TTAC commentator Aren Cambre writes:
I have a question about my 2002 Nissan Maxima. A while back, I had the battery disconnected for a few hours. After reconnecting, the car forgot how to maintain idle right after starting: if I don’t nudge the gas pedal for several seconds after starting, RPMs fall to 0. Internet research is conflicting. Some say it will heal on its own, others say dealer-only repair.
It’s been a few months now. How do I fix this? Is it really dealer only? If I don’t fix, will I hurt the car? (I don’t mind nudging the gas pedal–kind of like when I set the carburetor choke on my ’74 Nova.)
So it’s been a few months? Unless you cover less than five miles per month, the computer should re-learn its operating environment (and change its evil ways) by now. So I share your disappointment. Actually, I am all choked up.
The Maxima is no different then the Nova: but today we use the term “Idle Air Control Valve” instead of “Choke.” It might be a political correctness thing: perhaps choking your car leads to road rage or other violent behavior?
Whatever. Odds are a plugged or failing IAC valve is the culprit. Sometimes it will throw an engine trouble code but I’ve never been so lucky. You can try cleaning the IAC with WD-40 (or equivalent), but this is one time where throwing a part at a problem is a safe bet. After you inspect the vacuum lines, spark plugs, replace fuel filter, etc. to ensure the car is in tip-top shape, of course.
Bonus! A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom:
A dealer service bay isn’t normally any better than a reputable, non-franchise shop with access to electronic data warehouses like AllData. I’d wager that the dealer is the worst place to get older models serviced: only the more senior techs know the details in the design, and you won’t be lucky enough to get them working on your car. And you don’t want to know what junior mechanics think of your clunker.
Plus if you’re lucky, there’ll be a sales jockey watching you watch daytime TV and drink shitty coffee in the customer waiting area. If they don’t roll up with a “we are in desperate need of clean trade ins” at first contact, you’ll probably get a model-appropriate brochure with a business card stapled to the cover. Been there, done that and suppressed a gag reflex: vowing to never take an old car to a new car dealership ever again.
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