GU Nissan Patrol Review

GU Nissan Patrol Review

You just watched that video, and you reckon Patrols are fricken awesome right? Looking to buy your own now? Then you need to read on! I’ve been a Patrol owner since I first got into the 4wding, camping and overlanding scene. I started out on a GQ Patrol with everybody’s favourite TD42 diesel engine, before moving onto the current GU Patrol with the RD28ETI diesel engine in search of more comfort. And aside from maybe an early 100 series Landcruiser, a live axle truck doesn’t get more comfortable than a GU wagon!

buying-gu-patrol

The GU Patrol is the longest running model to date. They started production in 1998, and are still running production now in 2015! The RD28ETI which is at home under the bonnet of my GU, was carried over from the GQ Patrol and given computer engine management and an intercooler. From factory they claim a power rating of 95KW at the flywheel and 252NM of torque. I say driving a 2.8 Patrol is a learned art. You have to balance your use of clutch and throttle perfectly, if you let that tacho settle below 2000rpm you may consider throwing a few passengers out to push until it gets back on boost. Many people complain about how gutless the 2.8 is and say you have to drive it like you stole it.

What Goes Wrong With The 2.8

Crank Pulley Bolt: The BIGGEST problem with an RD28 is their tendency for the crankshaft pulley bolt to come loose and spin the pulley, ruining your crankshaft and pretty much putting you in for an engine rebuild.  Checking the torque regularly and making absolutely sure that liberal amounts of locktite are applied whenever the bolt it removed are your best insurance against this.

Crank Position Sensor: The metal disc behind the crankshaft sprocket which gives a reading for the crank position sensor has come loose on a few people’s RD28’s. This causes a false reading and may result in rough running and/or white smoke (unburned diesel). The computer will probably give a crank angle sensor malfunction code.

Blown Heads: Cracked or blown heads are sometimes reported, but probably not often enough for it to be an inherent problem. My opinion is that a blown head is caused by people flogging the motor because it’s gutless, or trying to tow massive loads and overworking it. If I wanted to tow, I wouldn’t own a 2.8.

Injector Pumps: Many injector pumps don’t make it past 280,000km, mine included. This will likely reveal it’s head in summer when you go to re-start the vehicle after a good drive and it cranks but won’t fire. If pouring water over the injector pump gets it started, you’re up for about $3000 for an injector and injector pump rebuild.

buying-used-gu-patrol-2.8

 

Performance Mods For The 2.8

And how about performance mods to get em going a bit better? Being so gutless by nature means any little mod that gets the RD28 working better is a good thing. First up for power is the obvious; a power chip and exhaust. The RD28 sounds AWESOME with a 3inch turbo back system. Blocking the EGR seems to bring the power on a couple of hundred RPM sooner, and you can read how to do that HERE. It also prevents your inlet manifold being clogged with soot, which you can remove with FIRE!. They boost pretty high from factory (12psi), but with a chip you can get the boost turned up to 14psi and increase the fuel to match. Now she’s a race car!

What To Look For In The Body/Chassis

a swivel hub leak

Swivel Hubs: Take a look at the swivel hubs at the front, they develop a leak after a while which normally means the axle seal needs replacing. Big job, expensive in labour.

Death Wobbles: Many GU’s have or had a problem with “patrol death wobbles” in a speed range between 70-90km/h. Some people have a horror time trying to stop it, but start by checking suspension bushes and failing that, kingpin bearings.

Sub Tanks: Some models run into small issues with the sub tank whereby the light stays on and you are unable to use it. In most cases it is an issue of poor chassis-to-battery earth, and adding an earth strap fixes em right up.

Chassis Cracks: Only really an issue on those who have towed enormous vans, or utes with massive heavy canopies on the back. They are known to crack around the spring mounts on the rear. It is well documented, and a few companies sell bracing kits if you intend on moving big loads.

These points aside, the chassis, driveline and body are mostly without issue!

Popular Suspension/Driveline/Body Mods

gu-patrol-arb-suspension-lift

 

Suspension & Tyres: A two inch suspension lift is as high as you can legally go in Australia without engineering, and is popular for that reason. Same with tyres, a 2 inch increase in size is the legal way to go and 33 inch tyres are a two inch increase on standard. 35 inch tyres will fit and work well on a Patrol, although your gearing will be less than ideal. A 2 inch lift can be done with just springs and shock absorbers, but I would recommend castor correction as well to keep some sort of handling in check.

Body: Patrol barn doors can sag or crack under the weight of the spare wheel, an even bigger problem if you’re using larger and heavier tyres! So if you want to carry a bigger spare, you might want to install an aftermarket rear bar. Most of the GU’s had a factory bullbar thrown in to sweeten the deal, so don’t be fooled into paying more for one with a bullbar. Oh and it’s normal for the body mounted tail lights to not work, something about them not meeting ADR’s. Some people put in the effort to install globes just for the sake of looks.

