Buying a Pathfinder

Submitted: Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 13:10
ThreadID: 67366 Views:8908 Replies:3 FollowUps:9
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Hi Gang,
1st time poster, so go a little easy on me (not too easy if I ask something ridicously stupid though!).

Upsizing the family and as such am looking at upsizing the car. We've been tossing up the idea of a medium 4x4 compared to a wagon. Having driven cars/utes most of my life I am across the costs of servicing and running these.

However I'd love a 4x4 to take the family camping, do fishing trips, and just to stand out from the other fleet cars on the roads.

Looking around the market I (read wife) seem to like the look of the 2000-2003 Pathfinders. They seem to be in our range of price as well.

Primarily the car would be used for school runs and trips up the highway to the grandparents. I'd hope to get it off onto the dirt tracks a couple of times a year. We are not (at this stage) looking at crossing Big Red or going the back roads to Hermansberg.

Basically I am wondering people could answer the following questions with whatever knowledge or experience they care to share:
1) Is the Pathfinder a reliable car? From what I read here, most sing praise for it. What sort of problems should I look for when buying a secondhand one?
2) I've heard the 00-03 Pathfinder should have its timing belt changed at the 100k service. Can anyone confirm this?
3) In regards to 4x4 in general, how do the running costs stack up against normal sedan/wagons? Obviously I expect them to be higher, but costs of tyres, services, fuel in orders of magnitude from people who are or have run two cars at the same time would be great.

OK, I realise this is pretty broard post, but I'm just trying to do my homework as best I can so I don't get myself in the deep end during these times of economical hardship.

Thanks in advance gang and happy trekking.
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Reply By: chisel - Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 14:14

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 14:14
I had a 2001 Pathfinder for quite a few years ... here are my opinions
1) Yes, the R50 model was very reliable, I believe. I certainly didn't have too many problems myself and didn't hear of too many major issues.
2) Yes, 100k service includes timing belt. Total service (at Nissan) would be over $1000 so take that into consideration.
3) You could check the RACQ/NRMA sites for running cost summaries of different vehicles. They are sometimes a bit dubious though (they overestimate depreciation on some vehicles). The pathfinder was relatively thirsty on petrol ... about 17L/100km around town, 12 on the highway - but this is in line with other similar vehicles I think. Other costs seemed pretty normal to me.

One comment I will make is that the R50 pathfinder wasn't particularly big. It will certainly handle a family of four for some camping trips, but not for extended, comfortable touring (unless you also take a trailer).

Take a look at the forums on for some more help
AnswerID: 357257

Follow Up By: Smergen - Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 15:03

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 15:03
Thanks heaps Chisel (ironically as 'Saturday Night' comes on the radio in the background!).

1) Good to hear they are a solid unit on average (I realise that sometimes you get one out of the box).
2) I thought as much. One seller has done 125k and told me it didn't need to be done. I'm a little worried now as to what else hasn't been done. I probably wouldn't get Nissan to do it, as I know how much the dealers mark things up. I would hope a reputable 4x4 service centre would do it cheaper.
3) Will do. Thanks for the tip. It is certainly a bit cheaper than I would have hoped for, but I realise that this is to be expected for the 4x4. Is there anything that you can do to improve this for respectable investment? Exhaust? Chipping? Tuning? etc.

Thanks for the tip for size. The size of the R50 is actually what attracted us to it. We've only got a young family (will have 2 under 2!) so will be confined to boosters and baby seats for a few years yet. No big tours yet, just a few hours up the road into the bush. They way I look at it, this is our experiment into this side of holidaying, and once the kids are older, a bigger tour will be on the cards. For that, an upgrade may be in order! :) Thanks for the heads up.

Will check out PCOA also and thanks again.
FollowupID: 625345

Follow Up By: Smergen - Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 15:05

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 15:05
Edit to 2) obviously mean a bit 'thirstier'
FollowupID: 625346

Follow Up By: chisel - Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 15:40

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 15:40
I haven't heard of too many engine mods for the R50. They are pretty solid and powerful-enough out of the box ... and maybe not enough of them out there for the chip makers to invest research into.
Pcoa forums will probably have some more info. I know there are some mods done in the states (supercharging etc) but I am skeptical this would reduce fuel consumption.
The way I look at it, while you might pay a little more at the bowser you make up for it by having a reliable, solidly-performing vehicle that won't cost you thousands elsewhere. You are also getting a bargain for the $10-15k you'll pay for one of these.
FollowupID: 625352

Follow Up By: Smergen - Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 16:01

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 16:01
Well I'm looking for one under $15k so hopefully someone is looking to off load theirs.

