So you’ve bought your 2003 Nissan Xterra SE as this years winter beater and I couldn’t be more thrilled for you. It comes with all the basic needs of a 4x4 rig; tires, a heater, some head lights, etc, and you’ve taken a photo of it far enough back for just about anyone to justify it as a good purchase. Even mom.
Roll ahead a few months, and it’s still not plated. Why? It’s a simple SOHC V-6. You gave it a once and even twice over before you bought this little piece of Craigslist, what’s the deal? Well, turns out, looking at a car during the night, is just as stupid as checking a car out during the day you’re overly excited about. If you’re looking at the trail beyond the mud puddles, don’t be surprised when the water starts coming in through the bottom of the doors, and you find yourself going no where.
And make no mistake, there are problems unseen, that could prove to be disastrous behind the coolant-stained clutch fan at the front of Nissan’s 3.3-liter interference engine. A timing belt soon to become just a few strands of a bad-time perhaps?
Regardless of how long you haven’t driven what you paid for to drive around in, at some point you’ll recognize it was worth it. It can quickly turn into a relief effort. When your coolant goes from poisonous pumpkin spice latte, to water almost as bad for you to drink as what they have in Flint, MI, it hits you. It’s a good thing, for this car, you bought this car. Financially it’s become apparent how large of a mistake it is, but ignore that. Rest assured, this won’t be the last time you fall in love with garbage.
I was assured by the previous owner that I was getting a good deal. And boy, what a deal it’s been so far. Fuel injectors, knock sensor, lower intake manifold gaskets, tensioners, radiator, you know, typical old and neglected Xterra stuff. Short of a bad haircut and some fake tattoos, this thing is 4 seasons short of being a full-on Gas Monkey Garage restore!
Would it be wrong to classify this as "something you should've just went and looked at, kicked the tires, and then quickly, but politely, walked away from?" I think so. After you loosen up the kinks in the hose, things get wet, and fun, and nobody else in the neighborhood can tell as easily that you waited too long to make a trip to the bathroom after drinking half the pitcher of Crystal Light. But that doesn't mean they still can't smell it.
The whole purpose of buying this was to romp around in the winter. I've been a fan of Nissan since high school. I owned an 86 300zx. Fixed it. Drove it. It broke. Fixed more. Drove it. Then I went to college and sold it. Then built a turbo car. Then drove it. Then continued college and bought an 85 300zx. Drove it. Fixed it. Wasted tons of money replacing thing like balljoints to make it something I thought I would own for 10+ years. Then sold it. And here we are at the Xterra. I won't mention the year I spent driving an Infiniti J30T around, contemplating if moving to the city from Michigan's upper peninsula had turned me into some dark tinted-window sedan chump.
Now that's running good, I understand you guys now. I understand why people take a perfectly good vehicle- no. I wont start there. I get why someone would spend money on bigger vehicle, with mediocre mileage, and burden it with mud, winches, flat tires, busted CVs and even drive around without bumpers! ITS BECAUSE IT ISNT A BURDEN TO THESE THINGS! They love it! I feel bad driving on pavement in this thing.
There is only so much Fetty Wap a guy can listen to on the stock FM stereo before he either drives his truck into a tree, or starts wearing SouthPole jeans and BabyPhat shoes. I did neither. I upgraded the FockFord Rosgate stereo with a bluetooth single din. That RockFord amp is great! I also upgraded the shocks. 4wheelparts had a sale on Bilstiens, 4 for $260 shipped! Yeaaauuu baby!
Most recently I've picked up a 180w CREED (Apparently making shitty music didnt work out for these guys) 30" lightbar. And no, this isn't like my OkCupid profile, where I round-up by 5". I'm still working on a better mount for it. The $4 I spent at Lowes to mount it, looks like $4, and I wouldn't trust $4 holding onto $70 out on the trails. But it's bright!