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88pathoffroad

Pathfinder Common Problems/Fixes, Read this first!

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This is an addendum to the main NPORA FAQ section. I did add quite a few things from my personal experience though. Please note: I simply reposted most of this from another BBS. I cannot provide information on all the covered items in this article, so please don't email me about it, simply post questions in this thread. Sorry for any inconvenience.

 

I thought I'd post some hints and tips here for the first generation(WD21) Pathfinders that people might find useful and/or fairly easy to do. This should be helpful for people browsing the Internet for minor problems/work on their Pathfinder.

 

Updated 1/8/07, added rust details, tension rod problem and edited several inaccuracies.

 

 

 

Fuel/Temp Gauges Not Working, or Sporadically Working

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Problems with your fuel and temp gauges are common with the 95 and older trucks. On the back of your cluster is a small box with some wires coming out of it going to different points on the cluster. This is a voltage regulator for the gauges and it is known to fail. I got a new one at my local dealer for about $25 and it took about a total of 2 min to replace. (from MrReverse)

A periodic problem on this vehicle is failure of the Dash Voltage Regulator. The cost to repair the Dash Voltage Regulator is estimated at $31.70 for parts and $58.50 for labor. All prices are estimates based on $65 per flat rate hour and do not include diagnostic time. (from MSN Autos reviews)

Another common cause for gauge fluctuations is a failing alternator.

 

A simple fix for this problem is to find an 8VDC three-pin TO220 type voltage regulator and solder new wires onto it, then use that instead of the original Nissan part. Here is a link that shows exactly what you need and where you can buy one for less than at the dealership.

Solution2 - Restored 9/14 thanks to noezran :aok:

 

-------------------

Additional information on the voltage regulator replacement can be found here.

Dead Fuel and temp gauges

-NPORA Mod Team

-------------------

 

Headlights working strangely, not at all or singly(only one)

 

The headlight switch inside the turn signal lever is prone to malfunction after a while. Taking the turn signal lever apart, pulling the switch apart and cleaning the contacts as well as re-bending them into proper position will fix this problem. Some people report using contact cleaner spray on the switch from the outside (or after minor disassembly), but the effects don't last and re-cleaning is necessary.

 

Exhaust Manifold Stud Breakage and Associated "Ticking" Noise

 

WD21 Pathfinders with the VG30i and VG30E engines were built with weak exhaust manifold studs that are prone to breaking because the exhaust manifolds tend to expand unevenly when warming up and cooling down. This causes the infamous "ticking" noise often heard from the front of Pathfinders which quiets down after the manifolds have heated up sufficiently. This applies to all Pathfinders from 1987 through 1995.

 

Installing revised manifold studs are the best solution to this problem. Extracting broken studs from your V6 heads is a BIG pain in the ass. One person recommends striking the ends of broken off studs several times with an impact tool or hammer to loosen the studs a bit before trying to remove them with either a stud extractor or vice grips. Soaking the studs and nuts overnight (at least) in PB Blaster or WD-40 is a must. If you choose to drill a broken stud to remove it, be very VERY careful, because the water jacket of the engine comes very close to the exhaust stud holes. It's entirely possible to drill a hole accidentally into your water jacket, which would be a Bad Thing To Do.

 

The revised manifold stud Nissan part number is: 14065-V5004 Revised Exhaust Manifold Stud. The cost on those is around $2 per stud. They're essentially 300ZX twin turbo studs, and they're made of a different type of steel with a more similar coefficient of expansion that doesn't tend to break like the standard ones.

 

Tension rod bushings - slight frame damage can result

Every WD21 Pathfinder has two tension rods (or compression rod, same thing) in the front suspension. They are located directly to the rear of the lower control arm and connects to both the lower control arm at the bottom and to the frame in it's own hole. If the tension rod bushings wear out and allow excessive movement of the rod, the frame-side mounting hole may become elongated or rust away to a significant degree. This is fairly easily fixed by welding on two new bushing cups or just plain flat washers over the top of the old ones. There is no easy way to positively test for looseness of that part aside from taking it off entirely, but you can still do a visual inspection. Have someone bounce the front end of the vehicle while you watch the frame side of the tension rod. If there is slop in the bushings or a noticeable gap at either side of the bushings while the suspension is in movement, you should consider buying new bushings. Polyurethane bushings go for about $25 a set, OEM rubber ones are probably close to the same price.

