Troubleshooting a Nissan Maxima


Known for their durability and reliability, the Nissan Maxima has evolved to become a luxury car well within the reach of many Americans. Nevertheless, as with all automobiles, even a well-maintained Maxima will eventually break down. Being about to troubleshoot what is happening with your Maxima can help you to decide whether or not to try fixing it yourself. As you become more comfortable performing basic mechanical work, you will be able to save more money and make your Maxima last longer by doing the work yourself.

Things You'll Need

  • Mechanic gloves
  • Socket wrench with adapters and sockets
  • Floor Jack
  • Jack stands
  • Bottle of carbonated soda

Troubleshooting Your Maxima

  • Turn your Maxima key in the ignition. If the car will not start, then there many different considerations to determine why it is not turning over. If the interior lights or headlights are weak, then you may have a failing battery. Open your hood and jiggle the battery connections and inspect the battery terminals for corrosion. Corroded terminals can be cleaned by pouring a bottle of soda over the connections. If the Maxima makes a prolonged or strained turning over sound (chuga-chuga-chuga) then your starter may be failing.

  • Listen to your wheels as you turn. If there is a metalic, clicking noise, then that is an indication of failing CV joints. Inspect the CV boots by looking behind the tires to see if the boots are torn, damaged or dry rotted.

  • Inspect the brakes by lifting the car with a floor jack, inserting a jack stand and removing the tire. Signs of brake failure include excessive squeaking or grinding when the pedal is depressed. Other signs include when the Maxima pulls to one side while braking, the pedal is pulsating or the pedal offers little resistance when pushed down. Before beginning brake work, make sure that the braking fluid reservoir, found on top of the engine, is filled between the maximum and minimum levels indicated by the marks on the reservoir.

  • Inspect the fluid levels regularly to prevent serious mechanical malfunctions. Both oil and radiator coolant fluids need to be maintained and kept at their proper levels in order to prevent the Maxima's engine from freezing up. Radiator coolant leaks can be ascertained by noticing puddles of red coolant solution underneath the car or leaks spurting from hoses while the Maxima is running. Check the oil by making sure the Maxima is parked at a level position and removing the dipstick. Wipe the dipstick clean and insert it once again, noticing the level where the oil is when pulled back out.

  • Check and replace drive belts that show signs of excessive fraying. Depending on the year of your Maxima and its engine model, not all of the belts will be easily accessible. Belts should be tightened so that they deflect between 1/4 - 1/2 inches when pressure is applied to the belt in between pulleys.

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