30k Mile Inspection (2000 Xterra)
(Schedule 1, for towing or offroading on a 4WD, Auto Transmission, V6)

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    This list of things to do is pretty much in the order you should do them, some things like the inspections don’t have to be done in order and changing the driveline fluids can be done in whatever order you want.  Usually front to back works best for me, that way you don’t miss anything by accident.

    Some of the checks must be done with the engine cold and off for safety’s sake, others must be done with the engine (or drive train) warm to ensure most of the oil gets drained and there is still some coating on the mechanical parts when the engine is started after the fluid change.  I have listed this when applicable.

Use the table as a checklist to make sure you don't miss anything.

What you need before starting:


Accurate Ruler
Pliers, Needle Nose and Linesman
Screwdrivers, Philips and Flat Head
3/8” Ratchet
3/8” Metric and SAE sockets
½” to 3/8” adapter
½” ratchet or breaker bar
Metric and SAE Wrenches
Torque Wrench (Important)
Oil pan
Gear Oil pump (Big Help)
Grease Gun
Many Shop Rags
Automotive Hand Cleaner
Empty gallon containers (for used oil)
Jack and Jack Stands (don’t use cinder blocks, they can break)
Teflon Sealant (optional)
Induction Timing Light

For packing bearings include:
Allen Wrenches
Snap Ring Pliers
Dull Punch
Bearing Packing kit (Big Help)

New Equipment:

Wheel Bearing Grease Seals (2)
Oil Plug Washer (optional)


Dispose of used oils properly, put them in gallon containers (Empty plastic milk jugs, gear oil jugs, and antifreeze jugs work great) and take them to the nearest auto parts store that has oil disposal facilities (most do).


Capacity (US)



Engine Oil with filter 3 1/2 qt. API Energy Conserving SG-SJ 5W-30 recommended
Engine oil without filter 3 1/8 qt.
Cooling system 4 qt. Nissan Anti-Freeze of equivalent, 50/50 mix  
Transfer Case 2 3/8 qt. Nissan Matic "D" or Dexron III ATF  
Front Differential 3 1/8 pt. API GL-5 80W-90
Rear Differential 5 7/8 pt.
Auto Transmission 2WD 8 3/4 qt Nissan Matic "D" or Dexron III ATF  
Auto Transmission 4WD 9 qt.
Power Steering Fluid 33.8-37.2 fl oz. Dexron III ATF  
Propeller Shaft Grease   NLGI No.2 Lithium Grease  
Multi Purpose Grease
Free Running Hub Grease   Nissan Grease or Equivalent  

Nissan torque and measurement specs are in blue.

Inspect Drive Belts (engine cold)
  1. Check Belts for fraying or unnecessary wear.
  2. Check belt tension from underside of engine at the midway point between pulleys.

    Specs, pushing with 98 N (22lbs) force:

Inspect Exhaust System (engine cold)
  1. Check exhaust pipes, muffler and mounting points for leaks cracks or damage.
Inspect Brake System (engine cold)
  1. Check Lines and Cables for improper attachment, cracking, or damage.  Check that the brake reservoir is keeping its level; if it is constantly loosing oil then you may have a leak somewhere in the system.
  2. Check the condition of Calipers and rear brake linkage (take off the drums) for damage.
  3. Check thickness of Pads (minimum 2mm front, 1.5mm rear), Rotors (repair limit min. 26mm), and Drums (repair limit min. internal diameter 296.5mm). If rotors or drums are worn unevenly or warped have them turned if still within repair limit.
  4. Be sure to check that parking brake can keep you from rolling on a moderately steep hill.

    If Brakes feel spongy or are malfunctioning despite the above check you may have air bubbles in the lines.  To bleed the brake follow the following procedure.  Make sure the reservoir always has fluid during the procedure or the master brake cylinder will need to be bled.

