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Nissan Repair/Ratcheting sound in the front driver side hub/wheel


QUESTION: I just bought a used 1989 Nissan Pathfinder, the seller never mentioned the issue at hand. When cold the front driver side hub/wheel starts to make a ratcheting sound at about 20MPH. After a bit, when it warms up a bit, the ratcheting will subside. Sometimes returning if I let the truck sit for an hour or so. After it subsides, I can drive it all day without it returning. Again though if I let it cool back down the ratcheting sound will return. PLEASE tell me its nothing super bad?!

Thanks in advance,  Justin

ANSWER: Hi Justin -

It is difficult to diagnose sounds without being next to the vehicle, but I would suggest checking the CV joint. Does it happen while you are turning as well?

Hope this helps -

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Not so much when I'm turning. I'll speed up to about 20 mph and the ratcheting sound starts. When i slow to about 5 mph it stops. Then it'll start back up around 20 mph again. It'll continue to do this until it arms up a bit. The front drive shaft is out. Im wondering if its the auto lock hub not disengauging.

ANSWER: Hi Justin -

Sorry, I forgot to ask if you had a 4 wheel drive. Yes, it could be the drive not disengaging all the way, however don't know why only certain speeds wilol the sound appear.

Perhaps look at the CV joint anyway. Normally in regular vehicles, this clicking sound is common even when there is no load on the axle.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Yeah, sorry I forgot to mention it. Its a 1989 Nissan Pathfinder SE V6 4X4. Its a great vehicle, just has an annoying sound every morning. Takes about a ten minute drive to get the ratcheting sound to go away. After that its good most of the day. I have another question about something else that's up with it; Both my gas gauge and engine temp gauge have stopped working. I was told it could be a relay. Unfortunately I have no clue where to look for said relay.

Again, thanks in advance

Hi Justin -

I do not think they run with relays. The circuits are not large enough. First I would check the ground circuit. I think they both share the same ground. Remove the instrument panel, and check the printed circuits where they connect with mounting screws, or a separate wire.

Some of the relays are in the engine compartment on the fender well. Others are under the dash, just FYI.


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Calvin Iwashita


All general car repairs for all models of vehicles, except technicals (overhauls) on A/C systems and transmissions.


16 years as a car mechanic from 1974 to 1990, and still repair cars on the side.


High School and college graduate

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