2006 Nissan Murano Severe Steering Wander Repair
Mark: Hi it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast here in Vancouver with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So we're talking about a 2006 Nissan Murano that had a severe steering wander issue. What was going on with this Nissan SUV?
Bernie: Well this is really interesting. The owners complaint was when you, especially if you're going up a hill on the highway and you have to accelerate the vehicle would basically veer off into the other lane when you put your foot down on the gas. So I went out and road tested it, and drove up a steep hill, and sure enough I experienced that. You basically hit the gas hard and the vehicle would just veer off to the right. I even noticed on flatter roads when you just accelerate hard it would veer off quite substantially.
Mark: So what was the cause of this concern? I'm assuming this isn't a front wheel drive SUV.
Bernie: It's an all-wheel drive, actually, but you know a lot of the power goes to the front wheels, but yeah it is an all-wheel drive. So there's definitely torque in the steering and power being transmitted to the front wheels. I mean what we found was a worn out control bushing especially on the right front. It was the front bushing that was really badly worn. How did we find it? We basically did a steering suspension inspection, looked over things, and it was pretty apparent when we put some pry bars to things of this front control arm bushing was pretty badly worn. I'll just get into some pictures right now, we'll have a look.
This is the right front control arm. There's a bushing in the rear attached with a bracket, and there's the front bushing, and you can actually see the bushings come apart. Now we may have even talked about this issue on a Murano before, I know we talk about control arm bushings a fair bit, but this was worn so badly that the centre pin had actually come out of the bushing. This is normally cemented, the rubber is cemented to the metal in the centre of the bushing. This one had actually come apart which is that badly worn.
Another photo we have here, this is a closeup, so you can see the actual bushing is worn completely apart, and that was causing an enormous amount of play in the front end.
Mark: How does that worn bushing cause such a wander under power on a hill?
Bernie: Well what's happening is when you accelerate, of course there's front wheel drive, it puts torque on the wheel, and that causes the front end to actually twist sideways with the pressure. It's actually like turning your steering wheel while you're accelerating. So that's what was causing that because when you let your foot off then it twists back, so that's what causes the torque steer.
Mark: So when that bushings worn out, that twist is actually happening. When it's working properly you probably wouldn't even feel it when you accelerate up the hill, it would just go straight?
Bernie: After we replace the part it just basically, you accelerate at it just goes straight because nothing’s moving. I mean there's the same amount of torque being applied but nothing’s being moved other than maybe a quarter of a millimetre or something there. It's always something. That's why these bushings, because they do have some movement to them, but not like that.
Mark: And how did this bushing wear so badly?
Bernie: Well bushings do wear out, but one thing that probably caused this to wear more than so substantially is that there was a small leak from the engine oil pan gasket, there was a little bit of oil seeping out onto the bushing, and oil and rubber do not mix well. Basically oil will soften rubber and eventually wear rubber parts out. So when you have a lot of clients, engines develop oil leaks after a while, I mean it's never good having an oil leak for the environment, but if it's something really expensive to fix, I mean sometimes it's gonna be thousands of dollars to fix an oil leak on an engine, and it's not worth it on an old car, the most important thing to go look at is what components are being affect by the oil. If the oil is just simply dripping down onto the road, again, not great for the environment, but it's not gonna affect your car, but if it's leaking onto any rubber parts it will wear them out. We've seen engine mounts wear out from oil leaks, and here it's the control arm bushing that's worn out, a number of things. So oil will damage rubber parts.
Mark: And that's hitting that bushing because this is a transverse mounted engine?
Bernie: Exactly, yeah. Yeah. Fortunately on this vehicle the oil pan, it's the lower oil pan that was leaking, very simple and not very expensive to fix. So that was a pretty straightforward easy fix.
Mark: And is this a common issue on Muranos?
Bernie: Well control arm bushings do wear out, and sometimes the rear ones actually tend to wear more than the front ones, but I think with this oil leak that's what caused this one. But we do a number of control arms on these vehicles and the bushings, they do wear out.
Mark: And how are Nissan Muranos for liability?
Bernie: I'd put them in the fair category. They're not, you know they do tend to need more work than average I would say, maybe their work load is kind of average, but not as good as say a Toyota or Honda product of similar quality and age. They tend to need a little more work.
Mark: So you save a little bit on your purchase but perhaps you have a little bit more maintenance to take care of.
Bernie: A little more maintenance. There are a few things that tend to wear out on these vehicles. Overall it's a nice vehicle. A really nice driving vehicle. Just expect a little more repair than you might on a Toyota or Honda.
Mark: So there you go, if you have a Nissan Murano and you need some service, the guys to call in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to book ahead, they're busy. Or, check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds of videos on all makes and models of cars and issues on there for your enjoyment or eduction. As well we have our YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair. And thank you for listening, watching our podcast. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark, and thanks for watching.