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Red Baron

28621 Views 62 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  clofan
Hey guys! I just recently (March 2014) bought a 2004 Frontier XE 4x4, Crew Cab Long Bed, autotrans, 84k miles, almost entirely stock. In fact, the only 'mod' would be the super-tinted windows! I'm pretty sure they're not legal in my state... I guess we'll find out when I get pulled over.

When I got it, there was a strange electrical problem:

I have since 'fixed' that and gotten a keyless entry fob. Other than that, I had to fix the dome light (new bulb), and fix the cargo lamp/cig lighter (new fuse) and she is as good as new.

I've got lots of plans for this truck! I'll be putting on a toolbox this weekend and possibly Plasti-dip the wheels and flares. I know I eventually want the flares black or dark grey-- probably even textured, maybe something like bed liner. The reason I'm plasti-dipping at first is because I want to make sure I'll like the color scheme before fully committing. I also plan to have a friend fabricate a replacement front bumper, hopefully to look awfully close to the ARB winch bumper.

Completed Mods:
Kenwood Headunit
Bed Toolbox
Steprail lighting
Headlight Blackout
Fog Lights
Rain deflectors
Disabled the auto-AC-on-Defrost 'feature'
Ultragauge installation
Interior "Mood" Lighting
Electrical Infrastructure upgrade
Wheel Paint and Plasti-Dip
Fender Flare plasti-dip
Roof Rack Repaint

Bed mounted D-Rings
[Temporary] Fender Flare Delete

Custom Subwoofer Installation
Front and Rear Fender Flares painted
Back-up camera + monitor
Front Speaker upgrade
4x LED Pods
Re-ran primary electrical line, replaced battery terminals

Future Mods:
Roof rack lights
Additional front bumper lighting
Additional cargo lighting
Homemade tonneau cover (waterproof canvas material)
Replacement Bumper


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First and foremost: Radio Mod!

I've had this Kenwood headunit since about 2008; it stayed in my Jeep until I sold it, when I ripped it out and put the stock back in. Now, it's in my truck!


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very nice i just got the same truck minus the 4x4 and roof rack and just installed a radio aswell, cant wait to see more!
Painted and mounted my toolbox!

Next up: Plasti-Dip wheels black, paint brake calipers RED!


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I like the black accesories: roof rack, step bars. Thinking of having mine powder coated in charcoal grey. We'll see the funds allow. Gotta get my car back on the road first.
Step Rail Lighting

After reading this thread, I decided I really wanted to do this mod. So, over the weekend I spent a few hours (okay, more like 8 ) completing this!

It took longer than anticipated, mainly because I spent the first three hours planning and then going about it the wrong way. At first (per the thread I linked), I pulled out the Smart Entry Control Unit and was going to splice into the Red/Black wire that controls the dome light. After figuring out that wire was way too short and it wasn't going to happen, it was back to the drawing board... I thought about it a little bit more, and realized that wire goes directly to the dome light, most likely via the A-pillar. So, I popped that off, and bingo!

Red Vehicle Automotive exterior Auto part Car

You can see my soldering job there. I spliced in there, ran the wire down the A-Pillar and behind the dash, under the carpet and through the wiring harness corridor to this drain hole:

Automotive exterior Auto part Bumper Vehicle Vehicle door

I put the plug back in, but I may need to put a hole through the middle of it then silicone the wires into place at the hole. We'll get back to what I 'need' to do soon..

With the interior wiring (mostly) done, it was time to put the LED strips on and work on the underside.

Vehicle Car Motor vehicle Vehicle door Automotive tire

I don't have a lot of pictures of this part. And, even if I did, I might not show them to you because the wiring job I did down here is seriously, truly, terrible. I badly need to redo it. It will hold for now and there's no shorts, but there's a couple 2" splices and inappropriate zip ties I'm not proud of. It's one of those measure twice / cut once scenarios, only I didn't measure at all.

The bottom part was straightforward. The connection running from the Dome wire gets split 1-->2, with one going to the driver side and the other to the pax side. I ended up having to run another wire through the cab, and into the dome light's fuse. That's another thing I should re-do... I will eventually hook that wire up to constant power and put an inline fuse instead of relying on the dome light kick panel fuse.

