2011 Pathfinder (Xterra Sold) Black
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Wilmington, NC
Towing Failure... CEL and Flashing 4WD... Wall of Text
Previous Xterra owner. Now a 2011 Pathfinder owner, but because the powertrain is essentially the same, I know this is the place to go for info as the Pathfinder sites are subpar.
2011 Pathy...56 K miles owned for about 9 months...zero issues...towed on flat land several times...no issues.
Trailer is a 18 foot wolf pup. 3000 lbs dry. 300 lbs packed. Truck has 200lbs of gear and 350 pounds of humans. Myself, wife and 2 kids.
360 mile trip to the mountains. Flatland was easy. Average speed 60 mph and getting over 12 mpg. Stayed out of OD the whole trip.
Got 5 miles from destination. 3000 ft elevation...super steep, switchback. Using manual bumping between 1st and 2nd gear. Temp gauge was normal, oil pressure normal, no warning lights.
Then I noticed that the gear was in 4 and wouldn't let me bump down although I could hear it downshifting. Still no warning lights, temp normal.
Suddenly, I round a steep hairpin and all goes to hell. Truck goes into limp mode. ZERO power. CEL on and 4WD flashing. Wtf? No ATF or transmission warning lights
Stuck on this blind hairpin...but I'll spare the rest.
Leave the truck and trailer. Come back an hour later. Have a good (great) Samaritan tow camper to campsite. Turn on truck. No flashing 4wd but still check engine light. I drive the truck to campsite. Zero problems. Engine smooth, shifting fine, no weird smells.
Get to site. Check ATF..level good, fluid doesn't smell burnt. Check coolant later when cool. Good. Stock ATF cooler was bypassed with additional ATF cooler installed by previous owner. Not sure why as the later models were out of the SMOD range.
CEL still on so I reset the ECU..(disconnected neg. battery terminal) to see if the CEL would stay on. Light has stayed off after the car driven around 10 miles. Will drive more tomorrow to see.
So...what the heck happened? My guess is the ATF overheated due to the steep road and very slow speed not allowing the cooler to keep up? But why no trans. light or ATF temp light?
I'm planning to change ATF when I get home and put in a high quality aftermarket radiator so I can use the internal ATF cooler. Maybe add an ATF temp gauge?
I'm at a loss.
Thanks in advance!