  1. Bleed in the following order:
    Left Rear
    Right Rear
    Left Front
    Right Front
  2. Remove the rubber cap from the brake bleeder and hook a vinyl hose over the bleeder.  The other end of the hose should be immersed in a container containing a little bit of brake fluid.
    The brake bleeders are located to the rear of the hubs on the front wheels and forward of the hubs on the rear wheels.
  3. Loosen the bleeder and have somebody push the brakes all the way to the floor.  Repeat until the brake fluid no longer has air bubbles in it.
  4. When the bubbles are out tighten the bleeder.  The container with brake fluid in it should keep fluid in the hose so that no air is able to move back into the line.
  5. Repeat at all wheels.

    This procedure can be done to flush the brake system also.  Just keep pumping the fluid out of the lines till brand new clear fluid comes out.  The first wheel will require the most work since all the fluid in the reservoir needs to be drained.  Never let the reservoir go dry.  Try to add the new fluid on top of the old.

Inspect EVAP Lines
  1. Visually inspect EVAP vapor lines for cracking, damage, and improper attachment.
  2. Inspect vacuum relief valve of fuel tank filler cap for clogging and sticking.  An easy way to test if to suck on it from the tank end (use you fingers in an “O” shape to keep your lips from contacting the cap).  The cap should allow air into tank but not to escape it (unless pressure is excessive).

    Specs for fuel tank cap valve opening:

Inspect Fuel Lines
  1. Inspect fuel lines and tank for improper attachment, leaks, cracks or damage.  Repair if needed.
Inspect Steering Gear and Linkage
  1. Check gear housing and boots for looseness, damage, and grease leakage.
  2. Check ball joint, dust cover and other components for looseness, damage and grease leakage.
  3. Check power steering lines for improper connections, damage, and leakage.
  4. Make sure level is within “min” and “max” marks on reservoir.
Rotate Tires
  1. Rotate tires from front to back, keep them on the same side; i.e. passenger front to passenger back, and passenger back to passenger front.  If you have certain aftermarket tires you may need to rotate them differently but the above method is the Nissan recommended method for Radial tires.
  2. Tighten the lugs nuts in a star pattern to 87-108 ft-lbs; check them the next day to make sure none have come loose and retighten them after driving 300 miles (about a week or two).
  3. Check tire pressures after rotation.
Inspect Axle’s and Suspension parts
  1. Check front and rear axle and suspension parts for excessive play, wear, or damage.
  2. Shake each wheel in and out to check for play and rotate to listen for noise.
  3. Check ball joints for grease leakage or damage.
  4. Check all components for missing, loose, or damaged bolts.
Inspect CV Boots
  1. Check for grease leakage and damage to boot.
  2. Check in between folds for cracks.
Inspect ASCD (Cruise Control) Vacuum Hoses
  1. Check ASCD hoses and components for damage or cracks.
  2. Check cable for proper installation, rust or wear.
  3. If you have the equipment, disconnect the vacuum hose from the ASCD Actuator and apply -5.8 psi (vacuum), ASCD cable should pull the throttle.  Wait 10 seconds to make sure the system holds vacuum.
Clean/Replace Air filter
  1. If you are using a paper style filter, simply replace dirty filter with a new one.
  2. If you are using an aftermarket “oiled” filter (K&N or Amsoil), clean as per manufacturers directions.  Always make sure you flush out dirt in the opposite direction of air flow.  When re-oiling, don’t over oil the filter or damage to the oxygen sensors may result.  Add oil, wait 10 minutes for oil to soak in, re-oil if any white sections that remain.
Lubricate Propeller Shaft
  1. Check front and rear propeller shaft (main axles) for damage, wear, looseness, or grease leakage.
  2. Grease front axle at grease nipple.  Grease until pressure is felt when pumping.
  3. Re-grease if axle has been immersed in water.
Re-Grease front wheel bearing

See Greasing the Wheel bearings page.

