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Posted (edited)

Hi Everyone,

Last Friday my 92 SE Pathfinder was STOLEN from valet parking at Harrison Hot Springs, BC. Right out front of the hotel, while we were asleep.


Vehicle was found the next day 5km up a forest service road.

Though it was relatively undamaged, the dirtbags CUT out my Battery and my Catalytic Converter, which were both over 11 years old .


On Monday they finally opened the impound lot and I was able to roll it out of the yard and see what I needed to fix.

I stopped at Princess Auto on the way and grabbed some battery terminals, etc. and then had to run to Canadian Tire and buy a battery.


Once I figured out the wiring I got it started, and it ran fine, just super loud.


So my girlfriend had to drive it home (3hours), while I drove my roommate's WD21.


She mentioned "going slow" on hills, but I thought she just meant it was too loud ... I should've listened to her!

⏪⏪⏪⏪⏪ REWIND to a week or two ago:

I have been driving an hour to the city and back 3 days a week through the mountains, then Off-roading on weekends for almost a year straight.

Recently I started noticing that my O/D was losing power at low rpms, and not shifting soon enough. I'd hit the button on the shift lever and just ignore it 🤦‍♂️


⏩⏩⏩⏩⏭️ FAST FORWARD to now:


I was concerned about driving with NO cat, pipe, or muffler. Worried about the valves, the O2 sensor, and the hot wet smoke under my truck.


I drove the hour commute to the city yesterday, seemed fine but LOUD.


Drove home.. stopped about 1/2 way home to eat my lunch.

Parked in angle parking, went to leave and put it in reverse and FELT LIKE MY BRAKES WERE ON!


Scared, I jumped out, looked around, nothing holding me in... 

Tried again, with more gas and she moved. Put it into and drove home on the HWY.

When I was almost home, I got to the first red light on the route and when I went to pull away, I had NO POWER, felt like I was still in a high gear🧐


I panicked, let off and just feathered it and was able to limp it home, like 3km. Barely made it up the big hill on the way, but I made it home. 


So, now I'm on NPORA reading every single post I can about trannys.



 -Does anyone think the O2 sensor is causing any of this? 🤞

     (from driving it without the CAT)

 -Does anyone think it may be the Neutral Safety Switch / Range Sensor?
 -How about the guy that says "uplug the grey thingy on the passenger fender"????

Please, any help or comments are GREATLY appreciated!!

You guys have helped me fix a million things already, with just basic searching. Thank you SO much for that.

This time I am really freaking out, I love my Pathy and don't think the tranny is done yet, had tons of power and never ever slipped.



   - I checked the tranny fluid and it is still clear/pink with NO metal bits or cloudiness, but smells WEIRD (not burnt though....maybe burnt, I don't know).

----- It does seem a little too full though? like 3 inches up the dipstick everytime, running or not, P or N.

   - I checked the power switch light for codes> Nothing. Just lights up and stays lit as long as the other start-up lights.

   - It starts and runs fine in P or in N

















Edited by Sassafrasparilla
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Quite the run of bad luck there, sorry to hear about all that.


These have a limp mode that locks the trans into third gear, which is probably why it had no balls leaving the light. Not wanting to move in reverse suggests something stayed engaged that shouldn't have. Hopefully that's what the computer noticed that put it into limp mode. I don't know that it remembers codes if they don't pop up again the next time you drive it, but there's a pin under the dash you can jumper to make it spit codes whether it wants to or not. Should be spelled out in the service manual. I'd give that a go, hopefully it gives you a place to start.


I doubt it's the O2 sensor, though if the engine's not running right because the sensor's too close to the end of the exhaust system, that might be making overdrive less useful than it should be. If it's grabbing gears at weird times, check the throttle position sensor, see if it's got dead spots or something.

Take a good look around where the bastards cut the cat and battery out. Look for wiring damaged by the sawzall (especially the fuse links on the positive terminal) or melted by hot exhaust gas since. Long shot, but worth checking.

If it starts in drive, something's wrong with the position switch or the inhibitor circuit. It should lock you out from starting it unless you're in park or neutral. I don't know if this would cause your main issue, but I can see how it would act up if the trans computer and the shifter don't agree on what gear you're in.


The "grey thingy on the passenger's fender" sounds like the dropping resistor, which is for the auto trans. I'm not sure what does, or what its failure would look like, but I vaguely remember someone here having a problem with theirs (might've been on an R50, though). Should be easy enough to check with a meter.

Are you checking the trans with it warmed up, after cycling through the gears? Mine was near enough to the crosshatch when I flushed it, but sitting/cold/not running it's the same 3" up the stick that you're seeing with yours. The level changes when it's warmed up and the fluid is circulating. And what's it smell like?


