My 2001 Pathfinder (R50 ) mild/budget build

stioc

Expedition Leader
#1
Stioc's 2001 Pathfinder (R50 ) mild/budget build

NOTE: If you're unable to see the pics, download a web browser extension that gets around the Photobucket's ransom demands. For Chrome I use this: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/...bedded-imag/ogipgokcopooepeipngiikdkpmcpkaon?





Trails and trips completed:

Orange County:
Main Divide Rd
Holy Jim trail

Mojave National Preserve:
Mojave Road
Colosseum Mine
Riley's Camp

Joshua Tree:
Berdoo Canyon
Pinkham
Old Dale Rd
Jeep trail

SBNF:
RattleSnake Canyon
Big Bear self guided discovery trail
Cleghorn
Jacoby Canyon
Horsetheif

Yuam, AZ:
Picacho Peak

Death Valley:
Agueberry point
Titus Canyon
Racetrack
LippinCott
Warm Springs
Steel Pass
Eureka Dunes
Trona
Pleasant Canyon
Goler Wash
Mengel Pass
Lower Hot Springs
Chloride City/Cliffs
Darwin Falls to China Garden Springs to Darwin city
Cerro Gordo

Eastern Sierras:
Monache Meadows
Sherman pass jeep trail

Moab:
Klondike Bluffs
Tower Arch
Fins-n-things
Baby Lion's Back
Fisher Towers
Long Canyon
Gemini Bridges

Colorado:
Yankee Boy Basin
Imogene Pass
Last Dollar Rd
Animas Fork
Engineer Pass to Lake City
Mesa Verde SP

------------------------------------
Upgrades and modifications

Exterior:
OME 2" springs (MD) - removed (See page 85 for why)
AC 2" lift springs
KYB struts
Bilstein 5100 shocks
WARN manual hubs
New OEM rear trailing arms and bolt kit
Home made control arm cross brace aka Missing Link
R200A 4.636
H233B 4.636 w/ ARB locker
Goodyear Duratracs 235/85/16 - removed (sidewalls not strong enough for heavy use in rocks)
BFG AT 235/85/16 - removed (loved loved loved these tires but wanted the tougher looks of the MTs)
BFG MT KM2s 265/75/16
Rola vortex roof-rack on Thule loadbars with custom feet
ARB 6.5ft awning
DieHard Platinum Group 34 battery
IPF 968 dual range driving lights with HID conversion
Philips XtremePower headlight bulbs
Gold fog light bulbs
BlitzPro LED flood light (rear)

Armor:
RockyRoad Super Sliders
DIY skid-plate (page 30)
Transfer case skid plate - Nissan Part# 30409-33G00
DIY rear bumper with swing out tire/gas/hi-lift carrier (page 105)

Brakes:
EBC high perf SUV brake pads - removed (they sucked!)
Hawk LTS Truck/SUV pads
Duralast rotors
SpeedBleeders
Goodrich stainless steel braided lines
4x4parts extra long braided SS line in the rear

Interior:
JWT Popcharger intake with a DIY CAI airbox
DIY storage platform
DIY cargo barrier
43qt IndelB fridge
UV5R HAM
Midland CB with Wilson 5000 magmount (mostly sits at home, I used HAM or FRS mostly)
ScanGuage II
Seat bracket iPad mount (used for GPS app)
Headrest iPad mount (movies/games for the younger co-pilot)
LED dome/trunk lights
Nissan heavy duty all weather floor mats

Recovery/expedition gear:
Q Industries MV50 air compressor
ARB tire repair kit
ARB deflator
ARB yank strap
ARB D rings
Tow hitch D-ring adapter (HarborFreight :p)
Keeper tow strap
HiLift 48" with Lift Mate
Small Cold Steel Special Forces shovel
Fiskar chopping axe
5gal Scepter water can
5gal Nato Jerry can - Removed
Two 3gal RotoPax fuel cans- total 27gals of fuel
Keeper roof-top canvas bag

Total weight (as weighed at a truck scale) loaded with 2 passengers for a 4-day DV trip: 5260lbs - not including extra gas. With the full family and extra gas approx 5400lbs. GVWR is 5300lbs.

Now the background info...

