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Nissan Pathfinder Transmission Problems



  • medusan,

    Sorry to hear about your Pathfinder. I was Not covered under warranty because I was at 92,000 miles. I believe that this problem is just starting to occur to most Pathfinder owners. It seems the radiators are breaking down at or near 80,000. I would fight with Nissan about having yours covered. The problems probably started before your warranty was up and since there was no way of knowing that there was a problem until it was to late you might be able to get it covered. Tell them that this is a problems that is starting to occur to a lot of 2005 Pathfinder owners. Good luck. The transmission shop has been working on my pathfinder now fo 5 weeks. There was so much damage. It went into the electronic too so we're dealing with that now. I am hoping to get it back soon. I am going to start writing and calling Nissan once I have all my paperwork together. Who knows maybe they'll eventually do a recall.
  • danscdansc Posts: 4
    Now you guys have me worried!

    Just today my 2005 Pathfinder started not shifting into reverse unless I rev the engine up, then it will suddenly grab and lurch backwards... so I started googling "2005 pathfinder reverse" and found this thread.

    I found the dipstick and checked the level this evening and it is full up. What color is the ATF fluid normally? Mine is a brown/golden brown color, there isn't any smell or rust or burning coming from it. In other words, is there any way for an average user to figure out if there is coolant leaking into the transmission fluid?

    The only thing going in my favor is that I only have 57,100 miles on the rig, so I "should" be covered under warranty - any thoughts or suggestions on how I should approach the dealership on Monday to get this properly covered and not denied if they determine that I have the dreaded "radiator failure that killed the transmission" issue?

    The reluctance to shift into reverser is my only symptom to date.

    Many thanks, I'll keep the forum up-to-date as I go through this process.
  • almattialmatti Posts: 164
    This is a follow up report to my post in March. After pinpointing the source of the vibration/shuddering at 40MPH + to a bad U joint in the front drive shaft, the mechanic also said: I think I hear something in the transfer case itself, not completerly sure"...When the drive shaft was taken out (no more 4 WD only 2WD ) the virbration was gone. I saw the 1 bad U Joint. I decided to replace both U joints on both drive shafts. When they re-installed the front drive shaft, WOW the virbration was WORSE. Why: The clutch in the Transfer Case is bad. So after spending $650.00 now I find the mechanic (who really knows Jeep systems -which fail quite a bit), actually wasted my money. He did offer to try to obtain a Used X-Fer Case and install it at a reduced price to make up some of the mis-diagnosis. That would be another $800-$1000 using a Junked PF's X-FER Case. That'll teach me to deal with a 4WD "truck based" vehicle - 8years old, 114K miles, Japanese or not, there is still Planned Obsolescence in place. The Manufacturers don't want you to keep a vehicle for 5+ years without major repairs or costs. get a new One is the Mantra. Now my PF will be a money pit. Bye Bye Pathfinder.....
  • medusanmedusan Posts: 5
    So the first signs we had was exactly the same issue - put the lever into reverse and then nothing happened - then it would grab and lurch - next it started doing this in the forward gears.

    I checked the fluids and could spot no wrong - i had the transmission fluid changed just before christmas and they saw nothing wrong with it then.

    good luck - make sure you dealer puts a call in with Nissan USA and try and get it covered under warranty.
  • medusanmedusan Posts: 5
    What was the mileage on your pathfinder when Nissan replaced the transmission under warranty ?
  • Well add me to your list we have just been told by a Nissan dealer in TN. that we have a crack in the radiator and it went into the transmission. To make a long story short we need a new radiator and transmission to cost us 5000.00. Nissan needs to do a recall and suck up the costs! This is crazy.
  • xtierraxtierra Posts: 55
    your tranny fluid should not be brown/golden brown..... i believe you have the coolant leaking into your tranny.... purchase some fishtank plastic hose (4 feet) and stick it through your dip stick to suck out a small amount of the fluid... there has to be a lab that you can send it to have analyzed. for future battle with nissan.

    your tranny fluid should be red. i would say drive it to dealership asap to see if its covered under warranty... take a flat head screw driver and make a mark on your tranny to make sure they replace it if your covered under warranty.

