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9 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Make: Nissan
Year: 2012
Model: XTerra
Trim: S
Color: White


  • When first purchased (May 2021), none.
  • As of June 2021: Sony head unit, rear floor cargo net.

I picked up this sweet 2012 XTerra S last weekend. Single lady owner, no accidents, 86,000km (approx 54,000 miles). Super clean inside, everything works great.

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I guess I'll start by saying that I'm no stranger to Nissan:

  • I own a '72 Datsun 510 (with pretty much everything you can do to a 510), '76 Datsun 620 (complete G35x underpinnings including front and rear subframes/suspension/brakes, VQ35DE/CD009 tranny), and a unfinished '76 Datsun 280z build with RB25DET swap planned. The links above are all of my build threads on

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  • I also own Datsun Restomods - a small hobby biz that offers modern tech for Datsuns Font Circle Logo Electric blue Graphics

  • Prior to that I autocrossed a 350z to Solo2 National podium. Wheel Car Tire Land vehicle Vehicle

My plans for the XTerra will be relatively light compared to my Datsuns, this will be my DD and camping/biking hauler (Overlander Gen2 RTT). The truck is too clean to see any heavy offroading so I'll be sticking to finding cool camp spots on gravel/logging roads for now.

After quite a bit of research (much of it on this site) I've gone ahead and ordered rear airbag setup (for camping/bikes), LED headlight kit (proper one to use with halogen reflectors), and Sony DSX-B700/Scosch kit for Bluetooth/Handfree convenience.

In terms of current 'modifications' I've gone ahead and removed the hood and window deflectors. I prefer a cleaner look and more light through the windows. I really don't drive with the windows open enough to justify them as well.

I've also modified an old bike rack to lift the bikes level with the rear bumper.
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Next I'll be sourcing fog lights and required stalk from a pick & pull, and during their installation I plan to bedliner paint the bumpers a matching white.

The TA (stock?) tires are close to done and I've narrowed the replacements tires down to Cooper Discoverer AT3 4S for year-round duties. Ideally I'll grab a set of 17x8.5 ET18 Motegi MR149 wheels while I'm at it.

In the week that I've owned this truck I'm really impressed! It drives really nice, seats are comfortable and great view of the road, with the windows up it's surprisingly quiet on the highway.

9 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Truth be told, my Datsun 620 VQ-swap was supposed to be done this spring and I'd be using it as my DD and camping (roof top tent RTT) / bike hauling duties. With Datsun Restomods sales keeping my nights and weekends busy, my build continuously got pushed back until it became apparent I'd miss a summer of camping if I didn't act fast.

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Plan 'B' was my wife's Subaru Crosstrek which quickly got scratched after really examining the limited storage capabilities.

Plan 'C' is my 'new' XTerra and I'm VERY pleased with the potential here. I'm so pleased that the 620 will be re-roled to biking daytrips, fun drives, and maybe a bit of drifting... :cool: :devilish:

With a camping trip coming up it was time to mount my brand new Smitty Overlander Gen 2 tent. The plan was to skip the plastic crossbars and leverage the stronger side rails using 2.25" exhaust clamp brackets. Default assembly in this configuration meant 'rear' access.

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Smitty allows you to clock the tent's base rails 90 degrees so I decided to try that for a side-access while still exclusively using the XTerra's side rails.

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I'm happy with this setup. Better hatch access, narrower profile into the wind when closed, a natural shelter/change room can be fabricated directly under the tent.

MANY more tweaks coming this month including a 6.5' awning and a quicker & easier 4-bolt fastening system.

9 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Installed a new Sony head unit last night. I went with the Sony DSX-B700 because it had lots of great reviews, was inexpensive, had the Bluetooth streaming/handsfree calling features, had a similar XTerra orange background lighting option, and being a Sony I hoped it would be reliable.

Note: as a minimum you'll need two different Torx keys/bits to do the swap. Plan on a casual 3 hours / 2 beers.

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After some research I ordered the install kit and dash kit.

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I was really impressed with the Scosche dash kit. Very sturdy feeling and a nice smooth black finish.

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I followed Scrapin's excellent Gen 2 stereo installation video which helped a ton. Pop the top tray off (only clips) and there's only 3 screws to removed (circled above), then a firm tug on the center dash and it all unclips.

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I started with removing the HVAC ducts (clips) then 4 Torx screws to remove the HVAC control unit. Next I swapped the trim kit into the stock centre console, reinstalled the HVAC control unit, then swapped the stock Nissan metal mounting plates.

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The hardness was surprisingly easy but time consuming to properly match wires, solder, then heat shrink the connections.

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Next I ran the mic. I installed it near the rearview mirror to prevent open window noises and to have good capture from passengers speaking. I followed a trick I saw on Youtube to add tie wraps to the mic's cable so that once tucked under the headline it would better grab something.

