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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Purchased a Cloud White 2002 Nissan Frontier Desert Runner XE with 28k miles in May 2021.
I am the third owner, the first owned it 15 years, regularly putting 900-2100 miles on it per year. The second owner owned it for 4 years, putting 2000 miles yearly.
Very little rust, lived in NC it’s whole life until I bought it.
Service was early and documented, including Fuel Tank and Steering Column Rust recall in 2004. All belts incl. timing replaced at 24k miles.
I’ve always loved the utility of compact pickup trucks, such as the Ranger, so when my last car hit 100k miles and was giving me some more issues, I decided it was time to sell it and find something Low Mileage.
Finding Low Mileage vehicle that had been driven regularly versus sitting and gumming up various components was a big factor for me in long-term reliability.
My 02 Desert Runner XE had the following options:
Value Truck Package
- Basic Gear Package (AC, radio)
- Utility Package (body color fenders and front bumper, privacy tint glass, sliding rear window, tilt column, intermittent wipers, passenger vanity mirror)
Cruise Control

I’ve always enjoyed modifying my last two vehicles, but I understand that this D22 V6 platform is mostly on its limits for suspension, engine power, and braking. I sure miss my quicker car, but having something that will be so reliable and capable of towing 5000#, or whatever my next project may be, is great.
I intend to keep this vehicle a long time, and want to keep it in great condition, and do everything Proper. Since ownership, I have been lurking on the forums heavily regarding common and uncommon issues, fixes, and upgrades that I may want to pursue in the future. Here’s a list of what I’m interested in:
Knock Sensor Relocation - COMPLETE
- This is a long documented issue, and was present on my truck at 28k miles. Granted, that’s still 20-year-old plastic that has been heat-cycled a ton.
- Still working over a month later, no codes
- Easy job with 99 Maxima Sensor + Harness, cut from the wire on rear passenger head, splice, don’t use the internal shielding coil wire.
eBay Carplay Head Unit Installation - COMPLETE
- Purchased the cheapest 7” touchscreen audio head unit with Carplay and Reverse Camera.
- Installed with Nissan Metra Wiring Harness
- Haven’t installed Reverse Camera yet. To be completed soon. Requires license plate bar bracket for camera, wire underneath to passenger area grommet, wire to radio. (My last car of 3 years was pretty small, so I’m getting used to a truck length again.
- Overall the device UI and bluetooth connectivity is very dated, but it connects wirelessly and works perfect every time.
- I still have the great condition 28k mile radio, I intend to keep it for the future, but if anyone is interested in it, let me know.
Rear Bumper Swap: 99-00 Chrome Frontier?
- My rear right of bumper is lightly tapped in, and a soft damage near the upper passenger taillight…
- Can I swap a 99-00 Chrome rear bumper onto my 02? Will it match up nicely to the body? From what I understand, the D22 facelift changed very little physically on the chassis or suspension.
- As for the bumper, it is a shame the OEM bumpers for 01-04 are so prone to paint peel and surface rust on the left and right sides. I could strip, sand, and repaint my current bumper, but I want the body perfect, and I don’t think the bumper will get perfectly straight again.
- eBay and Amazon has Chrome Rear Bumpers with Brackets around $330, but I think I could score a deal if I find a good 99-00 bumper in the junkyard.
Front Grille Bar Fading
- Front Grille Plastic Bar is very faded, appeared to be a soft brushed aluminum color, but now yellowing.
- Are there any chrome versions of this bar available? Would using some chrome wrap on it look decent? I’m hoping to compliment the Nissan logo.
- Newer Nissan D22 Navara/Hardbody in other markets have a nicer 2-piece front bumper with an upper wide chrome Nissan grille. I really wish we could retrofit this part on these trucks.
MAF Sensor Wire
- My truck has a zip-tied MAF sensor wire that has obviously made contact with a fan or moving belt at some point and been spliced back together. I believe my MAF sensor is working properly, as I have no codes.
- I’m really interested in seeing if I can replace this wire, or if it’s easiest and cheapest to just go to a junkyard and steal that section of wire. I’m confident in my ability to make a strong connection, and if I can get some Black Plastic Wire Shielding, I think it would look OEM again.
Front Door Speaker and Component Tweeter Speaker Replacement
- Coming from a 2011 Volvo with the Audio Package, there’s no doubt that I am listening to 2002 Cheap Speakers, not to mention the audio dynamics of a King Cab. Thankfully, the speakers aren’t blown…yet?
- Not sure on the 1” Tweeter Speakers, but I definitely intend to upgrade the two front door speakers to gain some depth and bass. I don’t think my listening style will need a subwoofer in this cab, and I have little space for one.
Exhaust Manifold Design/Issues
- It’s my understanding that in 2001 and 2002, the V6 was prone to cracking exhaust manifolds over time, which was addressed in 2003 with a redesigned manifold, increasing horsepower from 170 to 180.
