Xterra (05-15) - What Breaks on the Trail?

  • Hi Guest, you may choose a LIGHT or DARK theme that works best for you with the "Style Chooser" button at the bottom left on this page!
  • HTML tutorial

Krieg

Rank III
Member
Adventure

Traveler III

797
Portland, OR
First Name
Greg
Last Name
Keene
Member #

28174

Hello Overland Bound. We have a new-to-us Xterra (2006, S, 4X4, MT) as an Overlanding project. Other than new LT265/75 R16 Open Country AT III, stock from an engine/suspension standpoint. I was watching @Michael 's Did We Make It video, and it got me thinking. What breaks on the trail? I know that Xterra's can have radiator issues (SMOD - big issue if you have an automatic transmission) and timing chain (guides, etc.) issues at mileage. So I've replaced both of those.

We're not wheelers for the sake of wheeling (haven't leveled up to that - yet), but we often want to get where many people can't get it. So that can provide challenging terrain.

I knew I wanted to remove the stock mudflaps and running boards, a properly placed rock help me with that last weekend (luckily, I got off the rock and didn't damage anything except the toy running boards). So they're now gone, and I couldn't be more thrilled.

I'm wondering what other weak points you Xterra experts (hopefully, there are a few of you) have found on the trail. I would categorize them as:
1) Replace/upgrade before doing anything beyond basic forest roads, etc.
2) Could break in the future, so have a spare or a plan.
3) Add to solve problems (e.g., rock sliders/kickouts, bumper, winch, etc.). What is the most useful thing(s) you would add?
4) Open to other categories.

Thanks in advance for ideas, thoughts, etc. Thrilled to be part of the Overland Bound team.
 

reaver

Rank V
Member

Traveler III

1,674
Caldwell, ID, USA
First Name
Brian
Last Name
McGahuey
Member #

23711

Ham Callsign
GMRS WRMV941
I have a 2003 X (1.5 Gen vs 2nd Gen you have), but I also have a 2013 Frontier (mechanically the same as your X).

The biggest issues you'd have with the X, you've already addressed. You might snap a cv at some point, but that depends on how hard you push it, and it's less likely without a front locker.

I'd extend the rear diff Breather, and pick up some skid plates if you're worried about the underside.

I'd definitely recommend sliders (mine saved my bacon shortly after putting them on).

Front and rear bumpers are your call. The stock leaf springs on second gen Xs have a tendency to flatten out. There's lots of options for new springs.

If you want lots of info from folks you know the N50 platform, head over to xterranation.com.

Welcome to the Nissan Family!
 

Michael

Rank VII
Staff member
Founder 500
Member

Pioneer II

8,507
Dublin, CA
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Murguia
Member #

0000

Ham Callsign
KM6YSL
Those are very good recommendations from Brian. Reiterating sliders (not steps) which will definitely save you.

Recovery gear - up to you. Winches can make life easier, but you can do a lot with a shovel and rocks (if you have rocks).
 

reaver

Rank V
Member

Traveler III

1,674
Caldwell, ID, USA
First Name
Brian
Last Name
McGahuey
Member #

23711

Ham Callsign
GMRS WRMV941
One thing I always tell people is to wheel the vehicle in stock form for a while before modifying it. You'd be surprised at how capable a stock xterra is.

My 03 is on bone stock suspension, and I'm able to keep up with lifted 4runners and jeeps all day long. I'm not doing the Rubicon in it, and it suits my needs perfectly in its current form.

As far as recovery gear, I carry a snatch strap, tow strap, and recovery boards. I currently do not own a winch. Rarely am I alone, and if you're new to off road adventures, I wouldn't recommend traveling alone, unless you have no one to go with.

I would say learn how your X drives and handles different terrain, do some trips, and see what adjustments you need to make. And build from there.
 

Krieg

Rank III
Member
Adventure

Traveler III

797
Portland, OR
First Name
Greg
Last Name
Keene
Member #

28174

Thanks @reaver and @Michael. Sounds like we're in pretty good shape. For now, I have the recovery gear I think I need (until I don't, but so far, I've been offroad with it about 10 times since we got it in April and the only issue was the ridiculous running board steps – it's quite good offroad - I have tracks and at least a good front and rear recovery point). Very pleased.

