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Discussion Starter #1
My research here is minimal and I am just starting to dig for specifics. I was Thinking diesel for a while but today the local dealer told me it would fit. My first two questions to get out of the way were; is there room in the compartment and can the rear end handle it. Dealerships mechanic said yes it can fit and between the two gens out, the 1st is actually a better option for the swap when it comes to the rear end.
So in the process of finding a donor- What am I looking for? Engine, harness, ECU, ..? My intention is to have it taken in for mounts cause im not a metal worker by any means. I am a 4WD if that makes a difference.

Why am I looking for a swap? N.A. power to weight ratio increase.
Just throwin it out to see what advise there is to be heard.
 

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Im really not sure the front suspension can handle the weight of the engine. I dont believe the thing will fit, and mating it to the stock drivetrain will be an undertaking all of its own. Not trying to be a naysayer, I have no proof as to it physically fitting, I just think there is a lot more in the way of making it work than your accounting for.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Right, I thought about the front end weight issues as well. I do have These sway-away torsion bars on. I'm not sure if that's comping enough for the difference or not. I'm sure they've got to be better than stock bars either way. I haven't checked any farther for fitment than asking the local Nissan mechanics; they gave a confident yes, it can fit- with custom brackets put in place.
 

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Are you talking about the vk56?

The 5.6L engine weighs roughly 500lbs vs 300ish lbs for the vg33e. If you never add any armor to the truck for offroading and keep the stock front bumper with no winch you should survive without snapping a torsion bar. I dont think it would handle too well through.

the rear end would probably hold up to the power fairly well, but the front end is probably going to end up breaking something when you put it in 4wd.

All that said, i feel certain somebody somewhere has shoved an ls1 in an xterra. If you could find info on that, you could probably figure out whether they had trouble with anything once they finished it up.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
You know I have VQ56 written down, and looking around, apparently both are accurate codes... So I'm gonna make sure sure I know what I'm asking before I continue. Its not a typo though- Any sites with reliable/detailed information on the trucks would help. I'm starting all my searches for them from scratch and had never given the trucks a second look till about 18 hrs ago. I know its a larger engine from the same manufacture.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yes, after some reading its the VK56DE that I am looking for. Wikipedia is telling me that's the only engine the Titans have ever had, 04-present.
 

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I don't think anyone has ever done a VK swap on a first gen. I know that there has been at least one on a second gen, and maybe even a few frontiers. Getting it shoved in the engine bay is the easiest part, and that will still be a pain in the ass. The wiring will cause you to hate it. If you want more power, why not buy a second gen? It'll come out cheaper and you will have a new truck. Then if you ever want the VK down the road, it's a much easier swap. Much easier, but still difficult.


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Discussion Starter #8
Because I think the second gens are ugly. I doubt that buying a new car will be cheaper than than the parts. Are the 2nd gens almost twice the power to weight ratio as the 1st? Coming from the certified mechanic, its easier on the 1st gen than the 2nd- Who is accurate here?
 

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from a money stand point I would guess your looking at $10k to do the swap unless you find the engine for dirt cheap. Thats assuming the suspension will hold up to the weight. If not your looking at having to do a sas then your looking to add another $3k on top of that. also your going to more than likely need the 2 or maybe 3 inch body lift to get enough height in the engine bay to fit the engine.

This is all assuming you do all the work yourself. If not it just keeps going up from there.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I'm OK with width and weight, my thoughts on it not fitting were length and height.
Where does the 10K come from? I'm calucating 1700-2200 for the motor, 700 for ECU, assumed 2500 for wiring and etc. 2K for tranny if needed.
For what its doing to the car, I think it would the cash put put the vehicles worth into the project.
Im running back into town later and am going to go seek some real numbers off the lot.
 

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Better yet quit talking to this mechanic cause hes talking out of his ass. Modern engine swaps are no walk in the park. All the electronics make it a nightmare to pull off and work. Its much easier to go back to an older more manually controlled engine. Tell this guy i'll pay him $50k to get a vq56 in a 1st gen xterra working reliably enough for daily use, BUT he has to front all cost for parts and labor till it gets there. His story will change real quick.
 

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I'm OK with width and weight, my thoughts on it not fitting were length and height.
Where does the 10K come from? I'm calucating 1700-2200 for the motor, 700 for ECU, assumed 2500 for wiring and etc. 2K for tranny if needed.
For what its doing to the car, I think it would the cash put put the vehicles worth into the project.
Im running back into town later and am going to go seek some real numbers off the lot.
Don't take this the wrong way (as a personal attack), but you need to do way more research before you commit to doing a project such as this, and by research I don't mean talk to the Certified Nissan Mechanic. Is he aware that there are multiple occasions where a VK56 has been placed into a 2nd gen Xterra or Titan, and not one occasion of a VK56 being put into a first gen. Is he aware that one of those times, the project was done by Nissan engineers? I'm not saying it cannot be done, but the chance of you or him being able to take it on are slim to none.

