When deciding on what rig to buy, we researched all of the usual suspects; Jeep, Toyota, Land Rover, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, etc. We finally we landed on the Xterra because it would give us the most bang for the buck and could go anywhere the others could. It was surprising how much the other brands were selling for with no major benefits other than the name/popularity. People wanted way more than the vehicles were worth and they were all rusted through to the core or had major issues. Don’t get us wrong, we love the Jeeps (used to own a Wrangler), Yotas, and Landys, but the extra costs didn’t provide any more features we needed.
Many people don’t immediately think of Xterras as an off-road vehicle, but they are very capable, great on and off the road. Besides a couple of known issues, SMOD – strawberry milkshake of death (which you don’t get with a manual) and original timing chain that is prone to failure, they are all around a good vehicle. For those that don’t know SMOD occurs when a hose fails and allows the radiator fluid to mix with transmission fluid. The resulting mixture looks like a strawberry milkshake and destroys the transmission (there is a very easy bypass that can be done to avoid the issue). We originally wanted an automatic but when the dealer told us of SMOD, which was VERY nice of them to do, we ultimately decided on the manual.
When we first found JAX, very spontaneously, it was at a dealer that also had a couple of older 4Runners. After test-driving one of the 4Runners it just didn’t feel like the right fit so we took out the Xterra. It was newer, better interior, manual, and very clean inside and out (the design also sort of looks like a Disco 2 at some angles).
I’m the only one who drove the X that day since Lauren wore flip flops. So the next day with the proper footwear, we went back so she could take it out for a spin. Revving the engine like she was about to pull off in a street race, the sound of the engine scared her. To be fair, compared to her manual transmission Fiat 500 (her daily driver) I don’t blame her, the amount of power the Xterra has compared to the Fiat is intimidating. After driving for a while, she finally got the hang of the truck but she was a little ashamed that she had trouble finding the sweet spot. Despite her reservations driving, she still loved the Xterra and wanted us to buy it. We put a hold on Jax and slept on it.
The next day we picked him up. With 110,000 miles on the clock he would be our blank canvas and new toy. As we drove off the lot, only 8 miles away, we noticed a Click Click Click Click sound. There was a nail in the tire…
And so began our relationship with Jax.