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Old 11-05-2017, 04:35 PM   #1
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Default 4x4, what to look for?

Iíve decided to start looking for a 4x4 Nissan. Iíve enjoyed my 2wd D21 so far. The ease of maintenance and simplicity is incredible. But Iíve decided to look for a 4x4 pathy or hardbody.

Iíd like to get one that will last as my DD/never ending project for quite a while. Iíd like to know if there are particular years or features that are more or less desirable than others. I know I want a standard trans, preferably in stock configuration. I figure one that hasnít been modified much is less likely to have been trashed on.

Iíve gotten fairly familiar with the KA24, and know itís near bomb proof, but how does the Nissan v6 compare? Are 4x4s even available with the KA?

Just gimme whatever info or suggestions you guys have. Iím all ears.

Oh. Pics are good too.
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Old 11-05-2017, 05:22 PM   #2
4/86 SE-V6 2 tone 4x4 HB
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V6 trucks are good. Regular maintainance and they should last a long time unless something goes wonky. Timing belt is higher maintainance than the chain in the 4cyl.

The 4cyl is found in many 4x4 trucks but I'd prefer the extra torque of the v6 with the 4wd and extra weight. Ive been DDing my truck for a long time and have now doubled the miles on it since I got it. Having my first real issue right now and having a hard time finding the cause with my poor mechanic skills. Its age that's killing more things on my truck than wear.

Stuff to look for? The normal like a 2wd plus test the T case in high and low. Make sure the hubs lock in and no broken shafts. Test the LSD. Make sure its not sitting on bump stops. The t case should switch between hi and 2wd and back on the fly at low speeds.
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Old 11-05-2017, 06:16 PM   #3
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96-97 HBs only came with the KA and OBD II, 90-95 had the KA or VG and had OBD I. Be sure to check the rear frame area for rot. Pathys had a 4-link rear so ride would be better, trucks had leaves. V6s had the H233b rear axle and R200 front axles but the 96-97 4 cyls came with H233bs as well but R180 front axles.

Biggest thing is to look for is one that you like that shows signs of being maintained. Depending on you area you could find a nice one for around 3k.
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Old 11-10-2017, 03:35 AM   #4
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The front wheel bearing nuts are a bit odd. I customized a socket for a Dana 44, but if you plan to do your own work you should have a way to appropriately tighten those nuts.

Some pre-96 KA 4x4s have an H233. My 95 has one. Probably still the R180 front, tho.
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Old 11-10-2017, 01:38 PM   #5
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My dad's 95 with a VG30E is over 300k and counting. It's a great engine. The KA is a great engine in a 2wd truck. I had a couple 97 4x4's with the KA in them and they're GROSSLY underpowered for a 4x4 extended cab truck. Less than 20mpg. I'm sure at some point I'll get back into a 4x4 extended cab hardbody but it won't have a KA in it.
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Old 11-10-2017, 02:14 PM   #6
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I did basically the worst thing you can do and bought a $600 truck that didn't move, doing basically no research beforehand and really having no idea what I was getting into. I've probably put about 2.5k into parts and about 2 years of work to make the truck drivable/safe.

Point being, if you want a project, do like I did. If you want something you can pick up and play with quickly, spend a bit more for a nicer one. I bought mine specifically because I wanted a project, and almost 6 years later she's never left me stranded and I wouldn't trade my little hardbody for much short of a Ferrari :P

IMO if you want a 4x4, go for the V6 unless you're planning to do a turbo on it. The numbers on the 6 compared to the 4 aren't that different but you'll definitely feel it when actually driving, especially if you have a few hundred pounds in the bed or are hauling a trailer.

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Old 11-10-2017, 05:24 PM   #7
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some basics
v6 = 153hp / 180tq
4cyl = 134hp / 154 tq

the 4cyl is slow, this is what i have. the v6 is still slow. its just a matter of what you want to say you have. they get the exact same gas mileage because either you have an extra 20hp with the v6, and it gets inherently worse mileage due to number of cyl and displacement or, you have less power and constantly have to get deeper into the throttle to get it to move. Note, on the 96 4th gear is 1:1 and its a 4.6x axle. I think the v6 has a little longer gears and axle. slightly better if you do a lot of highway driving

pros of the v6
-takes somewhere on the order of 3ish quarts for an oil change
-"performance" parts seem to be a little more common, intake is a snap
-you can say its a v6
-more common in a 4x4 in nicer trim levels ex: SE v6 4x4

cons of the v6
-its a timing belt motor
-everyone seems to fuck up timing belt changes and one bank is off a tooth
-it takes two more of most things (plugs and wires i guess is all)
-engine bay is slightly more crowded

pros of the 4cyl
-more common in the 4x4's in 96 / 97 and i believe was the only 4x4 motor offered in 96 since a lot of sites dont give a 97, 4x4 v6 option for parts lookups
-timing chain
-takes 2 less plugs and wires (maintenance costs
-relatively simple motor

cons of the 4cyl
-parts can be somewhat confusing to find. they dont always interchange with the ka24e's of the fwd cars. a carrier bearing is a good confusing example related to drivetrain
-takes 5ish quarts of engine oil
-the timing chain tensioner can loose its ability to push on the chain causing a wicked rattle. in which case its no less maintenance than a belt
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Old 11-11-2017, 06:13 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by OldGreyBeast View Post
I did basically the worst thing you can do and bought a $600 truck that didn't move, doing basically no research beforehand and really having no idea what I was getting into. I've probably put about 2.5k into parts and about 2 years of work to make the truck drivable/safe.
hahahahahahahaha, Pretty much what i've done only with about $10k into mine at this point, oops

Having had the 4cyl and v6, the v6 is much nicer to live with every day. Especially on a 4x4 application. the extended cab is really nice for storing tools and spare parts, but not really big enough for a full sized person to ride in comfortably.

Like OGB said, if you just want something that will never give up and power through snow and mud, go or a v6 and spend a little extra for a decently taken care of rig.
If you're planning on doing some modifications and actually using it offroad then spend a little less because you'll be throwing some parts away in order to use it comfortably offroad.

One thing you'll want to do is take off the auto locking hubs and swap them out for manuals, wouldn't hurt to relocate the ECU from the floor to behind the glovebox either.
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