Vehicle Reliability

Nissan Pathfinder Reliability and Common Problems

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The Nissan Pathfinder is a dependable midsize SUV that offers a comfortable ride, handles well, and has several active safety features. While it may not be the first vehicle that comes to mind when shopping for a used SUV, newer models are slowly being recognized for their fuel-efficient V6 engine and high towing capacity. The Pathfinder’s resale value is also good, only depreciating by 59% in five years according to CarEdge.com.

Are Nissan Pathfinders Reliable?

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Front View Nissan USA Newsroom
The Nissan Pathfinder is a dependable midsize SUV that offers a comfortable ride, handles well, and has several active safety features. Image source: Nissan.

The Nissan Pathfinder enjoys average scores across all major reliability ratings. RepairPal gave it a 3.5 out of 5.0, ranking it 17th out of 26 midsize SUVs. It also scored an 82 out of 100 from J.D. Power, placing it at the 8th spot out of the 10 models reviewed in its segment. With careful handling and regular maintenance, the Nissan Pathfinder can easily enjoy a long service life.

Top Nissan Pathfinder Problems

Despite its dependability, the Nissan Pathfinder has its fair share of issues. Listed are the most commonly reported problems for different model years:

Navigation Problems

According to reports from some owners of the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder, problems with the navigation display are common for the model year. The image from the backup camera would get stuck, the navigation controls would freeze while the SUV is in motion, and the reverse assist display would frequently malfunction.

As of this writing, no recalls have been issued to address these problems. Some owners were able to resolve them by updating their navigation software, while others have had to replace the navigation system itself.

Worn Timing Chain Guides

Problems caused by premature wear on timing chain guides have affected some 2006 and 2013-2016 models of the Pathfinder. Drivers report hearing rattling and tapping noises from the front of the engine during cold starts.

Nissan Pathfinder Timing Chain Kit
A new timing chain kit for your Nissan Pathfinder can cost you anywhere between $40 and $250 excluding labor costs.

Some speculate that a manufacturing defect, which produced sharp-edged timing chains that cut through the guides, is what’s causing the system to fail earlier than designed.

To resolve this, the faulty timing chain guide rails and tensioners may need to be replaced. A new timing chain kit can cost you anywhere between $40 and $250 excluding labor costs.

Air Conditioning and Heater Failure

A/C and heating problems have been a common pain point among many owners of the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder. In most reports, the system is unable to blow hot or cold air into the cabin while the SUV runs below 950 RPM or at idle. Some also hear unusual noises from their A/C while their vehicles are running, which have been linked to faulty cooling fan blades and/or bearings.

AC Condenser Fan for Nissan Pathfinder
A/C and heating problems have been a common pain point among many owners of the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder.

Nissan has yet to issue a recall to address this problem. Some owners have attempted to fix the issue by shelling out as much as $1,000 to replace their failed A/C condenser fan. One driver ended up replacing his A/C unit to no avail.

Engine and Ignition Problems

Suspended acceleration, engine stalling, excessive oil consumption, and loss of power are some of the most common 2013 Nissan Pathfinder problems. Although these issues vary in severity, they shouldn’t be taken lightly.

2013 Nissan Pathfinder Nissan USA Newsroom
Suspended acceleration, engine stalling, excessive oil consumption, and loss of power are some of the most common 2013 Nissan Pathfinder problems. Image source: Nissan.

Owners of models from 1999 to 2013 have also had difficulty cranking and starting their engines. This problem is often linked to a starter relay malfunction. In most cases, replacing the faulty part was enough to fix the issue.

If your Pathfinder is showing signs of engine malfunction, it’s best to have a mechanic check your vehicle to get an accurate diagnosis.

Transmission Problems

The 2005-2010 Pathfinders equipped with automatic transmissions have a widespread defect that causes transmission failure at around 90,000 miles. These vehicles have an internal crack in the oil cooler tube, which causes coolant to leak into the transmission and radiator. This may cause the SUV’s engine to overheat as well as the transmission to slip and fail to engage.

A class action lawsuit with over 640 documented consumer complaints was filed against Nissan to force the automaker to take action. Unfortunately, the NHTSA concluded that further investigation wasn’t warranted and didn’t require Nissan to recall the affected vehicles. However, the automaker issued extended warranties to cover repairs for the vehicles’ radiator assembly.

A lot of Pathfinder owners had to pay for the necessary repairs, such as flushing the transmission and engine cooling system thoroughly, out of their own pockets. In some cases, installing a new radiator is necessary to prevent transmission issues from developing.

Faulty Fuel Level Sensor

A faulty fuel level sensor on 2006-2008 Nissan Pathfinders may cause the fuel gauge to stop working and provide inaccurate readings. In most cases, the issue is diagnosed after the check engine light is activated and a diagnostic code suggesting sensor failure is retrieved.

Nissan has identified that affected vehicles may have a deformed molded fuel tank shell, which may come in contact with the sensor and cause it to read that the tank is one quarter full despite being empty.  Recall 10V075000 was issued to address this problem, and the faulty fuel level sensor was replaced free of charge.

Failed Mass Air Flow Sensor

Some owners of second-generation Nissan Pathfinders (1995-2002) report poor engine performance and drivability due to problems linked to a bad mass air flow sensor. Incidents involving engine misfire, stalling, and odd noises during warm-up are common among these models.

Mass Air Flow Sensor for Nissan Pathfinder
Some owners of second-generation Nissan Pathfinders (1995-2002) report poor engine performance and drivability due to problems linked to a bad mass air flow sensor.

While some were able to determine that they had a faulty mass air flow sensor because of a logged diagnostic trouble code, others were only able to determine the source of the problem after visiting a mechanic.

Most drivers were able to fix the issue by replacing the faulty sensor. A new mass air flow sensor can cost you anywhere from $50 to $300 excluding labor costs.

When shopping for a new or used Nissan Pathfinder, it’s better for you to know the good and the bad. By researching the common issues that plague specific model years, you can avoid costly repairs and conduct preventive maintenance to maximize the service life of your SUV.

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