Nissan Pathfinder (WD21) Solid Axle Swap (SAS) with 3 link + Panhard with coil springs.

Warning small pictures and large just click on a picture for the bigger one. (updated 4/26/2013)

I wanted the best suspension for trail riding the Nissan Pathfinder WD21. This is my daily driver and family vehicle. 

My Goal is too build this pathfinder into the best off road vehicle while still keeping it road worthy and street legal.  I listed all the parts used and where I got them to help others. Material list has prices and part numbers used. Email Me if you have any questions. These are not intended to be step by step instructions. Hopefully give you some ideas that I incorporated that worked for Me.

Plan 33" tires, 4.88 gears, 2 link with track bar. DOM steer crossover.

  Stock with 31s.  2wd done 4wd done



This page is broken into sections:
  • Axle Prep
  • Deconstruction
  • Coil buckets - adjustable and removal.
  • Link mounts
  • Links - Radius arms  - with Johnny Joints
  • Shock Mounts
  • Steering and steering stabilizer
  • Front locker and gears
  • Front brakes
  • Front Driveshaft
  • Sway bar
  • Rocker mod
  • Transmission cross member mod
  • Y pipe mod
  • Rear suspension
  • Rear shock mounts
  • Material list

Dana 44 Axle prep

new carrier needed. 3.92 and lower gears require a different carrier than stock carrier. Took pinion shims from stock 2.72 pinion. The rest of the carrier is unused. I had to buy a new 3.92-5.xx carrier for my 4.88 gears. I installed a Powertraxx lock right in it. Along with new bearings and shims etc. Strip axle of all parts. Hubs, rotors, spindles, knuckles, ball joints, inspection cover. I Removed the carrier, pinion gear, all bearings and races. This will make axle must easier to position and locate correctly under frame.

I installed 4.88s on a new carrier. Installed a locker later.The small stuff is the M216 AKA Dana 44. Big stuff is H233.


 I also upgraded to U bolt style Yoke. The straps are weaker.

H233b  4.9 GEAR install

Picked up a 2003 Xterra 3rd 4.9 member. Just need to swap in my 31 spline carrier.

I threw the new pumpkin in my 92 H233b. Just had to swap carriers because new wd22 are 33 spline and wd21 are 31 spline. Also added some disc brakes from another wd21 pathy. Super simple upgrades. This is why I did not need a dana 44 rear. Only bad thing about some of the newer pumpkins is they dont have the ABS sensor on the pinion. So I removed my ABS computer. I sold the 33 spline LSD. I recently upgraded to 31 spline LSD from another pathy.



 I started stripping the frame down. Removed tires, calipers, sway bar, steering (all but steering box) hubs, rotors, UCAs, tbars, shocks, cv axles, 3rd member,  LCAs, cross member and rubber brake lines.

 Cut off all IFS brackets. Sawzall worked best. But also used cut off wheel in a grinder.


Also found some nice coil buckets, track bar mounts. I added a 3/16 plate to reinforce the frame rail. It is 4" x 8" long. The center of the opening appears to be  exactly the center of the motor mount. I used a laser level to create a Vertical line from fender down to concrete. I mounted the Coil buckets 7" from the steering box upper holes.


This turned out to be the best placement. 7" from the steering box upper bolt. There is bolt holes on both sides of the frame. The idler holes for Left hand drive models.

I added some tube to prevent the coil from falling out at full droop. The tube is the stock D21 driveshaft. The rubber insulator is a stock Wd21 rear upper one.


I had to add some more dom to keep the coils in. Also added a limit strap.


I found some link mounts that should work perfect for a 3 link with coils. I just weld together and attach. I set the pathy at future ride height and axle at 14". Thats what a 35" tire is. Then put a bottle jack under pinion for a 15 deg pinion angle. Then place link/coil mount on axle 2" from end of tube and bucket level. Tacked in place.


I mounted them 3" from tube end. I had to notch for the pumpkin.



 2" .250 wall 36" long lower links. Cut to length then weld on the sleeve. So big a Titan fits inside. 32" inside cut to cut.

Frame link mounts. There is a perfect place on the frame rail were the frame is 1/4 thick. Its double wall 1/8. I decided to try some polyperformance offset mounts to get them up high and to the side of the frame. They need to be inward of the frame rail for tire clearance.

Johnny joints are 7 piece assembly. Very easy to assemble. Using these in all ends of the links and one end of the track bar. I had to use a press to get the clips in.

Bolted on the lower link and still have pathy on seperate jack stands from axle. The coil is just for mock up. Actual coils are 7" longer.

Made the upper link the similar to lower except with 1.5 tube. 


Track bar is a .250 wall DOM. About 26" long. I used a Johnny joint one end and poly bushing on the other.

Here is a mockup with the upper link. Some different suspension cycles.

ride height:


Down travel (stopped by jack stand)

Up travel tests.

Upper link clearance mockup.

Coil springs and retainer mocked. Also shock mocked up. 5.5 Lift springs.

Upper link pocket started as a 3x4" 3/16 tube. Added gussets before mounting to frame. Ride height pix.


Update : Upper link moved higher to eliminate wheel hop. 

Found a much better way to mount the upper link to frame. Cut a hole, insert a piece of old driveshaft. Then gusset outer rail. Use same bolt as other mounts.

Made a new upper mount pocket from 3x5 3/16 DOM. Added a plate to back.

