Nissan Pathfinder - How To Replace Suspension Links To Fix Wobble

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this guide will show you how to fix the nissan pathfinder wobble problem with the suspension links. This turials contains step by step instruction with pictures as I repaired the suspension links to fix the wobble problem found on nissan pathfinders SUVs
i have a 1998 Nissan pathfinder, and I need to replace the upper and lower control arm links in the rear suspension because its not safe to drive because of the problem I am having. you see the problems I am having with this SUV is that when I am driving it rocks side to side and you feel like the car is going to roll over or something, its feels very unsafe when it does that. to fix it, I will have to replace the bushings.

this is in regards to post:
http://www.wallpaperama.com/forums/nissan-pathfinder-wobbles-problem-rocks-side-to-side-t6838.html

NOTE: upper and lower control arms are also known as links.

i went to the dealer and they told me there was a service bulletin on this. I bought both of the upper and lower control arms, the whole thing cost me $620 dollars.

then I went to my local equipment rental, and I rented a pneumatic impact wrench and an air compressor, it cost me $60 dollars for one day. you will need an impact wrench, otherwise, you will not be able to do this. the bolts are just to tight to remove them by hand, trust me, I tried.
20081207_6856_impact-wrench.jpg

these are the list of tools I use:
20081207_1_link-tools.jpg
from left to right

* the four bars you see on the left, are the old upper and lower control arms. the first two (long) are the lower control arms, the two small ones are the upper control arms.

* Phillips screw driver
* thin and long straight screw driver
* hard and long straight screw driver
* 3/8 1ft extension
* 3/8 6inch extension with wobble
* 3/8 6inch extension
* 3/8 wrench
* 3/8 14mm socket
* 3/8 12mm deep socket
* 3/8 10mm deep socket
* 19mm wrench
* 17mm wrench
* hammer
* set of metric high impact sockets
* pneumatic impact wrench with hose

now that you have these tools, its time to get dirty.

Before we start, a little bit about me.. Hi my name is Eduardo, I am from the country of El Salvador. El Salvador is a small peaceful country in Central America. We have many Nissan cars there. I want to apologize for my English is not perfect. My primary language is Spanish.

the first step is to make sure you are aware of shop safety, you will be working under a car, proper safety should be practice. DISCLAIMER: I don't take responsibility for any injury you may have. this is tutorial is only meant as informational purposes, its up to you do the repairs. don't try this if you are unsure of any of the steps. Its best to pay a professional to do it.

ok, now that you are aware of the disclaimer, the next thing to do is to raise the car using a jack. HERE IS THE TRICK. to neutralize the tension on the links, get your jack and put it on the axle
20081207_1_pathfinder-axle.jpg
NOTE: MAKE SURE YOU PUT TWO JACK STANDS FOR SAFETY

now raise it just enough as the tires get off the ground. raise the vehicle as soon at the tires come up from the ground:
20081207_1_pathfinder-tire.jpg

start with the driver side of the truck. and remove the three bolts holding the brake cable (red dots) and remove the plastic screws and bolts using 10mm and 12mm sockets (green dots)
20081207_6856_pathfinder-wheel.jpg

now that you have access to removing the sway bar links, remove the two bolts (green dots)
20081207_6856_pathfinder-links.jpg

still on the driver side, remove the three bolts holding the brake cable (green dots)
20081207_6856_pathfinder-bar.jpg

now that you've remove the brake cable and plastic cover to gas hose, you will have access to removing the bolts holding the lower and upper control arms. remove them and replace them with the new ones. as you can see from the last picture above, I replaced mine with the new one.

now once you have install the upper and lower control arms on the driver side, put back all the bolts your removed and put back everything together and install the tire. and move to the passenger side.

the passenger side will be easier. all you have to do is remove the two bolts holding the sway bar link. (green arrows)
NOTE: on the picture the green arrows look like they are pointing to the two bolts you see on the pictures, but its the bolts I am talking about are actually under neath the bolts the you see on the picture.
20081207_6856_athfinder-brakes.jpg

once you have removed the sway bar links, you will have easy access to the bolt holding the upper control arm.
20081207_6856_pathfinder-arm.jpg

once you have remove and install the new upper and lower control arms, you can put back everything together and install the wheel. and you are done.

