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Well that sounds like a load of fun! Good luck with everything. Hope it goes well!
Thanks Ben!
My mechanic told me that he'd seen thermostats warp and break apart in high-heat situations. I have no reason not to believe him, but either way, he's not doing any more work here because I simply can't afford it.
  • removed, cleaned, and painted the intake manifold
  • removed and cleaned rocker covers
  • removed and cleaned rockers and valve lifters
  • removed camshaft sprockets (no cleaning necessary, plus I need the grease pencil marks to ensure I put her back together correctly)
  • removed a/c compressor, alternator, and power steering pump
  • removed cylinder head
When I removed the cylinder heads, I found that cylinder 6 had coolant sitting on the piston, and the inside of the chamber was clean from the presence of the coolant. The rest of the pistons had some carbon buildup but really not that bad. The valves are all in great condition, but I cleaned off 95% of the carbon buildup on those too. I've got to rent a valve spring compressor so I can replace the valve stem seals.

I went to www.boltdepot.com and spent about $30 to replace all my old rusted partially-stripped bolts in the engine compartment, replacing all the lock washers, etc.

After I cleaned the cylinder heads, rockers, valve lifters, pistons, etc., I lubed them up real good to sit while I finish the rest. Managed to remove the exhaust manifolds without breaking any bolts, but both manifolds are cracked, so I'll replace those with stainless exhaust headers when I get the cash for them. Looks like they're only about $140 on eBay - http://r.ebay.com/1BqPRz.

Any of you ever use stainless headers on your X? I'm considering using an exhaust wrap on them to reduce heat under the hood, but I'm wondering if it'll cook my catalytic converters.
 

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KYB Gas-A-Just shocks replaced my old rusted rear shocks and improved my ride in the rear a bunch! I only ordered the rear to begin with and will order them for the front as soon as funds are available. I changed my brake pads, did an oil change, and changed my fuel filter (it was the original one and was really disgusting inside).

All in all, Sunday was a very successful day for me as it was my first time doing any of those things besides the oil change!
 

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Oh boy. Been a long long while since I've been active and posting here. Mostly because I'm broke as a joke since I separated from the Marines ages ago and been busy with going to school and whatnot. Being broke I haven't had money to do a lot of extensive work on the X beyond oil changes, a new battery, and a new distro cap, rotor, plugs and plug wires (I change my plugs more often than my timing belt, don't ask, I'm weird).

So while I was in Japan this last spring for study abroad, my brother was occasionally starting my X up just to keep it nice and fresh, changed my oil, and even borrowed it for a couple weeks. When I get back he mentions I had some valve cover leaks that were bad enough to be burning on the headers and smoking up nice occasionally. So I get some cash and get all the stuff to do the valve cover seals. NBD, we get in and start cranking on it pretty viciously and get things moving along quite well, other than two bolts in the plenum stripped (hex drive heads... WHYYYYYY!? After years of cranking on F/A-18 Hornets, I've long known that engineers are downright dumb). So we drill em, break an extractor off in one, other one ended up just getting the head drilled off and twist out by hand after we get the plenum off. The PITA one came off after I took a chisel to the head enough times to chew it up enough to break the torque and it gave me a nice slot to spin it out with a flathead. None of this is new to me... I've been drilling off bolts, screws, and hi-torques as well as every type of semi-permanent fasteners for years... just wish I had good tools at home.

So we get that bad boy off, get the valve covers off (gaskets were old and brittle on the low sides) and replace the seals. So we break for the night and the next day we start cleaning everything up to put it all back together. We get going on said putting back together and the last (back) bolt on the plenum eats the threads on the lower intake. So a few hours of freaking out, drilling, and tapping and it's an oversized bolt, with new replacement standard bolts with equivalent lock washers for the rest.

