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Discussion Starter #1
When I get it running again, hopefully in a couple weeks, I'm planning to tow with the x. Long distance, mountains.

In my short time driving it, I had the plastic fitting to the heater core blow, and the radiator give me smod. Then, likely at least somewhat as a related issue, head gasket.

Makes me nervous about being left on the side of the road while towing. What can I do to make the X reliable?

From reading, 3 things are coming to me so far:
1. Replacing coolant line parts (are there details on this? Just replacing plastic fittings enough? Are the hoses weak wear items here as well?)
2. Replacing fan with an electric fan? Saw this mentioned somewhere. How hard is this/how is this mod approached?
3. High flow cats, or cat maintenance.

I'm also thinking of installing a trans temp gauge to make sure it's warm before towing in cold weather, and not overheating when towing or going down hill.

What else can I do / should I keep an eye on / be prepared for? Timing chain doesn't seem to be an issue for 2010 models, or for the rebuilt 06 I'll hopefully be purchasing.
 

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Hoses are rubber, replace with silicone ones from gorilla off road.
Electric fan by itself is a waste. You need a complete setup designed for an Xterra, doubt you find one.
 

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How much do you plan on towing? Mine is a 14 and I haven't had to deal with the smod issues, but so far the OEM cooling system seems to keep up pretty good pulling 3000+ lb couple hours away. For me the soft rear suspension and brakes seem to be the weakest links in the system.

Sent from my moto x4 using Tapatalk
 

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Generally speaking, Xterras are rather reliable vehicles.
Yes, there was the radiator issue of 2005-2010, but aside from this problem they are not known to be ticking bombs.

Good general maintenance is key.
It dont hurt to have a crank sensor and cam sensors handy if you plan to offroad in the back country.

Replace your hoses as scheduled maintenance. Rubber hoses work fine, silicone is better but are definitely more expensive.

Your issues are an anomaly for sure. I for one wouldn't blame you for selling the X and washing your hands of these troubles.
 

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Generally speaking, Xterras are rather reliable vehicles.
Yes, there was the radiator issue of 2005-2010, but aside from this problem they are not known to be ticking bombs.

Good general maintenance is key.
It dont hurt to have a crank sensor and cam sensors handy if you plan to offroad in the back country.

Replace your hoses as scheduled maintenance. Rubber hoses work fine, silicone is better but are definitely more expensive.

Your issues are an anomaly for sure. I for one wouldn't blame you for selling the X and washing your hands of these troubles.
 

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What Hunter said. Unfortunately, it appears you bought an X that was run hard and put up wet.

It looks like you’re going the re-power route but before dumping a ton of money back into this thing I’d check to make sure you saved the transmission. I’d hate to see you drop a new engine in only to need a new trans in a few hundred miles. I’d also check the fluid in the diffs and transfer case (if 4x4) before proceeding to make sure it looks ok before repairing. If all the fluids look ok and the trans gets a clean bill of health then I’d proceed as you’re already underwater at this point and repairing it makes the most economic sense.

Xterras really are reliable rigs but as with all vehicles maintenance is key and it appears yours has not benefited from that.

Edit: Make sure to check your rear axle seals by pulling off the rear rotors and making sure there isn’t grease all over them. The rear axle vent clogs fairly easily and can blow out the seals on the X.
 

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Speaking of towing - the soft rear suspension needs help with extra loads. I have no sag in my springs but my trailer tongue weight is over 400 lbs not counting cargo and passengers. Many of us have installed rear air springs which you pump up when needed. Work great and less than $200.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It's a 16ft 2640lb (on the title, anyways) trailer.

I don't have a 4x4, but I'll do a diff fluid swap.

How can I check the trans? I think it had less than 3 days and 10 miles (though I imagine the transmission did overheat to some degree within those 10 miles) with the coolan tin the trans, and a transmission tech here test drove it and said it felt good and he'd assume "99%" that based on how the trans fluid looked that I'd saved it.

Is there any way to confirm the transmission health? Is there anything I can do to increase my odds? I didn't drop the drain pain and replace the filter, I guess I can do that. Basically, after this engine swap, I'm going to need to decide whether to sell it or to keep it, and making an assessment of transmission health is pretty much the deciding factor for me here I think.

I found that excellent sticky post about hoses and line stuff. Would a budget option be to just replace plastic fittings with new parts, and carry duct tape and generic fitting to save it in the field?

Also found that excellent post about transmission cooling characteristics. Definitely makes me want a transmission temp gauge, radiator replacement, and maybe a second transmission cooler. Also, I'd been researching how one should drive so as to minimize transmission wear, so that post was elucidating, but definitely counter-intuitive for me, as I'm used to driving manual for almost my whole life. Only automatic I owned was a few months of a volkswagon vanagon (my first car) back in 2007.

I had been 'hypermiling'/driving the X at as low an RPM as I could. Guess that's easy on the engine, but hard on the trans (except maybe on easy straights)? Kind of frustrating if true, that means I need to hurt my mpg to be good to the transmission, but sounds like the key is to keep it at 2750 RPM (or higher) with overdrive off, in whatever gear, at all times, to allow the transmission to 'lock' (automatic transmission are a mystery to me, I really don't understand them at this point), generate less heat, and less wear? Is that right?

