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Would installing a new radiator prevent the radiator/transmission cooler failure that occurs in 2005 to 2009 Pathfinders? I am getting close to the end of the extended warranty coverage that Nissan offers and would like to forestall a very expensive problem. Does anyone know which radiators, if any, would not have the cooler failures that the OEM radiators have?

Thanks,

Yeterp
 

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NF Mod/Nissan Master Tech
2006 Pathfinder LE, 2003 Frontier SVE
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Just about every aftermarket transmissions, especially those for automatic transmissions, have an integral cooler tube for cooling the automatic transmission fluid. The problem with the 2005-2010 Pathfinders/Xterras/Frontiers radiators is a design flaw in the factory radiator made by Calsonic-Kansei. The problem is limited to North American vehicles (Pathfinders made in Spain don't have this issue) and seem to be most prevelant on 05 through 07 models, although there have been a few 08 models reported. The North American vehicles come equipped with an auxilary trans cooler mounted in front of the AC condensor. Many have simply bypassed the integral cooler of the radiator by re-routing the cooler hoses so that the ATF passes though the auxilary cooler and not the radiator's integral cooler. Most have reported no problems, although, if you tow with your vehicle or live in an area that experiences very cold temperatures, I wouldn't recommend it. For one, a liquid-to-liquid cooler is far more efficient than a liquid-to-air cooler. Also, the radiator's cooler tube not only cools the ATF, but also warms it up to operating temperature quicker and maintains it in the proper range (ATF should operate in the 175 degree F range +/-).

If you want to replace the radiator, you have three choices. You can use the countermeasure genuine Nissan radiator which MSRP's around $550. For roughly the same money, you can get an all-aluminum radiator from Griffin radiators. The third choice is an aftermarket radiator for a lot less money. For my 2006 LE, I went with a brand new, $92/free shipping/lifetime warranty I found on Ebay (Parts Express...it is now listed for $120, but there is currently one for $77.90 from Radiator Classic). It may be made in China, but it appears to be quality built and the fit was perfect; I've had it installed for 7 months so far. I also replaced the 4 foam seals, which I got from Nissan (one on the upper tank of the radiator, one on the lower tank, and the other two on the side brackets. See link below). If you prefer to buy a part made in North America, you can get one made by Spectra Premium of Canada for around $150. The radiator replacement is not an easy job; labor guide rate is 3.0 hours. Unlike earlier Pathfinders, the R51 uses bolt on side brackets with extensions that have to be navigated around the A/C lines to the condensor. The condensor also shares the same mounts, so it first has to be lifted out of the bracket and tied off to the radiator support to keep it from dropping down. It's very awkward and a poorly engineered design (from a mechanic's point of view).

Part Detail

Here's a link to the Radiator Classic radiator:

Brand New 1 Row w/o EOC w/ TOC Replacement Radiator For 2.5 4.0 L4 V6 GAS | eBay
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Risk of failure with aftermarket radiators?

Thanks, That is very helpful. Is it known which new radiators would for sure prevent the leakage of coolant into the transmission? Could a new radiator have the same problem as the original radiator that came with my 2006 Pathfinder?
 

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NF Mod/Nissan Master Tech
2006 Pathfinder LE, 2003 Frontier SVE
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There is a sticker on the top of the radiator tank with the Calsonic name and a part number. The most common part number is 21400-EA215, although some have reported the number 21400-EA265 (which doesn't show up in the Nissan catalog). This is the original part number. At some point under the -EA215 number, Calsonic apparantly correctly the design of the cooler that lead to problem of coolant contamination. Later, the part number was superceded to "21400-9CA2E." It is unsure of exactly when Calsonic corrected the problem, so any of the -EA215 or -EA265 radiators installed on 2005-2010 Pathfinders/Xterras/Frontiers could develope the crack and result in cross-contamination, but so far the majority of those occurances are limited to 2005-2007 models and a few 2008's, so far. Time will tell if the problem will be seen on a greater number of 2008 models and/or progress into the 2009-and-later models. Keep in mind that not all of the -EA215 radiators will fail and experience cross-contamination issues; in fact, it is only a small percentage of those radiators that will fail. The big problem is the extent of damage and cost when those radiators do fail. Nobody wants to be on the hook for a $5000-$6000 repair bill, especially if it can be prevented! The one thing we do know is that the 21400-9CA2E radiators are of the updated design.