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Last step was to simply reinstall. Everything works great which is surprising given it's my first-ever stereo swap.

9 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Wow, 3 months already since the last update.

I still love my Xterra, I am literally just as excited as day #1 to get in an drive it. I can't believe how versatile it is, I've used it for: Dump runs (scrap steel), hauling lumber, camping, daily driver, mountain & road bike hauling, sleeping in (a couple too many drinks with friends), etc...

It is a really comfortable drive, especially for those 3+ hour outings. It's the first car I've driven that I don't get sleepy in after a few hours.

A few more aesthetic updates are below, but first I'll start with repairs (broken spring and windshield).

A couple of weeks after my last update I heard a loud bang and the sound of something falling off the car but I couldn't see it and the truck didn't have any codes throw so I kept driving. A few days later I noticed it was tilting (roof top tent was mounted the whole time). A quick peek underneath and I noticed the following broken spring.

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That started a series of purchases, which in hind sight I regret a bit. I ordered the General Spring Heavy Duty coil pack, instead I should have ordered the regular replacement and kept my order for Firestone air bags.

The reason is my truck is stock weight (approx 4200lbs per dump scale) and the HD springs are a little too harsh and jacked the ass up 3" + inches?!?! Being that this is a street/gravel rig, I didn't want the extra height so I eventually installed 1.5" 'lowering' blocks. Still, the back is a tad too harsh and only really settles when there's 100+ pounds in the back.

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I've been on half a dozen camping trips with the Xterra... works perfect! You'll notice I painted the front and rear in bedliner white. I took everything apart, addressed rust that was starting to creep in, and then painted. I'm VERY pleased with the outcome.

My BF Goodrich tires were close to done so I took the opportunity to go a little more aggressive. I've heard great things about Motegi wheels as a Japanese manufacturer (I currently own Watanabe on my 510 and Enkei on my 620) and having seen little online pics with my planned setup I pulled the trigger.

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As expected, these are super nice. Motegi MR149 17x8.5 ET 18 with Cooper AT3 4S 265/70R17. I went up a slightly larger sized tire to correct some of the offset speedo settings and to fill the wheel well a bit better. Despite nearly weighting the same as stock (+2lbs), acceleration/braking has been slightly impacted with the 1" taller overall diameter.

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Weight is reasonable too. Maybe a couple of pounds heavier than expected but I imagine these are built a little more heavy duty than the high performance street rims I'm used to.

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All in all, I REALLY love the stance and the Cooper tires ride awesome!

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You can see in the profile pic below that the rake is fairly pronounced (nearly 2"). That's with the General Spring HD springs AND the 1/5" lowering blocks! Driver's side rear is about 1/2" lower and looks better IMO. Front is stock height and measures exactly as it should for OEM setup.

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That's nearly it for me with the truck. I installed a dry high-flow air filter and did the airbox mod while there, and a new windshield was installed (thankfully with a shaded band up top). I do plan to black-out the grey portions or the roof rack, slightly darker front door tint, and maybe 1/2" lift spacers for the front.

‘06 Super Black S 5AT & ‘10 Knight Armor OR 5AT
1,237 Posts
That “white out” truly looks great. A very unique touch. Excellent work.

I second your idea to black out the roof rails. And may I add that you paint the front plate holder white? It’ll clean up the nose.
(How about posting a shot of the front end?)

If you do the lift blocks up front think about removing the lowering blocks in the rear. I for one like rake and feel it looks pretty damn good on your X. Especially with the all white you’ve got going on. Gives it a “Euro” vibe.

The rear springs will settle, maybe as much as an inch or more, over time. FYI.

Rims look darn good too.

Nicely done all around. You made a one of a kind rig. Stormtrooper!

Lastly- just go ahead and finish that beautiful 280 build so I can swing by and pick her up.

13 Posts
i am a bodyman/painter by trade and have been going round and round about painting my plastic the factory lava red that my truck is... your pics make me want to pull the trigger and just do it!!!!

9 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
No real updates since the last post other than installing 1/2" front spacers from Alldogs Offroad. I'm pleased with the stance.

A couple of months ago I crawled under my Xterra and applied several cans of RP-342 rust coating underneath to keep rust in check. Seems like good stuff - definitely stinks though, leave the truck outside for a couple of weeks... ;-)

With winter pretty much here I've realised that I do miss heated seats. I'll definitely be installing aftermarket heating pads next year along with black-out the rails.

Besides that, nothing major is planned. My 620 pickup Datsun with VQ35DE/CD009 is taking all my funds and focus until next spring when it should finally be on the road. I'm really looking forward to trying it - I recently added an in-line hydraulic handbrake to make things even more fun...
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