300ZX Z32 Tech Tips For 90-96 Z32's.

What should i look for when getting a z with 99,000?

Old 11-05-2003, 09:46 PM
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Whew, I hope you're ready for some reading. And, good luck on your Z shopping.

From http://www.zhome.com Z Ownership Section:

What To Watch For When Buying A Fourth Generation Z

1. Avoid very early production cars. Turbo models produced prior to 1/90 and normally aspirated cars produced before 7/90 may have problems with defective valves. The valves may unscrew themselves from the head causing a loss of compression and a rough idle. If you run across a nice car that is on the border, check the engine number to be sure. Turbo cars with engine numbers below 619550 and normally aspirated cars with engine numbers below 777599 may be subject to this problem. (check the data tags rivited to the drivers door jamb, and under the hood for date of manufacture and engine serial numbers)

2. Pay a little extra to get a low mileage car. They are not much more expensive and are much less likely to need repairs.

3. Take the car to a knowledgeable INDEPENDENT auto shop that specializes in late model Z-cars. DO NOT TAKE IT TO A DEALER! I'm sure someone on "The Z Car List" can recommend one in your area.

4. Take the car to a knowledgeable paint and body shop. Make sure the car hasn't been wrecked. Also, make sure that any subsequent paint work has been done properly. The STOCK PEARL COAT is extremely hard to match in many cases - especially the Pearl Yellow. Again, someone on the list can probably recommend a good shop in your area. This is the one thing I didn't do and wish I had done. My car apparently had paint damage on one side that I failed to detect. To match the pearl coat properly, I had to paint 2/3 of the car and pay about $3K.

5. Make sure the clutch bearings aren't making alot of noise. They can make a little noise for 30K miles or more. But alot of noise signals an upcoming clutch replacement, $400-$500. If not abused, the clutch in a ZXTT can last around 70K miles. Quite good for a 300-400HP turbo car.

6. Check out the brakes carefully. The pads will probably only last 30-40K miles. If you replace them with the Stillen Hi-Metal pads, they will last much longer and stop even better. Make sure the rotors aren't warped. That was one of the few prevalent problems on early model ZXTTs. Somehow, mine were not warped and have never been replaced - despite 53K miles and fairly heavy braking. Only have a knowledgeable shop turn the rotors. They can be damaged easily causing warping in short order. Warped rotors will cause the steering wheel to shake and/or the break pedal to pulse...

7. It seems like all Nissan alternators are disposable at about 50K miles. Expect it, budget $250. If someone wants to charge you more, tell them to take a hike.

8. There was one recall - an ignition system power unit. Nissan will replace it for free. Apparently, if it goes bad, the car can stall and won't start again.

9. If you hear an annoying squeak from the front of the engine when the car is cold, its the timing belt tensioner. If it bugs you, buy another car or plan to change the timing belt early, $500 (including the tensioner, $250 without). The timing belt only needs to be changed at 60K miles. But, you have to take the timing belt off to replace the tensioner. It won't hurt to wait, it just makes an annoying noise for 5 minutes or so each time you start it. Nothing is actually broken.

Also, don't let a dealer tell you that the timing belt needs to be changed at 48 months OR 60K miles. Tell them to read the manual CAREFULLY! It says 60K miles ONLY - NOT 48 months.

10. Make sure that the car has the upgraded valve springs. They will make a tapping noise after a while on real early '90 ZXTTs - those manufactured in '89 and very early '90. No damage will be done before the first 60K miles. But, you should replace them when the timing belt is changed. It will cost you an extra $2 (not a typo - they're cheap).

11. If the turn signal blinkers blink at a high rate occassionally (usually just on one side), check the ground on the side that is blinking too fast. It can short out and may even cause it to stop blinking. An electrical shop can redo the ground for about $25.

12. The brake master cylinder on '90-'91 cars will begin leaking at around 40-50K miles. It costs about $200 to replace. The new part is redesigned and is supposed to last much longer. If a car you like has any of these problems, tell the seller you will pay $XXX less the cost to repair the items. That's what I did. The seller had no problem with it once I had my mechanic verify the problems I noted.
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Old 11-05-2003, 09:47 PM
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From http://www.angelfire.com/ga/300zx FAQ:

How does the car hold up with age?

Overall, the consensus is that the 90-96 300ZX is a well built car. As with any turbo car, the turbochargers themselves have a limited lifespan, usually between 80,000-120,000 miles. Taking good care of the car and changing the oil frequently is the key to making a 300ZX last forever. My own 91 300ZX has been upgraded to "stage III" (400 horsepower) and currently has 109,000 miles on it, and runs great.

Parts of the car to "keep an eye on" are the transmission, exhaust system, and turbos. The exhaust systems frequently start to rust after 4 years or so, but luckily there are lots of aftermarket performance versions available. The automatic transmissions are a mixed bag; mine broke (under extended warranty) at 74,000 miles, which isn't common, but they do seem to be problematic. At the same time, some owners go through clutches in their manual transmissions every 35,000 miles, so the cost of owning either one may even out over the lifespan of the car.
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Old 11-05-2003, 09:47 PM
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From http://twinturbo.net FAQ

What should I look for when purchasing a used Z?

All this talk of Z buying had me thinking. I'm 30 & have probably bought no less than 20 used cars so far in my life, here's a few things I look for. I always buy used...anyways I can pretty much spot a winner now but thought this might be helpful. I always look for mint then work my way down.

First off body:

The dealers first off will pressure you, screw that. If the car is on the lot go back when they aren't there, maybe a Sunday this way you can check it out without anyone there. If something is wrong they will keep you busy so you don't notice it. These were 40-50k dollar cars so if any got wrecked you know for sure shops tried to salvage them & they are back in the market.

