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Nissan 300ZX, all models



  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,331
    Check out Edmunds True Market Value feature on the HOme Page. Just click on the "Used" button up top on the homepage. Their prices are pretty accurate.

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  • jcliffrojcliffro Posts: 108
    Response to #31. When I bought my 300ZX new in 1985, I read in Consumer Reports that the Z cars had "electrical problems". My electrical problems to date (in 17 years) have been. The "dual function" fuel gauge broke within about 2 years. I found the secondary fuel gauge to be near worthless anyway. Second, the timer for the interior courtesy lights works erratically....just an occasional annoyance. And once last year the tail lights or brake lights stayed on and I did not notice it when I left my garage. Dead battery the next morning and some type of inexpensive fuse or breaker that had to be changed. That is the extent of it. Not too bad for 17 years. But that is just one satified Z owner's personal experience.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,551
    Avoid the turbo models. very complex and expensive to fix.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,331
    It's the problem with all "old tech", be it Japanese or German or whatever.

    Many of these older complex cars are simply not worth fixing if something major gives up the ghost. You will see more and more modern cars junked as they age because of this problem--their repair bills equalling or exceeding their Book Value.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,551
    All it takes is one major thing to go worng and te car is effectively totalled.
  • It all depends upon the cost. I recently replaced the manual transmission in my 1985 300ZX at $1250 and then took it to a bodyshop and had every parking lot ding or scratch taken out of it. I guess I spent $1750 on it in a month. I don't really care what someone would pay me for it, because to me I have an incredibly beautiful and reliable car that I love. To equal that, I would probably have to spend at least $25,000 and then my insurance would go up. So if you find the ideal Z out there, I say get it and keep it well maintained. That 3.0 liter V-6 is supposed to go forever. But, as per the above notes, avoid the problem areas: don't get a turbo, don't get a 1985-1989 model that has the electronic juke box dash and hold out for one that has been treated with TLC like I have treated mine.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,331
    Actually a 1985 300ZX with a bad transmision and parking lot dings and dents is just about totalled at $1,750--that's about what a ZX with those needs is worth.

    Now, of course, you've raised the value to what an '85 ZX with a good trans and good body and paint should be worth....around $3.5K-4K.

    So in that sense your investment comes back to you at least...a break even move and it makes sense.

    But a new engine would cost more than the car is worth and would be a questionable decision.

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  • Of course, there is the personal value attributable to the fact that, in my opinion, my 300ZX is one of the best looking cars I have ever seen and its reliability to date is damn near priceless. That is not to say that I would be willing to spend several thousand dollars a year to keep it up, but each year I DON'T spend $25,000 on a new car saves me about $1200 a year in interest I can earn on CDs, lower insurance costs and, of couse, depreciation on a new car. So, I am willing to spend a little to keep this gorgeous hot looking car doing what it was meant to do.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,331
    Yes, all true, but the market doesn't look at practical stuff like that. It is driven by supply and demand--how many people want such a car, and how many cars there are for sale. High demand, shortage of cars = higher value / and of course, with low demand it doesn't much matter if there are a lot of a certain car around or not.

    Naturally, demand goes up with condition, too, since a nice clean car is more desirable to most people.

    This is why with "common but desirable" cars, like say a Miata, there is often a HUGE difference in price between a sharp one and a ratty one; whereas with truly rare cars, the difference in price between say #2 and #3 or #4 isn't so drastic---because you can always say "Okay, but if you don't buy it, where you gonna find another one?"

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  • Yes, and when someone pops up who is looking for a near perfect 1985 Z, can really appreciate the care I have given mine and can assure me he will keep it garaged and otherwise take good care of it, I am sure that I can get a fair price in exchange for it. Until then, I am not going to sell this car to just anyone off the street. It means too much to me to do that. And if the freaking stock market would just start showing some signs of life, maybe I could feel I could afford to get a new car and keep this one forever.
  • ron_mron_m Posts: 188
    My 90' model 300ZX's transmission jerks/pops when shifting into automatic 2nd. The problem subsides to some degree after the vehicle has been driven for a while and warms up good. Here's a list of things that have been tried in order to resolve the problem:

    -Had the transmission serviced. Fluid and filter change. Didn't really help at all.

    -Had a scanner put on it to see if there was a computer/electronics problem that prevented the transmission from knowing when to shift gears. Nothing abnormal was found.

    -Had a transmission fluid additive put in. Didn't really help all that much. Maybe a little.

    I plan on keeping this vehicle for a long, long time, so I'd really like to get this tranny issue taken care of. What can I try next--short of
    having the transmission rebuilt? If I have to resort to a complete transmission rebuild, then I'll just have to bite the bullet and come off of the cash to have it done.