 

Front End Alignment - frequently done improperly

 

The torsion bars have a slow memory. If the vehicle has been on a hoist prior to an alignment, the front end alignment will be incorrect because the front end will be sitting higher than normal. One place went so far as to explain that it could not be aligned because the rear axle was crooked. The only place we've been able to get the front end alignment done correctly is by a Nissan dealer.

 

The size of the upper control arm spindle bolts is 14mm x 1.5 x 50mm. A 60mm length bolt should be sufficiently long enough to allow for proper alignment if a large number of alignment shims are needed for camber adjustment.

 

Front End Clunking/Squealing Noise When Turned To Lock

 

Steering stops keep the front wheels from being turned past a certain point. The steering stops are built with plastic caps, which can fall off or wear out. When they do disappear you have metal-to-metal contact between moving parts. The result is when going over bumps, with the steering turned to lock, such as when turning across curbs, you get a nasty sounding and feeling squealing/clunking. The solution is to grease the stops and contact areas, or to replace the plastic caps. There are four of them, two in front of your front wheels and two behind your front wheels. They are easy to find and grease without raising the vehicle.

 

Another source of front end squeals or noises are the front differential crossmember bolts. Over time, the bolts can loosen, allowing the crossmember to shift slightly every now and then, causing noise from the front end...sometimes alarmingly nasty sounding. The fix is to re-torque the crossmember bolts. There are four bolts to re-torque, two on each side of the front crossmember. They are easily accessible from the front of the vehicle without jacking it up. I don't have the exact torque figures on hand, but simply cranking the bolts tight with a 1/2" drive ratchet worked for me.

 

Power Door Lock Actuator

 

We found one of ours was defective when manufactured. I suppose I could have tried to get a free repair or replacement, but it was less hassle to fix it myself. It involved reseating a piece of circuit board, and repairing the traces on the board that had been worn through. Many people report success fixing this problem by simply removing the switch and cleaning the contacts inside.

 

Power Door Locks locking or unlocking on their own

 

Sometimes during cold weather, hot weather, or just for no reason at all, the power door locks will either pop back up after locking or stay locked without letting the lock cylinder turn and unlock the door. The mechanical assembly connecting the lock cylinder itself to the inner door lock and armatures are mated by the use of small plastic parts that wear out and then break over time.

 

Power Window Motors

 

Now and then, operate all the power windows. This keeps the mechanisms exercised and less likely to seize. Once in a while, lubricate the glass channels with spray silicone lubricant, to reduce the strain on the window motors. It is also beneficial to occasionally grease the center window channels inside the doors and inspect everything for problems just in case.

 

Roof Rack Noise

 

If you have the factory sun roof and roof rack, Nissan advises to move the front bar of the rack rearward to reduce wind noise inside the car. If you have no reason to keep them on, the crosspieces that protect the roof can also be removed. That makes washing/waxing easier.

 

Spare Tire Carrier - bushings and rattling

 

The hinges for the spare tire carrier tend to become tighter as the lubricant dries out. The carrier becomes more difficult to swing and sometimes puts enough stress on the body seams to crack them open and expose them to rust. The pivot pins in the hinges are replaceable with some effort, but are not EASILY replaceable.

