2020 Nissan Pathfinder Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Service brakes, and electrical issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

The 2020 Nissan Pathfinder continues to be one of the automaker’s most popular SUV models. It’s designed to bring “adventure, advanced,” but customers have been uneasy about the mechanics. This particular model seems to struggle with the service brakes and electrical system.

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Electrical System
Service Brakes
Fuel/propulsion System
Unknown Or Other
Exterior Lighting
Back Over Prevention: Camera System
Back Over Prevention: Warnings

Problems with the Service Brakes

One of the most basic systems of any vehicle is the brakes. However, as technology becomes more advanced, there is a lot more that can go wrong – especially when trying to stop. 

Just look at this NHTSA review. “When I was driving in a parking lot I heard a very high pitch noise. I put my window down to hear what it was. The sound was very concerning especially because I have less than 3k miles on my car. I took it to the dealership they said they weren’t sure why it was making the noise…(it stopped about a mile away from the dealership) but they said my car was leaking brake fluid. I would of never known my car was having these issues if I didn’t hear that noise. I haven’t had the car even for 3 months yet and it already having problems.”

It’s a good thing that this driver discovered the problem before the brakes on this Pathfinder went out. Especially since the Nissan Pathfinder has trouble with the air bag system as well. Service Bulletin #NTB19-071 states that the Occupant Detection Sensor Unit might not be functioning the way it should. This sensor is responsible for turning on the air bag in the passenger seat when someone is sitting there. However, with this sensor malfunctioning, lots of passengers in the Nissan Pathfinder are left unprotected without a functioning air bag. If the brakes would have gone out on this driver and the air bag failed, it could have caused a disaster. That’s quite the “adventure” that no one wants to deal with in a Nissan Pathfinder.

Problems with the Electrical System

In today’s modern vehicles, the electrical system is responsible for running just about everything. When something fails, it can cause a minor disturbance to a complex safety issue. 

Here is one Edmunds review discussing some minor concerns. “My one gripe with my Nissan Pathfinder is not including Google Play or Apple Play options, given that these are relatively old technology that many other brands include in their models. It’s almost like Nissan wants to force you to use their map option, which is OK at best.”

While this review is mainly focused on the technology of the infotainment system, there are other larger concerns. Take for example, Service Bulletin #NTB20-050 that states the power back door can stop working. It can both stop opening and closing when using the Intelligent Key or the back door request switch. While the Nissan Pathfinder is marketed as being “advanced,” these basic functions go overlooked. From stopping in traffic to opening the tailgate, this Nissan Pathfinder is useless when it comes to do everyday functions. Maybe Nissan Pathfinder owners will start embarking on a new “adventure;” one that requires switching automakers with their next purchase.

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.

Complaint Data

CategoryElectrical System
DateNov 19, 2022
No defroster and no heat. Can't defrost or de-fog windows. Fan doesn't turn on failing to defrost windows. No heat, no air conditioning, no air movement. Powering off and on the pathfinder didn't solve it, turning on and off heat, defrost doesn't work. All fuses are ok.
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateNov 13, 2022
I was driving at highway speed and heard a loud bang. Sounded like an explosion. I quickly moved to the slow lane and noticed my sunroof had exploded outward with pieces of glass on me when it shattered.
CategoryElectrical System, Exterior Lighting
DateAug 29, 2022
Moisture ingression into the passenger side front lighting assembly (head light). Visable water droplets and some accumulartion . 1st indication was an errror message along with reduced visibility. 2nd indication was failue of that headlight.
DateAug 17, 2022
Engine failure while driving. Abnormal engine oil consumption. Oil level dropped without warning and without any warning lights from the vehicle. The vehicle oil level as checked 1 day prior to failure.
CategoryEngine, Fuel/propulsion System
DateJul 27, 2022
Engine pinging/knocking and engine hesitation / surging most obvious in second gear steady throttle around 2k rpm. Doesn't matter what gas is used. Engine hesitation and pinging/knocking is getting worse. Nissan states its normal operation.
CategoryFuel/propulsion System, Service Brakes
DateJul 27, 2022
When braking anywhere from 50 mph to 25mph rpms increase whe braking, engine and transmission still pushing vehicle until torque converter disengages at 20mph. If you need to slow down quickly it requires extra braking force until the car reaches 20mph.. If you put the car in neutral it will slow down much faster because transmission and engine aren't still pushing the truck. This hot much worse after nissan changed the transmission program a few months ago.
CategoryBack Over Prevention: Camera System, Back Over Prevention: Warnings, Electrical System
DateJan 04, 2022
We rented this vehicle from budget for about two weeks. On two separate occasions the backup camera went blank and the rear parking sensors quit working. I stopped the vehicle and shifted from reverse to drive and back but the rear view camera and sensors did not come back on. After I shutdown and restarted the vehicle, they started working again. We turned the vehicle in on 1/3/2021 and mentioned the issue to the lot attendant.
DateMar 12, 2021
Tl* the contact owns a 2020 nissan pathfinder. The contact stated that the check engine warning light illuminated intermittently. The contact took the vehicle to courtesy nissan (1777 n central expy, richardson, tx 75080, (972) 231-2600) and was informed that the oxygen sensor failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle had not been repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 19,700.*dt
DateDec 26, 2020
When driving or idling you get a smell of antifreeze inside the drivers compartment. Dealer said the only way to fix was to get the heating and cooling system on recirculating and not fresh air. This is constant problem no matter the twhat the temp at urge isoutside.
CategoryElectrical System
DateOct 04, 2020
Periodically the back up camera shorts out and you are no longer able to use it.
CategoryService Brakes
DateSep 28, 2020
While driving on august 30 approximately 7:45on my vehicle's brakes applied by itself without me applying the brakes. At the time I was only you 20 mph. I notified nissan,and I'm still waiting for them to get back to me about this safety issue. The vehicle is only 6 weeks old. My vehicle is a 2020 nissan pathfinder. I need help. Thanks. I was driving on a local street.
CategoryService Brakes
DateJun 03, 2020
When I was driving in a parking lot I heard a very high pitch noise. I put my window down to hear what it was. The sound was very concerning especially because I have less than 3k miles on my car. I took it to the dealership they said they weren't sure why it was making the noise... (it stopped about a mile away from the dealership) but they said my car was leaking brake fluid. I would of never known my car was having these issues if I didn't heard that noise. I haven't had the car even for 3 months yet & it already having problems. *tr

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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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