    Any sound mechanical advice that may save me some bucks will most DEFINITELY be appreciated. I am also in the process of having this Z car painted, including the replacement of all exterior trim pieces, NISSAN emblems, etc. The wheels are going to be powder coated silver. It should look great when it's finished.

    Thanks in advance for any tips!


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,331
    Probably just internal wear causing this. You really have no choice except to try what you tried and then wait for it to deteriorate further.

    I'm not sure on your model if there are any linkage adjustments that can be done but this can help that type of car whose shifting is actuated mechanically and with vacuum.

    Has the tranny been pressure tested?

    Stay away from certain types of additives. These can be harmful, depending on the ingredients; however Redline, etc. makes good products.

    This sounds like the type of problem that cannot be fixed out of a can unfortunately.

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  • cebtebcebteb Posts: 138
    I just stumbled on this site tonight. I hope it hasn't given up the ghost yet.

    I have a 1985 300ZX Turbo, black & gold with border stripes. No, not an anniversary edition, those were silver. It has 110K on it and currently just occupies space in my garage. Along with improper storage prep (that's what happens when you get married and get other responsibilities), 2 door dings and a good hood ding, it received a $4K repaint to better than OEM specs back in 1992 (on the insurance company) and only has about 12 months weathering and 15K miles on that paint job.

    It also has an elusive electrical short somewhere in the passenger side headlight and the synchros are gone in the 5 speed manual transmission. That started at 60K miles, so I'm less than impressed with the manual transmissions durability. But, I wonder what a rebuild/refurb/replace would cost minimum?

    One problematic item I haven't seen addressed here is the adjustable shock absorbers. At $200 a piece plus installation, they are prohibitive to replace, but 3 of 4 of mine are originals, and thou not leaking, they haven't absorbed a shock for the last 30K miles. Does everyone else just give up on the adjustables and buy the fixed type to save money?

    BTW, nothing wrong with the post-1984 Turbos if they have been treated properly. In 1985 they finally got the bearing cooling right and with proper cool down, no problem! I haven't had a bit of turbo trouble and I think the engine will go 200K miles. I had a good Nissan shop thoroughly test the engine at 90K and it exceeded all original specs. One of the smoothest V-6s ever built I believe.

    I've got the light tan velour interior with standard components. I kept everything working and keep most of the plastic parts replaced when they broke from age embrittlement. Other wear items like the center console cover have been replaced OEM.

    Another chronic electrical problem with the 1985 ZXs is the door activated interior lighting. The door switch constantly sticks, always has, so one often doesn't get interior lights.

    Well I've been rambling, so I'll sign off and check back to see if anyone still works this site.
  • jcliffrojcliffro Posts: 108
    I also have a 1985 300ZX (am the original owner), but mine is not a turbo. I agree that the durability of the manual transmission was not the best if mileage alone is considered. Mine started to make noise about 60,000 miles and then totally died around 80,000 miles. But it died back in June at a few months shy of its 17th birthday. This is my first 5-speed car, so perhaps I was tough on it. I really can't complain. I had it replaced with a rebuilt model that my mechanic got from somewhere in Austin (I live in New Orleans). Total cost to me was $1,295.00 and I think I have a one year warranty on it. I don't think that is too bad. The car seems to run fine now. It is always garaged. I do plan to get an Xterra soon and keep the Z as my classic car. I do not think I could stomach selling it. I love it as much today as the day I first drove it home. If you want to call my mechanic and get the name of the guy from whom he got the transmission, let me know.
  • jaydolljaydoll Posts: 120
    Looking for a 90-96 300 Z 5 speed. Any advise from owners? This is my low cost alternative to throwing the big dollars at a new G35 coupe.

  • I am getting ready to purchase a 1990 300ZX 5-speed non-turbo with 133K miles. Seems to be in
    great condition. Is there anything specific I need to be concerned with? anything that should be checked specifically to this model/year?
    thanks in advance. I am purchasing from a dealer, not a private owner and they do not
    have the service history. Carfax has checked out clean.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,331
    Just the usual used car stuff applies.

    However, don't rely on CARFAX--the car could indeed have been wrecked or had any number of calamaties done to it, and Carfax will not know about it. Be sure to get a thorough underbody inspection to check for collision damage, and be sure to check ID numbers and title papers for accuracy. CARFAX is helpful but by no means can prevent you from buying a bad car with previous damage. It's a "gross filter" for problems only.

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  • maxim49maxim49 Posts: 41
    Guys, I'm planning on purchasing a 1994 300ZX and I was hoping to get some help from you guys. The asking price is $12K and the car only has 39K miles, which seems a little suspicious to me. First, is there a way I can check if the mileage has been rolled back and if the mileage is correct, is $12K a good deal? Thanks a lot!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,331
    It's strong money but the miles, if correct, might justify it.

