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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Refreshing a First Generation Nissan Titan



The first generation (A60) Nissan Titan was produced for model years 2004-2015. As these trucks become older and the long-awaited second gen hits the market, many pickup truck buyers are interested in in grabbing a used—or well-worn—1st gen Titan.

With normal care, most owners can expect their 1st gen Titan to run for 200-250K miles or more without work to motor or transmission internals. Because the VK motor and 5spd automatic transmission on the Titans are so reliable (compared to the competition), used Titans will be a great buy for those of us who require peace-of-mind from their now "old" pick-em-up truck.

For buyers new to used Nissan Titans, below is a primer on refreshing the Gen 1 Titan to make the most out of a new-to-you purchase.

PRICE
Expect to pay between $8K-$15K for any mostly stock 1st gen Titan, in any area, with between 100-200K miles. The early first gen trucks are already reaching the bottom of their depreciation curve, and price differences from mileage in the 100-200K realm are minor.

Instead of value based on mileage, value of the 1st Gen Titans is based upon amelioration of several common issues.

Here are all the common fixes.


MAJOR ITEM 1
Exhaust Manifolds
Your new-to-you first gen Titan (all years) will either come with cracked exhaust manifolds, soon to crack exhaust manifolds, OR replacement headers. There's no two ways about it. Cracked manifold symptoms include ticking sounds at the block plus decreased acceleration. The truck will feel like it is one cylinder down on power.

DO NOT DRIVE WITH CRACKED EXHAUST MANIFOLDS
Unhealthy exhaust manifolds are about the only way to kill a Titan motor. The weird back pressure will bust up the ceramic inside the primary cats and then suck the particles back into the cylinders, scarring the walls.


BEST FIX
You want JBA longtube replacement headers (even in California). There are other header brands, but these are the best-proven-bang-for-the-buck.

WHY?
Nissan OEM replacement headers are the same design as your cracked ones. They will crack again. Additionally, some Nissan dealerships want UP TO $2K PER SIDE to fix cracked exhaust manifolds. By-the-book time is 8 hours, with all the tools, and a lift. Do you have a lift?

CAN I DO THIS MYSELF?
Yes if you are patient, have the raccoon-like ability to see with your hands, and own every swivel-extension socket known to man. It's easier on a 2wd. Comparable swearing to spark plug changes on F-body Camaros. Not as tedious as (or scary) as fixing blown-out plugs in the Ford 5.4 Triton.

COST?
$500-$600

Cajun B-pipes has you hooked up, right here. These guys are the O.G.s of the Titan community and are the one and only call you need to make. Best price and service. Hella-nice dudes.

WHAT IF I DON'T DO THIS MYSELF?
Including JBA headers, misc parts, and labor, I paid $1500 for a local Z shop to fix my exhaust. That's for only a cat-forward fix with no tune. You might pay more or less.

WHAT ABOUT EMISSIONS?
With JBAs, the Titan's secondary cats become the primaries. The primary cats come off with the OEM manifold, and the primary O2 sensor harness is lengthened to plug into the secondary cat 02 bung. If your truck is otherwise running correctly, you will not throw codes and will pass emissions A OK.

WHAT IF I DON'T WANT HEADERS?
Tough sh1t. Seriously, you do not want OEM replacement manifolds. They will crack again.

EXTRA CREDIT FIX
While you're on the phone with Cajun, order some catted or non-catted B-pipes, a y-pipe, and and ultra-quiet resonator. Then have Seymore UpRev tune your truck. Hold on for bat**** power.

DOUBLE EXTRA CREDIT FIX
Find some unicorn NISMO headers on ebay. They usually sell for about $1K (or more). Same-ish power bump, but they sound cooler and are...well...rare. They look sweet too.

*Note, if under 80K miles/8 years, the dealer will replace your manifolds for free, even if your truck is beyond factory warranty.



