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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Posted in Introductions, but this post involves a large list of First-Gen D22 fixes, concerns, and plans. Any input on any topic would be greatly appreciated.

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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2004 Nissan Frontier XE KC KA24DE
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Welcome to CF!
I don't know about chrome but the bar across the grill can be easily removed for painting and are also available new. They're secured with three 8mm or 5/16" nuts....whichever of those sized deep sockets you find first.

The instrument cluster plastic is also still available from the dealership.

As far as audio...I relocated the oem jack into my bed in order to install a powered 8" sub along with a set of Infinity components that are powered by a Kicker Key 180.4 amp and a Kenwood head unit.
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2020-09-19 14.58.09.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Wow, that’s awesome, I really appreciate being able to have some images of your component install.
I was looking at some 8 and 10 inch powered subwoofers too, and considering whether under the seat or in the jump seat would be better. I like your install and how the wire comes down! First picture I’ve seen of it installed in the rear seat.

I think I will start with the speakers first, and see whether I want much more kick from there.


Welcome to CF!
I don't know about chrome but the bar across the grill can be easily removed for painting and are also available new. They're secured with three 8mm or 5/16" nuts....whichever of those sized deep sockets you find first.

The instrument cluster plastic is also still available from the dealership.

As far as audio...I relocated the oem jack into my bed in order to install a powered 8" sub along with a set of Infinity components that are powered by a Kicker Key 180.4 amp and a Kenwood head unit.
View attachment 333528 View attachment 333530 View attachment 333531
 

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I believe the 03 and 04 only had the passenger side jump seat while the older 1st Gens had them on both sides.
My driver side didn't have the jump seat....only the factory jack.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Oh, interesting. I suppose that makes sense considering how unusable the space is directly behind the driver, especially with belongings.
Besides, I have plenty of tools, fluids, filters, supplies, and detailing products to take up what little space there is there.
But that may be the best place for the subwoofer installation, as the only other option in my case would be under or behind the front passenger seat.

I believe the 03 and 04 only had the passenger side jump seat while the older 1st Gens had them on both sides.
My driver side didn't have the jump seat....only the factory jack.
 

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I carry my tool boxes, tool bags, Viair portable compressor behind the seats so that was the best sub option for me.
The passenger jumper seat can be removed for sub installation too but I decided I'd rather lose the jack. I've considered getting another powdered sub to add there but I'm good with what I currently have.

There's room under the bucket seats for amp installation but not enough for a sub.

I've cleaned up the wiring since that original install pic. That's a alarm siren in the upper right....to annoy anyone that decides to burgle my truck.
20210718_210714.jpg
 

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My truck had oem tweeters in the A pillars but I purchased some A pillar trim from a JY Xterra that didn't have tweets and cut out the holes myself.
I didn't like the notches that my new tweets didn't cover in my original trim.
2018-10-04 03.19.43.jpg

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the details on the tweeters, I too would surely be annoyed by those protruding notches and little fit-and-finish aspects of my direct interior.


My truck had oem tweeters in the A pillars but I purchased some A pillar trim from a JY Xterra that didn't have tweets and cut out the holes myself.
I didn't like the notches that my new tweets didn't cover in my original trim.
View attachment 333534
View attachment 333535
 

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Only one other difference between the two different A pillar trims. The notches bothered me more than the shape of the bottom.
A pillars .jpg
 

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Great Find You Lucky Bastard!

I'd be extremely jealous if your truck was 4x4. BUt if i ever came across a low mileage Desert Runner like that i'd convert it to 4x4 since its the same thing minus the 4x4 stuff.

The Car Play is a Nice Choice! I have 2 Decks. 1 in the Frontier and 1 in the Maxima. They're identical except the 1 in my Maxima connects wirelessly over the phones WiFi. I get in the car and have total functionality as if it was plugged in - SUPER NICE.

You can also get the Exhaust Manifolds off a 2003-2004 Frontier or Xterra and Gain 10 Horse. Not to mention you can add the supercharger that SC versions of the Frontier/Xterra came with to further add an additional 40 Horse. So Exhaust Manifolds plus Supercharger Gets you 50 Horse extra for a total of 220 Hores Power

As Far as Lifting, You have to crank the torsions and for 1.5'' You'll Definitely need to Re-Index as well:

HOW TO CRANK YOUR TORSION BARS

How To Re-Index Your Torsion Bars

Up to 1.5" you can KEEP your Factory Alignment Specs i Believe. If you Ever go over that then you'll want to try the "Lifted Alignment Specs"

I highly recommend you read the "HOW TO LIFT" Sticky. Almost all the Homework on Lifting has been done for you and save you Time - Lots of It.


