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Hey guys.

Looking to give the wife's 80K mile OR Xterra a bit more oomph. The X will be mine after she's done with it and I'd like to start the modding now.

I'm looking for a base platform for performance. I've tried reading exhaust vs. intake vs. tuner threads, but all seem to be based on opinion. Are there any concrete number gains which would be the place to start? Meaning, if you could do one mod (exhaust/intake/etc.) which would you go with?

Price (sub $500) isn't really a issue. I just don't want to go the exhaust route, and end up regretting it. We don't do much offroading, so open intake isn't a big issue. BUT, I don't want a drone at highway speeds since we use the X as the road trip car.

Help X guys!
 

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If it is your highway car and you don't want drone, you will need to be real careful about what you do the exhaust. I find the stock exhaust on the edge of drone, and the aftermarket goes with "sound = power" mentality.

So more specifically where are you looking for the extra power at? Do you just want more grunt off the line? High RPM power? How much gas mileage are you willing to give up?

So far you are asking for a very generic answer. Narrow down where you want the fix to be at and it will narrow down what needs to be done to get it.
 

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You can get an exhaust and you will not only gain some power but also get a lot of heat reduction off of the engine. Issue is when you start replacing the entire exhaust you will have some drone. There are some more expensive systems that are better about reducing drone, but expensive is the key word there. On my X I cut the muffler off and replaced it with a good stainless exhaust with a turndown tip right off the muffler. You hear it a little but is not obnoxious at all. If you don't wheel much then run a pipe out the back and that will help. Intake helps but unless it is a true cold air intake it isn't worth the money, more appearance than true power. Intake spacer isn't a bad idea, but for longevity of the X I would do exhaust first and get that extra heat off the motor, that will help tremendously. Also make sure you run synthetic fluids and keep filters clean. Good luck bud!


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The X will benefit substantially from a tuner as well though. I would bolt on the intake and exhaust you want first then try to find a local dyno shop with a good reputation and get it custom tuned. If you can't find one then ordering a pre-programmed tuner will work too, they are just typically a little more conservative so that they can avoid destroying people's motors because everything they are doing is based on what you tell them about your truck. They don't get to see a read out like you would on a dyno.


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All of the "bolt on mods"

Intake, Intake Manifold Spacer, Headers, Full Exhaust, and if you really want to open it up I've heard the UpRev and getting it on the dyno is really worth the money.

A good aftermarket exhaust can be either extremely loud, or fairly quite. Sticking the exhaust tip out the back of the truck will help a ton with the drone, there are also glass packs and resonators that can be put on with the muffler that will help quiet down the exhaust while still getting the performance gains.

Budget pending, a super charger would give you some oomph, but at the same time it may kill gas milage while the other bolt on mods seem to help a bit.
 

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From what you've stated about drone, etc, a power programmer is your best option. I use a Hypertech and have the WOT removed at regular setting. Replace the stock y pipe and you're fine.
 

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Update: Found a Hyptertech programmer for $200 a town over. Worth it?
Yes! I use a superchip cortex but they all accomplish basically the same thing. I have wot removed, 93 performance tune with a 2deg timing advance and the extra low end power is substantial! All that added performance, and somehow my gas mileage still went up.
 

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I'm using a Bullydog tuner with a regular tune (sometimes referred to as the "87 octane" tune) and an intake manifold spacer. The tuner is definitely noticeable- I have a lot more power throughout the band and the truck doesn't need to downshift as much.

I'd definitely get the hypertech, it sounds like a good price.
 

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The hypertech could be a good deal as long as you will have a way to re-program the tuner. You have to be careful that the tune is mapped for the settings of your specific truck. If you have a way to get it programmed and you know the programmer works that's a good price.


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Under $500?

The VQ40 is one of the best engines out there. Not much to improve for a small budget.

New Y-pipe (crimped in production), free flow muffler, keep the resonator.

Forget CAIs. The OEM system is a CAI. The aftermarket ones all give high rpm benefits at the expense of low rpm power. Unless you want to increase sound, forget it.

Tuner. For some reason Nissan decided that wide open throttle was not available off the line (tire wear issues? control in bad weather? who knows?). This simple mod will give you the full power range of the truck when you want it. It will also allow you to run higher octane fuel by advancing the timing.

Next stop for power would be a supercharger at a far higher price point than you are looking at....
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Update 2: Got the Hypter tech for $160. Installed it yesterday, and don't notice much difference. Is it because of the altitude we're at (Colorado), or was I expecting too much?

OR, I know some programmers take a bit to "learn" the ecu, is this the case?

I did notice it idling smoother, and I jumped under the truck and saw that horrible y-pipe. I'll save my cash on the CAI, and go get an exhaust done.
 

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Update 2: Got the Hypter tech for $160. Installed it yesterday, and don't notice much difference. Is it because of the altitude we're at (Colorado), or was I expecting too much? Probably both

OR, I know some programmers take a bit to "learn" the ecu, is this the case?

I did notice it idling smoother, and I jumped under the truck and saw that horrible y-pipe. I'll save my cash on the CAI, and go get an exhaust done.
Programmers can get a little more out, but with the HP wars that have been going on for years its not like you are going to get massive changes. Give the "tuned" vehicle to someone unfamiliar with it and chances are they won't notice anything different. If they recently drove another one then the "tuned" one may feel a little peppier if they were really paying attention.

As for altitude, at 6000' you only have 80% of the air pressure you get at sea level. At 10,000' you only have 2/3s. Top of Pike's peak, just over half. This is the air pressure that fills the cylinders.
 

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Update 2: Got the Hypter tech for $160. Installed it yesterday, and don't notice much difference. Is it because of the altitude we're at (Colorado), or was I expecting too much?

OR, I know some programmers take a bit to "learn" the ecu, is this the case?

I did notice it idling smoother, and I jumped under the truck and saw that horrible y-pipe. I'll save my cash on the CAI, and go get an exhaust done.
Im at over 10,000 ft and noticed a good increase still.
 
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