Why a Pathfinder:
Short answer? I prefer the roads less traveled. Long answer, not long ago when I set out to find a 4x4 for my needs (daily-driver/weekend explorer) with a budget of under $7k I considered just about everything in both the domestic and foreign flavors. In the end I settled on a 2001 Pathfinder SE 4x4- unibody and all. There was very little info about these trucks for offroad use and only a couple of documented Pathfinders were modified for ExPo like activities. As I said earlier I prefer the roads less traveled especially coming from a Honda Ridgeline which BTW hung with the big boys and went where ever I pointed it :D But really the size of the Pathfinder (not too huge but (almost) enough room for a family of 3 or 4 if you count our 60-65lbs dog), the creature comfort features, a larger gas tank (21gals) than others in class, and the awesome VQ35DE engine sold me on it. This particular one was a one-owner, low mileage car and I felt for me this was an excellent alternative to the venerable but overpriced 4Runners. I knew it being a unibody (unlike the older WD21s or the newer R51s) would have the (perceived?) limitations offroad but the type of offroading I'll be doing I'm not worried about it at all. While the aftermarket is not hugely supportive of this platform you can still find the ARB bumpers and lockers for it if you so choose.

Pathfinder factory specs (stock):
2001 Pathfinder SE 4x4, leather, sunroof, a/c, power etc
Mileage: 125k by the orignal owner
Engine: 3.5L V6 VQ
Horsepower: 250 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 240 ft-lbs. @ 3200 rpm
Curb weight: 3940 lbs
Ground clearance: 8.3 in
Tires: P255/65/16
Diff (F/R): Open
Final drive: 4.34
4x4: Part-time with 4-Lo
Wheel base: 106.3 in.
EPA mileage est. (cty/hwy): 15/18 mpg
Fuel tank capacity: 21.1 gal.
Range in miles (cty/hwy): approx 300 mi.

The subject:
 
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stioc

Expedition Leader
#2
The build plan:
The plan is simple- improve its offroad capabilities to be able to explore moderate level trails on the weekends yet maintain maximum reliability and comfort for the long highway drives. This means keeping it as stock as possible unless there's a real and practical need to replace parts with the aftermarket stuff. Growing up around cars and motorcycles and spending several years doing track days with cars I can turn a wrench or two so I'll be doing as much work at home as possible.

Phase I: Inspection and baselining fluids, wear items - done
Phase II: Tires, suspension, storage - done
Phase III: Armor, lockers, on-board air - done
Phase IV: Battery, awning, aux lights, other nice to haves - on going
Phase V: Go to Phase I and repeat



Inspection and baselining the fluids etc
The first order of business was baselining the fluids and spending a bit of time going over the truck.

Engine oil/filter changed (Synthetic Rotella T)
Transmission oil changed (Valvoline MaxLife synthetic)
Transfer case fluid (Valvoline MaxLife synthetic)
Front diff fluid (Valvoline gear oil)
Rear diff fluid (Valvoline gear oil)

The diff fluids looked ok but the transfer case fluid was never changed and was black. I had a really tough time undoing the drain and fill plugs too. Even with a 2' breaker bar (the air impact wrench just spun) I had to use a lot of force and I was really worried that I'd crack the cast aluminum housing. Thankfully with a combination of heat, PB blaster and the breaker bar I succeeded.

That was $140 in fluids and while I was at it I did some other minor work too:

Fixed the dash clock (broken solder on a transistor)
Removed the step-boards aka. free-lift-kit :victory:
Installed the ScanGuage (already had)
Updated my GasBuddy iPhone app which I use to maintenance work

The current radiator is stamped with 08, assuming that's year 2008, I'm probably good for at least another year so I'll leave it alone for now. All of the suspension components look original so those will need to be addressed. The ujoints look like they weren't greased and there's a clunk when getting on/off gas, though not sure exactly if it's the ujoint or something else.

