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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Thanks Folks. My budget may steer me to a little older--2008ish, but we'll see what I find. Would love a manual but wouldn't be a deal breaker (haven't come across any yet.) Hoping to find one w a private seller, not a dealer.
Quick question: is it correct that the dreaded SMOD isn't an issue from 2008>?
 

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2008 Off Road, Auto, Budget boost lift
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I think SMOD is a concern from 2005 to 2009. If you get a manual, SMOD is not a concern (someone please correct me if wrong). Not sure where you are located, but when I was shopping for an off-road or Pro4x in Colorado, it seemed to me most (or at least near half) were manual.

I bought my 2008 off-road package with only 80K miles less than a year ago. Regarding SMOD, it felt like a bit of a gamble, but one I was willing to take after reviewing the carfax (no sign of radiator or tranny issues), looking at the ATF fluid in person, and driving it. I still did the bypass mod + external cooler/fan immediately, to be safe.

Also depending on where you are located, I would check for rust under the mudflaps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I think SMOD is a concern from 2005 to 2009. If you get a manual, SMOD is not a concern (someone please correct me if wrong). Not sure where you are located, but when I was shopping for an off-road or Pro4x in Colorado, it seemed to me most (or at least near half) were manual.

I bought my 2008 off-road package with only 80K miles less than a year ago. Regarding SMOD, it felt like a bit of a gamble, but one I was willing to take after reviewing the carfax (no sign of radiator or tranny issues), looking at the ATF fluid in person, and driving it. I still did the bypass mod + external cooler/fan immediately, to be safe.

Also depending on where you are located, I would check for rust under the mudflaps.
Thanks. Good info. I'm in SoCal, so rust isn't much of a concern. I see in a number of ads for older 2nd Gens replacement radiators being listed. Is that usually done as a preventative measure, or is SMOD fixable with a new radiator (I thought it was the kiss of death for the vehicle)? Is it correct that there's an updated radiator that eliminates the issue, or is the bypass the way to do it?
 

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Thanks. Good info. I'm in SoCal, so rust isn't much of a concern. I see in a number of ads for older 2nd Gens replacement radiators being listed. Is that usually done as a preventative measure, or is SMOD fixable with a new radiator (I thought it was the kiss of death for the vehicle)? Is it correct that there's an updated radiator that eliminates the issue, or is the bypass the way to do it?

I came very close to buying a 2005 SE, until the owner showed me the carfax. The radiator had been replaced after the owner complained of transmission issues. So, I ran away from that one. I am sure some people do replace proactively (in fact, I think some people argue that's the best way to avoid transmission issues), but I imagine it will be hard to tell for a given Xterra if the replacement was proactive or because of SMOD.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I came very close to buying a 2005 SE, until the owner showed me the carfax. The radiator had been replaced after the owner complained of transmission issues. So, I ran away from that one. I am sure some people do replace proactively (in fact, I think some people argue that's the best way to avoid transmission issues), but I imagine it will be hard to tell for a given Xterra if the replacement was proactive or because of SMOD.
Ah, interesting--thanks. I have a buddy who drives a 2008 that he bought new that runs like a champ. I asked him about SMOD and he had never heard of it - I hope I didn't jinx him😱
 

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Ah, interesting--thanks. I have a buddy who drives a 2008 that he bought new that runs like a champ. I asked him about SMOD and he had never heard of it - I hope I didn't jinx him😱
If it's an automatic and still on the original 15 year old radiator, I'd encourage him to replace it ASAP.

Lots of people just aren't aware of the risk. My wife's co-worker had an early 2nd gen for many years and it was fine until eventually it wasn't. I'm pretty sure my wife had warned her about SMOD prior to that, but her inaction ended up ruining the transmission and they sold the truck cheap. Now they are looking for another one because they miss it... probably all could have been avoided for a few hundred bucks.

Not sure there's a way to 100% guarantee you're not getting someone else's problem. Getting a good sense for the integrity and competence of the seller goes a long way; both of my Xterra purchases were private sales from the original owners and I trusted them. At a minimum, be sure to test drive, check fluids, and get service records.

... I am sure some people do replace proactively (in fact, I think some people argue that's the best way to avoid transmission issues)...
Both my Xterras (2006 and 2009) have had their radiators replaced proactively, one by me and one by the previous owner before I bought it, so yes this is true. And while the bypass is a viable temporary, short term bandaid, radiator replacement is best.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
If you can do the work yourself and are on a budget maybe look for an older manual with engine problems and then swap the engine for a newer one with low miles.
I'm in no way mechanically savvy enough to do that kinda work! But a manual sure would be fun. I get my kicks now driving my son's WRX whenever he'll actually let me(or he's outta town;)).
 

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I'm in no way mechanically savvy enough to do that kinda work! But a manual sure would be fun. I get my kicks now driving my son's WRX whenever he'll actually let me(or he's outta town;)).
Gotcha.

Another thing to look out for is the catalytic converters. It's common for them to go bad somewhere between 100-200k miles. Since you are in California you will need to get OEM cats to stay compliant for smog. They are really expensive so just look out for that.
 

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As stated the Cats will cost you big time, it was over 2k for one cat replacement for me up the Bay Area. i would get any truck inspected by a good mechanic. I bought my 2005 new and only owner, with 6 speed so never dealt with the SMOD or the strawberry milkshake as they caled it. I have 102k and still on original radiator but replacement clutch. Also keep in mind if you buy a stick while there are people here that report long life mine only made it to 80k and they are no a rebuilt, total replacement. When/if this one goes bad I will do a Jim Wolf that is rebuildable. the Stick is very fun but when I am stuck in traffic not so much. I live in Bay Area but I sitl lived in LA I would go for the slushbox. It isn't that expensive to replace a radiator to ensure you don't get caught up with the issues and it is cheaper than the Nissan clutch which are in my opiion very weak...but I still love driving it.
 

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Somewhere on here there's a list of Calsonic Radiator p/n's that have been known to have issues.

Also, if it says 'radiator recently replaced' or something like that I'd run. You can swap radiators, flush everything, get it to drive OK. Dump it on the sale market. And it'll crap the bed in a few months as the damage was done.

New radiator...run in my opinion.

I drove one at a dealer that drove great. Was ready to buy it. Popped the overflow tank and it burped out oily slimy coolant at me. I walked away. He wanted to discuss with his mechanic first. I told him nothing he said would make me buy it. I saw it later at another dealer on the market. Suspect they took it back to auction and dumped it back in to the local market.
 

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Buying an early model 2nd Gen Xterra can be tempting, but there are a couple pitfalls.

The first couple years of the 2nd gen Xterra have a history of timing chain problems and smod (Coolant entering into the Transmission,)

Additionally, there were several years of ipdm/engine relay issues.

Lastly, these older xterras are approaching high mileage and may soon need catalytic converters.

I mention these issues as an older X may seem outright a bargain, but become very expensive shortly after.

By 2010 these issues were resolved and trouble free ownership is far more likely.

Personally speaking. I would save my cash until I could find a good 2011-2015 4x4.

I own an S and though it's not as offroad capable as a Pro 4X, it's still no slouch offroad.
 
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When I bought my first truck, I was not a pro in all these technical things, although I didn't have enough money for a brand new car, so I was afraid to buy a pig in a poke. That's why I decided to find a nice dealer and didn't buy from a private seller. I spent plenty of time reading reviews and different forums, as a result I chose WallWork. As a result I got a good deal and after three years of owning it it was still ok. I made a little upgrade at the dealer's service center, but it didn't take too much money.
 
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