Nissan Frontier Forum banner
1 - 20 of 23 Posts

· Premium Member
354 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Username: SinisterFrontier06
Year: 2008
Make: Nissan
Model: Frontier
Trim: SE
Color: White





Suspension & Tires:



Gear and Other:

In Progress: VK56DE swap repair.

Some of you might remember the Frontier dubbed the Fritan back in 2009-2010, if you dont here are some threads for reference.

This is AndrewVKs old truck and one of the first web documented VK 5.6L V8 swaps on a Frontier. His thread was very informative as far as parts interchangeability and helped tremendously when it came to making plans for my own personal swap. So much thanks to him for the info he had shared in those threads.

From what I gathered Andrew got it to run and drive and briefly shift right but shortly after the trans locked itself in second gear, discouraged and tired of working on it and or spending money on it (I would guess, I have been there, as i had some trans issues myself with my build but ended up being more related to the trans build then the actual swap. Short story: Trans was sent out to be built for high hp, trans was out of a flooded titan, due to that new TCM had to be installed, new TCMs have to be flashed by dealership, local dealership failed to flash TCM right even though they said it took the flash, because of this I spent weeks pulling my hair out thinking i did something wrong, but then eventually found TCM was not flashed right, swapped in new used already flashed TCM, problem solved.) He also told me he was never able to get 4wd to engage as well. These two things and plus the crap load of time he had invested into the swap is enough to make anyone throw in the towel, sell it and move on. Thats exactly what Andrew did, sold it and got another Frontier. Where the Frontier went from there it seemed was a mystery because I had never seen it pop up again. I thought it got parted out honestly.

Andrew, feel free to add anything or correct anything I might have wrong.

Some of you might have seen my own personal Frontier build thread. If you have not you can see it here:

I was in Louisville on October 26th for a dyno appointment with a tuning shop known as Dynosty in Lousiville, KY. I trailered my Frontier down with my dads Titan to get uprev tuned for the supercharger. They took a picture of my truck on the rollers and posted it on Instagram (my instagram is @drivendesire). A few hours later I got a message from a guy who said his truck was "Titan swapped" and that nobody he has taken it to was able to fix it. Well we all know that "Titan swapped" is the term for swapping the front suspension with the Titan. I was confused and replied "Titan swap as in V8 swap or suspension?" He said V8. Intrigued as I have not heard of anyone else attempting the swap I asked about it more. He informed me the trans is stuck in 2nd gear and that he has taken it to several shops around Lousiville and nobody had any idea on how to fix it. I asked him who did the wiring and he said I got it from a guy named Andrew and at the same time he sent me a picture of the truck. Then it dawned on me, its Andrews old truck. He informed me its been sitting for the past 4-5 years. He asked me if I think I can fix it and if I would be willing to do so. I said "Absolutely!" We talked some more and we came to the agreement that since he had no way of getting the truck to me in Cincinnati, OH that I would trailer it back to Cincinnati. It worked out perfectly since he was 20 min away from the tuning shop and my trailer was now empty since my truck was tuned and I can drive it back. So we went over and picked it up.

It dosent look like it was ever touched other than being told it went through a handful of swaps. Some quick pictures:

With this thread I will be outlining all of the repairs we will be doing to correct this Frontier's V8 swap.

Disclaimer: Let me clarify this is in no way a thread to bash Andrew or any other company that had their hands on this vehicle. Andrew I believe was 19 at the time, with limited resources for this swap and I am sure at the time, being that the truck was only 1-2 years old, it was a very expensive undertaking and some short cuts were taken not out of poor craftsmanship, but due to expenses. If I had to guess these short cuts were taken with the intent of getting the truck on the road and correcting them later. In my younger years I cant deny I wouldnt have done the same. I also dont know where the trucks status was when it left Andrews hands and how it was changed through the different shops it went to. So pointing fingers on who did what is impossible and I will not attempt to do so nor is that my style.

My goal is to inform people on parts interchangeability when attempting this swap for the purpose of reliability and aesthetics. When I do these swaps I strive for a OEM look. I want to share with all of the DIY guys on here on how to do this swap and achieve success rather easily. There is too much false voodoo thrown into this swap that scares people away. Part of that voodoo came from the original thread on this truck/swap. My hope is that I can help clear up the nonsense by fixing this vehicle and getting it to the fun v8 rig it was supposed to be, while sharing tips and hopefully help build the confidence of others who are thinking of attempting the swap themselves.

Trust me guys this swap is easy!

· Premium Member
12,670 Posts
happiest guy on the planet right now. thank you so much.
the bottom line of why i got rid of it, i had it running for almost a full year. no new information, 2000$ spent on dealership tune times. it started taking its toll.
the week i put it up for sale i t-boned a guy in my daily 240 at the time. i would love to still have it, but it seemed like a perfect storm of stress on me and i just couldnt keep it up.

super happy to see you getting it all sorted out, i have faith in you sir.

· Premium Member
354 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Ok first things first! CEL Roll Call!

