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Nissan XE Pickup Showing Nothing

Q. I have a 1994 Nissan XE Pickup Truck (6 cylinder, manual, 2WD/4WD). We were driving along and looked at the speedometer and it was 0 and we were over 55 MPH cause I had looked not ten seconds earlier. We then got a malfunction warning light. The odometer also was not working (on same gauge). Could the cable shorted or is it more serious?

Sue

A. I'll bet you 47 cents the cruise control doesn't work either Sue.

Sounds like you have a broken speedometer cable to me. I must have changed about a hundred of them over the years. The nice thing about working on Nissans is, if it breaks on one of them, sooner or later the same thing will break on all of them. It's easy enough the check out, see Gee Officer, My Speedometer Is Broken on the test and replacement procedure.

Now the reason the check engine light came in is this; inside the speedometer head is the Vehicle Speed Sensor (VSS). The EFI computer uses this to determine the vehicles speed as an input to control the fuel mixture. So, when the cable broke there was no more input, the computer saw this and turned on the light to tell you something is wrong. Coincidentally, the cruise control uses the VSS to set and maintain the vehicle speed when it's engaged. The odometer conked out because it is part of the speedometer itself.

If the cable does check out as bad, you may be able to cheat the replacement. What I used to do is unscrew the cable from the transmission and yank the broken piece out of the pinion in the transmission. I would use a pair of pliers and pull the cable out of the housing. Then I would take the new cable, grease the heck out of it with Vaseline (the mechanics friend) and work it back into the housing. Seven times out of ten this worked well and it saved me the trouble of pulling the instrument cluster out and going from inside, outside and under the truck to route the new cable. If you decide to try this, make sure you don't get the new cable dirty as you put it in.

Don't force or kink the cable and if it seems like it's not going to work, pull it out and replace the whole cable assembly. Be sure to note the routing because at some points it comes close to the exhaust manifold and the exhaust crossover pipe at the back of the heads. You don't want it to touch something hot and melt the cable.

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