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Discussion Starter #1
Has anybody else had an insane amount of problems with their X? I bought my 2004 SE used with only 90,000 miles, and I have already put at least $6,000 into her.. just to keep her running! The starter and distributor were both replaced twice, IAC, camshaft position sensor, knock sensor, all four catalytic converters, and the list continues. Just trying to decide if I keep putting mechanical work into her, or just give up. Any feedback?
 

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All in all the Gen1 Xterra and Frontier are the most reliable vehicles I've owned. Both have required minimum parts, but as Racer mentioned, they are getting on in years and there are standard wear parts that will need to be replaced.

With distributors you have to be careful, because the X is a little picky about which one is used (primarily because of the cam sensor built into the unit). The sensors in the aftermarket models tend to have smaller magnets, which results in errors, codes, and an ill running vehicle). If you can, go with a Hitachi distributor as that is the OEM manufacturer. If not, go with Autozone Gold, since it has a lifetime warranty and if it doesn't work you can take it back.

I suppose I'm fortunate enough that I do my own work, so the cost of upkeep is much lower. If you have to pay a mechanic to do the work the cost goes up very quickly and it is way to easy to get a mechanic that just throws parts at the problem hoping something will fix it rather than actually doing the proper detective work and trouble shooting. I do know that before I bought my X the previous owners paid over $2500 for a lot of parts and poorly done install work to try and fix a misfire problem that was a fairly simple fix.

Are you currently having issues? If so, what are they. Perhaps we can give some ideas.
 

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What type of parts are you using? Cheap aftermarket parts aren't worth the effort depending on the application. There is no way you should have gone through 3 distributors and three starters with that mileage.

Even the cats shouldn't need replacing at that mileage. Was the vehicle running rich?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
All in all the Gen1 Xterra and Frontier are the most reliable vehicles I've owned. Both have required minimum parts, but as Racer mentioned, they are getting on in years and there are standard wear parts that will need to be replaced.

With distributors you have to be careful, because the X is a little picky about which one is used (primarily because of the cam sensor built into the unit). The sensors in the aftermarket models tend to have smaller magnets, which results in errors, codes, and an ill running vehicle). If you can, go with a Hitachi distributor as that is the OEM manufacturer. If not, go with Autozone Gold, since it has a lifetime warranty and if it doesn't work you can take it back.

I suppose I'm fortunate enough that I do my own work, so the cost of upkeep is much lower. If you have to pay a mechanic to do the work the cost goes up very quickly and it is way to easy to get a mechanic that just throws parts at the problem hoping something will fix it rather than actually doing the proper detective work and trouble shooting. I do know that before I bought my X the previous owners paid over $2500 for a lot of parts and poorly done install work to try and fix a misfire problem that was a fairly simple fix.

Are you currently having issues? If so, what are they. Perhaps we can give some ideas.
I just had a few things replaced and should have reached out sooner. However, he did say there was a rear main seal leak and I know that will be well over $1000 since they will have to remove the transmission. Everytime I get something fix, I wait for the next thing to fail. But I love my X so much, and want to keep her around. Especially after coming this far! Thank you guys for your responses. I just joined this forum
 

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Discussion Starter #6
What type of parts are you using? Cheap aftermarket parts aren't worth the effort depending on the application. There is no way you should have gone through 3 distributors and three starters with that mileage.

Even the cats shouldn't need replacing at that mileage. Was the vehicle running rich?
I’ve used OEM parts for every fix after the first starter failed, where I didn’t know much and got a refurbished one. It’s like a never ending chain reaction!
 

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Just be aware that oil back behind the engine near the bell housing isn't always the RMS. It can also be due to a leaky valve cover gasket. They are known to go bad fairly frequently. There are a ton of threads here about valve cover gaskets. I typically recommend replacing the valve cover gaskets when the knock sensor is dealt with because you're in there anyways, the parts are cheap (Usually about $14 to $30) and it's a pretty quick job. Check for oil around your valve covers. Use your eyes where you can and then feel around back to see if your hand comes away oily.

Many people choose to just live with a RMS leak if it isn't too large (dime size spot in the driveway). My son's car currently has a slight oil leak so I've put down a piece of plywood in his parking space to avoid the oil spot (I will get around to fixing it eventually)

While there have been very few recalls on the gen1 Xterras, you should also check to make sure that your X isn't included in any of the recalls. The most common ones are the steering column and the fuel sending unit, which has an issue with corrosion in the wire connectors on some model years.

Also keep in mind that parts such as starters and alternators come with a warranty, so keep a copy of your receipts and let the mechanic know that you will want a copy of the parts receipts when he is done. I believe the OEM parts have a 1 year warranty.
 

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Just be aware that oil back behind the engine near the bell housing isn't always the RMS. It can also be due to a leaky valve cover gasket
I find more often than not this leak is actually the rear oil pan lip seal.

a lot of what determines your investment hinges on how dirty you want to get. I bought the blackberry for $300, installed a $1000 engine, replaced front cats, stereo with sub, headliner, tires(all 5), steering parts, and bought a supercharger. I’m about $4000 into this truck now and I drive it every day with 204k miles on it.
 

