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Discussion Starter #1
I just bought a 2000 XE 4x4. It's my first four wheel drive vehicle and I bought it to pull a small travel trailer and do some mild to moderate offroading with my family. It's got about 155k miles on it and it's not my daily driver. The shop where we bought our trailer installed an electronic brake controller for towing the trailer. Driving the trailer home was just fine but the next day as I started to pull the trailer away from my house I started hearing a loud clicking that quickly turned into a pretty major popping that made the truck jump. It would go away if I stopped and as long as I stayed below 5-10 mph but if I got any faster than that it would start up again. I had to get the trailer around the block and get it parked so I drove a little bit like this. It seemed to be coming from the front right side. The ABS light also came on. The brakes on the trailer also seemed off. The braking seemed erratic though it's hard to say for sure. Also we have a tow hitch with those load balancing arms. I adjusted those a couple of times during this process as I was trying to figure this out and found that the problem was worse as the load bias moved toward the back wheels. When the load bias was more even it still happened but was not quite as bad. At the end, we got the trailer parked and unhooked everything and the x was fine. I have driven it a handful of times since and no troubles. Sorry that's a long explanation.
So, has anyone seen anything like this before? It seems to me that the shop screwed something up when they were installing the brake controller, but is there any chance that this is something else? Any thoughts or insights would be greatly appreciated!
 

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I dont see how the brake controller has any thing to do with it.
I would first jack up the truck and turn the wheels by hand and see if any thing gets in a bind.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The brake controller was not my first thought but the ABS light was on while the trouble was happening and when I unhooked the trailer the light went off and the trouble went away. In retrospect, if I assume the brake controller has something to do with it, it kind of seems like the front right brakes were inexplicably locking up and the ABS was kicking in with the pulsing to keep it under control. The truck seems totally fine without the trailer hooked up. I haven't tried pulling the trailer again because I'm a little scared of getting out and not being able to get my trailer back home. This was just last weekend.
 

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Considering the popping it sounds like something was binding to me. I dont see what or how cause the previous owner that had my x was pulling an 8thousand pound boat around and needed more power. Mine now has 180k on it and the only problems i have had is the throttle posistion sensor and that was because you i kept messing with the screw, So i cant see it being anything bad. Only thing i can see the popping would be the gears in the diff which its better than a d44 so i dont really see that being the problem pulling something. Perhaps the rear swaybar? Did you have it in 4x4? Maybe the auto hubs are bad cause they can make awful noises. (mine did). Or if it was heavy and maybe some things where rusted and binding caused the popping when moving? It could be alot of things. But this ive never heard of happening. And i use mine to pull an old truck to the mudhole which is 5k pounds so im in doubt that its something wrong with your powertrain.
 

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Try driving the trailer around the block (WITHOUT connecting the trailer wires). And don't change any settings you might have to set to pull a trailer.

If the noise is still there, then its something mechanical.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
It wasn't in 4wd. The sound was coming from the front and correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it rear wheel drive when it's in 2wd? That makes me think it wouldn't be anything with the diff. I guess I'm going to have to bite the bullet and go ahead and try to pull the trailer again. It was such a PITA to get it behind my house that I don't really want to pull it back out until I'm going camping with it. But I guess that's better than getting all geared up to go camping and then not being able to get there! I'll try it with everything unplugged. Also somebody pointed out that the ABS has it's own fuse so I can just pull that fuse to disable the ABS with the trailer fully hooked up to see if that changes anything as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well, I don't think I'm ready to say with %100 certainty that I have the answer but it's really looking like it's the ABS computer. I talked to the guys that installed the trailer brake controller and they checked it out and couldn't find any fault. Plus, from what I now understand of the way it works, I don't see any way that the controller could impact the ABS system directly. It seems fine without the trailer but when I hooked the trailer back up the ABS light came back on after a few minutes of driving, although the other symptoms never happened. I was able to drive it like normal including freeway driving and trying to accelerate pretty hard up a fairly steep hill with the trailer. So the fact that the problem is intermittent and not entirely predictable sounds more like an electrical problem than a mechanical one. I'm thinking maybe the relationship to the trailer is just that the extra strain on the brakes from the trailer is starting to show the fault that's already happening in the ABS system. That's my current working theory anyway. My mechanic also said mine would be the fourth 2000 xterra he's seen in just the last few months with a failing abs computer. I've searched and found a lot of info about failing or dirty sensors but I haven't found many complaints of the computer itself crapping out. Anybody else with a first gen have this issue? I'm thinking I'll just pull the ABS fuse and run it without for now. It's not my daily driver. It's not ideal but I don't think I can afford the 1200 bucks for a new computer right now.
 

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Mine has a problem with the abs and the abs light is always on and i heard a while back from a nissan master tech that it had something to do with a relay even though the codes show it is my sensor and i think a pump. But sometimes when i start mine the abs light is off and on a few occastions when its been off when i was driving up my road (deep sugar sand road) i would go about 30 ish and slam the breaks and they would pulse and worked just fine. I just dont really care ive been in enough oh sh!t moments to know abs doesnt really help in most situations. Especailly offroad when your going down a hill instead of your tires digging in and thus stopping you they just keep pulsing and you end up not stopping. And several other times like when it rained and someone slammed the breaks for a dog i locked my breaks up going 60 but i just started pumping them and it was fine. With abs though it might had been a problem. Only time no abs can be a problem is if you hit the breaks hard when turning youl just lock them up. Which is why most of the time i pump my breaks. All of my vehicles ever owned had no abs its become normal to me and my x not having it when i bought it it just didnt matter to me. Now pulling a trailer though with no abs could be a problem im not sure.

http://i.imgur.com/PyFjc.jpg
^ Abs vs no Abs
 
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