Q: We own a 2006 PT Cruiser with the 2.4-liter engine. It has 50,000 miles on it. When we drive down the road, all the lights come on in the speedometer cluster. The lights are for oil pressure, charging system, engine temperature, brake system, seatbelt, low fuel and theft alarm. Then, all the gauges go to zero as if the car is shutting down. Last night it did this seven times in a row until the car quit running. After I restarted it, it did not do this again. There are no fault codes and because it does this intermittently the dealer hasn't been able to identify and fix the problem.
A: According to my ALLDATA automotive database, all electrical current for the vehicle flows through the totally integrated power module (TIPM) located in the left front corner of the engine compartment. Any type of poor quality contact — corrosion, loose, frayed, etc. — to, from or inside the TIPM could cause intermittent operation like you describe, including stalling the car.
Within the TIPM is a special fuse, the ignition off draw (IOD) fuse, which prevents battery discharge while the vehicle is not in use. To prevent battery discharge this fuse is not seated in its socket when the vehicle is shipped to the dealership for sale. If it has not been fully seated or has poor quality contacts, it could cause intermittent operation of a number of components. I would disconnect the battery, inspect and clean all connections to/from the TIPM and pull the IOD fuse to inspect and clean its contacts and socket. Then fully reseat the fuse.
Q: I am writing about multiple failures — and repairs — of the right inner axle seal on our 2011 Nissan Murano. These repeated failures of the same part(s) have created a sense of alarm regarding the long-term reliability of this vehicle, which currently has approximately 38,000 miles on it. The initial diagnosis and all of the repairs have been made by the dealer service department. So far, the axle seal and transfer case were replaced at 7,368 miles, the axle seal again at 15,018 miles and both the seal and transfer case were replaced again at 34,795 miles. When discussing this problem with the dealer service representative I have received reasons that vary — "a different parts supplier" and "a more experienced mechanic" — to assure us that this problem will not recur. They claim that this is not a dangerous kind of problem and would not result in a highway failure/catastrophe. Nissan has extended the warranty by two years (to seven years) and 40,000 miles (to 100,000). But we cannot help but believe that this will not be the last time this failure occurs. Is this a design weakness on Muranos? Should I consider taking it to an unaffiliated repair shop? Is a "complete" fix one that involves replacing the transmission?
A: Nissan issued service bulletin NTB11-017b in March 2014 addressing this precise issue. Depending on the VIN number of your Murano, the repair is either replacement of the leaking axle seal or replacement of the entire transfer case and seal. Thus, it appears the dealer has done the appropriate repair on your vehicle. With the warranty extension it appears you still have several years of Nissan warranty coverage.
There may well be merit to the dealer's "more experienced mechanic" comment. Replacing the seal is a workmanship-critical repair. Any damage to the new seal or its seat in the transfer case could lead to leaks. I wouldn't engage an independent shop at this point since any repair done there would not be covered by your Nissan warranty and may well void any further coverage.
This axle seal leak is not a potential safety issue, and as long as the fluid level in the transfer case is not significantly low, no mechanical damage would occur. At this point I'd suggest "riding it out" — continue to drive the vehicle while monitoring for leakage — at least until the warranty extension expires.
Paul Brand is the author of "How to Repair Your Car" and "How to Repair Your Truck and SUV," published by Motorbooks.