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Saving my WD21


TannerTheWD21
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So I bought a rejected and abandoned WD21 Pathfinder in May and I named him Tanner. Tanner has been through hell and highwaters when it comes to everything since he had 345 thousand miles on him when I bought him. He is my first car ever and I love the truck to death. But recently I was on my way to pick up my girlfriend and Tanner broke down. Hard. As I was going uphill he started backfiring so badly (sounded like Anti Lag or two step loud) and I lost all power. I tried turning him over and all he did was backfire

I managed to back my way partially downhill and spin him around. I did and I popped the clutch and he fired right back up but as soon as I stepped on the gas, boom dead. I found out that my distributor was gone and I thought it initially was the timing belt. I replaced the timing belt and distributor but the sad thing is, none of it fixed him. 

He's been sitting in the apartment complex I live in for two weeks now and already inpounded once. I am so desperate for help right now. I got a mobile mechanic to come look at it and he almost ran after I corrected distributor wiring but he didn't. I want my pathy back and running as when I do, I plan on giving him to my girlfriend as her first car. I need help on what to do. I wanna swap a supercharged VG33 into it from an Xterra to make more power. 

I know it may sound silly of me to want to keep him running but he holds special value since he's my first car, first stickshift I ever drove, first car my girlfriend ever drove, and it conquered Devil's Canyon on mount Evans forwtbtey no problem with an offroading noob. I wouldn't care of he died at 200K but 350K is honerable and he deserves to keep living as he also has zero rust on the chassis's.

Thanks for anybody reading this post. 

Edited by TannerTheWD21
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I would have guessed the timing belt initially and it sounds like you f'd up the sequence when wiring the disty after replacing it.  Are you positive you have the timing correct with respect to teeth between cams and crank?  Also, how did the timing belt look that you took off? If it slipped, you probably want to do a compression check to make sure no valves were damaged.  As for the swap, good luck and please start a build thread for it.

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The belt was more floppy than a flag when i took the old one off. i still do have compression but its not as much as before. i am tempted to go t a scrapyard and pull the heads off of another WD21. I followed the cam alignment marks and lined up the crank with the mark on the cam corresponding to the mark on the belt. it turns over and coughs but no running. only thing i can think of is pulling my distributor and re aligning piston one to TDC and dropping it back in with the rotor facing to cylinder one. lots of fuel but no boom

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The '90 service manual suggests 173 PSI is normal, 128 is the lower limit. I don't know how low it can get and still run, but 90 does not sound promising. Slipped timing/damaged valves seems likely given the state of the timing belt, though I'm not sure you'd be getting any compression if the valve was bent. I'd be inclined to hook up a timing light and see if you've got the replacement distributor timed anywhere close to right before pulling the heads.

Did you count teeth when you set up the belt? The marks on the belt should be right, the marks on the cover are in the right ballpark but don't trust them past that. Should be 40 between the marks on the cam sprockets, 43 from the driver's side cam mark to the crank sprocket mark.

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