installing and replacing these control arm links is straight forward process, you just have to be patient and not rush it and use the proper tools. here is a picture of where I had the air compressor while I worked on the truck next to my 300zx.
20081207_6856_pathfinder-300zx.jpg

after the installation was complete, I went for a test drive, and it was amazing, the truck didn't have the problem of swaying back and forth side to side. It was great.

a cheaper alternative would be to replace the bushings only. each busing costs like $25 bucks. It will be much cheaper. the only problem is that in order to remove the bushings and install them in the control arms, you will have to take them to a machine shop to press them out and back in. you can't do this without a machine shop, that will probably cost you an additional $50 dollars. there are ways you can do it yourself, but the costs from the machine shop will be worth it, you wont have to deal with taking them out, plus it will also save you time in the long run, I recommend you take it to a machine shop. If you replace only the bushings, you will only spend 250 dollars instead of 650 dollars. I had to buy the control arms because I had to take a trip to Reno the following week, I couldn't wait, plus, since I have never done this before, I didn't want to take any chances. If you only replace the bushings, please take some pictures and post them here, I would appreciate any feedback or comments from you.

the whole thing I was able to replaced it in about 4 hours. Here is a diagram that will help you find where the parts are located and shows you the torque specs
finder-rear-axle
pathfinder
no doubt, that to remove the bussings from the control arms will require some kind of press. and the only place i know of that would have something like that is at your local machine shop.. sure, you can go got the dealer and ask them, but im sure you are better off going to your local machine shop.
sean
hey there... well i appreciate the help and am wondering exactly what bushings i'm supposed to be looking for... im online right now looking for what bushings i think im supposed to be purchasing but am not entirely sure... i was wondering if you could confirm what parts i should be looking for... that'd be great! thanks!
Orv
did you have to replace the front bushings too? i just called my mechanic yesterday because i had him install new shocks last year because of the the rocking, i thought that the swaying from side to side was due to the shocks and there is still a warranty on it, he said to come in tomorrow, now i just might buy the bushings and do them myself. thank you very much for your posts, they are really helpful. now, i just have to see if i can follow the directions. thanks again!!
pathfinder
the front bushings? if you mean the bushing in the front suspension, the answer is no. i only replaced the four links you see on my pics. i know what you mean, i also thot it was the shocks that was causing the rocking, so i bought some good aftermarket and since that didnt stop, i returned them for a refund, then went to the dealer and spent 300 dollars, but even the original shocks didnt work. so changing the shocks is not going to fix this problem. the only thing that causing this issue with the pathfinder is the four links in the rear suspension.

