The Truth About Cars » maxima http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 29 Sep 2014 16:40:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » maxima http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Piston Slap: Maximum TPS Reporting? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/piston-slap-maximum-tps-reporting/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/piston-slap-maximum-tps-reporting/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 11:47:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=903553   TTAC Commentator Eiriksmal writes: I read your plea for questions, so I’ll lob you a softball. Why has my 2005 Maxima’s TPS decided to randomly poop out on me after doing a warm start? Specs: 2005 Nissan Maxima 6MT. 135,000 miles. Electronic throttle. Stock air intake + (new, put in the first time the […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

TTAC Commentator Eiriksmal writes:

I read your plea for questions, so I’ll lob you a softball. Why has my 2005 Maxima’s TPS decided to randomly poop out on me after doing a warm start?

Specs: 2005 Nissan Maxima 6MT. 135,000 miles. Electronic throttle. Stock air intake + (new, put in the first time the TPS acted up 3K miles ago) K&N filter. The car’s now on its third owner, having spent its whole life in Evansville, IN, Lexington, KY, and now Louisville, KY. At the rust belt’s frayed fringe, I guess. No surface rust anywhere on the car, though. Electrically speaking, it’s in good shape. (Save the rear ABS sensors… a rant for another day)

Relevant codes*: Throws a P2135 for sensor voltage being out of spec whenever it acts up.

Scenario: Drive the car a while to be fully in the operating temperature range. Turn the engine off. Wait for a long train to pass/run in and renew your driver’s license/do some quick shopping, now turn on car. Car slow to start. Throttle goes into fail safe** (hold the pedal to the floor, wait a few seconds, revs rise slower than a DD15). Turn car off. Wait a second. Turn car on. Blip throttle, engine roars. You’re back in business.

Attemped fixes: The mechanic at my work suggested I clean the MAF. I did that. He suggested I check the connector and clean it. It looks good, I sprayed some of the MAF cleaner on there, too. No luck, it still acts up. His newest suggestion is to follow the harness to the firewall and look for a pinch or something. That sounds like work to me, and I’m a pretty lazy guy, so…

My question is, how does a throttle position sensor go bad? It’s way up high out of the way of muck from the road, so what’s the deal? Specs state it should be between 0.36V and 4.75V (at full throttle), so it’s not like there’s some high current load burning it up. The problem is that I can’t find an actual throttle position sensor in the Nissan parts diagrams, and I realllly don’t want to spend $615 on a new throttle body (file away this nugget: try CourtesyParts.com, they’re the best OEM retailer of Nissan parts I’ve found.).

Question 2: What’re the chances that something’s wrong with the harness? Why would it go away after a restart? (Yeah, that latter question is a crappy one)

*Other codes: Dreaded P0420 on the precats I installed 2 years/30,000 miles ago to treat the environment right and turn off the P0420. Also lit is the parking brake light, the traction control disabled light, the “your wheels are slipping/TCS engaged” light, and the ABS light. The car’s upset that I snipped two fusible links in the engine bay to kill all power to the ABS actuator. Cough. That was about three months ago and is wholly separate from the throttle control.

**From the FSM:
“The ECM controls the electric throttle control actuator in regulating the throttle opening in order for the idle position to be within +10 degrees. The ECM controls the opening speed of the throttle to be slower than the normal condition. So, the acceleration will be poor.” No, really!?

PS: How’s Sanjeev doing these days? He’s been quiet for a while.

Sanjeev answers:

It’s about time you people demanded my presence!

We know I don’t respond with garbage like “ZOMG SON U SWAP LS4-FTW lest Panther Love because I’m a big stupid jerk in my First Generation Mark VIII”…or whatever he normally says. Wait, what’s your problem again?

Sajeev answers:

While my arch nemesis with the far more common Indian name continues to disappoint, let’s talk Nissan Maxima TPS. Engine code P2135 points to a problem with the drive by wire (i.e. no throttle cable) system, which is excellently described here. Long story short, there’s a sensor on the go-pedal, another 1-2 more on the engine’s intake throttle plate, an actuator for said plate, and some wiring to make it work.

The wiring could be bad/dirty/corroded/loose at either sensor, but odds are cleaning and checking won’t cure the problem.  There’s a good chance one of these sensors went south.  That’s because anything that moves does indeed wear out: remember scratchy old records on the Hi Fi? That’s the wear a seemingly non-moving sensor endures!

And lucky you: if the sensor on the throttle body side is bad, you get to replace the throttle assembly.  Because that’s how modern drive-by-wire systems work: yeah, how fun!

Do yourself a solid, read the above hyperlink.  If the throttle body is bad and you’re broke, consider a reman part instead of the original: they’re about half the price. And since this is a 10-year-old machine, be ready for the worst…you will need a replacement throttle body. Hmm-kay? Yeeah. 

TPSreports

photo courtesy: heatherpierceinc.com

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Junkyard Find: 1986 Nissan Maxima Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1986-nissan-maxima-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1986-nissan-maxima-station-wagon/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=877490 One thing I love about early-to-mid-1980s Nissans is the combination of futuristic technology with endearing Japanese-to-English translations. We’ve seen a few Maximas in this series, including this rear-wheel-drive ’82 Datsun Maxima and this puzzling “Brake Fluid EVERYWHERE” ’86 Maxima. On a recent trip to California, I found this rare Maxima station wagon at an Oakland […]

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04 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOne thing I love about early-to-mid-1980s Nissans is the combination of futuristic technology with endearing Japanese-to-English translations. We’ve seen a few Maximas in this series, including this rear-wheel-drive ’82 Datsun Maxima and this puzzling “Brake Fluid EVERYWHERE” ’86 Maxima. On a recent trip to California, I found this rare Maxima station wagon at an Oakland self-serve yard.
03 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis was just a few years before the Infiniti brand hit these shores, and the Maxima (like the Toyota Cressida) was seeming less luxurious compared to the competition as the decade of the 1980s wore on.
12 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI found an excellent addition to my collection of heartfelt notes to tow-truck drivers in this car.
10 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe paint is faded, but the interior isn’t so bad.