- Thankfully, I don’t believe my 2002 has any leaks or cracking developing on mine. The manifold heat shielding looks to have been replaced or worked on at some point, so there’s a chance it may have already been upgraded to the newer design.
- The options to resolve a cracked manifold, if it should ever arise on my truck: 2003-04 manifold, or Doug Thorley Headers, maybe some other aftermarket headers brands exist for our V6 D22 fitment?
Torsion Bar Lift (PML)
I intend to lift the vehicle by 1-1.5 inches in the front via the torsion bar. I’ve heard that exceeding this range can lead to much sloppier steering feel/geometry
Tires Replacement + Upgrade
- 2 tires replaced due to damage with Cooper Discoverer AT4s 265/70/15
- Plan to replace with 31” tires?, only slightly larger, but more common size (no trimming necessary)
- 265/70/15 sizing is uncommon, but thinking about just replacing the last 2 tires with more Discoverer AT4s 265/70/15.
Body Mount or Bushing Squeak?
- The driver front of my truck makes a light squeak sound when going over normal or even light bumps on the road.
- I can replicate the sound by pushing down on the hood/driver fender.
Bushing Components Care and Maintenance
- I noticed a couple front-end bushings had been replaced, and others are beginning to crack and show wear around the edges.
- Is there anything I can do to care for these old bushings in the meantime before I replace them? It may have wait a moment.
- Is there a preferred style or material of bushing that is ideal for quiet/smooth/longevity?
Undercoating and Rust Prevention - COMPLETE
- The frame and components of this truck really are in great shape, mostly rust-free. My intent is to keep this frame and body going just as long as the drivetrain.
- Lightly scrubbed frame inside and out with wire brush, cleaned it, and sprayed frame, crossmembers, differential, and arms with Rust Reformer, followed by CRC Rust Inhibitor Wax Spray.
Window Tint Ceramic 20% All Sides and Rear
- Precut Tint Purchased with Installation Kit, to be delivered
Gauge/Instrument Cluster Clear Plastic Scratches
- Very light scratches developing in the lower section of gauges. Can these be polished out well?
- I’d rather not take this apart, but if I must, is there Clear Plastic available replacement for this part?
Bumper/Tail Light Body Work
- Very light repairable damage, I will try to do it myself in the near future, body hammer, filler, primer, paint, etc.
Gas Mileage (MPG)
- I’m aware of my leadfoot, but I’m getting 14-14.5 mpg, mostly highway. I figured replacing the Knock Sensor would help this number, but so far, it hasn’t.
- Are there any common issues that would detract mileage? I understand that adding intake/exhaust may help only a little, if anything.
- I’m getting used to and becoming accepting of the mileage regardless, after all I am driving an old design V6 in a blocky truck.
H233B 33 Spline Open Differential - Locker?
- My 02 Desert Runner XE was not optioned with the Limited Slip Differential.
- 98-00 Frontiers came with 31 spline diff, Late 01-and-up Frontiers came with 33 spline diff
- 31 spline diff/internals offer vastly better aftermarket locking options such as Detroit, as well as many others
- ARB and TJM offer selectable air-locking 33-spline differentials for upgraded traction, and I think the Desert Runner would do pretty well with beaches and light off-roading.
- Nitro Gear and one other company appear to make a Ratcheting Mechanical/Auto Locker for the 33-spline
- What would you do? Get a 31/33 spline LSD/open diff? Save up for the selectable ARB? Auto/Lunchbox Locker the 2WD?Customizability/Retrofitting
Nissan D22 Navara/Hardbody/NP300 (2001-2017)

- Outfitted usually with a turbo diesel or 3.3L V6 engine
- Very similar interior many years, different accessories
- Offers Halogen headlights and updated Fog Lights
- Updated front grille design
- Newer and more plentiful aftermarket headlight, taillight, bed light options
- Sport Bars/Bed Roll Bars (Factory Common Option and Aftermarket)
- The fitment of these must be similar or the same for our D22s.
Any experiences with products marketed for a D22 Navara or customizations like that?There’s not much room to add much on this truck, but there could be a neat thing or two that other markets got…


Any input on any issues you experienced or the topics I mentioned would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you to members who leave such valuable information around the forums.
I intend to keep it for a long time, making it my own, and keeping it ultimately reliable and in great condition inside and out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks.
I actually had the same posting in the “1st Gen Hangout”, too, and was getting really good feedback. I uploaded the photos this morning, and that second discussion disappeared. Is it still waiting photo/post verification?

Welcome to the Club. Check out the 1st Gen forum with your questions, that's the best place to get answers on these older models.
 

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2017 Pro-4X w/Luxury Package
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Cruise control helps with mileage, a little.
 
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