Nissan 240SX

redoakranchredoakranch Member Posts: 8
edited February 2014 in Nissan
Hello there. I'm a newcomer here and thought I'd
ask for some feedback from more experienced car
persons than myself. :-) I am in the process of
buying a 1989 Nissan 240SX. It's loaded with all
the goodies (power everything: steering, brakes,
windows, locks, even seatbelts), including a pop-up
moonroof and carphone. The tranny's smooth as
silk, and the engine purrs like a kitten, even at
85 mph. The sole previous owner was a Navy doctor
who clearly loved his car and lavished care on it -
it's pristine inside and out, and looks like it
just rolled off the show room floor (my friends are
having a hard time believing it's an `89!). He
traded it in for a newer model, and I snapped it up
the same day. We're personal friends of the dealer
we bought it from, and also of his PARENTS, so
believe me, Larry doesn't dare sell me a lemon! The
only thing that doesn't work is the stereo, and
Larry's sending someone from his shop out today or
tomorrow to fix it. It's got just over 110K miles
on it, but Larry's Nissan tech is confident that
with continued good maintenence we can likely get
another 100K out of it (assuming I even keep it
that long). I LOVE it; it's gorgeous. Can anyone
out there give me their thoughts on how long this
critter might last me if I treat it right? I don't
know if the good doctor kept it in a garage, but
from the excellent condition of the paint job I
suspect he did (or else it was recently repainted).
Should I start nagging hubby to clear out the
garage before our wet southeastern VA winter gets
truly underway...?

Also, this is a rear wheel drive car, and all I
have ever driven is front wheel drive. Is this
type of car more likely to skid or slip in wet or
icy conditions? What should I be aware of when
driving it? I'd would feel *awful* if anything
happened to this car (wouldn't feel too great if
anything happened to me either). Thanks!


  • mznmzn Member Posts: 727
    Peg, I'll say right from the start that I'm in favor of hubby clearing out the garage before your wet southeastern VA winter gets truly underway -- just on principle. ;-)

    The car sounds great and it's clear you'll put the same love and care into it as the good doctor did. As for how far it may take you, the biggest factor in determining that may be how the previous owner used the car. If his 110,000 miles are mainly on the highway, you've probably got a good chance to match or exceed his mileage. On the other hand, if most of his time was spent commuting in city traffic, you might not make it quite as far. It seems his mileage was about 14,000 miles a year, which suggests some highway miles which may be good news for you.

    You're smart to ask about the difference between front & rear wheel drive. You'll find the handling to be completely different from what you are used to. Perhaps you can find a safe site to evaluate how this new car will handle (especially in challenging weather conditions) before you take on the hairpin turns!

    For more info, you may want to take a look at our online information which includes reviews and recall information on the 1989 Nissan 240SX. Enjoy your wonderful new car!

    What do others think? If you've driven a Nissan 240SX, please, share your experiences with us.
  • bnormannbnormann Member Posts: 335
    The longevity boils down to: How many times did the car go through the cold start sequence. This is where 90% of all engine wear occurs. The other engine killer is not changing the oil filter when you're supposed to. This causes grit to circulate in the lubrication system which causes accelerated wear.

    As far as handling in a RWD goes, it's something you have to experience. Have you ever had the front wheels "push" during a turn in the snow or rain. By this I mean that the front wheels lose a little ( or a lot) of traction and so they stop "steering" the car in the curvature that they normally would if they had full traction. I could draw this a lot easier than explain it. This is technically called "understeer". It's a lot of fun, actually, although my wife doesn't like it {;-(

    This condition is common in FWD cars because the front wheels have to do double duty; pull the car down the road (or brake) and steer at the same time. Also, there's more weight in the front to drag around for the "steering" part.

    RWD cars typically oversteer, because the back wheels lose traction and become unstable, so they stop tracking in the direction the car is going (whether you're in a curve or going straight) and go right or left. This "spins" the car so that it appears to be turning in a direction opposite of the direction the rear wheels are headed.

    Neither of these conditions are "bad", they're just different and you need to experience it .
  • redoakranchredoakranch Member Posts: 8
    Hi again all, thanks for the advice! We're pretty sure most of the miles on this car were highway miles, so there's some good news. Yes, I have experienced that front wheel "push" in my FWD Honda in the rain before. I *think* I'm getting what you're saying about oversteering, bnormann. I read somewhere that people used to driving FWD might overcompensate for oversteer in a RWD, or yank the steering wheel too hard. If I find my car is oversteering, should I be turning the front wheels in the same direction as the car is turning...? Sorry to be so clueless!

    You're absolutely right carlady, I think I need some practice in an empty parking lot...! ;-)
  • bnormannbnormann Member Posts: 335
    Hi Peg,

    Don't worry about "clueless". My own personal clues have generally been the result of "Close Encounters With the Ditch". This is a much better way to learn.

    Let's do an example.

    You are approaching an entrance ramp for a major highway. It's on the right hand side and it loops back 270 degrees to eventually go "left". This is one of those tight curves that you take at a relatively slow speed of 30-40MPH.

    So..... you're nearing the end of the ramp and you need to speed up in order to merge gracefully.
    (Please don't ruin my illusion by telling me you put your brakes on at the end of the ramp. I'll never speak to you again!)
    In your new RWD car, if you apply too much power, the rear wheels will lose traction and since you are already "turning" to the right (ie. the car is already rotating clockwise as viewed from the traffic helicopter above), when the rear wheels break loose the car will continue to "turn" to the right, but now at an alarming rate.

    Voila: OVERSTEER.