A powerful rebuttal to the notion of compromise.

As always, the US got the most boring commercials for Japanese cars.

WHOOOOOOSH! Super Sonic Suspension!

01 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1986 Nissan Maxima, Brake Fluid Overdose Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/junkyard-find-1986-nissan-maxima-brake-fluid-overdose-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/junkyard-find-1986-nissan-maxima-brake-fluid-overdose-edition/#comments Fri, 17 Jan 2014 14:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=701706 You see some weird stuff in San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yards, from lunatic-with-a-glue-gun art cars to dipped-in-battery-acid rust to chopped, Italianized Swedes. Last weekend, I stopped by a well-stocked Oakland self-serve yard and found this puzzling brake-fluid test vehicle. I’m thinking that Cartel Products probably didn’t hire some East Bay Maxima driver to use […]

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01 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinYou see some weird stuff in San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yards, from lunatic-with-a-glue-gun art cars to dipped-in-battery-acid rust to chopped, Italianized Swedes. Last weekend, I stopped by a well-stocked Oakland self-serve yard and found this puzzling brake-fluid test vehicle.
03 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinI’m thinking that Cartel Products probably didn’t hire some East Bay Maxima driver to use their silicone brake fluid and advertise the fact with scary-looking nail-polish-painted signs all over the car. That leaves the question: who, and why?
06 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinWell, nail-polish and mailbox stick-on letters.
09 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe radiator smelled like brake fluid.
12 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinBut it gets weirder than that. Who puts brake fluid in the windshield washer system? And then installs inline fuel filters in the squirter lines?
08 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThis is one of those 1980s Japanese cars that had all the control labeling translated directly into English, regardless of hyphenation. SECU-RITY!

01 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Datsun Maxima http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/junkyard-find-1982-datsun-maxima/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/junkyard-find-1982-datsun-maxima/#comments Fri, 20 Sep 2013 13:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=523193 I find lots of Malaise Era Cressidas for this series, but what about the Cressida’s main competitor, the second-generation Datsun/Nissan 810/Maxima? As you can see by the confusing names for this car, Nissan was going through some marque- and model-name gyrations during the early 1980s, which makes today’s Junkyard Find a car of some historical […]

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11 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI find lots of Malaise Era Cressidas for this series, but what about the Cressida’s main competitor, the second-generation Datsun/Nissan 810/Maxima? As you can see by the confusing names for this car, Nissan was going through some marque- and model-name gyrations during the early 1980s, which makes today’s Junkyard Find a car of some historical significance.
12 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 810 became the Datsun 810 Maxima in 1981, then the Datsun Maxima in 1982, then the Datsun Maxima By Nissan in 1983, and finally just the Nissan Maxima in 1984.

A series of TV ads during this period tried to reduce the level of confusion for American car shoppers: “From now on… the name is Nissan.”
09 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinJust as the Cressida boasted much Supra genetic material, so did the Maxima share its ancestry with the Datsun Z Car. Here’s the L24 engine, same displacement as the 240Z’s engine but with a more modern fuel-delivery system.
02 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAll sorts of whiz-bang, futuristic electronics graced the Maxima’s cockpit; this stuff was pretty much required by law in early-to-mid-80s Japanese luxury sedans.
DatsunTalkbox-GroovesBest of all, of course, was the Maxima’s Mars Base-grade “Voice Annunciator” system. A few years ago, I became obsessed with this system’s hardware, because I discovered that it is based on an under-dash box with a tiny phonograph record.

Supposedly, this system originated in Japanese-market large appliances and was then licensed by Nissan. 280ZXs also got the Voice Annunciator.
05 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Voice Annunciator was so cool that Nissan just had to add a snazzy console switch, to remind drivers that they were driving in The Future.
03 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIn spite of all the built-in Extreme Science™, this Maxima didn’t even make it to 100,000 miles. The interior is filthy but not too thrashed, the body is rust-free, and there’s a good chance the engine is still good.
16 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOh yeah, about that Voice Annunciator? I bought it. 15 bucks well spent.
17 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinActually, it was 30 bucks well spent, because I found another Maxima at the same California yard and pulled the talk-box from that car as well. My collection of four Voice Annunciator boxes goes well with my collection of 1980s Japanese digital dashes.


“This is the first car that speaks to you!”

01 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1982 Datsun Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Nakaumura-San Hints At More Aggressive Maxima With New Signature Nissan Look. Sedan Concept to be Revealed at NAIAS in January http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/nakaumura-san-hints-at-more-aggressive-maxima-with-new-signature-nissan-look-sedan-concept-to-be-revealed-at-naias-in-january/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/nakaumura-san-hints-at-more-aggressive-maxima-with-new-signature-nissan-look-sedan-concept-to-be-revealed-at-naias-in-january/#comments Thu, 22 Aug 2013 13:54:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=500250 At an event for international media held during the Pebble Beach festivities, Shiro Nakumura senior vice president and chief creative officer, design and brand management for Nissan provided an advanced look at what is probably the next Maxima sedan.   Nakamura said that the four door sedan would be shown as a concept car in […]

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At an event for international media held during the Pebble Beach festivities, Shiro Nakumura senior vice president and chief creative officer, design and brand management for Nissan provided an advanced look at what is probably the next Maxima sedan.

 

Nakamura said that the four door sedan would be shown as a concept car in January at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show. When asked, he would not confirm that it is the 2015 Maxima. The current Maxima, Nissan’s largest and most costly car, is the oldest car in the company’s lineup and its styling and technology is a bit out of pace with the rest of Nissan’s cars.

