My Nissan Maxima Won't Start

by David McGuffin
itstillruns article image
Classic Car Engine Refurbished image by Janet Wall from

The Nissan Maxima is generally known as a reliable automobile; however, as with all cars, the Maxima does break down. Troubleshooting a Nissan Maxima for reasons why it will not start properly can either lead to a simple fix or a difficult job. Basic car knowledge and familiarity with routine maintenance and repairs will assist in sorting through the initial questions regarding the diagnosis.

Common Troubleshoots

Step 1

Insert the ignition key into the lock cylinder and turn the ignition key toward the "On" position while the Maxima is in Park. If the Maxima begins to turn over but will not crank, as if making a "chuga-chuga-chuga" noise, then your battery may be low or dead. Getting a jump from a nearby motorist or friend will help to resolve the problem if it is indeed a dead battery. However, if the battery is not the problem, then a jump will not start up the car.

Step 2

Jiggle and shake the battery cables which are connected to your Maxima's battery terminals. Corroded cables or loose cables will prevent electricity from going to and from the battery, which can also result in a dead battery. You can clean corroded batteries with a bottle of carbonated soda.

Step 3

Turn the key to the "On" position and listen to the engine if there is no sign of a dead battery or if the jumper cables will not work. A short, yet distinct whirling sound followed by a click is often an indicator that the starter is failing. Tap on the starter with a hammer in order to help it re-engage with the flywheel. This trick does not always work, but it can help to get one or two more starts from the starter before replacing it. The actual job of replacing the starter is a more involved process, sometimes even requiring the removal of the air intake system if the starter is buried in the middle of the engine. Some Maxima's engine models may have the starter placed underneath the engine or easily within reach on top of the engine. Locate the starter on your Maxima's engine by tracing the positive battery cable from the battery to the starter, which looks like two cylindrical objects joined together.

Step 4

Test the ignition switch. Two signs of failure include the key being stuck in the lock cylinder or the key not rotating to the "On" position. If the key will not come out of the lock cylinder, remove it by tapping lightly on the end of the key with a hammer. You will need to replace the ignition switch and lock cylinder in order to be able to start the Maxima.

More Articles

article divider