What do owners usually deal with when facing intermittent starting problems in the Nissan Altima? We’ve previously covered common problems found in the Altima. For this blog, we’ve decided to write a detailed piece on the intermittent starting problems of a Nissan Altima. Let’s start with a short answer.
Nissan Altima made between 2013 – 2017 have had Technical Service Bulletins issued for intermittent starting problems caused by frequency interference of aftermarket wireless devices. Other model years of the Altima experiencing starting problems are most likely caused by weak/dead batteries, alternators, or key fobs.
That was the simple, bite-sized answer to the problem. In the text below, we have gone into great detail about the symptoms you need to look out for, the reasons and causes behind the problem, and the best solutions to fix them. Read on!
Want to save money on gasoline? earn up to $0.25/gallon every time you fill up? GetUpside is a free-to-use cashback app for US gas stations. Use coupon code “THEDRIVERADVISER25” and earn an additional $0.25/gallon the first time! Click here to download the app for Android or iOS.
Technical Service Bulletin For Starting Problems
Nissan has issued multiple TSBs for the intermittent starting problem. The TSBs all concern a failure to start due to frequency interference, a possible cause for your intermittent starting problems. These TSBs apply to the 2013 – 2017 Nissan Altima.
According to the TSB, the intelligent key system utilizes two communication frequencies, 315 MHz and 433MHz. These frequencies are similar to other wireless devices, such as aftermarket alarm systems. If these systems are transmitting simultaneously when you start your vehicle, they might interfere with the intelligent key signals received by the BCM and prevent your vehicle from starting.
Symptoms of this issue include:
- The Intelligent Key is not detected, causing:
– The engine to not start (no response when the Stop/Start button is pressed)
– “I-Key System Error” displayed in the instrument cluster
– “No I-Key Detected” displayed in the instrument cluster
- Intermittent operation of the buttons on the remote (Key FOB).
- Intermittent operation of the door request switches.
If your problem falls under the TSBs frequency interference, you must take it to the dealership. Their technician will verify the problem by running an IKEY battery test and checking the placement of the intelligent key and any device that could be blocking the signals. Once the problem has been verified, the technician will refer to the service manual to fix the problem.
The frequency problem is quite rare, and in general, if you find yourself stuck with intermittent starting problems, you’re either going to fix them yourself or take your vehicle to a shop to get it fixed. How much it costs to fix will depend on precisely what the problem is but this blog should serve as a good guide to give you an idea of what went wrong and how much it should cost to fix.
Other Symptoms Of Starting Problems
Besides the TSB mentioned earlier, there are several other causes and symptoms of starting problems that aren´t related to the earlier mentioned problem. Below, we´ve listed three symptoms that tell you starting issues are the issue. After that, we´ll look at potential other causes and solutions for your Altima.
1. Repeated Startup Attempts and Complete Failure
Your car could be giving you trouble in several ways when trying to start it up. Usually, the first thing that comes up is a need to push the start button repeatedly; you might have to go at it two or three times at first, but eventually, the number of button presses needed will increase, and you might end up with a complete startup failure. In a complete failure, there is no response from the car, which usually points to a dead or defective battery.
2. Hesitation While Starting
You should also look for a ‘hesitation’ while starting up, as it could indicate a future problem. You might notice the engine cranking slowly or that the vehicle sometimes takes longer than usual to start up. This sort of problem is usually caused by draining or defective batteries.
3. Only Dashboard Lights Coming On
Another common complaint or symptom is dashboard lights coming on without the car starting up. If you find yourself in this situation, you can at least rest assured that it’s not a battery problem as your dashboard lights up. This is likely caused by another faulty component, such as a starter or alternator.
Here is a YouTube Link that explains this problem in detail.
Other Causes And Solutions Not Related To The TSB
Several faulty or ineffective components can cause intermittent starting problems. The best way to diagnose this problem is to check off the most common causes.
This way, you could pinpoint the cause or at least eliminate some possible causes before you visit the shop. You might even end up fixing the problem by yourself or will, at the very least, have a better idea of the problem and how much it should cost to repair.
Unfortunately, most of these problems aren’t covered by TSBs or recalls, so you’ll likely have to cover the repair costs unless you’re still under warranty. That said, most of these repairs will cost you under $300, making it a relatively cheap problem to fix. If you need to replace the starter or alternator, it will likely cost more than $300 and could cost up to $800.
