I hate to bring this up for the simple reason that I really like my 05 4x4 SE. I had a 2000 4x4 and liked it, but felt it was underpowered. They really did a nice job on the Gen 2 Xt's.
The issue... last weekend on a trip from Prescott, AZ to Durango, CO I filled my fuel tank in Gallup, NM. After filling I noticed the gauge didn't move. So I stopped at a different station and tried again; it only took .3 gallons, so it was full. I removed the filler cap and tried to re-install it several times to no avail.
About 10 miles later I noticed the gauge started slowly climbing. About 10 miles later the Service Engine Soon light came on. Okay, big problem looming. In Farmington I stopped by an Autozone and had them read the code- PO463. Fuel Sending Unit. What's that? it just tells the gauge that the tank has a certain level of fuel. No problem, I'll see what the deal is when I get home.
On Monday I started searching the web for info and found some disturbing issues:
1. Nissan recalled all 01-03 Xterras because of the same part, except on the Gen 1 X's, the engine would quit if this part went bad.
2. Nissan changed the part to where the engine won't quit on the Gen 2 models, but, there is still a significant failure rate on the part. Pathfinders and Titans have the same issue.
3. The part is not covered beyond the 3/36k warranty, whereas the fuel pump, to which the sending unit is attached, is covered under the 5/60k warranty.
4. This part usually doesn't go bad until around the 40,000 mile range.
5. Even though I have had the code read as a PO463 through Autozone, and the symptoms agree with the problem, Nissan requires that their shop reads the code- at $100 cost.
6. The local dealer, from whom I spent over $60,000 two years ago, is not willing to repair the known defective part gratis and Nissan will not as well. The best I could get was that the dealer will apply for a "Courtesy Repair" after the $100 is spent on the code diagnostic. If they refuse the request, them I'm out the $100 for something I already know. The CRS said that she'd try her best to get Nissan to do it, but there were no guarantees. I asked what the odds were and she wouldn't give me any.
7. The repair costs between $300 and $400 plus the code read at $100. The part is available retail at ABC Nissan in PNX for $65.00. A friend said book time is 1.5 hours. Which means, the dealer will pocket around $280 minimum to make the repair.
8. It's not a safety issue, so I don't expect a recall. It is however, a known defective part with a statistically significant rate of failure and Nissan has chosen to not address it.
So, I'm faced with just paying the $400-$500 for the repair and let it go. Or, drive around with the Service Engine Soon light on and a faulty fuel gauge. If this were random event, oh well, I should have paid for the extended warranty or just pay it and shut-up. But it's not. It's actually quite common.
Lastly, given the ecomomic downturn and the drop in auto sales, you would think that a manufacturor and/or dealer would want to retain a valuable customer (I'm directly responsible for our family purchasing 8 Nissans in the past 8 years). Let's see, Nissan is looking at loosing around $240,000 in sales in today's dollars over a less than $200 issue. The dealer spends that in shop rag cleaning each week.