2002 Nissan Altima sputters during acceleration

My 2002 Nissan Altima V6 5-speed with 103,000 sputters/studders during acceleration. For example, you make a turn in 4th gear, don't change gears, then try to accelerate out of the turn with the RPMs around 1,000, the car will stutter until the RPMs get to about 2,000. Then, all is well. However, if you slow down and the engine is not under a load, there is no studdering until you get about 500 RPMs (typical, about to kill the engine due to low speed). I have done nothing (other than an oil change in August) to the vehicle.


Edit: And today, it threw two SES codes P0011 and P0021. Thoughts/experience on these two codes?

[This message has been edited by Aggiemike96 (edited 10/21/2009 8:49p).]
Keep your sunroof closed, there may be a downpour of engine sludge...
Sea foam?!?!!!
Depending on how fast/slow your hypothetical turn is, it's possible that 4th gear is too high of a gear for your speed. Does it happen if you turn and then downshift to 2nd or 3rd gear?
Original Plugs?
check engine light on? sounds like a bad mass air meter..
No, the check engine light is not on. This is something new the car has been doing, since Monday. I've put 99% of the miles on this car and this is the first it's started this. It doesn't matter if I'm going straight, turning right, or turning left. If I push the gas when it's in a gear too high, it just stutters around until the RPMs get to about 2K...then it's all fine. Or, if I'm just cruising at about 1500 RPMs or so, it's fine. Only happens during acceleration.
Yes, original plugs.
i had a similar problem on my 2000 maxima.

same basic engine design as yours but mine was .5 liters smaller.

turns out my plug coils were bad.

Id start with new Plugs (NGK or Denso), new fuel filter and clean the mass air sensor.
Weekend project time!!! At least the weather will be nice!
I had similar problems with my '02 2.5S Altima a few years ago. Would try to accelerate and it would seem to hesitate and then go. Didn't feel like the engine was all there.

Turns out, radiator fluid leaked into the engine because I blew a head gasket, I think two cylinders lost compression from all of this so I had about half an engine. Complete mess, along with a fight with the extended warranty people(which led me to NEVER purchase any coverage again).

After paying for some tests at one dealer, I had it towed to another where they said the work was covered under the manufacturers warranty for the transmission, which went for 80k miles. Mileage on my car....~79k.

I did some research and I saw on car forums about this being somewhat of an issue with '02 Altima's.
Clearly, I'm out of the warranty period. So, if this is a major engine problem, Nissan will be on my ****list forever. Guess we'll see. I'll throw a couple bills at it and see what happens. Because it just happened suddenly, out of the blue, I'm thinking it may be something relatively simple to fix...just a problem to specifically diagnose. *crosses fingers*
i mean, the car does have 100k miles on it so you have to expect some issues creeping up. and repairs are still cheaper than having a car note.

as long as you're doing the maintenance you're supposed to, the nissan should hold up just fine.
I'm religious about oil changes. About 20K ago, I switched to Mobil 1 synthetic and I do the changes myself. It's not driven hard/heavy, just mainly work and back and then a highway road trip from time to time. I'm going to be disappointed if it's major. Certainly little things are going to start to break...so let the nickel & diming begin!!!
that's good, but don't forget about the other stuff too (e..g. plugs, fuel filters, etc). should be laid out in your manual what needs to be serviced when.
P0011 = Intake valve timing control performance (Bank 1)
P0021 = Intake valve timing control performance (Bank 2)

Per Nissanhelp.com:

Possible cause:

Harness or connectors (Intake valve timing control solenoid valve circuit is open or shorted.)
Intake valve timing control solenoid valve may be faulty
Crankshaft position sensor (POS) may be faulty
Camshaft position sensor (PHASE) may be faulty
Accumulation of debris to the signal pick-up portion of the camshaft

This does NOT sound like a DIY project.
Silly question.

Check your oil and report back to us.