    if your not covered, you might have caught the problem in time.... if nissan does not cover the problem you have 2 choices. having the dealer fix it or taking it to a mechanic that will charge you less.

    i would replace radiator and replace the tranny fluid 2 times over a 2 week period. dont do the tranny flush... but get the shop to do a pump and dump...... 1st have them drain the tranny fluid and fill with amount that was taken out, 2nd have them disconect the hose that enters the radiator on the bottom in front of engine oil filter and turning engine on for 4 to 8 seconds taking 1 quart of tranny fluid out and putting 1 quart new tranny fluid. it should take about 10 quarts.

    once the new red fluid begins to come out of the hose its been drained..... drive it for 2 weeks and check the fluid color to see if you have any faint signs of coolant/ like you see a puddle of water and some gas that has dripped the puddle.... if you see that, then do the pump and dump again to get all the tiny particles of the contaminated.

    i hate to say it but i guess all of us nissan owners need to check the color of our tranny fluid every 2 weeks untill nissan can tell us what batch of radiators where faulty from their suppliers.
  • smokey75smokey75 Posts: 434
    I recommend Blackstone Labs if you want to send a sample of transmission fluid for testing. They'll tell you if there is any coolant in it and a million other things.
  • If they tell you your having any kind of transmission issues, I would insist that you have them install a new radiator. The problem I had did NOT lower the levels of the transmission fluid or the antifreeze. They read normal. The only way to tell if they are mixing is to drain them both and check the color. I was told if it is pink then they are mixing but please check with your mechanic on the color.
  • danscdansc Posts: 4
    Ok, I dropped my Pathfinder off at the local dealership service department yesterday and the results are back in today. I was very straightforward and asked about the potential issue of the failing radiators causing transmission failure and that I was concerned that my rig might have that issue.

    Here is the technicians diagnosis:
    "Check transmission fluid level/condition Found fluid to be contaminated/burnt"

    "The technician did determine the transmission has failed & needs to be replaced. The failure was a result of the fluid itself & not a contamination from the transmission cooler lines in the radiator. This is good news as it is a slam dunk to order up a replacement unit."

    So, I did not have the failed radiator issue and since my rig only has 57,200 miles on it Nissan is replacing the transmission for me at their expense under the original factory warrantee. I should note that I am the second owner on this rig, I’m glad that Nissan’s warrantees follow the vehicle and not ownership.

    I now have a new car maintenance rule: Check the color of the automatic transmission fluid at every oil change. I drive this rig a lot (1,500-2,000 miles per month) so if the transmission hadn’t started exhibiting problems for just a few more weeks I would have been on the hook for a $4-5,000 transmission replacement, ouch.

    Now I need to try and find out if they have identified the batch number(s) on the failed radiators and double-check to make sure I don’t have one so that it doesn’t become an issue down the road!

    Many thanks for all of the comments and information shared on this forum, it really helped me prepare before going to the dealership to have them address my vehicle problems.
  • For all those worried about this problem, ( I've posted this before,) Completely
    bypass the radiator and put an external transmission oil cooler on your pathfinder. The transmission will run cooler, extending the life of your transmission, and in no way can the two fluids mix, as they are now independent of one another! This is by far the least expensive way to go and you can buy this cooler aftermarket at any auto parts store with instructions included! After a long haul towing a 4000 pound trailer, the transmission cooler was only warm to the touch. The radiator was too hot to touch. Good luck! :shades:
  • medusanmedusan Posts: 5
    Well just to close the loop - I did what other people had done - contacted Nissan Consumer Services, spoke with the NW regional person and also got the Dealer Service Manager to do the same. End result, Nissan USA replaced the transmission even though it was at 61000 miles as a goodwill gesture (that and the damage was all done during the warranty period). All I had to pay for was the Radiator, the dealer even waved the cost of the transmission fluid that they put in when they replaced the radiator to still find that the transmission had no reverse.

