5th Oct 2006, 14:35

Ticking on this vintage pathfinders is likely due to cracked exhaust manifolds and or broken exhaust manifold studs. It was a design flaw that will affect all VG30E equipped vehicles. Typically, the ticking will go away as the engine heats up. If the leak is allowed to persist long enough, it can become a permanent leak with ticking sound ever-present. This would indicated that the gasket was allowed to burn away by not repairing the cracked manifold or broken stud. The exhaust manifold repair is not cheap, but is really the only serious problem that Pathfinders of this era have.

As far as the 31x10.5 tires, they are a standard size left over from before metric sized tires. It's a common size tire with off-roaders. Make sure you keep your tires properly inflated. If you have a leak, an experienced tire shop will help determine the fault. Nissan factory alloy wheels are typically if high quality, so perhaps you had a leaky valve stem that caused the blowout from low tire pressure.

I'd recommend contacting a salvage yard and getting a fifth alloy wheel and having it fitted with a 31x10.5 size tire on the spare. The spare tire that pathfinders came from the factory matched the size of the standard wheel package, but Nissan never upgraded the spare to match the over-sized tire package.

I've had a 1995 pathfinder for many years and I really like mine a great deal. Its very difficult for me to find anything as reliable, and flexible as this truck has been for me.

17th Oct 2006, 07:15

(I'm the original author of this article)

Thanks for the advice, guys. After doing some research and testing, I think we've determined some things about what's wrong with the engine.

Every engine specialist I've had listen to it closely immediately states we're not dealing with an exhaust manifold issue. It's clearly a noise coming from the top of the engine. One man I had listen to it, an old guy who practically lives with engines and takes them apart for a living, stated that it sounds like there's 'a piece of carbon stuck on the head of the piston'. He admitted a valve lifter could be the problem also.

We've tried taking each wire off the distributor cap with the engine running, and interestingly enough, got a result. With each one taken off and placed back on, the engine noise remained the same - until we got to #2. The volume and pitch of the noise dropped dramatically. Unfortunately, it's a heck of a job to get the heads off.

I've tried one other thing you guys recommended. I revved the engine up while in park; the noise almost completely disappears at 2700-3000 rpm, but returns immediately when I drop it to idle. I think this probably rules out the stuck piece of carbon idea, at least, and supports a valve issue. Would having the rocker arms and lifter replaced be the best course of action? Any ideas?

30th Oct 2006, 17:34

I just wanted to chime in on this one. I, too, have a 1995 Nissan Pathfinder (SE) (4WD). It has a 5-speed, manual transmission, and I am the original owner. This Pathfinder has been a superb SUV over the years and is in great shape. However, I think I have the same noise as described by the originator of this thread. I describe it as sort of a "metallic gurgling" from somewhere within the engine compartment. It sounds somewhat like a rattling string of metal links being pulled a short distance at a time through a metal tube. I can't describe it much better than that. It usually occurs intermittently at slower speeds, and I wouldn't say it matters how long I've been driving or in what temperature. I seem to notice it more when accelerating or when letting off on the gas--especially on the freeway.

I have had the sound appear once before about five or six years ago. At that time, the Nissan dealer (a different dealer in Southern California) changed the timing belt along with an oil change, and it disappeared... until now. In fact, I have it in at the local Nissan dealership for a free 100-point inspection today, along with an oil change and tire rotation. I told them of the noise, and I just got a call back briefing me that they cannot find a source for the described noise. Another thing about this noise is that it seems to have been preceded by some squeaks and squeals from a churning piece of the engine for a few weeks. It sounded like it was coming from a spinning engine component. These squeaks were of the variety sounds that you normally associate with low power steering fluid in a vehicle. These sounds would occur at low "parking lot" speeds and mostly during turning maneuvers in parking lots/driveways. They would also be heard coming from what seemed to be the front wheels. This was the case the first time I had the problem "fixed", as it is now.

So, I guess when I get it back, I'll listen and see if the oil change has made a difference. I did not hear them tell me that the timing belt was an issue at all this time. They did tell me that I had a bad exhaust leak (which I suspected anyway, due to the strong smell of gasoline in my garage whenever I park it in there overnight). I'm told it would cost me over $1,100 to fix that, but I told them "no" to fixing that problem for now. I want to get the Pathfinder back first and see if I notice anything different before making decisions on what to fix and what to leave. Any advice on that?

Will follow up with more information as I get it. Good to know that I'm not the only Pathfinder owner wondering about such a noise. Maybe we can compare more notes as we search for answers.

25th Nov 2006, 14:32

Our 1995 pathfinder has had this sound three times since 1995 each time I've taken it to a garage, they've found a broken bolt on the manifold.

4th Dec 2006, 23:04

I too have had the issues mentioned here, though I had two noises, obviously. I have had my 95 Pathfinder for almost a year now and right after I bought it the metal clanking noise started and got really bad. It was the manifold bolts, I have read on other forums that this is a common problem with this engine. Now I have also a second clicking sound after replacing the bolts and machining the manifolds. My mechanic whom I trust said that it is a valve and with an engine cleaning it quieted, but he said that the only way to fix it would be to fix or replace the valve that is causing the problem. Though it isn't a repair that needs to be done immediately, however it is annoying. I have noticed that it gets quieter in the colder months and when revved above 3000 RPM's. Good luck, so far I love this truck it is definitely a keeper.

15th Mar 2007, 13:28

I'm the original author of this review and I'd like to add a follow-up note, given the newer comments I've noticed and the amount of time it's been since my initial review.

First off, my Pathfinder is just about to pass 184,000 miles, and it's still just about the same. This thing seems like it'll last forever.

The engine noise is no worse, no better, and I'd like to clarify something here - I don't believe it's what most people describe, as in a clanking, churning, or grinding, anything like that. It's almost certainly nothing loose; the noise remains consistent. What it sounds like is a metal-on-metal solid tap every time a single piston (probably #2, as mentioned in a prior comment) reaches a certain point in the cycle. Which point that is I cannot say, as it's conceivable that there's a problem with either an intake or exhaust valve (exhaust more likely, but don't rule anything out), or as one extremely experienced machinist opined, a solidified piece of carbon stuck to the end of a piston striking the end of the cylinder every time it enters completely. It's only audible at low RPM's (generally below 2300), although it will occur regardless of internal temperature or climate.

I'd still like to compare notes on this and other problems with these Pathfinders. If I could think of a way to share contact information without it being out there in the open for everyone to abuse, I'd do it.