 

Rust Areas & undercoating

 

CHECK YOUR FRAME FOR RUST! The rear frame on many Pathfinders is notorious for generating rust, especially right above the wheels inside the wheelwells. If left unchecked the rust will rot out the entire rear half of the frame above and forward of the back wheels. If you live in an area with frequently salted roads or on the coast with salt air, always wash out your frame seasonally and do a manual inspection for rust. Bang on the frame with a small hammer to listen for weak spots. If any are found, pick at them with a screwdriver or awl to find how much rust there is. Rusted frame areas should be cut out and have new steel welded back in before it gets worse. People have had the rear axle fall out from underneath while driving from rust because they NEVER LOOKED UNDERNEATH. This is not a Nissan problem per se, it is a maintenance issue that should be taken care of by the owner. The owner's manual details washing out the frame as part of regular maintenance, that's why there are holes in it to begin with. After washing out the frame, injecting oil inside as rust-proofing is a fairly good way to prevent further rust.

 

Pathfinders also tend to rust under the back seat. This is caused by an poorly sealed seam on the underbody which is exposed to water/salt and does not dry out quickly. Frequently check under the back seat for tell-tale rust bulges. Another rust problem is on the 4-door models, between the rear wheel opening and the bottom rear corner of the back door opening. One solution is to have anti-rust oil compound sprayed inside the back ends of the rocker panels. Another common area prone to rust is directly under the driver's floor near the gas pedal where the exhaust pipes join. If the exhaust leaks it will spray fumes against the floor and quickly accelerate any slight rust problems into a gaping hole in your floor which may cause a fire if the exhaust heats up the carpeting. Keeping up on visual inspections and taking care of those annoying leaks can be very beneficial!

 

 

Wheel Balance - dirt on chromed wheels

 

The chrome steel wheels have a pronounced lip where the weights mount. In dirty conditions, these lips quickly collect lots of sand\mud etc. As they do, they cancel out the effect of balancing weights, and the wheels go out of balance. This can be remedied by carefully cleaning the wheel lips. This is also applicable on any other wheel...make sure they are clean inside and out if you have vibrations before troubleshooting further!

 

High Levels of Road Noise

 

By today's standards, the first generation Pathfinders are pretty noisy. This can be reduced by installing sound deadener in the doors, and especially up against the firewall. More ambitious people can remove the seats and console and line the floor with another layer. It's easy to do under the back seat, more difficult to do in the cargo area. Another trick is to use self-stick automotive weatherstripping and add a second line of rubber around all the door openings.

 

For some reason, these trucks seem prone for having the upper door frames bent out away from the body. Even if you can't see it, the resulting wind noise is quite loud. You can check in the dark by lowering the windows and shining a light around the outside seams, or closing the door against a strip of paper and seeing if you can move the paper.

 

Parking Brake Cable - seized

 

The early symptom of this is that the parking brake lever rattles on rough roads. Eventually it won't release all the way. Replacing the cable requires removing the console, which is not terribly difficult. The biggest problem is that the cable has a housing that bolts to the floor, under the carpets, and behind the console. Since the carpet is so laborious to remove, I cut some slits in the carpet to access the bolt heads. The slits are pretty well invisible, and are covered by the floor mats anyway. The e-brake cable is only available from the dealership or a junkyard.

 

Front Door Hinge Pins

 

If the doors have begun to sag, the hinge pins can be replaced. This is better left to the pros, since it's so difficult I'd never do it again.

 

Look at the hinges and see those circlips, and think it's an easy matter of supporting the door, popping off the clips, replacing the pins and the clips, and you're done. No such luck. The pins are press fits, through two brass bushings which are also press fits. The pin and the bushings have to be replaced. It is very difficult to get the bushings out. I basically destroyed them by drilling and mangling them out. Getting the stuff back together without damaging the paint or bodywork was interesting. A whole evening to do two hinges. (Note: other people have had better luck without problems replacing theirs, this is just one person's experience.)

 

Radio buttons falling off

 

The radio buttons are prone to falling off, since for some functions, you have to pull on them. (Good thinking!) Replacements are ridiculously expensive. You can prevent this annoyance by gluing them on.

 

Rear Bumper Protection - trailer hitch

 

The rear bumper has a brittle plastic insert around the license plate, which itself hangs below the bumper. All this can be damaged when running out of rear end clearance offroad. A simple solution is to mount a cheap trailer hitch which will protect the fragile bits.

