Jump to content

Jotegr's maybe build thread


Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

Hey NPORA folk! After stalking the forum for a number of years I'm finally happy to say I can join you. I've wanted an R50 ever since I started wanting an SUV a couple years ago. I did a ton of research back then and looked fairly hard for a pathfinder or something similar. A friend ended up showing me an ad for a 2004 Blazer 4 door in excellent shape for cheap with only 110k km/68k miles on it, and it was hard to pass up - especially as I knew far less about vehicles then as I do now. 

 

 

I liked that vehicle a lot, and I still do. But I realized it wasn't quite tall enough after a ton of adventure drives to get to trail heads and hiking spots, and did a bunch of research. Turns out those trucks don't take to lifts very well. So a few months ago, started looking for a Pathfinder to make my original goal a reality. 

 

I ended up with a 2003 Pathfinder LE in classic pathfinder BROWN (you can call it gold all you want). It has 242k/150 miles. I was looking for something a little lower, but seeing as I was planning on replacing a ton of stuff regardless of the mileage, I didn't have to go to Vancouver to get it, and it's only going to see between 5000 and 6000 km per year, I think it's fine. One that's been run a bit more and not sitting gives better odds that it'll have less leaks cuz everything's lubricated more often, right? ....right?

 

I picked this sucker up this weekend, put an afternoons worth of insurance on it, drove it the hour and a bit home, and stuck it in the garage. 

 

Like any good idea, this one's boiled down to a three step plan (now that I own the vehicle - I guess step 0 and step 0.5 were research and buy a pathfinder... but ignore that for now):

 

Step 1: 

Change all fluids and (most) filters

POWER VALVE SCREWS and anything else I should do while I'm down there. I'm open to suggestions on this one. Various gaskets? PCV valve? 

Clean MAF sensor/throttle body

*the spark plugs were recently done by the previous owner

 

Step 2:

Drive the bastard hard for a month and see it anything blows up. 

If nothing blows up, back off insurance it'll go until we're a decent way in to step 3. 

 

Step 3: 

If nothing blows up, do the classic R50 lift, lower control arms, and start the build proper - I'll call it a "real" build thread at that point. You can change titles later right? 

Start replacing stuff for reliability's sake - water pump, thermometer, etc. 

 

Happy to start the pathfinder journey, and I already can't thank this forum enough for the sheer amount of knowledge available to random schmucks like me. I'm happy to hear any thoughts and suggestions about the plan. 

Edited by Jotegir
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

:welcome:

PCV's a good idea while you're in there, just because you'd have to pull the same stuff apart to get to it later if it went wrong. I would do the valve cover gaskets as well, for the same reason. IIRC there are different types of valve cover on different years of VQs, and some aren't rebuildable, so look into that. IIRC there's a coolant tube between the heads on the back of the engine that leaks sometimes, look into that too while the intake's out of the way. Be careful cleaning the throttle body. I've read that the drive-by-wire freaks out and refuses to re-learn if the TB goes from gunked up to clean all at once. The solution I've read is to clean it a bit at a time so the computer sees multiple small changes and ignores them instead of freaking out about one big change. Sounds like a PITA, but less so than dealing with a computer tantrum.

 

While you''re doing the trans fluid, consider an aux cooler while you're at it. I added a cooler and an external filter to mine when I did the fluid in hopes of making it live a little longer.


Keep an eye on the oil level while you're doing your shakedown.

If you haven't yet, check out the Pines to Spines SFD lift kit. It's low-volume/limited availability at the moment, but if you want more than a couple inches of lift without killing the CV joints, that's what you want.
 

10 hours ago, Jotegir said:

classic pathfinder BROWN (you can call it gold all you want).


LOL, my dad's was "Sahara Sand." Also brown. And Nissan's not the only company in denial--Honda called my mom's brown CRV "Urban Titanium." I guess the marketing department has to look busy.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Thanks for the tips! I scoured the information thread on Nicoclub and following various links, I think I ended up with the right info for the gaskets on the 2003. The coolant tube might just be something I look at while I'm back there and will make a quick trip to the parts store if I need it - good thing this isn't my daily so it can sit in pieces as long as it needs to. 

 

That's a good tip on the throttle body, I would have just sent it. 