When was the last oil change performed?
Oil looked good. Level was within range. Last oil change was 6 weeks ago (1000 miles). Oil/filter change: Mobile 1 Synthetic & K&N oil filter.
boy typing those codes into google gets a flurry of hits...

seems like the 2.5 engine had a recall for the cam position sensor, but you have the v6...a few of the things i read seemed to indicate changing the oil again and resetting the computer might help.
I'm reading on Alldata that the VQ35DE is VERY sensitive to oil level and throwing those codes.

Which is why I asked.
STS - Yeah, I read some of those stories too. I found one lengthy thread about an owner's fight with a Nissan dealership over whether or not the pre-cat was "sucked back" into the engine. Evidently they found metal in the car's oil. Long story short, he ended up dragging the car to a 2nd dealership who determined that the car's emissions was faulty and Nissan replaced his entire engine and emissions...of which the previous dealership had quoted $12K. He was getting an additional code that I'm not, the BAD one.

Anyway...yes, I will do an oil change this weekend and carefully monitor the oil level. I haven't been successful in resetting the code and I don't have an OBDII reader at home (had to go to Autozone last night). After the complete oil/filter change, should I just unplug the negative terminal on the battery (most I've read on the net say for at least 24 hours)? We'll see if that clears it up.

I still haven't successfully diagnosed the stuttering, but apparently these two things (sputtering and codes) aren't related.
i also saw mention of another recall for a cam sensor circuit board or something?? didn't see if it applied to the v6 or not though. might be something else worth looking into.
I will bet money it is the exact thing my car had if the plugs don't help. Some vehicles were recalled and some were not. Mine had the issue and has had other issues that were recalled on other models but not mine. I'm done with Nissan after this vehicle.

These two are problems in the 2.5QR engines, may also be in the 6s:

Crankshaft position sensor (POS) may be faulty
Camshaft position sensor (PHASE) may be faulty

[This message has been edited by Huktaz04 (edited 10/22/2009 10:51a).]
I will bet money it is the exact thing my car had if the plugs don't help.

What was wrong with yours...after you went beyond the plugs?

This 3.5L engine is in a TON of Nissan cars (Altima, Maxima, Marano and a ton of Infinitis as well). You'd think they have it damn near to perfection.
Not if you run 100K plus on original plugs.

I'm going to install the NGK Laser Platinum plugs (#6240) in there tomorrow. I'm also going to do a oil/filter change. I'll report back...
I had the ECM recall done at around 10k. Then recently I had the position sensors start to fail. Had they failed before I had the ECM recall it would have killed my engine while I was driving down the road.

As it were it just shuddered occasionally at low speed (<30mph) because the ECM would catch it, I guess.

I gave up arguing with them. They have the same issues across many lines and model years because they use all the same parts.

Maybe your issue is different though since you have the 3.5, no clue.
Id start with new Plugs (NGK or Denso)


However, I was only able to replace the front 3 plugs (the back 3 are coming today, because I have to remove the air intake, manifold, windshild cowl...a project in itself). But, I did drive it after the front 3 were replaced and there was no stuttering at all. AutoZone sure is proud of those NGK plugs...$9.99 each! Cheapest I could find (online and in a sotre),but they are OEM!
Had they failed before I had the ECM recall it would have killed my engine while I was driving down the road.

Happened to me, luckily only at 40 mph.
Ok...the spark plug project became a 3 hour chore. About 30 minutes on the front 3 and over 2 hours on the back 3. For the back, I had to remove the wipers, windshield grill & cowl, the air intake and manifold...all kinds of stuff. What a pain! But, I got 'er done!!!

Added bonus, as soon as I started it back up, the check engine light was gone!

Thanks for the tips and tricks!
So is the sputtering and chugging gone?
Sputtering and chugging is 100% gone. It was one of the front 3 spark plugs that was causing the issue. The plugs don't look too bad. I'll take some pics soon and post them. 103K miles on them. Brand new NGK's in there now.
Stuttering and sputtering is back...more time and money to spend on the Altima!
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