pathfinder problems
http://wallpaperama.com/forums/nissan-pathfinder-how-to-replace-suspension-links-t6856.html
David
so the girl found the suv she wanted 1996 pathfinder. but it had the death wobble when she go back with it. i could not go with her to check it out. so any way did some research and found this page. great page by the way. being the cheap guy i am. i decided to only buy bushings and just change them. started project today 1/24/09 finnished project today too. had to do some more research but it all worked out. found a really good resource on this page nissannut /projects/poly_bushings/ i tried like heck to push the bushing rings out of the arms but it would not move so i found out that this guy cut the ring and then slipped it out. worked out great. once i got that down. used a sawsall with a new blade in it and things started to move long great. i just cut the ring on one side and used a cold chisel to drive the last of the old bushing out. i used a socket to push the old rubber bushing out first. i did not cut my new poly bushing to put them in i used a cheap harbor freight 12 ton press and was able to push them in no problem. even had the girl do a few of them as my arm was causing me some problems. i did grease the heck out of everything to push them in though. got the bushings at 4x4parts cost $235.00 with new bolts and everything. took about 8 - 9 hours all total.
Michael
great instructions and writeup. too funny that i also have a 300zx (2+2 - 93 model) though and pathfinder. my wife is freaked out by the swaying of the pathfinder. this confirms my mechanics diagnosis about the trailing arms being the cause of the problems. cheers
excited
i always wondered what would cause my nissan pathfinder to sway back and forth
Louie
when you purchased the control arms, are the bushings already pre-installed?
thanks for the write-up,,,,
pathfinder
yes they were already installed.
john
first thanks for the info. this was very helpful and i appreciate it. i just wanted to let everyone know i found the bushings for my pathfinder at napa auto parts for about $10 bucks cheaper apiece than my local dealer. thanks again.
Max
wow,,wow,,wowwwwwww.and i was just to about to give my pathfinder away and all because this rocking and scary problem, good and thanks to the people involved in to solve this headache.
i'm in my way now to get the bushings and deal underneath my truck. greatttttttttt!!!
John
thanks a million! those pics are great, thank you for taking the time to post all that info. i found some control arms at the junkyard today. gonna pick those up and do a bushing swap.
milsi
how do you change sway bar links on nissan pathfinder?
Steve
i changed the bushings in a 97 pathfinder and am about to change them in my 98 pathfinder. i cut the old ones out with a recip saw and metal cutting blade. first drill several holes around the inner metal tube thu the rubber bushing, then knock the inner metal tube out with a hammer. you could use a hack saw to cut the thin metal outer metal ring then knock it out with a hammer. i installed the new bushings by using a long, hard, fine threaded bolt and washers. the impact wrench easily pulled the bushing in. use lube. good luck.
trav
just got done swapping out bushings in the control arms. thanks for the great website. the "pathfinder death wobble" turned out to be a <200 $ fix, thanks to your clear instructions.
TUCSON
pathfinder: muchas gracias!! seriously, thankful you posted this! saved us mucho dinero!! we were quoted $1100. we replaced bushings for $200. thanks for the detailed instructions!! very much appreciated.
Matt
i have a 1997 qx4 with this exact problem, but when i search online for qx4 links i have no luck. i figure since nissan makes infiniti, could i not just buy rear links for a 1997 pathfinder? if anyone knows for sure that this will work or if you have any suggestions on where i can go to find the parts, please let me know. thank you.
Mark
thank you for taking the time and posting this very complete description with great pictures to help the rest of us!!!
1998
thanks, you saved this car from the junk yard:

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Art
i want to thank you for this information and taking the time to show how to fix the problem. it is unbelieveable that we pathfinder owners are having similiar problems. we need to send a letter to consumer report, this has to be a defect with these cars.
ray
great information my son has a 97 and it's doing the same thing, so we'll getting the parts soon, thanks for posting this it is a great help.
Glenn
i just purchased both lower control arms with bushings installed for less than $170 including shipping from everything nissan. since the complete assemblies were relatively inexpensive, i took the easy way out.
i did have problems with the back bolt on both lower arms; even once the nut was removed, i could not get the bolt out and had to cut them out with a sawsall.
Joel
i have had the shocks replaced and then only the bushings were replaced. what a great difference, but the the wobble started to return. i had new studs put on for the season and the wobble was almost gone. now, i still have some wobble issues and don't know what to try next. a mechanic checked it out and said he saw nothing wrong. would the fact that the whole arm not being replaced cause this issue? any other ideas?
Mark
I have a 97 pathfinder with the same issue. I've come up with a cleaver solution. I work for a school district. The high school has a auto shop and the students will do the work for me. I just have to buy the bushings. The shop has all the tools necessary to do the job.
phaly
1996 nissan pathfinder, and i need to replace the upper and lower control arm links in the rear suspension
stan
2001 Pathy SE, 5-speed... whining, thumping and clunking from rear axle.

Thanks to the link from the NissanForums, I removed the rear upper control arms, cut the outer ring of the old bushing with a Sawzall, took the four new bushings (Nissan - at - $25 ea)and the old arms, to a machine shop. They pressed in the new bushings - at - no charge.

After reassembly and torquing, Pathy feels and runs like new.