 

I'll look in to a transmission cooler. I just poked my way over to your thread from a few years back. I'll start there.

 

I've followed the Pines to Spines developments for some time now. I don't know if that's really in my wheelhouse at the moment - I'm like a 4.5/10 mechanic so far, and a 0/10 fabricator. The pathfinder already sits like 1.5 inches taller than my blazer, even with its tired old suspension. I think the 2ish inches the strut/spring/shock combos all 'round give should be sufficient for a good while. I don't think I'll need a ton of extra height but maybe it'll be something I'll look in to once I run out of other stuff to do in a couple years, assuming they'll still be interested in providing kits for jerks like me at that time. 

Edited by Jotegir
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

OK - fluids and filter swaps are done, except a brake bleed. A bunch of the fluids were in surprisingly good condition for a vehicle of this mileage, especially because the last guy said he didn't really do a whole lot other than coolant and oil. Additionally after spending some time underneath, I'm not convinced the transmission pan (at least) is original because it looks in waaaaaaay better shape than anything else under there. Additionally, I'll have to chuck on the back third of an exhaust if the vehicle does well in the beat down month. 

 

 

On to the big one next - power valve screws, various gaskets, and the PCV valve. I'm going to wait until I think I can get it all done in a single day so there's less risk of chimping out and forgetting stuff while asleep. Might be hard because our bike park opened up last weekend and that's where I was for most of this one... 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Jotegir said:

OK - fluids and filter swaps are done, except a brake bleed. A bunch of the fluids were in surprisingly good condition for a vehicle of this mileage, especially because the last guy said he didn't really do a whole lot other than coolant and oil. Additionally after spending some time underneath, I'm not convinced the transmission pan (at least) is original because it looks in waaaaaaay better shape than anything else under there. Additionally, I'll have to chuck on the back third of an exhaust if the vehicle does well in the beat down month. 

 

 

On to the big one next - power valve screws, various gaskets, and the PCV valve. I'm going to wait until I think I can get it all done in a single day so there's less risk of chimping out and forgetting stuff while asleep. Might be hard because our bike park opened up last weekend and that's where I was for most of this one... 

 

whistler?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whistler? I hardly know her!

 

 

Sun Peaks. I used to get to Whistler a couple times a season pre covid but the lines are too dang long these days. Year before COVID I did 11 days there and a bunch at Sun Peaks, and a couple at Silver Star. Last summer and this summer is all local park until things quiet down in the fall. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 minutes ago, Jotegir said:

Whistler? I hardly know her!

 

 

Sun Peaks. I used to get to Whistler a couple times a season pre covid but the lines are too dang long these days. Year before COVID I did 11 days there and a bunch at Sun Peaks, and a couple at Silver Star. Last summer and this summer is all local park until things quiet down in the fall. 

I hoping to get a few days this summer at the local park here in Southern California. When I say local, I mean 3hrs away!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Yeah, Whistler is a good 4.5 hours from be but it's a wonderful drive. If you stay the night or three it's a great little trip. My local mountain in the summer is 40 minutes and in the winter is closer to an hour most days. If you've never been, you should. All riders at some point should make their way to Mecca. 

 

 

I decided that I'd be fine to do it over multiple days if I took some pictures, labelled everything, and laid out everything on my clean garage floor on old beach towels in order it came out.  The main reason is that it became apparent that I both wouldn't be capable of doing it all in a day as I kept adding tasks, and  we are getting a two week heat wave of 44 degrees celcius plus for a while (over 110 for you guys)- meaning I only want to work on it from like 7:30 to 10 in the mornings and then in evenings. 

 

Anyway I'm done one of the two valve cover gaskets as of this morning, same with the PCV valve, and the coolant hose leading to the water control valve. As Slartibartfast hinted at, the spark plug tube o-rings don't appear to be rebuildable (the guy at the parts store was surprised when the valve cover gaskets didn't come with em'), but it's fine cause they appear to be in great shape. I'm quite pleased with myself that I didn't have to move the absolute mess of wires to do this, so thanks for the tips Slartibartfast because its sure easier with all this other junk outa the way.