As you can see the list is extensive. 17 Codes showing so far and that was just replacing the dead battery and driving it briefly around the block. Computer showed it not getting out of first gear. We drove it briefly because the radiator is shot. Its leaking badly at the seams. It was virtually empty as this is all we got out of it after we noticed it starting to over heat.

First order of business was to order a new radiator, we did that. Then we pulled it into the shop and removed the bad radiator and started to investigate the cause of the codes. Roughly 90% of the wiring for this swap is performed at 3 plugs near the IPDM. So I popped open the box that houses the IPDM:

Yeah... Squirrels nest...

From what Andrew told me this was a lot more tidy at one point. The method he used, though it was a decent enough method for what was available at the time, is also a risky one. Taking multiple wires of different colors and joining them can lead to disaster quick. With this jumper harness type method mistakes are easily made and often wires get joined to the wrong ones due to the color confusion that can be had. More than likely the cause for a lot of the codes above is probably somewhere in this mess. Best thing to do is get rid of it all.

For those of you watching and that are interested in doing this swap we provide a wiring service where this part of the swap is hassle free. The wiring of this swap is hands down the hardest part of the swap, once you have the wiring right this swap is a walk in the park. If you are doing the swap and would like me to convert your harness message me for details.

So one by one the wires were cut clean and new terminals were applied. The wires, now with new terminals were then plugged into new connectors that matched that of the Frontier chassis into the correct order. They were then taped up to keep things tidy and to mimic that of OEM:

Then plugged back in to resemble stock:

The removed:

Now we just wait on the radiator so we can take it for a test drive and see what codes are still lingering. Stay tuned...

· Premium Member
354 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
For sake of discussion as I have seen some of the FB things on this, can you give any more info on the dealerships not flashing the TCM's properly? Operator error? Scanning it as a Frontier when it needs to be scanned as a Titan or the opposite?
I can't really say for sure what the guy did but this is a issue that will rarely come about. Most will be using used Titan transmissions where no TCM flashing will be required as they will have been flashed from the factory. Only flashing you will ever have to have done by the dealership, and that's if you don't use uprev, is flashing of the security system or as Nissan calls it NATS. Only reason I had to go to the dealership for a TCM flash is because my TCM was replaced as it was ruined. It was ruined because it was in a transmission that came out of a flooded Titan. Similar to the SMOD, once water enters the TCM they are done for.

· Premium Member
354 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
So on this installment we tackle the cooling system and hoses. After rewiring the engine we went to take the truck for a test drive. We didnt get far as the truck started to overheat. Checked the antifreeze level and there pretty much wasn't any. so we decided to fill it with water for the time being and see if we could find out why it was empty. Well we instantly found the cause the radiator was bad, filled it up and it started raining out from under the truck so we ordered a new radiator:

Pathfinder V8 and V6 call for the same part number radiator as the Frontier and Xterra V6 so a stock replacement works perfectly:

We went ahead and ordered OEM Titan upper and lower radiator hoses as well. You can order these hoses from the local auto parts store as well. The radiator hoses that were being used were a universal type that were a little too big and in my opinion bad news as there is a metal coil inside them that causes rust which could potentially cause the heater core to clog:

The hoses (the lower one was the same type):

The rust water that came out of it (The oil in it is not from it):

New radiator and hoses installed with OEM clamps:

So when you are doing the swap you will find that there is a heater hose outlet right below where the radiator hoses attach on the V8:

It will seem that a hose that connects to this port is absent from your engine bay when in reality it is not, its there it just hooks up in a different spot than the Titan. This port is normally used for the coolant overflow tank on the Titan, where as our coolant overflow tanks hook up a in a different spot. That spot is right here:

So that port on the V8 gets capped off, you can find a suitable tight fitting cap in the HELP! department at the local auto parts store in a assortment box or you can just order them here:

So with a hose clamp just cap it off:

As you can see in this picture the coolant overflow tank line was capped off and the line was rerouted connected to the port that we just capped off. Capping off the port requires a lot less work than trying to go through rerouting the line as was done here.

Moving on to the heater core hoses, you will find the hose closest to the passenger side fender on the VQ40 will hook up to the V8 no problem. So nothing there needs to be done. You will find however that hooking up the other hose will be a problem. You will find that the hard line running across the back of the firewall is too long to hook up to the V8. If you try to hook the original VQ40 hose you will find that you will have to kink the hose to get it to connect. Obviously that wont work. You can loop it around but clearly thats not ideal either. There is a solution for this and the parts come from a 4 cyl Frontier believe it or not lol

You need to order these parts from Nissan:

They are pictured here with the upper and lower Titan radiator hoses:

On this particular swap the loop around solution was implemented which we are going to use the parts ordered to correct:

The process is pretty self explanatory. Remove hard line:

Install new fitting to heater core with smaller heater hose outlet facing up, reconnect coolant overflow tank line. Lastly connect new coolant hose from the bottom to the coolant outlet on the drivers side of the engine:

Much cleaner and no more loop around!

So we refilled the system with fluids and all held great. I highly recommend you use this tool when doing so as it will get all of the air out of the system:

For the cooling fans you have one or two options, convert to temp controlled electric fans or use a radiator shroud from a Pathfinder V8 with a clutch fan and fan blade from a Titan. On this particular setup the customer used the Pathfinder V8 shroud and Titan clutch blade and fan.