I fire it up. It's running really really rough, and as we test drive it down the block I pop a blinking CEL. Throw the scanner on. #6 AND multiple cylinder misfire and whatever. Limp it home. We mess with it, nothing is working. I decide that we tear it all apart and see what's up. #6 fuel injector has a smashed connector receptacle. Get another Hitachi on order with Rock Auto thanks to a friend buying it for me.

Few days later, we get that in. Get it together. Runs fine, but when the idle clicks into that "lower" setting, it's rough as duck guts. No codes other than a knock sensor code I've had for years. It's night and I do a block test, and then decide to extend out to the highway a bit. Still having problems. Making a turn, I pop it into neutral and take my foot off the gas and it rough idles enough to die as we coast to the stoplight. Uh oh.

After getting it back I'm frustrated as Hell, but my little brother decides he's gonna help and starts pulling everything again in prep for us figuring out what's wrong. We have a mechanic friend, and then a amateur car mech look at it. The former can say there is something wrong for sure, but just like doing a search here for "rough idle" there are all sorts of culprits. The latter says he hears the whistle of an intake leak and wants us to RTV the plenum gasket to the plenum and then another gasket to that after it's cured and then install and tighten in stages, to include tightening after it's at op temp. (Not sure how I feel about that).

Somewhere in the midst of all this, among the many things we lost and wasted hours looking for was an 8mm socket. We figured after searching and searching and checking the intake (even though it'd been stuffed with rags the entire time we had it open) that it must have gone into a void space below the runners, or down onto the bell housing for the transmission.

Well, I don't even have money for gaskets or RTV or anything, so we were at a stopping point.

I decide a week later, that I'm going to replace that damned knock sensor and probably relocate the replacement too. Only a fuel rail and the lower intake stand in my way. So a few nights ago, despite the hottest and most miserable week all summer, I get my sweat on taking all that off... to discover this:

http://i.imgur.com/4oc9rVW.jpg

Now, I was stationed in Japan from like '10-'12 and when I got back home, I picked up my car and drove it back to Cali to finish up my last year and change. Something nested in it while it was there, because there were acorns everywhere. My brother could only start it up for me occasionally and didn't know how to drive stick at the time, so it never moved. Most of the acorn hulls I had blown or vacuumed off the top end. Turns out they are all up in the plugs and well apparently it was living under the intake too. (They're mostly vacuumed out now, but I need to scoop the oily/wet/whatever gunky stuff by hand still).

Knock sensor came right out no issues and I've got an order together for Rock Auto, just need to wait until the VA drops me a check so I can pull the trigger on my order.

My brother is looking around for the socket with mechanical fingers and a magnet. He looks up from the transmission, and there the damn thing is... wedged in the intake valve of #6 . Some hand turning of the crankshaft pulley and it came free and the valve looks good to go still. I'm not sure what the deal was as I was working on other stuff when he did lose it and we're flabbergasted as to how it slipped past the shop rags.

So today I took the intake halves, the throttle body and everything else and peeled the old throttle body gasket off (I took it off the plenum because it was in bad need of a cleaning) and gave everything a very light sanding for corrosion and really stuck on gasket material, so it's all nice and slick and ready to go together. Shot all the gunky carbon and wiped it out best I could out of all the intake stuff with brake cleaner (probably need another can or two to get it *really* clean).

After I get my new set of good lower and upper intake gaskets (Magnum DryTech) and a new knock sensor, we'll start putting this together. I'm hoping some well-made gaskets will take care of any alleged intake leak. Just not down on this wet seal for "better mating" idea.

I plan on :
-Finish cleaning and scrubbing the engine side of everything and get it nice and pretty-ish again.
-Throw everything back in while relocating the knock sensor (is there a clear writeup on that? I haven't found on, or I'm blind as a bat, even with the search).
-Pray that this solves all my issues and gives me my reliable X back before school starts in August, and I drive to Atlanta for Labor Day weekend.