Radiators with integral transmission coolers have been used for decades and some even use an integral cooler for engine oil, as well. With the exception of the current problem affecting the 2005-2010 Pathfinders/Xterras/Frontiers, these coolers have been very reliable and trouble-free. I started as a Nissan tech back in 1985 and can't recall ever seeing a failed radiator cooler line (as far as cross-contamination issues) on a Nissan vehicle up until 2005. The issue at hand is either a failure of design or manufacturing by Calsonic, which ironically has made the radiator for the 2004-2005 Titans and Armadas which have a problem of the bottom tank cracking and leaking. Myself, I would feel very comfortable in using an aftermarket or updated Nissan radiator to replace the original -EA215 radiators.
 

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Hey smj999smj,

I know this is a relatively old thread but I was wondering if you knew anything more about the updated radiators. I have 2010 Pathfinder SE and the part # on the top of the radiator is: 21460-ZL11A. Do you know if this is updated radiator? I'd hate to change out the radiator if it's not defective.

Thanks,
Mike
 

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NF Mod/Nissan Master Tech
2006 Pathfinder LE, 2003 Frontier SVE
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It's hard to say at this point. The majority of failures affected the 2005-2007 Pathfinders (and Xterras and Frontiers). There have only been a few 2008 models reporting radiator failures on the Pathfinder specific site: thenissanpath.com. So, even though Nissan did apply the extended warranty to 2005-2010 models, most felt pretty sure that the 2009 and 2010 models received the updated part in the factory and were clear of the issue. Then, about a month ago, a 2010 Pathfinder owner posted that is radiator cooler tube failed. I believe he did have that same 21460-ZL11A part number; the other radiators that failed were all either 21460-EA215 or 21460-EA265, the latter which, interestingly, doesn't show up in the Nissan part catalog. So, I guess it's your call!
If there is any "good news," the aftermarket radiators have come down a little in price. The "made in China" unit I got from Parts Express on Ebay for $92 is still doing fine and the price is now only $73 (free shipping/lifetime warranty). For those who wanted a name brand part, the Canadian-made, Spectra Premium radiators can be found in the $130-$150 range. Both are much better than the $550 that Nissan wants! Of course, the "bypass method" is still available for those who'd rather not use the radiator's integral cooler at all and rely solely on the auxilary trans cooler.
 

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Kevin

My transmission just started skipping, getting back on the gas, at the first stop sign. I just had my oil changed and they said that transmission fluid is in the radiator. The suggest I take it to a transmission shop. Any idea how much I'm looking at? The mechanic at the oil shop is thinking it's probably the transmission cooler. Have I found it in time? Or am I looking at an expensive repair?
 

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Question

I also have a 2006 Pathfinder. The transmission just started slipping, at the first stop sign, letting off the gas ect.. I just had my oil changed and they said that I had transmission fluid in the radiator. The mechanic came over and said the it could be the transmission cooler. He suggested going to a transmission shop, since he couldn't check it there.
Has it been caught in time so it won't be an expensive repair? Or am I looking at the worse? :|
 

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I also have a 2006 Pathfinder. The transmission just started slipping, at the first stop sign, letting off the gas ect.. I just had my oil changed and they said that I had transmission fluid in the radiator. The mechanic came over and said the it could be the transmission cooler. He suggested going to a transmission shop, since he couldn't check it there.
Has it been caught in time so it won't be an expensive repair? Or am I looking at the worse? :|
once the transmission fluid is contaminated with coolant, the transmission is likely to be toast
expensive repair? yes.
you will likely need a replacement transmission and radiator, due to the damage from the contamination
 

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Radiator / transmission

My radiator has 21460 EA215 on it. Do you know if this part number is part of the weak radiators? In 2007 my radiator was replaced by a collision repair shop. They did use a factory replacement; too bad on this one.
 

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NF Mod/Nissan Master Tech
2006 Pathfinder LE, 2003 Frontier SVE
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Nissan never released what part numbers were in the affected range, but -EA215 and -EA265 are the older part numbers and you likely have a radiator that could "potentially" fail. That part number has been replaced by 21460-9CA2E. I would recommend you do the bypass or replace the radiator. Stillen will have an all-aluminum radiator available soon for about $350, which is much cheaper than the genuine Nissan, plastic tank, radiator which costs $450 online. As mentioned in post #6, I used an aftermarket radiator that was less than $100 and it has been doing fine for three years, knock on wood!
 