Final product:

Land vehicle Vehicle Car Tire Automotive tire

Land vehicle Vehicle Car Tire Automotive tire

These lights are completed controlled by the SECU.. when I unlock with the key fob, they turn on. When I lock with the fob, they turn off. When the door opens, they turn on, if I don't lock it they turn off automatically after 1 minute. Basically, exactly as the dome light operates except I don't have manual control.
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The only issue with the mod... if you're standing about 10 feet away from the truck, you get blinded by LEDs:

Land vehicle Vehicle Motor vehicle Car Automotive tire

It's especially bright at night, as you can imagine. I'm not sure of a way to fix this, though. I might need to spray some tint on the strips to tone them down a bit, as they're almost too bright at night even when you can't see the LEDs directly. A little obnoxious, but very cool none the less!

Not related to the mod, but I actually got to use my truck for it's intended purpose for the first time last night, hauling stuff! A friend needed me to carry some tires for them and I was more than happy to oblige.

Light Lighting Night Darkness Sky
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Wow, it's been a minute since I've worked on the truck. Getting a new job plus riding a motorcycle that requires attention all summer will do that, I guess!

I did finally do the headlight mod, and man, it came out great!! Blacked out the surrounding chrome parts with some Rustoleum flat black 2x primer and polished them with Turtle Wax polishing compound. The difference is astounding-- they look brand new! Only problem is I didn't use a clean room when disassembling/reassembling, so if you're right up on it you can see some small debris (and cat hair) that got sealed in the light. It's only noticeable when you're like 6 inches away, so not worth re-doing.

I also removed the dealship logo; if I had known it was that easy, I would have done that day 1! Hairdryer + fingernail, rubbung alcohol for the residue. Done in about 30 minutes. Stickers haven been applied as well; Club Frontier top center (looks FANTASTIC!), university Alum sticker driver side lower. I love how they came out.


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I put new fog lights in, and added some wind/rain deflectors!


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For the fog lights, I just got a kit on Amazon for ~$40. It came with the lights, wiring, and a switch. No instructions!! I'm glad I've done this before or it would have been tricky to figure out.

Pic 1 - I hid the excess wire and relay/fuse right here, next to the left headlight and radiator. Don't worry, nothing is touching the radiator!

Pic 2 - Because I wanted to do it 'right', I ran the wire along the existing wiring harness. That meant taking out the airbox, both top and bottom. It was kind of a pain to get the exit/entry angles right, but I got it done.

Pic 3 - Where I breached the firewall. You can see the original wiring harness going in on the right, but I was not able to squeeze another wire in there. I noticed this plate, inspected the other side, and decided it would be a good place to go. Drilled a hole, fed my wire, re-attached plate and silicone'd around the wire. Ta-Da! If I ever want to add more electronics that need to be on both sides of the walls, I will widen the hole and do the same thing. I'm glad this panel was there-- when I did a foglight installation on my last vehicle there was no such place and cramming another wire to fit the existing hole was quite a challenge.

Pic 4 - Okay, maybe I got a little over-zealous in my dash disassembly!! Also took the seat out for convenience; it was worth it. No, I did not have to take the steering column cover off, I was just curious to see what was under there!

I actually didn't get a pic of the switch, but it looks OEM. It fits right into the blanks to the left of the column, lights up dim orange when off and brighter orange when on.

I tied the switche's Pos to the audio electronics fuse-- I want to re-do that, but for now it works because the fogs will come on anytime the radio will, meaning I won't accidentally leave them on and run my battery down.


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Your truck looks real nice but How do you like the CC long bed?
I was recently tempted when I saw a real nice one for sale, but thought it would be like like driving a skinny fullsize truck with less *** behind it......
I really like it! The long bed ensures I can use it to haul all kinds of good stuff (and with enough room for a toolbox), the crew cab means I can have a full load of people. The back is a bit cramped, but serviceable.