AR-130829981

The Altima, Sentra and even the subcompact Versa have been redesigned and some have suggested that Nissan will be phasing out the Maxima, particularly since the new Altima is larger and getting much of Nissan’s marketing attention. Those models may be in for some revisions since Nakamura said that the concept’s “V-motion” front end and headlight styling will become a signature for the Nissan brand.

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Review: 2013 Nissan Maxima SV http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/review-2013-nissan-maxima-sv/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/review-2013-nissan-maxima-sv/#comments Mon, 15 Jul 2013 14:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=493624 Every generation of Maxima has some fans — I’m partial to the bespoilered black ’87 five-speed my father drove for two years of my childhood — but the reputation of the nameplate is built almost entirely on the brilliant third-gen 1989 Max SE and the 1992 revision of that car that added a BMW-matching 190 […]

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Picture courtesy the author.

Every generation of Maxima has some fans — I’m partial to the bespoilered black ’87 five-speed my father drove for two years of my childhood — but the reputation of the nameplate is built almost entirely on the brilliant third-gen 1989 Max SE and the 1992 revision of that car that added a BMW-matching 190 horsepower to the already outstanding styling and chassis. After that, it was mostly downhill, with the porky, anonymous-looking sixth-generation ’04 probably representing the nameplate’s depressing nadir.

The current Maxima is anything but anonymous-looking, but it’s failed to make much of an impression and it currently sells at a rate approximately one-fifth that of the Altima that has largely eclipsed it in the marketplace. Many of those sales are to rental companies, and thus I was able to grab a nearly brand-new Maxima SV for a fast drive along the Northern California coast.

maxima2

As you see it in these pictures, and as Hertz rented it to me, this is a $34,090 car. That gets you a Nissan VQ engine in 290-horse trim and a CVT. It also gets you some nice-smelling and reasonably comfy leather seats. It does not get you a high-end up sound system, heated seats, or the kind of color screen that you get in a $22,000 Camry. It’s only four grand cheaper than an Infiniti G37 that has all of that stuff plus more power, a longitudinal engine, and a dealership full of useless shoji screens. You get the point? There’s no value here, not at the sticker price.

Nor is the interior upscale in any particular fashion. There’s some black-bamboo-looking trim on an undifferentiated cheap black dashboard that probably isn’t quite up to the standards of the 1989 Maxima. It’s sporty after a fashion, but if you’d just bought the thing at full pop you would have a few moments of self-doubt when you sat in it the next morning. I don’t know about you, but I’d feel better looking at that ’89 Maxima for a minute:

Image courtesy Nissan

I feel better already. Doesn’t that picture make you want to drive? Me too. Luckily, once you get on the move the current version of the not-so-big Nissan starts to redeem itself a bit. The CVT that makes the most of the Altima’s four cylinder allows the VQ to scorch the road at freeway speeds. The test numbers this generation of Maxima generates aren’t any better than what any of the other V-6 Japanese-branded mid-sizers can do, but when you need to bump from 60mph to 80mph to make a pass or resolve some traffic issue the powertrain really makes money.

On the roads out of San Francisco towards Half Moon Bay, the Maxima proves to have power, handling, and brakes to spare. There’s a manual-shift mode but what’s the point in deliberately restricting the CVT’s ability to keep the engine in its torque curve? As with every Maxima since my father’s second-generation car, this one’s fast enough to get ahead of traffic and stay ahead. Of course, the same could be said of the new Altima, which is a considerably more modern and better-equipped choice for less money.

maxima1

Why would you buy this car? Well, there’s the way it looks, which isn’t bad and is certainly unique in the segment. Most iterations of the Maxima have been good-looking and I’d suggest that this one is as well. It looks like it’s a class up from the mainstream family sedans and it manages to combine some expensive-looking sheetmetal with considerable interior room for both front and rear-seat passengers. NVH isolation is outstanding. If you keep your eyes on the evocative front fenders and off the dashboard, it feels like a credible, sportier competitor to the Lexus ES. There’s nothing cheap or second-rate about the way the Maxima drives.

I put about 450 miles on the silver sedan and I’d have cheerfully put a lot more on it — but then again, I was paying the same rental rate I’d pay for a Camry. Actual cash customers have a more difficult decision on their hands. At the same dealership, they can get what’s arguably a better car for less money in the Altima. Or they can drive over to the Infiniti dealership and get a faster, more capable, more prestigious, and more desirable car for less than ten percent more.

Here’s the problem in a nutshell: Once upon a time, the Maxima was the pinnacle of the Nissan pyramid. It was also the sportiest Japanese sedan money could buy. The Stanza beneath it was a four-cylinder sled without much style or equipment. Fast-forward to 2013, and the Altima squeezes it from below while the G37 (and upcoming Q50) carries the sports/prestige banner. Toyota never faced the same quandary with the Avalon because the Avalon was expressly created to be a Camry for older, slightly more wealthy people. As a result, it does half again the volume the Maxima does, at transaction prices that are probably higher than Nissan gets for its car.

The people at Nissan aren’t stupid. They know that the two-tier FWD sedan approach works best when the big sedan is a long-wheelbase version of the little one. The problem is that the company has already tried that, with the big previous-gen Maxima, and buyers rejected it. I suspect the name was part of that. If they’d called it something besides “Maxima”, nobody would have expected it to be sporty or stylish. For better or worse, the iconic ’89 SE continues to cast a long shadow. When you call a car Maxima, there’s some baggage that gets tossed in the trunk.

