armature that the fuel pump is mounted in broke (little plastic tabs at the top near one of the springs, so it's probably not sitting right exactly, this causes the fuel gauge to be wrong) probably in that second rear ending.

Getting towards the point where I'm ready to throw in the towel and order a 2015, but my life would be better if I could stave off car payments for another 8 to 12 months.

Any ideas?

edit: failed to mention 145k miles on it, probably could be imputed from the text
 

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Well... i would start with all the components related to the starter circuit. Check positive wiring to alternator and starter "B" terminal, they'll both be black primary with red stripe, about 4 gauge wires. They both come off the fusible link box at the terminal. See if you can see inside the fusible links, they work just like regular fuses, the clear "box" for them isn't totally sealed, so they could/will get moisture contamination and start to corrode causing issues in a high current/load situation. It should be fused for 120 amps, look at all of them though.

The next thing would be to check the voltage drop at battery during cranking. Shouldn't drop below about 10 volts during cranking when cranking for 3-5 seconds. Next do a voltage drop test between starter "B" terminal and it's ground on the block, near alternator (during cranking). It should be about the same reading as at the battery, this checks the integrity of the positive supply wire. Next check voltage drop between B and S terminals on starter during cranking, should be no or low voltage. After that i'd take the starter out and bench test it, or have it tested, could have a short in one of the coils. Has it ever been cranked excessively in succession? If it has, sometimes it can heat up enough (nature of high current) to cause a short, but still work, just not as well. How warm does it feel after cranking (do this with a cold engine so you can feel the heat)? An internal short in one of the starter coils that isn't enough to take it out completely could be causing the smell.

It could be the starter relay in the IPDM causing the issues. It's exposed to water through the hood panel gap and also the fender liner, corrosion or poor solder joints could be causing the slow cranking among other issues. It's a known problem. They're modular units too, meaning if it's the cause of the problem it must be replaced as a unit. It's in front of the left strut tower with a black cover that comes off. If you get ambitious, check wire from ignition switch to starter relay, should be white, for corrosion and burns.

I also forgot to ask, how is the uniformity of the cranking? How long does it take to fire up? Does it start slow then get a bit faster? Or does it slow down after a few turns? Or is it just an arbitrary erratic speed?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Today it wouldn't start at all (heavy rain, and I don't have a garage at my house). "Normally" it starts slow and the crank gets faster over time until it starts. It has taken a long time to start in the past week (30+ seconds non-continuous cranking).

Today it just wouldn't turn over.

I probably killed it :/

I was hoping to just get to the weekend or at least through today (daughter has a doctor appointment so I can't co-ride at a normal time). No such luck.
 

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^^ Already suggested checking fusible links...

Probably internal to the starter. For an accurate diagnosis though, follow what i wrote then after all that should you suspect a bad starter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yeah, ok, in the end it turns out the battery wasn't discharging properly. Held a charge, charged ok, looked ok, just not pumping out enough juice to start the car.

Seems that is all that was wrong (or still wrong) at this point. So my advice, if you've got 145000 miles and you're having trouble, maybe try replacing the battery even if it seems ok.
 

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So it had good voltage (no dead cell) just not enough capacity to deliver those high amps.
 
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