MAJOR ITEM 2
Brakes

You do not want 04-06 front brakes. Nissan recalled most of the early-year trucks because the undersized front rotors warped. You can still buy replacement parts for the smaller diameter brakes (which also ran in '07), but the best fix is an easy brake upgrade from Frozen Rotors to the 08+ size calipers and rotors

COST?
~$1200

Frozen Rotors makes a kit that includes everything for an 08+ upgrade. Every single part for all four corners, including new caliper bolts (single use on a Titan) and SS brake lines (front) is in the box.

I paid $250 for the Z shop to install this. You can do it yourself no problem, if you like that sort of thing.

08+ trucks can otherwise assume brakes to be general maintenance items.


MAJOR ITEM 3
Differentials

If you're seeing a pattern here, is that Nissan gave the Titan a monster motor & transmission at the expense of tiny brakes (fixed 08+), crappy exhaust manifolds, and weak-ish differentials (last two, all years).

FIX
First thing you need to do is buy Cajun's $37 axle vent mod kit. This takes 20 minutes to install...if you're a drunk, illiterate 4 year old with a swiss army knife. DO THIS FIX ON EVERY TITAN, EVER.



Titans are known for popping rear axle seals on the reg. BEFORE you get seepage on on the wheels (you'll notice), add in the vent-mod to both keep out dirt and alow better breathing/lower pressure inside the axle tube.

WHAT IF MY SEALS ARE LEAKING?


You might need new seals or a new rear-end. Nissan did so many seal fixes, at the first sign of leakage (under warranty), they just started replacing the whole rearend unit. Lucky for you.

This is not a DIY job unless you have a special axle tube puller / bearing press.

COST TO FIX
Expect to drop $1200 - $2200 per axle depending on the symptoms.

EXTRA CREDIT FIX
While you are mucking around back there, add in a high-capcity, extra-cooling differential cover.



DOUBLE EXTRA CREDIT FIX
Detroit truetrac (~$600 on your own, ~$1200 installed*) gives you an LSD for snow-crawling, 4 wheeling, burnouts, and major sideways drift action. Go lay down some 11s.

*If you install the Truetrac just for fun, be sure to replace your bearings and axle seals anyway. That will increase your cost ~200-$600.

WHAT ABOUT THE FRONT DIFF?
Do not plow snow with the Titan. If you must plow, do not plow in reverse. If you must plow snow, in reverse, in a Titan, have an extra $2K laying around.

Also, you missed a spot.


MINOR ITEMS
Radiator

Some, but not all of us, have experienced radiator cracking, particularly at the bottom where the plastic fittings enter the unit.

EASY FIX
Replacement radiator, takes 1-4 hours to change out, depending on your mechanical skill.

COST
$200-$600 + new coolant.

EXTRA CREDIT FIX
Any radiator with an external transmission cooler bypass. Great thread about it; further cools your tranny fluid and otherwise protects your transmission from any radiator failure.

Related: replace those OEM hose clamps with some worm-style clamps. Will prevent some future headaches.


MINOR ITEM
RECALLS

This author's most recent Titan was overdue for five recalls. Call up a dealer and give 'em your VIN #. Easy peasy.

Common recalls include the IPDM /ECU relay (lots of guys carry a spare relay, also more here, here, and here), the fuel sending unit (improper gas gauge reading), and airbag door harness (KC trucks, mostly).

COST
Time spent at the dealer. Nothing out of pocket.


MINOR ITEM
Suspension

After 100K miles, the original shocks on your Titan are shot. Truth be told, rolling off the lot, the OEM shocks kind of sucked.

FIX
Get some Bilstein 5100s. Bonus, they are adjustable up front if you want the leveled look.



COST
~$400

ALT FIX
Bilsteins 5100s are popular for a reason. They ride great at a great price. That said, they sometimes are on worldwide backorder (for all truck make and models).

Other Bilstein shocks, including the 4600 front / 5125 rear are a good fix if you intend on adding a heavy bumper or have frequent heavy payloads.

Icons are another sweet choice for the rear.

There are also numerous other options for lifting, lowering, or pre-runner applications.