Also, if I see overheating, seems like I should really leave the engine running, pop the hood, and run over to make sure there's coolant, basically, right? Killing the engine seems to have been a bad idea, given that it is a belt-driven fan. Frustrating design, seems like in an emergency heating situation you'd want a way to run the pump and fan without running the engine, but maybe that pump is too much to ask of a battery (still, the fan...). Anyways, most of my mechanic experience is with air-cooled bikes, so I'm not so familiar coolant systems.
 

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Three weaknesses I discovered towing a trailer.
1. Brakes. Over heated the fronts (smoking hot) on mountain roads. Ensure you flush with new high temp fluid. Bleed. Then use scan tool to activate the ABS and bleed again.
2. Rear suspension/tongue weight. I added the Goodyear airbags to supplement the rear leafs and it made a big difference in towing (and especially when not towing). With such a short wheel base tongue weight is critical! Balance that trailer to load the truck properly. Too light and it will death wobble. ;)
3. HP/Torque. I added the bullydog tuner (91 octane tune) and a free flowing exhaust. It pulls so much better.
 

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Regarding monitoring the transmission temp, the Scangauge II does it, and is a worthwhile thing to add:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Great tips, appreciated. Had planned to look at those, trying to get it all in one place.

Is there a trans temp sensor built in already that you just tap into with the scangauge II?
 

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Great tips, appreciated. Had planned to look at those, trying to get it all in one place.

Is there a trans temp sensor built in already that you just tap into with the scangauge II?
It's discussed in depth in the link that I posted, but yes the Scangauge is just getting the data from the two sensors that Nissan already put there.

Read this post (in that thread) for more detail:
 

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Discussion Starter #18
If I swap an '06 frontier engine into my '10 xterra, will the scangauge having the undesirable symptoms (slow updates) of a pre-08 X, or will the new trans temp sensors be added during a swap? I asked elsewhere, but it's hard to find information pinned down on minor changes like this on the engine changes within gen 2.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Found a used scangauge on ebay, $95 after tax, should arrive on monday or sooner. And after thinking about it, duh, it's going to be tapping into a 2010 ecu, so I'm sure it will just work without needing the 4.3 firmware update.

Combining this thread with all the info I've looked up elsewhere on the forum, I have a list of things in mind right now that I'm trying to sort by price and urgency. Here's what I'm thinking about right now.

My current important question is, what should I do while the engine is out? Looks like I'll be picking up the engine in the next 12 hours.

Thoughts right now are:

-motor mounts (my mechanic says mine look fine and he wouldn't change them...) (They're like $150, and it seems like the cheap ones can suck, and I'm way over budget right now, and I guess it isn't the end of the world to have them done even with the engine is from what I read here...)
-rear main seal has been done on the engine.
-pcv valve; can I just pick one up at autozone, or....? Is this important?
-radiator; seems the koyo a2807 is the way to go, cheapest I see it for is 137. Anyone know where I might find one locally instead of having it shipped, though, so I can do it ASAP?
-might as well do thermostat at the same time since mine is also recovering from a freshly flushed smod'd system and I was going to swap it anyways. I've seen talk of using a lower-temp spec thermostat from other vehicles, but can't find detailed discussion about it. Anyone able to comment on this or point me in the right direction? What's my best thermostat option? Will autozone carry the OEM thermostats or do I need to order online?
-water pump and timing chain and tensioner have all been done on the engine (it's rebuilt, with 5k miles on it)
-do I need manifold/exhaust manifold gaskets? Are they far easier with engine out and worth doing preventatively if on a budget?
-Thoughts on a/c (I think o rings)? Is there something I should do with that system while everything's out that's way easier and necessary to do preventatively?
-serp belt.
-will get the 'proper' nissan coolant put in
-should I have the plastic fittings in the coolant lines replaced with brass ones while the engine is out? Does someone have a guide on just that? And then a list of what I should bring to limp to home or to a shop if a hose itself pops? I also plan to spray this stuff on all the coolant hoses (and all the rubber I can find in the system). It's not in the budget to replace all the hoses, sadly, but I think the plastic fittings are a bit more worth investing in replacing, after feeling how shitty that plastic quality was of the one that blew up on me. Can I just pick up generic parts at autozone (or home depot or something...?)
-new engine has new oem iridium spark plugs.

After I get the truck back, myself, I plan to do asap:

-diff fluid (front and rear)
-power steering fluid
-brake fluid, brake pads
-check cats
-check rear axle vent (is there some mod to do to it I saw mentioned somewhere...?

I'll make a different post about SMOD follow up and some questions on ATF I have after digging waaay too deep into the weeds on that.

Later reliability improvements:
As I save some money and decide to invest more in taking care of the xterra, and certainly before doing serious towing, I'll look into:
-adding a second transmission cooler (that common autozone model, I guess? Though... has anyone ever just bought a used xterra one off ebay and just added another one of those?)
-adding a manual switch-controlled electric fan (as per here)
-^both of those will be dependent on watching the temp gauge of the tranny on the scangauge, but I'm in the mountains and am buying this to tow my travel trailer, so before doing any long pulling I'll likely do one or both of the above to take care of the transmission the best I can.
-buying a skid plate to replace the missing on on mine?
-replacing all the coolant lines (seems to be about $400 job?)... probably won't get to this, but it'd be smart. Will likely just carry around a 'coolant first aid kit', tape and tubs and fittings and coolant to get me through in a pinch.
 
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