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 |  Feb 02 2011, 3:15 PM

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); its has received 35 separate reports of severe corrosion on 1996-2004 Nissan Pathfinder and 1997-2003 Infiniti QX4 SUVs.

As these are unibody vehicles, severe rusting of the body or chassis structure can have a major detriment on the vehicle’s handling and safety; in this case the problem concerns the front strut mount on the driver’s side, which, in extreme cases, can cause excessive front end flex and even result in the steering shaft breaking, making the vehicle dangerous.

According to the report, approximately 40,000 Pathfinders and QX4s are affected by this issue, though it will be interesting to see how NHTSA attempts to address the problem. As cars age, particularly those driven in heavily salted winter conditions, rust begins to creep in rapidly.

Traditionally, unibody cars or trucks suffering from serious structural corrosion are usually scrapped, the damage is simply too expensive and costly to repair; as a result NHTSA will probably have to look at other options instead of a TSB or recall, possibly even offering customers a cash incentive on a new, comparable Nissan SUV.

Although we couldn’t find evidence to suggest the fact; it is likely that all of the complaints stem from either the North East or Great Lakes region, where winter slush and salt are a fact of life, hastening the retirement of many vehicles. (NHTSA has issues several recalls lately for similar issues on other vehicles in the ‘salt belt’ states).

The Nissan investigation follows on from other rust probes, including one on the previous generation Toyota Tundra pickup.

[Source: Torque News]