 

I'm pleased to report that all 12 power valve screws were there. They've been cleaned and secured with red locktite. The ones closer to the front of the engine were very, very light to remove whereas the backs felt substantially harder. There was some old looking something on the threads, so it looks like I didn't have one of the affected vehicles. 

 

 

Edited by Jotegir
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Alright, double post, it's my thread so I can do what I want.

 

 

The front end stuff is going to have to pause for a day or two - I went to pick up the water control valve from the parts store that the guy from Saturday said had it - his location is smaller and he said they had a couple up top. At the first spot, I asked for a "water control valve" as most of the documentation calls it, and the first guy said its in their system as an upper thermostat. This morning the person at the second store said there's no "upper thermostat" for the pathfinder, and gave me @!*% like I didn't know anything. So I asked for the water control valve, and got a lecture about how those are two distinct and different items and if its one it isn't the other. Lol. So I asked her to bring me all the thermostats for the vehicle, and none of them are right. There's another SKU she's gunna bring in for tomorrow that is hopefully the right item.

 

I also broke a couple of the old, crusty, pintle caps when I was struggling with the fuel injector rail. I'll have to pick up a set of caps and o-rings. I asked the same lady for a set and she looked at me like I had three heads and didn't say anything. Hopefully when the "upper thermostat/water control valve/second thermostat" or whatever the particular person of the day wants to call it is here I'll talk to someone else and they'll be able to find me a set of fuel injector caps and o-rings too. 

 

Anyway, I thought I'd change the air filters. The engine one seems mint so I'm gunna leave it. Despite being a 2003 LE, the cabin has a slot for one but the hole is filled. I see there's a thread of people who've added them. I'll modify the box to add it myself. Any tips on getting the box out? I can peer in there and it's absolutely filthy inside. Full of pine needles and fluff and junk. I wanna pull it and clean it out before I add filters to it or what's the point. I've undone every screw or bolt I can find but the bastard is stuck somewhere in the back some how. Any tips here?

 

 

Edited by Jotegir
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Jotegir said:

Alright, double post, it's my thread so I can do what I want.

 

 

The front end stuff is going to have to pause for a day or two - I went to pick up the water control valve from the parts store that the guy from Saturday said had it - his location is smaller and he said they had a couple up top. At the first spot, I asked for a "water control valve" as most of the documentation calls it, and the first guy said its in their system as an upper thermostat. This morning the person at the second store said there's no "upper thermostat" for the pathfinder, and gave me @!*% like I didn't know anything. So I asked for the water control valve, and got a lecture about how those are two distinct and different items and if its one it isn't the other. Lol. So I asked her to bring me all the thermostats for the vehicle, and none of them are right. There's another SKU she's gunna bring in for tomorrow that is hopefully the right item.

 

I also broke a couple of the old, crusty, pintle caps when I was struggling with the fuel injector rail. I'll have to pick up a set of caps and o-rings. I asked the same lady for a set and she looked at me like I had three heads and didn't say anything. Hopefully when the "upper thermostat/water control valve/second thermostat" or whatever the particular person of the day wants to call it is here I'll talk to someone else and they'll be able to find me a set of fuel injector caps and o-rings too. 

 

Anyway, I thought I'd change the air filters. The engine one seems mint so I'm gunna leave it. Despite being a 2003 LE, the cabin has a slot for one but the hole is filled. I see there's a thread of people who've added them. I'll modify the box to add it myself. Any tips on getting the box out? I can peer in there and it's absolutely filthy inside. Full of pine needles and fluff and junk. I wanna pull it and clean it out before I add filters to it or what's the point. I've undone every screw or bolt I can find but the bastard is stuck somewhere in the back some how. Any tips here?

 

 

Are you referring to the cabin air filters? My LE came with them but I replaced them shortly after getting the vehicle. I cleaned the box with a skinny vacuum adapter. It wasn't perfect but got some stuff

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry if I wasn't clear, I wanted to do both the air and cabin filters. 

 

My pathfinder has the slots for the filters filled in. Searching the forum reveals you can cut the slots out and chuck filters in (I can see the rails to take them inside when I peer in the gap). 

 

When I looked in the air box where the filters go, it's gross in there. I took every bolt out I could find but the box is still stuck in the dash. I suppose I could just use vacuum attachments and do the best I can, but I was hoping to pull the whole box, clean it, and put it back. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Whelp, got everything back together, started it up, and there's a godawful vacuum leak.

