I have this strange problem with my Nissan Sentra 2002(80K miles). When it is about 90 deg F outside and driven more than about 10 miles the engine seems to miss badly(like for e.g. when you run out of fuel). The tacho also flips around during this. This gradually becomes more frequent until the engine finally stalls. After about half an hour the car runs fine until the engine heats up again.

In the winter however there have been no problems driving these distances.

Last summer I took it to the dealer when the check engine light came on and they decoded and said I needed to replace all 4 ignition coils and reset the check engine. I bought the coils and took them to the local mechanic but he said that the coils may not be the problem at all and even if it was you don't need to replace all 4 of them. He said he could fix it by decoding the code the next time the check engine light came on. However it hasn't come on yet and this problem is persistent. I had the coils returned.

Research on the internet shows up that the bad ignition coils can cause similar problems.

Any idea what might be the problem here and what is the best possible way to fix it.

  • Can you have the local mechanic test drive the car? Let him know that the check engine light isn't on, but it dies when the engine warms up.
    – Wulfhart
    Commented Jun 12, 2011 at 1:32
  • The problem is that it happens on the really hot days and after the car has run some miles. I have had him test drive it but the problem dint happen then.
    – sarego
    Commented Jun 12, 2011 at 14:57
  • Have long since sold this car but hope this helps someone else
    – sarego
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 20:50
  • Did you ever find out an answer to this? My car is doing the same thing and I'm curious I have a Chevy Cobalt Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 21:37
  • @MargotDenaxas I never did. Sold that car the beginning of 2012. Since I sold it in winter before the onset of summer did not have to face the issue again.
    – sarego
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 17:58

3 Answers 3


Sputtering like out of gas sounds like a fuel issue to me.
If it is the fuel, you can test the fuel pressure. If the pressure drops when the car dies, that would indicate the fuel pump, pressure regulator or fuel filter may be bad or clogged.

The tachometer flipping around throws me for a loop. Not sure what that indicates. Is it actually flipping back and forth between high rpms and low rpms?

I would be inclined to agree with your mechanic about it not being all four coils going out at once. It may be farther up the electrical system, like the control module.

The check engine light may have not been related to the stalling problem. On a similar stalling problem that I had, the engine codes said an air sensor was out. I replaced the part, but it wasn't the issue at all. Just coincidence. Ironically, mine seems to be running good after replacing the ignition coil.

  • Thanks for the answer. The tacho actually flips around between the normal rpm and lower. Also before this happens if I happen to stop and let the engine idle the tacho shows that the rpm is lower than 1K..it just gradually goes down and dies.
    – sarego
    Commented Jun 12, 2011 at 14:56
  • That makes more sense now. I was imagining a more wild flipping about with the tacho.
    – Wulfhart
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 18:38

Try the fuel pressure regulator if it is not popping a code. easy way to check is to start the engine and let it idle till it starts to run rough and press the fuel pressure release


If it runs great except sometimes when hot .. and then it stalls and won't restart until cools down... for Datsun or Nissan you probably need a rebuilt ECU

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