Driveline: All but the DX model GU’s have auto locking hubs. They are handy, but are known to play up after a while and start unlocking and locking when you don’t want em to. You can actually convert the auto hubs to manual, or replace them with manual hubs straight off the GQ patrol. The rear LSD in patrols is well known for being brilliant, but as they get older people are either shimming them up to be more effective, or replacing with lockers. Diff breathers are a must-do on any 4wd. The front diff in the GU already has the breather quite high up in the engine bay, same for the gearbox and transfer case. The rear diff breather extends only up to the chassis and is best routed up to the engine bay with the rest.

is-nissan-patrol-any-good

 

You may now consider yourself armed with all you need to know when shopping around for a GU Patrol. If you’ve recently bought a GU, or you end up buying one after reading this; make sure you send through a few pics that I can share with everybody! Oh, and if you are reading this as somebody who knows their GU’s, and reckon I’ve missed something don’t be afraid to pull me up on it. You might just be helping somebody out ­čÖé

Alex

Alex Garner

About author

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12 Comments

  1. Larry Ledford
    March 06, 09:00 Reply
    You have some great stuff and ideas there. Sounds the Patrol has served you well. Good work. Larry
  2. Nice review mate. I very nearly bought one of these - the 2.8. I was very close to signing the paperwork when my 80 popped up!
    • Alex Garner
      March 06, 21:22 Reply
      ahh then you went to the dark side! haha, nah tough truck those 80 series I would probably have done the same if I wasn't already in the Nissan stable!
  3. Ben Wilson
    July 09, 06:11 Reply
    Whilst the Patrol has been around for many years, it's disappointing Nissan has not addressed any of the issues which have remained with the model from the start. I purchased a 2013 Model the beginning of last year. I wish I knew then, what I do now. I probably would have steered clear from the patrol. Compared to an 80, the front suspension is woeful. Although the front suspension is similar, why is it only the patrol with front end wobbles? Rear coil towers cracking Rear barn door cracking from the weight of a tyre (had to buy a rear bar) Issues with Auto hubs Crap low range gearing!!! An 80 is lower. I ended up fitting 85% reduction gears. Just many problems with the Patrol, which should have been rectified with each new series. Anyways, I only just happened to stumble across your videos on YouTube yesterday. Spent the next few hours watching them all. Keep up the good work!
    • Alex Garner
      July 12, 08:20 Reply
      I'm guessing you came to the Patrol from an 80 Ben? You make some truthful points there, can''t argue with facts! Glad you enjoyed the YouTube channel buddy! Cheers!
  4. Miigaa
    February 24, 12:31 Reply
    Great advice here, thanks. One question about tyres and lift: 2inch lift (by just spring and shocks) with 35 inch tyres - do they not rub at flex, or rub inside at full articulation? i am seriously considering 35s on my 2009 GR-X patrol (GU patrol with Left hand drive).
    • Alex Garner
      March 21, 07:56 Reply
      With 35's and a 2 inch lift I would expect them to rub under articulation. I know you can get 35's under a 3 inch lift okay as long as you don't have extremely long travel shocks. I'd be going for at least a 3 inch if I were you.
  5. dadfix
    June 04, 04:52 Reply
    Hi Alex, Thanks for your very useful info and videos. My son has wanted a Patrol for a few years and we found what looked like just the one and purchased it earlier this year. A steep learning curve for us both. The 2.8 has displayed all the symptoms you have outlined including the crank bolt, balancer, and hot start issue. Unfortunately it looks like the previous owner was well aware of these and has done all the mods before us. We bought a egr block off and when we went to fit it, it was already done. The fuel pump plate , already done, balancer bolt, done. He loves the car but its a bank breaker for us both as i am left to fix it when it breaks. If only we had read more. Thanks, Rob Forster.
  6. Dig
    August 21, 11:41 Reply
    Hi Alex great summary of the RD28Eti. I've had my 1999 one for 11 years now and it just clocked up 500000km. I am the second owner from new and bought it from the owner with 165000km on the clock. It can be a little slow to get rolling, especially on a hill but once moving just keeps going making a 1000km drive a pleasure, just need to time passing road trains on up slopes carefully. I have used it on and off for my daily commute, of 100-160km round trip over the years. Issues I have had were 3rd gear syncho failing, started with it slipping out of 3rd on the over run at 240000km. Front wheel bearing seal failed and seize shearing the outer drive shaft. Every time I have started to suffer the death wobbles I insisted on replacing the steering tie-rod ball joints and the issue goes away (done that twice in the time I have owned it. Front brake disks wear, from original had such a variation in thickness the judder got so bad I replaced these at 350000km. Cylinder head cracked between the valves on No.5 at 400000km replaced original injectors and glow plugs at this time. The replacement cylinder head or gasket has just failed again :(. The question is how much more do you throw at it. I know the synchro is again showing signs of ... guess that's what happens when we keep driving them :) The only mods, other than what the kangaroos have done, is replacement springs and shocks - Dobinson standard springs and shocks(lifted the sag by 1 inch) and fitted a beefed up steering tie rod after slipping off a dirt road, hit a small tree stump and bent the original. Its is a great vehicle for all the motoring its done.
    • Alex Garner
      September 27, 19:32 Reply
      Sounds like you encountered most of the problems I had! Mine started to pop out of third towards the end of my ownership, but thankfully never cracked a head! You've done pretty well for 500,000km and 11 years though! Quite surprised you didn't mention the injector pump. That's a dead predictable failure, mine went at 310,000km. Like you, I had reached the point where many things had gone wrong at once and I was just waiting for the next thing to go wrong. That's the point I decided to move it on.
  7. Matty
    October 08, 11:57 Reply
    Looking at buying a 3l dx gu Nissan patrol what you reckon about them
    • Alex Garner
      October 12, 20:48 Reply
      Hey Matty. I don't mind the 3l. My old man has a 3 litre model and it's a trooper! It would be wise to steer clear of anything before 2003 with that motor as they are generally prone to blowing up!

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