 

Sigh, guess I'll start over from the top tomorrow :(

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The nice thing about a godawful leak is it'll have a hard time hiding when you go looking for it. Hopefully you don't have to dig too far to get to it.

 

I don't know the R50 dash, but I had to disconnect my evap core to get its box out from under the dash in my '93. I could almost get the bottom off the box without removing the core, but there were two metal clips holding the back of the box together that I just couldn't get to. My aircon's dead anyway, so out it came. It wasn't pretty in there. I had vacuumed most of the chunks out already, but the styrofoam had stuff growing on it, mice had crapped in there because of course they had, and the core was packed with mud and pine needles.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Excellent work. Great to be sure the power valves are okay. Less of a problem in ‘03 & ‘04 than ‘01 & ‘02 but a disaster if it happens.

While I’m putting a @PinestoSpines 3” SFD in, I drove mine largely stock for >100K mi & 16 years. I covered all the Western U.S. & BC & Alberta. A 2” lift is pretty robust & all you really need. I’d definitely just start there. I’m considering a 2nd R50 for a DD at a remote job site & I won’t lift her more than 2” (& that simply because I expect the suspension will need a refresh).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Found the little bastard the other day. The vacuum line running from below the intake manifold to beside the upper plenum had a tear in it. I didn't inspect that end of the line last time I was down there as it came out with the intake, but unlike every other hose in the vehicle, that end is extremely rotten. 

 

Trouble is I'm now waiting to put everything back as everywhere is sold out of the intake gasket sets and a couple of the crush metal type gaskets the intake uses that I just put on don't look like I should put them back. I was told the parts store would have a set for me today but no call yet. Still waiting on a throttle body gasket from a couple weeks ago to take that thing off too.... 

 

Edit: Boys she sounds beautiful! Insurance tomorrow!

itgoes.jpg

Edited by Jotegir
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

OK guys, I'm now officially in stage 2 of my pathfinder project! It got plates Wednesday. That means I'm going to bash it around for a month or so and see if anything comes up. Then its back off the road for the next bit.  As a sidenote, I'm glad I picked this sucker up when I did. I've continued to poke around craigslist/facebook marketplace/kijiji out of curiosity (one of the funny things about living in interior BC is that the lower mainland almost exclusively uses craigslist while the interior, a mere 3 hours away, doesn't use it at all) and all the pathfinders on there are similar or worse condition for substantially more money! One in roughly this condition is now seeking like 7-8K CAD, and there isn't a single one below 220K kms in western Canada now! Sheesh. What a difference two months makes. 

 

Edit: Aaaay got pictures working!

The Pathy

dkOPA4J.jpg

 

The old rig with the pathy creepin'

 

FZQF1sy.jpg

 

On the way back from the mountain

PhmTHvQ.jpg

 

So now I'm going to compile a list of to-do's for stage 3. Any recommendations or "actually you're wasting your time there" for long term reliability or "boy I wish I changed that before I was 4 hours up a fire road north of Pemberton" for the following would be most appreciated. 

 

"The Good" Mods:

For the lift I'm planning on using is a wide combination of parts:

Front:

KYB Struts + bellows

OME HD front springs

OEM/Moog strut mounts and bearings (the Nissan dealer's service desk in my town won't give me the time of day so actual OEM is kind of sticky)

 

Rear:

OME shocks

LR 9447 Springs

I already have one of those air bag kits in the back - I think I'll keep it there after the swap which will let me add some pressure if I want to emulate 9449's for the occasional trip or two. We get loaded down but I don't tow. 

 

I'll probably post the lift-related stuff in the LR spring thread, as that appears to have become the de-facto suspension lift questions thread provided LR springs are involved in some way.

 

Protection:

Fleury's missing link and front skid plate - maybe I'll add the rest later? For what the current goals of the vehicle are I think that's fine for now. 

 

For tires I'll have to see. I'd like to keep the stock wheels as I think they are really cool (they're kinda rough, I'd restore them over winter - I have a pretty good paint setup for small objects) and I understand the stock wheels get complicated with bigger tires. As this is an adventure and cruiser build more than a rock crawler, i don't need to go crazy here. 

