How To: ARB CKMA12 Install - On Board Air for 2nd Gen Xterras

outback97

First Fill-Up (of many)
Supporting Member
I’ve been a member here for almost a week and haven’t contributed anything helpful. Slacker. So hopefully this is helpful to others, and I’m posting it in the right place. If it’s in the wrong area, please move it as necessary.


I have been wanting to install a simple on board air compressor (no air lockers, no tank, just airing up 32” to 33” tires) in my 2nd Gen Xterra for a while. I have a couple portable 12V units, an old MV-50 and a newer Viair 88P, and while they both work OK, I wanted something faster and more convenient. The ARB CKMA12 fit the bill. The 171302 Inflation Kit completes the setup.


I looked at various mounting location options and weighed the pros and cons before settling on mounting behind the drivers side headlight and in front of the airbox. For me, this location made the most sense. I didn’t need an in cab switch, though it’s not too hard to do that with this setup. I didn’t want the compressor in the cab. I didn’t want to run power wires to the rear. And, my winch controller is on top of the fuse box, so that area wasn’t an option.


The finished product:


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Josh (former Xterra owner and s/n five9341 on TNX) had a great how to on his blog, but some of the photos are currently MIA. I followed his install method closely, making a few subtle changes for my particular needs.


This is not a comprehensive how-to, just a guide showing how I did this install. In order to get some room to work in this area, I removed a bunch of stuff and did this while working as time allowed over several days. I have pictures of most of the important bits, but not necessarily of all the steps of removing things to get to this area.


Here we go.


Park on a level surface and turn your steering wheel to the right (passenger) side. This will give you a little more room to remove the fender liner screws.


Open the hood and remove the negative battery cable.


Remove the air filter housing. Undo clips, remove filter, loosen hose clamp on air intake, remove plug, pull housing off and set it aside. I stuck a clean rag in the intake and tucked the wiring harness into that.

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Use 10mm socket / wrench to remove three bolts from the lower part of the housing.


Now that the air cleaner housing is out of the way, remove the wires from the back of the headlight housing.


Remove the horns (optional but it’s easy, one bolt, 12mm IIRC, and the wire harness)


Remove the plastic push rivets and unclip the grille.

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outback97

First Fill-Up (of many)
Supporting Member
Remove the four screws from the fender liner, and one 10mm bolt attaching it from the underside.


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Pull bumper fascia aside to access 10mm bolt on the side of the headlight housing.


Remove three 10mm bolts from headlight housing, headlight housing should now be free to carefully pull out of the way and set aside.


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Now you have some room to work. I don’t know if removing everything here was necessary, but it made it much easier to do the install.


The compressor comes with a mounting plate and bracket with rubber vibration isolating bushings. The bracket can be removed by taking out the four silver bolts with a 4mm allen key.


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The kit doesn’t come with hardware for mounting this plate, so you’ll need to buy some. I went with stainless steel and selected pan head machine screws that had heads that would fit into the groove on the back of the mounting bracket.


I drilled three holes in the mounting plate.


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Center your mounting plate on the vertical sheet metal here. Drill your holes and install the mounting plate.


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outback97

First Fill-Up (of many)
Supporting Member
Attach the bracket with the ARB included hardware.


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Since I wanted to be able to easily remove it for service or access, I set up the compressor to mount with two supplied bolts and made two pins. You can remove the compressor cylinder from its mounting sleeve by loosening the bolts that clamp it in place, removing the two 10mm bolts from the end, and loosening the 10mm bolt on the mini air tank to rotate the triangular end piece out of the way.


I also flipped the blue cylinder bracket 180 degrees so the 4mm allen screws that clamp it tight were easier to access. This will allow you to rotate the compressor cylinder further than if you left it in the orientation it came with.


I bought two bolts that matched the holes on the blue anodized “sleeve”, cut the heads off the bolts after inserting them, and heat shrunk some tubing on the exposed threads. This created two pins that set into the rubber bushings when the compressor is installed. I used M5x.8, but I had to try a few different ones at the store to get ones that threaded in without effort. It is helpful to bring the parts with you to test fit.


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Verifying fit


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outback97

First Fill-Up (of many)
Supporting Member
Wiring



The included wiring harness looks intimidating because it is made to allow you to switch on two lockers independently, plus the compressor itself. I stripped it down to the minimum that I needed to be able to operate the compressor using the included relay and pressure switch. The pressure switch cuts power to the relay (and therefore the compressor) when the PSI exceeds 100.


