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Nissan Pathfinder Common Problems (1996-2004)

Nissan Pathfinder common problems solved with Haynes

Nissan. A brand known for family saloons and rapid sports coupés. But as for trucks – not so much. At least until it launched the Pathfinder in the middle of the 1980s.

Sales took off, because people wanted a slightly smaller but still-rugged off-roader. The second-generation car we focus on here featured unibody construction and a range of petrol and diesel engines, plus the option of two- or four-wheel drive.

Nissans are known for their reliability, but any Pathfinder Mk2 is getting on a bit these days, so is perfect for the home mechanic to hone their skills on. And that’s where Haynes comes in, because we’ve stripped down and rebuilt a Pathfinder (along with its Frontier and Xterra sister cars), so we can guide you through any procedure you need to carry out. Better still, you’ll save a whole load of cash by not having to shell out for labor costs.

Nissan Pathfinder problems

What recalls has the Nissan Pathfinder Mk2 been subject to?

Comparatively few, which is undeniably a good thing.

A number of examples were affected by a fault with the bracket that attaches the hydraulic tailgate struts to the tailgate itself. The recall entailed the replacement of the tailgate strut brackets.

Then the fuel filler pipe was the source of another recall, because not enough anti-corrosion coating had been applied during construction. This affected vehicles sold in Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and The District of Columbia. The tube was replaced under the recall.

Corrosion caused another recall of vehicles sold in Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington D.C., West Virginia and Wisconsin, because these states are known to have heavy concentrations of road salt in winter. A fault with the upper strut housing could cause corrosion to start in this area.

And that’s it! As we said, a pretty low number of recalls.

Nissan Pathfinder Mk2 common problems

What common problems does the Nissan Pathfinder have?

The Nissan Pathfinder has been known to let owners down in winter. This is because chilly temperatures can prevent the drive selector from being moved out of park.

Some Pathfinders have also been known to exhibit a bit of a lean when parked, because the left front suspension is compressed more than the right.

And the Pathfinder can squeak on occasion. Well, more particularly, the parking brake cable can squeak.

Unfortunately, the accessory drivebelt system can cause the odd problem on a Nissan Pathfinder, too, and if your Pathfinder is proving tricky to start in the winter months, then it could be the engine block heater that’s causing the problem.

Nissan Pathfinder thanks to IFCAR/Wikipedia

Does the Nissan Pathfinder Mk2 have automatic transmission problems?

It’s winter, so it’s cold. So you go out to your Nissan Pathfinder Mk2, start it up and start to scrape the windows. Once they’re all clear, you jump in and… you’re stuck. The transmission won’t move out of Park. Less than ideal, especially after you’ve wasted all that time clearing the vehicle in the first place.

The problem arises because in the freezing conditions, the grease at the end of the interlock cable between the ignition cylinder and the automatic shifter can become hardened, stopping the drive selector being moved.

You’ll need to get to the key cylinder, detach the cable, then move the shift lever to ‘1’, which will expose the inner cable, allowing you to clean off the grease.

And the good news is that we can show you how to get to the affected parts, so fixing it should be a matter of an hour at most. Just look up the relevant chapter in your Haynes Pathfinder manual and you’ll be fine.

Nissan Pathfinder problems fixed with Haynes

Does the Nissan Pathfinder have suspension problems?

It’s like when you put a picture on the wall, step back and… is that straight and level?

The same can happen with the Nissan Pathfinder. You park up, get out, walk away, look back and… is that on a slope?

It isn’t. The weight distribution can cause the front-left spring to become fractionally compressed, causing the car to look like it’s sitting at an angle.

However, Nissan also noticed this, so came up with a redesigned spring to counteract this problem. All you’ll need to do is remove the front struts, remove the spring and fit the new one, which is a procedure we’ve covered in detail in the Haynes Pathfinder manual. Go on, don’t get mad, get level.

Nissan Pathfinder common problems

Does the Nissan Pathfinder have handbrake cable problems?

Annoying. You put down your window for a bit of fresh air, and your peace and quiet is upset by a squeak. An intermittent squeak. The sort of squeak that’s tough to trace. It tends to happen over rougher roads, but if you bounce the rear of the Pathfinder up and down at a standstill, you’ll hear the squeak then.

However, you don’t really need to trace it, because we already have. The left-rear bracket for the parking brake cable can work its way loose, which allows the cable to move, causing wear to the outside casing on the cable.

The solution is to replace the cable and bracket with upgraded parts, and there’s no need to worry because your Haynes Pathfinder manual will guide you through every single step of the procedure. Just read up and away you go.

Nissan Pathfinder common problems solved with Haynes

Does the Nissan Pathfinder have accessory drivebelt problems?

Well, yes. And no. First up, you might notice a noise coming from the accessory drivebelt area of your Nissan Pathfinder’s engine.

The next step is to trace if it’s actually the belt itself that’s at fault, because it could also be one of the pulleys or the tensioner.

So, start up your engine and use a spray bottle to spray some soapy water on the drivebelt. If the noise decreases, then it’s either the belt or one of the pulleys is out of alignment.

However, if the noise continues at the same level, then it’ll be one of the pulley bearings that’s likely at fault.

If it’s the belt, the follow the replacement procedure in your Haynes Pathfinder manual.

If it’s a pulley with a worn-out bearing, you’ll need to remove the belt (using the same procedure) then check each pulley for play. If the tensioner has more than 7mm movement, then it needs to be replaced, and if any pulley can be rocked by more than 1mm, it also needs to be replaced.

Thankfully, we’ve covered all of this in the Haynes Pathfinder manual, so just read up and you’ll soon be back on the road.

Nissan Pathfinder Mk2 problems

Does the Nissan Pathfinder have block heater problems?

If the engine block heater fails on your Nissan Pathfinder, then you’ll find the vehicle difficult to start, especially when it’s cold. Stands to reason, really.

Basically, you’ll need to replace it. This is not the smallest of jobs, so we’d advise setting aside the bulk of a day for it.

First up, you’ll need to detach the front propeller shaft from the front differential, followed by the two front driveshafts. Then unbolt the differential housing and lower it out of the way.

After that, you’ll need to drain the coolant, then remove the old heater and replace it with a new one.

As ever, we’re there with you, and we’ve covered these procedures in the Haynes Pathfinder manual. Just take your time, be organised, read the procedures thoroughly and get cracking.