Things I have to do soon:
-Timing belt is getting very near due for the 2nd run. Luckily I know all about that job and it should be a breeze.
-As part of the timing belt, I'm heavily considering picking up a twin 14" fan and shroud set and a flex-a-lite variable and going electric and better cooled (what should the controller temp be set for btw?)
-Also I'm considering a cam upgrade and the heavy duty springs from 4x4, but I need to do more research to see if this will actually net me MPG gains or not, I think while I got the timing belt apart and now that we know how to tear the top end up, this could be done. I assume I'd have to replace the lifters as well? Also it would be worth checking to see if that valve is actually messed up. And well, if it is, then I might as well pull heads and do a top-end overhaul a little earlier than I wanted).
-Figure out where my Air Conditioning system is leaking. It hasn't worked for years, but if I charge it, it works for a few days and then is gone. It's leaking and I need to figure out where, hopefully a hose or o-ring.

My current future plans:
-Getting Magnaflow DirectFit cats and making my exhaust wide-piped all the way back. (I can't recycle my 4 cats here in IL, because they need mechanic evidence that they were actually removed from my vehicle, people have been caught cutting cats off of cars at dealerships when scrapping was at a high time here back in the day).
-Front end steering stuff is going to need some major work. I don't think it was taken care of properly before I got it, and I haven't had anyone grease it, or greased it myself. Probably time I get on that.
-Needs some serious transmission work, but I'll probably take it to a shop for that. Outside of my scope and I've been debating giving them a Centerforce I set to put in it. Probably needs a new slave cylinder. Something is leaking all over that and the transmission down there and I don't know what it is.
-Moving and enlarging the oil filter with a relocation kit.

Also been debating putting a snorkel or rigging up a better short air ram (since it's just butted up against the cutout hole in the wheel well). Not sure if that's going to help things any. It seems the intake air temp is pretty decent even if it is drawing a bit from the engine bay.

Also also thinking if I redo the front-end steering, I'll throw a steering enhancement package from 4x4parts in and look at redoing the suspension as well since it will all be there anyways.


So uh, that's my tale of the last few weeks... How are your X's doing? :D
 

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Thanks! Now that I'm done travelling with a friend for Oshkosh Airventure, and I get some pay soon, it'll be time to order parts and then get to work.
 

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:crying: I detailed the outside today. Ain't it purty?
 

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Had a new stereo system installed, a Pioneer Bluetooth unit, along with new speakers in front and back. THat thing rocks. The system in the X when I bought it was total crap.

Should have waited on replacing the rear speakers, those things are pretty new looking.

The Bluetooth thing is one of my favorite gadgets. I like to play my tunes from my phone, and the handsfree phone feature is really great when driving.
 

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After having a really rough start the other day I didn't think much of it because it has happened intermittently in the past and just smooths out after a few seconds. This time when I started down the road the engine seems to be misfiring and the Check Engine Light is blinking. So I pull over and sit there a while and restart a couple times until finally it is running miraculously fires up normal. I drive home for another 20 miles hoping it doesn't happen again.

When I got home I ran the code scanner and got a misfire in cylinder #5 . I have been meaning to change the spark plugs and wires for a while now and had them sitting in the garage so now I had a reason. Went out and got a new rotor and cap for the distributor that night so everything will be new.

The next night I went to change out the plugs, and man I tell you, these things were fried. The gap was twice the recommended setting (see the pic). As for the #6 plug, it was a PIA as expected. Probably took me twice as long to do that one as it did all the others combined. Ended up taking the hood off to get better access.

Hooked up all the wiring, fired it up, and all seems well. I expect to see some better gas mileage and performance with the new plugs in there.

Next up is to replace the valve cover gaskets, but that will have to wait until the 95 degree heat is gone.
 

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Got the X all put together and replaced the knock sensor to see the code was back. EDIT: After I finally bolted it down, it's fine. No more codes.

It was idling high as all get out and it turned out the IACV screw had been loosened or something, and I set it back to factory and it's idling normally.

