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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is my second attempt at a build thread for my Xterra. I just didn't put too much effort into the first thread after my initial introduction. So, this time around I'll be more diligent!

A little about myself to start

Alright everyone, I figure introductions are in order before I jump right into my build. My name is Taylor, I recently moved up to Northern Alberta from Denver, Colorado! I have built a few things over the years, ranging from MTB's to full on half-chassis drag cars. The last two years, however, I have been sucked into the world of Superbike racing. I got pretty heavily involved with the MRA league in Colorado and spent all my time doing that. Basically as soon as my feet touched the ground here in Grande Prairie, I knew my racing days were over, so it was time to find a new hobby.

I've always been interested in Overlanding Expeditions, rock crawling, general 4x4ing, things of that nature. So after having a once over of the terrain up here, I figured there was no better time to start than right now.

Unfortunately my Credit from the States doesn't carry over into Canada, and I stupidly sold my house and my truck before I came up here, thinking I would just get new stuff. When I found out I couldn't, and had to build my credit as if I was 18 again, I was kicking myself in the butt pretty hard. So, I hopped on Kijiji (Canadian Craigslist), and started to have a look around, limiting myself to 10k or so. Wasn't finding anything I liked. So to blow off some steam, I let this girl I had just met take me for a hike in Grande Cache. It was there, at the trail head, I saw a yellow gen 1.5 Xterra. I immediately fell in love with the body style, and I HAD to have one. Two days later I was on a plane to Edmonton to pick up my new to me Xterra.

Now introducing the Xterra

An auto 2002 SE S/C. Super clean, and I bought it from the original owner, who happened to be a pretty easy going older gentlemen. Had 230,000km on the clock when I bought it for a whopping 4k. Thats about 140,000 miles. At first I was a little unsure of it because of the miles, I've never even owned anything above 100k miles before. So this was new to me. Although it really surprised me on my 4.5 hour drive back home. Idle was as smooth as can be at 850rpm, didn't jerk or hesitate while driving, the only things I wasn't impressed with were, the stock headlight performance, and the overall lack of mid to high range power. I am deeply upset with the motor, however, with the cash I'm dumping into this thing, I'll probably keep it and build the motor after it dies. Or swap something else in. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

I'm going to apologize right now for the crappy iPhone pictures. My DSLR decided it wanted to become a grenade during the move here. So I'm in need of another high quality camera. Honestly it just isn't high on my priorities at the moment.


I'm going to include prices as reference for myself, as well as whoever else cares. Keep in mind this will all be in Canadian currency, and the exchange rate right now is beyond terrible. (Perfect time to build a rig, eh?!)

So, as always, start with the maintenance. I knew this thing has been taken care of pretty well, but me being stupid accidentally tossed the service records in the trash at the car wash. My bad. So I decided to just go ahead and get everything done, starting with the basics. I'll do more as the weather here improves.

Done (+)
Parts ordered or in Progress (-)
On the list but haven't started ( )

Oil and Filter Change 5W-30 for winter (+)
Oil and Filter Change 10w-30 for summer ( )
Compression Test (+) $168.00
C1-145psi C2-140psi C3-135psi C4-135psi C5-145psi C6-145psi
Timing Belt, Water Pump, all new coolant hoses, etc (+) $684.65
Coolant Flush (+) $146.34
Serpentine Belt (+) $120.85
Power Steering Pump and Belt (+) $323.74
Plugs, Wires, Distributor ( )
Front Brakes (+) $66.21
Rear Brakes ( )
Repack Wheel Bearings ( )
Inspect Rear Main Seal ( )
Replace PCV ( )
Replace Intake Filter ( )
Replace Front Swaybar Bushings (Deleted)
Change Front and Rear Diff Oil ( )
Extend Diff Breather Tubes ( )
Change Transfer Case and Transmission Oil ( )
Grease and Lube all Zerks/Ports (+)
Replace Fuel Filter ( )
Replace Idler Pully ( )
Change Supercharger Oil ( )
Clean up random wiring ( )
Change Cabin Filter ( )
Inspect U-Joints (+)
Inspect Motor and Transmission Mounts ( )
Replaced Windshield ( )
Seafoam (+)


This one I really rolled around in my head for a while. Ultimately I decided against a SAS, because that was just far too extreme for my goals and needs. I went with a 3" lift I pieced together from assorted companies, I may do a body lift down the road. Time will tell.