Some things to think about:

Getting the motor running

For the VK to work in your truck, you will need all of the sensors that tell it how to perform. This means that your Xterra will need to essentially be a Titan, so you will really need a whole donor truck, not just the motor and ECU and possibly the transmission. Fuel delivery is also an issue. Can the Xterra fuel pump supply enough fuel to feed the thirsty VK? Speaking of fuel pumps, will the Titan fuel pump fit in the Xterra tank if needed? If not, will the Titan fuel tank fit under the Xterra. The throttle cable assembly will need work. How do you plan on matching up the Drive-by-wire system of the Titan with the drive-by-cable system of the Xterra.

Suspension

How do you plan to handle the weight of the engine? Will any of the preexisting parts on the truck interfere with the way that the motor is mounted? How will you clear the larger oil pan? You could do a sizeable body lift, but that may not even provide you the clearance. You could do a Solid Axle Swap, but that will end up costing more than you think.

Steering

The Titan has a rack and pinion steering, and provisions are made in the motor design for that. The first gen Xterra does not have rack and pinion steering, but a steering box and knuckle. How do you plan on addressing this?

Drivetrain

The Titan motor will not hook up directly to the Xterra transmission, so you will need an adapter. What if the Titan makes too much power for the Xterra transmission (strong possibility). You will need a Titan transmission behind it. How will you make the sensors work together. The cooling lines for the transmission, how will you run those past the larger engine, and around the SAS if needed? Once you get to the front, is the radiator large enough to cool the transmission fluid? Is the radiator big enough to cool the engine? Is the front of the Xterra big enough for a Titan radiator? How will you mate the longer transfer case and transmission combo under the Xterra and still make the stock wheelbase work? Will you get a really short driveshaft? Will your angle be small enough that you don't get driveline vibrations? Will you need a slip-yoke eleminator? Finally, at the back axle, will it handle the power of the Titan without exploding.

All of that just merely touches on the surface of what you should be thinking about if you are doing an engine swap. However, based on your posts, it looks as though you are just considering physical fitment of the engine in a static truck. It would be enough for it setting in a garage for the rest of it's life, but if you want something useable, you need to do it correctly. Better yet, take the money that you would spend on this (you say $7500 max, I'm thinking $15k+ after labor) and use it to purchase something else with the performance that you want, or spend some money on the truck that you have and be content with it. That is just my two cents though, and I am just a senior mechanical engineering student. Good luck!
 

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Well said Ryan. Just to give you an idea what your attempting this is an old video from 2003 of Millen trying to do a similar project on a lexus is300. Now this is a professional shop with i'm willing to say WAY more knowledge then this mechanic your talking to.

(the beginning of part 2 will really hammer it home)
 

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and dont forget getting custom exhaust manifolds made and figuring out a way to route the exhaust out of a much larger (wider) engine around so that it fits between the firewalls and the frame. There isnt really a lot of room around the manifolds on a stock vg33. I think if all your after is power, look into a vq35 or vq40 with a supercharger. still going to be a lot of work to get one in, but I think it would work out a lot better int the end.
 

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and dont forget getting custom exhaust manifolds made and figuring out a way to route the exhaust out of a much larger (wider) engine around so that it fits between the firewalls and the frame. There isnt really a lot of room around the manifolds on a stock vg33. I think if all your after is power, look into a vq35 or vq40 with a supercharger. still going to be a lot of work to get one in, but I think it would work out a lot better int the end.
The VQ will still be a lot of work as far as computers go. The motor that came in the 300zx would be the best idea I think.


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Discussion Starter #16
No offense at all! These are the responses I am looking for :D I'm aware that thus far I am lacking knowledge, thought I brought up from the get go. This thread is so I know what I need to educate myself on, or other engine options. Not to debate it. You're giving me what I need to look into, not, "it'll be too difficult" without backing.
Over the next few days/weeks (however long it takes lol) I plan to graph out all comparisons to see what will be most usable; looking at the VQ's as well.
I'm looking for NA power. <- that being said, Ive only owned turbos (90' 300ZX-TT) and the only supercharged car I have driven is the cobalt SS.
 

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Not that it would be the least bit cost-effective, but a VQ37VHR from the 370Z would be awesome. You'd have 340hp on tap from a relatively small motor. I have NO idea what it would take to make that happen (if it's even possible), but it would definitely be a sweet setup!
 

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Anything ever happen with this? I really like the look of the first gen xterra and I too like to dream of a wonderful future with it having some crazy engine in it to make it a beast. So I'm always reading things like this and would love to hear some successful first gen swaps of any sort! Anything MosesM?
 
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