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Xourque

Loose from end - what should I look for?

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Hello awesome forum!

 

I have a 2003 Nissan Pathfinder LE with 171k miles on it.

 

Simply put, my front end feels loose. What should I look for in my front-end in terms of common things happening to an aging Pathfinder of this year? If I were to jack up my front end and take the wheels off, where should I look and what/how should I pull on to check for issues?

 

My guess is it's tie-rod and sway bar ends wearing out?

 

Symptoms:

  • When I hit a bump, the wheel quickly goes in another direction, compared to other SUVs.
  • If a road is sloped, even slightly, the car will turn itself down that slope.
  • For the most part, I constantly have to hold my wheel to keep the car straight down the road.
  • Nothing wobbles.
  • Nothing clunks when turning.
  • I don't notice any control issues when cornering.
  • I had the death wobble and fixed it with new upper/lower trailing control arms on the rear end.

 

Here is what I've done over the past two years to it in an effort to fix it:

  1. Replaced front struts and rear shocks with KYB brand units.
  2. Replaced both the upper and lower trailing control arms on the rear end. This fixed the death wobble I was also having perfectly.
  3. Replaced the rear coil springs.
  4. I had an alignment after I got new Michelin LTX M/S tires.
  5. Tires are all inflated properly and appear to be wearing evenly.

Thank you all in advance!

 

Tony

Simply put, my front-end feels loose when driving at any speed.

Edited by Xourque

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Are you simply stating that the steering feels very sensitive? It is possible that your caster is out of adjustment, which could be due to worn ball joints or lower control arm bushings. However, since you stated no other symptoms, it sounds like you're just used to driving cars with different steering sensitivity. How long have you owned the Pathy, and did it always feel this way?

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BTW, caster is the front end alignment property that keeps your wheels pointed straight ahead when you let go of the steering wheel. Higher positive caster increases this tendency (and will make the steering feel stiffer). Neutral or negative caster will cause unstable handling such as what you're describing. Caster is not adjustable on the Pathfinder, so likely causes of excessive negative caster include damage from a front-end collision or worn suspension components such as those I mentioned in my previous post. Furthermore, if you have modified the suspension in any way, the modifications could contribute to the problem.

 

It may be worthwhile to have the alignment checked (or re-aligned) so that you will know the alignment specs. Experienced alignment techs can also better diagnose the issues you're describing.

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Could be bad steering rack bushings.

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Loose tie rod ends, loose wheel bearings, worn rack bushings, lack of caster all can cause the problem. Since caster is not typically adjustable on strut type set ups, some shops will use camber to point the tires "up the hill". Basically close to positive or positive camber on the left and negative camber on the right. \ \

 

That being said, that tire in particular is known to cause handling/wandering issues. I frequently see that happen especially on large SUVs or large vans.

Edited by Kingman

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I had Michelins on my r50 and after a few thousand miles got over 3oz out of balance. I thought I had major issues. I'm wondering about your struts top mounting bracket, are both of the arrows facing properly, and have you inspected anti sway bar end links...

Edited by LittleFR

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Thank you all very much for the advice!

 

I've had this thing for about 10 years and it has definitely become loose/unstable as time goes on.

 

My plan is to make a weekend out of replacing all these parts - the idea is to just replace it all as I plan on driving this thing indefinitely:

Sway Bar Bushing Kit, Moog K90024
Inner Tie Rod End, Moog EV396
Outer Tie Rod End, Moog ES3466
Stabilizer Bar Link Kit, Moog K90659
I'm going to skip the ball joints as I don't hear any noises ever and doubt they need to be replaced yet.
Thanks again!
Tony

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Hello again!

 

The issues I was having with a loose front end have been completely resolved by instead doing the following:

 

1) Replace the two steering rack mount bushings - NAPA 6413408

2) Replace the two front sway bar bushings - Moog K90024

 

I was VERY surprised those two ended up being exactly it. It's like night and day.

 

Therefore, to anyone trying to fix the "death wobbles" in their Pathfinder/QX4, I'd not only replace the rear upper and lower trailing arm bushings, but ALSO replace the front steering rack and front sway bar bushings.

Edited by Xourque
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