Nissan Hardbody is a compact pickup truck introduced in 1986.5 for the US market, and its production continued till 1997. It has the official name of D21, but due to its solid construction and double-walled bed, it is famous as Hardbody. Moreover, you don’t need to worry about the replacement parts for maintenance as they are interchangeable across different model years and from other Nissan vehicles.
What Year Nissan Hardbody Parts Are Interchangeable? You can interchange different parts of Nissan Hardbody from 1986.5 to 1997. You can replace the dashboard and instrumentation between the 1986.5-1992 and 1994-1997 model years. The transmission system, frame, and engine parts are compatible between 1987-1989 and 1990-1996 models with the same configurations. You can swap truck beds, interiors, brakes, and body parts from the 1988-1995 variants, having the same cab configurations.
This article will guide truck owners regarding parts’ availability and compatibility across different model years. It will facilitate finding them from junkyards to ensure their perfect fitment. We will also discuss the availability of parts from other Nissan vehicles of the same specifications.
Nissan Hardbody interchangeable parts
As a compact pickup truck, Nissan Hardbody remained in service for almost 10 years in the US market.
Therefore, you will find compatible parts from junkyards if you want to repair or upgrade them with higher variants with updated features.
You can also look for components from other Nissan vehicles of the same period having identical specifications. Here is a list of important parts of the truck and their interchangeability across different variants.
You can interchange the dashboard and instrument panel between the 1986.5-1992 variants with few changes in gauges and added functions in some years. You can directly swap between them for the same engine options.
For the 1994-1997 model years, Nissan added an upgraded dashboard with a rounded shape compared to an older square-shaped design to give it a fresh look.
Moreover, it also has changes in its instrumentation panel, including an electronic speedometer and a few other upgrades.
You can still swap between the old and new dashboards but with a few modifications related to the gauges and electrical wiring for other instruments.
You can replace the transmission between different model years of Nissan Hardbody having the same engine and transmission option.
For the 1986.5-1989 variants, they have a 2.4-liter Z24 I4 engine with a 5-speed manual transmission, while the 1990-1997 model years have a 2.4-liter KA24E I4 engine with a 5-speed manual.
You can interchange these model years with slight modifications. For example, the 1996 5-speed manual transmission has a crank trigger hole in its casing. Therefore, you can replace its interior with previous years by keeping the same bell housing.
Moreover, 1986.5-1993 variants also have a speedometer cable compared to electronic sensors based on later variants. So in case of a swap between them, you have to make modifications for its functioning.
There is also a 3 or 4-speed automatic option in these variants. You can swap it between the models with the same engine and drive configurations.
Alternators between several variants of Nissan Hardbody with the same engine options are interchangeable.
It is because of the difference in their mounting holes for changes in engine type. Therefore, you can swap them for the 1990-1997 variants with a 2.4-liter KA24E 4-cylinder engine.
Similarly, alternators for the 3.0-liter VG30i V6 from 1986.5-1989 and VG30E V6 from 1990-1995 are also interchangeable. You can also use larger 125-200 amp alternators from other manufacturers with few modifications.
But larger alternators require better heat dissipation, resulting in poor fuel economy and damage to electronics without proper system cooling.
There are 4 engine variants available in Nissan Hardbody during different model years from 1986.5 to 1997.
You can swap the components between model years from 1986.5 to 1989 Z24i I4 throttle body injected engine and 1990-1997 variants having KA24E fuel injected i4 engine.
You can also swap parts between VG30i V6 motors from 1986-1989 and VG30E variants of the same 6-cylinder engine from 1990-1995.
Regarding ECU, you can swap it between model years with the engines having the same number of cylinders.
However, 1996-1997 versions have OBDII for diagnostic mode, while earlier models lack this feature. Therefore, you cannot swap previous variants of the truck with these two years without modifications.
Beds from 1986.5-1997 versions of Nissan Hardbody are compatible as long as they have the same body style. Three different bed designs are available for the D21 truck.
The regular cab style has a length of 73.8″, the king cab has 74.6″, and the long one is 89.2″. It is because of the fact that different body stylings, like regular cab and king cab, have different dimensions. Wheel arches have different positions, and also wheelbase is changed in the two designs.
Moreover, Pre 1986 model beds are not interchangeable without modification work due to their frame differences.
You can also swap them between 4×4 and 2wd trucks. If you have any doubts, measure the dimensions for each mounting point, which should be the same to ensure the perfect fitment.
You can swap the interior parts, including seats, radio, and steering column are interchangeable between the 1986-1997 model years.
You can install the center console with cup holder and armrest between these model years and also upgrade it with other aftermarket parts or from Nissan Pathfinder models. Dash panels are a direct swap between 1986.5 to 1993 and 1994-1997 variants.
The same is the case for instrument clusters, including gauges and sensors, because of design changes in 1994.
The Nissan Hardbody has bench seats which are not very comfortable. You can replace them with bucket seats from other vehicles like Nissan Pathfinder and custom designs from the open market.
Body parts, including panels, fenders, doors, mirrors, tailgate handles, taillights, and hood, are interchangeable from 1988 to 1995. However, there are minor differences between the 4WD and 2WD variants.
For example, they have different bumper mounting brackets, and you need to do modification work to swap between them.
You can also replace the headlights and grille between the 1988-1989 Nissan Hardbody as they have the same bulb housing and plugs but differ from other model years.
1991-1997 model years have the same grille designs with compatible headlights and corner lights. For other body parts, you should look for the ones with the same body style, like regular cab and king cab.
There can also be some changes for trim levels, including base, SE, and XE. 1995-later models have a rear-mounted braking light that you swap between these truck models.
Brakes installed in Nissan Hardbody are compatible with the same engine option. For example, brakes and their parts for Z24 are a direct swap between model years with the same engine options, and the same is the case for VG30 models.
You can also upgrade front brakes from other Nissan vehicles like Pathfinders and Frontier by adopting their parts, including calipers and rotors having the same spindle diameter and axle size. But for the mounting part, you need to make minor adjustments to make them work.
It has rear drum brakes. To upgrade them to disc brakes with different numbers of lug nuts, you also need to change the axle from the vehicle you are borrowing the brakes from.
Frames are not identical for Nissan Hardbody, having the same body style but different drive configurations.
For example, a regular cab 2WD frame and chassis have the same wheelbase as 4WD, but other chassis parts have differences because of changed front-end suspensions.
Moreover, other parts like engine mounts and cross members also vary according to the engine type.
Therefore, you can swap them with the same options, or you will need these parts from the donor truck.
Frame metal is also different for 1986.5-1990 models than later ones. Therefore, you should consider all these factors while looking for a compatible frame with a particular model year of your truck.
What other Nissan vehicles have interchangeable parts with Hardbody?
Most body parts from 1986.5-1997 Hardbody to 1987 to 1995 Pathfinder with few exceptions like different headlights and corner lights for 1988-1989 Hardbody and 1987-1995 Pathfinder due to different grille designs.
Their frames are also different. Moreover, interior parts are a direct swap except for dashboard changes in some models after 1994.
You can swap other parts like brakes and seats with Nissan Frontier, Pathfinder, and Xterra models. The KA24E engine was also available in Nissan Xterra in 1998-2005 versions, Nissan Pathfinder in 1990-1995 variants, and Nissan Stanza from 1990-1992 variants.
Therefore, you can swap their parts in these model years. Moreover, plenty of parts, including body, interior, and transmission, can interchange in Nissan Hardbody from these vehicles.