Maybe the weather was too cold


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DESCRIBE ISSUE....Goes dead when you put it in gear. The vehicle sit for three days as we had some really cold weather and snow here in the deep south. The temps went down to single digits (F) at night.
My wife went to head out Friday and when you would put the transmission in driver or reverse the engine would stop . Crank it back up and same thing. Just like you turn the switch off.

I got my scanner and no code so I just let it warm up and then it works. No problems since but temps are not as cold now.

What could have caused this ? if anyone might know.

This Xterra has give us great service since I rebuilt the engine in 2012. Never once has any thing like this happened. Just curious. Tom
Probably not related, but are you aware that that model has a common problem with coolant leaking into the transmission and causing various problems?


Staff member
Keeping a cold engine running properly (or at all) is primarily dependent on the ECT sensor circuit. Do you have live-data, to see if the ECT is reading "reasonable"? Those things can fail in-range and not set a code.


Hero Member
The engine ran fine when I started it. No miss or anything.

Just when I put it in drive or reverse it would stop like turning the key off. Almost like a short.

I watched the scan tool the cold day it had the problem and when the temperature got to around 170 F I tried it again and no problem, engine ran fine. I had tried it about five or six times before it warmed up and would go dead each time I moved the selector.

My wife has drove it several times since and no problem.

Mobile Dan I didn't know about the problem you mentioned but so far all is good on this old SUV. I did replace the radiator when I rebuilt the engine though.

It was bought new in sept of 2001 by my son so working on 17 years old. My wife is a little afraid to drive it now unless I come up with something. I know that is not normal.

billr I will check the ECT circuit also.

The engine I rebuilt has held up great. I will keep checking. Thanks. Tom


Hero Member
Does the engine "stall" like you popped the clutch on a car with manual transmission? Or "shut off" like you turned the key off?

I ask because we had a car years ago where the Locking Torque Converter stopped UN-Locking. Come to a stop and it'd stall. Re-start and maybe it'd be un-locked and let the engine run. Or maybe it'd stall the engine. I lucked out. A neighbor came along and pushed me with her car till we were going maybe 20-mph. I put it in gear and drove home. When I stopped in front of the house, it idled in gear, so the TC had decided to un-lock. I went out and disconnected the control wiring plug. Ran it many thousands of miles without the lockup connected. I would not suggest that on a vehicle new enough to have an electronically controlled transmission, an ECM/PCM, etc. But, if this describes your issue, suggest you post it in the Transmissions Forum.

Search for Codes first? Sure. I would.


Hero Member
It quit like you turned the key off. It has not done it since. Only on that really cold day. For now it is working fine so I will let it be. Thanks. Tom