Troubleshooting Nissan Check Engine Light

In this guide, you will learn what it means when your Nissan check engine light comes on.

Common problems that trigger Nissan check engine light to stay or flash. Lastly, learn how to diagnose Nissan check engine light yourself using an OBD-II scanner

When Nissan check engine or service engine lights come on one or more fault codes get stored in the On Board Diagnostic (OBD) system of your vehicle.

What does Nissan check engine light mean? 

nissan check engien light on

When your Nissan check engine light stays on, it means the onboard diagnostic system of your vehicle has detected a malfunction with the way the engine is running, a problem with the emission system and in some cases, it can indicate a transmission problem. To find out the fault code a short description of the problem you can read the codes using an OBD-II scanner

Under normal operation, your Nissan check engine light should come on when you insert the key in the ignition. After 5 seconds or once you start the engine, the light should turn off. 

The problem can be something as simple as a loose gas cap to an indication of a serious engine, emission or transmission problem. 

Check engine light flashing


One thing you must never ignore is a flashing ‘check engine’ light. This happens when a misfire on one or more cylinders is detected. This can easily damage a catalytic converter in just a few minutes.

It is not recommended to drive or keep the engine running if your Nissan check engine light is flashing.


What you may notice when Nissan check engine light comes on. 

  • Rough running
  • Engine juddering
  • Lack of power
  • Poor throttle response
  • Unusual engine sounds
  • Smoke from the exhaust

Any of these symptoms show that your engine is not running as it should.  

Diagnose Nissan check engine light

Follow instructions below to read Nissan check engine light codes yourself using an OBD2 scanner.  

  1. Locate the diagnostic port under the dashboard and plug in your OBD2 scannernisan bod2 port used to diagnose check engine light
  2. Turn on ignition but do not start the engine. nissan check engien light on
  3. Allow your OBD2 scanner to turn on. Press Enter to read codes. 

Auto parts stores and some auto mechanics will often read the codes for your free of charge. Call a few near your house to find out if they read check engine light free of charge. 

Common Problems

While there are hundreds of possible fault codes and issues, here is a list of the most common problems that many Nissan owners face.

Variable Valve Timing

variable valve timing

Engines equipped with a Variable Valve Timing can have problem with VVT solenoids, caused by oil sludging.

This can result in hard starting, poor idle, and loss of power. On V6 engines, it is also possible to have a leaking galley gasket, located behind the timing chain.

Related Codes: P0021 or P0011 and P0014 or P0024. 

Mass Air Flow Sensor

nissan mas air flow sensor triggers check engine lightYou may have a situation when your engine is running roughly, stalls, does not want to idle and you notice a black exhaust smoke. This can be caused by a dirty MAF sensor. Only use MAF cleaner fluid for cleaning the sensor.

Related Code P0101 

Vacuum Leaks

vacuum lines

Most V6 engines have quite complex intake manifolds, with a various possible intake vacuum leak points.

As that will cause lean running conditions, you might experience rough idle, lack of power or hesitation on accelerations.

Related Codes:  P0171 or P0174 

Spark Plugs

nissan spark plugs ignition coils trigger engine light

A random misfire, especially when the engine is on operating temperature, can be caused by several things.

In addition to usual spark plugs and ignition coil, a leaking cam cover seals will result in oil contamination to the coil boots. Lastly, dirty fuel injectors or intake air leaks can also cause a misfire.

Related Codes: P0300 

Camshaft Position Sensor

nisan cps sensor

Camshaft position sensors play a key role in engine operation. Even the slightest irregularities in sensor readings will cause rough running and loss of power, followed by a 'check engine' light. Replacing the affected sensors is the best solution. 

Related Codes: P0340

Throttle Position Sensor

throttle position sensor

Most Nissan engines that have electronic throttle plate are prone to idle related problem. This is usually caused by a carbon build-up that needs to be cleaned with a carb cleaner.

In most cases, this will cause a high idle speed and a ‘check engine’ light. In such event, you must perform a throttle body relearning procedure.

Related Codes: P0507 


bad transmission can trigger check engine light

Many 2005 onward Nissa vehicles have a CVT automatic gearbox, which can be troublesome. The main reason for this is within a stepper motor, which fails with time.

As a result, the gearbox will not shift, and the ‘check engine’ light will be triggered.  In most cases, the stepper motor can be replaced without removing the gearbox. 

Related Codes: P1778

What to do?

check gas cap if your nissan check engine service engine light comes on

One of the most common problems that trigger the check engine light on Nissan vehicles is a loose gas cap. If you recently added fuel, you may have forgotten to tighten the gas cap

Find a safe location to pull over and tighten the gas cap until it is on tight or clicks. In some cases, the gas cap has to be replaced because the gasket that seals the vapor fuels from escaping can get damaged. 

Don't expect the check engine light to turn off immediately. It can take up to a week for the check engine light to reset on its own or you can use an OBD2 scanner to reset the light yourself. 

If your Nissan check engine light doesn't turn off, the next step is to read the fault codes. See the next section. 

It is not recommended to drive your Nissan if the check engine light is flashing. 


Can I reset Nissan check engine light by disconnecting the battery? 

Yes you can but that does not fix the problem. If the problem has been fixed, your check engine light will reset on its own usually within a few days. If the problem has not beeen fixed the check engine light will return within a few day. 

Which Nissan models can be diagnosed with an OBD2 scanner

All 1996 and newer Nissan vehicles can be diagnosed via the diagnostic port.  Including models such as 350Z
Almera Pulsar
Cedric Gloria
NV Evalia
Versa Tiida

By r.hila on Jun 27, 2019


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