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Hey guys, I wanted to jump on here and share the resources I created for swapping out the clutch on the X. I just finished the job last weekend and its a pain in the butt to do on your own.

I have a 2WD but the steps will not be much different. I will show both videos. First is removing the transmission and the second is replacing the actual clutch. Then I will go through the tips/tools/torque specs for the job. Let me know if you have any questions and I will do my best to answer them!



Removing the Transmission

Here are the complete steps for removal:
  • Drain transmission fluid.
  • Disconnect the battery cable from the negative terminal.
  • Remove the shift lever assembly.
  • Remove front wheel well protectors.
  • Remove the crankshaft position sensor.
  • Remove the undercovers using power tool.
  • Remove the front crossmember using power tool.
  • Remove the starter motor.
  • Remove the rear drive shaft. (also remove the front shaft if 4WD)
  • Remove the left and right front exhaust tubes.
  • Remove the clutch operating cylinder from the transmission.
  • Support the transmission using a suitable jack.
  • Remove the nuts securing the insulator to the crossmember.
  • Remove the crossmember using power tool.
  • Tilt the transmission slightly to gain clearance between the body and the transmission, then disconnect the air breather hoses.
  • Disconnect the following:
    Back-up lamp switch connector
    Park/neutral position (PNP) switch connector
    If you have a 4WD you need to also remove the following:
    ATP switch connector
    Neutral 4LO switch connector
    Wait detection switch connector
    Transfer control device connector
  • Remove the wiring harness from the retainers.
  • Remove the transmission to engine bolts using power tool.
  • Separate the transmission from the engine and remove it from the vehicle.
Removing and Replacing the Transmission to engine bolts

Below are the locations of all of the transmission to engine bolts that must be removed before removing the transmission. When reinstalling you will want to tighten the bolts down to 55ft-lb (7.7 kg-m / 75Nm)

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I will assume in this post that you want to replace everything that is reasonably accessible when removing the transmission.

This would be the following items:
  • Rear main seal
  • Pilot bushing
  • Flywheel
  • Clutch
  • Clutch Cover
  • Throw-out/Release bearing

Replacing the flywheel, clutch, and clutch cover is rather simple. You need to unbolt all the stuff and then bolt it back on. Really, its that easy. The only items to keep in mind are some of the tools you will need to do the job, the timed flywheel, and making damn sure to not get your clutch contaminated with grease/oil. As far as the tools are concerned you will of course need your standard array of automotive tools in addition to a few "specialty" or uncommon tools. First off you should pick up a flywheel turner. This allows you to hold the flywheel in place when taking off or installing bolts. Additionally you will need a TP55. This is a Torx Plus 55. IT IS DIFFERENT FORM A T55 AND YOU SHOULD NOT USE A T55. This will be used to remove and install the flywheel bolts. next are a three jaw puller and bearing presses to replace the release bearing. If you do not plan to use these a lot you rent these from auto parts stores. Lastly you need some sort of tool to install the rear main seal. The Nissan tool is like $120 so I went to the hardware store and got a 3" PVC adapter and and cleanout drain cap to create my own press, 7 bucks total.

TP55 Bit
Flywheel Turner/Holder
3 Jaw puller
Bearing press

re/installing the flywheel

You need to be damn sure you are putting it on correctly. The crank position sensor uses the ring on the rear of the flywheel to see what position the crank is in (stupid, I know). However they do provide you a notch in the front of the flywheel that needs to be aligned with the dowel on the crank. See below.

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The manual did not indicate a particular patter in which the bolts should be installed so I just went with a standard star patterns and dabbed the bolts with some Loctite to keep them nice and snug. torque those down to 65ft-lb (88N.m/9kg-m).

The clutch cover/Pressure plate is a different story. This needs to be bolted down in the correct pattern. I also bought new bolts (manual does not say to) for this part of the job since they are on the small side and have lock washers. When you are ready carefully insert the clutch using the clutch alignment tool (should come with your clutch kit). Align the dowels and press it on to hold it there. When you are ready tighten the bolts in two phases and in the following patterns.

