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Discussion Starter #1
So to preface, had this 2015 CC LWB 4x4 SV for around three weeks now. It's low miles (crossed 17,000 today) and is to serve as my primary transportation and family car. It's also still has the balance of the factory warranty.

My goal is a truck that retains its towing capacity and is bulletproof is mild to moderate offroad use in the desert, forest, and mountains while still remaining relatively mild-mannered on the streets. I'm not looking to blaze new trails in pristine wilderness or tread where rock-crawlers normally play, the wheelbase alone is too long for that to be practical.

My list of potential changes, without respect to time (ie waiting until warranty has ended) or cost is as follows:

Protection:
  • Most skidplates off a Pro4X
  • supplemental aftermarket skidplates where factory ones are deficient or won't fit a LWB
  • Rocker protection
  • Possibly rear bumper with integrated hitch
  • Remote possibility of a front bumper
Durability and traction:
  • Rear M226 axle with integrated E-locker -OR- LSD or locker into stock C200K, stock 3.36:1 ratio, locker manually engaged and independent of 4LO
  • swap front R180 differential with M205 and use Pathfinder axles, stock 3.36:1 ratio
  • Possible locker for front axle depending on cost and availability
General:
  • Add factory backup camera to tailgate, look into wiring it into the factory "Type B" radio lacking NAV but with screen
  • Add kick-panel wiring for towing, consider adding trailer brake controller, choose 4 vs 7 pin final harness based on brake controller choice
  • If not adding aftermarket bumper, add hitch
  • Add necessary wiring for shell center brake light to function
  • Add wiring to allow cargo-area lamp
  • Evaluate if Pathfinder center console swap to add rear air conditioning vents is viable and can be done with interior color match
  • Evaluate if it's worthwhile to put a matte-black applique on the hood bulge to reduce glare, and to put a windshield top applique on
  • Identify what specific components cause steering direction limit, and see if any changes can be affected to improve steering
I'd like to hear what you've done with your Frontier along these lines. I'm trying to do this where it doesn't break the bank. I'm also not going to touch engine or transmission, and I'm not willing to change gear ratio, because I need this vehicle to be reliable first and foremost. I've broken too many cars when I was young and dumb because I changed things without considering the ramifications.
 

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Sounds like a solid build.

Two things,

Unless you can get the OEM skids near free, I would look in to the Hefty fab aluminum ones. I have them, they are quite nice and light.

Your truck already has heat/AC ducts under the front seats that point at the rear passengers toes.
 

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Nice list, should be easily doable, hopefully you go past the "future plans" and actually do all of this stuff. Anyhow, you asked for thoughts, here goes:

TWX said:
Protection:
  • Most skidplates off a Pro4X
  • supplemental aftermarket skidplates where factory ones are deficient or won't fit a LWB
  • Rocker protection
  • Possibly rear bumper with integrated hitch
  • Remote possibility of a front bumper
Like @The other Sean said above - Not worth paying MSRP for the OEM Pro4x skids; with your description you'll want to look into aftermarket, I'd go with HeftyFab also and in aluminum to drop some weight.

As for rocker protection I would only recommend White Knuckle, awesome service, nice people, nice pricing, A+ build quality.

Front/rear off-road bumpers - prep for $$ if you go this route, because they're not cheap and on top of that you'll need to do some suspension upgrades to support the extra weight.

TWX said:
Durability and traction:
  • Rear M226 axle with integrated E-locker -OR- LSD or locker into stock C200K, stock 3.36:1 ratio, locker manually engaged and independent of 4LO
  • swap front R180 differential with M205 and use Pathfinder axles, stock 3.36:1 ratio
  • Possible locker for front axle depending on cost and availability
Wait I thought you said you didn't want to break the bank LOL
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Basically for the Nissan-manufactured parts I'm thinking the junkyard route. These trucks have been built for fourteen model years now, so a lot of the parts will be available. Also trucks and SUVs are very popular here and have been for decades, so lots of them are in yards.

But if the costs are prohibitive or if I can't find gearing then I'll look at other options. Again, long term I can acquire parts slowly over time. I might, for example, try to find the Pathy CV shafts before I look for the more readily available Titan front differential. No reason to get the diff if I can't connect it to the hubs.
 

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One tip on the M205 route, you want the newer 3 rib version, but, look under EVERY titan not just the 08 and up ones. Many earlier ones got theirs replaced under warranty with the updated one. I searched Car-Part.com--Used Auto Parts Market for a few weeks before finding one that was mislisted at a junk yard. I contacted them and had them email photos to confirm it was the 3 rib version. It also helps to look for Armadas and QX56's as they are the same (mine came out of a QX56 actually)

Also, keep in mind most junk yards these days are more than happy to ship parts. I had a front diff shipped from the north east to MN and it was a flat rate $150 LTL. It also came with a guarantee, so, when it arrived damaged, a quick phone call, a few pictures texted and my money was refunded.
 

