'96 Pathfinder shakes at highway speeds

Our Pathfinder shakes side to side around 60mph and quits after 65 or 70 (We live in New Mexico and commute through Texas where speeds are much higher than back East). We have changed shocks, struts & mounts, tires, and alignments. Most of these have been changed multiple times over the years, especially tires.

We have been driving this way since May of 2005 (129,916 miles). We have TRIED to get it fixed. We have had it in shops all across the country (we travel a bit). We talk it up to people we meet who know cars. We have taken it to Nissan, with no results. NO ONE has solved the problem and we are out lots of money.

We are now at 205,000 miles. I would really like to get this fixed! We cannot afford to just buy a new car. Mechanics across the country have not solved this issue! Can someone come up with some new ideas for us to try?

Thanks. I hope to hear from someone soon!!

Who has been troubleshooting for you? I hope you are not trusting a quick oil change place?

Could be a bent rim. Does the problem change when you rotate the tires? How about crud behind the rotors? Have you had someone ride behind and next to you to see if they can see where the problem wheel is?

To: knfenimore - the problem seems solved when we CHANGE the tires and then starts up after after a couple of hundred miles (we changed tires in Boston once because they said we had broken metal in the tires. It seemed to fix it and we drove back to New Mexico before it started rocking again!). We have had three complete sets of tires changed out but it always comes back. Having had a bent rim on another car before, it’s not the same rocking. This feels like side to side and like you are going to tip over. You just take your foot off the gas for a few seconds and it stops.

TO: JosephEMeehan - No, trouble shooting has been done at at least 3 different mechanic shops, the Nissan dealer, and then other people who know a lot about cars (but after quizzing us could not figure what this could be).

I know the Car Guys will know, but I can’t get through.

I’ll take a wild stab and suggest you investigate the drivetrain components. You’ve found there’s a connection between the symptoms and application of power to the wheels:

You just take your foot off the gas for a few seconds and it stops
. In my mind, that points to drivetrain. Plus, considering all your tire and wheel and alignment efforts, it seems like you've eliminated those from the issue ....unless in all the work done thus far nobody has looked at the steering gear. I have to assume that's been carefully considered....repeatedly. Yes?

I presume your Pathfinder is 4wd. I don’t know what would cause this problem in a 4wd or rear wheel drive vehicle, so I may be way off, but I’ve experienced symptoms like you describe from worn cv joints in a front wheel drive minivan.

Like I said, it’s just a wild guess.

It’s too bad that Tom and Ray are on permanent vacation, this would make a great Stump the Chumps question!

I know the Car Guys will know, but I can't get through.

Hate to break it to you, but the show is ALL RERUNS now. Last newly recorded show aired six months ago, October 2012. You can’t get through because they no longer take calls, though it seems the phone number ought to have a message explaining this.

Have someone inspect the rear trailing arm bushings. http://www.rockauto.com/catalog/moreinfo.php?pk=1057165&cc=1212028

When these bushings wear out it allows the rear differential to move under the vehicle at speed causing the vehicle to shake from side-to-side.


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Tester is correct. This is a known issue with the 96 thru 99 Pathfinder (I owned a 98). The rear bushings are shot. You can either replace the bushings (which I did) or replace the arms (which come with new bushings). The arms will have to be inspected to see if they are still good.

This is NOT cheap. If you do it yourself it’s less then $150. If you don’t then it’s about $600. It’s very labor intensive.

Thank you all very much for your insight and suggestions. These are new ideas to look for. We love our pathfinder and are willing to spend the money to fix it up. (Can’t afford new!). Thanks again.

I had the same issue with my 1998 pathfinder then I checked the arm bushing all are gone i will get new ones. I am about to find out if this fixes the problem.

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