The Xterra

For a while now, I’ve been looking for an adventure car. The qualities of a good adventure car, as defined by me, are as follows: 4×4 drivetrain, adequate ground clearance, big tires, and big enough to sleep in. The search for an adventure car was sort of an adventure of its own.

Last week, I went to check out a 2000 Suzuki Vitara. I scheduled to meet the seller, and the 30 minutes before the meeting time, he told me it was sold. When I told him that it was too bad I didn’t get to take a look, he told me that I could see it. Now, what’s going on here, maybe he’s getting cold feet? I told him I’d meet him only if he intends to sell the car. We decided to meet.

The Suzuki was pretty cool. It’s a small SUV, the size of a crossover, and had a body-on-frame chassis and 4×4. It wasn’t the V6 model, but the inline 4 seemed healthy. Although underpowered, I liked it. I asked the seller about why he hesitant about selling the car. The car had belonged to her daughter for the past 8 years and was listed for sale because she is moving out of the country. And now that she is leaving, he had a hard time letting go of the car. But, he was ready to let go and I was ready to make an offer. It came time to see the title. Surprise! No title. Instead, he had a Affidavit of Loss/Release of Interest document. Unfamiliar with the document, I called my dad and he advised me, “no title, no deal.” I walked away, disappointed. Note to self: ask about the title before looking at the car.

Yesterday, I went to see a 2002 Nissan Xterra. It had low miles for its model year and was listed at a good price. I had a plan on how I was going to get the seller to lower his price. The sight of cash, cold hard cash, has an affect on people. Especially nowadays when we hardly see cash due credit cards and other electronic methods for transactions. Or at least that’s my theory anyway.

I got the cash, and went to meet the seller at the address he gave me. I looked the car over, took it for a test drive, and didn’t find anything seriously wrong with it. All this of course after confirming that the seller had the title in hand. There were just some minor stuff like a droopy headliner and dented plastic bumper. Other than that, the car was in good condition. I liked the solid feel of the car, drove like a truck, and the car met all the requirements I had for a good adventure car. I pictured in my mind all the adventure I would have in the car. The places that it would take me. I decided to make an offer, but I knew my plan of enticing the seller with the sight of cash was doomed to fail.

The address where we met was his workplace, which was in the parking lot of a Wells Fargo. He’s a banker! Needless to say (but I’m gonna say it anyways), my plan didn’t work. In fact, I was more intimidated by the cash than he was, and I think he could tell. In the end, our negotiation settled at $5000. Conveniently, that was the most I planned on spending and was the lowest offer he would make. It worked out for both of us and I became a proud owner of a 2002 Nissan Xterra! I’d like to note that the actual transaction felt super official, due to the seller being a banker/notary.

With the help of my mom and my brother, Phillip, I brought the Xterra home. And that’s when I noticed it. The front left of the car was lower than the right. I don’t know how I missed it before. I crawled under with a flashlight, and to my relief, saw that the torsion rod spring was in need of adjustment. Easy enough. While I was down there, I looked around and discovered oil dripping off the transmission. Seeing that the transmission is wet all the way to the top, it’s either coming from the top of the transmission or above the transmission. Arg! Don’t ask me why I didn’t look as carefully before buying the car, I don’t know why. I found some info online about what may be going on. The best case scenario, fingers crossed, is that it’s condensation from the A/C unit dripping down and mixing with the dirt and grime and dripping down as what looks like oil. I’ve read something about the shifter boot getting a tear or being loose, allowing for gear oil to get out. I also found cases where the valve cover bolts have come loose near the back of the engine and was leaking oil there. I hope it’s nothing major.

I’ll be taking the Xterra to the shop to get it checked out this weekend. I’ve also got to get it registered. When I get these things taken care of, the Xterra will be adventure ready. I can’t wait!

The Xterra


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