Nissan Says Making Progress on Remedying Pathfinder Judder

The Japanese automaker has been updating transmission-control-module software, replacing torque converters and replacing entire transmissions to remedy the problem.

July 24, 2014

2 Min Read
Nissan switched to CVT with rsquo13 Pathfinder
Nissan switched to CVT with ’13 Pathfinder.

NASHVILLE, TN – Shortly after going on sale in late 2012, the ’13 Nissan Pathfinder began suffering from a juddering continuously variable transmission.

The Internet, including Nissan’s own Pathfinder Facebook page, is littered with complaints from affected owners who say they’ve experienced the trembling in their CUVs, and some who say they have lost power on busy streets. Some owners report their vehicles have been repeatedly serviced but the problem persists.

A senior Nissan executive says the situation is improving.

“My view, and I think the view of the company, is we’re getting out of it, (treating) the cause and addressing the customers who’ve been affected as best we can, and as individually as we can,” Pierre Loing, vice president-product planning for Nissan North America, tells WardsAuto.

Online, Nissan owners report various fixes have been made to their Pathfinders, with varying degrees of success, to quell the vibration usually occurring under moderate-to-quick acceleration from a stop.

Nissan spokesman Dan Bedore, who classifies the judder as “a very limited issue for a small population of vehicles in certain driving conditions,” says the automaker’s dealers have taken a variety of actions to remedy the problem.

These actions include reflashing, or updating the software running the Pathfinder’s transmission-control module, replacing the vehicle’s torque converter and, if the problem persists, replacing the entire transmission.

Some who have not found any of those measures satisfactory have sold their Pathfinders back to Nissan under state lemon laws.

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has classified the issue as a JATCO problem. JATCO is Nissan’s long-time transmission supplier and majority-owned by the automaker. JATCO executives have said Americans’ unfamiliarity with CVTs, and the transmission’s lack of step shifts, are the genesis of complaints.

Bedore says Nissan has “resolved” the issue in Pathfinders being built today, and “we are confident in the quality and performance of the vehicle.”  

Meanwhile, Loing says a new commitment by Nissan to ensure quality should limit such issues going forward. He says this commitment is evident by the naming late last year of the automaker’s former China sales chief, Kimiyasu Nakamura, as executive vice president-Total Customer Satisfaction. Nissan has said Nakamura, not to be confused with longtime Nissan design chief Shiro Nakamura, will be responsible for all aspects of product and service quality.

“You saw when at the end of the fiscal year Mr. Ghosn reorganized the company for quality, to give it an extremely high quality focus and nominating an executive vice president,” Loing says. “(Nakamura) reports to Mr. Ghosn and has absolute delegation of authority to stop vehicles (and) re-look at processes.”

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