 
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stioc

Expedition Leader
#3
First mod: Replaced the permanent/full-time hubs with the WARN manual hubs. This will help smooth out the ride a bit as well as help save some gas 99% of the time when it's being driven on the streets. It will also help save the front CVs when I do the lift ;)

 

stioc

Expedition Leader
#4
Baselining the trail capabilities: Took the Pathfinder it to a local fire road that had a good mix of terrain from ruts, dips to rocks and steep inclines. Overall it did really well but it needs bigger and more aggressive tires (currently Toyo Open Country ATs) and a possible lift. Other than that I smelled a bit of coolant but didn't find any leaks nor did I notice any coolant loss (overflow tank level is the same both before and after the run). I also noticed some rattling from the rear window/hatch which was annoying.



Full report and pics can be found here: http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/81909-A-stock-2001-Pathfinder-on-N-Main-Divide-Rd-CA
 
#6
Subscribed! Very nice Pathfinder. I've got a 99 4Runner that will most likely get replaced within the next 6 months and I really like the Pathfinders for the same reasons that you bought yours. I really enjoy my 4Runner, but the 3.4L is just a little light on power. Also the price of entry to find another 3rd gen with low miles that's in excellent shape is kind of steep. I'm very interested to see your progress.
 

stioc

Expedition Leader
#8
Subscribed! Very nice Pathfinder. I've got a 99 4Runner that will most likely get replaced within the next 6 months and I really like the Pathfinders for the same reasons that you bought yours. I really enjoy my 4Runner, but the 3.4L is just a little light on power. Also the price of entry to find another 3rd gen with low miles that's in excellent shape is kind of steep. I'm very interested to see your progress.
In the end for me it boiled down to these three trucks: 4Runner, Montero Sport, Pathfinder. I could've picked any one of these and be perfectly happy with it. The Pathfinder just happened to come along sooner than the other two in the condition and price range I was looking for.

It's nice to see the interest, I'll continue to post the progress of my build. I'm told the big brown trucks are bringing some goodies for it next week- stay tuned ;)
 

stioc

Expedition Leader
#9
Waiting for parts to arrive:

1.75" OME lift kit (taller/stiffer springs)
KYB GR2 struts + new OEM strut bearings
KYB Gas-A-just rear shocks
Rear control arm bushings and new hardware (nuts/bolts)
Rola safari roof rack (nothing says expedition-rig like a safari rack :elkgrin:)

After the lift I'll have to decide on the tires. The current tire size is 255/65/16 (29") and here's my delimma; I want taller tires but unless I buy new wheels with less backspacing I can't go much taller than 245/75/16 (30.4"). If I do spend the dollars on the wheels the 265/75/16 is about the biggest I'll want to go because stock drivetrain will be strained with the lift etc, especially the CVs and balljoints. So I keep thinking 245/75/16 is probably the best compromise but at the expense of a slightly narrower track width than stock. In other words I'm making the truck taller and making it narrower which probably isn't ideal for highway handling...or maybe I'm overthinking this one too much.

Two I need to decide on the type of tire, I love the MT look but the ATs are cheaper, better gas-mileage and more traction in the snow. I like the Cooper ST Maxx but in that price range I'm almost in the MT zone. The next best ones are the Hankook Dynapro ATs because they look aggressive and also had good reviews (people preferring them over the BFG ATs).
 
#10
In case you have any doubts (and it doesn't seem like you do), I think you'll be very happy with that suspension setup. I don't have any experience with the OMEs, but their products always have fairly good reviews and seem well thought out. I do however have the same strut/shock combo as you and am VERY pleased with the results. My stock shocks were shot with about ~80k miles on them, and replacing them with the Gas-A-Justs made a 50% difference to the handling of the vehicle - and replacing the sagged-out rear springs made another 50% difference. You will not believe how much better it handles after just replacing these two items. My front stock struts were pretty worn too, and the GR2s seem OEM quality. Not many options when it comes to Pathfinder front struts unfortunately unless you want to spend the $ for the OMEs.

As far as tires, I'm in the same boat as you. Currently running some 255/70's (~30"), but am thinking about 265/75's now that I have lift on. Just a matter of budget and timing...my current tires are good, so I'm not in a hurry. I think the 245's are probably best for the real world, but the 265's really fill out the wheel wells nicely... ;) Have you looked at the Goodyear Duratracs? Seem to give the best compromise between an A/T and a M/T, with lots of siping too (and a snowflake rating) for the winter.

