To keep my radiator hoses in top shape I added a couple of cheap hose protectors I got at a local auto parts store. The protectors are oriented to protect the hoses from any debris flying from the vicinity of the cooling fan or fan belts. I don’t think I’ll ever have a problem with broken fan blades ripping my hoses open but I don’t have to worry now.
The new exhaust was an impromptu modification like the Optima battery and the TJM bumper, it was done out of necessity, my stock muffler had holes rusted in it and needed to be replaced to pass inspection. I took the opportunity to do an upgrade I was planning on doing anyway, the exhaust was replaced from the Y-Pipe back with stainless steel 2.5″ exhaust (up from 2.25″), and the muffler was replaced with a Hooker Aero Chamber Muffler to reduce restriction.
I really like the FIPK but when mud hits the cooling fan some of it has a tendency to get splashed up under the heat shield and get the underside of the filter dirty. And the mud is hard to rinse out.
Many people do this to get more cool air from the fender instead of the hot engine air for more HP. But when the Xterra is going faster than 25 MPH the air in the engine compartment is about the same temp as the fender, besides the Xterra’s little 170 HP engine doesn’t have high enough performance for Cold Air intakes to make much of a difference.
I had a K&N Drop-In air filter since I bought the Xterra but I wanted to get as much power as I could from the engine. Since I had gotten the new BFG Mud Terrains there wasn’t alot of power left for passing on the freeway, I hoped upgrading the intake would help.
The K&N FIPK is a very complete setup and has passed California Emissions so it won’t stop you from passing your safety and emissions checks every year. It would be a bit better if the engine heat shield had a bottom to it help keep more heat and mud out but it doesn’t take much to create your own bottom and bolt it in. The included instructions are so complete they’re nearly idiot proof.
I knew that adding alot of accessories was going to make the battery positive terminal a mess of wires so I set up my own auxiliary fuse box to run accessories. There is one wire coming off the positive terminal to a fuse on the firewall and from there to the fuse box on the driver side of the firewall. The power going to the fuse box runs through a 70 AMP relay that’s switched so that the fuse box is only one when the ignition is on.
After I got back from Iraq and took the Xterra out of storage the stock battery was long gone. Since the stock battery is pretty weak anyway I was happy for a reason to upgrade, I had known for a long time that an Optima Yellow top battery was what I was going to get. Optima batteries use a paste instead of liquid electrolyte so that there’s nothing to spill, so the Battery can be turned upside down or even cracked without spraying acid all over the place.
Optima’s come in two varieties, Red and Yellow, the Red has higher CCA’s for starting in cold weather but can’t be run down as many times as the Yellow. The Yellow is a deep cycle battery, that means that you can run it down and recharge it more times before it dies permanently. Since I plan on running lights and possibly later a winch the Yellow top was the best bet.
Airing up or down on the trail is one of the basics to 4 wheeling, you almost always need to air down and when you get off the trail you need to get your air pressure back up so your tires don’t suffer the same fate so many Ford Explorer tires suffered. You can go with one of two options, first is onboard air, an air compressor and storage tank that you can fire up whenever you need the pressure, it’s a cool idea but pretty expensive since a decent compressor is in the $400-$500 range. Add another $80 for a tank, and $50 for plumbing and you have an expensive setup, not to mention that it can be damaged since it’s on the underside of the vehicle.
The second option is CO2. Carbon Dioxide stored as a compressed liquid can be used to fill tires, set beads on rims, and run power tools. Plus it’s removable when you don’t need it. All you need is a good place to keep it and a CO2 tank can serve all you air pressure needs.
The stock Xterra comes with the equivalent of 29.5″ diameter tires, and you can go up to 31″ inches with out batting an eye but if you go larger your probably going to have problems with the wheels rubbing the fender. With 32″s you’ll just need to trim some plastic in front and behind the tire, all you need a is a razor blade and 20 minutes. If you go larger you may need to trim metal, and if you don’t have a 3″ suspension AND 3″ Body Lift you’ll probably be rubbing the top of the fender at full compression. Basically 33″ tires and up need alot more trimming work than 32″s and below.
My stock Long Trails got their use off road, by time I replaced them they weren’t much more than racing slicks; not only does that increase the chances of them failing, but they suck in any type of slippery situation. I thought long an hard about whether to upgrade to BFG All terrain of Mud Terrains, and tried to decide between 31″s of 32″s. The MT’s had more aggressive tread and could “paddle” through mud and snow, but they also dug holes in the ground faster and weren’t siped for winter driving. The AT’s were siped and had better road manners but the tread wasn’t aggressive which could render me stuck in situations the MT’s could get me out.
I decided to go all out and get the bigger 32″ Mud Terrains.
Lifts will take their toll on the centerlink pretty quickly, Calmini has a very stout upgrade that is rebuildable and will solve the problem. The entire system is replaced unlike other systems that just reinforce a weak system. The result is a longer lasting steering system, but it takes a few days to get used to the new physics of the steering when it’s first put on. The Pitman and Idler Arm are replaced with stronger pieces, new stronger tie rod adjusters and a new center link is given.