It certainly seems that everything has to always come in threes. No sooner had I fixed the belt tensioner and the exhaust manifold gasket than another problem arose. Late last year I did an oil and filter change and at the same time decided to change the fuel filter as well. The Nissan Patrol genuine fuel filter isn’t an inexpensive item lately, though it’s supposed to last around 40,000km (with good quality fuel). But for some reason while searching for filters online, I ended up buying a non-genuine fuel filter that after some searching appeared to be a reputable brand. That was a mistake. After fitting the filter, everything appeared to be fine until I started smelling diesel and, on inspection, noticed diesel around the top of the filter and some stains under the wheel arch. The stain was fairly mild at first, but within a week had increased substantially.
No sooner had I fixed the noise from the belt tensioner than another issue arose. Once the squealing noise from the tensioner assembly was sorted out, a Banshee screeching started to make itself known in the engine bay. Our local Nissan dealer thought that the problem could be a leaking exhaust manifold, so I did more checking and I discovered a leak where the exhaust manifold and EGT pipe connected. I cleaned things up and made sure that things went back together properly, but that still didn’t fix things. I also checked as best that I could around the exhaust manifold and no where could I spot the tell-tale marks of a leak. It also didn’t seem logical that the noise was coming from the exhaust manifold, as it varied so much, coming on and off at different times. However, then I found that the turbo dump pipe had a large crack at the turbo flange. So a new dump pipe was installed (great service from DEA Performance), yet even that didn’t make any difference to the sound, nor was there any noise to give away that the dump pipe had cracked.
Following on from an earlier post about Made in China, I thought I’d add another part to this as I recently experienced another side of made in China. As I noted previously, there are many products made in China that are of excellent quality and performance, but there are also many that are anything but excellent quality and performance. I was reminded of this when the fan belt in my Patrol started to squeal, which was a clear indication that it needed to be replaced. The fan belt is of the serpentine belt design and kept in tension by a piston on a pivoting tensioner assembly. It’s a relatively simple design and generally foolproof, but the tensioner piston can eventually start seizing, especially if you do a lot of water crossing and/or mud holes. It is sealed, but it can still seize and that causes the squealing (by not tensioning the belt enough). It’s not the idler pulley (I/P) bearing as many believe that causes the noise.
One of the funniest things I see from time to time are 4WD videos and the like where the owners proudly show off how they have ‘built, not bought’ their particular 4WD. This is often a statement meant to disparage those who go to a 4WD accessories retailer such as ARB, TJM or similar and have them supply and fit accessories such as suspensions, bull bars, winches, battery kits etc; basically everything that you need to kit your 4WD for the great outdoors. Sadly, doing so is viewed by some as being inferior, if not a disgrace, to those who fit stuff themselves. Personally I see nothing wrong with taking your vehicle to such a place, especially if you’re not mechanically inclined or simply don’t want to go through the hassle and time of installing things yourself. Sometimes it’s also a matter of warranty, where if something fails or doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, you’ll be in a better position to make a claim. It’s not much different to taking your vehicle to a dealership or mechanic for regular servicing, for some that’s far better value than doing things yourself at home, especially if you don’t have the equipment and location to do so.
As a bit of background, many diesels, especially trucks, use a diesel fuel lift-pump in or near the fuel tank to provide better fuel flow to the engine’s fuel filter, which is usually located near the engine. When the fuel has to travel quite some distance and the height between the fuel tank and fuel filter is significant, then a lift-pump takes a lot of strain off the main fuel pump used to pressurise injectors, or a fuel rail in common rail diesels. You can find lift-pumps in even smaller vehicles of one form or another especially 4WDs but many, like my Patrol, don’t have a lift-pump and so it’s quite common for owners to install one to assist with fuel flow and fuel pump longevity. So I did the same in 2014 with my Patrol but, unfortunately, on one of our High Country Cruises in 2016, the lift-pump unceremoniously failed, stopping fuel flow to the engine. Thankfully that wasn’t a particularly difficult job to remove, as I’d specifically installed the lift-pump so that it was easy to access.
Over the last 10 or so years I’ve acquired various notebooks and tablets to use as navigation aids for our Cruises after digital mapping became available and affordable, but I’ve always had an issue with mounting these devices on the dash of my Patrols. The problem is that with ever more curved and aesthetically pleasing interiors provided in modern 4WDs, there are fewer and fewer places and means by which to attach accessories to a 4WD dash, or elsewhere for that matter. Given that the use of electronic navigation devices by 4WD owners is almost ubiquitous, it’s odd that no manufacturer has really given much thought as to how 4WD owners could mount such devices and provide suitable mounting options. So it’s always been Heath Robinson to the rescue.
I’m sure that Captain Kirk ‘could’ have said that at one point or another, as much as he never said ‘Beam me up Scotty’. Anyhow, this story isn’t about Star Trek but about winches and the replacement of my cheap Aldi winch that I’ve had in my Nissan GU Patrol for the last eight years. I haven’t had to put the Aldi winch to really serious use in that time but, in the last couple of years it has been called into duty and it’s failed me on four occasions. The first involved a failed solenoid and the following two involved broken wires, which can happen even with the most expensive winch. However, on our last excursion, the motor seized and I was left to be recovered by others. Later in the day, the use of a hefty mallet fixed that seizure and I was able to rewind the cable that had been wrapped around my bullbar. Now before going on one of our Cruises, I test the winch to make sure that it’s working, given that it’s spent many of those eight years going through rivers, and each time things have been fine. But considering where we go, I was no longer confident that I could rely on this winch when called into action and decided to retire it and replace it with something more substantial and modern.