MINOR ITEM
Rusty Exhaust Hanger

A small # owners have had wiring harness melted at the rear of the truck when the rear-most exhaust hanger rusted out. This is less a Titan issue as opposed to a maintenance/common sense issue, but the location of the body wiring harness on the frame makes it vulnerable.

FIX
Go look under your truck.

WHAT ABOUT OTHER RUST?
Even in the rust-belt and heavy-winter states, Titans are not known for rust issues.


MINOR ITEM
Shackles

Some/many 04'-07' trucks had the rear leaf springs punch through the bed when the rear leaf spring shackle failed. A simple design amendment was introduced in 08' to prevent this un-needed excitement.



FIX
~30-$100

Find someone here going the pre-runner route or otherwise lifting or lowering. Otherwise, aftermarket shackles are easily available.

CAN I DO THIS MYSELF?
Yes, it's wicked easy to swap these out.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
LAST, WHAT ABOUT THE FUEL ECONOMY?
Gen 1 Titan fuel economy is attrocious. Average economy around all trim levels, all conditions hovers around 13mpg. Here are the only known ways to put less gas into a Titan.

- If you are sensitive to fuel prices, do not buy a full size truck.

- If you are sensitive to fuel prices but need a truck for work, buy something with a small engine. The Titan does not have a small engine.

- If you are sensitive to fuel prices but need or want a Titan, buy a Non-BT, 2wd, King Cab and put a brick under the accelerator pedal.

- If you are sensitive to fuel prices but need or want a Titan, do not lift it or add big tires.

- If you are sensitive to fuel prices but got a BT, 4x4 Crew Cab, added 35 MTs, 6" of lift, and tow a camper, do not post on TitanTalk about your "dismal" 6mpgs while pulling up a 15% grade, into a headwind.

* NOTE, other than keeping air in your tires and general maintence, no mods will increase your fuel economy enough to offset the cost of the mods. Add and intake and exhaust because you want a power increase, not to save money.

---
ALL THAT SAID, Gen 1 Titans are reliable and affordable. Putting gas into them is definitely made easier by purchasing smart and grabbing a used truck with no payments instead of jumping into a loan on a new 40K+ truck (from any manufacturer).

With 10 plus years on the market and as many years of helpful owners posting here on TitanTalk, the above list will help you find and assess a used Titan to purchase as well as help you prioritize and plan your upgrades.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
For further demonstration, here are the approximate cost figures from refreshing my most recent T, a granite 2006 4x4 KC BT SE.

BEFORE


AFTER


PURCHASE PRICE
$8000 with the following notes
- salvage title (light hit in front, repaired, no airbags deployed)
- cracked OEM manifolds
- ripped front seat (common) and various small dings/scratches
- 117K miles





WHY A USED TITAN, FOR ME?
- I hate auto payments
- I need a tow-machine
- similar year/mileage trucks from "The Big Three" have aged—mechanically—terribly
- very strong sense of motor/transmission reliability
- general Nissan fondness (past owner of Pathfinders, S30s, hardbody)

REFRESHING COSTS
- JBA longtube headers + install $1500
- Frozen Rotors 08+ Kit Upgrade + install $1450
- PML Diff Pan, PML Diff Pan, external transmission cooler + install + fluids top to bottom $1200
- rear shackles $30 off TitanTalk DIY install
- axle vent kit $37 Cajun DIY install
- rear Bilstein 5100s $200 DIY install
- 08+ front 4x4 springs + Bilstein 5100s + install $500


ADDITIONS FOR MY PURPOSES
- Prodigy brake controller $100 off TitanTalk
- Pro-4X wheels $200 off TitanTalk
- E-rated AT tires with snow/ice tread+rubber compound $1200

So as you can see, my $8K Titan was really a $14K Titan by the time it was reliable and suited for my purposes. I budgeted $15K and hoped to find one with all the major items (brakes, exhaust) already taken care of (my preference, less time consuming).

As the T sits today, ready for another 100K miles.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks, thread now updated.
 