It’s not that the 2013 Maxima is unworthy of the name, although it would certainly be nice to have an overtly sporting visual package and a six-speed manual in the order books. Rather, it’s a case of the whole concept being outdated. Nissan’s upscale, sporting customers no longer have any interest in a front-wheel-drive BMW competitor; they can go to Infiniti and get a rear-wheel-drive BMW competitor for similar money. The writing’s been on the wall for the Max ever since the G35 arrived. It’s a pleasant car, it’s not bad to drive, and it’s more interesting-looking than any sedan Toyota’s built in years, but it’s a dead man walking straight from the showroom to the rental fleets. If you decide to buy one, don’t pay any more than the fleets pay, alright?

maxima4

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New Or Used? : Large Marge Don’t Want No Land Barge Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/new-or-used-large-marge-dont-want-no-land-barge-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/new-or-used-large-marge-dont-want-no-land-barge-edition/#comments Fri, 05 Apr 2013 10:31:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=483482 Dear Steve and Jeev, My girlfriend needs a car while in the midst of many other big financial decisions that severely limit her car budget. Here’s the situation. She has access to a family owned Mercedes 380SL that has what I believe to be transmission issues. It’s dripping dark red fluid from right about where […]

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Dear Steve and Jeev,

My girlfriend needs a car while in the midst of many other big financial decisions that severely limit her car budget. Here’s the situation.

She has access to a family owned Mercedes 380SL that has what I believe to be transmission issues. It’s dripping dark red fluid from right about where the transmission looks to be and it’s probably also leaking oil.

I’m handy, but I don’t think I’m money pit Benz convertible transmission and rear main seal handy. Then again it might not be so bad and might be a reasonable fix, until the next time it shoots itself in the foot. It currently doesn’t run and last time it was driven apparently exhibited the same problem it has for years, which is that if you don’t take it easy off the line it just dies on you.

So she needs a new car, but she needs something as close to under $4k as possible.

She also has specific tastes, though she’s somewhat flexible. (Oh boy! And here comes her laundry list! -SL)

Click here to view the embedded video.

Completely averse to Panthers (otherwise I wouldn’t have to write this email) and doesn’t want a Taurus ever (her grandmother drives one, it’s been nothing but misery).

Oh also, it can’t be a manual, which means anything remotely – Miata, 2002, Volvo wagon with ls1 swap – fun out of the question. I’ve been looking at Volvo 240s, 740s, 940s, 850s, overpriced Camrys and Accords, Corollas/Prisms and a lot of late 90s early 00s 4th and 5th gen Maximas and i30s. Also G20s and just for good measure the occasional Saab.

Click here to view the embedded video.

I’m very comfortable with the Maxima/i30 as my dad had one for 10 years and it’s what I learned how to work on so I know how to do any repair imaginable and problem areas plus they’re in abundance in this price range. I’m also intrigued by the Volvo option since you could easily sell it for the same you paid for it or more if there’s anything wrong that can be easily fixed.

As I said, I feel comfortable armed with a forum and a Haynes manual to do any reasonable repairs short of transmission rebuilds but I want something that’s easy and cheap to work on as possible. I know that the whole no domestics thing and crapshoot prices don’t help but what should she do? Find out how much the SL will cost to repair? Flush the transmission and hope for the best? What other cars should I be looking for that I’m missing. I assume craigslist is pretty much the only reliable source for these and that I’m buying a car for an owner not the car. Also, should she try to wait out tax season until prices come down, I’ve noticed that even on these sub 5k cars the prices seem higher than normal.

Steve Says:

How does she feel about a minivan?

I would suggest telling her that you want to fill one of those up and your problem should go away real quick. (Childish Giggling – SM)

Here’s the rub on this. Your girlfriend needs to stop looking at the popular cars with the unrealistic expectation of low maintenance and a low price. She wants a cheap Camry? Fine. You will find that the cheap ones are cheap for a reason. I have seen unfortunate souls spending dozens of weekends trying to find a popular car at a cheap price.

Most of them wind up anteing up thousands more than their budget allowed, and buying a popular vehicle with very high miles. Some people are OK with this outcome. The truth is that a better solution is there only if she is willing to adjust her expectations.

I would sit down together in front of the computer and go through the unpopular and orphan brands first. Visit carsurvey, Edmunds, here, there and anywhere else that offers reviews from actual owners. My recommendation is a late 90′s Buick Regal with the 3.8 Liter V6 and about 120k to 150k on the miles. Either that or an Explorer if she wants a bigger vehicle.

Get an older SUV if she doesn’t drive a lot. Or get an unpretentious middle-of-the-road sedan, with a keen eye on the powertrain combination, if her driving will be 10,000 miles or more a year.

Sajeev says:

The Benz might be worth a punt, but that’s only if she doesn’t need to drive very often. My guess is that this conditional statement is rather unrealistic. So the SL ain’t happening.

At this price, tough love is better than proper indulgence. She buys the vehicle with the cleanest interior, newest tires/brakes, the biggest wad of service receipts, and a character that isn’t completely offensive to her sensibility. That said:

“[She's] Completely averse to Panthers (otherwise I wouldn’t have to write this email)”

Come on Son, don’t make jokes like that! Has she not seen the best Music Video ever made on the face of the Universe?

I simply refuse to live in the real world believe that women cannot embrace Panther Love. And I know my man Lang agrees, he came up with the title! While my advice is true, there’s a good chance that the best vehicle for the price will also be a super tidy Panther.

But seriously, get the cleanest, best maintained, late-model, non-European machine you find…buy what she wants when she has more cheddar. Because getting what you want now only hurts you in the future.

Unless it’s a Panther.

