5 years ago, my 1997 Nissan Pathfinder was t-boned at about 25 mph on the driver’s side. Insurance totaled it because the damage exceeded the amount they would pay for body damage, but the frame was not bent. Replaced the punctured tire with the spare and was able to drive it just fine.
As time goes on, there is a noticeable sway that is getting progressively worse. It seems to be brought on by bumps in the road and getting on the gas. Letting up on the gas pedal slowly makes the swaying go away. It does not seem to happen at a particular speed, though, and will happen at any speed over 40mph or so. It’s been parked for the last year because the sway has gotten worse and worse.
Wondering if anybody out there in Car Land has an idea of what the problem might be, and if we’re better off trying to fix it (could be something as simple as a failing sway bar) or just get a different car. We’re used to doing most basic repairs (brakes, clutch, etc)
We would prefer to save this car than get another. We don’t have a ton of money (new baby on the way) It’s really hard to find an affordable used vehicle with a manual transmission, low mileage, 4wd and enough space for the family.
Get the suspension checked. Worn ball joints and bushings can cause this. Do you off-road much? 15 years takes a toll on the syspension. After 5 years, I doubt this is due to the collision damage.
It’s likely that BustedKnuckles is right, it’s probably unrelated to the crash, in other words, fixable though it may cost a few bucks. Check your yellow pages for shops specializing in alignment and suspension. If you live in a city, you may well have a good independent shop that does only that, and does it well. Don’t count on the national chains like Pepboys etc. Look at the top of this page for “Mechanics Files” for listings of recommended shops by location.
Whatever you do, please don’t get on the highway until you solve this sway problem. You might consider having the car towed to a shop, rather than driving it there. Of course drop in at the shop in advance and describe the situation. Good luck!
Get it thoroughly inspected ASAP. It could be the result is the accident. It happened to me. I hit a curb hard and a year later a suspension part that was damaged by the hit finally broke. My fault for not inspecting it.
And your car doesn’t have a frame (it’s a unibody, prior generation was body on frame). At the inspection have them check that the body isn’t bent.
What the OP describes is a known problem with Pathfinders of the '91-'02 vintage, and it involves the rear suspension’s trailing arms. Uusally, the problem lies in the lower trailing arms, and can usually be resolved by replacing the worn-out bushings in the lower trailing arms with stiffer, after-market bushings. If your mechanic will not replace just the bushings, then it will be necessary to replace both of the lower trailing arms.
In extreme cases, it may also be necessary to replace the upper trailing arms, but I would suggest starting with just the lower trailing arms in order to resolve this well-known Pathfinder issue. A visit to some Nissan forums will likely turn up more information on this problem.