Can't wait to see how the safari rack turns out!
 

stioc

Expedition Leader
#11
Yeah like you said there aren't too many options when it comes to the struts, I was seriously thinking about the OME struts which look to be modified Bilsteins (which I really like) but I couldn't find a single bad review about the KYBs and they were 1/3 the cost of the OMEs so it was an easy decision. KYBs are also an OEM suppliers to Nissan and others from what I've read. Having said that if this wasn't a mild/budget build I would've gone with the OMEs because they probably have longer travel, though longer travel also means more stress on the CVs etc so it's really a slippery slope. I'm definitely looking forward to the new suspension setup and eliminating the dreaded death-wobble from worn out rear control arm bushings.

Tires wise another option is wheel spacers. Fluery (well known member on the Pathfinder forums) is running 1.25" spacers with the stock wheels and 265/75/16 (32"). His truck sees a fair amount of off-roading and he hasn't had any issues with them. Quite honestly I'm a bit on the fence about the 32" tires, to me they look juuust a tad bit poseurish on the Pathys especially with MTs- at least in the pics that I've seen on the web. I'm thinking 31" is probably a good size but I have to see what the fender gap looks like. They just may look like little donuts after the lift. If you have any pics of your truck with the 30" tires I'd love to see them.

I haven't looked at the Duratracs, I'll check them out. Thanks for the ideas and suggestions!
 

mortonm

Expedition Leader
#12
If you really want the 32 inch size 235 85 is a nice alternative to 265 75. Same height just an inch skinnier. I am running them on my Xterra with zero issues on the highway. BFG AT. Stock size is 265 width btw on the Xterras

However if I was you I would get the 245 75. Its still a nice upgrade and unless you want to do more crawling it will be better for you on and off pavement.
 

stioc

Expedition Leader
#13
Thanks mortonm. The deed is done, four new Duratracs in 245/75/16 are on their way :victory: Now if Rocky Road would just ship my darn OME springs already I could get started on the upgrades!



I was really hoping to get some parts installed this weekend but my efforts were met with defeat; I installed the Rola safari basket but it's 4ft long and just didn't look right to me. So out came the credit card and I ordered the 18" extension for it. I then moved on to the next project and removed one of the rear control arms hoping to use my ball-joint press to R&R the bushings but it didn't fit. So I cut the center sleeve out with a jigsaw hoping to pry the outside sleeve of the bushing but after 40mins of messing around with it I gave up. I cursed Harbor Freight for still not shipping the 12ton A-frame hydraulic press that I ordered almost 4 months ago. At this poing I decided that I would bring all 4 rear control arms and have the bushings pressed in by a shop. I figured it would cost around $80-100. Just to make sure I checked the bushings for size and found out I ordered the wrong bushings (well I got 4 out of 8 right). Well out came the Visa again and back to rockauto.com when I realized for not much more money I can actually order the whole control arm that comes with new bushing. So I ended up ordering 4 new control arms for $200. I removed the rear shocks and called it a day. For now the Pathfinder sits on the lift waiting for parts...
 
#14
Wow, giving the credit card a real workout these days! Hopefully the truck will follow.

Sorry, I missed your request for a pic of my truck with the 30's on it when I read your post last time...but it sounds like you didn't need more convincing anyway! ;) I think you've inspired me to start my own mini-build thread soon - not so much that it's an amazing truck, just that it might give some folks some ideas as I've done things a bit differently (in terms of part selection) than everyone else. I wouldn't want to hijack your (so far excellent) build thread either!

Again, keep us posted - looking good.
 

stioc

Expedition Leader
#15
Wow, giving the credit card a real workout these days! Hopefully the truck will follow.

Sorry, I missed your request for a pic of my truck with the 30's on it when I read your post last time...but it sounds like you didn't need more convincing anyway! ;) I think you've inspired me to start my own mini-build thread soon - not so much that it's an amazing truck, just that it might give some folks some ideas as I've done things a bit differently (in terms of part selection) than everyone else. I wouldn't want to hijack your (so far excellent) build thread either!

Again, keep us posted - looking good.
Do it!! :) I feel the R50 Pathfinders are an excellent platform for an expedition rig but it remains mostly undiscovered and overlooked.
 
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