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Speedo jumps in park, no first gear.


windcalmer
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Hi all. New to the pathfinder world here. Picked up a wd21 94 se, 4x4, with 270,000 miles for $500. She is in amazing shape and everything on her works.

 

There is oone issue. Every so often I start the engine and the speedo jumps around from 0-35 or so. Then i put it in D and go to start moving and its almost like the tranny is in 3rd or 4th gear. So i shut thw engine off and remove the key. Then immediately c4ank it back up and viola, i have firat gear and no speedo jumping around.

 

From reading i have a good guess that this is the VSS going out. Am i correct in the assumtion? Or should i be looking in a different place?

 

Thank you in advance.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Interesting problem, I haven't run into this yet but I wonder whether some of the others have. Although I admit that it could be an electrical issue with the VSS. I think the temp gauge is unrelated but may lead you to a bad ground ( they seem to be rampant on these trucks).

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Is the switch for the transmission switched to the 'hold' position? If so, the transmission will be taking off in 2nd gear, not 1st. Make sure the switch is in the middle 'automatic' position. If so, then the switch is bad and needs investigation. You can pop it out from the dash using a flathead screwdriver with a bit of electrical tape on the end so you don't gouge your plastic.

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Thank you for the replies. The ltranny switch only has two positions, power and auto. I am planning on tracing grounds this weekend. I have read the entire service manual (Yes the big nissan one) and did not find anything about this issue. I remeber reading about how to pull the codes from the tranny computer, but i cannot find that article anywhere.

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That a short way into the auto trans section, mine ( for the 1990 book) starts on AT-46 with a symptom chart on AT-89. make sure you watch the POWER light on the dash when you're looking for codes! I didn't have a pencil and paper the first time but I have every time since; I highly recommend having them handy.

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Ok, after a long day working on the pathfinder, i am still stumped. I tried for two hours to pull the tranny computer codes to no avail. I followed the procedure in the service manual AT-39. The Power light comes on for +/- 2 seconds in step 7. Then after following the rest of the steps, there is no Power light flashing. Not even a flicker.

 

I did however get the fog lights working, three dents pulled out, and the front bumper straightened back out. Just cannot make any progress on this tranny issue.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Didn't have time this week or this weekend to do much of anything. (Spent Saturday at the ER. FUN!) There is a new symptom that I have notice though. There is a grinding whirring noise from under the vehicle when the speedo starts jumping and it sounds almost like it is grinding at the same rate/pitch as the speedo reading.

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I think you're on the right track with the VSS going out.

 

The sensor for the temp gauge is located on the aluminum coolant neck bit where the upper rad hose meets the engine. There are two sensors there, one for the computer and one for the gauge. The smaller one with the single wire (and the big rubber thing instead of a proper plug) is the one for the gauge. Look for corrosion, check for open-circuit with an ohmmeter. The spade connector on mine had actually come loose from the rivet just enough to turn by hand, which I'm guessing wasn't helping the temp regulation any.

 

If you suspect the wiring or the gauge, I'm pretty sure the temp gauge should peg out on the hot side if you short that sensor wire to ground (key on).

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Grinding whirring noise, hmm. Well that for me was an alternator that was on it's last legs. The belt could be making that noise too. Check your belts and alternator. How do they look? If the belts haven't been changed and look old I'd change them anyway just for peace of mind and see if it eliminates the noise. It could also be the reason for a jumping speedo needle due to an irregular belt or old alternator causing an electrical fluctuation.

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The temp wire is in bad shape and needs to be replace. The alternator, and the belts are all new, but I rechecked them and they are good to go.

 

What has me more worried about is the lack of 1st gear. I am ordering the VSS next week. In the meantime I will be fixing the temp wire and replacing all the engine grounds that I can find. Are there any negative sides to replacing the grounds on a pathfinder? I know on my civic it did wonders for her.

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Would be a good starting point, replace your negative battery cable, sand the connections so they are touching bare metal on the vehicle and engine block. Check the fusible link wire is connected properly and firmly to the positive terminal. May pay to put ring connectors on them then thread them onto the bolt that goes through your + terminal connection. I did this to mine and it's been good ever since. I was experiencing a bouncing tacho needle and flickering dash lights and it was due to the connections at the battery.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm having a similar issue except that I've only noticed the speedo jumping periodically when I turn my headlights on. Often, the dash lights won't come on at all or until a few minutes have passed. My temp gauge does work, so that's most likely an unrelated issue.

I also have a grinding/vibrating noise when taking off and hitting a certain rpm range but I attributed that to the exhaust system vibrating against something.

As to starting off in third gear and not shifting into overdrive, that would indicate it's in "failsafe" mode. I did follow the steps in the manual to get the transmission code to no avail: none of them were reading incorrectly. It's difficult to troubleshoot though because if you try it without the car started (after it's been driving correctly), then the codes won't be set. If you start the vehicle so that it's running incorrectly then shut it off to check the codes, it seems to reset them as the next time you start, it runs correctly.
I live in cooler weather up here so I usually have to wait until it's warm to restart and fix the issue. I'll try to troubleshoot it again tonight to see if I can come up with any codes.

Also, did you ever find anything else about the issue yourself?

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