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Questions and Answers

Maxima Intermittent High Idle

Q. Hi, my wife's 1996 Nissan Maxima SE has had an intermittent high idle speed problem for many years, but now has gotten much more frequent lately. When it happens (and it's happening very frequently now) the engine wants to rev higher than it should even when the engine is warm. It's most noticeable when traveling at low speeds or while stopped since the engine wants to pull more than it normally does.

When it's happening, the engine will rev at around 900 rpm while in Drive (vs. the normal 650-700 rpm) and will rev at approximately 1,500 rpm when it's placed into Neutral.

Kicking down on the gas pedal or turning on accessories such as A/C doesn't seem to make it go away. It just comes and goes and can be fine a minute later only to come back again in a minute. Sometimes it revs high for at least 30 minutes. It seems to be more prevalent in warm weather.

I haven't been following the regular dealer maintenance schedule (the last dealer service was way back at 30,000 miles) but did get quite a few items worked on at 60,000 miles (eg. flushing the automatic transmission fluid/coolant/brake fluid, replacing the fuel filter and spark plugs. At 70,000 miles, all three oxygen sensors were replaced after the 'Check Engine' light came on. I religiously get the oil changed every 3,000 miles and changed the air filter about 4,000 miles ago just before a 3,000 mile cross country trip and it still looks fairly clean.

Since my wife 'babies' the car, at first I thought that it might have carbon deposits but the cross country trip should have taken care of that. Besides, I usually pour some Chevron Engine treatment into the gas tank every couple of months. We always use Premium gas and almost exclusively Chevron until we got out east where we've been filling up with Shell premium gas.

I also notice that the transmission shift from first to second or down from second to first is getting rough. Other than getting the transmission fluid flushed, there hasn't been any work done on the transmission except, many years ago, a Nissan mechanic did raise the idle speed a little to 680 rpm after I complained that the engine idled/vibrated a little rough especially when on any type of incline since the rpms were dropping to 500. Do you think the transmission needs to be serviced or is there a simple way of adjusting the shift point that I might be able to do?

1996 Nissan Maxima SE
3.0 liter
Automatic transmission
72,000 miles
Fuel Injection
P/S - A/C - Cruise control

Thanks in advance.
Sincerely,
John

A. I think the problem can be found inside the throttle body. Especially of the first gas pedal press of the day is a little hard, like it was stuck and popped open.

I would give the throttle body and Idle Air Control Valve (IACV) a good cleaning and see what that does. it should take care of the problem. If not, you may have a bad IACV.

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