2002 Nissan Pathfinder Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 2002 Nissan Pathfinder as reported by actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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9
Known Problems
The engine may not crank when the key is turned to "start" if the starter relay fails. This can be confused with a defective starter motor.

Rattling and tapping in the front of the engine on the Nissan Pathfinder is very evident, especially on cold starts. This rattling noise should not be taken lightly as it warns of upcoming timing chain failure. 

The cause of the noise is faulty timing chain guide rails and timing chain tensioners that wear out well ahead of schedule. These components are there to keep the timing chain tight and properly positioned. When these parts fail, the timing chain becomes loose, and pieces of the timing chain guides break off, falling into the oil pan. 

To remedy the situation, Nissan/Infiniti has made revised guides and tensioners, but replacement can be very costly. 

Proper oil change intervals and oil type may help slow or prevent the situation. 

The throttle body for the Nissan Pathfinder is known for carbon buildup, and requires regular, light cleaning to maintain peak performance. After cleaning the throttle body, many owners notice a very high idle, erratic (bouncing) idle, and unpredictable power surging. 

The cause is normal ECU adaptation: When the throttle body builds up carbon, the rate of airflow is slightly decreased. The vehicles computer reads this decrease in air volume, and adjusts the throttle body settings to maintain the proper engine idle speed. When the carbon is cleaned out, the ECU now registers too much air, and cannot adjust back to the original settings. While it is trying to change settings, the idle will bounce from low to high, and the car will surge forward at times. 

It has been recommended to simply wipe inside the throttle body every 12,000 miles, and never to touch the flap inside. Also, the cleaning procedure may be best left to a qualified technician.

The solution can be as simple as disconnecting the battery for at least an hour, having the dealer reset the computer, or, in extreme cases, replace the throttle bodies. 

The fuel level sensor can fail causing erratic or inaccurate fuel gauge readings. The Check Engine Light may also illuminate. Nissan has recalled 2006 - 2008 vehicles only for this fuel gauge issue. For more information on the recall, please click here»

The Check Engine Light may illuminate due to a defective charcoal canister vent control valve. The charcoal canister is a component in the Evaporative emissions (EVAP) system.  Our technicians tell us a failed vent valve will require replacement.

Problems with the ignition coil can cause poor engine performance due to misfires. This may cause the Check Engine Light to illuminate. Nissan offers an upgraded ignition coil.

The Check Engine Light may illuminate because the sensor that monitors the engine's intake valve timing stops working (Intake Valve Timing Control Position Sensor). Replacement of the failed sensor will commonly correct this problem.

A problem with the mass air flow sensor can result in poor engine performance or drivability problems. This may cause the car to stall or misfire.

Screws inside the intake manifold can become loose causing internal engine damage if they fall out completely. Our technicians report that using a strong thread locker on the power valve butterfly screws can help prevent them from becoming loose. The manual transmission models reportedly do not have the intake manifold power valves.