Calmini UCA with Upper Ball Joints (+) $579.71
SAW Torsion Bars (+) $268.48
AC Lower Ball Joints (-) $108.76
OEM Cam Bolts (+) $86.04
AC Ultra Low Bumpstops (+) $17.21
Front Bilstein 4600 HD +3 Shocks (+) $262.91
Rear Bilstein 4600 HD +3 Shocks (+) $214.73
Nisstec AAL (+) $123.88
Nisstec 3* Axle Shims (+) $60.57
Zinc Plated U-Bolts (+) $64.70
AC Lift Shackles (+) $96.30
ACDelco OEM Style Leaf Pack Replacement (+) $664.90

Wheels and Tires

This is a debate everyone knows can go on FOREVER. We are lucky enough to have a ton of options for awesome tires, it really just seems to be everyone's personal preference what they run. I decided to go with BFG's KO2 AT's in a 275/70R17. They have a very aggressive tread, especially for being an All Terrain. I've personally never ran them, but if they're good enough for the Baja 1000, they're good enough for me. Four tires cost me $1,285.20 I still need to pick up another for my spare. As for wheels, I'm staying with the stock ones. I rather enjoy the look of the stock S/C wheels, and the backspacing is perfect. If I need to change that for whatever reason down the road, I'll probably just get extended lugs and some wheel spacers.

Steering and Drivetrain

Front Lokka (Sold) $572.43 Actually Sold this in favor of an ARB
Front ARB Air Locker ( )
Rear ARB Air Locker ( )
Calmini HD Steering Kit ( )


I'm extremely undecided at this point for bumpers and skids, as shipping to the Great White North would almost cost as much as another bumper. So chances are I'm going to have my bumpers and skids custom made by a guy I know down in Edmonton.

I'm also currently in the design stage with my cousin, making a drop in roof rack. It'll end up being pretty similar as the DepHep rack.


40" Light Bar (+) $250 (Actually just took this off and sold it.)
IF Light Bar Mounts (+) $185.85 (Currently selling these)
Bed Liner (-) $169.84
Trail Tool Kit (+) $757.72
x2 30' Recovery Straps (+) $112.47
48" Highlift ( )
Warn VR10000 ( )
Shackles and D-Rings ( )

It's quite the ongoing project, I feel it's coming along pretty decent, only having it for 3 months or so. As soon as it warms up, I'll be doing everything I have sitting for it, then taking a test trip to Prairie Creek. Give it a Youtube search. It'll be a good time.

I'll leave you with a couple pictures I have.


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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Rear Leaf replacements

Ok, so when I bought the X, it had a broken leaf on each side. Fairly typical for these older models. I wasn't too worried, as I was planning on refreshing every bit of the suspension anyway. Unfortunately I forgot to grab pictures of the broken leaf packs, as well as most of the tear down. Oh well, we all know what it looks like, right? I do have one with the new packs ready to go in.

So this was a really simple install. Like childish simple. The only issue I had was on the passenger side, Removing the forward most bolt holding the leaf pack on, the fuel tank skid was in the way of the bolt, so I was unable to pull the bolt out. My fix was to get the stock scissor jack, and just jack it up enough to push up the skid up slightly. Enough to slide the bolt out. Then during installation, just flip the bolt to the opposite side and good to go!

I stupidly forgot to measure before and after, but just by eyeballing it, it sat around 2.5-3 inches higher. Those old leaf packs were incredibly worn out. After the new packs settled, I'm probably up around 1.5-2 inches, from when I bought it.

Then I just did a typical oil and filter change, with a little front break magic.


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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Rescue Duty

A few weeks ago my cousin and his wife decided they wanted to take their brand new F350 for a bit a wheeling. It didn't end well. His long wheel base ended up causing him to get stuck and twisted in a ditch. So he called me to come yank him out, while he was waiting for me he thought it was a good idea to try and get himself out by rocking back and forth. In doing so a thick branch ended up piercing his oil filter. (They are in the absolute worst spot.) He did not notice right away and continued trying to get himself out. He managed to back out a few feet and that's when he noticed the snow was black. The truck did not put out any warnings or anything it was supposed to do in that situation. He turned it off right away, I pulled up a few minutes later and quickly ran his wife and baby back to his house. Then went back out with another F350 and a Chev 3500 as backup to the X. It ended up taking all of us daisy-chained together to yank him out of there.

