Nissan Pathfinder Air Suspension Issues Explained(+3 Tips)

In this brief article we are going to discuss the suspension issues that occur in Nissan Pathfinder and what causes these failures.

The Top 4 Most Common problems with Nissan Pathfinder Suspension are:

  • Clunking Noise while braking
  • Bouncy Rear Suspension
  • Front Clunk Noise
  • Rear End Drift at high speeds

Nissan Pathfinder Suspension

The Nissan Pathfinder is a full-size SUV by Nissan sold in North America. Nissan has been manufactured since 1985. In other parts of the world, this truck is known as a Nissan Patrol.

In its first generation called WD21, the Pathfinder shared several of its components with the Nissan Hardbody Truck.

The initial D21 or WD21 generation had a Torsion beam suspension with Upper, Lower Control arm and a Strut Rod

For the Second Generation R50 onwards, the Front suspension was changed to a Double-Wishbone set-up with Coil Springs and shock absorbers.

Up until the R50 generation, the Rear Suspension is a 5 – Link set up, namely 2 Upper Control Arms, 2 Lower Control Arms and a Panhard Rod, assisted by Coil Springs, Dampers and Anti Roll Bar.

From the R51 generation onwards, the rear suspension has changed to a Double Wishbone setup with coil springs

The Air spring does Self-levelling, in that it lifts the suspension whenever it senses extra load, so that the ride-height is constant irrespective of the load variation.

Clunking Noise while braking

Symptoms:

  • Observed in the WD21 First Gen vehicles
  • Clunk or Knock everytime the brake it applied
  • Uneven / Cross Tire wear
  • Knocking noises while normal driving
  • Noises get louder going over bigger bumps

Troubleshooting Clunking Noise while braking: Strut Rod Bushing Failure

  • Noise while braking and Tire uneven wear point to the suspension being out of alignment
  • The Strut Rod is the Arm that takes longitudinal and braking loads of the wheels. This Strut Rod is anchored, at one end, to the chassis and through bushings, and at the other end, to the Lower control arm through bolt connections.
  • The Strut Rod Chassis mounting Bushes have been known to wear out
  • When these bushes wear out, it allows the control arm and the wheel to move forwards and backwards, thus disturbing the wheel alignment

Loose and Bouncy Rear Suspension

  • The Rear suspension feels extremely bouncy
  • Handling feels vague with a lot of roll

Troubleshooting Loose and Bouncy Rear Suspension

  • Bounciness is related to weak damping. The shock absorbers are basically unable to dampen bounce.
  • With weak rear damping, cornering ability of the vehicle is highly compromised and leads to excessive roll
  • To confirm this, you can do a bounce test.

Bounce Test:

  • At the rear of the vehicle, at any one corner, apply your weight vertically downwards in such a way that the suspension starts to bounce at that particular corner. 
  • Push downwards continuously in an oscillating motion till you now, have caused maximum vertical movement of the corner.
  • Now leave the corner and watch how many times it bounces on its own. 
  • If it takes more than one oscillation to settle, then it is confirmed that the shock absorbers have gone weak.

Pro Tip

  • When tightening the Shock bottom bolt, make sure that the vehicle is at its normal ride height.
  • If this bush is tightened at any other ride height, the Bush  always rests in a twisted condition at normal ride height and will result in a reduced Bush service life.

Front Clunk Noise

Symptom: 

  • Clunking noise when going over even small bumps on the road
  • Shocks, Tie Rods and Anti Roll Bar End-links are in good condition

Troubleshooting Front Clunk Noise

  • Clunk noises tend to originate in the Anti-Roll bar assembly.
  • So it would be useful to Inspect all the Anti Roll Bar bushings and Ball-joints
  • You can do so by trying to shake the Anti Roll bar by hand and observing for noises near to the joints
  • The Chassis attachment bushing which holds the Anti-Roll bar(ARB) to the Chassis is a Cylindrical Rubber piece through which the ARB passes through. 
  • If this Bush wears out then it creates a clearance between the ARB and the Bush and allows the ARB to move around, causing noise.

Pro Tip

  • Apply Mounting Grease to the Bushing while mounting it onto the Anti roll bar.
  • You could also think of using a harder Polyurethane bushing from the aftermarket, which is harder and lasts longer

Rear End Drift at high speeds

Symptoms:

  • While going on highways, during Lane-changing, the rear end of  the truck feels like it’s drifting.
  • Gives a feeling of instability and overall Poor Handling
  • A Problem normally seen with R50 generation of Pathfinder

Troubleshooting Rear End Drift at high speeds

  • Rear End handling is affected by the Bushings and Dampers
  • The Rear end is not behaving properly in lateral loads and is rolling excessively
  • The Lower Control Arms are longer compared to the Upper Control Arms and therefore take up a lot of the Roll (cornering) forces. It would be useful to inspect the condition of the Lower Control Arm bushings

Pro Tip

  • It is possible to remove the old bushing, for which you may need to cut it out using a Sawzall or Power Drill and a Hacksaw.
  • Original Nissan parts would generally be available as an assembly of Lower Control Arm and its Two bushings Press-fitted.
  • You would mostly have to rely on any of the aftermarket solutions that offer the Bushings which you need to Press-fit yourself.

Conclusion

In this brief article we have discussed the suspension issues that occur in Nissan Pathfinder and what causes these failures.

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

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