Bilstein Shocks (Dampeners)

Bilsteins are well regarded as the best shocks you can put on your Xterra, alot of people have been putting on Adjustable Rancho RS9000’s but the Bilsteins automatically adjust to conditions and provide a GREAT ride.  If you’re planning on lifting the Xterra then make sure you get shocks that are going to be able to handle the extra travel without maxing out their extension.  Shocks aren’t built to be limiting straps and will break if they have to be one.

Whatever shock you get be aware of which direction it’s mounted.  Depending on the manufacturer they may go canister up or canister down.  The reason is that some shocks have reflexive valves that depend on gravity to keep them in the correct position.  The result is that if they’re upside down they may make the ride worse.shocks

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3″ Calmini Lift

The stock Xterra has a good height compared to many other SUV’s coming out now but if you go offroad you’ll want more height to keep the belly from hitting the ground.  The Calmini is arguably the best suspension lift you can get.

A quick word on lift types, there are two main kinds:  the Suspension and the body lift.  The suspension lift changes your suspension so that the frame and chassis are higher off the ground, the body lift just lifts the chassis higher off the ground the frame stays at the same height.  Suspension lifts are limited with IFS because the control arms can only be at so sharp of an angle before they really mess with the geometry, anything over 3″ requires a lower control arm relocation bracket, which eliminates all clearance you gain by lowering the frame.  Plus the steeper the CV axles the more stress on the CV joint.  Body lifts don’t have any real benefit except allowing you to fit larger tires.  Anything over 3″ can lift the body too high and the mounts can become distorted when the frame flexes.

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Shrockworks Sliders

The first thing to do before you take the Xterra offroad is to remove the stock step rails.  They’re strong enough to stand on but as soon as a rock hits them they’ll bend.  They’re worth nothing on the trail, so take them off before you hit the trail.  Plus if you take them off early you can sell them in mint condition on eBay for $150-$200.  The use that money to buy you some real rock sliders.

Which kind you get is totally your preference but I recommend the Shrockworks or Calmini, I got the Shrockworks because I like how the stick out a little farther from the sides for easier jacking with the Hi-Lift.  A word of caution when jacking with the Hi-Lift on a slider, make sure the jack wont slip but also remember to open your door so that if the jack leans in it won’t dent the door.sliders

Forged Tow Hooks

Simply put, the stock tow hook sucks.  If it doesn’t get bent down on the trail it will get broken off by the trail.  Do yourself a favor and buy two forged tow hooks at the nearest 4×4 shop.  You want the three hole hooks instead of the two hole ones.  Use one to replace the stock hook, you’ll need some grade 8 bolts and nuts to put the other one on the opposite side.  It’s hard to get the bolts to drop down out of the frame so tie a string to the bolt in case you lose it while trying to get it in the hole you can pull it back out.  Once you have the bolts through, put the hook on, put the nuts on while trying to hold the bolt heads in the frame and tighten them as much as you can by hand.  Finally torque the nuts on tight, if you have an impact wrench you won’t have to worry about holding the bolts, the impact will tighten the nuts without the bolts slipping to much.  Without the impact wrench you might get lucky and the bolts will hold till they’re tight enough not to spin.  Otherwise do the best you can with your finger in the frame hole.towhook

TJM T17 Bumper

Well I wasn’t planning on getting a new bumper for a while but thanks to a jackass cutting me off and responding to my horn with his brakes I had to get it replaced anyway.  I figured why put on $400 dollars worth of stock bumper if I’m going to take it off later.  Why not just put on a new bumper now?

I knew what I wanted in a bumper, it had to be capable of holding a winch but I didn’t want one that stuck out too far, it also had to be pretty tough, I had seen a few bumpers get twisted because the tires grabbed the “wings” when stuffed.  I liked the profile of the Shrockworks bumper but the 2000 version wasn’t ready yet, I liked the look of the TJM T15 but they weren’t available for another three months, the ARB was nice but on back order, and the Calmini stuck out too far.  Finally I decided to get the TJM T17, it didn’t have the headlight guard but that was ok, I could weld some on later.tjm

Fold Down CB Antenna

With the CB Radio I needed a place to mount the Antenna, I knew a little about radios form my training in the Army and I knew that a clear line of sight would help improve the range I would get.  Even though the body of the Xterra isn’t much of an obstacle for the antenna I wanted the antenna up high rather than on the bumper or opposite the AM/FM antenna.  Plus up high I can put a flag on the top for better visibility on hilly terrain or areas with alot of low vegetation.ezover

Rack Lock

Now that I had my Safari Rack, and Hi-Lift on the roof I was driving around with over $100 of merchandise that anybody could lift only using a screw driver, and the Hi-Lift was only held on with wing nuts.  The solution was simple as the rest of the rack; a cable bike lock and a weather-proof padlock.  Now all my gear is secure against theft and if I’m in an accident the lock will hold everything to the rack, just incase.racklock

Hi Lift Mount

Some people mount their Hi-Lift in the rear cargo area bolted to the floor, some put theirs bolted across their front or rear bumpers.  I didn’t want mine on the bumper in case it got smashed into something and I ended up with the long version of the Hi-Lift (64″) anyway so most places that people usually use weren’t going to be able to fit it.  The solution was pretty simple, with two Mighty Mounts (28H) it could go on top of the rack next to the Safari Rack.  The only drawback was that for the rear hatch to open the Hi-Lift had to hang over the stock cargo basket a little.  Luckily there was still plenty of room for my Light Bar.rackhilift

Safari Rack and Net

The Load warrior rack was a little big for my tastes and I was planning on using some room for the Hi-Lift.  So for cargo I chose the Safari Rack; it’s small enough that when it’s longest edge is aligned front to back there’s enough room to the side for a bike (or Hi-Lift) next to it.  It’s still big enough to hold 5 gallon gas cans or 2 small (32qt.) Action-Packer Bins.  And it made a great mounting point for my Backup Lights.

Mounting was a piece of cake, just get some mighty mounts (28H) and bolt it on.  I was a little worried that people only need a screwdriver to take my rack off so I locked it on.safarirack

Backup Lights

You may have noticed that the tinting of the rear windows has made if hard to see behind you when backing up at night, the backup lights are decent but the tint is too dark at night.  I solved this by adding a set of KC Backup lights.

The lights are pretty simple in theory, they have their own power and are switched on by a relay that the normal backup lights activate.blight