Bilstein 5100 (All 4) and Rear Leaf Project - NO LIFT - Second Generation Nissan Xterra Forums (2005+)
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-07-2018, 11:33 PM Thread Starter
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Bilstein 5100 (All 4) and Rear Leaf Project - NO LIFT

Just wanted to share my experience and success with a shock (all 4) upgrade and rear leaf spring replacement project.

Project Details:
  1. I have had my 2008 X Off-Road since driving out of the dealer on New Years Eve 2007. Presently have 120,000 miles and the shocks were squeaking and the ass-end felt really, REALLY soft.
  2. Chose to go with General Spring heavy-duty 5-leaf (4+1) rear leaf springs.....STOCK HEIGHT.
  3. Chose to go with Bilstein 5100 shocks all-around......with the adjustable ride height units up front.
  4. Chose to stay with the original equipment front springs since I planned to add 1-inchh of ride height on the front shocks which should conmpress the springs slightly (stiffer) to maybe offset the "soft" feel they have slid into over the last 10 years.

Lessons Learned:
  1. Purchase longer U-bolts. I assumed I would be able to get by with stock units but no such luck. They rape you on the cost of extended U-bolts. Be prepared for sticker shock.
  2. Plan to replace rear shackles. I stayed with stock height, so replaced with Nissan OEM parts. After 120,000 miles and almost 10 years, my X had very corroded lower post on the shackle. It needed replaced. Stock shackles and bushings are probably $75 total (both sides) while greasable units for polyurethane bushings seem to run at least double the stock cost.....plan for $150 to $200, at least.
  3. Original equipment rubber bushings were in really excellent shape. I was surprised. Because of that, I just elected to keep with rubber bushings rather than switching to polyurethane bushings. My son is in automotive service tech school and he validated that you don't use any lube with natural rubber bushings. They have an inherent lubricating property and don't need it. Don't ruin them by doing anything.....despite what **** you read on the internet. ;-)
  4. This was a 1.5 day and 1.5 cases-of-beer (two guys) project.
  5. This was a three trip project. One trip was to the 4x4 shop for longer rear axle U-bolts and the two others were to get the OEM shackles and all the right bushings. Plan ahead and just assume you'll need to replace your shackles if you have stock equipment you are working to service or replace stuff that is maybe more than 8 years old.

Results:
  1. Brand new, stock height measurements according to one other (2009 Off-Road) on this site indicated front height from ground to wheel well lip at 34.5" (plus or minus) and rear was 35.5" from ground to wheel well lip.
  2. My "BEFORE" results were 34" front and 35" rear.
  3. My "AFTER" results are 34.5" front and 35.75" on the rear.
  4. Honestly, the results of the ride feel are even better than I expected. The last few years I was thinking the ride felt very soft and when I had just 4 people and no gear, any bump I could feel the rear easily hit my Timbren bumps. The ride with this setup is truly remarkable......no more "squishy" feel of the sagged rear springs and SHOT shocks. Feels truly like a brand new ride......maybe a slight more stiff than off the showroom floor, but I am absolutely digging it. Cannot wait for two weeks from now as I am heading to south-central Utah to go backpacking with a friend. I should have ample opportunities to give her a real test.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-08-2018, 11:33 AM
Red
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Can you post a picture of your timbrens. I would really like to see how much clearance you have. I assumed that if you are at stock height you are basically riding on the timbrens. If that is not true then my rear is already sagging.

Thanks,
Red

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-08-2018, 02:53 PM Thread Starter
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Snapped this just now to show the Timbren clearance on my driver side. I cannot remember if the axle outside dimension is 3.25 or 4.25 inches......but that looks to be about the same effective clearance between the top of the axle and the Timbren bump.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-08-2018, 04:59 PM
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@choppersean I know this may be a stupid question but when you ordered the new leaf springs, where did you get them and did you order quantity 1 for a pair or quantity 2 for a pair?

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-08-2018, 06:19 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawk136439 View Post
@choppersean I know this may be a stupid question but when you ordered the new leaf springs, where did you get them and did you order quantity 1 for a pair or quantity 2 for a pair?
I ordered them online directly from General Spring of Kansas City. Online, I seem to recall it was pretty clear that their item was ONE spring only and that if I wanted the entire back-end done that I needed to select a quantity of 2 on checkout.