1. Brake Switch
Starting with the simplest case: The loose brake switch. A loose brake switch is a relatively common cause of your car failing to start. The brake switch is used to relay a signal to the starter when you depress the brake before pressing the start button, but a loose brake switch fails to perform as intended and prevents the car from starting. This means your vehicle system deems it unsafe to start the car since it thinks you aren’t pressing the brakes. With a loose brake switch, your brakes will still be functional, but you won’t be able to start your vehicle.
The most straightforward fix and the first one you should try is the brake switch fix. You must push it back into place in most cases, including the brake switch. It usually just comes loose, and pushing it back into place should solve the problem.
If this doesn’t do the trick, your brake switch will need to be replaced. You can easily get a brake switch for your specific Altima model on Amazon for $35 to $50, and you can switch it yourself.
We found this video on YouTube to help you with possible brake switch solutions:
2. Weak Or Dead Battery
Starting issues can easily develop with a weak or dead battery. If your engine cranks very slowly or doesn’t crank, your battery is likely to blame. When trying to start, no response from the car indicates a battery issue.
You can easily check if the battery itself is the issue. Just perform a battery voltage test, and if your voltage value is around 12V, your battery is all set. Anything below 11.5V on your battery will require a proper check-up. It’s best to ask your mechanic or shop to recheck voltage values, check acid levels and assess the condition of the starter battery.
The 12V battery can only be replaced if it has become weak or is dead. The replacement should cost you around $190 to $300. The battery itself should cost you about $160, and the rest will be labor costs.
3. Corroded Contacts
Corroded contacts on your battery could just as easily cause starting issues. These corroded contacts reduce current flow, making it difficult for your vehicle to start. The worse the corrosion, the more difficult it is to start.
Checking for corrosion on battery contacts is relatively easy, and you can do it yourself without expensive tools. All you have to do is lift the rubber covers from the battery terminal and check for white or silvery-green deposits. If you find these deposits, you’ve successfully identified your leading cause and no longer need to worry about changing the battery.
When tackling corrosion on the battery terminals, you can choose to clean it yourself or visit the shop to get it done. The cost to fix it will vary as it’s essentially just labor cost, depending on the shop in question.
If you are willing to get your hands dirty and fix it yourself. We’ve come up with a simple guide to help you out.
You’ll need to remove the pole cables first in an appropriate order. Start by removing the black cable from the negative pole and then remove the red cable from the positive pole. We recommend using nonmetallic pliers if the pole clamp is too tight. Once you have removed the pole cables, you can clean the disconnected battery. After you have cleaned the corroded battery, reconnect it, and you’re set to go.
4. Weak Key Fob Battery
Another possible cause for starting problems on your Altima is a weak key fob battery. It’s quite easy to check if your starting problem stems from this. You can simply use your second key to try and start the car; this should rule out any problems with the first key, including a weak battery.
If you’re somehow on your last key, then bring your key fob as close as possible to the start/stop button and start the car. It’s best to check the manual to get the exact location for your key fob placement. If your vehicle starts in any of these attempts, you have a weak key fob battery.
The Key fob batteries are easy and cheap to replace. You’ll need CR2032 3V batteries for Nissan Altima key fobs, and you can get a multipack of these for around $5.
5. Starter Failure
Starters are motors used to start your car’s engine. Starters usually last anywhere from 100,000 to 150,000 miles, so they shouldn’t give you trouble in the early years of the Altima. However, it’s best to check for it since some starters do fail prematurely, although not often on the Altima. Of course, if your Altima is already near the 100,000-mile mark, this might be the source of your starting problems.
To check for a starter motor problem, turn your key and listen for a clicking sound. This indicates a bad starter motor. If you’ve already checked your battery and the above-listed causes, it’s most likely the starter motor that’s problematic.
Starter replacements are a bit more expensive and will cost you anywhere from $380 to $600, with parts costing $300 to $500.
6. Alternator Failure
Alternators rarely break down, but they could put you in a pickle when they do. You can’t really pinpoint an alternator failure, so the best way to reach this conclusion is by using the process of elimination and visiting the mechanic. If nothing else on the list above turns out to be the case, then you might have an alternator problem.
Alternators are generators that charge your battery, so with a failed or faulty alternator, your battery won’t charge, and you’ll have similar symptoms as a battery-caused starting failure.
Alternator replacements are rarely required, thankfully so. They are the most expensive fix on the list and come to a repair cost of $550 to $800, with parts costing a whopping $480 to $725.
His interests in cars, motorcycles, and machines led him to the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore where he is currently a mechanical engineering sophomore.
His future aims include the development of an energy-efficient prototype vehicle for the Shell Eco-Marathon competition and getting a Master’s Degree in Automotive Engineering from Germany.