Grease door hinges and latches
  1. Put some grease on all moving parts of the door hinges and door latches, a thin layer covering layer is all that’s needed.  Excess grease will attract dirt and sand.
  2. Make sure you put some on the tailgate and hood latches too.
Check seatbelts
  1. Make sure that seat belt anchor bolts are tight (17-23 ft-lbs).
  2. Check for unusual wear or tear on the entire length of the seat belt.
Replace Fuel Filter
  1. Remove fuel pump fuse.
  2. Start engine and wait for it to stall, crank the engine for a few seconds after it stalls to make sure all pressure is released.  Turn ignition off and reinstall pump fuse.
  3. Remove fuel filter shield, loosen hose clamps and replace filter.  Install new filter in the same orientation!
  4. Reconnect hose clamps; make sure that the clamps are on past the “bump” on the filter tube.
Replace Engine Coolant (engine cool)

In Nissan service bulletin NTB01-057, Nissan deemed it no longer necessary to drain engine block unless coolant shows signs of rust or other contamination.

  1. Turn ignition to “on” and temperature controller to “max” heat, wait ten seconds then turn ignition off.
  2. Cover radiator filler cap with a rag and remove slowly to avoid being sprayed with coolant.  Unhook splashguard from bottom of radiator and open radiator drain.
  3. If you feel the need; remove, clean, and replace reservoir tank.
  4. Replace radiator drain plug and loosen air relief plug.  Fill radiator slowly till coolant spills from air relief plug, tighten air relief plug to 5.75 ft/lbs.  Fill radiator to top of filler neck, fill reservoir to “max” line.
  5. Start engine, run to normal operating temp.  Rev engine to 3000 RPMs for ten seconds then return to idle.  Repeat two or three times.
  6. Stop engine and let cool.
  7. If coolant level has dropped refill till full.
  8. Repeat last three steps till coolant level remains constant.
  9. Check for noises in heater hoses while engine is running, if heater hoses make any noise repeat the above steps till the noises go away; gurgling noises are a sign that air is trapped in the system.
  10. If drained coolant comes out dirty, rusted, or if it contains any contaminates the Engine Block must be drained and reservoir must be cleaned.  It’s best to empty a pint of coolant into a clean clear glass to inspect visually since your drain pan may have oil on it from past oil changes.
Inspect Air Conditioner system (engine off)
  1. Make sure all hoses are undamaged and there are no signs of leakage
  2. Make sure the air conditioner clutch engages when A/C is on.  It may shut off occasionally if not set to high so make sure the blower setting is on Hi and the temperature setting is cold.
  3. Check the A/C pressure, go to this page for instructions how to do it.

Inspect PCV Valve (engine running)

  1. With engine at idle remove PCV valve ventilation hose.  You should hear a hissing sound coming from the valve and strong vacuum should be felt when your finger is placed on the valve.
  2. Check valve and hoses for cracks or damage.  Remove the hose and clean out with compressed air, if hose cannot be cleared out, replace it.
Change Engine Oil and Filter (engine warm)
  1. Bring engine to operating temperature, check for oil leakage in engine compartment.
  2. Stop engine, wait five to ten minutes.
  3. Remove drain plug and oil filler cap.  Draining oil will be hot from driving try to avoid contact as much as possible.
  4. Remove oil filter while engine is draining, there will be some excess oil trapped behind the filter even if the engine is already drained so have an oil pan ready to catch spillage.  Clean oil filter mounting surface and threads.
  5. Coat rubber seal of new filter with clean engine oil and screw on till resistance is felt (hand tight) then turn an additional 2/3 turn.  If the new oil filter manufacturer advises turning filter ¾ turn, stay with 2/3 turn or you’ll have a hell of a time taking off the filter next time.
  6. Clean mating surface for oil drain plug and replace plug, copper washer optional.  Tighten to 22-29 ft/lbs.
  7. Refill engine with 3.25qts recommended oil.  Start engine for a few minutes and recheck oil level.  It should be about .25qts low, fill oil till it is at the “H” level.  Do not over-fill (but don’t worry if it’s a hair over).

