Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Rear suspension problems

I have a 1997 Pathfinder SE, 167K mi., 4wd auto. trans.,3.3L engine. Yeah its old & a little rusty, like me, but it starts every morning. The vehicle at times pitches and sways side to side. It is most noticable at highway speeds, 65-70 mph., and generally on curves and going over bumps such as expansion strips on bridges, or slight pavement depressions. The vehicle will sometimes rock from side to side, and I have to slow down to get it to stop. It seems to be coming from the rear & the steering is not effected. The rear shocks, ft. struts, & ft. stablizer links have been replaced (at my request), but the problem persists. The mechanic, whom I trust & is on your list of great mechanics, even set the tire pressure to Nissan specs. 26 psi. He was not able to diagnose the problem any further.

1. Is there Nissan bulletin out on similar problems?

2. Do you have any other suggestions, that I can have him to look for?

My '02 Pathfinder LE is in the shop right now for the very same problem. It has over 100k mi. on it. Shimmying started a couple of months ago. Can be very pronounced, even violent at times. Seems to come from the rear and work its way up, rocking the vehicle from side to side, back to front. Any irregularity in the road or sudden (although not necessarily extreme) movement in the steering at higher speeds sets it off. Alignments were ineffective. Tires are getting worn, but checked out and not the likely source. Shocks & struts replaced ($$): no improvement. On closer inspection, mechanic found frame has somehow been knocked 1/8" of mark. That may now be moot, as he has decided it might be u joint aged out of flexibility. Recommended rebuilding/replacing drive shaft - both, actually, since you apparently can’t just do one and not the other. However, I’m reading a lot of similar shimmying complaints with this vehicle, and the common fix suggestion seems to replacing the (rear?)control arm bushings. I will be asking my mechanic lots of questions come Monday. All this, just as I’m about to pay it off, too. "Car"ma?

On Pathfinders of that era, the bushings on the rear suspension control arms get badly worn and produce this exact symptom. Have your mechanic replace the bushings on both the upper and lower control arms of the rear suspension and the problem should disappear.

If this vehicle has a frame, check that the frame is sound and the body mounts / bushings are all okay.