When I was looking for a vehicle, I wanted a small or mid-sized truck, I personally don't like full sized. It's length is sometimes a problem (tight parking lots, parallel parking), but I haven't had a problem with it's power. I've towed a 12 ft trailer with a ~300 pound riding mower and it didn't struggle at all, but that's the extent of the towing I've done with it so it's not a large sample size.
Two mods done today!

First - Remove automatic AC operation on defrost. See this thread:

I ending up trying to bend the flange because I didn't have a precision screwdriver small enough. I broke the flange, but the same effect is achieved; no more AC on defrost unless I select it- Cool!

Second, I installed my to-me from-me Christmas gift! An UltraGauge EM Plus

I don't have pics because when I finished it was dark, but I ran the wire down the A-pillar, cut a small hole in the pillar to avoid pinching the wire, and plugged it in to the OBD-II port. For a mountpoint, I used a piece of a wire hanger wrapped around the bottom bolt of the "Oh Sh!t" handle. I also cut a little notch in the cover flap to allow it to still close around the mount. Unfortunately, I broke the top bolt cover while putting it back in! Need to fix that.

Was a good day for it! 60 degrees, a brief respite from the cold.


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Quick post on the UltraGauge mount. Like I said earlier, I used a section of a wire hanger, bent into shape around the grab handle lower bolt and a little nub on the end to hold the mount in place. It holds well! You can also see where I ran the wire down the A pillar.


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Spent today working on another mod, a grill mesh for the holes in the front bumper. I used a Rain Gutter Leaf Guard that I got from Lowe's for 3 bucks, cut to size. It was the best material Lowe's had for it. I used cardboard as a sizing guide, cut it to size with some tin snips, then rolled the edges and placed the meshes. Pictured is a trial fit, I haven't got around to gluing them in place yet but I plan to use a silicone compound to secure them in place.

Unfortunately, you can barely tell they are there! I was disappointed I spent all that time and effort and you can only tell there's anything there if you're a couple feet away or looking very close. Also, I didn't make one for the top hole-- I got to thinking about it, and I wouldn't be able to open the hood if there's mesh in the way! I could cut a hole for my fingers to trip the lever, but I think I may just wait until I use a different mesh material that looks better, or maybe paint this one red to match.


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Electrical Infrastructure Enhancement

Electrical Infrastructure Enhancement

I’ve got a rather ambitious project on slate for this weekend or shortly after. I feel like already, with only the steprail lighting and fog lights, I’m running out of space for wires and it’s looking messy. With other electrical projects planned, I wanted to come up with a way to centralize ‘add-on’ wiring. Well, I think I’ve got something figured out.

I’ve ordered some parts that should get here this week. I’m going to have a 12v busbar of sorts, made out of a 6 pair terminal block like this:
6 Position Screw Terminal

One side will be bridged using a terminal barrier strip: Terimnal Barrier Strip
and will include an inline fuse:

My plan is to have three of the terminals connected to the always-on 12v, and the other three connected to an ignition-controlled 12v.

Powered 12v
Position 1: Steprail lights
2: Interior floorboard lighting [future]
3: Empty

Switched 12v
Position 1: Fog Lights
2: Back-up camera and screen [future]
3: Empty

I will be placing this busbar under the shift lever bezel. There should be enough room-- I will know for sure when I get the parts in. There are no screws to undo to access, so it seems like the best place for it. It is bare metal under there, I’m assuming grounded although I haven’t checked, so I will have a layer of wood cut to size between the busbar and the ground. I plan to velcro the busbar to the wood peice, so that it’s secure but I could still pull it out if necessary.

Any thoughts? I will try to write a How-To, if all goes well.


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i probably would of tied the lights into your switch for your main lights. its not hard. and that way its not pulled a load off your radio. and you could turn them on without your keys. i have two sets of PIAA lights. the 510's which fit in the factory fog light holes. then with my new bumper i added 520's. i tied them into the running lights wire. at the switch with a wire splice crimp that came with the PIAA kits. it was fast, easy , and has worked for over 4 years. all i had todo was look up the wiring diagram for which colors are for which part of the switch. one was running lights, then one low beam, and one high beam. the running lights are the first setting and work weather in hi or low beam, or just by themselves.
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