We left the truck out there that night, with plans to go out the next morning. When we came back out we did a quick oil change and filter swap. The truck only had around 3-4 quarts left in it. It takes I think around 8-10?? Don't quote me on that. So ya, that's bad. Anyway, go to crank it over and the batteries are dead, so I run a charge on the main battery for 20 min, then the slave battery for another 20 min, then back over to the main battery while he tried to turn it over. No dice. Turned out the motor was ceased. So I pulled him out of the trail, onto the highway and 20Km into town to the dealer. The little X did awesome!!

We went back down to the spot with shovels and buckets and cleaned up all the areas that had oil dropped onto it. He did get his truck back a few weeks later with a new motor, its doing great now. But it was a $20k mistake. Because it's an Oil Field truck it is off road in the mountains almost everyday, so the owner of the Company he works for (builds $250k trophy trucks for a hobby) fabbed up an armored box to surround the filter that basically sits in the passenger wheel-well.Haven't gotten a picture of it, but if anyone is interested in it, I can grab one for them.

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Knock Sensor By-pass

I was having some pretty terrible mileage issues with the X, as well as a heavy lack of power. I decided to look into a few options. Really only had 3; Replace stock knock sensor, relocate or by-pass. I opted for the by-pass, mostly because it was the easiest option for me. So I soldered a chain of resistors together to equal right around 563k. (I overshot the Ohms a bit because of real life tolerances, when I hooked up to my multi-meter it came in at exactly 560k.) I didn't take many pictures of this, or do an in depth write up because it has been documented so many times before. If needed, feel free to PM me with any questions, I'll be happy to answer them or direct you to a very in depth write up.

After installation, I reset the ECU, then scanned for any codes. None, perfect. So I took it out for a quick rip and I can say this thing is a completely different animal! It's crazy how big of a difference this has made! Once this motor decides to give up, I'll scrap the by-pass and relocate to a better postion while the motor is out.

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Random Hiking trip to Eaton Falls

The girlfriend and I needed to get away for the day after dealing with a fairly stressful week. So we decided on a hiking trip up to Eaton Falls, just outside of Grande Cache, Alberta. The hike itself isn't all the hard in the summer months, winter was a bit of a challenge, due to all the ice. The scenery wasn't too bad either!

I believe the hike in, eating lunch then hike back out, took us right around 4-5 hours. Granted we took our time and enjoyed ourselves.

Pictures were not a huge concern, as I was videoing with my GoPro for most of the trip. I wanted to compile a little "cute couple's video" for the Girlfriend. Ill post a YouTube link eventually haha.

When we did get to the Falls, the waterfall was completely frozen over, in a few places the ice was a clear as glass and you could watch the falls flowing underneath. It was pretty cool to watch.

After a hearty lunch of PPJ sandwiches, some goofing off and snowball fights, we decided to head back. Mostly because I was having withdrawals from the Xterra, haha! We had a pretty fun drive back, sang to some 90's songs and talked about future adventure plans, and the Xterras maiden voyage after we install all the parts I have sitting aside for it.


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Discussion Starter · #7 ·

Really small update. I've been super busy the last couple weeks. Between writing for a new website, kind of moving and waiting for good weather, I managed to do a quick intake system clean with the spray type Sea Foam.

Super simple. The can actually had clear instructions. Warm motor up to operating temp, shut off. Open up the intake right before the throttle bottle, feed in the straw, close intake back up. Start the vehicle up, have someone hold the rpm at 1500, or just guesstimate and use the throttle pulley inside the engine bay like I did. Spray entire can, should take about 5 minutes. You'll see smoke start to come out of the exhaust, this is OK. After you empty the can turn the vehicle off and let it sit for 10 minutes. Start back up and drive aggressively until smoke clears up. All done!