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Review: 2013 Nissan Altima SL 3.5 (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/review-2013-nissan-altima-sl-3-5-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/review-2013-nissan-altima-sl-3-5-video/#comments Sun, 30 Dec 2012 14:32:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=471393 The “family sedan” may not be very exciting, but without midsized sales auto makers would be in a pickle. Ponder this: the five best-selling midsized sedans in America accounted for 1.3 million of the 12.8 million vehicles sold in 2011. With numbers like that, it’s important to get your mass-market people mover right. This means […]

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The “family sedan” may not be very exciting, but without midsized sales auto makers would be in a pickle. Ponder this: the five best-selling midsized sedans in America accounted for 1.3 million of the 12.8 million vehicles sold in 2011. With numbers like that, it’s important to get your mass-market people mover right. This means competitive fuel economy, a low base price and swipe as much tech from your luxury brand as possible. Either that or just wear a Nissan badge on the front. Say what? The last generation Altima was the second best-selling car despite being long in the tooth and filled with Chrysler quality plastics. That made me ask an important question: Is the fifth-generation Altima any good, or is it selling well (now in third place thanks to the new Accord and Nissan’s model change over) just because it has a Nissan logo on the front?

 

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

A design that doesn’t alienate the customer you expect to return and buy their second or third car is critical. Just ask Ford how that bubble-Taurus redesign went in 1996. Still, midsize sedan shoppers demand some style so Nissan’s design team jammed a bit of Maxima, a pinch of Infiniti M and a “whole-lotta” Versa into a sausage press and cut the Altima off at 191.5 inches. This makes the new Altima longer than a Camry, a hair longer than a Maxima and essentially the same size as the Accord and Fusion. Nobody will confuse the Altima with an Aston Martin, nor will they think their neighbor is driving a budget Bentley. Instead the slab-sided Altima delivers clean lines and elegant good looks. Think of it as the Midwestern farm girl to the Fusion’s Los Angeles call girl.

Interior

Before we hop in, let’s have a moment of midsized honesty. The last gen Altima, much like the former Sentra, was a plastic penalty box on the inside that belonged in a Hertz garage, not mine. It appears Nissan took the criticism to heart and made such a drastic improvement to the Altima’s interior I suspect Infiniti’s interior decorators lent a hand. Yes, the interior design is somewhat bland, but nobody’s $20,000-$30,000 is very exciting and that’s just how midsized shoppers like it. In sharp contrast to the Fusion’s Germanic black-on-black-on-black interior, our Altima was covered in acres of light beige leather, pleather and soft-touch plastics. The lighter materials make the cabin look  larger and warmer than the numbers indicate with headroom and legroom falling in line with the competition. Some reviews I have seen complain about the cabin’s materials but I’m honestly not clear why. The Altima’s plastics and pleather are better than those in the Camry and Passat and equal to or better than the new Fusion and Accord. Fear not TTAC faithful, there is a low point in the interior: only the SV and SL models eschew the rubbery-plastic tiller for leather wrapping.

Since our tester was the top-of-the-line SL, the cockpit featured a heated tilt/telescopic steering wheel, an 8-way power driver’s seat and manually adjustable lumbar support. Shoppers that chose the 3.5L V6 will be treated to a pair of the best looking and best feeling magnesium paddle shifters this side of a BMW M6. Seriously. There’s just one problem: paddle shifters on a car with a CVT make as much sense as a parking brake on a french poodle. (Yet for some reason I found myself caressing their magnesium goodness non-stop when I was behind the wheel.) Like the most entries in this segment, the front passenger seat remains manually adjustable regardless of trim level and upholstery. Thanks to Nissan’s “Zero Gravity” seat design, the front seats proved comfortable and didn’t’ aggravate my temperamental knee during a 2 hour road trip. Since manufacturers “march to their own drummer” when measuring legroom, take your family to the dealer and jam them all in the car before making a purchase.

Drivetrain

While others are downsizing from V6s to turbo fours in search of improved MPG numbers, Nissan stuck to their I4/V6 lineup. The base Altima is four-cylinder only while the S, SV and SL models are available with either engine. In addition to the extra cylinders, V6 shoppers get wider tires and  shift paddles.

The 2.5L four cylinder mill is good for 182HP at 6,000RPM and 180lb-ft of twist at 4,000RPM while the 3.5L V6 (VQ35DE) turns up the dial to 270HP at 6,000RPM and 258lb0-ft at 4,400RPM. Both engines send the power to the front wheels via a revised Nissan Xtronic CVT with tweaks to reduce friction, improve acceleration, and reduce the “rubber-band” feeling that journalists whine about.

Our tester was a V6 SL which does battle with the Camry and Accord V6 and the 2.0L direct-injection turbos from Ford, Hyundai and Kia. Although V6 sales have dwindled to around 10% of Altima sales, 10% of the second best-selling sedan is a big number. Compared to the competition’s 2.0L turbos, Nissan’s V6 has a torque disadvantage. To combat this, the Altima was put on a diet now tipping the scales at a svelte 3,178/3,335lbs (I4/V6).

Infotainment, Gadgets & Pricing

To improve inventory turnover, Nissan followed VW’s lead and cut back on options. The 2.5L engine starts with the rental-car-chic base model for $21,760 (sans destination). Want options? Sorry, other than color choices there are no options on base and S models. Stepping up to the $22,860 S gets you auto headlamps, keyless entry/go, 6-way power driver’s seat, pollen filter, cruise control and two more speakers (six total). The $24,460 SV is the first model to get some USB/iDevice love, 5″ LCD radio, leather tiller, satellite radio, Pandora integration, backup camera and the ability to check options boxes. The $27,660 SL model adds leather, fog-lights, 8-way driver’s seat, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, and nine Bose speakers. Thankfully 2013 brings standard Bluetooth phone integration with Bluetooth audio streaming and an AUX input jack to even the rental-car destined base model.

The 3.5 S is $2,900 more than the 2.5S and in addition to the V6 adds the shift paddles and wider tires. Adding the 3.5 to the SV will set you back $3,800 due to the bundling of a moonroof and a few other items that are optional in the 2.5. The 3.4 premium on the SL model is $2,900 and in addition to the wider rubber Nissan tosses in Xenon headlamps. If HIDs are your thing, this is the only way to get them.