 

Rear Seat Hinges - space for sleeping

 

You can drill out the hinge pins securing the rear seat bottoms, and replace them with bolts and wingnuts. Although it's a bit fiddly, you then can remove the rear seat bottoms, leaving either space for more cargo, or for sleeping. The seat bottoms can be arranged to fill the remaining gaps.

 

 

Trouble Spots Regarding R50 Pathfinder 1996-present

 

Check Engine Light on Due to Gas Cap Malfunction: 96-up gas caps have a reputation for not sealing properly and causing the ECU to think the fuel system is leaking vapors from the cap, thereby causing the Check Engine light to come on. Sometimes re-tightening the cap will cure the problem, other times a new cap is the only cure.

 

Airbags: Airbag-indicator light may flash, indicating a failure. Dealer will replace the SRS (supplemental restraint system) sensor under warranty. (1996)

 

Audio system: The radio may loose its presets and the clock its time due to voltage spikes. A replacement radio, less susceptible to this problem, is available. (1996)

 

Brake noise: A high-pitched squeal or whistle from the area of the front brakes is eliminated by replacing the baffle plate on both sides. (1996-98)

 

Suspension noise: The front suspension squeaks on rough roads due to a problem between the strut rod and rubber bumper. (1996)

 

Vehicle shake: Vibrations at 30-40 mph are often the result of the front driveshaft being installed out of phase. (1996-97)

 

Wheels: The black anodized lug nuts' surfaces corrode (looking light white dust spots). Nissan will replace them with chrome lug nuts. (1996)

 

Exhaust system: in areas with a high amount of wintertime ice or snowfall, the exhaust system is prone to rusting out due to salt or chemical corrosion.

 

Vehicle wobble or shake in the rear at highway speeds or after driving over a bump: This usually indicates worn rear control arm bushings. Replacement of the bushings is a fairly involved task requiring use of a press. New bushings will solve this problem. There are two upper control arms and two lower control arms, with 16 bushings total to be replaced.

 

Hope this helps. :)

-88pathoffroad

 

Edit: revised 3/24/04

Edit: revised 5/04/04

Edit: revised 5/24/04

Edit: revised 6/05/04

Edit: revised 12/16/04

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I cut out the bolts on the rear seat hinges of my 95. Used a dremel and went thru about 4 discs. I'm 6'7" and needed the space bad. i replaced it with bolts and wingnuts as per the above. i put the front seats in the most forward positions. Now i can sleep in there when i'm in the doghouse. Great tip. i wonder if they make small inflatable matresses that might fit back there. i doubt it. Can't wait to finally camp in it. Thanks.

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"Vehicle wobble or shake in the rear at highway speeds or after driving over a bump: This usually indicates worn rear control arm bushings. Replacement of the bushings is a fairly involved task requiring use of a press. New bushings will solve this problem. There are two upper control arms and two lower control arms, with 16 bushings total to be replaced."

 

I just had this done, and you need 4 sets of 2 bushings each. For a total of 8 bushings and not 16.

 

:type:

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Oh, they're solid one-piece bushings as opposed to 2-piece per connecting point? Right on. I hadn't looked.

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I have a question about the exhaust manifold studs breaking thing. I think that my 94 Pathfinder has that problem. Does the ticking keep pace with the engine rev? Mine has the ticking sound when the engine is still cool and quiets down when the engine warms up. However I can only hear it when i accelerate and it ticks faster as the rev goes higher. If it is the exhaust manifold stud problem. Does anyone know how much it usually cost to repair it if you were to take it to a shop? Just so I know what kind of prices to expect. Any info would be helpful thanks.

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Yes, that's exactly what it sounds like and acts like. Replacement exhaust manifolds (if needed) cost about $300 each and it costs a lot to get the studs changed at a mechanic's...they're real hard to get to on a stock Pathy, especially if any are broken.

