Ghost in the Machine

Hi Guys,
My 2004 Nissan Pathfinder is possessed. I first noticed the apparition’s trickery when I parked my car on Post Street in San Francisco, locked it as usual with my key fob and walked away. I was half a block down the street when I recognized the sound of my car horn beeping. Sure enough - I turned around and my car was tooting with the headlights going on and off. As I got closer, I could hear that the doors were locking and unlocking with each beep. I tried to open the car using my key fob. That wouldn’t work, so I used the actual key to unlock the door. Never had done that before! I then started the engine and everything subsided. I then tried to lock the car with the fob again and of course, the same crazy thing happened. Being late to meet a friend for a movie, I ended up just locking the door “auto-manually” (pushing the interior lock button) without the alarm. That locked it without the alarm set and seemed to work.

After that experience, I figured the fob battery just need to be changed. Unfortunately, that didn’t work.

Now, it’s six weeks later. And, the problem keeps surfacing, but it’s not consistent. I’ll go a week with the car being fine and then one day out of the clear blue I’ll be driving and the car doors will suddenly lock on their own with me in it! Sometimes my fob works to unlock the doors; other times I need to use the key. Sometimes I need to just lock the door without the alarm. However, even without the alarm set or the engine on, the doors can still lock on their own. Valets don’t seem to care for that much.

Of course, I’ve researched the problem online and while there are a few remnants of my overall problem, there is nothing that sounds exactly like it and worst of all, no answers or fixes. In addition, it sounds as though folks have wasted their money at the dealer and private mechanics. Help me before this Nissan Ghost takes over the wheel!


The problem is most likely with the Smart Entrance Control Module. This component controls all circuits that are acting up.


Have you recently had the car detailed ?
Many of these places tend to use too much water when doing the carpets and some have a history of ruining electronic modules which reside under many carpeted areas.
– in my shop we’ve seen quite a few detail jobs take out ABS modules and air bag modules.

People also do this when they are washing their car and take the hose under the hood…they get too much wet in the wrong places.


I’d start by eliminating the simple items first. Old key fobs can cause problems over time. They get wet, dirty, used and abused. Take the one your using, remove the battery, and put it away for a bit. Use your other one for the moment. If you don’t have one, you can use your key to lock up the car, and your security system will arm itself with the key. If the problem goes away, it’s the key fob.

If not, then the second thing I would try is to disconnect the battery on the car for a bit. Unfortunately, when you connect it back up, you will have to reset your clock and radio. This will reset the electronics, like the Smart Entrance Control as mentioned above. My '95 Pathfinder had a similar problem, and that was caused by the door lock mechanism being gummed up. The 2004 which I have now has a different mechanism in it, and not sure if that could be related. I have the full service manual to the '04, and when I get a chance, I’ll review that and see what it says. Let us know what happens after you try the first two simple steps.

Just thought of one more item to check. Make sure the battery terminals are good and clean, and that the black ground wire is in good condition where it connects to the body and engine. Electronics hate bad connections.

Thanks for the comments, Tester, Ken and GuyE. I did not have my car detailed, nor has the poor thing even been washed in recent past.

The first thing I needed to do was silence the beeping because it was tooting in my apartment’s garage all night. I found out that you can do that by holding the interior lock button down for more than 2 seconds. It worked. The car would still flicker its lamps on and off in conjunction with the door locks but at least the horn was silent. Phew!

Then, I did what you suggested, GuyE. I removed the battery from the FOB. That worked!!! I no longer have any of the problems. And, the key does set the security system just as you said it would. I have to lock and unlock the car with the key on the driver’s side door. It’s a bit of a pain, especially when carrying things - but that’s okay. At least the haunting is over.

I should clean the FOB and reinsert the new battery again but I don’t want to tempt fate just yet. I’m enjoying the anxiety-free driving too much. THANK YOU very much!!