SMYRNA, Tenn. — The owner of a 2014 Nissan Pathfinder hybrid in Puerto Rico will likely never know of the high-level attention that fixed a vexing problem with his crossover.
The gasoline-electric Pathfinder's engine would start, but stall after about 10 seconds. A service technician at the dealership in San Juan couldn't figure out why. Neither could a master tech he consulted at Nissan North America's Tech Line.
So the automaker summoned its last line of defense. Four of Nissan's most experienced technicians huddled here, 1,750 miles from the dealership, and worked in real time with the shop tech to find and repair the cause of the stalling.
As part of a new program called "Fixed Right First Time," Nissan has created what it calls its Last Line Defense Team. When a dealership shop can't fix a vehicle, even after checking with experts who staff Nissan's Tech Line, the last line goes into action.
Vehicle complexity continues to grow because of such things as electrified drivetrains and advanced safety and self-driving features. Nissan, like other car companies, is working to ensure that its dealerships can solve increasingly tough repair problems with a minimum of customer inconvenience.
In March, the automaker gave Fixed Ops Journal a rare behind-the-scenes look at how it is helping Nissan and Infiniti techs troubleshoot the kind of challenges that can defy factory-recommended solutions.
Nissan staffs its Tech Line with 38 master techs. They work six days a week in the automaker's Field Quality Center in Smyrna, next to the sprawling Nissan assembly plant that produces such top-selling vehicles as the Rogue and Altima.
The most experienced Tech Line members, Nissan's ninjas of auto repair, are assigned to the last line team. On this day, members gather around a computer that enables dealerships to display vehicle diagnostics and trouble codes in real time. Use of a nearby blackboard encourages team members to think out loud, share ideas and take notes.
"Problem-solving is its own reward for a lot of personality types," says Brad Page, manager of Fixed Right First Time support. "The fact that it makes a customer happy is a huge benefit as well."