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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Yesterday my wife's 2014 altima would not turn over and she reported that the brake pedal was very stiff. She called me so I drove over to where she was to take a look. I tried to start the car and when I pushed the start button the car made a noise like it was trying to turn over but could not. I drive this car occasionally so I have some idea of how the brake pedal might feel before the engine starts. I could not tell if the brake pedal was unusually stiff. It seemed like maybe the battery was just weak so we decided to try giving it a jump. I connected the jumper cables in the normal manner except making the last connection directly to the battery negative terminal just to make sure I was getting a good connection. The first attempt to jump it was a failure with the same symptom that the engine would not turn over. Before calling AAA for a tow we gave it a second try making sure to wiggle the cable connectors to get a good connection, waiting several minutes with the good car running and also revving the good car when trying to start the bad car. In this case the car did turn over and start. While we were waiting around with the good car running we did check the internet on my wife's phone to see if we might get any advice and we did see several threads which mentioned things like possible bad brake switch, things like pushing on brake and gas pedal while trying to start. Well in this case I wouldn't think it was a bad brake switch since the engine did make a noise and try to start but just didn't have enough oomph to turn over. I didn't think that pushing on the gas pedal would have any effect on starting a car whose symptom was that it was not turning over but when i was trying the second jump attempt i might just have had my left foot on the brake and my right foot on the gas. can't say for sure since my idea was just to have my right foot handy to try pushing on the gas pedal at the same time as pushing the start button so that in the event that it was not turning over i could push done on the gas pedal and see if it had any effect. Anyway it did turn over and start and i couldn't say for sure if didn't give a push on the gas pedal but I don't think so. I think my foot was just resting on it. Anyway, when we go the car home i removed the battery and cleaned up all the terminals. There was quite a bit of greenish corrosion on the positive terminal. I charged the battery and I checked the fluid levels in the battery which were fine. I load tested the battery and it was in the green for it's 550 CCA rating. I put the battery back in the car and the car has been fine for it last 3 starts in trips around town. Right now I'm just thinking that the corrosion on the terminal was was the problem but I'm wondering what anybody else thinks?
 

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That green was probably your whole issue. We Nissan techs call them the "Green Rock Candy Mountains," and some of the hot terminals just do that for reasons known only to the people who specified the plating. Others go for many years and never go green. A new OE hot terminal will run you under $15, and since green means the plating is compromised, I'd suggest a new one. If not, make sure you protect the terminal with anodizing paint or it will do it all over again.

The high-hard brake is normal with the engine off and no boost, and it should only cause problems if the brake pedal switch is misadjusted or wearing out. The symptoms of a no-start caused by the brake switch are completely different, the car will shut off instead of cranking when the button is pushed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for your quick response and expertise on this issue. Green Rock Candy Mountains seems like a good name to describe the build up on the positive terminal. Also I noticed that the positive battery post itself was somewhat difficult to get clean. The battery post wire brush cleaner did not seem to be able by itself to make the post shiny. The lower half of the post was a dark brown and did not come clean with only the battery post cleaner. It took some work with a strip of sandpaper before the metallic color came back. The crystal salt build up all over the positive battery cable clamp was on firmly and also took more than just the wire brush christmas tree to remove. In this case I used a pick and persistence to chip and scrape it all off. There are a lot of nooks and crannies on the positive clamp where the candy was adhered. The negative terminal did not have this type of build up and was fairly easy to clean with the battery post/clamp cleaning tool. After putting the clamps back on I sprayed on some permatex battery protector & sealer that I had lying around. Now with 2 days of driving around town and more than 10 starts the problem seems to have gone away. I just checked the battery voltage at 12.5 before starting and between 14.3 and 14.1 after starting (The variability observed due to car car warming up in driveway and with turning on and off various accessories like headlights, fog lights, A/C, and heated driver's seat on hi and lo. The running voltage seems ok to me, I was thinking it might end up being higher based on what i read on the internet saying that the green crystal build up on the positive terminal was a sign of overcharging whereas a corrosion build up on the negative side would be a sign of undercharging.
 

