2002 Pathfinder LE mods for overlanding?

bluzcat

New member
Hi there. I have a 2002 Pathfinder with close to 290K on the meter. Engine runs great, but the transmission feels like it needs to be replaced. I bought a new 4Runner, but I’m toying with the idea of fixing up the Pathfinder for overlanding/light off-roading and towing an off-road camping trailer. Since I’ve gotten everything out of the vehicle that I could hope for, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if it got a little banged up or scratched. I don’t want to go overboard, but I’m thinking bigger tires, maybe a front winch, etc. I’m a newbie when it comes to off-road vehicle mods. Is the Pathfinder an acceptable platform for overlanding/light off-roading or am I just wasting my time and money? What are some suggested minimum mods? Thanks.
 

Airmapper

High-Tech Redneck
Good tires is the single most significant improvement you can make. An AT or AT/MT hybrid will change it's off road abilities by leaps and bounds. Those more familiar might be able to suggest if you can go with a taller size or not without any modifications, I know many vehicles have a bit of wiggle room but I'm not familiar with that generation.

If it has anything like running boards or mud flaps, you might want to remove those so they don't go crunch over uneven surfaces. Running boards are notorious for hanging up on things and causing rocker panel damage over obstacles you probably would have cleared just fine without them.

I'd look into the transmission more, it might just need fresh fluid or something, but it needs a strong reliable transmission if you intend to try off road driving with it. No reason the one it has won't be, but if it's having issues now figure out why and if it's a real issue or just lack of maintenance.

Overall I'd say yes, that is a good little exploring vehicle. With some tasteful modifications it can be a quite capable little truck. I think they were a competitor to the 3rd Generation 4runner and are similar in many ways. Don't get too hung up on what you need to do to it, in the case of novices, the vehicle is usually much more capable than it's driver in the beginning.

Just use caution, don't go places you shouldn't, don't go alone if you think there is a good chance you might get stuck. Riding with sensible friends is the best way to gain experience without having to worry about what all you don't have yet, you'll learn what you need as you go. Don't throw money at it to equip it until you really know what you are buying and why.
 

bushnut

Adventurer
I had a 2000 Pathy. Loved it. with small mods it went places much fancier jeeps with bigger tires couldn't.. Sadly I couldn't keep up with the rust issues. Replaced it with an X because I couldn't find another Pathy that wasn't full of cancer. If you are looking for Pathfinder mods check these guys out. www.nissanpathfinders.net. And my friend Steve at www.SFCreation.com. He specializes in the R50 platform but has recently moved into the R51.
 

Smileyshaun

Observer
All the extras and add-ons and goodies will do you no good if the vehicle can't move on its own, always take care of all the Mechanicals first taken into a tranny shop and have them test the fluid and look at it
 

bluzcat

New member
I had a 2000 Pathy. Loved it. with small mods it went places much fancier jeeps with bigger tires couldn't.. Sadly I couldn't keep up with the rust issues. Replaced it with an X because I couldn't find another Pathy that wasn't full of cancer. If you are looking for Pathfinder mods check these guys out. www.nissanpathfinders.net. And my friend Steve at www.SFCreation.com. He specializes in the R50 platform but has recently moved into the R51.
Thanks, I joined the forum. Seems like a wealth of good info there. I also checked out your buddy’s web site and videos. Cool stuff!
 

bluzcat

New member
All the extras and add-ons and goodies will do you no good if the vehicle can't move on its own, always take care of all the Mechanicals first taken into a tranny shop and have them test the fluid and look at it
Hi there. Yeah I will definitely have it looked at. There’s some other vibration somewhere in the drivetrain when it gets up to around 55mph.
 

Gibby56

Desert Rat
I have an R50 too that I've been wrenchin on in between my k10 and Ram. Once you get the tranny mechanically sound, here are some things I picked up.

From what I have learned:
  • Inspect and replace the steering rack bushings with OEM when they fail. The drivers side rubber is directly under the oil filter. Engine oil seems to eat these things.
  • OME springs/struts provide less lift that the AC but Ride smoother on road. I went with a cheaper option
  • Leave the factory running boards on if they are the low profile tube looking ones. It provides a crunch zone that isn't your rocker
  • I did a 2.5" front, 2" rear spacer lift. Sits dead level. I didn't need camber bolts for the alignment
  • 32" tires fit with a 2" front lift and a wheel that has 3.75" backspace. The backspace/offset is important to clear the lower spring perch on the strut
  • Wheel spacers are the devil
  • The original mud flaps suck and should be removed
  • A "Double" size air mattress fits really well with the back seats folded down
  • This one is critical...with anything above a 1" lift you should invest in manual hubs. Better mileage and easier on the CV's. I didn't do it yet but I ruined the brand new CV boots in 7k miles.
  • Factory gearing is LOWWWWW. No need to regear
  • Mine had a factory LSD rear. It has held up so far!
  • SFCreations is a great source for Skid Plates
  • Summit Racing has the best prices on parts once you have the part number of what you are looking for
  • Carry an extra fuel pump relay
I've been wheeling a wide variety of vehicles for a while. if you take smart lines you would be amazed at what you could do with a relatively stock Pathy. You don't need all the ridiculous gimmicky stuff that is on the market right now.
 
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MTGunner

MTGunner
Just purchased a 2000 Pathfinder that spent its’ life on the Arizona/Mexico border south of Tucson. The body is immaculate and no rust. But, the front differential clunks and seems the struts are worn out and the half shafts boots are torn. Now, planning to have new struts and half shafts installed. This is not to be a rock climbing off road vehicle. Merely to run back roads, within reason, and DD. But, the strut housing issue has me concerned. Have examined and looks to be no rust. Darn dry here in SW New Mexico and southern AZ which makes me think the strut housings are solid. What else to look for? MTG
 

MTGunner

MTGunner
This is a 2000 Pathfinder. The 3.3L VG33 engine. Therefore it does have a timing belt as does my 2000 Xterra. The engine I am familiar with, but not the entire Pathfinder vehicle. Is the auto transmission the same as the Xterra?
 

bushnut

Adventurer
Yup. I have both. A 2000 pathfinder (there is a build thread here somewhere) now decommissioned due to rust. And a 2002 Xterra, the drive trains are identical except for the rear axle that is a little narrower on the X. Suspension layout is entirely different. If I could have the R50 suspension under the X I’d be a very happy camper. I’ve kept the R50 with plans to rebuild the engine and put it in the X.
 
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