For $595 on the SV you can add Nissan’s new 7-inch touchscreen nav system dubbed “Nissan Connect.” The system looks like an improved version of their former “Low Cost Navigation” system in the Versa. In addition to a larger display, Nissan polished the UI, added Pandora, Google-send-to-car, faster processing, voice commands and XM NavTraffic/NavWeather. The system won’t voice command your iDevice or climate control like SYNC, but that’s a small price to pay for a responsive system that doesn’t crash, is easy to use and incredibly well priced. While I still have a love for MyFord Touch that dare not speak its name, Nissan Connect is now one of my favorite infotainment systems. Note to Nissan: put this in the S model as well. SL shoppers beware, Nissan Connect will cost you $1090 because it is bundled with blind spot warning, lane departure warning and moving object detection.

There is one more reason to get Nissan Connect: the plastic surrounding the base and 5″ display audio systems scratches easily. Our nav-free tester looked like someone had run a Brillo Pad across the front and just running my finger across the plastic (not my fingernail) caused fine scratches. This is a pity, but not a problem exclusive to the Altima, the new Accord and Camry suffer from this as well.

Drive

The crash diet and CVT pay dividends at the pump.  The Altima 2.5 manages 27/38/31 MPG (City/Highway/Combined) and does so without direct injection, start/stop, batteries or aero packages. What about that V6? Nissan’s focus on weight has made the Altima 3.5 lighter than the Accord V6 and Fusion 2.0 Ecoboost by over 200lbs. In our 3.5 SL I averaged an impressive 27.6MPG over a week of mixed driving. This is notably above the 25MPG combined EPA score despite my commute and the 2,200ft mountain pass I cross twice a day. You can thank the light curb weight and CVT for that. The Accord V6 matches the Altima’s combined EPA number and the Fusion trumps it by one MPG on paper. In the real world, the Altima beat both by 4MPG. My average was so surprising I dropped by a dealer to try another one. The result was the same. I took to the pumps to “pump-drive-pump-calculate-pump-drive-pump-calculate.” The results came within 1MPG of the car computer.

Nissan’s new CVT has dulled the “rubber band” feeling earlier CVTs inflicted upon drivers. This version also “downshifts” faster, although it still takes longer to get from the highest ratio to a “passing” ratio than a conventional 6-speed automatic when accelerating from 50-70 MPH. Aside from economy, the other benefit of a CVT is that it can keep the engine at an optimum RPM for maximum acceleration and drama-free hill climbing. Despite being down on torque compared to the turbo competition and having a less advantageous torque curve, CVT helped the Altima to scoot to 60MPH in an impressive 5.5 seconds (traction control disabled).

As much as I like CVTs, they are not the dynamic choice for “gear holding”. Sure Nissan has those sexy paddles on the Altima, and they have programmed the CVT to imitate a 7-speed automatic. Unfortunately the transmission’s “shifts” are slow and mushy, feeling  more like a worn out Hydramatic than a modern 7-speed. When you’re on your favorite back-country road, take my advice: caress those sexy paddles, but whatever you do, don’t pull them.

When the road curves, a light chassis will only get you so far, thankfully Nissan tuned the Altima’s suspension to be compliant but surprisingly agile. Adding to the fun-factor, all V6 models are shod with 235/45R18 rubber, notably wider than the V6 Camry’s standard 215 or optional 225 tires. The suspension, curb weight and tires combine to give the Altima a slightly higher road holding score than the Fusion 2.0 Ecoboost we got our hands on, but numbers aren’t everything. The Fusion’s steering may be numb, but it manages more feeling than the Altima and even I have to admit the CVT sucks the fun out of aggressive driving. If that matters to you, drive past the Nissan dealer and pick up a Fusion 2.0T with or without AWD.

Brand reputation is one of the largest factors when it comes time for a shopper to drop 25-30 grand on their family sedan. It’s the reason the old Altima sold as well as it did, and as far as I can see, it’s the only reason the Camry sells in record numbers. Rather than selling on reputation alone however, Nissan has proved they can build a sedan worthy of its lofty sales goals.

Some may call this a cop-out, but in my book the Accord, Fusion and Altima tie for first place in my mind. Here’s why: each of this trio plays to a different audience. The Fusion is gorgeous, more dynamic than the Altima but has stumbled with the 1.6L Ecoboost quality issues. The Accord is a traditional choice with a solid reputation and greater visibility thanks to an enormous greenhouse. Meanwhile the new Altima is a stylish elegant sedan with a powerful and seriously efficient V6. If I were dropping my own money on a sedan in this category I would have a hard time choosing between the Altima 3.5 SL and a Fusion 2.0 Ecoboost.

 Nissan provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.6 Seconds ( 3.2 with traction control)

0-60: 5.5 Seconds ( 6.2 with traction control)

1/4 Mile: 13.9 Seconds @ 104 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 27.6 MPG over 670 Miles

2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Altima SL, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Exterior, rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Exterior, rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Interior, Trunk, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Cargo Area, trunk, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Interior, steering wheel, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Interior, paddle shifters, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Interior, paddle shifters, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Interior, paddle shifters, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Interior, center console, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Interior, front cabin, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Interior, glove boxc, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL Monroney 2013 Nissan Altima Sedan, Infotainment, Nissan Connect System, Picture Courtesy of Nissan Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

 

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Datsun 810 Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/junkyard-find-1978-datsun-810-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/junkyard-find-1978-datsun-810-wagon/#comments Sun, 07 Oct 2012 13:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=462842 The Datsun 810 became the Nissan Maxima a couple of years into the 1980s, and you rarely see the 810 nameplate these days. Every once in a while, however, an 810 shows up in The Crusher’s waiting room. Here’s a ’78 wagon I found in California last month. The 810 shared quite a few components […]