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Guest Lupin
Vehicle wobble or shake in the rear at highway speeds or after driving over a bump: This usually indicates worn rear control arm bushings. Replacement of the bushings is a fairly involved task requiring use of a press. New bushings will solve this problem. There are two upper control arms and two lower control arms, with 16 bushings total to be replaced.

 

This is a relief to find this here. I've been experiencing this lately and to say it's unsettling is a bit of an understatement. I've already spent $1300 on one garages "fix" that did nothing to help the problem. (Ah well, needed new shocks and struts anyhow...) I'll have to wait until after xmas to fix it thanks to the last "fix" eating up the money for it. Does anyone have an estimate on a ballpark figure on how much it costs to do this?

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Replacement exhaust manifolds (if needed) cost about $300 each and it costs a lot to get the studs changed at a mechanic's...

88pathoffroad,

 

My passenger side manifold is shot and I am at 103k miles, so no help from

Nissan (cheap :furious: ). Anyways, I am now researching exhaust headers

instead of a new manifold. There's lots of good info here at NPORA but I am

curious - I have a 1996, VG33E V6. The Thorley site has headers for pathys up

to 1995... will they work with the VG33E?

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No, they won't. It's not the engine so much as it is the rest of the vehicle surrounding it and the needed attachments for exhaust sensors, etc...

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Ok, that's a shame that no one has come up with a header design. Oh well.

 

Another question then - are the manifolds for sale online at most auto parts

places the new manifold that will not break its studs? I can'ts seem to find any

site that has the part number listed in the Common Problems thread here at

NPORA.

 

I got a great price at rockauto.com - Dorman right-hand manifold for $43.79 -

if that's the right manifold and it comes with gaskets, etc...

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I've seen new replacement manifolds on Ebay for $25 or so. Those are standard replacement manifolds, no stud-breakage fixes. The problem is the studs themselves, not necessarily the manifolds.

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I cut out the bolts on the rear seat hinges of my 95. Used a dremel and went thru about 4 discs. I'm 6'7" and needed the space bad. i replaced it with bolts and wingnuts as per the above. i put the front seats in the most forward positions. Now i can sleep in there when i'm in the doghouse. Great tip. i wonder if they make small inflatable matresses that might fit back there. i doubt it. Can't wait to finally camp in it. Thanks.

A friend of mine took a couple of layers of egg-carton bed pad stuff and cut it to fit aorund the wheel wells. Kinda bolky, but effective. I use a couple of foam sleeping pads and a moving blanket. ALso compfy. But a mattress would be rad. I am slo going to get rid of my bolts.

Good tip!

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Check Engine Light on Due to Gas Cap Malfunction: 96-up gas caps have a reputation for not sealing properly and causing the ECU to think the fuel system is leaking vapors from the cap, thereby causing the Check Engine light to come on. Sometimes re-tightening the cap will cure the problem, other times a new cap is the only cure.

WOW. I wish i had read this sooner. I've been fighting with my stupid check engine light for years now... if this works I'll.... well, i don't know what i'll do but I'll be just about the happiest girl in the world!! -bounce-

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Guest juliantayloring

I was about to cut the hinge pins on my seat but then i noticed the hinge is attached to the floor by a single bolt. I removed that bolt and replaced it with a stud (w/loctight) and wingnut. Now when ever i want the extra space i just spin off the wingnuts and the hinges stay in one piece. I know this is not much different then what was mentioned before, but it saves the cutting of a pins and there is no threading a nut or pin through those holes each time you need a nap.

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Guest hybridsr20

Well my pathy has an exhaust leak couple days later after I bought it. Anyways I pulled off the heat shield on the passenger side exhaust manifold and saw a crack on the manifold. The used car lot had welded the crack together. I'm planning on buying a replacement exhaust manifold from rockauto.com for about $50. It comes with studs, heatshields, new gaskets, and the exhaust manifold itself. Does anyone know if those studs are good or do I have to go buy the revised Nissan stud, part number: 14065-V5004 300zx twin turbo? While I'm there I'm thinking I'll give it the strongest part and not have to worry about it.