Thanks for this column, as it gave me the research and confidence to tackle a $1000 job for $100 plus my time.

ps: You need really big wrenches or an impact to loosen the suspension bolts!
Atlas
I just finished to same repairs by replacing only the bushings. My pathfinder lost the death role. The only suggestion I would make is do only one side at a time and be sure to chock the wheels so you car does not roll forward. The mistake I made was trying to do both sides at once. My car rolled forward 6 inches and the car almost came apart from the rear axle. The springs and struts are what kept it together. Napa parts $ 150. Nissan dealer $ 320. I saved enough to buy a press at Harbor freight. I would plan ahead and have the new bushing pressed next time, save your self some stress. I have a 2001 Pathfinder and these instructions worked for me. GOOD LUCK>
DANMACKAY
After 3 days of research I have the bottom line solution for anyone with a wandering pathfinder. purchase new control arm bushings.(polyurethane) Give yourself 6 yours and some basic tools. Dan M.
Mike
1996 Nissan Pathfinder SE 4x4, 196,000mi. The other day I had adult passangers in the back seat and one in the front seat next to me. I noticed the 'death sway' when I was doing 70mph on the hwy. It felt like having a rear flat tire. The next day I examined the lower links and found that one had failed! The rubber isolation mount had torn and the metal sleeve that the mounting bolt goes through was hitting the link itself. Diagnostics I used: Do a visual inspection of the rubber iso-mounts. While driving 35mph, shut off overdrive using switch, floor gas pedal and you can hear the metalic clunk of the bolt hitting the link(s). Also, the truck will torque over to one side. Feels like 4-wheel steering :) I purchased poly. bushings for the lower links. (partsgeek dot com ) I am not a novice at working on vehicles and plan on doing the repair myself.
Mike
1996 Nissan Pathfinder lower link bushing replacement update. I replaced the lower link bushings with poly bushings. This fixed the swaying, tire noise, and steering wondering problems. Be warned that this is not an easy fix if you do not have the correct tools!!! I recommend that you use an impact wrench to remove the mounting bolts. I did not have one available. I had to cut my rusted nut/bolts off with a 7 inch grinder. I used the chisel/hacksaw method on the bushing sleeves for the first link. (Yes, I hit my hand repeatadly with the hammer. It is still black and blue.) Then I used a piece of pipe as the press fitting and a heavy hammer to 'press' out the sleeve. Using this method took all day!! After removing the bushings, the poly bushings went in really easy by tapping them with a hammer. ...On to the other side with lessons learned from the fist... The other lower link was removed again by cutting the mounting bolts with a 7 inch grinder. Then I took the lower link in to an auto shop where I used a commercial grade press to press the bushings out. (The owner was nice enough to let me do it myself.) It took a lot of pressure to remove the bushings even from this monster press. I highly recommend that you have a shop press the bushings out for you! It makes the job much easier. This is a job that you can do at home but be aware of the rusty bolts and the need for a press.
Atlas
Wait Wait Wait.

I bought my bushings at NAPA ( rubber bushings) and had to press them in with a press. They lasted about a month before they went out again. DOn't buy the rubber ones.

Don't buy the Rubber Bushing. I got a second set (poly urathane)

T come in a two part bushing, you press out the old bushing or cut them out with a saws=all. The new bushing come in two pieces and you press them in with your hand. Then the metal inner tube can be tapped into the bushing with a hammer. The polyurathane bushings come with all the hardware. $ 205.00 including shipping.

This was the better deal and the easier of the two to install.

Follow the directions above and remember to DO ONE SIDE AT A TIME AND CHOCK YOUR WHEELS TO PREVENT MOVEMENT OF THE VEHICLE.

It took around 7 hours the first time, and around 4 hours the second time. Breaking the factory bolts the first time was the hardest. If you use the polyurathane ones, you can cut out the factory bolts and use the new ones included with the new bushings.

Have fun.
solarman
yup pathfinder bushings dot com is where they give you the hardware and all the bushings with new bolts easy to install and really made the truck worth driving again
Kevin
I have a question. This is not a isolated simple part going out on these suvs.It's actually my friend's Pathfinder I'm looking for answers about. I have driven a few times lately and nearly flipped the vehicle due to the swaying that takes place. It's no joke that this problem will take lives. Why isn't this a safety recall? Or have we found more info since this post?
Lori
i would like to know why this death wobble is not a recall??? how are we all talking about paying for an issue provided to us by nissan...the very reason we bought this product!!!!!!!! i cannot for one minute think of any reason that i would have purchased any kind of vehicle with a death wobble attached to it..this is an issue nissan knows about and is doing nothing about it, financially,or even to warn the public!! i would have never known this malfunction death wobble existed, if i hadn't asked the simple question ...why does my 2001 nissan pathfinder ... wobble when i drive it? i too, have had the shocks and struts replaced by seasoned mechanic. when i get my pathfinder back, i still have the "death wobble" how dare nissan to put us,.. and our families in such a dangerous ( without warning) trust in putting our children (just out of drivers ed... our senior citizens and so on) into these vehicles that we have stood by and trusted with our families and our lives for years!!!
dory
i hear ya!!!

