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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey yall,

This isn't going to be a complete write up but I figured I'd share my experience/process of the swap.
My X had 180xxx on it before it started badly misfiring and losing power. Improperly diagnosed as a head gasket due to finding oil in the coolant. Started working under that assumption and got down to the valve train before having the bright idea to run a cylinder leak down test... Ended up discovering two blown rings.



Considering milage and how much I had torn it apart I figured I'd give a JDM swap a try!

Ran into a few hiccups during disassembly. Accidently broke off the bolts of a balancer puller before buying some 3-jaws.

Also ran into the common issue of the rear passenger plenum stud being corroded, that was a hoot and a half to get off.


Bit further now... discovered the passenger O2 sensor was destroyed, assuming from running way to lean on cylinders 3 and 5. That would also explain the heat discoloration on the valve train above those cylinders.
Once I got the heads off (that was fun...) the gaskets actually look okay which supports the leak down test.



Down to the short block now and picked up the JDM engine too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·

At this point I was waiting for parts in the mail and started cleaning any parts that were going back in. A nice before/after of the intake.



Round 2 of forgetting to do a leak down test BEFORE taking everything apart - found out the JDM engine had a bad intake valve. Back to the import shop we go.

Picked up some coolant pipes from offroad gorilla, highly recommend them. Test fitting here.

Still waiting on parts at this point so I went on to do some cosmetic work. Hit almost everything with high heat matte black paint. Decided to have some fun with the valve covers too.



 

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EGR was in bad shape so that got some love too. Simple green and paint goes a long way.

Onto some wiring. The old looms were badly cracked so decided to try this high head wiring loom. Ended up recovering all the harnesses.


With the 2nd JDM engine passing all the tests I could do on an engine stand and my parts delivered, started assembly.
Figured I'd replace everything I could with the engine out: water pump, pulleys, injectors, manifolds, timing belt + tensioner, SC radiator upgrade, dizzy, spark plugs, coolant pipes, the list goes on.

Ran into some issues fitting the flywheel to the torque converter without the right tools bit made it happen.



Had trouble finding replacements for the breather hoses which were shot on all 3 engines.

Turned over no problem but didn't start, ended up being a tooth of on the dizzy. After that, it started right up! Sounded healthy with the airbox mod too.

Had a little more fun while I was at it adding some overlanding gear.
 

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2004 Xterra XE 4WD Auto 3.3L NA V6
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Awesome job! Congratulations on getting it all done, and thanks for sharing your journey.

I just finished doing the t-belt in my 2004 NA. I found coolant hoses at the local AZ as well as online, and the breather hoses I fashioned out of compatible hose that is not molded. Where did you find your molded hoses?

Like you, I upgraded to the SC rad. I found a temp gauge in the cap online for it, too! It works and a bargain at $20. I swapped out the clutch fan for twin 12" electrics last year.
 

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'03 Xterra SE 2WD, 175K
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I found a temp gauge in the cap online for it...
View attachment 80340
Can you give the part # or source for that rad cap?
Is it a D1 small head?
I'd love to get one for my '03 VG33E with standard OEM radiator, but having a hard time finding reference for the correct cap to order.
Thanks!
 

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2004 Xterra XE 4WD Auto 3.3L NA V6
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'03 Xterra SE 2WD, 175K
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2004 Xterra XE 4WD Auto 3.3L NA V6
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Thanks. My research shows we're looking for a 0.9 bar (13 psi) bar cap, to match the OEM #21430-7999C- rated @ 88 kPa.
I see you installed a 1.3 bar (18.8 psi).
Any reason we shouldn't stay with the 0.9 bar, like this ?
Dude! Thank you. I must have spaced out when I was ordering mine. You are 100% correct. I just checked the FSM, which I had all along, as well as the label on my original cap. I will be ordering the correct replacement today.



I found another cap that has the temps in F, so it's possible to get them with C or F.

AmazonSmile: BESPORTBLE Car Water Tank Radiator Cap Cover Water Temperature Gauge Water Tank Thermostatic Cap - 0.9 Bar Small : Automotive
 

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