Definitely, sliders are in the queue. Likely followed by some skid plates. And then likely bumpers (to lose the vanity bullbar, a place for a winch, and probably move the tire to the rear).
 

reaver

Rank V
Member

Traveler III

1,674
Caldwell, ID, USA
First Name
Brian
Last Name
McGahuey
Member #

23711

Ham Callsign
GMRS WRMV941
Thanks @reaver and @Michael. Sounds like we're in pretty good shape. For now, I have the recovery gear I think I need (until I don't, but so far, I've been offroad with it about 10 times since we got it in April and the only issue was the ridiculous running board steps – it's quite good offroad - I have tracks and at least a good front and rear recovery point). Very pleased.

Definitely, sliders are in the queue. Likely followed by some skid plates. And then likely bumpers (to lose the vanity bullbar, a place for a winch, and probably move the tire to the rear).
Sounds like a good start. Keep in mind you're going to have to upgrade the front and rear suspension to accommodate steel bumpers. And add-a-leafs only delay the inevitable. I'd recommend all new spring packs in the rear.
 

Krieg

Rank III
Member
Adventure

Traveler III

797
Portland, OR
First Name
Greg
Last Name
Keene
Member #

28174

Good suggestion. I should have mentioned suspension is going to be evaluated the whole way as weights change. I've done a baseline weight (empty and ready to roll) and have a pretty good feel. I agree, though, definitely, if I do bumpers, rails, and skidplates, changes will be needed.

As a side note, any experience with quality-fabbed aluminum bumpers and skidplates vs. steel?
 

reaver

Rank V
Member

Traveler III

1,674
Caldwell, ID, USA
First Name
Brian
Last Name
McGahuey
Member #

23711

Ham Callsign
GMRS WRMV941
Good suggestion. I should have mentioned suspension is going to be evaluated the whole way as weights change. I've done a baseline weight (empty and ready to roll) and have a pretty good feel. I agree, though, definitely, if I do bumpers, rails, and skidplates, changes will be needed.

As a side note, any experience with quality-fabbed aluminum bumpers and skidplates vs. steel?
I had aluminum skids on my previous truck, and have steel on my frontier. I honestly don't feel like the weight savings and cost for aluminum is worth it over the strength of steel. That being said, I built my own rear swing out with the help of a friend and a hardcore offroad diy kit. Way cheaper route if you can weld, or have access to someone who can.
 

Smileyshaun

Rank V
Member

Member III

2,779
Happy Valley, OR, USA
First Name
Shaun
Last Name
Hoffman
Member #

4799

A good thing to think about is can you replace whatever spare parts you bring with you on the trail in less than stellar conditions? I’ve ran into quite a few people over the years that brought spare parts with them but had no means to replace them if they broke, be it lack of tools or knowledge. Get all your general maintenance stuff out of the way , fluids , belts and hoses ( keep the old ones for spares ) check all the suspension components out for play or leakage . Really familiarize yourself with your rig . There may be a certain length wrench that works great for a particular bolt or a odd fastener somewhere that takes a odd length extension or a certain length screwdriver ect ect .for me and my personal tastes I like to fill a tool roll with the stuff that fits my rig and then also keep around extra tools for helping others .
 
  • Like
Reactions: 4L_Warrior

Krieg

Rank III
Member
Adventure

Traveler III

797
Portland, OR
First Name
Greg
Last Name
Keene
Member #

28174

Tha
I had aluminum skids on my previous truck, and have steel on my frontier. I honestly don't feel like the weight savings and cost for aluminum is worth it over the strength of steel. That being said, I built my own rear swing out with the help of a friend and a hardcore offroad diy kit. Way cheaper route if you can weld, or have access to someone who can.
Thanks!
 

Krieg

Rank III
Member
Adventure

Traveler III

797
Portland, OR
First Name
Greg
Last Name
Keene
Member #

28174

A good thing to think about is can you replace whatever spare parts you bring with you on the trail in less than stellar conditions? I’ve ran into quite a few people over the years that brought spare parts with them but had no means to replace them if they broke, be it lack of tools or knowledge. Get all your general maintenance stuff out of the way , fluids , belts and hoses ( keep the old ones for spares ) check all the suspension components out for play or leakage . Really familiarize yourself with your rig . There may be a certain length wrench that works great for a particular bolt or a odd fastener somewhere that takes a odd length extension or a certain length screwdriver ect ect .for me and my personal tastes I like to fill a tool roll with the stuff that fits my rig and then also keep around extra tools for helping others .
Yep, always more to learn. At this point, my focus is prevention, as my knowledge of the X grows (need to get a service manual - hopefully digital and continue to watch/read/do), it'll be about bringing spares too. I've built a toolkit I feel pretty good about based on other recommendations, but my mechanic skills don't include specific Xterra knowledge yet and I would call myself a change oil, basic installation guy. If I got into CV joint, etc., I would be out of my element right now.