You Can make your Truck look like the Foreign Navara/NP300 with minimal effort. All you need is the Headlights and Grill. You can modify your existing bumper by just cutting off the bar part but you can get the correct bumper too and everything else on eBay. It'll probably come from Australia or Thailand. All for about $250 last i checked. The grill mounts to the Radiator Core support which your radiator core support will already have the cutouts in the exact place they need to be. Nissan made 1 Radiator Core support for every version of the Frontier made world wide. The Grill also mounts to the Headlight so the foreign headlights are a tad different as well. I did my research on it by just observing and actually talking to people.

A D22 FB Group Where I Was Asking How It All Worked:

01.png 02.png 03.png 04.png

333537
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you so much for sharing your research on the Navara/Hardbody/NP300 front Grille/Bumper design! I think this style is much better looking on our front ends, and am really glad to hear the mounting holes are the same across D22 Frontiers.
When the time comes, I’ll purchase the Navara grille and headlights, and then dremel out the grille on the original Frontier bumper. From everything you’ve posted, it looks like it should be pretty easy to fit the replacement parts, and making the original bumper smooth transition.

Great Find You Lucky Bastard!

I'd be extremely jealous if your truck was 4x4. BUt if i ever came across a low mileage Desert Runner like that i'd convert it to 4x4 since its the same thing minus the 4x4 stuff.

The Car Play is a Nice Choice! I have 2 Decks. 1 in the Frontier and 1 in the Maxima. They're identical except the 1 in my Maxima connects wirelessly over the phones WiFi. I get in the car and have total functionality as if it was plugged in - SUPER NICE.

You can also get the Exhaust Manifolds off a 2003-2004 Frontier or Xterra and Gain 10 Horse. Not to mention you can add the supercharger that SC versions of the Frontier/Xterra came with to further add an additional 40 Horse. So Exhaust Manifolds plus Supercharger Gets you 50 Horse extra for a total of 220 Hores Power

As Far as Lifting, You have to crank the torsions and for 1.5'' You'll Definitely need to Re-Index as well:

HOW TO CRANK YOUR TORSION BARS

How To Re-Index Your Torsion Bars

Up to 1.5" you can KEEP your Factory Alignment Specs i Believe. If you Ever go over that then you'll want to try the "Lifted Alignment Specs"

I highly recommend you read the "HOW TO LIFT" Sticky. Almost all the Homework on Lifting has been done for you and save you Time - Lots of It.


You Can make your Truck look like the Foreign Navara/NP300 with minimal effort. All you need is the Headlights and Grill. You can modify your existing bumper by just cutting off the bar part but you can get the correct bumper too and everything else on eBay. It'll probably come from Australia or Thailand. All for about $250 last i checked. The grill mounts to the Radiator Core support which your radiator core support will already have the cutouts in the exact place they need to be. Nissan made 1 Radiator Core support for every version of the Frontier made world wide. The Grill also mounts to the Headlight so the foreign headlights are a tad different as well. I did my research on it by just observing and actually talking to people.

A D22 FB Group Where I Was Asking How It All Worked:

View attachment 333538 View attachment 333539 View attachment 333540 View attachment 333541

View attachment 333537
 

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Thank you so much for sharing your research on the Navara/Hardbody/NP300 front Grille/Bumper design! I think this style is much better looking on our front ends, and am really glad to hear the mounting holes are the same across D22 Frontiers.
When the time comes, I’ll purchase the Navara grille and headlights, and then dremel out the grille on the original Frontier bumper. From everything you’ve posted, it looks like it should be pretty easy to fit the replacement parts, and making the original bumper smooth transition.
Yeah i like the look too. Its the best of both worlds. A mix of 1st Gen and 1.5 Gen. The updated Front End with the Grill looks nice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I couldn’t agree more. I think the Navara/Hardbody NP300 Grille looks much more fitting for the Nissan lineup of that era.
The headlights appear to be a flatter/smoother silver reflective, as opposed to the ridged silver reflective in our 1st Gen Frontiers. Looks a bit more modern, imo.
The Hardbody/Navara also offered Chrome Mirrors and Chrome Rear Bumper.
The bumper may be hard or impossible to find in US market, but there are plenty of better options.
The chrome mirrors may be a nice fit to accent the rest of the chrome front/rear bumpers. Thankfully, the black plastic isn’t too bad on my mirrors yet. And I feel like the chrome mirrors will be a pain to keep clean, but it might look good!

