December 27, 2018
I've owned my 2004 Xterra for 15 years. 130,000 miles. For the average driver, this vehicle is pretty reliable with normal maintenance. This year doesn't experience coolant/transmission oil contaminating, like what happened with 2005/6 years. The engine lacks power for speed and towing, but the VG33E (V6) engine was manufactured for 8 years and has a great reliability history. I had zero issues for the first 120k and most of that was hard miles off-roading.
Someone else wrote up this most of this list but I've experienced the exact same issues.
-Bearing in the distributor can wear out, which causes the engine to occasionally stumble (this problem doesn't not leave the truck immediately inoperable but it will get worse with time until it fails) Agree: Stumbles started at 120k. The bearing was almost completely gone but it was still running. Replaced with basic tools, along with plugs and wires.
-#6 spark plug is a pain to change. Agreed: It's on the back side of the engine and hard to get to. Use the right combination of socket extensions and universal joints to reach it by feel. Went smoothly for me but the right tools and a body lift makes a difference. 120k
-Knock sensor commonly fails, this does not cause any issues for the non-supercharged models. Replacing requires everything on top to be removed. Agreed: Poor design location. A check engine light (CEL) won't turn on unless something else sets off the CEL then the knock sensor code will pop up. Relocated the knock sensor to a better spot and still does the job. 120k
-High side pressure line in the AC commonly fails, easy fix. Agreed: Not difficult to replace O-rings or the line. 120k
- 4X4 model, driver's side motor mounts is a bit weak for off-roading. I broke mine 3 times before I went aftermarket. It'll never break again. No issues with passenger side motor mount.
-4X4 model, tie rods are weak points that may fail with moderate amounts of off-roading, a challenging climb, or after driving a lot on washboard forest roads and trails. Super easy and cheap to replace. Upgrade to greasable tie rod ends and a hefty center link to prolong life. Lather, rinse, repeat.
-1 recall in 2010 for a steering column. I didn't have any issues with it but a dealer replaced it anyways.
- Automatic transmission failed to shift and limped around for 3 more days of off-roading at under 25mph. Custom rebuilt done to OME transmission ($3,200). 135k