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yeah, very good and informative. this should be a sticky. although im sure people will still miss it and post new threads asking "what are common problems, etc."
 
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Wow, that's a very extensive writeup!

I would mention the ECU and IPDM replacements. I carry a spare ECU in my truck just in case.

As far as I know the '07 brakes were never recalled. '04, maybe '05, but not '07. I have almost 66K on my OEM brakes and they are still going strong.
 

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I was able to get about 42k out of my OEM brake pads. The rotors, however, are still in great shape. In fact, I haven't had to have them turned yet.

Sent On The Fly & From Behind The Wheel!
 

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5125 shocks are for the rear, not for the front, Bilstein HD's are actually 4600 series
 

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good stuff! and x2 on the shocks comment. your t looks great with the level and pro4x rims and new tires.
 

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I wish they would recall all the pre '08 brakes. I wouldn't mind having the bigger brakes.
 

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Also, for the trutrac install, you should budget in the cost of the bearings and new seals for both axles. Good insurance, especially since you have to pull the axles, anyway.
 
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Discussion Starter #16
I was just thinking about doing something like this as a 1st gen owner and planned keeper.
DeadRiver everyone, a TitanTalk OG and president of the sedona fan club!


Wow, that's a very extensive writeup!

I would mention the ECU and IPDM replacements. I carry a spare ECU in my truck just in case.

As far as I know the '07 brakes were never recalled. '04, maybe '05, but not '07. I have almost 66K on my OEM brakes and they are still going strong.
Thank you, HRTKD. Expanded note in recall section for both IPDM and brakes.


5125 shocks are for the rear, not for the front, Bilstein HD's are actually 4600 series
Thank you, good call. Updated first post.

good stuff! and x2 on the shocks comment. your t looks great with the level and pro4x rims and new tires.
Thank you, and agreed! Hope to add a locking diff/TT + Pro4x flares in the future.

Also, for the trutrac install, you should budget in the cost of the bearings and new seals for both axles. Good insurance, especially since you have to pull the axles, anyway.
Great note. Updated first post.


Nice one!!!!!!!!
Good job on this one. You definitely spent done time on it. Absolutely should be a sticky.. to get looked over
yeah, very good and informative. this should be a sticky. although im sure people will still miss it and post new threads asking "what are common problems, etc."
Thank you, gentlemen. Am hoping for a sticky. Since this is my 2nd Titan and I just went through the refresh process, felt pertinent.
 

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- If you are sensitive to fuel prices but got a BT, 4x4 Crew Cab, added 35 MTs, 6" of lift, and tow a camper, do not post on TitanTalk about your "dismal" 6mpgs while pulling up a 15% grade, into a headwind.
well now ya tell me.
 
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Awesome write up. I just bought my first titan a couple of weeks ago (2004). I was lucky that the previous owner was on this forum very often and did a lot of these precautionary upgrades already. The exhaust manifold is something that wasn't done and that I'm keeping a close eye on. I'm glad this post is here for me because I'm not the mechanical wiz that the previous owner is and I wouldn't know where to go with these issues. Well done!
 

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Blevinger,
What a super write up! Like Ohfoursho I purchased an 04 4x4 SE with 83k 5 days ago and have been checking everything you have listed on here. I have an ext warranty that covers power train/axles/seals for 3 years. The car fax on the truck lists the rear differential replaced 5 years ago.

"WHAT ABOUT OTHER RUST?
Even in the rust-belt and heavy-winter states, Titans are not known for rust issues."

True statement: for an 04 the rust underneath was minimal, just surface on the frame and front/rear suspension. I've already scraped and thrown some black Rustoleum over it to get through this winter and will do a full undercoating next spring when its warmer. I did ALOT of research on trucks and rust problems, all makes, especially Toyotas were at risk and this model seem to have the lowest.

What's the size difference in 04 vs 08 brakes? I know I will need to replace shocks next summer because they are original Rancho with the 4x4 package.

Your truck is sweet, great job on the resto!
 
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