By the way, how do km's treat these things? What I mean is, all other things being equal (driving style, servicing intervals) would there much difference to one that has done say 100k and one that had done 140k? I've just noticed there is a bit of a price discrepancy between them for that kind of milage.
FollowupID: 625361

Reply By: Member - Ingo57 (NSW) - Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 15:17

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 15:17
Gday Smergen,

Our previous vehicle before the Patrol was a Pathy 02 mod. They are a fantastic all rounder and more than capable off road, our one completed many trips including French line Simpson desert, Flinders Ranges, snow driving etc. She never missed a beat the 4 years we owned it.

The Auto is the achiles heel of that model, Make sure it has a good service record. If the oil and filter is not changed at the required intervals the torque convertor tends to delaminate, once this happens it can end up destroying the transmission if the clutch fibres get pumped through the auto.
Regardless of the service record IMO It is a must to take it to an auto specialist spend $200 and get it serviced correctly for peace of mind.

The timing belt needs to be done at 100,000km and I would recommend having the water pump replaced while your in there and its all apart, keep the old one as a spare.

As for your 3rd question I never spent a cent on mine other than services every 10,000km, but the Auto oil "MUST" be kept clean, have it serviced by an auto specialist every 30,000km.
Fuel wise a lot of people say the Pathy's are thirsty but they are really no different to same model Prado or any other v6 for that matter, the pathy just cant get the good range with an 89 litre tank, we usually got 400 to 500km out of a tank (depending how driven) and on the longer trips carried fuel up on the roof on a custom made roof rack which you can see in some of my rig pics.

They are a top 4WD and we had many years of fun out of ours, my wife still misses driving it. I still have the 6 mount roof rack and custom storage system with fridge slide... If your ever interested drop me a message

Hope this helps

Cheers Ingo
AnswerID: 357266

Follow Up By: Member - Ingo57 (NSW) - Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 15:41

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 15:41
Here's a pic of our old trusty all packed up for a 5 week trip.
It had a 2" rancho lift kit, polyairs in the rear and BFG tyres.
The rest was bog standard.
Image Could Not Be Found
FollowupID: 625353

Follow Up By: Smergen - Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 15:52

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 15:52
Thanks Ingo,
Sounds like going down the Pathy angle is a recommended one! :) Always good to hear another positive review and track record.
Thanks for the heads up on the Auto as well. Will make sure any that I look at buying have at least a decent track record in this department. And yep, if I don't get one with the timing belt changed I'll get it done myself with the water pump thrown in too boot.
Fair comment on the fuel consumption as well. Given that the better half will drive it most of the time, and she drives Miss Daisy, we should do OK.
Where do I get to look at pictures of your rig? Bit new to the forum.

As for the storage unit, would be very interested and will definitely get in touch if I go down the Pathy Path.

Thanks again for all your help!
FollowupID: 625357

Follow Up By: Smergen - Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 15:54

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 15:54
Just saw your photo! What a great shot. Certainly got me thinking about getting outback. Spent 5.5 years in the NTand I often have red dirt withdrawal symptoms...
FollowupID: 625358

Follow Up By: Member - Ingo57 (NSW) - Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 16:20

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 16:20
If you click on "my profile" there's a couple in there
FollowupID: 625364

Reply By: Member - Barry H (WA) - Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 19:05

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009 at 19:05

I have a Pathfinder model R51 2006/07 model.

Love the vehicle off road, it is really good.
Some things to look out for though.

Fuel gauge problems, the R51 has a bad problem with the gauge, when it reads empty, it still has about 15 - 19 ltrs in the tank, the Navara has the same problem, it took me nearly two years to get Nissan to admit to it as a fault, and then fix it.

After market gear, particullarly a rear cargo barrier, because I have a TI model (3 rows of seating) you cant get a legal cargo barrier for it, trust me I have tried every where and I cant find one in OZ, will probably revert to making my own.

There is absolutely nowhere to mount a dual battery under the hood, have to mount either in the back (AGM Battery) or under the seat, like wise there is nowhere to mount an air compressor under the hood either.

Break pads are another problem, they are very soft, first set only gave me around 25K before I had to replace them, and there is no aftermarket one's available so you have to pay Nissan's price.

Lastely, and this is just a personal thing, throw away the Good Year wranglers that come as OEM on the vehicle, they are very noisy and wont last you 30K.

Apart from all of that , I am still happy with the vehicle off road.


Barry H
AnswerID: 357310

Follow Up By: G.T. - Monday, Apr 06, 2009 at 13:32

Monday, Apr 06, 2009 at 13:32
Next time you get your brake pads changed ask for the old pads back take them to a reputable brake/ suspension shop and get them to reline them for you. Regards G.T. Ps you should have a choice of material.
FollowupID: 626449

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