Edited by hybridsr20

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Guest SoCal88

I had been looking for a short in my dash (and else where) to figure out why my gas and temp gauge didn’t work for months. Then I stumbled upon this sight and found out why. The fix that 88pathoffroad suggested worked great. Thanks for all the valuable info, saves me a lot of time.

 

Anyone have any comments on the Rancho 2.5 to 3 in suspension lift Part # 6448?

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Try cleaning under the belt on the upper belt slider. It builds up crud that makes it not want to retract.

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Guest muskie

I have a question about getting replacement rocker panels. anywhere you can get them besides the dealer? they want over 200 a side for my 1988 Pathfinder. It seems most if not all aftermarket I have come across so far only has pick up ones.

any help would be appreciated.

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There's always Junkyards/Pick N Pulls/Auto Dismantlers. As far as new one's try www.jcwhitney.com they have a large selection of replacement parts, however I'v heard some horror stories about them. I'v had nothing but good experiances with them personally. :shrug:

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Guest cash_n

Spare Tire Carrier - bushings and rattling

 

The hinges for the spare tire carrier tend to become tighter as the lubricant dries out. The carrier becomes more difficult to swing, and puts enough stress on the body seams to crack them open and expose them to rust. Nissan dealers will lubricate the hinges for free if you ask them, since they know these things are a nuisance for us.If you get to the point of replacing the bushings because the carrier is loose and rattles,it's a good idea to also replace the plastic bumper pad on the latch end. Or adjust the thing to put pressure on the pad. Otherwise the new bushings will hold the carrier off the pad, resulting in more rattling when you

thought you'd fixed it.

 

 

Yeah I'm at that point. the carrier shakes after every bump in the road, not to mention off-road. How are the bushings replaced??? It looks like I'd have to Dremel the hinge off and then what would I have??? I put a large washer under the pad to tighten that side and it helped, but not enough to keep me sane or my friends from baggin on me............

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Guest cheezesprobe

I have one my pathfinder simply refuses to warm up or for that much put out much heat out of the heater. I have a friend who also has a Pathfinder and he has the exact same problem his is a 94 mine is a 88. I also have a new thermostat installed, fresh coolant and I just can't figure it out for nothing.

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Are you sure your not low on coolant? In my old Camaro, if your low on coolant the temp sensor isn't being covered with liquid and is only giving you the air temp in the radiator. That could also be the problem w/ the heater. Not enough flow to the heater core.

 

BTW, This thread is "pinned", sort of used for reference info on old topics and may not get as much traffic. Try asking your question in the garage section as a new topic.

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A friend of mine took a couple of layers of egg-carton bed pad stuff and cut it to fit aorund the wheel wells. Kinda bolky, but effective. I use a couple of foam sleeping pads and a moving blanket. ALso compfy. But a mattress would be rad. I am slo going to get rid of my bolts.

Good tip!

I recline my back seats as far as they will go, take off my front headrests, recline the seats, and move them back so they meet the bottom of the back seat, then I throw in my queen sized matress, and go to sleep.

I obviously have the matress IN the truck before I set it up...

Meh, its not too comfortable sober, but I only do that when I drink and can't drive anywhere!

Two sleeping bags and a down comforter and you're set!

But I am definately going to do the wing nut conversion.

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From the "front end noises" part:

 

Another source of front end squeals or noises are the front differential crossmember bolts. Over time, the bolts can loosen, allowing the crossmember to shift slightly every now and then, causing noise from the front end...sometimes alarmingly nasty sounding. The fix is to re-torque the crossmember bolts. There are four bolts to re-torque, two on each side of the front crossmember. They are easily accessible from the front of the vehicle without jacking it up. I don't have the exact torque figures on hand, but simply cranking the bolts tight with a 1/2" drive ratchet worked for me.

 

Will this result in a clunking type sound in the front end that happens sort of sporadically. More so on harder stops than smooth ones .....? Regular driving is as tight as Santana's rythm section. :dance:

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