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Likewise, I bought mine with 68k miles two years ago. The work needed was:
Timing belt
Fuel Pressure Regulator
Upper and lower plenum gaskets (the previous owners mechanic tried to reuse them with RTV)
Valve cover gaskets and grommets
Valve stem seals (figured while I was in there (done with the heads on))
Coolant lines including the bypass
Water pump
Bypass of the intake coolant lines and deactivation of the fast idle solenoid
Thermostat
Radiator
Universal joints and Drive Shaft Center Support Bearing
Brake pads
Steering fluid lines (the ones attached to the reservoir, which are known to leak after 10 years)
Replaced all of the vacuum lines (old ones were getting dry and brittle)
Re-wrapped the engine wire harness in new electrical tape as the old wrap was dry and flaking off. ( went with orange to match my X)

All of these parts were replaced due to simple wear and tear and age. A vehicle with low miles will still have rubber parts that need replacing due to age.

The cost of all this work was relatively cheap because I did the work myself, but if I had it done by a mechanic it would have been far more than I'd want to pay. The bottom line is that there is a point in the ownership of a 16 to 20 year old vehicle where you have to decide if the cost of upkeep is worth it. If I can keep my vehicle on the road with little to no down time for less than $2000 in parts or work per year then I am coming out way ahead over buying a new vehicle and making payments. The same goes for my 2000 Frontier, which has cost me less than $400 in parts per year over the last 6 years. An example i the $600 it cost in parts to rebuild my entire front suspension and steering system on my Frontier. The shop wanted $3500 for the job.

I have no training as a mechanic and have just taught myself out of necessity. When i was in college I couldn't afford to go to a mechanic and now that I'm not, I choose to do the work myself becasue I enjoy it and prefer to use the money for other things. It also allows me to make sure the job is done correctly as many of the local mechanics where I live do half azzed work. The Factory Service Manual is available for download, the Haynes and Chilton manuals can also be used for reference, and there are a ton of videos for Xterra and Frontier (They are identical except for the body) on You Tube. Between that and the people here and at Club Frontier most people can get all the support they need.

1) Download the Factory Service Manual
2) Get an inexpensive OBDII reader that will sync up to your phone via bluetooth
3) Ask questions here or at Club Frontier
4) Look for videos on Youtube
5) You can get a decent set of sockets and wrenches at Costco or Sam's Club for under $100
6) Almost any specialized tool can be borrowed from PepBoys, AutoZone, or O'reilly under their tool loan programs (a refundable deposit is required and if you decide to keep the tool the deposit is the purchase price

Don't be intimidated by the mechanics of your X. The gen 1 is one of the easiest vehicles I've worked on. Repairs like swapping out the distributor or alternator etc are actually quite simple and require only very basic tools. People here, the FSM, and YouTube will have no problem walking you through it.
 

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Same feelings here. My 04 X has over 260k in her. The worst I paid was for the entire rear end. All that from towing. The vehicle has been long paid off and she is a daily runner for me. So , instead of buying a newer vehicle with more expensive repairs I chose to keep her. I do all of the work myself and I know every part of my X during the years. I always try to get OEM parts because they do last way longer than aftermarket rebuild parts. I just hate redoing the same repairs from taking chances with aftermarket parts. I sure hope your Xterra calms down and start becoming reliable again. Good luck.
 

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More likely your oil pan end joint seals are the issue, they harden and shrink/split. It's much easier to pull the pan provided yours isnt 4x4. The repair kit is just a couple pieces of formed rubber and a couple small tubes of silicone.
These little X's like a quality part over cheap ones but they do give back!
 

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I got 08 X 179k miles only big issue other then maintenance is alternator . Good reliable vehicle!!!!!
 

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Has anybody else had an insane amount of problems with their X? I bought my 2004 SE used with only 90,000 miles, and I have already put at least $6,000 into her.. just to keep her running! The starter and distributor were both replaced twice, IAC, camshaft position sensor, knock sensor, all four catalytic converters, and the list continues. Just trying to decide if I keep putting mechanical work into her, or just give up. Any feedback?
Got my X 2004 two years ago and nothing else than regular maintenance, 85000 miles now... gotta watch your Mecanic and parts that are being put on your car to make sure that is getting the job done...
 

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I bought my 03 in Jan. 2016 with 177k miles and haven't even put a thousand miles on it yet because I'm always having to fix something on it. Here's the disclaimer: I bought mine with a rebuilt title. It had been in front end collision. I've put ~$5,000+ into it, the majority of that being the cats and O2's. Timing belt/water pump had to be replaced, 2x distributors, plugs+wires, thermostat, TPS, MAF sensor, and the list goes on. Most recently put on a fan shroud because it didn't have one when I bought it, so I thought it was okay to leave it off but it started overheating in the summer. Since I replace the fan shroud, the fan is hitting... so now I think it may need motor mounts, and I can't do that myself so I'll be putting more money into it soon. And it's also making a whistling noise on the front passenger side since I installed the shroud, so I've gotta check that out too. Honestly, this car has been a money pit, but I've been learning a lot, and doing what I can myself. My Pop-pop has been helping me to do some of the repairs because my dad never taught me how to change a tire or check the oil before he died. I get a little tired of all the problems. Guess I'm hoping that if I eventually have everything replaced that it'll run like new. Seems like a fairytale for now, but I'm a girl, so...
 
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