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Frontier VK swap

Gots_a_sol

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Anybody here have experience with dropping in a VK56 (Titan V8) in to a 2nd gen Frontier?

From what I've found it drops right in with all oem parts. But I can't find much info on the wiring/electrical aspect of it beyond "I just had Driven Desire do it". Seems to be about $350 and you have to send them the donor harness which doesn't seem like too terrible of a deal but it also only looks like maybe having to modify/extended the starter/alternator wiries and move some wires around at the IPDM?

Also the NATS (anti theft) seems like a headache. I've only found Uprev who wants $350 to defeat it (have to send them the ecu and which apparently you can't do yourself even if you buy their tuner?). Supposedly a dealer can reprogram NATS to make everything happy though but the closest Nissan dealers to me at about an hour out (would have to tow the truck there, won't start if NATS isn't happy)


Picked up this crew cab long bed with a blown v6 and trying to figure out if I want to do this swap or just find another v6.

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Ebs

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Pathfinders had the V8, aren't those just the suv version of a Frontier?
 

Gots_a_sol

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Yes, that is correct. Most of the swap parts are stock parts from a v8 Pathfinder like P/S, A/C, radiator hoses, etc.
 

bgaidan

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I know and have wheeled with a handful of people that have done the swap. You are pretty much stuck sending out the harness and ECU. You may be able to pull it off yourself or with the help of your dealer, but you'll likely just add extra headache and probably won't save that much.

You pretty much have to do the full titan suspension swap if you want any chance of CVs lasting more than a few yards in to a trail.
 

Gots_a_sol

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I'll probably turn this in to a build thread to cover the swap since I snagged a Titan yesterday. 2012 truck with 120k miles.

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I pulled the dead VQ from the Frontier a few weeks ago

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Stuck a camera in the oil pan, looks like part of a connecting rod not where it is supposed to be

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Gots_a_sol

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I posted in a Frontier FB group, and a guy replied that the Titan BCM can be swapped in to the Frontier to avoid NATS issues. Didn't say what year his truck/bcm was though. My Frontier is a '10 and the Titan is a '12.


edit his was an 06 truck and 05 donor

I was able to use the Titan ECM,BCM,NATS antenna, and chip from the key to avoid a dealership trip to reprogram.


I was hoping this would be the case but I absolutely could not find a single person who had even tried it. I'll study the wiring diagrams for both trucks beforehand but if it works will save some headache and time/money.



Something that was brought up and I completely forgot was an option on the Titan is flex fuel. Turns out my donor IS an FFV so that is one more bit I'll need to figure out.
 
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DMG

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there is a chip key defeat available for many Nissans to allow remote starters to work. If I remember correctly, it was installed in the column.

I am generally not a fan of Nissan but the 5.6 is strong and I think a full titan swap with the 6 speed manual in a frontier would make an awesome truck.
 

Gots_a_sol

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They do have adapters to use the 6 speed behind the VK but honestly my woman will end up driving this more than I will. She is capable of driving a manual but get flustered quickly with it.

It was hilarious the first time she drove my GTI and couldn't figure out reverse :lmao:



Musical trucks to make the neighbors happy

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Radiator and headers showed up.


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Added some cats to the shorty headers. I may redo this to have a V band in between for future serviceability. Should only need some short pieces to connect to the rest of the exhaust from here. I ordered an aftermarket cat back kit and will attach to the cats with V-bands.

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Fun fact, the Titan and Frontier radiators are the exact same core size, just have different end tanks (thickness is the same also but the Titan end tanks are much beefier and could accommodate a thicker core)

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bgaidan

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I am generally not a fan of Nissan but the 5.6 is strong and I think a full titan swap with the 6 speed manual in a frontier would make an awesome truck.
This is my dream.

Actually, I kind of want to do an Armada with a 6-speed.


Or just throw the 5.6 in my G37 6mt :smokin:
 
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Gots_a_sol

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Slid the engine in today. I did end up pulling the headers off instead of fighting it. Hopefully I can get them in again. All the studs screwed right out so I think that makes the job easier.



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Settled in its new home. I've had stock replacement engines not drop in as easily as the VK dropped in to this truck



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I eyeballed the connectors from the engine harness to the power distribution module and 2 of the 3 connectors are different sizes. Hopefully it is just a matter of depinning and swapping vs having to cut and splice.
 

Gots_a_sol

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Nissan was kind enough to basically include both halves of a jumper harness if you have both trucks. I like the jumper method as you leave the engine harness and chassis harness unmodified so future trouble shooting should be easier in theory. So chop off the Frontier engine side connectors and the Titan side of the chassis harness out of the IPDM box then just match them up.

Ok its not that easy. I spent about 3 evenings combing through the FSM's and wiring diagrams I had for both trucks and figuring out what went were is definitely a chore. Ultimately I ended up cutting open the Frontier harness to verify a lot of it since the 2010 FSM and diagrams I had weren't the best at showing connector locations. Also the 2012 Titan FSM was missing entire sections, had to grab 2011 and 2014 manuals and cross check them to sort it out.

