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Old 10-29-2020, 04:41 AM   #1
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Default 1996 D21 Surging after 'bad idle speed adjustment'

Just bought a 96 D21 (which reportedly has a 98 engine, I don't know how to confirm that). Almost the same as my last one of 10 years, but this one is 4wd. The PO paid his friend to come over and adjust the idle speed, which he apparently royally messed up. After "adjusting some hard to get to screws on the back side of the throttle body, under the air filter" it did not fix the idle speed but caused the engine to surge. Starts smooth, surging issue only happens once it is warmed up, after a few minutes it's about once a second and gets so low on the dips, it almost dies. Makes driving at lower engine speeds very tricky. I replaced the air filter, fuel filter and re-connected a vacuum hose that had been pulled off the bottom of the air filter and capped with a screw. All had no effect. Sprayed starter fluid around the throttle body/vacuum hoses to check for leaks, no increase in RPM. Spark plugs look great.


I've only seen these adjustment screws behind the throttle body obliquely referenced as "the ones you don't want to touch", but it seems like I need to undo the bad touch there. Looks like there is one on the fast idle cam and one on the FIC Actuator? My Haynes manual which goes to 97 doesn't have great diagrams. Any thoughts?
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Old 10-29-2020, 06:49 AM   #2
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First thing: Haynes or Chilton manuals for the D21 are nearly useless. Any hardbody made after 1990 has direct fuel rail injection, not a throttle body system.

I don't know whether a 1998 Frontier engine will go into a hardbody, but it's possible. Someone else should speak up here. 97 was the last year for the hardbody.

Are you getting a Check Engine light?

A lot of this idle stuff on the later hardbody models is more related to the computer than it is to adjustment screws. I think those are factory set. I think...(someone should jump in here)

The only thing I could offer is the Factory Service Manual in PDF. It runs over 1,200 pages and will tell you everything you ever wanted to know except the true identity of God.

Email me at adventurebooksofseattle AT G mail. Don't forget to remind me the year of your truck. Can't do this in a private message. File is too big anyway.

ONE MORE THING: If your truck was manufactured and/or sold after January 1, 1996...you have a code reader plug in mounted next to your fuse box. It is a big plug, mounted in place, on the right side of the fuse box. Any parts store will let you borrow their code reader, and most stores will send someone out to run your codes and tell you what is wrong. If you don't have a code reader, or don't want to buy one right now, go to the parts store and have THEM run the codes. This kind of problem will probably show up for you and tell you what's wrong. If you do have a 1996 truck, (check driver door info tag) you should have the OBD2 diagnostic system and the plug in for it. Sure is better than pulling that passenger seat out and counting flashing lights. That was the old OBD1 system.

If you want to buy a code reader, this one at Amazon for thirty bucks or so is the one I have. Works great and won't bust your wallet. Just make sure you have the plug in near the fuse box to use it. It will be hard-mounted to the right of the fuse box. BIG plug. Can't remember the number of pins but it's like 14 or 16 and pretty large. Hard to miss.

And...
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Last edited by XoXSciFiGuy; 10-29-2020 at 07:10 AM.
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Old 10-29-2020, 08:23 PM   #3
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A real manual definitely sounds like a good start. The lousy manual thing frustrated me a lot with my last 97 Nissan pickup, too. That one had a check engine light on for 10 years and 150k miles. It miraculously lasted till 300k. I strive to take better care of this one.



No check engine light on this one. The truck does have an ODB2 Plug under the dash. I plugged this in to a code reader at the shop right after purchase, but it didn't work. This could have to do with me being new to using them, or the fact that some of the wires on the back of the plug seem to be disconnected. Not sure if this is the result of some home mechanic work or if they got kicked off, but I think I'd need a wiring diagram to re-connect them correctly for starters.


New engine clue: I replaced the oil filter and PCV Valve today. Both were the components that come up for the 1996 not the 1998. (I got both just in case)
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Old 10-29-2020, 09:21 PM   #4
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CEL doesn't really signify anything but emissions issues in the D21.
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Old 10-29-2020, 09:26 PM   #5
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Sorry, What is CEL?
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Old 10-29-2020, 10:58 PM   #6
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If the spark plugs are on the driver side of the engine it is not an engine from a 1998 frontier. If the spark plugs are in the center of the top of the valve cover and it says twin cam on it, then it could be from a 98.
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Old 10-29-2020, 11:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duct Tape and Bubble Gum View Post
Sorry, What is CEL?
Check Engine Light
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Old 10-30-2020, 12:39 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duct Tape and Bubble Gum View Post
Sorry, What is CEL?
Check Engine Light
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Old 10-30-2020, 04:04 AM   #9
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He sent me a request for the FSM today and I sent him the PDF. I would like to see a picture of the engine in question.

Duct Tape: The easiest and best place to host pictures is not Photocrapit. (Photobucket)

Imgur.com is more of a photo-sharing site, but since they aren't bloated with ads and slow as a snail, they are very good. Easy to use.

BELOW: Pictures of my engine, a stock KA24E, four-cylinder. This was the only stock engine available for the 96-97 models. They did not offer the six banger for those last two years the truck was manufactured. (Right?
Does your engine look like this:





Did you check to see if you have a code reader plug-in mounted to the right of the fuse box?

Might also be able to find some information on your door tag. Open drivers door. It is glued to the door pillar. Usually silver in color with info on the truck printed there. You can find out a lot just by running the VIN number and reading the Date of Manufacture that is listed. (Month and year truck was made)

BELOW: This is a picture of a KA24DE engine, which was offered in the trucks made from 1998 on. As you can see, it is WAY different from the stock engine in the D21. Spark plugs on top, not on the drivers side. If you have a 1998 engine, it will look more like this.

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Old 10-30-2020, 03:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XoXSciFiGuy View Post

BELOW: Pictures of my engine, a stock KA24E, four-cylinder. This was the only stock engine available for the 96-97 models. They did not offer the six banger for those last two years the truck was manufactured. (Right?

Canada! Canada! Canada!
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