I honestly did not notice any improvements long term. For the first few days it seemed to idle a bit smoother, but could have just been all in my head. Going to try the original Sea-Foam, putting 1/3 into a vacuum line, 1/3 into oil and the last 1/3 of the bottle into the fuel tank. We'll see what kind of results that yields.

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Small Update

I have a few weeks off from work and the weather has been nice! So I'm going to start my lift, FINALLY! I'm currently in Dawson Creek BC, about to drive back home to Grande Prairie. But first I had to take a picture with this awesome landmark!


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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Calmini Upper Control Arms

So today I finally got around to starting on my lift!!!

I started off pulling into my garage (previously my girlfriends garage , but I moved in. So that's an update too haha.) Anyway, pulled in, got out my little 2 ton jack stands, barely big enough to hold the Xterras front tires off the ground. First I let everything soak in PB Blaster for around an hour. I've also been spraying PB on everything, everyday for about a week. I feel like that helped a TON!

Then I started taking off the front sway bar, all goes perfect until I get to the driver side end link. The long collar spacer between the bushings was seized on there pretty good. Good enough that I brought out a little angle grinder and zipped it right off.

After that I had a good look at the upper control arm and ball joint. I decided I should run to the parts store and buy a pickle fork just in case. I snapchatted my buddy on the way to princess auto and asked if he wanted to help. He said yes and just to go to his shop. Plus he had every tool I could ever need, since he is a heavy duty mechanic. So I flipped around and headed over to the beer store, grabbed some brews, then went to his shop. We get everything torn down, starting with the passenger side. I couldn't believe how easy it was, especially after reading about everyone's trouble with the cam bolts. It took us MAYBE 40 minutes to jack it up, get the tire off, get the stock control arm off, get the new calmini one on, get everything greased and aligned and put the tire back on.

I wish I could say the driver side went as easy as the passenger side. Unfortunately that was not the case. It took us almost two hours. We were still pretty lucky considering only one cam bolt was seized. We tried everything. Fire, BFH, cold chisel, 3 inch peanut grinder, anything we could thing of. Nothing we did would get it off. I head over to the tool box to brainstorm and I notice that the mounting hole for the 6 inch angle grinder disks aren't much bigger than the 3 inch for the peanut grinder. So we fabbed up a washer type thing, that held the bigger disk to the peanut grinder perfectly! That gave us just enough extra length to zip through the cam bolt. Finally out came the other stock control arm!

Then we installed the new arm, greased everything up, torqued everything, tire back on and went for a test drive. Absolutely perfect! The hardest part of installing the lift is done! Tomorrow I'll be busy with trying to find a new career, then baseball that night. So Wednesday I'll be finishing off the lift. Then when I get some spare coin, I'll have the tires mounted and get a professional alignment. I'm very excited with the progress that happened today. More to come!

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Finishing the Lift

So over Wednesday and Thursday I finished lifting the Xterra. After the control arms I decided to do the leaf packs next, putting in the Nisstec add a leaf. All very straight forward and simple to do. After the leaf pack I put on my AC shackles and Bils, as well as took off the sway bar. Before the suspension settled, I had gained 5.25 inches haha. Now that it's settled a bit more it is sitting around 4 inches of lift in the rear. Extended break lines are bound to happen soon.

Then I moved onto swapping out the torsion bars and setting the ride height. I'm still fine tuning this part, currently having some issues, but it looks good! Will look even better with my new tires mounted!


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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Tires Mounted and Test and Tune

Finally got my new tires installed and had some free time to give everything a quick test. The test wasn't anything crazy, just enough to stretch its legs and get a feel for it. Over all I'm very happy with how thing preformed. SUCH a huge difference over stock. The only thing I need to do is work on a little bit of tire rub I get at full lock. Here are a few pictures and a video!

With the suspension settled out some more, everything re-torqued and tires at even PSI, I've gain 3.5 inches in the front over the worn out stock, and 4 inches in the rear. I'm very happy with everything at the moment, and I have a lot more to do to it. However being in the Oil and Gas industry, work has slowed down to almost nothing. I've started relying on my free lance writing to pay the bills, so money is tight for the next couple months. I will be changing out all fluids again here pretty soon and doing little odds and ends to keep the updates coming!
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