Piston Slap: Chronic Xterra Maintenance?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

m koonce writes:

Sajeev – you wanted questions, I have questions! First – I love your column. Great advice, and well written. Now my question(s).

  1. I have a 2009 Nissan Xterra 4wd, X model, 52k miles, and no problems except door squeaks and rubber molding which wont stay attached but that’s trivial. My question is, when should I have a “tuneup” done – i.e., change the spark plugs. Should I wait until Nissan’s recommended mileage (105k miles I think), or do it sooner? And should I replace all the coils at the same time (I presume the truck has a coil-on-plug ignition setup)? What else should I have done at the same time?
  2. Re: same vehicle: at 36k miles (May 2013) I did a transmission fluid dump and refill at local dealership, and did the same again at 49k miles in May 2014, again at dealership. My plan is to continue this dump and refill procedure every year for as long as I own the truck. Am I on the right track here? I’ve also had all other fluids replaced, except brake fluid which will be replaced when I have a brake job done.

Thanks for your advice, and keep up the good work.

Sajeev answers:

Actually you have three questions, come on son! Now you know I’ll Google up some half-cocked give an enlightening answer for just about any question. And my goodness, do you need questions answered, for the sake of your poor, poor wallet!

Question 1: Squeaky rubber seals: spray them with a silicone based lubricant (safe on rubber, less sticky than WD-40) or do it right with this tube of magic.

Question 2: Direct injection systems aside…rarely, if ever, does a non-modified vehicle driven by a law-abiding motorist need new spark plugs before the recommended interval. Even DI motors won’t necessarily need aggressive plug replacements, and the supercharged versions of your Nissan are fine if you follow the owner’s manual. Spark plugs, be it iridium or platinum, have come a long way, baby!

Question 2.5: Replace coil pack(s) when the engine computer says so. That is, when you get a stumble/misfire, you scan for codes, etc. and determine the misbehaving coil. Do not change them during the mandated tune up interval, only change normal wear items as per owner’s manual recommendations.

Question 3: ZOMG UR ON THE WRONG TRACK! Unless this is a work truck towing a loaded trailer every day in city traffic, there’s zero reason for annual ATF changes. You’d be more than safe swapping it out every 50,000-100,000 miles.

Put more succinctly: stop treating this rig like it’s a delicate flower!

Vehicles in the last 25+ years successfully embraced electronic engine control technology, and “long life” fluids are held in high regard across the board…well, Dex-Cool aside. The sooner you embrace the robust beauty of modern vehicles (and fluids) the sooner you can stop punishing your wallet.

[Image: Nissan]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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