Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
TJ writes: I’m in the process of helping my son rebuild the engine on a ‘99 Frontier (sans manual) that his grandpa gave him. Shortly after the hand-off my son blew a head gasket from overheating. We think a faulty temp gauge or water pump. Nonetheless, it has been a good experience for my 16 year old so – for us to bond, him to roll up his sleeves and get dirty and walk through the rebuild process. We actually only disassembled and then sent to head out to be worked on. He loves cars/trucks and even got a wielding job during the plandemic when he had to do online school until early afternoon, and then went to work while still 15 yrs old at the time. He‘s back in school but still puts in 2-3 hrs at his job after school.
In any case, we went to inquire about a piston ring kit from Nissan. Their response: “There are none throughout the U.S. in our system.” A quick call to O’rielly remedied the problem in sourcing the kit. Next call to Nissan is when the three large bolts for the timing (for sockets at cams and crank) were misplaced and we couldn’t find our originals. O’rielly said they don’t carry them and it would be a dealer part only. We called the dealer again and their response was: “The parts have been discontinued because of lack of demand/sales which is reflected in the system.”
Seemed like an odd response, much like the ring kit, and I specifically asked if it was due to a supply line issue, which they said no, not at all, we haven’t had too many issues with supply lines. I sure hope Nissan (and other OEMs) are to trying to pull off planned obsolescence of ICE cars/parts as they try and move into this new, old, electric chapter in cars. We won’t be denied, we will have to bolts/washers made if need be. Kinda fun teaching my son how we all grew up living – before the Amazon overnight era came to be.
My reply: I think this is odd – because (as you probably know) the ’99 Frontier is essentially/mechanically the same as my ’02 Frontier and other Frontiers made through the redesign circa 2004. Not that long ago – and Nissan built a lot of pick-ups equipped with this engine. I’ve not yet had any issues getting parts for my ’02 (I also owned a ’98) though some (like the fuel pump assembly) are obnoxiously expensive from Nissan. That said, good used parts are still easy to find – at least, in my experience – and there is a substantial aftermarket support system for these trucks.
In your son’s case, I’d consider cruising the junkyards in your area for a complete engine from which you can scavenge hardware such as bolts and so on. A good core could come in handy, too, in the event you need a block/crank/head or similar. Having the FI parts is good to have on hand, too.
I do think – per your question – that as this push to “electrify” accelerates, it will become harder to get parts for the non-electric. I worry, actually, that the government will “act” to make it harder to keep non-EVs operational, as via extortionate taxes on fuel/registration and possibly even by outlawing the sale of replacement parts.
Another good reason to get spares now, while you can!
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