This week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rejected a petition demanding a recall for 2005-2010 Nissan Pathfinder, Xterra and Frontier vehicles.
The petition argued that the affected vehicles are prone to transmission failure due to a breach in the radiator assembly, which allowed engine coolant to leak into the transmission line. Drivers reported loss of engine power, stalling, hard shifts, slipping and excess vibration.
According to NHTSA findings, many of the vehicles tested showed transmission fluid had indeed mixed with engine coolant, so they did not dispute the petition’s allegations regarding transmission problems. Findings showed that the mixture eventually caused clutch linings in the vehicle to delaminnate from the clutch bands and plates.
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The report said, “If not remedied, ultimately the transmission will no longer transmit engine power to the driven wheels and the vehicle will perform as though its transmission is in neutral.”
Despite receiving just over 2500 complaints, the NHTSA stated it does not feel the issue raises an “unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety” as defined in federal regulations, because of the fact that investigators found the issues to be progressive, showing many telltale signs before getting to the point of creating a safety issue. Based on these findings, they chose not to issue a recall.
“Factors that support recalls to remedy these conditions include a lack of warning or precursor symptoms to the driver; stalling during power-demand situations such as accelerating or to maintain highway speeds / uphill grades; and an inability to immediately ‘restart’ or restore mobility to a stranded vehicle.”
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