What Are the Most Common Nissan Pathfinder Problems?

The Nissan Pathfinder once was a serious off-roading contender, but today, it’s more of a spacious family vehicle. The three-row Pathfinder is comfortable and offers good value for those seeking a roomy, dependable crossover SUV. With a solid powertrain and optional all-wheel-drive, the Pathfinder has some impressive towing chops too.

If you’re shopping for a Nissan Pathfinder, new or used, are there problems you need to be aware of? Which models do they impact?

Coolant leaking into the transmission

A widespread defect, according to the New York Times and a class-action lawsuit, affects the 2005 to 2010 models of the Nissan Pathfinder. Coolant leaks into the transmission causing transmission failure anywhere from around 90,000 to 102,000 miles. 

On CarComplaints.com, the severity of the problem on a scale of one to 10 is a 9.2, or “really awful.” And it is really awful. The most common solution is replacing the transmission and radiator, a major repair that costs $3,900 on average. There was a recall in late 2010, but it often didn’t cover any of the repair costs.

One 2005 Nissan Pathfinder owner in Idaho experienced this in 2008 at around 100,000 miles. The cooling system failure caused the engine coolant and transmission fluid to mix, and the SUV wouldn’t start as a result. The transmission was replaced with an updated part installed to prevent future occurrences. The coolant system also had to be flushed to clean out the transmission fluid. Their final bill was $6,400.

Worn timing chain guides

Another issue that emerged in the 2006 models of the Nissan Pathfinder was worn timing chains. The problem merits a 7.8 on the Car Complaints severity scale, and it emerges around 102,000 miles. The solution requires replacing the timing chains for a cost of around $1,800.

One owner of a 2006 Pathfinder in Tennessee experienced this and explained their concern about potential injury or death. If the engine timing is lost, they explained, the engine could completely lock up. If this occurs while the vehicle is in motion, the loss can result in a loss of transmission, power steering, engine propulsion, and more. 

Another owner in Washington had just gotten their Pathfinder repaired to deal with the transmission issue. The timing failed next, resulting in an additional $1,500 for the second repair.

The transmission fails to engage

According to Car Complaints, another major problem with the Nissan Pathfinder was a failure of the transmission to engage. There were a number of complaints about this around the 2013 models. Car Complaints gave it a severity rating of 8.1. The repair usually required replacing the transmission, and on average, it cost $4,600 to fix. It typically occurred around 58,000 miles.

One 2013 Nissan Pathfinder owner in Alabama had their transmission go out on them following a $1,100 air conditioning repair. After having the transmission replaced, they experienced other problems like the gas pedal failing to work.

One Utah owner’s Pathfinder was at 65,000 miles when they started having trouble. The transmission stopped engaging. Sometimes they couldn’t accelerate when pulling out into traffic, which could present dangerous situations on the highway. They had the transmission replaced, but two weeks later, the problems began again.

Another California owner had 62,000 miles on their vehicle when it stopped shifting out of park. A dealer was required to get the vehicle out of park and charged them $850 for the repair.

If your heart is set on a Nissan Pathfinder for your next SUV, do your research. You’ll want to ensure you’re not buying a model that has multiple costly issues, safety issues, or several recalls. If you’re looking for a quality crossover SUV, you may want to consider something else like a Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, or a Hyundai Santa Fe.