Since I wanted to be able to turn on the compressor without the ignition key on, I had to run a positive wire to the battery. I used some 16 ga wire I had around and added an inline fuse holder.


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There was just (barely) enough wire in the included wiring harness to reach the battery. I routed it across in front of the radiator, up by the passenger headlight, and around the back of the battery.


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The kit does not include electrical tape, plastic wire conduit, heat shrink tubing, butt connectors, or loom tape. Fortunately they’re pretty inexpensive and easy to find.



I wired a SPST “marine” switch to turn the compressor on and off.


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outback97

First Fill-Up (of many)
Supporting Member
ARB makes a nifty dust cover for the coupler. Worth the $3 IMO if it keeps debris out of the line:


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The 20’ hose should easily reach all four wheels.


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The compressor works great, and in comparing it to my 13 year old MV-50, it’s nearly twice as quick airing up tires, not to mention setup and takedown being much faster.

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It is a tight fit, but I can still access the air filter and headlight bulbs. By removing a couple of plugs and two 4mm allen screws, the whole unit can be removed easily. Very pleased with the setup so far.
 
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outback97

First Fill-Up (of many)
Supporting Member
Little update, used the compressor for the first time outside of my driveway last weekend and I love this setup.
 

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josx2

Bought an X
Supporting Member
Location
Mebane, NC
well dayum...I like that location! actually making me consider moving mine to there. Just dunno if it'd fit there w/ my volant.
 

outback97

First Fill-Up (of many)
Supporting Member
well dayum...I like that location! actually making me consider moving mine to there. Just dunno if it'd fit there w/ my volant.

Honestly I probably would have used the location you did if I could. It would have been much easier to install. I have a winch contactor box where you mounted the compressor, so it wasn't an option for me. My only other option underhood would probably have been where the horns are, but I would have had to relocate them and I didn't want it sitting that low.

Looking at your build thread, that Volant doesn't leave much room and looks like it'd be in the way, but you could always test fit it and see. Is there something about the mounting location you used that you don't like?
 

Ryan Mitchell

Test Drive
This is awesome, such a great install and so much good information here. I know it has been a while, I am doing pretty much the same install and could use some knowledge if you remember the details. Did you install the switch between the large 40amp fuse and the compressor (cutting the wire between the fuse the connector) and is the 16ga wire from the battery with the inline fuse to the red wire on the pressure sensor?

I have the loom all apart and after a trip to the hardware store I'm ready to start.

Thank so much!
 

ffxcores

[fully disclosed]
Supporting Member
Location
Virginia
I just recently did the same but on the fuse box. I can grab a pic of my wiring in the morning if you don’t have an answer by then.

I’m curious how temps are with that install location. Mine the air fitting is too hot to touch before I even run it. I’m also worried running it after being preheated by the engine is going to wear it out faster.
 

Ryan Mitchell

Test Drive
I was thinking the same thing about the temps, it does seem like a great place for the install for easy access. I might put it in my Hefty front bumper. I’ve honestly not looked around at other locations since this install looks so good.

Some photos would be great thank you.
 

outback97

First Fill-Up (of many)
Supporting Member
I just recently did the same but on the fuse box. I can grab a pic of my wiring in the morning if you don’t have an answer by then.

I’m curious how temps are with that install location. Mine the air fitting is too hot to touch before I even run it. I’m also worried running it after being preheated by the engine is going to wear it out faster.

I have had no problems with high temps with my install. I think the area between the airbox and the headlight is (relatively) cool in terms of the engine bay, and there's at least some ventilation coming in from the front.

The hardest I've worked the compressor was doing something that's probably not recommended. I don't own any other air compressors other than 12V ones, and I needed to blow off some debris when patching our roof. Used a 50' air line with a blow gun and had this little thing running fairly steadily for quite a while. The air line has enough volume that it acted like a small tank and could build up enough pressure to use the blow gun. It got quite hot, but never stopped working. Granted this was not with a hot engine, but these compressors are pretty tough little guys.

This is awesome, such a great install and so much good information here. I know it has been a while, I am doing pretty much the same install and could use some knowledge if you remember the details. Did you install the switch between the large 40amp fuse and the compressor (cutting the wire between the fuse the connector) and is the 16ga wire from the battery with the inline fuse to the red wire on the pressure sensor?

I have the loom all apart and after a trip to the hardware store I'm ready to start.

Thank so much!

