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Black 2005 Armada SE + most options
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all!!
I have owned several Nissans over the years, most recently (and for the longest) an '05 Xterra. However, after dealing with problem after problem (3x timing chain replacements, transaxle replacement, transmission intermix issue, recent engine codes), I started researching ways to make some of these problems go away forever... In particular, the weak timing chain. As I searched, I learned that it appears that all of the VQ engines (the V6 block that Nissan has been using since '05) share this fault. I then learned about a VK swap, and got super excited about it, and started searching for used Titans, Armadas, and QX56s I could mercilessly tear apart to breathe new life into my ailing Xterra...

I landed a steal of a deal on a 2005 Armada SE with all the bells and whistles to use as a donor car... but as I drove it home... I started realizing that I liked it better than my Xterra. This, of course, couldn't be right. I drive an Xterra! I am a tough, off-roady, enjoy feeling every pebble I drive over, hard suspension, spartan interior, no option... grunt grunt grunt kind of guy... I drive and Xterra, so I can go ANYWHERE....

After hauling our RV a with our new-to-us Armada a few times, driving it to the hardware store once or thrice (and picking up more than double what my Xterra could handle), enjoying the plush leather seats, the spacious interior, the 16 year old sound system that still sounded better than my custom one in the Xterra, 4,000 more pounds of tow capacity, a factory installed class V trailer hitch, a magical, automatic rear hatch, a third row of seats (ie, more cargo space... no kids), and of course, the rumble of a V8 powering it... all on a vehicle with 40k MORE miles than my Xterra... I started slowly realizing... It's not the engine I wanted... it's the whole vehicle!

On our way home from our camping trip today, my wife and I made the final call: The Xterra is going, the Armada is staying. Yes, it needs work. I did get it for $2,000 after all. However, the amount of work the Armada needs compared to what the Xterra needs... Trivial. I still may rebuild the engine/transmission, juuust to give it a "reset", it is at 207,000 miles after all.

So here I am, now the proud owner of a single owner Armada. Apparently one of the better years too (I have heard the 05-08 model years were incredibly reliable). And I'm not looking back.
 

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So that's 247k on the Armada?
Stock engine and tranny?

I've ways liked the Xterra, never owned one.
I didn't realize they had that timing chain issue. I'll check that one off my list now.
 

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Black 2005 Armada SE + most options
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
So that's 247k on the Armada?
Stock engine and tranny?

I've ways liked the Xterra, never owned one.
I didn't realize they had that timing chain issue. I'll check that one off my list now.
207k on the Armada, 166k on the Xterra.

I don't know how widespread it is, a lot of people still seem to love their Xterras.. but the more research I do, it sounds like it's pretty much just a ticking time bomb. It doesn't help that it's an interference engine, so that could be a pretty bad time bomb. Mine started howling, so I got enough warning to get it into a mechanic. (I would have done it myself, but I literally had JUST pulled the motor out of my WRX the weekend before for a full rebuild, and rather than splitting my attention between two engines, I figured it would be best to pay for one to be fixed... less time riding the bus to work.)

I honestly loved my Xterra, but wanted something more reliable for camping/RVing. The mechanic told me that even with my failing fuel pump, I could probably get another 40k miles before my next major repair if I started running higher viscosity oil. That was before the antifreeze leak started, and the oil leak became severe enough to leave a small puddle everywhere I parked. Oh, and the catalytic system also started throwing every code it could, so there was that added to the list...

The pro/con list just kept coming down to the main "pro" for the Xterra was it's monstrous ability off-road... which I had used maybe 5 times in the last 10 years of ownership. It just wasn't worth putting more money into it, especially once I stumbled into the Armada for such a good deal. I bought it thinking it was going to be in pretty rough shape, but the more I examine it, the more I drive it... the more I'm impressed by it.

Stock engine/transmission. Looks like from the vehicle history that the prior owners did most of their own maintenance, only taking it to a dealer for two major events, brakes and transmission service... probably the brake recall and the transmission recall (ahem, "extended warranty" as Nissan liked to put it).
 

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I had a 2012 PRO4X and absolutely loved it. The timing chain guide issue was corrected for that MY and beyond, and I think the transmission fluid/radiator issue was corrected in the 2013 MY, if I recall. Great little truck, if I didn't need more room, I would have kept it vice the 2010 Armada.
 

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2021 Nissan Armada SL
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Another ex-Xterra owner here. We paid over sticker in Dallas when they first came out. It was a GREAT first NEW car for us. We were so proud of that vehicle. It was the gold/olive color and we just loved it - my bride had to have one. It ran great, towed what we needed, and the style was so cool. Held it's value really well too. I wish Nissan would bring them back - they would be a perfect Jeep/Bronco fighter...
We are really liking the Armada now - our biggest owned SUV to-date (and we need it). No regrets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I did love my Xterra too. They are pretty fun to drive, especially off-road. I hope they really did fix the V6 timing chain problem at the '13 model year, but I'm not confident they have. It would take a major engine re-design from my understanding. I know for a while it was understood that they had fixed it at the '11 model year, but then those started having the same issues once they got up there in miles, and it seems to translate to every Nissan with the VQ engine. I don't know what they did differently with the VK (what's in the Armada, Titan, V8 Pathfinder, and QX56), but it certainly lasts significantly better, and they don't have the timing chain issue, even though they also have a timing chain with nylon guides.

Like my friend said however: When someone creates the perfect vehicle, everyone will buy it, but until then, you get the good with the bad.

I agree that Nissan should bring the Xterra back, but what they really should do is give it like a premium SE V8 Off-road trim option, kinda like I was planning to mod mine (and many Xterra owners have done to theirs). That would sell like crazy, because then it would have the bulletproof VK56 V8 like in all of our Armadas, Titans, and QX56s, but have the off-road capabilities of the Xterra. And of course, with the shorter exhaust system... it would sound like a monster when you start it up.
 
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