i bought my pathi as a used vehicle, they guy at the dealership said is "as is" no warantee :(

but you make a valid point.
Lori
hi kevin, please report this to national highway traffic safety admin. the more they hear of this huge problem the better. yes this needs to be a recall! i have asked myself why doesn't anybody seem to be talking about this problem.. let's get it going before anybody gets killed. unfortunately that is what happens before any body ( car companies) seems to take notice . yes, more posts are coming one right after another. please reply and everybody needs to tell nhts.
thank you, lori
J.R.
Just replaced lower control arm bushings as shown. Not a job for rookies. One nut almost impossible to get off. Had to ruin it and get a new one. Removing bushings extremely difficult. Had to cut them out. Then had to have new ones pressed in by local shop. End result however is that the "Death Wobble" has been eliminated.
Atlas
Don't use Napa or Nissan Factory parts, too expensive and hard to replace.

I used polyurethane bushing from Rines Cadillac bushings. gmctrucks_50s - at - Yahoo! less expensive and easy to install. You can install these bushing with your hands and with out a press.

Check it out.



Rines Cadillac Bushings 270 746 xxxx
Gary
Can you give me place or part # of polyurathane bushings that don't need to be installed with a press.
Miles
Great posts and info, Remember to always tighten bolts after car is lowered and ride weight is applied on axle, this will prevent premature failure of new one.
fred
hey i just wanted to say thank u so much for the post i picked my qx4 up back in feb and we love it of course it needed some work this was one of the problems i ran into and couldnt figure out y it was doing this but for 3k i couldnt pass it up so ive book marked this and now i will go but the parts and get to turning wrenches thanx again
Ryan
There is a trick of the trade to get any bushing out, burn the rubber out, outside in an open space then bend the outter sleeve with a punch and hammer and remove it. Now clean and polish out and burrs you have made in the arm with a file. Then what you wanna do is polish the outsides of the new bushings (a wire wheel being the fastest way) and put them in the freezer over night and they will shrink. When the control arms are clean and cool grease the holes and place them on a concrete floor. take a sledge and huge socket that fits over the outside edge of the new bushings and drive them in with some old school muscle. Common practice to save money. Just more time.
Ras
Thanks man. you are of great help. Now I am preparing for the job.
Paul
I just completed my 1996 Pathfinder and the recommendations posted on this site helped me in solving my "death rock" ride. I live in Hawaii and purchased the Pathfinder which was originally sold in Philly. The rust on the bolts required me to use a reciprocating saw that took 20 minutes a bolt. I did heat up a few bolts with a propane torch which expanded the nut off the bolt. Cost here in Hawaii was $160 for the machine shop to remove old busings and i used poly bushings from Thanks for getting me through this project following the steps above.
Will
Eduardo.....you are the dude! Thanks for taking the time to post this. I have a 97, and I replaced both the upper and lower arms, as well as new shocks. I spend ~ $300 for parts, and another ~ $100 for tools Getting the bolts off was very difficult. I had to saw through 3 of the 8. It took me an hour or so to get the parts, and get organized, 6 hours of work on Saturday, and 3 hours on Sunday to finish and clean up. I estimate I've saved at least $500 by doing it myself (that's more than $50/hour....my day job doesn't even pay that much!). And now it drives like a new car!
Josh
***Note about Bushing*** DO NOT BUY BUSHINGS FROM PATHFINDERBUSHINGS.COM T bushing do not fit the pathfinder. I purchased them weeks ago, only to find they were WAY too big. I contacted seller about returning, he asks why, I tell him your parts dont fit and gives me an address. After over a week - I call to see where refund is. Shortly there after I see the refund, over 25% less then what I paid for. I contact seller to find out why. He states: I pay for shipping to and from, and there is a 20% restocking fee. I ask why is there a restocking fee for defective parts. He then states, "My S**t ain't broke" and hangs up. Also, about the death sway... I know everone is saying its not the shocks/strutts. But make sure to check those first, they are a cheaper/easier fix, and I found that my pathfinder had the original ones still on it. Replaced those and death sway seems to be gone. I checked bushings before doing any work and found them to be undamaged. Hope this helps.
Chuck
Just bought this kit and will be tiring it this week... https://4x4p
Dave
I was curious where you purchased your bushings. Did you buy 8. I have a 98 Pathfinder and considering only replacing the bushings. Dave
Chuck
Replaced only the bushings, burned them out and then cut out the outer ring with a sawsall... after leaving the new bushings in the freezer for a bit they went in with a simple push of the hand... the only problem was the axle shifted back droping out the drive shaft, something to watch out for... added a few hours of work to get it back in but now the 97 pathfinder rides so much better with no wobble... good luck to you
Robert
Thanks Ed, My friend has this problem and was quoted 1500 to fix it... but not on my shift. Thank again for posting
warren
drill hole thru rubber part of bushing & saw around rubber with saber saw and rubber will fall out; then saw thru metal shell of bushing with hacksaw and peel out shell with cold chisel....you don't have to give a dime to the machine shop!!
Mike
I just bought a 96' Pathfinder from the 2nd owner and they said nothing about this problem,I have the "Death wobble" problem. My question is did just replacing the bushings do the trick 100%?
FERNANDO
if you are not sure, inspect the rubber bushings, most likely you will see them cracked. thats a good indication you have the death wobble problem. once you replace the bushings, it will fix it! the truck will feel like new
Dave
Thank you so much for this article.