 

 

Reliability changes/upgrades:

Replace Thermostat and maybe water pump - from what I've been reading a lot of you guys are very much a "if it aint broke don't fix it" water pump attitude. Let me know!

Replace bushings and/or ball joints or whole pieces for all of the control arms and similar in the vehicle. 

Replace wheel bearings while wheels are off for the lift

RR drum shoes

One of the sensors on the TPMS is shot. I'd like to get the light off ideally. 

 

 

Cosmetic/Auto/Other:

Spare Key (from somewhere...?)

touchscreen head unit

backup camera - when we do trips in the Blazer, because half the cargo area is puppy area, the back is piled to the sky and there's no rear visibility at all. I'm imagining the same problem here. 

Clean and de-surface-rustify anything that I take off before it goes back on.

The original back end of the exhaust is pretty  done. I'll have to stick another on. 

LED map lights

Swap the stock towers for Yakima ones so my tent can come over!

 

Stage 4:
When I get here I'll have to evaluate. I have dreams of a rear bumper, sliders, a locker, maybe even manual hubs, extensive electrical stuff, what have you, but we'll worry about this stuff once stage 3 is done and I'm cruising in it. 

 

Please note, I'm not looking to do everything on the cheap! I respect a ton of other forum users who are getting amazing results while spending very little money, and the Pathy is an amazing vehicle to allow you to do that. However, I'm OK to spend where it counts to get the vehicle I really want. I didn't buy a Pathfinder to save money specifically, I purchased one because I've always wanted one!

Edited by Jotegir
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you fixed the power valves? If not, that’s a must.

http://www.nissanpathfinders.net/forum/topic/17104-threadlocker-on-power-valve-screws-pics/page-1

Key & fob are easy - it’s the chip that’s the problem.

Watch the pressure on the AirLifts. I’ve used them & they’re great but it’s imperative for their longevity that you keep a minimum pressure in them. BTW, I found a quick & easy way to pop them up was with a bicycle CO2 inflator - works pretty well since they are low volume. It’s instantly ready & fits in the glovebox or the palm of your hand.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/11/2021 at 1:37 AM, RainGoat said:

Excellent work. Great to be sure the power valves are okay. Less of a problem in ‘03 & ‘04 than ‘01 & ‘02 but a disaster if it happens.
 

 

3 hours ago, RainGoat said:

Have you fixed the power valves? If not, that’s a must.
 

 

Hmmm.....

 

3 hours ago, RainGoat said:

Key & fob are easy - it’s the chip that’s the problem.

Watch the pressure on the AirLifts. I’ve used them & they’re great but it’s imperative for their longevity that you keep a minimum pressure in them. BTW, I found a quick & easy way to pop them up was with a bicycle CO2 inflator - works pretty well since they are low volume. It’s instantly ready & fits in the glovebox or the palm of your hand.

 

Yeah, and it's the chip I need. I have 2 spare keys that can unlock the vehicle but not start it. I'd love to get another "can start the vehicle" key in case I lose this one up in the woods somewhere.

 

I usually have a floor pump in my vehicle as riding is my main "sport". The inflator isn't a bad idea to keep around for needing something in a pinch. I have a couple of them already, so it wouldn't hurt to chuck an old one somewhere in the box. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Ok it was more like 2 weeks rather than a month but I did a bunch of highway driving and some mild fire road stuff, and I'm happy enough to dive in.

 

I ordered a @!*%load of stuff today, as I'm going to have some time off towards the end of August. I ordered springs, struts (and hardware), shocks, a muffler and piping, and pretty much everything suspension related with a bushing in it except front control arms and a panard bar. I also ordered a front skid plate and missing link.

 

I can't edit the title but I wish I could now call it "Jotegir's confirmed for build thread" or something.


Sidenote, after my first couple drives to the bike park, I was a little bit worried about milage in this thing - turns out the gas gauge reads 1/4 left when you in fact have 35/80L remaining. Whew! It's about where I expected. 

Edited by Jotegir
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 weeks later...

Sad days, after waiting a month for my OME shocks they sent me the ones for the pre-facelift which would have to go in mine upside down. Guess it's going to be another month. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...