The AT section of the service manual may be your best hope here. I found this a while back as well, dunno if it's got much the manual doesn't, but, worth a shot. Good luck!

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Hey, Thanks for the quick reply.


Great news to hear about the "Limp Mode"!  I'll try the pin thing right away and see if there's any codes.


The O2 sensor is about 7" before the end of the pipe they cut off, so I was worried it might affect something. I'm ordering a new one with my new Cat from Rockauto, so might help.


I have no idea how to "take a look at the TPS" but I will do some research and go from there.


They definitely damaged the wires when they cut the battery. The 2-plug harness that attaches to the positive terminal was cut right through. I had to cut the end off and crimp the wires into some loop terminal things to make it work. Could they be affecting anything? I put the green wires together into one tip and the red ones into the other tip and attached them to the bolt on the positive terminal. I'll try to add a pic tomorrow. Doesn't look like anything else got messed with under the hood.

I checked the transmission when I got home, and it wasn't hot by the exhaust, I could put my hand on it. I need to look again in the daylight if anything melted underneath- like wires.


One thing I did do different was that when I left work, I used the air compressor hose to blow out my engine bay from all the metal shavings from sawing out the cables and the hold-down bracket. Could any dust or bits have flown into a sensor or anything? Now I'm overthinking..🤔


I made a mistake on the first post, I meant P and ... I edited the original so people don't get confused when they read it. lol


I have checked the fluid with it warmed up and sitting cold and cold/just started and ran thru gears. All similar readings. Smell is hard to describe, but I don't think it's healthy (for it OR me haha) Also I should mention that this 92 SE has 257,000km on it and it hasn't had a tranny service or fluid change in at least the last year/30,000km that I've owned it, driving it hard. It probably was a very long time before that, so I might tackle the fluid change this weekend and see what else i find out.


I've read the AT section of my Haynes, not much help. Thanks for the link to the Diagnosis PDF! That's super helpful. I've got lots of reading to do now.


Thanks SO MUCH for your help, I'm scrambling to get this back on the road. I'll update soon as I have more info. 


🔽This is the topic that has the guy saying the thing about "Unplugging the grey thingy"🔽

CLOSE TO THE BOTTOM of the thread above, a guy named SPEEDBUGGY67 says this:


"unplug the gray plug under the hood above the passenger wheelwell you will see it bolted to the fender side. Unplug and try out the trans. I was told this was a resistor limiting pressure in the trans and if unplugged the Power light flashed but it creates more pressure inside a worn out trans giving it more time. Mines unplugged and reverse works and slipping is very limited opposed to the way it was before unplugging. def worth a try so unplug take it for a ride and try reverse. let us know how it goes.




ps before i unplugged this the mechanic put a different resistor inline for an added boost of pressure and it helped but i still had slipping now with it unplugged completely it works very well. This guy learned this on an early 90's maxima and 3 yrs later the maxima is still working so.........."

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I don't know how close to the end of the exhaust is too close, but yeah, getting the exhaust sorted can't hurt. If nothing else, it'll be easier to diagnose the trans when you can hear yourself think. Good luck with the sensor, I had a hell of a time getting the old sensor out of my '95.


The Nissan service manual should have a test procedure for the TPS. Nicoclub has a '94-'95 manual, but I use the '90 manual from cardiagn.com for my '93 and find it's more accurate for the square-dash trucks. There are two plugs for the auto trans TPS. One's just a wide open/fully closed switch, the other's a variable resistor. Absent a spec I would hook the ohmmeter to the middle pin and either of the outer pins on the plug for the resistor, slowly work the throttle open and closed, and see if the number climbs and falls like it should. A bad one might jump around or have dead spots, making the computer think your foot is doing stuff it isn't. The TPS can be adjusted as well, IIRC that's a matter of loosening the screws and turning the sensor on the throttle body to where the closed switch closes when the throttle is fully closed and not before. Been a while since I looked at it, so don't take my word for it. Should be in the EF&EC section.


So long as the fuse links are still hooked up, and the connector on the other end isn't corroded or damaged, you should be good there.

I doubt the metal chips caused a problem.


I flushed mine through the cooler lines (disconnect cooler lines, put them in a bucket, run the engine until it stops puking fluid into the bucket, shut it off, pour fresh fluid down the dipstick tube, repeat until what comes out looks like what goes in). Mine didn't look too bad on the stick, but what came out was brown, and had the first couple drips had some metal shimmer in them. Who knows if/when it was done last. The level is a bit of a pain to get set up properly, and it's easier to add than to remove. IIRC I thought I had mine about right when it was cold, warmed it up, and had to drain about a quart to get it to the right level. When a friend and I flushed his Blazer, we measured what came out and put the same amount back in, and got pretty close that way.