Change Auto Transmission Fluid (engine warm)

  1. Warm up A/T fluid by driving normally for about 20-30 minutes.  Stop engine.
  2. Open transmission drain plug and drain fluid, check fluid condition, if fluid is dirty or burnt you may have to take it to a mechanic to have the entire system flushed with new fluid.  If all is ok refill with the same volume of new fluid.  Tighten plug to 22-29 ft-lbs.
  3. Run engine at idle for 5 minutes.  Check fluid level by setting the parking brake and moving the gear selector through all positions then return to “Park”.  Check fluid level with the engine idling.  If fluid temp is 86º to 122º F use the cold side of the dipstick, if it is 122º to 176º use the hot side.  If fluid is low, fill and repeat this step.
Change Transfer Case Fluid (engine warm)
  1. Warm up Transfer Case fluid by driving normally for about 20-30 minutes.  Stop engine.
  2. Drain all fluid by opening transfer case drain plug (the lower one), check magnet for shavings if large chunks of metal are on the magnet have your transfer case checked for damage.
  3. Clean shavings off magnet and replace at 18-25 ft-lbs.  Fill with 2-3/8 US qts through filler plug (the upper one).  Tighten filler plug to 18-25 ft-lbs.
  4. If any plugs have a problem with leaking then put Teflon sealant on the threads when replacing.
Change Differential Gear Oil (engine warm)

When draining the differentials always open the fill plug before the drain plug, you need to be sure that you can fill the diff back up before you empty it.


Follow warm up procedure carefully to avoid damage to 4WD system!
  1. To warm up differential fluid engage 4WD while stopped (say at a stop light) move forward at least 20ft to make sure hubs engage.  DO NOT TURN DURING THIS TIME!!!

    Let go of accelerator and coast; while coasting shift transfer case back to 2WD make sure the 4WD indicator light goes out, if it doesn’t you may need to accelerate and coast till the transfer case can disengage.  Make sure your speed stays below 55 MPH.

    Drive normally for a few miles, don’t back up at any point while driving, do not exceed 55MPH.  Return to your garage; before you stop at home, reverse at least 10 ft to disengage hubs, then do the fluid change.
  2. Remove drain plug (bottom one) and drain the differential.  Check magnet on plug for large shavings, clean magnet and mating surface and replace plug at 43-72 ft-lbs.
  3. Fill differential to level of filler plug (top one) and replace filler plug at 43-72 ft-lbs.
  4. If any plugs have a problem with leaking then put Teflon sealant on the threads when replacing.
  1. Warm up differential oil by driving normally for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Remove drain plug (bottom one) and drain differential.  Check magnet on plug for large shavings, clean magnet and mating surface and replace plug at 43-87 ft-lbs.
  3. If you have a Limited Slip Differential (LSD) use approved Limited Slip gear oil.  To determine if you have an LSD raise both rear wheels off the ground and turn one by hand.  If both turn in the same direction then you have an LSD; if they turn in opposite directions then you have an “Open” (normal) differential.
  4. Fill differential to level of filler plug (top one) and replace filler plug at 43-87 ft-lbs.
  5. If any plugs have a problem with leaking then put Teflon sealant on the threads when replacing.

These last three things aren't part of the 30k service but I recommend doing them anyway.

Check the gap on the spark plugs

  1. With the engine off remove the spark plug boot on a Spark Plug, if you can't find the spark plugs just follow the wires from the distributor cap.  The boots won't come off easily if pulled at an angle, make sure you pull them straight off.
  2. With the boot off try to blow out any crud around the spark plug.
  3. Use a 16mm spark plug socket to unscrew the spark plug, be gentle with the spark plugs you don't want to tear the threads out of the block.
  4. Check the gap on the spark plug; it should be 1mm (.039in) for single tipped platinum (FR5AP-10), 1.1mm (.043in) for double tipped platinum (PFR5AP-11).
  5. Put Anti-Seize on the threads of the spark plug (I recommend the crayon type anti-seize for less mess) and screw back into the block.  Start the spark plug by hand to make sure you don't cross thread the spark plug.  Once you're sure the spark plug is in right use the ratchet to tighten to 14-22 ft-lbs.
  6. Put the spark plug boot back on, push down to you feel it click on.  If the boots were still hard to get off apply some Dielectric grease deep inside the boot for easier removal next time.
  7. Continue steps 1 through 6 for all spark plugs.
  8. If any of the spark plugs are damaged or unserviceable replace them with NGK spark plugs, for some reason Nissan vehicles run alot better with NGKs.  More importantly find out the reason the spark plug is unserviceable and fix it.  All Xterra's come stock with Platinum Plugs, you should be able to get over 100k miles of use out of them and they should only need gapping every 40-60k miles.  When you replace them, replace them with Platinum's, if for no other reason than so you don't have to gap plug 6 every year, the plug numbers are up on step 4.