I think in most cases replacing the lower links will fix the "Death wobble" that we Pathfinder owners are experiencing.

The lower links were $100.00 each from my local dealer.

The two bolts closest to the front of the car came off easily, however the back two towards the rear had become one with the bushing. There is NO way anything would have broken those free.

So, I spent many hours with a reciprocating saw hacking through both sides of each bolt.

However, afterwards it drives like new.

It took about 6 hours for this job.

If you replace just the lower links, you will need the following:

Replacing the lower links simply involves removing the wheels, brake cable brackets that are attached to the lower link on each side, and a shield of some sort towards the front end of the driver's side control arm.

Overall it is 2 bolts per control arm, 4 nuts or so per brake cable, and then 2 bolts for the shield.

If the bolts come off easily on each end (which I highly doubt) this could be a 1 hour job. With the bolts siezed this easily turns into a 6 hours job.




ryan
first thank you for your time posting this its very helpfull ! maybe its me/my computer but im not seeing any images in the walkthrough im only seeing pics of your pathfinder
rick
did the lower control arm bolt behind the tire give you problems because i cant take it out the nut is off but the bolt doesnt want to come out ...any suggestion?
eduardo
its possible that the bold is under tension. you need to make sure the links are not under tension. not only will this make it hard to remove them, but also unsafe. unless you have an extremely rusted bold, in which case i would use something to lubricate it like dw40
sabbates
how does supporting the axle with jacks relieve tension from the links?

won they be in the same tension as if the wheels were on the ground?
jaso
good job edaurdo, very well explained and well illustrated.
Lori
i'm so glad you replied. please, please forward you story to national highway traffic safety admin. they are wanting to hear from everyone with this issue...this will help them open an investigation and hopefully do a recall.. thank you so much!
Sergio
thanks eduardo, great job, i could not find a better write up anywhere else, thanks for the detailed instructions.
my car had the same problem, 1998 with 98.000 miles and looks like new. my next door neighbor got a estimate from his mechanic to replace all links, he wanted $2200, so my next door neighboor decide not to spend the money with the mechanic and sold me the car for $1500 and i got the job done myself, (thanks for your guide) for $250. so i got a nice car for only $1750, thanks again.
JJ
any good tips on how to get the rear bolts out of the lower arm? the nut cam right off but the bolt won't budge. front came right off.
Adrian
i fixed mine myself it was not that bad of a job any one of us can do it it just takes some time
Title: Nissan Pathfinder - How To Replace Suspension Links To Fix Wobble [1898]
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