I had to relocate the O2 sensor and Y pipe connection point forward. This gave me room for the Upper link frame mount.



Did some bind free flex tests. The 3 link + panhard is awesome. No binding or clearance issues. More travel than I need. Now to add shocks.

Mockup done. Now to finish welding and painting.

All painted and welded.


Some basic flex tests in the driveway. Made some test drives and dialed in the steering. Made it to the local club meeting.

4wd test drive and flex tests.


 Front shocks I use Rancho rs5005. With removal towers and coil buckets.

Update: I now use Monroe 32391 shocks. I had some clearance issues with old shocks so I had to clearance the towers at the bottom and drivers top. Also came wrong color. Ride is a little softer. So I like these.


 I added a tab next to coil base. Then  piece of flat stock on the panhard upper mount. It works perfect.  I have not done right side yet.



 Steering fabricate. 

This is the stock 92 and older pitman. Reamed for the es2027L.

See the DOM SAS page for more pix.

I cut a 25" drag link and a 41" tie rod. I tapped the ends with right and left hand threads 7/8 18TPI. 


Prepare axle parts - cut off dust shields form caliper brackets and paint. I had to buy a complete hardware kit just for the pad clips.

For front brake lines I bought these from

24" long 10mm to 10mm. Nissan and Dana 44 axles (gm/jeep calipers) use 10mm.1980+ are all 10mm. Just like Nissan. If You already have longer aftermarket brake lines they will work.

Part # Item Price Qty Price
EAR-63010124ERL -3 ST./ST. 24" HOSE $12.88 2ea $25.76
EAR-989545ERL BRAKE ADAPTER -3 TO 10MM F I.F $4.99 2ea $9.98
EAR-997631ERL BANJO -3 TO 10MM $7.39 2ea $14.78

Parts Total: $50.52

You can save a few bucks by using shorter lines. These are quite long.

I had to relocate the hard line because it made it hard to get the bolts in the shock tower.

I also installed some speedbleeders.


To install the rotors, they are connected to hub via wheel studs. Install rear bearing, wheel seal, rotor then new wheel studs. I upgraded to 12mm studs.

Update. I noticed these studs do not fit the rotor correctly. They are too small for the rotor. I put 7/16-20 back in. Still looking for a 12mm that will fit.

Install WARN manual hub. Special tools needed to install wheel bearings and ball joints.


Install knuckles, axles, caliper bracket, spindle, then rotor hub assembly. Then caliper and pads.





See SAS driveshaft page
Using a stock jeep cheerokee driveshaft shortened to length with an adapter.


I decided to cut and turn the inner C's.  Before I weld on the link mounts. I removed the axles, knuckles and steering.

 I did this for a number of reasons. I wanted more caster. Less pinion angle. I also wanted to relocate my sway bar mounts and lower shock mounts.

First step cut off all perchs, shock mounts. Its allot of grinding and pounding. but basically a very cheap upgrade. The trick is to grind the weld as much as possible. then use a cut off wheel and cut the weld all the way around until you see a crack. Then hit the back of the C until you see it move. You CANNOT turn them. You have to remove then reinstall in the new angle. Some come off easier than others.

Then weld everything back on.

I finally got the Cs off with a sledge hammer. The C is in the tube 1 1/4. 

I will weld the Cs back on at 8deg caster at ride height.

H233 diff cover

I raised the fill hole since the pumpkin is leaning so far down. I cut out a rectangle and flipped it over.  I chopped up one old rusty housing and made a bunch of h233 tools. I saved the pumpkin cover for a nice heavy duty cover.

The Dana M216 (216mm) is much smaller than the Nissan H233 (233mm) but I made it fit.

Welded up. Fits quite well.



Moved to SWAY bar page.

Speedometer correction

I noticed with GPS my speed was off after gearing back down to stock gears. Pathys are geared for 31s stock. Since I was a 4.6 gear ratio in the axles with the auto. I regeared back to stock with 4.9s and 33s. But my pathy did not come stock with the optional 31s. So I picked up a auto speedo gear and my speedo is perfect.

I did some FAST research and basically found this.

w/d21 87-93 (94 went electronic)

32702m part code 4wd speedo assemblys.

Nissan Part numbers for different teeth counts.

AT and MT 31s
32703-31G18 18 teeth (BLUE)

AT small tires
32703-31G20 20 teeth  (RED)

mt 4wd
32702-33G17 17 teeth 31s  (My truck should have this one)

at and mt small tires
32702-33G19 19 teeth (unknown)



Modified transmission cross member for driveshaft clearance. Lots of 2" flat stock 1/4" thick.



I welded the cross member to the table upside on some 6" blocks. Cut out the old section. Designed a new section with more clearance. Cut and tacked into place. 

EXHAUST MOD. (Headers shown)

If You have the VG30, You have to modify the Y pipe for driveshaft clearance. I first just used 2" flex pipe to clear the Header Y pipe. I later built a custom Y pipe.  See headers page for more info on those.


See the long arm page


Material List


Part and service Suppliers. - calipers, ball joints, brake pads, brake pins,  oil, shocks  etc..
Bolt depot - bolts, nuts etc. Dana 44 gears, open carrier, LH 7/8 taps, DOM tube for steering etc..
Currie Enterprise - Johnny Joints - coil buckets, link brackets, Link and Track bar DOM - brake lines

Poly Performace - Link frame brackets, Trark bar brackets, poly link ends