    The only way to really prove low miles is to see a pile of consecutively dated service records with the VIN or license # on them; otherwise, you could try CARFAX and see what turns up with that.

    Of course, if CARFAX shows 39,000 miles 5-6 years ago and nothing since, that is equally suspicious because the car was laid up for some reason.

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  • dgraves1dgraves1 Posts: 414
    If you are in California and have the VIN or License number, you can search here for smog test history which will show the mileage at each smog test:

    Maybe other states have a similar website.
  • What do you guys think? Should I get a salvaged 1996 2+2 with 73K miles or a clean 1993 2+2 with 97K miles? (same price) Do you think its too risky buying a salvaged vehicle (not really knowing how badly it was damaged and the other potential problems it might have caused)? Pls help. I've been admiring Zs for a long time and really want to get my first one. Don't know anything about them mechanically, but willing to learn.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,331
    I guess it depends on what kind of damage and what kind of price and what you intend to do with the vehicle. As you know, this salvaged vehicle you buy will always be hard to sell, so you have to buy it cheap, cheap, cheap. If the previous owner has photos or documentation as to the damage, this would be good for you to retain.

    There's nothing wrong with a vehicle that has been expertly, professionally repaired except that the car will always have a black mark on it. I personally wouldn't buy a salvage vehicle unless you could steal it for perhaps 50% of value.

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  • I am the original owner of a Midnight Blue 85 300ZX-GLL. It has 86,000 miles and over the last 18 years I have done all kinds of repairs, but recently the A/C compressor failed and now there is a foul odor coming from the air vents. I've cleaned the blower but the smell is worstening. The car needs minor seat repairs, door gaskets, and A/C repairs. I want to keep this car, any suggestions.
    Also, does anyone know a great ZX specialist in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale FL. area? Thanks, Lee in Miami
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,331
    Yeah, there's some crud growing in the vent system no doubt. An a/c specialist should know how to treat this. It's a persistent problem, even on much newer cars. I think your climate has a lot to do with it.

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  • Mr. Shiftright, I'm looking for guidance in my purchase of an '83 280ZX. It's a good looking two-tone blue and black coupe. The body looks sound but it's in the shop for a fuel pump problem. The dealer says that the mileage is an assumed 114,000. That kind of scared me when he said "assumed". I know you can't trust these small dealerships, but the car looks great for being 20 years old.
    My question is regarding any common problems known with these cars. Can you tell me what I should look for when test driving it? I realize anything could go wrong with old cars, but it's hard to find good info on these classics.
    Thank You.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,331
    Oh, I'm no expert on 280Zs but I do know they are better than the 260s....I would think that any car this age that passes a full mechanical inspection has already had the bugs worked out.

    My main concern with anyone buying a 280ZX is not to pay too much for it, and don't work under the optimistic assumption that it will be worth money as a collectible. This doesn't seem to be the case.

    Asll the better for you, as you can get yourself a nice fun ride for not a lot of money.

    Another consideration on buying old Japanese cars is that there is not much of an aftermarket on some pieces, like trim parts, body panels, etc. So if you buy an older japanese car with serious cosmetic issues, you could have a hell of a time correcting those at any reasonable cost.

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  • jaserbjaserb Posts: 858
    The Z is a bit more spartan, while the ZX tends to be dolled up with PW, Leather, sunroof, power steering, etc. and has a softer suspension. Very few (if any) body panels can be swapped between the 280Z and 280ZX. The 240z, 260z and 280z are all the same body style with some minor differences. The drivetrain is almost identical between the 280Z and ZX, except for the availability of a turbo in the '81-'83 ZXs. The power goodies on the ZX are no better or worse than any other 20 year old car, so make sure everything works. The inline 6 engine is very durable and the FI is pretty good as well. Check it out thoroughly for any rust or body damage. You can get just about any part for any Z at in Orange, CA. There may be others I don't know about, since I sold my Z several years ago. Let us know what happens, and good luck!

  • argentargent Posts: 176
    One thing a friend of mine who had a normally aspirated 280ZX found out the hard way is that some of them -- especially the 280ZX, but possibly some of the early 300ZXs as well -- had problems with totally inadequate stock radiators. I think there were two different types of radiators used, and one was a serious lemon. He also had problems with the fan clutch, apparently common too, which didn't help, but he heard that a good aftermarket radiator (evidently quite common...there are lots of Z specialists) was a good investment.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,331
    Sometimes on these older cars they wouldn't make allowances for the heat produced by the automatic trans cooler attached to the lower radiator; often an aftermarket transmission cooler will help some types of overheating on older cars.

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  • argentargent Posts: 176
    This was a problem on manual-shift cars, as well. (My friend's was a 5-speed, not an auto.) It was that the radiator just wasn't adequate for the engine, and that the ones of South American manufacture were not up to even their dubious spec.
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