Getting closer and closer to looking like this truck rolled out of the factory with a V8!

Next up:
-Troubleshooting on why the transmission is completely unresponsive, might be shot but we will investigate.
- Repair the wiring to the transfer control module. 4x4 is unresponsive but this is due to the fact that a Atlas transfercase was once installed on this vehicle which it no longer is so we just have to return the wiring back to stock.

· Registered
105 Posts
Scroll to the top click thread tools and subscribe to thread!

I thought that was where it would be at, but, I swear, when I clicked on it the first time, the only thing that showed up was "show printable version" or something to that affect. W/E. Got it now. SUB'd!!!

· Premium Member
12,670 Posts
hmmm not sure what you mean by atlas. unless he did it, i never did.
the only wiring we ever touched was in the engine bay.

also if that is the same trans, its likely shot. he tried to drive it 800 miles stuck in between 2nd-4th gear.
must be trailered did not apply.

· Premium Member
354 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
So after the wiring was corrected on the chassis we took the truck for a test drive. Brought it back after we realized it wasn't shifting and felt like it was attached to a trailer. Hooked up the consult and ran some diagnosis on the truck. Good news is we went from 17 codes down to 2. The 2 that are left are 2 sensors we knew needed to be replaced and will be replaced. so in reality we have no codes. You might ask how that is possible since the transmission is not functioning properly. Well thats the bad news, no codes from the transmission while having the sluggish feeling and it not shifting is a good indication the TCM (Transmission control module) is dead or not receiving power. We did some voltage testing at the connector of the trans and was able to rule out the no power possibility as it was getting power in all the right places. With the Nissan Consult we have we are able to watch the transmission and what its doing. It also pointed to a bad TCM as none of the solenoids in the TCM showed voltage and the trans temp sensors were reading a odd -44 in temp. So with that we deemed the TCM dead. To double check our ruling we went ahead and plugged in a v6 transmission we had laying around. With the consult we were able to see that the proper readings from the TCM instantly showed up so at that point we can confirm the TCM is in fact 100% dead. Now you might ask how the average Joe without nissan consult can draw the same conclusion. Well there is 3 main signs that will more than likely tell you you have a bad TCM.

1. When you turn the ignition to the "On" position, with the engine not running, you will be able to hear a faint whine or hum coming from the transmission if i had to describe it it sounds similar to a typical flat line sound you hear in a show or movie when someone on life support dies. If you hear nothing thats the first indicator. Both the V6 and V8 transmission make this sound.

2. No reverse lights. It has been found that the reverse lights will not activate if the TCM is dead.

3. Doesnt shift, sluggish to take off, feels like it starts off in a high gear yet is receiving all voltages necessary as outlined in the factory service manual.

If the above three things are happening you can pretty much bet the TCM is toast. I will say just because the TCM is toast does not mean the entire trans has to be replaced. Lets say you get the entire transmission into the truck only to find out the TCM is bad yet the salvage yard you purchased the transmission from said the transmission had low miles on it. Its a good possibility that the TCM just got fried during the accident it was involved in that landed it in the junk yard. You can swap the TCM and its rather easy. You can buy a high mileage transmission and switch the TCM out of it as all it does is control the solenoids. Its pretty straight forward drop the pan and valve body assembly, pop off the solenoids, swap the TCMS, reinstall the solenoids, reinstall the valve body and pan... done. Fill it with fluids, test and enjoy.

With this transmission we decided to replace it as there was trans fluid all over the bottom of the transmission so it could be a little bit of both a bad trans and bad tcm. So shes on the lift ready for surgery this should get he back on the road and finally performing 100%!


· Premium Member
354 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Ok so we ordered a transmission in. Being that the transmission that was in it was a 4wd, we ordered a 2wd replacement transmission. We did this because 2wd transmissions can be converted to 4wd using a few components from a donor 4wd transmission.

I will go ahead and do a run down on how this is performed.

This is the tailpiece of the 2wd transmission. We need to remove these 10 bolts (Make sure you keep the bolts in the same location as they were removed), and remove the tail piece housing. Do the same for the 4wd donor trans.


Back of 2wd tail piece:

We now need to remove the out put shaft shown here (Jay's (TerribleOne) Frontier is photobombing in the back ground) same for the 4wd donor trans.

We do this by simply grabbing it and turning it back and forth while pulling and it comes right out:

Shaft removed from the trans:

Now we need to simply swap shafts with the 4wd donor:

4wd left, 2wd right

Simply install the 4wd shaft into the 2wd transmission the same way you removed it.

Now install the 4wd tail piece using this gasket:

I didnt take pictures of the 4wd tailpiece installed but its all pretty straight forward.

We reinstalled the transmission and she drives perfectly now!

The current owner asked us to install a new headunit while we were at it:

One last final scan showed no codes. we went from 17 codes to 0!

One last picture of her cleaned up and ready to go back to her owner.
1 - 20 of 23 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.