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Power train issue? 2003 Pathfinder

Hello. I just developed a strange new symptom in my otherwise totally reliable 2003 Pathfinder LE, with 126K. I’m working out of town, in NYC, just drove into a parking garage, and as I started driving up the ramp, the car had zero power. I stepped on the gas, but the car would only drive at a slow crawl. I managed to get into the first vacant space, shut off the car and checked what I could check. Plenty of gas and oil, temperature was fine, no unusual smells (I was thinking at first it overheated.) I started the car again, stepped on the gas- it revved normally. I drove higher up into the parking garage, car seemed normal- and then again, no power, car moving at the slowest possible crawl. The only other strange symptom was that the air bag warning light was flashing. (Has never happened before.)

I pulled into a space, put the car into Park. The air bag light flashed a few more times, then turned solid (stopped flashing), then went out. I left the car in the garage.

Now I’m far from home, and I haven’t a clue what’s wrong. I have an extended power train warranty, but I don’t think it sounds like a transmission issue, and I don’t think it sounds like an engine issue, but I’m not a mechanic. If any one has a clue what it could be, please let me know.


Any other warning light activity other than the air bag light?

When it slowed to a crawl, what was the engine doing? Was it revving up really high? Or just sort of bogging down. Did you check the transmission fluid?

What can you say about the maintenance history? How old are the plugs and wires, for instance? Filters?

Relays inside of the intelligent power distribution module (IPDM) are a problem. There may be free repairs available for this. Check with dealer, have your VIN number available.

If not warrantied, Nissan dealer will tell you they don’t sell the individual relays and you have to buy the entire IPDM but this is of course a lie. The Nissan part number for individual relays is 284B7-CW29E.

Here’s a few wild thoughts . . .

Accelerator pedal position sensor

Throttle position sensor

Is the check engine light on? The PCM can sometimes go into “limp” mode and cause a symptom like this. Can happen for a variety of reasons, some serious, some not. The idea is that it will force the driver to get it looked at straight away. The computer thinks that driving it could result in car damage or present a safety problem. Reading the diagnostic trouble codes (both engine and transmission) would give your mechanic a clue. It might require the specific Nissan scan tool though for something like this.

Thanks for the suggestions. I limped into the closest mechanic this morning (not a Nissan dealer) and he told me the alternator was bad. He’s replacing it. Crossing my fingers.