Signs of paintwork besides obvious mismatching:

1. Lift up any rubber seals on the car even around the windows & look for a paint edge.

2. Check every wheel well & even see if you can lift up the edge of the liner to see if there is a paint edge.

3. Pop the hood & hatch. Check the bolts that hold the quarter panel on, should be covered with factory paint & look like it's never been removed, if it's been
removed you will know it because it's near impossible to line it back up & not show where bolt location was previously.

4. Check the gaps on both sides of hood, should be small & equal. Check the gaps right under door where fender meets door, make sure same on both sides.
Check gaps on both sides of bumpers front & back.

5. Open doors & look through hinge ares for messed up sheet metal on the pillar.

6. Check in back upper hatch seal area for signs of wreck.

7. Always look in the spare tire well.

8. Look for OEM glass & always check for cracked windshield this is easy to miss & not uncommon.

9. Look up under the bumper at the frame that connects to it, look under hood area at that also, this is what gets straightened from a head on collision.

10. Whatever you do NEVER & I mean NEVER buy a car at night! Even if you go where lights are. In the day look down the body for dings & depressions especially since Zs are durasteel.

11. I don't use a magnet since I can generally knock & tell if has bondo but feel free. Owners will look at you funny & get irate sometimes...hey, if they don't like it, don't buy it, this is NOT a small investment. If the owner knows the car is excellent they will have no problem whatsoever letting you check it up & down, normally they are pretty proud when it's really clean.

12. I prefer stock paint that has been maintained.

13. Check the calipers, see if they look all the same.

14. Check lights for condensation..though sometimes this is not indicative or wreck, check the seal area & alignment around the lights very hard to get to factory spec.

I almost bought a Supra (but decided against it) at a Toyota dealer until I checked the hood & noticed huh....the gap isn't even. Then I checked up under the wheel wells & counted the bolts, guess what? driver fender missing 3, then checked top bolts on 1/4, saw where bolts had been removed...I bailed..made me to nervous. Keep in mind this might be sometimes nessary for autowork so not it's always a negative.

With individuals just ask them, ever been in an accident, alot of times they will tell you! Or they might say a little fenderbender on bumber but Nissan fixed it. I called a lady on a Z & outright asked "ever been in accident" she said Nissan told her car had been repainted. *wow* all I did was ask.

Interior & Electrical:

1. Pretty obvious but check the leather for paint, dealers like to spray messed up leather with leather paint.

2. Being these cars are T-tops check the seat rails for excessive signs of corrosion from where they fell asleep & a rainstorm hit while they were inside.

3. Check the radio, easy to talk down dealer a little because I gaurentee the stock system has problems.
4. Work everything electrical on the passenger side. Duh, I always forget this...never know when a seat or window switch won't work over there.

Too many factors with engines, read the faqs & take to a shop...but whatever, test drive a friend's then the one you want, not down the street, get it on the interstate, work the gears & *listen*. Drive it for more than 25 minutes when you get serious (overheating, etc) , I never like to waste the owners time so I go look, come home, think & cool down my jets, then if thats the one I want tell them I'm serious but want to drive it for awhile.

Other tips:

Now other things I've found with dealers is 9 times out of 10 they bought the car at auction, if the car is 22 they paid 18 or less. Believe me, 2 grand off the asking is a given, unless it's unusually low priced. Know the value in kbb/edmunds/& general area. I just bought this 94 convertible at a local nissan. On the lot for $22.7K & this baby is mint. Book is $22.6K I got it under 20. Now if your credit is poor, it's much tougher since they have the advantage. Individuals are much tougher to talk down but if the add says best offer that is dead givaway they need to sell it bad...payments or something, so offer less. If the car is mint the owner will generally not budge for good reason & I have no problem paying more for mint.

By far the cleanest Z's Ive seen are at Nissan dealers. Cleanest I've ever seen are at Ft Lauderdale Nissan but they price accordingly. I've talked to the Zman down there & he sounds impressive.

Last but not least! Carfax! but don't be surprised if you see auctions...that is normal part of auto business but I double check when I see that. Auto auctions are VERY good at cleaning cars for the sellers, they can hide anything.
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Old 11-05-2003, 09:56 PM
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Typical used car stuff, tire wear, oil (indicating leaks), mismatched paint or overspray (indicates accident), uneven lines/alignment of body panels (also indicates accident), interior wear (check side bolsters for possible patching, t-top seals/condition (possible leaks), gas cap (original?),check the oil from dipstick(condition?), hoses (condition?), visual of battery(is corrosion present, connections loose?), visual check of glass(is vin on glass?all the glass?), does he still have the rear hatch cover?, are the wheels on the correct side and place(wheels (if original) are marked L and R, visually the wider two should be in the rear), lower splash guards in place?(they protect the bottom of the engine from everything, sorta like a plastic skidplate), maintence records for any work done?, any bulbs/electrical not working?(check all switches and levers), heat and A/C working? visually inspect the power steering resevoir for leaks/fluid(indication of possible HICAS problems, or power steering rack problems)

You should test drive with the radio off to listen to the car and its noises. When you're driving check:

alignment(does it go straight on a flat road)
suspension(does it feel overly harsh or soft, bottoming out, unusual vibrations?)
turning ok? does the wheel come back to center?
acceleration ok? does it pull hard and strong?(tt should put you in your seat really well)
clutch feel, clutch engagement(overly harsh, too soft?)

Check for the spare and tools.

Did I overlook anything? Maybe, but I still think that I've given you quite a formidable list to go through. Have fun.
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Old 03-14-2004, 07:23 PM
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