How to Replace a Head Gasket in a 2001 Nissan Xterra

by John Johnston

The head gasket on your 2001 Nissan Xterra is found in between the cylinder head and the engine block. The job of the head gasket is to bond the cylinder head to the engine block. This enables the cylinder head to prevent oil from spraying all over your engine. If your head gasket becomes damaged and you don't act to replace it, it can cause long-term damage to your engine. Replacing the head gasket in your Nissan Xterra is a job that will take you an afternoon to complete.

Step 1

Turn the engine of your Xterra off and leave it to cool down completely. Pop open the hood and use a socket wrench to remove the bolt attached to the clamp on the negative terminal. Remove the clamp and lift the negative cable away from the terminal.

Step 2

Place the drain pan underneath the radiator. Locate the drain plug at the bottom of the radiator. Use the socket wrench to remove the bolt that holds the plug in place. Turn the bolt counterclockwise to loosen it. Remove the plug and drain the coolant into the pan.

Step 3

Detach the upper and lower radiator hoses from the engine. Loosen the bolts attached to the upper and lower radiator hose clamps using a socket wrench. Pry the clamps from around both radiator hoses. Lift the hoses away from the connectors.

Step 4

Remove the bolts that hold the alternator and air cleaner unit in place Turn the bolts counterclockwise until they come free. Lift the air cleaner and alternator away from the engine. Loosen the tensioner bolt attached to the drive belt tensioner by turning it counterclockwise. Pull the drive belt away from the engine. Remove the bolts attached to the rear timing belt cover. Lift the cover away to gain access to the cylinder head.

Step 5

Use a socket wrench to remove the mounting bolts attached to the cylinder head. Keep track of where you remove each bolt so you can reinstall them in the same places. Use a putty knife to pry the old gasket away from the engine block.

Step 6

Place the new head gasket on the engine block. Reattach the cylinder head by inserting the mounting bolts in the same places. Reattach the timing belt cover, alternator and air cleaner by reattaching their respective mounting bolts.

Step 7

Move the drive belt back onto the drive belt tensioner and secure by tightening the tensioner bolt. Place the upper and lower radiator hoses onto their connectors. Place the clamps back over the radiator hoses. Tighten the bolts on the clamps to secure them around the radiator hoses.

Step 8

Take the cap off the radiator and pour coolant back inside the radiator. Put the negative cable back on to the battery terminal and fix in place with the bolt.

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