Nissan Pathfinder 1999 -- advice?

killozap

New member
Hi all,

This might be a stupid first question on this forum but I need some advice with choosing a used car! ;-)
I am planning a South America road trip of 4 months and am looking to buy a car in Chile. No serious off-roading, but mountain and dirt roads.
Here in Santiago there are many offers for pretty inexpensive (around 5000USD) old Pathfinders (1999-2002, mostly automatic) and from some reading and asking around I think they would make a good car for my purpose. I'd just put a bed into the rear and maybe add a roof rack.

From your experiences, would you generally recommend buying a 1999 Pathfinder with 160-200km (they say) in 2019? Or should I really consider a newer car?
Also, do you know if it's difficult to find spare parts in South America (west of the Andes) for this generation?

Thanks a lot!
Cheers
 

bushnut

Adventurer
Ok here we go..
As a previous R50 (‘99-04) Pathfinder owner (some of my adventures with it are posted here somewhere) I can say it is a great if somewhat overlooked overland platform. It has plenty of cargo space. The seats are comfortable. The ride is very good. And the 4x4 system is quite capable. It does have some quirks...
  1. The 3.3 engine is reliable though underpowered and thirsty. The best I got was 500km to a 60L tank. It has a timing belt that should have been replaced at 160000km. It does have known issues but is fairly easy to work on. Lots of on line help. (Nissanpathfinders.net) After 2000 they switched to a bigger 3.5 engine that has its own pros and cons.
  2. Rust, depending on where the truck is from they can get the cancer bad. Most unluckily in the front strut towers.
  3. Very little aftermarket support.
  4. Remember an almost 20year old vehicle will require plenty of maintenance to keep it reliable.
  5. While not a global vehicle it does have market share in South America, sometimes called a terano and available with a diesel. Parts should be available.
  6. It could use a spring upgrade if you have a habit of overpacking.
I would have bought another one if I could have found one with reasonable km’s and no rust. Since I couldn’t I got the next best thing, a 1.5Gen Xterra.
 

killozap

New member
Hi, thanks for your advice! Much appreciated.

Apart from rust and the timing belt, is there anything in particular that I should pay attention to when test driving/inspecting a Pathfinder?

Thanks!
 

bushnut

Adventurer
No not really. All the usual rules for selecting a used vehicle apply. Don’t forget to crawl underneath. You can tell a lot about a car from the bottom up. On a long trip like what you have planned be prepared to do maintenance/ repairs along the way especially with an older truck.
I am currently on a tour of eastern Canada. Since August I have done about 10,000km. We traveled from Winnipeg to Fredericton NB, and more. Since we left I have replaced, spark plugs, distributor cap, and rotor. (They were due for replacing) Replaced leaking heater hoses (2). Fixed a leaking gas tank, replaced a rusted out oil pan (PITA!) along with the heater hose went a coolant flush and the pan got new oil. I replaced the starter in December in the driveway while it was snowing. I just did another oil change and I’m about to replace a leaking lower coolant hose along with new gear oil in the differentials.
Old trucks need love.
No matter what you get you will have to fix it at some point.
I am not a mechanic just a guy with some tools, a repair manual and the help of the interwebs.
 
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