Thanks for the info on the dropping resistor. Sounds like a good trick for dealing with a slipping trans. Sounds like yours was dragging rather than slipping, so I doubt it would've done much there.

The more I look into diagnosing auto trans problems, the more seriously I think about manual-swapping mine when the auto gives up!

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  • 2 weeks later...

OE cats can be worth $1500 today, they could be 25 years old, they hold value and most places require zero documentation of how you obtained it, and batteries are good for $20 as a core!


With reverse being the most common failure point in these transmissions, my take is you need a transmission, and you're just in the range of them failing.  160-180k is normal, if you're lucky you get just over 200k. Since your wd21 is OBD1 you have enough exhaust after your O2 sensor that it's likely not effecting how it's running, unless you've noticed a drastic dip in gas mileage, even with no cat and most of the exhaust you should still get what you used to, within reasonable error +/- 1 or 2.

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So now I also noticed that my front drive shaft has spewed all it's grease from the service nipple!

Anyone with that issue? Maybe from it getting super hot?

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That would only happen if the transfer case is engaged or the front hubs are locked. If you drive slowly are the cv axles turning? It is possible the grease fitting has failed as well.

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Posted (edited)



My buddy is an Auto Mechanics Professor at the University here. 

He took it for a test drive and says it's "Not in Limp-Mode".


It's having trouble shifting into gears, and still no movement in Reverse.

Reverse is engaging, but the truck doesn't move at all even when I rev it.


He told me to not waste anymore money on it... But I don't want to say goodbye just yet.


My 2 ideas now are the TPS and the MAF but not sure what to look for. Gonna try to clean the MAF and read some more.




Edited by Sassafrasparilla
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On 12/15/2014 at 3:26 AM, ebayfish said:

The solenoids are not as big of weak link as the pump. Reverse often goes out due to it not building much pressure due to breakdown. The solenoid pack that you need to replace is on the backside of the valve body. There are 3 solenoids grouped on one mount, solenoid a,b, & overrun clutch. The line pressure solenoid is right next to that & shares a harness. These are oftensold together for a few hundred dollars, or you may be able to get one from a wrecked vehicle. Once you drop the pan, all you need is a 10mm socket to remove a couple dozen bolts to get to it. Remember, it is an electrical part,and just like a o2 sensor or tps, eventually it may fail, after all it is a 20 year old devise.


Found this in another thread... 


I understand that my clutches, etc. are probably burned by now (the oil that came out was super dark and nasty smelling), but does anyone think that maybe the LINE PRESSURE SOLENOID has failed? In the A/T Manual, many of the diagnoses for the different issues I've had state line pressure solenoid, or Solenoid "A", among many other things.

I love my truck and would love to fix it, rather than selling it for parts or buying a reman tranny.

The transmission was very strong up until the last week of driving it, so I'd love to believe it's still got life left in it. 


Any input would be very helpful lol. I'm at the point where I'm willing to try to replace the transmission by myself in the Canadian Tire parking lot if I can find a good used one, but they're actually hard to find here due to high demand. Or maybe I'm not looking hard enough yet haha




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Since you have two or three threads all about the same problem, the one true fix is replacing the WD21 transmission, with a 3.3L (W)D22 transmission. They can be had for about $500.  direct swap, plug and play nothing to mess about with every thing plugs in bolts on.


I've owned two 95 automatics.  one had 170k one had 180k and both had already been long without reverse in the transmission.  It's like the toyota 7M-G(T)E head gaskets.  It's not if, it's when, and there is nothing to fix it but to replace it with an upgraded unit.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 7/3/2021 at 6:48 PM, silverton said:

Since you have two or three threads all about the same problem, the one true fix is replacing the WD21 transmission, with a 3.3L (W)D22 transmission. They can be had for about $500.  direct swap, plug and play nothing to mess about with every thing plugs in bolts on.


I've owned two 95 automatics.  one had 170k one had 180k and both had already been long without reverse in the transmission.  It's like the toyota 7M-G(T)E head gaskets.  It's not if, it's when, and there is nothing to fix it but to replace it with an upgraded unit.

Do you still have your blue one?

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On 7/13/2021 at 4:01 PM, adamzan said:

Do you still have your blue one?

Oh yeah, don't do much with it any more though, gotta charge the battery every time it needs to be moved.  Rotting away in the driveway.

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