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Once you have those worked out you need to get the the rest of the vehicle put back together. For the most part its as simple as bolting everything back up and driving off into the sunset. I will just go through some tips I learned as I went through the process.

Mounting the transmission

Right off the bat I want to say you should really have a second person for this. I tried like hell to get this thing to meet up on my own and I could not do it. Once I had a second person I had the thing slide in place in under 5 minutes. You need to have someone on the back of the jack controlling the height of the rear of the transmission. This allows you to be up front guiding the input shaft through the clutch and tell the person in the rear to go up or down to line it all up. Once you get it to meet up with the engine torque the mount bolts down to 55ft-lb. There are 10 in total.

Refilling the transmission

Once you get the transmission mounted back up you will need to refill it with fluid. You cannot throw any old tranny fluid in there. You need have a specific fluid. Below is what the Manual says you will need:

Genuine Nissan MTF (manual transmission fluid) HQ multi 75w-85 or API GL-4, viscosity of SAE 75w-85 or 75w-90

2WD will take 4 and 1/4 quarts and 4WD will take 4 and 3/8 quarts. Tighten the fill and drain plugs down to 25ft-lb

Exhaust install

Nothing really to say here, just line up the studs on both sides of the exhaust pipes and tighten them to spec. You should replace any gaskets that you remove. Dont forget to plug your O2 sensors back in and install both sides loosely before tightening it all down. Once you get the exhaust put back together make sure that you dont over torque the heat shield bolts. They go down to only 51 in-lbs.

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Installing the rear cross member

Just getting this out what a huge pain. When you are reinstalling it make sure you clean the surface of the cross member that slides into the frame mount as well as clean the surface of the mounts themselves. I used a scour pad to take off any flake rust and smooth it over as well as I can. I also used chassis lube to make inserting it a little easier. I put it back into the X one side at a time. I lined up the bolt holes and had a friend hammer it up into place until the hole was aligned. He then slide the bolt in and then I used a combination of a hammer and a floor jack to get the other side in. Torque all bolts/nuts (8 in total) down to 74 ft-lb

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Installing the starter

Nothing special here. Just slap it back in and make sure to not over torque the nut on the post. Don't want to damage the starter.

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As far as the rest is concerned just bolt it back together and have fun! If you want to watch the video for this process you can find it below. Thanks for reading!
 

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Just to emphasis that torx, and torx-plus are not the same thing. Buy a TP55 for this job. Flywheel bolts are not a place you want to strip a head. No sympathy for anybody that sticks a T55 in there and ends up in a bad place.

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I separated the exhaust at the manifold and disconnected some hangers to allow it to swing down. No way the flanges were ever coming apart after 15 years and 160k miles of rust.

The hardest part of this job for me was removing the X-member. Good heavens was that son of a b stuck in there. No good way to get leverage on it either.

I did mine on jackstands. It's pretty much a standard clutch job, no real surprises. I actually found it to be quite pleasant to work on a ladder frame truck. Most of my previous clutch jobs were on unibody front engine rear drive cars. The X affords a lot of open space for access by comparison.

I like Redline MT-85 for gear oil. Matches the Nissan viscosity spec almost perfectly, and it actually changes gears in single digit weather.

It's so nice having a new clutch. Those spring fingers really work harden after 160k miles. I did my wagon at 280k and I think the pedal was about 1/3 the weight with the new one.
 

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I'll go ahead and gang on here with my experience. Just completed this with my 2010 4WD, ~115,000. The throwout bearing was making a steady tap-tap-tap-tap noise when cold after the initial high-idle calmed down. I figured I might as well do it before it broke and I regretted it. While I was in there I did the clutch/pressure plate (Exedy NSK1006 from rockauto), flywheel (LUK DMF098 from Rockauto)(didn't even bother with the old, just ordered a new), pilot bushing, and rear main seal. Pilot bushing and throwout bearings and alignment tool came with the kits. Rear main seal was from Z1 off-road because I didn't see any other source that looked like the OEM and I wanted that one (part numbers listed at Z1 off-road are 12279-3TS0A and 12279-4Z001 for it).

