I just bought an Xterra Pro4X and will use it on logging roads in northwestern Ontario. I have a few questions:
This is my first vehicle with a rear locker. Logging roads can be quite muddy with pools of water of various depths. I sometimes drive 20-plus miles one way. Should I engage the lockers at the start and wait I until I need it?
In a similar vein, I tend to stay in 2-wheel drive with past vehicles until it gets dicey. Is this what I should continue to do?
Lastly, I often walk into pools to determine the depth. At what depth should I abort and do a turn?
Thanks for helping!
Great questions! I have a first generation (2004) Xterra...so the vehicle is slightly different...but here are my suggestions.
I would typically engage 4WD at the start...and only engage the rear locker if you need specific help over an obstacle or through the mud.
Well...how deep are you thinking you will see? The biggest threat to me is how soft the bottom of the water is? If it is a rocky river bed that won't sink in much, I may be comfortable going in up to tire height (no snorkel for me).
If it is very soft and muddy, you have to take into account how much deeper the water will be once you sink in.
The other aspect is when you drive through the water, your tires actually push the water forward and away from the truck, making the path effectively shallower.
Also, you have to take into account the entry angle. It may not be too deep...but a very steep entry angle will make it reach higher up on the front of the engine as you drive down into it.
The best way to think about this is to consider what parts are BAD to get water into.
1) Air intake: know where your engine gets its air from on the intake side of the engine. Don't get that submerged!
2) Rear Axle Breather: Axle should have a breather vent/valve on the top side to vent vapors and gasses as the gear oil heats up. You don't really want that submerged, as water get into your gear oil. I took a long stretch of fuel line and attached it to a nipple fitting to create an axle snorkel. I ran it up as tall as I could through a cross member and up by the bumper and tail light.
3) Front differential breather: The front differential should also have a similar breather tube. The stock breather on the first generation goes up pretty high, so mine is un modified.
4) There may be a breather tube on the transmission as well. Same thing applies.
That is the name of the game...keeping water out of axle oil, transmission fluid, and engine intakes.
On a side note wheel bearings can take a beating with a lot of water and mud crossings. I'm not sure how the bearing setup is on the 2nd gen...but if you do a lot of mud and water crossings above the hub, learn how to repack wheel bearings.