Yeah i like the look too. Its the best of both worlds. A mix of 1st Gen and 1.5 Gen. The updated Front End with the Grill looks nice.
 

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These are the newer style headlights you can get for the 01-04 Frontier. I'm seeing a lot of guys switch to these. They come in chrome or black

The chrome Bumper you can get new on eBay:

My local Pull it Yourself Junkyard has a 1st gen out there with chrome bumpers. I may get the front bumper off of it tomorrow for $50

Things are more expensive than they use to be tho bc of COVID and Tariffs/Import Taxes that have been put on China. Its like everything is double or more of the usual price
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Those headlights do look pretty good quality, and with more aggressive bulbs and Black/Gloss Black/Chrome Housings offer a lot of flexibility in style…

If that rear bumper is available and you end up picking it up, let me know if you install it. As stated above, the chassis is so similar I’m certain it will fit and match original body lines.
Just surprised this Chrome retrofit hasn’t been documented much in the forums, thus far. Especially with the frequency of paint issues on our Graphite bumpers.
That price is certainly worth it, and I’ve seen a couple good condition Chrome ones pop up in Central FL junkyards lately, too.

These are the newer style headlights you can get for the 01-04 Frontier. I'm seeing a lot of guys switch to these. They come in chrome or black

My local Pull it Yourself Junkyard has a 1st gen out there with chrome bumpers. I may get the front bumper off of it tomorrow for $50
 

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THey came in Chrome on the 98-00's from the Nissan Factory. My 2000 Has a chrome bumper Front and Rear. My 2000 Chrome Rear Bumper WILL fit any 1st Gen Frontier up to 2004. The eBay listing even says 1998-2004.

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Yeah i like the look too. Its the best of both worlds. A mix of 1st Gen and 1.5 Gen. The updated Front End with the Grill looks nice.
The Navara grill, to me, looks like a 2nd Gen with later model 1st Gen headlights....and I dig it.
 

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How do you like that aftermarket cruise control?
I've wanted to add CC to mine for way too long now.

I have a bass control knob and a second oem dimmer switch for footwell lights in those blanks.
Screenshot_20210725-182249_Gallery.jpg
20210725_182635.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Sorry for the late reply, installed a subwoofer yesterday! (6.5” Speakers later this week..)
This kit is a “Global Cruise”, made in 2001, and fitted for my truck on 08/30/2002 @ 107 miles.

The cruise control works well, especially on highway when I’m not reducing or increasing speed much.
This kit has a throttle line running from my throttle body to the passenger wheel-well area, where the main unit is mounted. The wiring then runs from there to my driver’s firewall, where it goes in through a grommet and is wired underneath the dash, by the OBDII port.
Couple things to note:
The device will meander 2-3mph when setting into a speed or coming back to a desired speed. Because of this, for smooth operation I sometimes have to help the pedal sit at the speed it wants, otherwise it will drop 2mph before speeding back up and finding its set speed again.
My throttle pedal has a good amount of vibration, a bit more than I expected, but I’ve never driven another 3.3 Frontier. I haven’t looked at any of the pedal or throttle fasteners, but I’d be willing to bet the old unit + extra throttle cable adds a little more vibration, especially 20 years later.
It is always vibrating, regardless of whether I have the cruise unit on. Not bad vibration, though.
Overall, I’m really happy with it. Sometimes I have to turn it off and on again via the column stick in order to get it to set a speed, but likely user error.
Holds speed well and easy to disengage or turn off.
Attached below are some photos I took. If you need any more in-depth photos, let me know.

How do you like that aftermarket cruise control?
I've wanted to add CC to mine for way too long now.

I have a bass control knob and a second oem dimmer switch for footwell lights in those blanks. View attachment 333798 View attachment 333799
DD028E15-4F1F-434D-BA06-A3DDBD7B9EC8.jpeg 0497879C-337A-43B0-8A75-D455AF902217.jpeg E67FBBCA-B7EA-4B3A-9CCD-4E5BF65CE563.jpeg 7D450D8B-D4A1-4165-B210-DB08DE7A17E8.jpeg A9439CFD-F5B2-480E-B5A1-EE39AB73F298.jpeg 48BE52B5-4AFA-4D0F-8DA5-08FD6556705E.jpeg
 
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