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Ghost miles - odometer being spooky


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Hello to all the other R50 nerds out there! I have one hell of a weird issue on my '98 Qx4 (VG33e), and I am looking for some help from the wise folks on here. Truth be told, it's not a major issue. It does not affect the running of the vehicle, but it is weird. Let me set up the story here for you guys. 


I got my Q in May 2020 with 199,500 miles on it (under 200k lol). Since then I have added a 2 inch lift, tires, some lights, and various front suspension replacement/upgrade parts as a result of taking it wheeling. No other mods have been done, certainly nothing ECU/tuning related. Occasionally when I started it, I noticed it would go into a strange mode on the trip computer. It would not show me my usual miles travelled, but would show another value. I also cannot change the trip computer to trip A or B, it is stuck on this value. This was a recurring but not frequent problem, and was seemingly random. Sometimes I would start the car and it would have this alternate odometer reading, but for the most part it was fine. It happened again recently for the first time in several months, so I snapped some pictures because I have been wanting to post this for a while but never had pictures for you guys to see!


I will refer to the incorrect reading of the odometer as the ghost odometer from now on. If the car is started and shows the ghost odometer, the miles on it tick up very slowly. As it happened to me today for the first time in 7+ months, I did some tests. Firstly, the odometer was counting very slowly. I drove around aimlessly to see what would happen. After about 5+miles of driving, the ghost odometer had only increased by 0.2 miles. Additionally, any time miles are driven on the ghost odometer, they are NOT added to the "real" odometer. There is nothing specific about starting conditions to trigger the ghost odometer. I almost always let the fuel pump prime for a few seconds before cranking the engine, and it starts within 3 turns of the crank EVERY time I start her. Even if I just get in and immediately crank it, this does not specifically trigger the ghost odometer. Other symptoms include that the coolant gauge was locked between optimal and the cold marking. This was not the real coolant temp, but the gauge was stuck there. There is no specific trigger for activating the ghost odometer that I can identify.


Below is the ghost odometer reading and the coolant temp being stuck.






This next picture is the "real" odometer reading. This one behaves normally, and I can cycle between this number and trip A and B normally. After driving around on the ghost odometer for a bit to see how the value changed, I went home and plugged in my scan tool to see live data and DTCs (while still running the ghost odometer). After looking at the data, I shut off the car. Then I started it again, knowing it would be on the "real" odometer again, which it was. The miles from the ghost odometer were not counted on this one. The scan tool data was exactly the same. (To be clear, when the ghost odometer pops up, the fix is to simply turn it off and on again, which works almost every time I've seen it happen.)





Anyways, to summarize, my odometer does spooky stuff sometimes that does not affect the running of the vehicle in any way. The ghost odometer shows a value of 39,723.3 miles now, and the real odometer shows 213,008 miles. The ghost odometer value is SAVED by the ECU somehow as well, because each time it pops up it is picking up where it last left off. This is a really weird issue. I have no idea the true miles on my Qx4 because of this issue. Was the ghost odometer always undercounting miles as it did for me today? Is it a real value? does my Qx4 really have 250k+ miles? LOL.... best part is she runs absolutely fantastic, no transmission issues, doesn't burn/leak any significant amount of oil for me to need to top off between oil changes (3k miles)... Scan tool said short term fuel trim was ~ -12%, so I might run some injector cleaner through it again. The engine feels very balanced and smooth still, no rough idle, no vibrations in the driveline. I honestly really love the engine, I can tell it has been properly maintained through its life and it has never given me an issue, even though I have put her through some tough running! 


The ghost mileage is not a huge issue as I have plans to replace the timing belt soon anyways due to age. But I would love thoughts/input from the crowd here, and if anyone else has encountered this type of problem! 

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