First, @rythecarguy you rock for your videos. Those specifically, more than any other source, gave me a sense for what I was getting into. I actually looked for you on Patreon to pitch some $ back your way to support your work but you aren't on there?

Some of this is specific to the 4WD version—having the transfer case bolted to the back of the transmission changes the amount of exhaust disassembly required.

1. Use two tranny jacks, fore and aft. Crucial for the 4WD where you lower the entire transmission + transfer case simultaneously. This makes it safer, and also allows you to independently adjust the tilt of the tranny during disassembly reassembly (see next).

2. Don't bother dragging it out from under the car (unless you're replacing/working on the whole tranny or something). My four jack stands got the car high enough in my driveway to lower the transmission, but the tranny jacks didn't lower it down enough to slide out from under the car. Not a surprise really. But I didn't bother trying to get it out, I just moved it out of the way and working on the back of the engine and front of the tranny from under the car. After the hassle of everything else, it isn't a big deal.

3. Tilting the engine down is key for both taking it apart and putting it back together. When taking it apart, the weight of the tranny tilts the engine for you—but when you slide the transmission off, the engine immediately wants to return to neutral. This leads to the input shaft on the transmission landing on/bumping/scraping etc the pressure plate. I recommend using some method for maintaining the proper engine tilt, before you slide the transmission off and the engine pops back up to neutral. That way, it will stay at the proper angle for putting it back in. I used two cam straps, one on each side, hooked around the exhaust manifold where it bolts to the cat, looped around the frame crossmember mount below (in an attempt to pull the rear of the engine down). This was only partly successful. I put them on when the tranny was hanging at it's lowest point, and snugged them up. Ultimately I also used a floor jack with a short 2x4 block to jack up the front of the engine slightly—there is a narrow access to it, just adjacent to the front brake lines (careful). I’m not convinced that was the best, I feel like some method for pushing down on the rear of the engine from the top (no idea how you would do that) would be best. When you put it back together, having the two tranny jacks lets you change the angle of the tranny just right to match up with the angle of the back of the engine (provided it is leaned down enough). I really would have loved to have some guide bolts, the way @rythecarguy did, but I didn't have any laying around.

4. When lowering the entire tranny+transfer case as a unit, extra rear exhaust sections have to be removed. I removed a) passenger fwd cat b) the straight sections on both sides containing the back cats c) the entire rest of the exhaust backward, in one unit. I left the driver’s side cat in place. There are 3 total brackets holding the rear of the exhaust to the underside of the body: I removed the front two (letting the muffler sit on my chest) and then slid it forward out of the last, rear-most bracket. That way I didn’t have to deal with any more rusted exhaust bolts/joints (the bracket bolts up in the frame stay in good shape). That entire back exhaust section can be snaked out as one unit, pretty easily.

5. Exhaust bolts. If you’re like me, you’ll take one look at the rusted away deteriorated condition of the exhaust bolts, and want to replace them. Here’s the thing: the cats are not through-bolted, but rather have M10 internal threads. An M10 stud is screwed into those, and then an M10 nut on the far side of the mating exhaust flange. Those M10 studs sometimes come out, sometimes stay rusted in. When they come out, it’s best to drill out the internal threads (which have conveniently been exposed since the stud actually came out) in order to accommodate an M10 bolt. Otherwise, the best you could get through is an M8 which seems a bit small. Anyway, if you can get the stud out of the whole and then drill out the threads (enlarging the hole), you can through-bolt everything with M10 when you put it back together. I did this where I could, but ultimately ended up re-using a number of studs that just didn’t want to come out (and I was too lazy to chop/drill out the bolt). Anyway, it made me feel somewhat better to use proper bolts with flat and lock washers and plenty of anti-seize, when it went back together. M10x1.25 x 40mm long are a good length to accommodate the washers. I also scrubbed off the sliding studs with wire brush and scotchbrite, and coated the studs with a thick silicone grease (the same stuff that I used on my leaf spring bushings), and it all slid back together very nicely in the end.