Thanks. I wish I had documented the wiring a bit better, and I'm not much good at electrical stuff, but IIRC the small fused +12V wire came over from the battery to the switch and the other lead of the switch goes to the appropriate wire on the pressure switch.

Check out the link below, mentioned in my first post. At the time I did my writeup some of Josh's photos were not showing up and I was afraid his writeup could just disappear someday, so that's part of what motivated me to document this install.


And here's a post from a Tacoma forum which provided some inspiration on my install:


In that thread, this post explains it better than I could:

The ignition line is just +12v power - you can tap the battery positive terminal directly if you're in the engine compartment, or you can find an ignition switched power source under the dash and run it back out into the engine bay.

The idea of using ignition power is just that you don't have to worry about leaving your compressor powered (by accident) if you turn off the ignition.

The way that line works is that when you turn the switch "on," power flows from the battery, through the pressure switch, and then to the solenoid. The solenoid then switches on the high-current 12v that goes to the compressor motor itself. When the switch is "off," or the pressure switch is tripped due to the compressor being at max pressure, no 12v flows to the solenoid.

***

There's no harm in going to the battery directly and in some cases it'll be more convenient (you won't have to turn the ignition to acc/on to run the compressor for a short time). Just remember to turn the switch off when you're not running the compressor. Heck, even if you forget to turn it off, if you don't have an air leak, the compressor won't be on (it'll just be pressurized), so you'll still be fine.
 
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Ryan Mitchell

Test Drive
Thanks for sharing guys. This is all a huge help, I'm going to put it up front like @outback97. I took a trip to the hardware store yesterday and I should have all that I need to get this install done. Now to find the time. I'll post up some photos when I finish. Thanks again for your direction on this.
 

ffxcores

[fully disclosed]
Supporting Member
Location
Virginia
@outback97 do you do a lot of splashing around in the mud? I'm considering switching mine to your location once my AFE intake arrives, but I'm worried about mud getting in. Especially with the filter on the bottom side. I may at least reverse it and do the hose extension to keep the hose fittings from getting too hot and keep it up top.
 

outback97

First Fill-Up (of many)
Supporting Member
@outback97 do you do a lot of splashing around in the mud? I'm considering switching mine to your location once my AFE intake arrives, but I'm worried about mud getting in. Especially with the filter on the bottom side. I may at least reverse it and do the hose extension to keep the hose fittings from getting too hot and keep it up top.

Although it's fun to go blasting through it, I don't really seek out mud, in fact I tend to avoid it. Most of our off pavement trips are in the desert, and when it's muddy there, it's smarter to stay away. Most of our trips are solo and I'm a bit paranoid about killing the alternator. I would say I encounter far more dust than mud.

That said, sometimes it's unavoidable, and sometimes we're in more wooded terrain, so occasionally we get into some. But I don't go out of my way to romp around in it. So far I've had no problems with mud in my compressor mount location.

Regarding temperatures, I went on a desert backpacking trip last weekend that involved some washed out gravel roads and slower speed rocks and ledges getting to the trailhead, so I aired down. After driving back to the highway and preparing to air back up, I put my hand on the compressor and the general area behind the headlight, and it was only mildly warm, not hot at all. I put my hand in the area where you have yours mounted, and it definitely felt warmer to me there. So, I think the headlight adjacent mounting point would be noticeably cooler, but it could be more vulnerable to mud or water.
 

ffxcores

[fully disclosed]
Supporting Member
Location
Virginia
Although it's fun to go blasting through it, I don't really seek out mud, in fact I tend to avoid it. Most of our off pavement trips are in the desert, and when it's muddy there, it's smarter to stay away. Most of our trips are solo and I'm a bit paranoid about killing the alternator. I would say I encounter far more dust than mud.

That said, sometimes it's unavoidable, and sometimes we're in more wooded terrain, so occasionally we get into some. But I don't go out of my way to romp around in it. So far I've had no problems with mud in my compressor mount location.

Regarding temperatures, I went on a desert backpacking trip last weekend that involved some washed out gravel roads and slower speed rocks and ledges getting to the trailhead, so I aired down. After driving back to the highway and preparing to air back up, I put my hand on the compressor and the general area behind the headlight, and it was only mildly warm, not hot at all. I put my hand in the area where you have yours mounted, and it definitely felt warmer to me there. So, I think the headlight adjacent mounting point would be noticeably cooler, but it could be more vulnerable to mud or water.
Awesome, thanks. Unfortunately for us out here these mountain trails have lots of mud holes that are unavoidable.
 
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