    So i guess we got lucky, hopefully some of you will do also.
  • dsmith7228dsmith7228 Posts: 1
    hi i'm having the same problem my pathfinder will not start at all now.. what is the IDPM that you are refering to? is it something that can be easily replaced? i am a descent mechanic but have never messed with a tranny before?
  • 70ss454_man70ss454_man Posts: 107
    As was mentioned above, the stock transmission cooler on the WD21 Pathfinders (1986.5-1995) are a fin style set up, which is prone to clogging and cannot be cleaned, no matter what anyone will say. WHEN this clogs, it robs the transmission of fluid flow and it overheats and burns up the clutches and gear brakes. This also caused youe fluid to smell burned and turn brownish.

    The fix is to completely bypass the stock transmission cooler with at least a 15,000GVW unit. NO NOT run the new cooler in sequence with the stock cooler.

    Yes, the stock transmission cooler is housed in the same unit as the radiator, but it is 100% separate.

    Hope this helps.
  • dragoddragod Posts: 1
    Dear Lildavidjax,

    Can you please advice (if you know) what type of external oil cooler can be used on 2005 Pathfinder? I had the same problem with transmission fluid leakage and my mechnics told me that Path has a separate AT cooler and simply disconnected it from radiator. However it seems to me not a very correct approach?! So I'm now looking for a solution to the problem.

    Thanks in advance for your help...
  • andreww2andreww2 Posts: 4
    Add me too this list...

    Got a 2005 Pathfinder (Canada), Started to feel a vibration at certain speeds and rev (clearly to do with shifting), so took it in for an inspection (which I had to pay for), and said I think there is a transmission problem getting worse, but was told this is normal... Just watch how you use overdrive (stupid comment and idea from the senior technician). Two weeks later I took it back again and said no this is a problem so what is it… again told it is normal for these cars. Well 4 weeks after the second visit to the dealer I went to the airport then got home and I looked under the car, sure enough liquid on the floor. Looking in the radiator & header tank and pink scum every where (not in the engine - dip stick though). Had it towed in to a different dealer (not going back to the first one after their help…!), and was told the radiator had leaked into the transmission but also the transmission had gone into the radiator. Third Pathfinder they had seen do this. I Called Nissan Canada and they said tough over warranty… With this Pathfinder I have also had two u-joints replaced and cam shaft tightner belt done and now this and only 100,000km’s on the clock. This was my 3rd Nissan, I am now done with NISSAN cars. Mazda here I come.
  • litpatlitpat Posts: 1
    Just went throuh this fiasco . The trans quit & I thought I bought a flood car , the dealer said the water in the trans voided the warranty sends me to my insurance . Miraculously the comp insurance writes a check for $7K....3 weeks later I overheat with trans oil in the radiator and fouled trans fluid . The dealer is happy to sell me a radiator & fluid flush at a discount of about $ 500 for both. I thought the dealer did me good by recommending insurance , but now I suspect they knew there was an issue , I pick up my car tomorrow & I want to fight this new charge , but I'm wondering if I will only get pissed .....BTW my U-Joints had to be replaced already... I drove my last Pathfinder into the ground ... I'm surprised this part went on a young truck...$^$%^$%^%^%^ RHH
  • justmosesjustmoses Posts: 1
    You can add yet another to the long list of Pathfinder owners who have a radiator leaking into the transmission. My tranny started to shudder at higher speeds on the highway, and occaisionally I would lose 1st gear, I'd have to rev up the engine until I reached about 20 mph, then it would work ok. (Just hated to hit a red light) Brought it in to the dealer, "the warning light isn't on now, so we think it is a solinoid, keep your eye on it." It kept happening, brought it back again and they tell me the great news of radiator leaking in transmission, so need to replace radiator, flush it very well, may have to replace all hoses as they are now contaminated, (I guess oil weakens and breaks down rubber over time), flush the transmission 2-3 times, and they said there is no guarantee that I won't have to replace the transmission also. Total cost for all - $7,000 - $8,000. Nissan won't come to the table, I'm only 4 years in on this vehicle but have 80,000 miles on it. I will never purchase another Nissan. This should have been a recall, but I guess it would to massive of a hit to the Nissan Corp.
  • boonissanboonissan Posts: 9
    Just got off the phone with the regional district specialist. I was told that Nissan will not cover the cost of the repairs I had done to fix my transmisssion(4,300.00) because I did not go to a Nissan Dealer. If anyone suspect that they are having the same radiator failure - go to the Dealer(even if it is after warranty). I was told they will then look at it on a case by case basis. The only way for me to get any money back now is if there is a recall. My guess is that won't happen. Not done fighting with Nissan over this yet. Will keep the formum informed with any new information.
  • I just had the tranny and replaced under warranty (50,000 miles) for the fluid leak onto the tranny. With the new radiator and tranny, do I need to worry about this again?
    Also, I occasionally tow a light boat for maybe 40 miles round trip - I know to turn the O/D off - do you need an axillary cooler with this vehicle?
  • It would never hurt, (in my opinion), to bypass the transmission cooler in the radiator, and not use it. Example- coolant in the radiator runs, at 210? What would the temperature of the transmission fluid be? Probably 200 degrees? Okay say you bypass the cooler in the radiator and put an aftermarket cooler on it.What then would temperature of the fluid be? My guess it would be no hotter than the outside air temperature! And guess what else? Your two fluids could never mix again! Your transmission runs cooler prolonging its life, and its not putting any extra heat into your coolant! :shades:
  • xtierraxtierra Posts: 55
    would you guys that have radiator failure post your vin#'s to try to determine the production time for your nissan.
    if nissan will not do a re-call, then we can begin to determine what manufacturing date the problem began at.
  • Hi everyone, new to the forum.... I have an 05 pathy that i absolutley love. The problem is i was having some concerns with the tranny. On a cold start, the tranny would enter well into reverse, but when i put it in drive, you could feel the tranny kick in, and then about 1 second later, you could feel another lurch like it went into gear again. After several times at the shop with the "can't replicate" go away attitude, I took the head mechanic into my vehicle and did it for him. Long story short, not sure what's wrong, but replacing the control valve assembly (brains of tranny?) under warranty.

