Which Nissan Pathfinder Years to Avoid and Why? (Explained)

In 1986, the Nissan Pathfinder was introduced as a sport utility vehicle (SUV), and it continues to be produced today as a crossover/SUV in its fourth generation. When it comes to new or used Pathfinders, they’re generally reliable, but any vehicle that has been around for 30 years or more will have its share of issues.

A few Nissan Pathfinder years exhibit significant concerns and should be avoided. Beginning in 2013, the Pathfinder transitioned to a crossover body style with a unibody chassis. Both of the types have their advantages and disadvantages.

Not to worry, I am here to assist you in determining the best Nissan pathfinder year and those to avoid in this article.

Nissan Pathfinder Years to Avoid (List of Years)

The first generation of the Nissan Pathfinder spanned from 1986 to 1996, the second from 1996 to 2004, the third from 2005 to 2012, the fourth model from 2012 to 2021 and the fifth and current generation from 2021 to present.

 The Pathfinder’s First Generation, Second Generation, and Fourth Generation appear to have the majority of issues.

Among them, stay away from the following years of Nissan Pathfinder:

  • 2005 Nissan Pathfinder
  • 2006 Nissan Pathfinder
  • 2007 Nissan Pathfinder

In order to be safe, you should extend the time period from 2005 to 2010. Coolant leakage into the transmission was a major problem for these Pathfinders. Problems with the transmission and the radiator can be caused by the “Strawberry Milkshake” problem. You can get a better idea about what this is by watching this video.

Despite this, Nissan continued to use the same parts, claiming to have remedied the problem the following year and the year after that. In fact, same issues arose into the third generation, but less frequently. The issue was never fully resolved until the fourth-generation Nissan Pathfinder.

What Makes These Nissan Pathfinder Years Worth Avoiding?

1. First-Generation Nissan Pathfinder Problems

The 1987 Nissan Pathfinder marks the beginning of the Pathfinder’s lifespan. The first version Pathfinder was discontinued in 1995 and was the subject of the majority of customer complaints. The 3.0-liter V6 has received a lot of positive feedback, but it has also received a lot of negative feedback.

The most prevalent complaint regarding the engine is a loss of power and bucking during acceleration, which is generally a sign of a gearbox problem. A tune-up may be all that is needed for these vehicles, which are likely to have a lot of kilometers on them.

2. Second Generation Nissan Pathfinder problems

From 1996 to 2004, Nissan produced the Pathfinder in its second generation. These Pathfinders have a lot of rust and paint issues, but the 1999 vehicles seem to have the most complaints about serious rust. For a vehicle of this age, this is usual.

If you’re considering purchasing a Pathfinder in this generation, you should be more concerned with the severity of the rust rather than the presence of any.

3. Nissan Pathfinder 2005 Year Problems

Due to the high maintenance costs, early start of problems, and severity of Nissan Pathfinder malfunctions, this model year has been named the worst year for Nissan Pathfinders. The most common issue with this Pathfinder is the transmission leaking coolant.

The transmission, fuel system, engine, body and paint, and exhaust were the most commonly reported problems by Nissan Pathfinder customers in 2005, while the NHTSA received the most complaints about the vehicle’s drivetrain, engine, fuel system, and transmission.

4. Nissan Pathfinder 2006 Year Problems

Transmission, engine, fuel system, and body and paint are the primary areas of Nissan Pathfinder concern.

Many people are concerned about a coolant leak into an automatic transmission, as well as other issues such as a transmission slipping, the car vibrating, and the transmission squealing when it is in gear.

5. Nissan Pathfinder 2007 Year Problems

There were still problems with the transmission system in the Nissan Pathfinder in the following year, with transmission failure occurring at an average of around 90,000 miles due to the widespread coolant leak into the transmission.

In addition, users of the 2007 model have voiced concerns about the engine, citing issues such as a noisy timing chain, a broken crankshaft, a check engine light that illuminates while the vehicle is in use, and an engine that turns over but does not start.

6. Fourth Generation Nissan Pathfinder problems

The Nissan Pathfinder had its share of issues at the start of its second generation. There have been numerous reports of transmission issues with the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder. There was no leakage of radiator fluid in this generation, as there was in the previous.

The most prevalent 2013 Pathfinder transmission issue was jerking and shaking between 15 and 30 mph. People complained about the transmission not engaging, the shifter stuck in Park, the transmission slipping, etc.

The most prevalent culprit was a CVT transmission. No matter if you repair or replace the transmission, the Pathfinder’s faults persist after a certain mileage.

Which Years are Safe to Buy Used?

The Pathfinder 2002-2004 has had very few complaints. The 2004 Nissan Pathfinder was the final model year before it was completely redesigned for the 2005 model year.

From the 2009-2012 model years, there have been nearly no complaints about the Pathfinder. If you’re searching for a new-ish body-on-frame SUV-style Pathfinder, that may be the ideal year range.

Aside from that, the Nissan Pathfinder is at its peak performance between 2017 and 2019. These are the ones that have the fewest problems.

If you’re looking for a specific year of Nissan car, the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder is an excellent option.

The 2017 Pathfinder’s redesigned exterior and interior have a more refined appearance. If you’re looking to get the most out of your Pathfinder, I think this is the best option. Aside from the SUV’s everyday utility, it retains its off-road capabilities. The 2017 Pathfinder has very few complaints, making it a great buy for those who don’t want to spend a lot of time at the dealership with their vehicle.


Although the Nisan Pathfinder experienced a few years of somewhat severe troubles, particularly with the transmission and engine, the vehicle recovered in later years.

However, the Pathfinder range has something for everyone. Avoid the years mentioned above when purchasing any Nissan Pathfinder. As an added bonus, I’ve selected the most desirable years of this model car, so you can make an informed decision.

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