Once I make sure everything is correct I'll post up a spread sheet and a text document with notes for anybody else who wants to try it (VERIFY against your year trucks as someone else shared his info with me on an older truck and there are differences). Honestly having done the leg work on this that $350 to send it off doesn't seem so bad :flipoff2:

Fun fact about the Nissan FSM and the wiring diagrams I found. They will show a connector, say F14/E5 (plug to each other) and ONLY the wires to those connectors for the exact section you are in. In the engine control section? It only shows those wires. Trans section? Yup, just those wires. When you have a 24-pin connector with like 5 different systems running through it it makes for a lot of going around in circles trying to figure it out :flipoff:


Anyway, I currently have a few wires left to sort out to plug the engine/trans to the truck.

2 wires on the Frontier side are for the t-case and both of them are orange :shaking: I already clipped the connector before noticing so I'll have figure that out once I start plugging stuff back in :homer:

2 wires are for the t-case actuator. They are flip flopped from Titan to Frontier so need to see which way works correctly. Also one of those oranges goes here.

4 on the Titan side that don't match to anything on the Frontier. 2 are flex fuel, 2 are for what I believe is a heater core bypass valve . The FFV stuff I'll have to add since my Titan was equipped with it. I'll see if the bypass thingie is something that can be added or just cap/delete those wires.

1 ground wire on the Titan side that didn't match to the Frontier side.

1 wire for the oil pressure sensor on the Titan side. The Frontier wire was in the alt harness vs the engine harness so just need a short reroute.



Buy these things if you don't have a set and are stripping out a shit load of wires. Quick and uniform length on the stripped ends. Sometimes if the jacketing is old and stiff you might have to take a couple swipes at it.

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I chose to solder my stuff. You can do yours however you feel. I don't care. I've never had a solder joint fail for me personally so I'll keep doing it. That said, the cleanest way would have been to depin the connectors and repin to match but I'm not sure how easy it would be to get the correct pins. 2 of the 3 connectors are different and have different shaped pins entirely, so not just a quick swap either.

These connectors have a ring of solder inside the heat shrink, so just shrink and solder in one easy step :idea: Just make sure you got a good connection with a quick pull after. I found one after that the solder had melted but didn't flow in to both wires. I'll wrap everything nice and pretty once I make sure it all works as intended. I left them a little long in case I totally fucked it all up and have to redo it :laughing:

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Gots_a_sol

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V-bands came in so cut apart the headers/cats and welded them back together. I was more motivated to do this because my welds looked like poo the first time around as I didn't have the proper consumables for this thin tubing. Rectified that and the welds look way better now.



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Gots_a_sol

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Sold some parts off the Titan and this little minor thing happened today also


A lot of sensors were unplugged and no cooling system yet, so just ran a few seconds to make sure I didn't totally F the wiring.

I swapped the Titan ignition/key and BCM in to the Frontier to make the NATS happy. The only issue I may have is some slightly different wiring for windshield washer pump. I'll have to try it out and see if it works as is.

I spent a lot of time today drilling out broken bolts :shaking: 4 of the 7 exhaust hanger bolts snapped even with applying heat and working them back and forth. One of the carrier bearing studs twisted off also.

Im current waiting on new lower radiator bushings so kind of stuck there. Started laying out the exhaust today (waiting on a new rear hanger) and have one side mocked up to fill from the header to the rest of the exhaust. 2.5" inlets to a single 3" out

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Gots_a_sol

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Frontier vs Titan ignitions. Direct swap. The broken key was the Frontier key.

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Got the all the radiator/heater hoses on it and filled it with antifreeze. I had read of folks having a hard time getting all the air out of the system of these trucks so I bought this little contraption to assist. You hook shop air to one side and it pulls a vacuum in the system. Stick the hose in your coolant jug and open the valve and it simply sucks the coolant in. Just keep adding coolant until the vacuum gauge reads 0.

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Put the intake/MAF on and ran it up to temp for the first time.

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To do list:
Finish exhaust/tail pipe hanger
Cooling fan - going electric
E85 related wiring
Tidy up my jumper harnesses.
A/C line at compressor (ordered the wrong one)
 

FLUX

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I had a 06 that we traded in for my wife's car. I wanted to keep it and do this exact same thing but add tons and 40s. Very cool build! I still may do it, it would prevent me from cutting up my LJ! The only thing I did not like was the cost to rebuild the titan trans, it was almost the cost of a LS swap LOL. But that may be just around my area.

Anyway super cool!
 

Gots_a_sol

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E85 wiring


These 2 pieces need added. Left is the Dropping Resistor and right is the Fuel Pump Control Module. On the Titan the resistor is behind the battery and FPCM is under the dash near the blower motor, passenger side. The truck will run without this stuff but you'll end up with a CEL.

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The Nissan system doesn't use an ethanol sensor like some of the other brands have. Instead the ECM monitors air/fuel ratio via the O2 sensors as a way to determine the ethanol content.

