Nissan X-Trail 2.2Di Sport - Intermittent Power Loss / Surges - Fuel air leak?? - thomab

I replaced the fuel filter the other month on my 2003/53 2.2 Di Sport Diesel X-Trail and since then I have not been able to obtain the consistent performance I had previously. Genuine Nissan filter was used.

Whilst the engine always starts first time and idles smoothly, intermittently and when under load, i.e. accelerating up hill or towing, it will loose power in 3rd or 4th gear requiring a premature change down to 2nd in order to maintain progress. If I leave it in 3rd or 4th the power will intermittently surge.

The problem I’m sure is down to fuel starvation caused by air in the fuel system that wasn't there before the filter change.

I have primed the system by removing the fuel filter outlet pipe ensuring no bubbles remain and then reconnect the pipe continuing to prime until the priming pump goes ‘hard’. However if left for 5 seconds it will go soft again and will take a few more pushes. I then start the engine and continue to prime for a few minutes in case any air is stuck beyond the filter.

This process fully restores the performance for a few weeks only for it to slowly revert to its previous state.

I have checked the filter housing/priming pump by installing a clear fuel pipe to the outlet, that loops higher than the filter, and there are no bubbles whilst engine is running.

What I do notice is when the engine is switched off a large bubble appears from the direction of the fuel pump and sits at the top of this loop. It clears when the engine is started but returns when stopped. I’m not sure if this is normal behaviour or whether it has anything to do with my intermittent issue? On disconnecting the clear filter outlet pipe the fuel immediately drains away, I assume back to the tank via the return pipes, again I assume this is normal too? - but the filter remains full as expected so the non-return valve is working ok.

So to diagnose this further my questions are :-

1/ Should the priming pump stay hard until the engine is started?
2/ Does it make any difference if the ignition (engine not started) is on when priming?
3/ Is it normal to have to continue to prime once the engine has started?
4/ Should an air bubble rise from the direction of the fuel pump to the fuel filter outlet when the engine is stopped? Or do I still have an air lock/leak maybe in the fuel pump area?
5/ Should the fuel drain away from beyond the fuel filter if I disconnect the filter outlet pipe or should it hold there waiting for the main fuel pump to suck it in and compress it?

All hose connections are tight and there are no obvious fuel or air leaks in the system that I can see.

I would welcome any comments, observations or advice so I can resolve this issue once and for all, and hopefully help others who are experiencing this frustrating problem. Thanks in advance.

Nissan X-Trail 2.2Di Sport - Intermittent Power Loss / Surges - Fuel air leak?? - xtrailman

Jerky running is often a symptom of a faulty "neutral position switch", more noticeable in 3rd and 4th gear.

The switch sends a signal to the ECU, which shows a status signal of "on or off ".

The switch detects whether the car is in gear, and affects idle speed and fuelling, problems occur if the switch thinks its in neutral while actually running in gear.

If you unplug the sensor, the ECU will think its in gear, so you can eliminate it this way.

Usually a new switch is required around £100.

Sorry i don't know its location, just something i recorded from a car mechanics article on the T30 2.2

Nissan X-Trail 2.2Di Sport - Intermittent Power Loss / Surges - Fuel air leak?? - thomab

Thanks for your response.

I have checked out the neutral position switch by testing the voltages at the ECM (terminal E13). This is working fine giving either 0v or 12v depending on whether it's in gear or in neutral.

I've convinced myself it's air slowly being drawn into the fuel system and then causing an air lock that in turn causes this intermittent hesitation. Being able to clear it as I described above, only for it to return a few days/weeks later, leads me to this conclusion.

In addition I should say I get no fault codes nor is the MIL light on.

It's becoming rather frustrating! Just hoping someone can lead me to the source before I have to resort to a garage.

Thanks again.

Edited by thomab on 21/01/2012 at 11:27

Nissan X-Trail 2.2Di Sport - Intermittent Power Loss / Surges - Fuel air leak?? - xtrailman

Yes you have measured with the car running ok or stationary?

As you say the fault is intermittant, you need to monitor the signal when you are actually having the problem.

Which is why disconnecting the switch was suggested, by the guy in the mag article.

Nissan X-Trail 2.2Di Sport - Intermittent Power Loss / Surges - Fuel air leak?? - thomab

Yes good point.

Just need to wait for it to start playing up again, which should not be too long, and will then disconnect the switch. Will report back on what effect this has...........


Nissan X-Trail 2.2Di Sport - Intermittent Power Loss / Surges - Fuel air leak?? - thomab
Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to update this post with the final outcome.

The intermittent power surging in 3rd and 4th gears when under load returned (felt like fuel starvation) over the last few weeks. As previously stated the engine continued to start first time and idle smoothly.

So having discounted the usual suspects (fuel filter, air leak in fuel line, dirty MAF sensor, clogged EGR valve, neutral switch etc) I decided to bite the bullet and replace the Suction Control Valves on the fuel pump.

The pump has two SCV’s , a red one and a green one. I bought them off eBay from ml-carparts in Germany for EUR160, which seemed good value.

Here is the url if anyone needs it :-

Well, I fitted them 3 weeks ago and I’m pleased to say that so far it’s back to full power and pulling well without any sign of hesitation. Great <*** title="Grin" src="" alt=":biggrin:" /> !!

The actual job of changing them was very awkward due to their inaccessibility. However with a bit of patience, and a few bruised knuckles <*** title="Crying" src="" alt=":bigcry:" /> , I managed it in about 3 hours.

I hope this helps others who may be having similar problems.


Nissan X-Trail 2.2Di Sport - Intermittent Power Loss / Surges - Fuel air leak?? - xtrailman

Good feedback.

Glad you have got it sorted, i've read about this fix for other makes of cars, usually the dealer just wants to change the entire pump at some cost around £1K ?

Nissan X-Trail 2.2Di Sport - Intermittent Power Loss / Surges - Fuel air leak?? - carr

Thanks for a very good diagnosis and the follow up. In the X Trail world this was a very cost effective repair.

Nissan X-Trail 2.2Di Sport - Intermittent Power Loss / Surges - Fuel air leak?? - Sonicscot
Hello, Brian...hello everyone,

I bought an 03/03 X-trail last September, it's a 2.2 Di. Not long after purchase I started to experience the power loss as has been decribed in your initial post, although mine would/does happen when driving in all gears above 4th.

I also thought an " air in system "problem, so I think I'm pleased that you've hit on the problem and cure by changing the suction valves. You state that there are 2 off, ( red and green caps), I've checked the link you provided to the German supplier on Ebay, ( £162 + £13 p.p. ). I'm prepared to pay this for them, if they are the ones for me ?

My version of the X-trail is known as the YD 22 DTI, I believe this version to be the ALL NISSAN, as against the Nissan/ Renault hybrids of later models. Do we own the same version ?
Due to a bit of ill health, and compounded by the bad weather, I've not been able to get out and get under to check visibly that I have the same pump as yourself. Is there more than 1 type of pump fitted to cars of this year , 2003?

If these valves from Germany are the ones for me I intend to buy, and by the time they arrive I shoud be fit and well enough to get them into the pump.
If not I'll get them fitted by a local garage.

I'm knew to forums and such, so Thanks in Advance....Duncan
Nissan X-Trail 2.2Di Sport - Intermittent Power Loss / Surges - Fuel air leak?? - gmc4093
Hi Brian,
A couple of years ago!! You reported some probs with your xtrail in particular running problems, after you changed your fuel filter, at the end of the thread you said that you had changed SCVs and the problem seems to have cleared is this still the case and or have the problems returned and of course this all depends on wether you still have the vehicle

Thank you

Ask Honest John

Value my car