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I can't believe Nissan won't just replace the radiator. I don't know if I will stay a customer if they don't fix this issue. We should not have to pay due to Nissan using defective radiators. I'm so PO'd right now. It seems that the radiator will eventually fail so the best thing to do is replace it out of pocket. Nissan is now the Obamacare of the truck world in IMO. Thank you for the quick reply.
 

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It's not a cooler it's a warmer. Just bypass it straight to the exterior cooler. all you are bypassing is an 8in long tube with fins in the bottom of the radiator. I offer to do it for free to all my customers, if they want, and have never had a comeback for issues doe to it.
 

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NF Mod/Nissan Master Tech
2006 Pathfinder LE, 2003 Frontier SVE
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Why does everyone including Nissan call it a trans cooler. Thanks; it looks like I will have to do the bypass.
Because technically, that's what it is. Remember, many...if not most...vehicles do not come with a external air-to-liquid cooler installed from the factory, so in those cases, the integral cooler of the radiator does cool the ATF, as well as warm the fluid. The idea is really to maintain the temperature of the ATF to a temperature around 175-200 degrees F, which is why the ATF is routed through the external cooler first and the radiator integral cooler second. Wasn't it Shakespeare who wrote, "A part by any other name would still fail just the same!" Or, something like that. ;)
 

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I’m not trying to be a douche but can’t you just put coolant in your transmission and ATF in the radiator before hitting 80,000 miles? That way Nissan will cover the needed repairs. Nissan should replace this defective radiator; I can’It believe they are willing to risk losing loyal customers! I don’t believe in dishonesty but I’m a single father and I have a daughter to take care of. Instead of making Nissan $5,000 richer and my daughter and I $5,000 poorer something has to be done. I called 4 stealerships and they will not replace the radiator unless I pay $850. Still too high for something their contractee Calsonic did. Made in USA dang; I thought buying Chinese was bad. How would they know? BTW I have a 2006 4.0 SE with 75,000 miles on it. I’m not a mechanic but I have some tools and don’t mind learning or even buying more tools. Why is Calsonic not being held responsible for the radiator leaks. Nissan prolly did get something back from Calsonic then pocketed the money and still screwed us.
 

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I’m not trying to be a douche but can’t you just put coolant in your transmission and ATF in the radiator before hitting 80,000 miles? That way Nissan will cover the needed repairs. Nissan should replace this defective radiator; I can’It believe they are willing to risk losing loyal customers! I don’t believe in dishonesty but I’m a single father and I have a daughter to take care of. Instead of making Nissan $5,000 richer and my daughter and I $5,000 poorer something has to be done. I called 4 stealerships and they will not replace the radiator unless I pay $850. Still too high for something their contractee Calsonic did. Made in USA dang; I thought buying Chinese was bad. How would they know? BTW I have a 2006 4.0 SE with 75,000 miles on it. I’m not a mechanic but I have some tools and don’t mind learning or even buying more tools. Why is Calsonic not being held responsible for the radiator leaks. Nissan prolly did get something back from Calsonic then pocketed the money and still screwed us.
you could try to defraud them into replacing the radiator & transmission - unless they were to pressure check your radiator to determine if it's really defective (quick & easy to do).
why not stop whining and do the by-pass or replace the radiator - far less $$$$$$$ than the $5,000 you're already complaining about that you don't even need to spend at this point
the by-pass takes about 30 minutes with no additional parts necessary
or a new radiator can be installed for a few hundred bucks
none of us are happy about this, but at least there are methods of avoiding the mess
geeeeezzzz..........
 

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NF Mod/Nissan Master Tech
2006 Pathfinder LE, 2003 Frontier SVE
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Yeah, I agree. While it probably would work, I can't advise someone on committing fraud. I would rather just recommend doing the bypass method. If one does a lot of heavy towing or lives in an area of extreme temperatures, I would recommend replacing the radiator with an aftermarket unit. The price Nissan charges for their radiator is ridiculous and way overpriced. The Chinese radiator I purchased seemed very well built and fit was perfect. A lot of people have used Spectra Premium radiators out of Canada, but I believe those radiators for the Pathfinders are made in China, as well.
As far as Calsonic, Nissan bought them out in the mid-2000's, which, ironically, is when the problems started. In addition to the radiator cooler issues of the 05-10 Pathys/Xterras/Frontiers, there were also a lot of problems with the lower tanks leaking and cracking on the radiators of the early Titans.
 

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The Pathfinders, Xterras, and Frontiers all have external coolers and internal warmers. the internal warmers are meant to warm the fluid up quicker to prevent wear.
 
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