    Now my question....I understand a number of 05-08 pathy's have had to replace trannys as the radiator leaks into the tranny cooler and wrecks it all.

    Mine is still fine as my fluid is not contaminated, but I'm considering installing an aftermarket tranny cooler and bypassing the stock one entirely to avoid any possible contamination. I live in Alberta, Canada which can get some really COLD winters. Dealership recommended i NOT install one as the winters are too cold and would not allow the ATF to flow properly. They suggested changing coolant every 50,000kms so that it doesn't eat away at the stock cooler in the radiator

    Anyone install an aftermarket??? Anyone know what I'm talking about???
  • sweetlovesweetlove Posts: 1
    My 05 pathfinder had been slipping when lifting my foot off the gas to turn. We took it in and it took literally 2 days for them to find the hole in my radiator that leaked liquid into my transmission. They said the transmission was brown when they flushed it and continued to be brown. So they flushed it again. At this point they had no idea about the hole. Well I googled the problem to see if it was something everyone was experiencing and I found this forum. They charged us $300.00 for the radiator and as far as the transmission goes they want to charge between $2-4k depending on if we use new or used parts. I am so pissed. Called the dealer they said they hadn't heard about this before. I told them about this site they said these sites could be exaggerated. Yeah ok! So after only 70k miles I am basically putting a brand new car together. Never again will I buy a Nissan. I will tell everyone I know not to buy Nissan. They wont help me I wont help them. This car needs to be re-called!!!!!! Please let me know, anyone if there are any other options that I might have! Thanks.
  • Based on the feedback from the forum, I want to check my tranny fluid. I'm having trouble finding where I can do this and the manual says see the dealer. So how can I do this myself and what should I look for? If I get my fluid changed, what should I request the mechanic look for?

    Also, how major is it to replace a timing chain. I need to get this done (under warranty), but am just wondering what my truck has to go through and if there are any long term risks.