6. Removing the crossmember. Agree with others, this sucked. Be careful when doing this. I tried the pry-it-off with floor jack and long lever arm method, but I got scared when it seemed like I was going to start lifting the entire vehicle off the jack stands… ultimately I used a ~3ft crowbar, the standard carpentry kind, and fit the flat end in the narrow crack between the sheet metal and the frame, and that worked great. I bent the lower sheet metal just slightly, but not in any way that matters. It was worth it to get that thing out safely. I also scraped off the rust and lubed that up with some of my silicone grease for putting it back in (and, god forbid, if I ever have to take it out again).

7. Getting it back in. Keep the shift lever handy. When removing everything, it’s convenient to have it in neutral so you can easily spin the prop shafts to get at all the bolts. However, when trying to get that f’ing input shaft of the transmission back through the splines in the clutch, it is helpful to put it in gear and then rotate the prop shaft in order to slightly change the spline orientation (that's the hail mary maybe-this-will-help move after an hour of trying to align everything to the last sub-millimeter doesn't get the job done). Ultimately, that was what finally let us slide it back into position. Just remember to remove the lever if you have to slide everything backf or another go, so you don't break something. And whenever the lever is out, ALWAYS tape/cover over the hole in the top of the transmission... don't take that chance!

8. I also found it helpful to use a few plain-old bar clamps—the blue plastic kind with a squeeze lever. I used those to squeeze the transmission together to the back of the engine, to close the gap and finally get it to engage. There are maybe two or three spots where you can clamp them on.

9. Heat shields. This is the third xterra I’ve owned. On a previous one, when I replaced the cats, not a single one of those small heat shield bolts came off without twisting off. This time, every one came off successfully on both sides, and pretty easily at that (115,000 miles). My other x was maybe ~50,000 miles older at the time, but I still feel like it must have been the amount of salt/location, etc. Regardless, if you do get them off successfully, replace them with stainless steel M6x1.00 x 12 mm with lock washers, and use anti-seize besides, and don’t overly tighten them (rely on the lock washer). When I replaced the cats on the old xterra, I ended up bending the heat shields to get them out and then throwing them away. On this xterra, I was able to slide the heat shield slightly forward, and access the cat bolts enough to get them off. It's annoying as F, but it felt good to be able to put the heat shields back on afterwards, just 'cuz. If those cat bolt nuts won’t turn with a wrench that fits in there, you end up trashing those heat shields to be able to get a socket on there. If those cat bolt nuts are un-seized enough to turn with a wrench, you can slip the wrench around the back of the heat shield and make do (while pushing and swearing at the loose clanking heat shield). Regardless, keep in mind that those heat shields don’t come out without being bent to hell, and once they’re bent to hell they don’t go back in. Best you can do is to gain a few inches by shoving them forward, just enough to get to the forward side of the exhaust manifold/cat flange.

10. Pilot bushing. I didn't have a fancy slide hammer attachment, so I went with the grease/hydraulic trick. I found a 7/16" (I think?) 1/4-drive socket that fit inside just right, then I jammed grease into the cavity and drove the socket in, in an attempt to use the hydraulic pressure of the grease to force the bushing out. Good plan, but the grease was getting through the center of the socket and around the extension that I was using to plug that hole and hammer on the socket. So I cleaned it off really well, put the extension into the socket backwards, then filled the cavity on the end with hot glue from a hot glue gun. It worked great--sealed up those tiny little holes just enough so that when I hammered the socket into the bore the grease pushed the bushing out. One thing to learn from my mistakes: take a very careful look and maybe a close-up image of how deep that pilot bushing is in the hole, so you can bang it back in to the right depth. It may or may not matter that much, but I may or may not have lost some sleep over it.

11. watch @rythecarguy 's careful greasing and prefitting and cleaning off of excess grease for the clutchplate/spline situation. You do NOT want grease flinging around the clutch area to f'up your new clutch job.

there's probably other stuff I've forgotten. Just like I forgot to tighten down the negative terminal on the starter and after I got everything back together and on the ground, turned the key to... nothing. Fortunately, an easy fix. This time.

All in all, it was not harder than I expected, which is largely a testament to the emotional preparation provided by excellent advice on this forum and elsewhere, so thanks again to those that took the time to deal with pictures and especially filming during the job.
 
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