The more ethanol in the fuel, the leaner the air/fuel ratio will be without any changes. The ECM sees the lean condition and adds more fuel to compensate. If you go back to straight gas, the ECM sees the rich condition and pulls fuel.

The ECM uses the FPCM and Dropping Resistor to vary the voltage either high (11-14v) or low (~8v) to the fuel pump to alter the fuel pressure. FSM says it runs in high when cranking over, the engine temp is below 50 degrees F, or you are under a heavy load/high speed, all other times it runs low.

An FFV Titan has slightly larger injectors than a non-FFV truck, approximately 320cc vs 280cc. There are different part numbers for the pump as well, but they seem to flow about the same, ~60-70 gph.


Made a pic comparing the two trucks and then the combined wiring plus a brief description of said wiring.

fuelpump.jpg
 

Gots_a_sol

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Bebop

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E85 wiring

The Nissan system doesn't use an ethanol sensor like some of the other brands have. Instead the ECM monitors air/fuel ratio via the O2 sensors as a way to determine the ethanol content.
Gen4 GM stuff does this too.

Congrats on following through with the swap.
 

Gots_a_sol

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Gots_a_sol

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Fan controller came in so set to getting that installed. Using a Dakota Digital PAC2800BT to trigger a Volvo relay pack to run the Taurus fan.


When you do the VK swap, you have this nipple left over that is unused. All the build threads I've seen has just put a cap on this. Having had a cap fail in my Jeep while wheeling way back in the day I'm not a fan of them. So for today's Joe wants to do things the hardest way possible, that nipple looks like a great place to put the sender for my fan controller.


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So step 1, drain my perfectly bled cooling system :shaking:This would have been so much easier to do before I put the engine in the truck. Or put the front end back on the truck. Or filled it with coolant even. Hindsight and all that.


Steps whatever, remove the nipple, drill the hole to the proper size, cut threads. Had to grind a little bit off the housing for clearance. I was planning to go 1/4" NPT but the OD of the nipple is slightly larger than the tap so had to go up to 3/8".


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Sender in place. I prefer a liquid sealant instead of tape on pipe threads, unfortunately it has a 24 hour cure time blah.


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Hosed down all the shavings and made sure the t-stat housing was clear of metal and put the truck back together. Then pulled some wiring and mounted up my relays next to the drivers headlight.


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The fan controller itself. Has to be mounted inside the truck annoyingly. I was going to just use a 2 position fan switch but the most common one is from a BMW and by the time you buy the switch/connectors/NPT adapter I was over halfway to the cost of this thing.


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That's as far as I got. I thought I was just going to use fuse taps for power/ignition but I just noticed Nissan uses those stupid mini fuses inside. Instead of trying to half ass something in there, I'll go ahead and add a small fuse block for power and for future accessories as well.
 
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Twankie

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Does the fuse block not have any empty slots you can add pins/fuses into?

I did this recently on my ranger and xj when adding wiring
 

TRINDU

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Never something I'd ever want to build, but enjoyed reading and the tech. Nice work
 

Gots_a_sol

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Hmm, good idea but the interior one is full though, maaaaaybe 1 slot open. The engine bay fuse box might have some open spots. If so I can probably harvest pins from the Titan fuse boxes.

I know my Excursion was a mess of adding crap on top of crap over the years so trying to avoid that this time around.
 

Gots_a_sol

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No luck on open spots in the factory fuse boxes. Stuck a little Blue Sea fuse box, buss bar, and a relay in the drivers kick panel to power some shit. I'll stick a smaller buss bar in there some day, just had this one on hand.

Top 3 spots are always hot, bottom 3 are switched (fed off the relay). 1 hot and 1 switched are for the fan controller. The rest are open for future crap.

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Engine bay buttoned up

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Now that the fan is working I have started driving this around to feel out any other issues. Something rattles underneath whenever I hit a bump, need to crawl around underneath and find that.

Patched some rust that the seller said wasn't there :shaking: Waiting on paint to arrive, keeps getting delayed.

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Just a boring Frontier, nothing to see here :lmao: I have a set of 235/85-16 Duratracs on wheels off my previous Frontier to go on. Ordered some cheap spacers/shackles to get a little bit of lift. Didn't want to spend a lot here as I'll be doing the Titan suspension as well.


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Gots_a_sol

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Been running around with this and drove it to work most of last week. First full tank worked out to 15.5 mpg. My previous Frontier with the 4.0 V6 usually fell around 15-16.

Threw a leveling kit in it and the 235/85's and wheels I kept off the previous truck.


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So far I've had 2 CELs. One was an evap leak which a new gas cap fixed. The second is P0420 which is cat efficiency low. It wouldn't be a nissan without a 0420 or 0430 code :laughing:

Woman drove it yesterday and put the windows down. Passenger rear wouldn't go back up. Direct power to the motor worked and the rear switch tested ok. Need to check the main switch next.

Exhaust is still crazy loud. The woman loves it. She has never had a a vehicle that is loud and quick. I'm over it already lol.
 
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