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There's a way to turn a 3.3L into a 3.4L using pistons from a VH45 engine, but it requires some machine work. Google it if you're interested; it shouldn't be too hard to find.
 

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Discussion Starter #22
There's a way to turn a 3.3L into a 3.4L using pistons from a VH45 engine, but it requires some machine work. Google it if you're interested; it shouldn't be too hard to find.
That sent me down a rabbit hole... however, returning back to reality, that's beyond my budget. Very cool though, maybe a plan for next time I pull the engine.

I've had those JWT S2 cams on the brain though...
 

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Discussion Starter #23 (Edited by Moderator)
This is my first time rebuilding an engine, and holy **** it has gotten out of control cost-wise. I thought I could fix my truck for like $1000-$1500, but now I see the cost is looking more like $2500-$3000 just to build a stock engine. I never imagined it would be so expensive to rebuild such a weak old engine! I won't even have anything special when it's done... I'll just be back to the under-powered turd I started with!

  • crank needs replacing or machining [$500 for a re-manufactured crank]
  • the heads and cams bearing surfaces look worse than my crank journals [$1500 for a pair of reman'd heads with cams]
  • cylinders could use some machining it looks like...
  • gasket kit, cylinder head bolts, exhaust studs etc........
It doesn't feel worth it to spend 3G's on an engine such as this one. What else can I do??? Are there any engines out there that will drop into this engine bay and plug into everything (at least for the most part)?

I could have bought a JDM engine with unknown mileage for $2500 but that requires custom fab work because things are on the other side on the JDM engine.

I'm tempted to return as much of the parts i've already purchased as i can, and just say it, and move on with my life (without my frontier).
 

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I would have gone with a used engine. VG33E engines aren't hard to find and are generally pretty solid. You can use one from any 96-00 Pathfinder or 99-04 Frontier. Before dropping it in, I would replace the rear main seal, oil pan gasket, timing belt/tensioner/front engine seals/water pump/thermostat. If the valve covers are leaking, replace them too.
 
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It is better to go with an engine you know and you have put together yourself than to buy used and enter the world of not knowing a darn thing the power plant under your hood.
 

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Dang, $2500 for a JDM VG33? I can pick one up every day of the week from local engine importers for under $1k. Just have to swap a few USDM bits over to the JDM engine. No custom fabrication is needed. For $2500, you can probably get the complete VG33ER swap though.
 
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It is better to go with an engine you know and you have put together yourself than to buy used and enter the world of not knowing a darn thing the power plant under your hood.
I understand where you're coming from and agree with you to some extent. If we were talking about small block Chevy or Ford where parts are common and inexpensive, I would say definitely. Nissan engines are a little different and most people can't rebuild them as well as the factory. Nissan doesn't just have the regular and oversize parts when it comes to pistons and crankshafts, they also have "grades" of those sizes. So, a standard sized piston may have four different "grades" that are used to get the clearance tolerances as low as possible. As anyone who knows Nissan's VG engines, they are usually pretty trouble free for hundreds of thousands of miles so long as one changes the oil and changes the timing belt. You can usually find a good VG33E engine in an auto salvage yard for a decent price that it makes it worth the gamble of going the used engine route; I would, however, request they pull a valve cover and send me a picture before they send it, if I'm having it shipped just to make sure the top of the head is not coated in sludge! If you go to Ebay, you can find JDM VG33E engines under 70K. miles for around $800+shipping (as needed). Compare that to the down time of having to teardown and engine, send it out to the machine shop and then re-assemble it before dropping it back in the engine bay for what will end up costing 2-3 times the cost of the JDM engine with a 90-day warranty. How much warranty do you get if you build it yourself and slip-up?.... None. I normally don't like to gamble with used parts, but I would personally take a chance on a used VG33E engine unless I had the money to purchase a reman engine.
 

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My pathfinder had 265k on it when I swapped a lower mileage 70k VG30 with a 30k mile warranty into it, 400 for the motor, 200 for parts and fluids, water pump, timing etc. and about 200 to my buddy to help me get that and new diff's swapped in one night. All said and done, less than $800 and I had a 1994 with 70k on the motor. Drove it for another 70k without a single issue before I sold it.

I kept the old motor with the high miles, my thought was to build it and keep it as a spare. After spending $600 at the machine shop and a LOT of hours of research to find parts that would work (sent a lot of parts back because I ordered wrong). I sold it to someone else to take on, as I still had to put another $600 into it in order to even get it put back together. Not to mention doing this in my garage on my own time $ , and no mileage warranty for a motor you build yourself.

Some people like that piece of mind, I like the cash in case anything else goes wrong I can afford to fix it.
 

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Discussion Starter #29
What is the earliest that I can fire up the engine?

Once its in the engine bay with all of its connectors, wires, and hoses hooked up can I start it? If the transmission & its accompanying sensors, and the O2 sensors aren't fitted yet will the engine run like normal and just give some CEL's? ........or will it not run right / at all?

O2 sensors are in the mail, and I don't want to install too much stuff until I have heard it run. I can start it up without the rad and fan and all that sh:t, and I don't need to put the torsion bars or front diff back before I (cross my fingers and) turn the key.
 

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You don't need the O2 sensors to start it and get it running. If the ECM sees an open circuit, it will go to O2 sensor fail-safe mode and use a set voltage of 0.3v for a reference voltage.
 
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Wow, takes me back to around '78-'81 = my wrenching days. Good times.

Frontier.Steve, I admire your ambition!!
 
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I can see why your parents gave you the first name Frontier !!!
 

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Engine looks good and those headers are badazz too! Good luck with it.. after completion can we get a sound clip of the headers? Doesn’t have to be connected to the rest of exhaust..😁
 

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Discussion Starter #38
Wow, takes me back to around '78-'81 = my wrenching days. Good times.

Frontier.Steve, I admire your ambition!!
Thanks!



I can see why your parents gave you the first name Frontier !!!
I wish they swapped out the amniotic fluid for a gallon of 5W30 before the end of my first trimester. At least they were on the right track with my name...



Engine looks good and those headers are badazz too! Good luck with it.. after completion can we get a sound clip of the headers? Doesn’t have to be connected to the rest of exhaust..😁
No problem. I'll post a link.
  • I'm running the walker front left and front right exhaust tubes off of a 2000 frontier (that eliminated my secondary cats) -- around 150CAD for the pair on rockauto
  • The stainless headers eliminated the primary cats that are built into the exhaust manifold -- around 150CAD for the pair on ebay
  • My muffler is a magnaflow that is 10 to 15 years old ... it doesn't muffle much.
 

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Discussion Starter #39
I have about 1000 km on the engine and seems to be working well; despite the fact that I honed the cylinders with a cordless drill and used heads and camshafts that the FSM deemed NFG.

I noted earlier that my transmission was damaged. I had been driving the truck for a couple months with it like that without even knowing. When I reinstalled the transmisson in the truck it began leaking gear oil from that large damaged area I posted a picture off. I guess in the process of man-handling the tranny into position and then giggling the bejesus out of it to get the trans shaft to mate with the internal splines of the clutch - I stressed that damaged area on the transmission and it sprung a leak.

I eventually found a junkyard tranny not too far from where I live and borrowed a friends rig to pick her up. It was out of an Xterra with 150 000 km on it. I swapped that into my truck and it has 151 000 km on it now.
 
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