Alien's 2003 not much a of build thread...yet

Alien Nov 30, 2017

  1. Alien

    Alien Test Drive

    Gilbert AZ
    2003 SE 4x4
    less than stock for now

    Hi guys,
    The name is Doug and about seven weeks ago I picked up my X. Here's me with her on the auspicious day -

    X 5.jpg

    She had 164k miles and from first glance she was in great shape. I knew she needed work, but I also felt she was a diamond in the rough. My girlfriend knew it was the one the moment she laid eyes on it, and has been reminding me of it ever since.

    I bought it at a used lot, and before I drove it off with it the brakes were making noise. They didn't make a sound during the test drive but they were squealing when I was leaving. They took it to the back pulled the tires and the pads needed replacing. They took care of it on the spot, so I got to check that chore off my list.

    Like I said, this isn't much of a build thread. Right now I'm in the process of getting all the maintenance up to date, as well as repairing/replacing things that are needed. This is going to be my DD as well as my exploring and camping vehicle, so I'm looking to make it run as best as possible.

    The first week I had her I needed to change the practically non-existent front sway bar links


    and what looked to be the original shocks

    front.jpg Rear.jpg

    I knew she had been in a small fender-bender, but it was enough to throw off the alignment. I took her in and had the tires balanced/rotated, and now that the shocks were replaced I took it and had the alignment done. She drives much better now.

    Then right as I was pulling into my driveway she died and wouldn't start back up. The engine would turn but no ignition. Crap. I knew it was either the timing belt or distributor, but I couldn't get the distie cap off to check w/o stripping the screw, so I just had it towed to a good shop down the road. Turned out to be the timing belt. So that along with a new water pump got installed, and thankfully no valve damage. They also found a small leak on the backside of my thermostat housing that needed repair, so a new thermostat went in and new radiator hoses install. This was all work that I planned having done, but it wasn't the way I had figured to get it done.

    When I picked it up from the shop they said it had a rough idle when stopped at a light, especially with the AC on, but they couldn't pinpoint it. My CEL was now on as well. A couple days later I took it to AutoZone and had the codes pulled, and I had one for the EGR valve, EVAP very small leak, and misfire in #2. Why they didn't pull the codes is beyond me. I replaced the plug and fixed that one, it cleaned the EGR valve and replaced the vacuum lines - find one that wasn't connected up underneath around the intake - and ordered a Nissan gas cap. Those are now fixed.

    Around this time I deleted the intake baffles. Nice little improvement in throttle response.

    She also got a deep bath, clay bar and waxing. Ooooohhh....Aaaaahhhh.....

    X 1.jpg X 4.jpg

    Since then it's been little stuff. I replaced and headlight that blew. Took off the step rails and lower mud flaps. Changed the oil, transmission fluid, and rear end oil. The oil and transmission were pretty back and thin, and I could feel the difference in how she drove once changed. I'll be changing the trans fluid several more times over the next couple thousand miles to clean out the old stuff.

    Then two days ago I had to replace the the parking at Costco. She was acting like the battery was dying so I had it checked out, but it checked out fine. The guy from AZ said it could be my starter. Sure enough the starter died the next day. That made for some good conversations with people asking me what I was doing.

    Next up is a new fuel filter, the rest of the plugs and new wires. I think at this point I covered about everything, but is there anything else I should be looking at?

    This is how she currently sits -

    X 3.jpg

    I said she's less than stock, and what I mean by that is one of the previous owners changed out the wheels from 16s down to 15s, and the tires that came on it are 30 9.50 15s. I like the look of the 15" wheels so I don't plan on changing them, but I do want to move up the tire size to be more correctly stock. So in a few months I'll be looking for some 31 10.50 15 or possibly 265 75 15, both of which will nearly match the 265 70 16s.

    Other than that I don't have too much planned. I do want to do a mild PML to level it out, but I'm waiting on the new tires before doing that. I'm also going to build a storage system for the back that I will be able to extend into a sleeping platform.

    Well I hope you enjoyed the story, and I'll be putting up updates and pics when I can.

    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017
    harryron likes this.
  2. Alien

    Alien Test Drive

    Gilbert AZ
    Well since I posted this I have replaced the plugs and have installed some pretty blue NGK plug wires. I also put on a set of 265 75 15 Cooper AT3s to replace the crappy 30-9.5s that were on her when i got her. These put me back to stock size which i'm good with since it's my DD. She looks much better now.

    X 6.jpg

    I was going to start work on a storage/sleeping platform for in the back but that will need to wait until I replace the leaf springs since one just broke.

    Attached Files:

    • X 7.jpg
      X 7.jpg
      File size:
      341.6 KB
  3. kirk

    kirk Will get you lost in S. Dallas Supporting Member

    Allen, Texas
    Love it! Keep up the good work. I always always start with undone maintenance before anything else. Mine is that same color, and I love it.

  4. Alien

    Alien Test Drive

    Gilbert AZ
    Good to know it's not just me.

    @kirk Nice, love the green ones!

Share This Page