Car Info: 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5L with about 140k miles on it.

The symptoms: On Tuesday of this week the car is in a parking lot, we return to the car, it starts and idles but when the accelerator is pressed the engine does not rev and it does not move. It started raining so I wanted to wait til the next day to tow it. Arrive the next morning, the car starts and runs just fine. Thursday morning, the car battery is dead. Will not start. Have not tried jumping because I am at work, fiancee just called and told me. Will check on it at lunch.

My question is, is it possible the two issues (battery and throttle) are related in some way or is this just an extremely unlucky week. I would rate my automotive knowledge level at about a 6 out of 10, I can replace stuff like alternator, battery, starter etc, but beyond simple bolt on parts, I get a bit fuzzy. I will likely take it to a shop but I want to be able to go to the shop with at least a few guesses.

  • To provide a bit more info. Went to jump the car during lunch. After jumping and letting it idle a bit I tried to drive it a couple blocks. For the first 200-300 yards it "surged" pretty hard several times. By this I mean it kept revving higher with no extra acceleration. But that stopped and did not repeat itself. It did throw a Service Engine light, and that came out to PO420, or Catalyst System Efficiency below acceptable threshold. The car is at a shop now, and I will try to update with more info.
    – enigma7767
    Sep 12 '13 at 19:59

First I would find out if it is drive by wire (electronic throttle), or cable. Since it's a 2002 I'm going to guess cable. Also, if it were electronic throttle, there are many redundancies and checks in the system and the dash would have the MIL lit. Since that doesn't apply, I'm pretty confident it's a cable throttle.

So, check under the hood for a loose or detached cable:

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An intermittent cable issue sounds odd, but it's not out of the realm of possibilities.

You'll want to make sure the cable is securely attached to the throttle itself (round wheel), and securely mounted to whatever it is supposed to be attached to (the intake, in most cases).

  • 1
    It is a cable and the cable appears fine. I added a bit more info to the original post. I will update when I hear more.
    – enigma7767
    Sep 12 '13 at 20:00

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