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The running voltage seems ok to me, I was thinking it might end up being higher based on what i read on the internet saying that the green crystal build up on the positive terminal was a sign of overcharging whereas a corrosion build up on the negative side would be a sign of undercharging.
That can be the case, but a bit over 14V is right where Nissan alternators should generally be. When they seriously under or over charge it's usually the fault of a bad battery current sensor (the gen5 Alties have "smart" charging), but if your voltage is staying steady with or without loads then it sounds like your system is all good. I've seen the green mountains on year-old cars with perfectly healthy systems, and it rarely comes back if you replace the terminal. So I'm pretty confident it's something about Nissan's plating and not a generic over/under charge situation. Like I said, the terminals are cheap and I'd just replace yours.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have an update on this thread. The car turned over fine for about 3 days with about 15 total starts. On the 3rd day I did notice that there was a hesitation between pushing the start button and the engine turning over so I started to suspect that the problem might come back. On the 4th day the car would not turn over. The battery voltage was about 12.2 volts and when I removed the battery and did a load test it failed with the needle in the red zone for the 550 CCA rating. This battery was the original battery for the car with a date code of July 2015 so I did consider that possibly the battery was at end of life and may not be able to hold a charge. So I swapped in a spare battery with a 650 CCA rating that I have kept recharged in my basement for about a year or 2 waiting for the need to use it. It has a date code of 7/17 so it is 2 years younger than the OEM battery and was only used for about 3 years or so before I put it aside to use as a backup. The original battery I did recharge and load test with the result that it now seems to be on the borderline between yellow (weak) and green (good) for the 550 CCA rating. The car with replacement battery has been fine for 2 days but now I am thinking about the possibility that the car may have a problem in the charging system or that maybe there is a parasitic load on the battery. I did a parasitic load test using my digital multi meter on the negative battery terminal and I am getting 125 mA of parasitic load with the car off. With the negative battery clamp off I first get about 500mA when I first connect my current meter in series but this value drops to about 125mA after about 10 seconds and this value seems stable while I run the test for a minute or so. I wonder if this is ok or could this be my problem?
 

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The 125mA is perfectly normal. To get the car into full hibernation requires 30 minutes with the doors closed and fob removed from the car. At that point it should drop to 10~15mA. Altie BCM's are very consistent and usually hibernate at 30 minutes on the dot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you Vstar. I reran the parasitic draw test with the doors closed and the fob removed from the car. I monitored the current on the negative battery cable using my DMM on the 10A scale. my technique was to first connect the negative battery post to the negative battery clamp with a jumper cable. Then I added my DMM connected in shunt from the negative battery post to the negative battery clamp. Then I disconnected the jumper cable from the negative battery clamp bringing the current draw though my meter. The initial value of current I observed was 0.13A. This dropped to 0.01A-0.00A after about 20 minutes. No additional change in current draw was observed over an additional 10 min of observation. By first using the jumper cable to conduct the current I was able to avoid the initial higher current value which I had previously reported to be about 500mA. Actually this initial current was sometimes higher than 500mA and I was concerned about possibly blowing the fuse in my DMM current measurement so I adapted the shunting technique which allows me to only have to measure the lower current values. So it seems I am getting less than 10mA with this parasitic draw test. With the newer battery all starts have been fine for 3 days now with about 15 starts. Maybe I should do a test on the charging system just to get some peace of mind?
 

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By first using the jumper cable to conduct the current I was able to avoid the initial higher current value which I had previously reported to be about 500mA. Actually this initial current was sometimes higher than 500mA and I was concerned about possibly blowing the fuse in my DMM current measurement so I adapted the shunting technique which allows me to only have to measure the lower current values. So it seems I am getting less than 10mA with this parasitic draw test. With the newer battery all starts have been fine for 3 days now with about 15 starts. Maybe I should do a test on the charging system just to get some peace of mind?
Yah. about 2.5A is normal on initial reconnection, but it drops very quickly. Average draw in hibernation is about 13mA (the oscillation in the reading is the red security LED blinking every 3 seconds). So it sounds like your system is normal, no parasites. :)
 
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