    With the warranty soon up, I'm getting worried!
  • The dipstick is on the left side of the engine (facing motor, standing in front of the vehicle) it is up against the firewall (dashboard). Check in park or neutral with engine
    running and warm on level ground.You have a timing belt, not a chain, unless I am seriously mistaken. If you don't get the belt changed and it breaks, you can damage valves and/or heads. If the belt needs to be changed, (see manual on belt change interval)
    might as well change the water pump. I can't stress this enough, changing the water pump is cheap insurance! If your water pump leaks on your new belt, it will ruin it. (It will make it prone to drying out causing it to break.) :shades:
  • Just got off to the phone with the dealer and my 2005 Pathfinder transmission fluid has been contaminated by coolant. They are looking deeper into the problem (says they haven't seen it before). I'm still with powertrain warranty so stay tuned...
  • 05nispath05nispath Posts: 1
    I have an 2005 Nissan Pathfinder that mixed coolant and transmission fluid due to the internal cooler in the radiator leaking. I noticed the problem when the transmission started to shift late at a higher RPM than normal, and it had a shudder in it when driving at highway speeds while in overdrive at low RPM's. I checked the transmission fluid, and found a strawberry milkshake when I pulled the dipstick. The dipstick is bolted down by a 10 millimeter bolt by the way, and when you are having your car serviced make sure they check the transmission fluid because my local quick lube was not checking it, even though their paper work said it was checked and okay. Since I am a shadetree mechanic, I replaced the radiator myself which cost about $200. I drained the transmission fluid and refilled it several times to try to get all of the contaminated fluid out of the transmission. Once the coolant was out of the transmission, the transmission shifted better and I thought I was out of the woods.... but that was not the case. The coolant/fluid mixing started at around 80,000 miles and at 98,000 miles, the trans slips so bad it is no longer drivable. After speaking to several transmission techs I learned that the glue used to secure the clutch material to the thin metal plates is water based and the clutch material will come off the plates after they absorb the water and coolant and circulate through the transmission- not good at all. I don't think I would waste my money on a flush again, I must have put $200 worth of fluid in it.

    A local transmission shop is about to rebuild the tranny at a cost of around $2100 including a remanufactured torque converter.

    This is obviously an engineering or manufacturing problem. The other thing i notice is that most of the affected vehicles are 2005 models.... I think Nissan should take some responsibility here, but it probably isn't going to happen. I think the main reason why Nissan refuses to warranty these transmissions is because they do not manufacture them. The 5 speed auto is actually manufactured by a japanese transmission company called JATCO. Nissan simply buys them and puts them in, and I am sure JATCO is not going to give Nissan a free transmission because their poorly designed radiator/cooler broke.

    From what I see just on this site alone, this has happened to way too many people.. Can you say class action? Sign me up!

    If you have one of these vehicles and this has not happened to you YET, have an external transmission cooler installed on your vehicle and make sure the fluid does NOT go through the radiator AND the external cooler. They work better than the factory setup and you will not have worry about this happening to you. At $75 to $100 the external coolers are cheap insurance.
  • boldinboldin Posts: 1
    My 2005 Pathfinder started to shudder at 40-45 MPH and Monday gave me an error code P1706 which is the PNP switch. 2 days later, it won't start because the computer thinks it's in gear. Now the mechanic tells me that the radiator has ruptured intot he transmission. He told me that there's a lot of this type problem with the Nissan products. I called Nissan Copr Affairs and complained but was told they will not assist in any of the repair cost.

    I've had at least one Nissan in my driveway for the past 25 years. Never again if this is the treatment from a loyal customer.

    I guess i have the same issue as some of you with radiator fluid in transmission. Just found this out because of this page. ThX !!! Had issues with my 05 this past weekend, took in for diagnostic at nissan. Before I called for my results next morning my boss happen to log onto here and was able to tell me about these discussions going on. I then called Nissan and was told " you have tranny issues and there not good". I said "why cause there is fluid in my tranny"? Tech responded "how u know" LOL

    BUT..Now I have an issue as my warranty has expired and Im getting NO help from my initial conversations with Nissan Corporation , although I'm awaiting a supposed "goodwill" review, but know its all BS. With this not really being wear in tear I dont feel Im responsible. As seen on here Im not the only one dealing with nissan's faulty parts but what can be done without having warranty any longer?????? Has anyone heard anything as far as a possible re-call??? any advice help, appreciate it !! and Let's get Nissan to pay !!!
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