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The Datsun 810 became the Nissan Maxima a couple of years into the 1980s, and you rarely see the 810 nameplate these days. Every once in a while, however, an 810 shows up in The Crusher’s waiting room. Here’s a ’78 wagon I found in California last month.
The 810 shared quite a few components with the 280Z, including the six-cylinder L engine. By 1978, the Z cars had 2.8 liter L28s, but the 810 got the 2.4 liter L24 out of the older 240Z.
The 810 wagon, with its need to carry heavy loads, didn’t get the independent rear suspension of the Z and the 810 coupes and sedans.
While modern-day drivers would consider this car intolerably cramped, it was sold as a fairly luxurious and high-tech machine back in the late 1970s.
Look at this engineer-designed array of warning lights!
The original purchaser of this Datsun opted for the three-speed automatic transmission. With 125 horsepower out of the L24, this car wouldn’t have been quite as slow as most slushboxed-up Japanese cars of the era.
A Ford Windsor V8 is a pretty easy swap into the engine compartment of a 280Z, which means the same swap should work in an 810 wagon. What a fine parts-hauling setup that would make!

This ad is for the sedan, but still gives a good idea of the “yacht-grade” luxury Nissan was after with the 810.

17 - 1978 Datsun 810 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 01 - 1978 Datsun 810 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 02 - 1978 Datsun 810 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 03 - 1978 Datsun 810 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 04 - 1978 Datsun 810 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 05 - 1978 Datsun 810 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 06 - 1978 Datsun 810 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 07 - 1978 Datsun 810 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 08 - 1978 Datsun 810 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 09 - 1978 Datsun 810 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 10 - 1978 Datsun 810 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 11 - 1978 Datsun 810 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 12 - 1978 Datsun 810 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13 - 1978 Datsun 810 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 14 - 1978 Datsun 810 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 15 - 1978 Datsun 810 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 16 - 1978 Datsun 810 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Hammer Time: German Fury, Easy Credit & The 1967 Arabs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/hammer-time-german-fury-silver-medals/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/hammer-time-german-fury-silver-medals/#comments Wed, 01 Aug 2012 15:58:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=454876 I woke up bright and early on Monday morning, 7:00 AM. A wake-up time reserved for maniacs and those who have circadian rhythms that are the exact opposite of yours truly. Just a 10 mile drive to a neighboring auto auction. A nice stroll to a back lot loaded with 91 cars for the 9:30 […]

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I woke up bright and early on Monday morning, 7:00 AM. A wake-up time reserved for maniacs and those who have circadian rhythms that are the exact opposite of yours truly.

Just a 10 mile drive to a neighboring auto auction. A nice stroll to a back lot loaded with 91 cars for the 9:30 AM sale. The beauty of the day seemed to shine before me as I looked at what was supposed to be an immaculate 1987 BMW 524td that had all of 69,000 miles.

 

It turned out to be a BMW 518i with a broken odometer. Two disappointments in only one car.

To put this in reference, imagine a conventional gas engine that can outdiesel a diesel when it comes to disadvantages. The 518i was quite possibly the slowest BMW sold in Europe during the 1980′s. Nobody wanted an arthritic 1.8 Liter engine that had less forward momentum than the 1976 Buccaneers or the 1967 Arabs . Even ten years ago, you could buy one of these light on the throttle BMW’s for dirt cheap.

It’s also tough to find any good mechanic who can work on a grey market vehicle. A European engine that was never sold in the United States is even more of a deterrent. Unless you do your own wrenching, in which case, the 528i is an infinitely better vehicle.

So how much did this unter-achiever sell for this morning? Try $2425.

There is still plenty of crazy in todays market. Observe the following prices…

2004 Toyota Sienna: LE, Cloth, 153k, Big Crack On The Dash: $8600

2006 Chevy Impala: LS, Leather, 98k, Prior Rental: $7600

2005 Toyota RAV4: 4wd, Cloth, 160k, Interior Issues: $7100

2000 Toyota Camry: Leather, 39k, Automatic, Black: $6800

2007 Honda Fit: Sport, 199k, Auto, White: $5550

2007 Toyota Camry: LE, Cloth, 197k, Interior Issues: $7900

It’s virtually impossible for me to buy late model Toyotas, Hondas, and anything that may be on the short list of a large buy-here pay-here outfit. A lot of the notes on these cars will be sold to finance companies who will then in turn package these beautiful deals into asset backed securities that can be sold in the greater financial markets.

The market for these assets has nearly doubled in only a year. Like all other bubbles, there will be some popping at some point. But for now it means that I just can’t buy in certain markets.

I did buy two vehicles.

A 1996 Nissan Maxima SE with high miles (206k) but a solid powertrain. It was rarely on the road for the last two years due to it being an Atlanta car with emission issues. A lot of shops will quote $300+ for a knock sensor on these things and $700 for the cat without telling the buyer that both parts together can be had for about 15% of that price. That’s what happened here.

Maximas can make superb finance vehicles. But you have to bring the vehicles back to a state of condition that I call ‘Day One’. Replace the power steering and brake fluids along with any hoses under the hood that show signs of cracking. Get all the interior components working including the windows, radio and all dashboard buttons.

In essence, you want the new owner to get in a vehicle where everything works with ease so that they, in turn, will take care of any little problems before they become big.

If the car runs well, I got paid. If it winds up in the shop, I get nothing but grief.  When you use the ‘me’ criteria of, “I would buy this vehicle if I were in the market for one.”, you end up with several hundred more in the cars. But you earn thousands and often times get referrals.

The 2000 Ford Expedition XLT also had over 200k. However it was immaculate. No stains on the interior. Garage kept. Everything, save for the driver’s side window, was in good working order. That I bought for about $300 more than a run of the mill version, but it will wind up on the road a lot quicker than the common ones in average condition.

Turnover is a big deal in the car business. Hopefully these two vehicles will flip quicker than than my local commissioner who recently got caught trying to railroad a local fruit stand out of all things.