I must say that General Spring was very quick and efficient with the ordering and shipping and I think I got them in 2 business days via UPS. They had great customer service, too. I went back to actually add a set of bushings to the order as their cost was cheaper than dealer cost locally. When I did that, I saw the shipping cost shoot up quite a bit.....like $20 or $25 when the weight of the bushings are negligible to the total weight of the spring package. They agreed and took off the premium bump in shipping I saw in my order at checkout. Quality seems there, ride is excellent, and the reviews I have read about their equipment seem like a solid choice in my case.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-08-2018, 08:05 PM
Red
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Quote:
Originally Posted by choppersean View Post
Snapped this just now to show the Timbren clearance on my driver side. I cannot remember if the axle outside dimension is 3.25 or 4.25 inches......but that looks to be about the same effective clearance between the top of the axle and the Timbren bump.
Wow that is huge clearance. Either you are not stock height or I have sagged a good inch. I have virtually no clearance.

Thanks,
Red
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-08-2018, 08:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red View Post
Wow that is huge clearance. Either you are not stock height or I have sagged a good inch. I have virtually no clearance.

Thanks,
Red
I attempted to install my Timbrens with my stock leafs and decided against it because it would have been riding on them 100% of the time. I went with Helwigs instead.

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-08-2018, 11:41 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red View Post
Wow that is huge clearance. Either you are not stock height or I have sagged a good inch. I have virtually no clearance.

Thanks,
Red
Sorry, I am stock as it gets.....as far as height goes. Even before my recent leaf replacement, I was only one inch or so (max.) lower than the picture. Not sure what your X is, but mine is a 2008 Off-Road. As I said in my original post, I found other owner's measurements that validate the "as new" stock height measurements which basically I have restored with my stock ride height upgrades.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-09-2018, 09:14 AM
Red
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Quote:
Originally Posted by choppersean View Post
Sorry, I am stock as it gets.....as far as height goes. Even before my recent leaf replacement, I was only one inch or so (max.) lower than the picture. Not sure what your X is, but mine is a 2008 Off-Road. As I said in my original post, I found other owner's measurements that validate the "as new" stock height measurements which basically I have restored with my stock ride height upgrades.
I think one inch about explains it. That is roughly how much space you have between the axle and the timbren. Your post has inspired me to try an AAL/HelperSpring + Shackle to get 2" in the back.

Thanks,
Red

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-21-2019, 11:24 PM
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Great post @choppersean - thank you. After much research and deliberation, I'm now preparing to do almost the same as you have outlined here...glad I found your post as I was on the cusp with some aspects, but now moving ahead. There's so many factors to suspension as I've learned from deep diving on the topic and yet probably did not make it through 1/2 of the suspension related posts ha.

(Side note: I was actually about to drop ~35k on a new truck last week but decided instead to put a few grand (~$2) into the X and hold on to it for a while longer. Love the X, but wanting some more storage capacity and clearance at times...maybe not $35k worth)

So my X has ~90k mi now and stock coils, leafs, shocks around...after constantly carting around 500+ lbs. in back over the past 10k miles, the rear in particular has taken a beating! Since I don't "offroad" in the common way of the word, just want to be able to get to some hard(er) to reach trail spots from time to time, here's what I've ordered and will update as I go through with installing, tweaking, driving:

Rear Heavy Duty Leaf springs from Autoandtrucksprings.com Product ID: 69-293HD = $170 pair (adding longer U bolts as you've pointed out = $23 each side); it sounds like the included rubber bushings will be better than poly in my use case (cold weather) and not require greasing as you've also pointed out. Will the HD extra leaf be overkill or just right? We'll see.

Xterra Adjustable Lift Shackles from 4x4parts.com (SPACADJSHACK5X) = $95; depending on the effect of the new leafs when dry vs. loaded up and what tires I want will dictate the shackle adjustment.

Bilstein 5100 Series complete shock Package For Rear 1.5 Inch Lift also from from 4x4parts.com SKU: SPACBIL5100SSPKG15 = $370; estimating that w/ new rear leafs and with adjustable shackles I will end up with a little lift and wanted the new rear shocks to be able to accommodate that hence the 1.5" variation. And the fronts are apparently adjustable up to 2" as well, which I like for leveling out.

As far as the front coils go - for now - going to stick with the stock and see how that turns out? I have no aftermarket bumper/winch weight on front - so may end up dropping another $150-$200 on front coilovers or not we'll see? It sounds like @choppersean opted-out of those also and it turned out OK.

So if all goes to the plan there will be a bit of a rake when empty and level when loaded up as it often is. All in so far, I'm at about $950 invested on that above and hoping that I can accomplish all the labor with my armchair mechanic neighbor to save a few hundred there. After all that, depending on how it turns out in terms of cost and drive, then I'll back into some new tires and rims which I'm sure will take me another week of opinions and reviews to form my own ha.

Any feedback on the plan above is welcome & like I said will update as I go through it, likely to learn a lot which is 1/2 the fun with mods right?!
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