2018 Nissan Pathfinder Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical, braking system, steering and powertrain issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

Family-sized SUVs are all the rage, with the 2018 Nissan Pathfinder as one of the top choices. Nissan hails the newest lineup by claiming it has “tech for your next adventure,” but owners aren’t fond of the excitement this model brings. From the faulty electrical system to the defective service brakes and the malfunctioning powertrain, this SUV provides a lot of danger.

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Problems with the Electrical System

Whether it is the car battery or the backup camera, an electrical system must be running at its best to provide reliable transportation, but that’s not the case with this Pathfinder.

One Edmunds review states, “I bought the brand new 2018 Pathfinder 6 months ago and had faced battery drainage issues twice already. Both times I had to jump start and charge the battery to resolve the problem. Can’t depend on this for emergency needs, just treat this as a spare vehicle. Most of all Nissan consumer support is of no use when contacted, poor design or cheap component. Don’t go for this.”

It turns out that there is also an electrical system-related recall. NHTSA Campaign Number 19V654000 covers more than one million vehicles and states that the backup camera can stop displaying an image. With this defect, it becomes even more dangerous to drive the Pathfinder. Now, instead of looking through the screen to see what’s behind the SUV, drivers have to attempt to see past the three rows of seats. Hopefully, other pedestrians aren’t walking behind the defective Pathfinder as it is pulling out in a parking lot.

Problems with the Automatic Emergency Braking System (AEB)

While not being able to see what’s behind the vehicle is dangerous, having dysfunctional brakes is even worse.

Read this NHTSA review. “Faulty radar on my Nissan Pathfinder is compromising my Emergency Braking System. It frequently deactivated itself thereby disabling my cruise control and the Emergency Braking System. A warning flashes on the dashboard to indicate the problem: Front Radar Unavailable. In my view the Emergency Braking System is unreliable. A recall and a fix should be ordered.”

Problems with the Brakes

Again, there is a recall related to the braking system, but this one is much more dangerous. NHTSA Campaign Number 19V807000 states that nearly 400,000 vehicles can have leaking brake fluid onto the ABS pump that could ignite into a fire. The worst part is that the repairs aren’t happening quickly enough, leaving many defective Pathfinders on the road, ready to burn up in a fire. If the “next adventure” for a driver is to survive a car fire, then this model is sure to provide.

Problems with the Vehicle Speed Control

Keeping a constant and steady speed is necessary, especially when traveling on the highway. When these systems fail, driving in a defective vehicle can feel like traveling on a bucking bronco.

Here is one NHTSA complaint to pay attention to. “The front radar safety feature deactivates and the amber front collision warning light comes on. The speed control feature is disabled when the radar is not active. When the system finally kicks in the speed control suddenly accelerates without warning. The sudden on/off scenario is dangerous and what was supposed to be a safety feature is now actually a hazard. A car should not unexpectedly accelerate to the speed control limit 10-15 minutes after it was set.”

Sadly, Nissan doesn’t have any communications related to these problems. Instead, owners are supposed to assume that these problems are simply normal. However, most educated drivers understand that cars shouldn’t accelerate and decelerate on its own unless vehicles are starting to take over as all the conspiracy theorists predicted.

Problems with the Steering

The same issues are evident with the steering system on the Pathfinder. While the SUV is acting erratically, the automaker doesn’t have much to say.

But, this NHTSA comment says plenty. “We have had our car into the dealer 9 times since June 2018. They have been replacing the cruise control sensors and the car started pulling to the right very hard. We have worked thru the dealer, the corporate headquarters, contacted the BBB auto and have an open account there. We got our car back yesterday and took it for a long ride on Highway 95 North this afternoon and for 100 miles the car kept pulling to the right and then to the left and continued for every mile. We turned off onto a 3 lane road were going slower and it went across all three lanes each way, left and right. I took video while my husband drove. It is a very dangerous situation.”

This owner has a lemon on her hands, but of course, Nissan is nowhere to be found to resolve the issues. Instead, the owner spends all of her time fighting through various avenues just to receive a safe vehicle. Looks like it’s time to find a new path.

Problems with the Transmission

Finally, a look at the powertrain shows even more defects with this 2018 Nissan Pathfinder.

Here’s one more NHTSA complaint. “When driving at differing speeds, the transmission reduces, then stops applying power to the wheels, and acts as though it’s in Neutral. This has happened at freeway speeds, down to below 20 mph, and at all operating temperatures. The brake pedal was not touched in conjunction with the gas pedal, and the vehicle was always in Drive. This has now happened to us a minimum of 6 times, with no resolution from Nissan.”

The good news is that Nissan is actually talking about a few, very minor transmission issues. As an example, Service Bulletin #NTB10-029d states that the powertrain might make some noises or vibrate while making low-speed turns. Of course, they claim it only happens with the 4WD or AWD models. They also attempt to blame the problem on mismatched tires, which isn’t likely the case in most situations. So, while they are quick to acknowledge that there is a problem, they still don’t take responsibility for this lemon. Instead, they continue to promote the Pathfinder as the key to adventure, which is true for many owners. Although, the adventures are more than most have bargained for.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Nissan pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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  • Jarrod

    2018 pathfinder- I just had to spend 15,000 on the transmission and AWD unit as it was clunking while in auto… What a lemon of a car DONT BUY ONE!!

  • AG

    2018 pathfinder
    It was running earlier in the morning then I came back to start it, it would not. Towed to dealership, 1st said ‘nothing wrong’ then 2nd time around brake switch…3rd time around battery….4th time airflow sensor…

  • Martin B

    I have a 2018 Nissan Pathfinder and some times when I stop and want to accelerate again it takes a little bit to catch up, best way to describe this (is when your wheel spins on water then catches traction) also while I was sitting in the garage I put my car in drive and I felt the change in my car same as in reverse, not a smooth transition.

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