March 29, 2012
The D40 Navara was one of a new wave of one-tonne pickups, bringing with it a more modern look and feel compared to the rugged older working class models that preceded it.
Initially only a dual-cab pickup - single and extended "king" cab pickups and cab-chassis workhorses came in 2008 - the D40 was aimed at the growing recreational market as much as it was the tradies who'd traditionally used them.
The D40 was built on a ladder chassis with coil spring independent front suspension and power rack-and-pinion steering teamed with a rigid rear axle on leaf springs for a combination of ride comfort, driving ease and payload capacity.
There was ample room inside the cabin for five, and the three in the rear seat, which could be flipped up for extra storage space, had the safety of lap/sash seat belts. Nissan offered a choice of a whopping 198 kW 4.0-litre V6 petrol that displayed quite a liking for fuel and a 128 kW 2.5-litre turbo-diesel that was much more fuel-friendly.
The transmission choices offered were a six-speed manual and a five- speed auto, while the majority of models were part-time four-wheel drive with a serious low range for off-road activity. The payload of the dual-cab pickup was 810-965 kg and it was rated to tow up to 3 tonnes.
The level of standard equipment was quite high. The working class RX boasted air-conditioning, central locking, a useful split-fold rear seat and a CD player, while the boss-cocky ST-X came with power windows and mirrors, remote central locking, alloy wheels, side steps, leather-bound steering wheel, cruise control and a six-stack CD changer.
The Navara is well built and generally reliable, but there are a couple of issues buyers need to be aware of. Clutches are an issue with Navaras equipped with manual gearboxes, particularly if used for towing.
We've had plenty of complaints of clutches being replaced at quite low kays, less than 50,000 km in some cases. One, we know, has had three clutches in 37,000 km. Given that Nissan rates the towing capacity of the Navara at three tonnes, and heavily promote them for that purpose, they are going to be used by tradies and grey nomads for towing, so this is a real concern.
Recently a dealer mechanic let the cat out of the bag when he told us that at his dealership they replace as many as five clutches per month, and he says Nissan is covering them under warranty. Most owners come to the dealership because the clutch is slipping, but occasionally it's because the clutch is shuddering.
On inspection they find the drive plate part of the dual-mass flywheel is distorted, which can happen very quickly if the driver allows the clutch to slip, even a little, when backing a trailer for instance. The typical cost to replace the clutch, including a new dual-mass flywheel is in excess of $3000.
The good news is that it is possible to fit a solid flywheel and a heavy-duty clutch, which pretty much eliminates the problem. According to our mechanic insider the real solution is to buy an auto in the first place, even for towing.
Another issue that is a regular at Carsguide is a rattling, sometimes even failed, timing chain, claimed to be because of assembly problems back at the factory. Rattling can begin as early as 50,000 km, and if not attended to, can ultimately lead to failure of the chain and extensive damage to the engine. As always it's important to confirm a service record.
NISSAN NAVARA D40 - 2005-2010
Price new: $38,990 to $45,990
Engine: 4.0-litre V6 petrol, 198 kW/385 Nm; 2.5-litre 4-cylinder turbo-diesel, 128 kW/403 Nm.
Transmission: 6-speed manual, 5-speed auto; RWD or 4x4
Economy: 9.5 L/100 km (TD), 13.6 L/100 km (V6)
Body: Dual-cab pickup, King-cab pickup, King-cab cab-chassis. Cab- chassis.
Variants: RX, ST-X
Safety: ABS, EBD, BAS, dual front airbags on ST-X (opt on RX). 3-star ANCAP with dual front airbags.
Smooth, comfortable, refined pickup for work or play, would be the pick of the bunch but for the clutch and timing chain issues.