However, the stupid set-screw bracket on the temp solenoid cam was bent, so I fixed it. And then realized getting that stupid spring to curl up is not exactly easy. Something to fix before the Winter I suppose.

But after all the BS I'm happy it's working again.

Now to chase a A/C leak.
 

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I got my new bilsteins installed up front. It wasn't as bad as I expected, but I did have to fight my spring compressors a little bit.

The spring compressor set I have doesn't fit these springs the best, its tight but it got the job done.

I didn't get the back shocks done, that will be tomorrows project.
 

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Sprayed rustoleum on a small area behind my front bumper to prevent further rust. Put a fresh paint job on my back bumper, took years off the truck (getting a clear coat tomorrow). Bought high mileage fuel injector cleaner for my X to continue great performance. Does a high mileage additive for oil that stops leaks helo?
 

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got a new distributor on, eyeballed the timing. took it for a test drive and i get no power off the line, drove it around the block got to the napa parking lot, and noticed the exhaust manifold was red hot on the right side. despite all that it runs smooth.
 

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Sprayed rustoleum on a small area behind my front bumper to prevent further rust. Put a fresh paint job on my back bumper, took years off the truck (getting a clear coat tomorrow). Bought high mileage fuel injector cleaner for my X to continue great performance. Does a high mileage additive for oil that stops leaks helo?
I put Lucas Oil Treatment in my X. It completely eliminated the clicking at startup. I used 3 quarts oil, and 1/2 quart Lucas. So far so good. I think it stays for half the normal oil change cycle. Then you do an oil change as normal. The Lucas sticks to the metal, so when you start up, its not a dry start up. Not sure how long it lasts, but my engine was immediately noticeably quieter after about 3 minutes of running.
 

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I finally replaced my damaged RH fog light. I'm glad I did because the visibility is a lot better when driving at night. I found the genuine OEM Nissan fog light online and ended up saving about $32 bucks in the process. I'm really happy how the new OEM replacement looks on my front bumper. Here's the link to the fog light https://www.nissanpartsprime.com/oem/nissan-26150ea000-lamp-assy-fog-r.html
 

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New Bilsteins. 4600s in the front, 5100s in the rear. New front and rear brakes with drilled/slotted rotors. New tires. Alignment. New spark pugs. 142,000 miles was long enough I guess for the plugs. THAT job was a pita on the passenger side. I will say that the engine idles smoother now and throttle response seems to be snappier. New air filter. New hatch support struts. New cabin fresh air filters. This is kinda funny because until recently I wasn't sure that the truck, '07 SE 2wd, even had them. The ones I pulled out were from the factory and full of leaves, pines needles, dirt, etc. Couldn't believe how nasty they were. I guess once every 10 years is too long...lol. Moved the crossovers for my Infinity Kappa door speakers from the doors to under the driver seat and ran new speaker wire. I was having problems with bad speaker wire corrosion at the cross overs. Installed foam speaker baffles over door speakers to help protect them from further corrosion. Lubed window tracks. Changed engine oil. Changed rear diff oil. New Sylvania ZXE headlight and foglight bulbs. Still had the factory bulbs installed and actually still worked. What a difference!

On the sparkplugs I went with the $8.00 NGK Iridiums instead of the $18.00 NGK Iridiums. I just couldn't justify spending THAT much money on spark plugs regardless if the $18.00 ones were what the factory used.
 

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Latest Mods/repairs

Since I bought my 04 X in April here is what I have done to it.

Rancho 3" suspension lift.
265 75 R16 BF Goodrich AT
Procomp alloy wheels
Shrockworks front bumper
Replaced starter
Replaced front sway bar end links
Cobra CB install

Next on the list

Replace the crappy Rancho shocks with Bilsteins
Shrockworks rear bumper w/tire carrier
Shrockworks rock sliders
PIAA lights or light bar (not sure yet)
Yakima cargo basket for up top
Maybe BL, not sure yet

If anyone has suggestions or cheaper ideas for the wish list let me know
 
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