Looking behind the engine from the
fender on the passenger side.

A special note on Plug #6!

Spark Plug number 6 is notorious for being hard to get at.  Be prepared for some scratches on your hands and wrists just getting the boot off, if you have trouble taking the boot off make sure you're pulling it straight off. Once the boot is off use a 9" extension (or 6" and 3") to get the spark plug socket on the spark plug then connect a U-joint to the extension with a 6" extension on top of that.

For loosening and tightening the spark plug you will need two people.  One to person with one hand around the U-joint to keep it from moving and the other hand to holding the extension under the ratchet.  The second person holds one hand on the head of the ratchet and the other hand on the handle.  The second person doesn't have to be very strong since the spark plug is only installed hand tight but make sure they use care when tightening the spark plug to make sure they don't cross-thread it.

Throttle Position Sensor HarnessCheck Timing
I recommend doing this check once a year.

  1. Get a decent induction timing light (about $20-$30).
  2. Bring the engine up to temperature, run the engine at 2000 RPM for 2 minutes, rev the engine 2000 to 3000 RPMs a few times under no load.
  3. Turn the engine off and connect the timing light.  Connect the battery clips to the battery terminals, red to positive, black to negative.  Clip the induction sensor around the #1 spark plug wire, of the six spark plug wires it's the closest to the front on the passenger side.
  4. Disconnect the Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) Harness.  It's the bottom plug of the two plugs on the left side of the throttle body.
  5. Start the engine again and rev it a few times under no load.
  6. Aim the light at the crankshaft pulley.  The light will strobe so that the timing Before Top Dead Center (BTDC) can be measured from the timing indicator.  The timing indicator is a metal arrow pointing to notches in the pulley.  From left to right the notches indicate 0, 5, 10, 15, 20.  The arrow should be at 15° +or- 2° for the 2000, 10° +or- 2° on 2002 and later.  Be Careful not to come in contact with the fan!
  7. If the timing is off use a ratchet with U-joint and 12mm socket to loosen the bolt on the right of the base of the distributor (It's too hard to get a Phillips head screwdriver into the bolt).  Twist the distributor by hand while checking the timing to get the timing indicator to point to 15° BTDC (10° if it's 2002 or later).
  8. Tighten the distributor bolt, and re-check the timing.
  9. If the timing is correct; turn off the engine, disconnect the timing light and reconnect the Throttle Position Sensor Harness.  If you're going to the check the Idle Speed leave the TPS Harness unhooked and skip to step 4 on "Check Base Idle Speed".

Check Base Idle Speed

  1. Bring the engine up to temperature, run the engine at 2000 RPM for 2 minutes, rev the engine 2000 to 3000 RPMs a few times under no load.
  2. Check the idle speed, it should be 750 +or- 50 RPM in Park or Neutral.
  3. If the idle speed is off turn off the engine and disconnect the Throttle Position Sensor Harness (see above for which one it is).  Restart engine and rev it a few times.
  4. Turn the Idle Speed Screw at the back driver side of the intake manifold until the idle speed is 700 +or- 50 RPM.  The Idle Speed Screw is a Phillips head screw next to the EGRC-BPT valve.
  5. Turn off the engine, reconnect the TPS Harness, restart the engine, and rev the engine a few times.
  6. Check that the idle speed is 750 +or- 50 RPM in Park or Neutral.

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