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1999 Pathfinder Distributor question

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Joined: 27 Mar 2017
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 11:20 am    Post subject: 1999 Pathfinder Distributor question Reply with quote

I want to gain some perspective here. I searched the forum and I think that and my (not very extensive) knowledge is starting to give me a picture but I will be working on the Pathfinder this week between classes. Please help me understand if I am going down the right path.

Driving home at highway speed yesterday the Pathfinder began to jerk or buck occasionally then more and more, ultimately I asked my wife to pull over so that I could look at it and then feel what it was like behind the wheel myself. When we pulled off it seemed just about undrivable like we might do damage with all the jerking. It ran at idle roughly and I stood at the car with the hood up and throttled it to hear "loose metal". I got in and it would not stay running when I tried to ease up the road.....we were towed home.

1999 Pathfinder 3.3L V6 about 230,000 miles. When we bought it, it had 113,000 miles.

Currently, I am waiting on a code reader to come in the mail (tomorrow). I see the distributor rotor moves when cranked so I understand that the timing belt is intact....BUT the rotor appears to have settled onto the plastic platform below it and the setscrew gouged the I think that based on what I read in the forums that the bearing(s) failed?

Does that sound right?

I am as I type considering some options....I know it is recommended to go with NIssan product on this but due to the car age and my current status I might get a cardone for a couple hundred less....

If the bearing failed can I expect to just replaced the distrubtor or am I now at the point of maybe having damaged the intgerface with the cam?.....

I can take the rotor and lift about 1/4 to 1/2 inch and it feels like I am pulling against tension....also can move it side to side a bit.....I can not do all this to my other 3.3L V6 in my frontier.

That was all pretty long winded but I would value thoughts from anyone here as I begin to pull the money out the next few days....thanks in advance!

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's rare that the distributor fails to the point of damaging the cam drive gear, but the only way you can know for sure it to pull the distributor out and look at it through the hole. By your description, it sounds like the distributor is indeed your problem. What parts you choose to put in your truck is up to you. The Cardone Select does sound promising and if the pics of it on Rockauto show a genuine Hitachi distributor cap on it, which is good. That said, having been a Nissan tech, I can't remember how many dozens of times (at least) I've seen or heard about people trying to save a few bucks on aftermarket ignition parts, alternators, starters and fuel pumps, only to end up have to replace them, again, shortly afterwards. In worst case scenarios, the new part leaves them stranded somewhere and now the cost of a tow gets added in to the aggravation. The genuine Nissan parts, though more expensive, are much more reliable. If that gamble on reliability is worth the $200 you'll save, then go for the aftermarket. The only aftermarket option I would trust as far as Nissan distributors would be if it was a genuine part from Hitachi (that doesn't include other aftermarket branded, Hitachi remanufactured distributors).
2006 Pathfinder LE VQ40DE AWD, aftermarket radiator, Airlift 1000's, Bilstein HD rear shocks, Doug Thorley shortie headers and mid-pipes, Magnaflow 12580 muffler, aFe Momentum GT CAI w/ dry filter, XTP plenum spacer, Superchips Flashpaq tuner
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Joined: 27 Mar 2017
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Thu Mar 14, 2019 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, Here is the end story. I tend to buy inexpensive parts for this Pathfinder due to the overall age and condition....but....I was on Amazon reading the reviews for the Cardone distributor, about 99 bucks....I saw a bimodal curve and was disturbed to see that while a lot of people were happy...there were ALOT of people who received faulty product or it failed quickly....I think smj is spekaing real wisdom here....I also saw the Hitachi remanufactured unit on Rock the end I bought a remanufacture unit from Nissan (Courtesy) and turned in my old piece for the core charge.

Now I was a bit nervous on the reinstall...the helical gear that joins the cam gear? As they mesh of course the rotor turns so I played with it a bit and could only get the rotor to end up a bit before or after the position of the old one.....the old one was that messed up....I figured that sicne the rotor had dropped down and was snagging the plastic below it, I opted for the before position if that makes sense...all this being near #1 cylinder, and TDC.

And it worked! So happy! When the distributor was out I peered in the hole and the cam gear looked fine but I saw a bit past the there was a bit of damage to the metal ok I think but I will change the oil soon. It looked like about 3/4 of a square inch of clean metal was showing about .001 inch deep...I think that is about a thousandth of an inch if I recall shop lessons.

Anyway, that was a whiole lot of talk to say thank you smj for your thoughts and to the other posts I read that gave me the confidence to do it myself....
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