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You said that you were not planning on rock crawling, why go to a 205?
Spend the money on suspension where you did not mention modifying. That would give your truck more capabilities than the 205 in my opinion.
You also said that the Frontier would not make a practical crawler. Plenty of people would argue with that statement.
I don’t rock crawl if I don’t have to but there are some very capable trucks on this site. I seen them take their trucks where I would not dare.
I have no qualms about running a R180 as long as you replace the weak spider gears. That is what fails.
A ARB locker(expensive) or a Lokka locker will do this.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
One tip on the M205 route, you want the newer 3 rib version, but, look under EVERY titan not just the 08 and up ones. Many earlier ones got theirs replaced under warranty with the updated one. I searched Car-Part.com--Used Auto Parts Market for a few weeks before finding one that was mislisted at a junk yard. I contacted them and had them email photos to confirm it was the 3 rib version. It also helps to look for Armadas and QX56's as they are the same (mine came out of a QX56 actually)

Also, keep in mind most junk yards these days are more than happy to ship parts. I had a front diff shipped from the north east to MN and it was a flat rate $150 LTL. It also came with a guarantee, so, when it arrived damaged, a quick phone call, a few pictures texted and my money was refunded.
I had forgotten the QX56, will need to remember that possible source. Found my bed management rails from a local yard using car-part.com. I prefer to pick-up locally so that I know I'm getting the right stuff (think gear ratio in this case) but sometimes that isn't an option. In the case of the aluminum strut-channel rails it was good that I went-in, because the slip-on covers were still on the bed-floor rails they hadn't seen them or pulled those off for me.

You said that you were not planning on rock crawling, why go to a 205?
Spend the money on suspension where you did not mention modifying. That would give your truck more capabilities than the 205 in my opinion.
You also said that the Frontier would not make a practical crawler. Plenty of people would argue with that statement.
I don’t rock crawl if I don’t have to but there are some very capable trucks on this site. I seen them take their trucks where I would not dare.
I have no qualms about running a R180 as long as you replace the weak spider gears. That is what fails.
A ARB locker(expensive) or a Lokka locker will do this.
We'll see what I do. This is all preliminary, and for things like the driveline changes, may be several years in the making. Since I can afford to be patient until I find the right prices for good used parts there's no reason to take the M205 off the table.

I mean, I never broke the 8.25" rear axle in my '78 Chrysler nor did the car really have enough power where it was a terrible risk, but I still upgraded to the 9.25" axle. Unlike then I'd be keeping the same gear ratio so it should do nothing but benefit.
 

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Even with the 205 the CV’s , axles are what fail, correct me if I am wrong.
Contributing factor is the extreme cv angles encountered.
Going to a Titan swap or equivalent reduces these angles.
Yes. I run better axles in my R180 also. Made from 300c.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Even with the 205 the CV’s , axles are what fail, correct me if I am wrong.
Contributing factor is the extreme cv angles encountered.
Going to a Titan swap or equivalent reduces these angles.
Yes. I run better axles in my R180 also. Made from 300c.
I'm not in the habit of complimenting a man on his rod, but that's impressive.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I was planning on starting a build thread once I make some decisions that have cash or labor associated with them, once I actually build something. Didn't want to put the cart before the horse.
 

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One argument for the M205 is how the CV axles attach. The R180 are splined slip in while the M205's are external bolt on. Easier to replace on the side of the road/trail and no loss of fluid.

My Choice to swap was based on the fact I was Titan swapping. My options were spending hundreds on extended swap axles and having a "custom part" or spending a little more for an M205 which is stronger and have CV's that are available at any parts store.

My honest opinion for someone NOT Titan swapping is to wait for a steal on an M205 or wait until you actually break the R180 and then upgrade to the M205 and pathy axles. I think there was a forum member who did this recently?
 

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Last night we went for dinner and there was a '12 or so "Sport" in white with the body-color rear bumper. Thought it looked pretty decent and I'm thinking if I do replace my bumper it'll be white to match the truck. Stock chromed one is bent anyway, so even a stock white one would be an improvement if it's straight. Makes me think about just adding a bit of reinforcing to a stock new unpainted one and then having it painted or powdercoated to match the truck.

My honest opinion for someone NOT Titan swapping is to wait for a steal on an M205 or wait until you actually break the R180 and then upgrade to the M205 and pathy axles. I think there was a forum member who did this recently?
I had found a post on it, I think on this forum. The work required was straightforward enough.

I'm lucky that Craigslist is very active for auto parts in my area, both from people parting-out their own worn or wrecked vehicles and from small-timers that buy and part-out vehicles in their backyard. My intent is to keep watching for both Titans/Armadas/QX56s for the differential and for Pathfinders for gently-used CV shafts to get parts, and in the meantime to keep an eye on the auto wrecker circuit too.
 
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