    The correct response is: GENTLY ease off the gas pedal and steer to the left until YOU, the CAR and the FRONT WHEELS are all pointed in the direction you wish to go.
    People often get confused on this point, but I think the easiest way to remember is to use the concept of oversteer. Here you are in the middle of a right hand curve; all of a sudden the car starts turning much too far to the "right". The natural response is to turn the steering wheel back to the left, compensating for the OVERSTEER that the silly car is generating.
    (It just happens that you are turning the steering wheel in the same direction that your rear wheels seem to be headed.) Don't worry about any old adages, just do what is natural.
    At this point, before everything is straightened out, you will probably be "going down the road sideways". As your rear wheels regain traction, you will start to turn back to the left, and the car will begin to get back into the correct orientation, which is: pointing in the direction it's moving. Once the car starts this correction process, it's important to RELAX and ease up on your steering correction so that ... just as the car is "straightened out", your front wheels are pointed forward and you can proceed straight down the middle of the road, just as if nothing happened.

    This might sound scary, but it becomes much easier with practice. I grew up in the frozen tundra of the midwest, so my reckless youth was filled with many such experiences. And experience is really the best teacher. CARLADY is right, find a parking lot and have some fun.
    Also, there are many "right hand turning lane" mini merges in this area where the road you are entering is REALLY wide and there are no major obstacles if you spin out. Next time it's raining, and there's no traffic, get into the turn at your normal speed, but downshift just BEFORE the curve, so that you have a lot of torque available at the rear wheels. Gently apply more and more power and at some point the rear wheels will start sliding out. If you have done this gently, you should be able to get all of the way through the curve without the rear wheels going too far off course and steering correction is all that you will need to get through. Once you are through the curve and pointed straight down the road, (both car and front wheels), the rear wheels usually regain traction, since they only have to push the car forward, and don't have the extra strain of "turning". These short, 90 degree "mini merges" are ideal for experimenting, since

    1.) you are not going too fast
    2.) there are no cliffs or guard rails
    3.) you can do it while no one's around
    4.) it's a natural driving environment
    5.) you don't have to wait for snow and ice
    6.) you can generally find one in your daily travels, so you can practice over and over in a familiar scenario until you really get a good feel for things.

    Wheewww.... (Deep breath)!

    OBTW You are right, most people over-react to this oversteer stuff. It seems to make the car much more "unstable" than understeer.

    Practice, Practice, Practice.

    Happy Trails,
  • redoakranchredoakranch Member Posts: 8
    Okay, thanks Bruce, now I have a better picture of what to do. Good timing, too, as it is raining today and on my way home I do in fact encounter a freeway on-ramp just like the one you described! And no, I don't put my brakes on at the end of the ramp ; I am a big believer in NOT riding the brakes. Knowing what to expect and how to deal with it makes me feel safer in my little rice rocket. :-)
  • mznmzn Member Posts: 727
    Yeah, me too. Thanks Bruce!!
  • redoakranchredoakranch Member Posts: 8
    >>The longevity boils down to: How many
    times did the car go through the cold start

    Okay, 'nother dumb question: what exactly IS the cold start sequence...? I let my 240SX warm up every time I start up until the engine temp. needle is about 1/4 of the way up the gauge. Does this help?

    Hey, thanks again Bruce for the detailed ingo on oversteer and how to deal with it. That very night I experienced it and thanks to remembering your post I was able to correct it! :-)

    Ran into another 240SX fan here at my office the other day. When I mentioned my car as we chatted about vehicles, her eyes lit up. Hers is a `90, with a little over 100K miles on it, and she said it runs like a champ and is the best and most fun to drive car she has ever owned!

  • bnormannbnormann Member Posts: 335

    (Sequence...where'd that come from?!) Sorry for the lapse into techno-babble, my editor was asleep at the keyboard.

    The cold start (sequence) is simply starting the engine when it is cold, ie. ambient temp. The problem is, there's no oil on the moving parts in the engine once it has sat long enough to cool down (and all the oil has drained down into the oil pan). So, when you start it up, for the first couple seconds there is not enough oil moving through the engine to keep the moving parts from rubbing directly against one another. Normally, there is a THIN film of oil between all those moving parts and NO metal-to-metal contact. Somewhere between 75%-90% of all engine wear occurs only during the cold start.
    OBTW, don't buy that Teflon oil additive stuff. It doesn't help!

    On warming up.... There is no real benefit, unless your driveway is on the entrance ramp to a freeway. As long as you don't use more than about half-throttle until the temp needle starts moving, the engine will not suffer.
    You will save gas and pollute less this way too. Just take it easy the first few miles, until the needle starts moving.

    Glad to hear you were able to manage with the oversteer, most people over-react. GOOD JOB. We haven't had much snow/ice this year, looks like you will have to wait until next year to really have some fun.

    What do you think of the new 240SX? It's not a hatchback, I guess. I'm hot and cold on the body style; some days I like it and other days I don't.


  • garthgarth Member Posts: 66
    I think the most recent 240 is a beautiful car, cosmetically. Unfortunately, it's overpriced, underpowered for the money, and that fold-down rear seat is a joke... but it looks fantastic.
  • redoakranchredoakranch Member Posts: 8
    Yeah, the underpowered part was a turn off for me. I like a car with some punch to it. It was a gorgeous morning today (first we've had in a while), and my `89 240 was a-walking and a-talking in the fast lane. ;-)

    (thank gawd the smokeys were elsewhere...)

  • redoakranchredoakranch Member Posts: 8
    >>(Sequence...where'd that come from?!)
    Sorry for the lapse into techno-babble, my editor
    was asleep at the keyboard.<<

    Oh, bnormann, I'm a desktop database engineer, so it's okay to use words like "sequence" with me. ;-) It's the short, simple ones like "cold" and "start" that confuse me. LOL!

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