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Piston Slap: 4DSC goes to Infiniti and Beyond? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/piston-slap-4dsc-goes-to-infiniti-and-beyond/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/piston-slap-4dsc-goes-to-infiniti-and-beyond/#comments Wed, 21 Dec 2011 12:14:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=422788   T.J. writes: Hey guys, The day I knew was coming but hoped would never arrive is here.  I have to decide whether its time to replace my trusty ride, a 1996 Infiniti I30 with estimated 235k miles (odo was broken years ago, repaired, and reset to a mileage amount we now think is low.  […]

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T.J. writes:

Hey guys,

The day I knew was coming but hoped would never arrive is here.  I have to decide whether its time to replace my trusty ride, a 1996 Infiniti I30 with estimated 235k miles (odo was broken years ago, repaired, and reset to a mileage amount we now think is low.  actual miles is probably around 250-260k).  The issue is an oil leak.

It’s now leaking at the rate of about 5 quarts every 3000 miles.  I’ve been content to keep topping off the oil, but now the leak is causing other problems; specfically, the a/c and alternator belt will not stay on because the pulley is soaked in oil.  Fixing the leak would be over $1000, and this would the third or so leak that we’ve plugged, only to have another pop up, so I’m convinced that if I was to fix it, a new engine is the way to go.  I have an estimate from my mechanic (a very reasonable, trustworthy independent shop) for $2200 or so ($850 for a used local engine with 90k miles, $200 in other parts, and 13 hours labor).

That estimate will probably go up to around $3k (my guess) as I told him I’d also want to replace the transmission (original, never been rebuilt), and engine mounts (needed to be replaced years ago).  The book says to remove the engine from the bottom, so since all those pieces are coming out anyway, he said there wouldn’t be additional labor, only parts.  I’ve sunk almost $2k into this car this year for new shocks, a new harmonic balancer, and 3 new tires less than 3 weeks ago.  A/C was replaced only 1-2 years ago, radiator, I’d say roughly 50-60k miles ago.  Nonessential functions are a mess, though.  Cruise control and radio don’t work (I have a 45 minute highway commute, so those aren’t luxuries), and I can’t use the trunk due to being rear-ended by an uninsured driver, which caused about $1200 in damage to my rear bumper and trunk lid, which has never been repaired.  I have more than enough saved to do this repair, and at my current savings rate, it would take me about 3-4 months to recoup the $3k.  I’m now driving about 15k miles a year.  If I was to replace the car, I would not be getting rid of it.  Due to its condition, its worthless to anyone else except me.  Plus, this is the only car I’ve ever had.  I’m almost 28, and I’ve had this car since I got my license at 16 and put almost all the mileage on it (it had 42k miles when we got it), so it feels like a high school sweetheart I ended up marrying.

My plan if I was to replace it now would be to park it until I had sufficient funds in a few years to get it fixed up and running again.  If I do replace it, I’d likely be waiting for a couple more months and driving an extra family car my parents are willing to loan me till then (I recently started a new job and probably won’t be off new hire probation for 2-3 more months and do not want to be buying a car till then).  Thanks for the advice.

Sajeev Answers:

Since you will keep this car forever (I LOVE HEARING THAT!) do not fix this motor, instead grab a low mile motor from an auto recycler, put fresh gaskets on it, and install. The extra cost incurred is totally worth it, as you’ll get a ton of extra life.

This is also a good time to consider LS4-FTW, but that’s because I haven’t said that in a long, long time.

Restomodding is the name of this game: I was in your shoes when I was 23, with a similar car…a fairly undesirable Fox Body Mercury Cougar XR-7.  Now, almost 12 years later, the Cougar is a bit of a cult classic, and everyone seems (pretends?) to love mine.  Sure, it isn’t a daily driver anymore, but it was at one point and I saved a ton of money driving it.  I call it “my soldier” as it always stood behind me and always impresses bystanders. Hell, I drove it for weeks while waiting for my new 2011 Ford Ranger to arrive, even though it needs a lot of work. It never did me wrong, and I love it for that reason.

Screwball Restomods are insane amounts of fun.  And since the Infiniti I30 is just a Maxima in nice threads, you can do the same. My Cougar woke up quickly with 5.0 Mustang parts, among other items from the Ford parts bin.  Your Infiniti can be a real 4DSC with a lot of Maxima.org forum searching and patience from both yourself and your mechanic: suspension upgrades, 5-speed stick, etc. It’s all in the palm of your hands. Ask stupid questions with respect.  Read the posts of smart people on the forum. Absorb everything.

Buy a newer vehicle whenever you need it…but keep it cheap.  You, by your own admission, are married the Infiniti. So don’t let any schmuck stop you from keeping your I30.

Listen to the madman typing behind the scenes on this webpage, you will NEVER regret this.

 Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

 

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Piston Slap: Peace of Mind or Shameless Shill? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/piston-slap-peace-of-mind-or-shameless-shill/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/piston-slap-peace-of-mind-or-shameless-shill/#comments Mon, 12 Dec 2011 14:46:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=422029 Eric writes: I have a 2000 Maxima with about 155k on the clock.  I purchased this car in Los Angeles and since 2005, it’s lived in Ohio and Pennsylvania.  The main issue is that I can tell the transmission is starting to get a bit soft on the 1-2 upshift, specifically once it starts getting […]

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Eric writes:

I have a 2000 Maxima with about 155k on the clock.  I purchased this car in Los Angeles and since 2005, it’s lived in Ohio and Pennsylvania.  The main issue is that I can tell the transmission is starting to get a bit soft on the 1-2 upshift, specifically once it starts getting cold out.  I presume the primary reason for this is the abuse it’s suffered at my hands.  As it was a California car, it has no traction control and though I love it nine months of the year, it is utterly helpless in the snow—snow tires didn’t seem to help tremendously.  I’ve had to rock myself out a number of times and I presume the trans has gotten overheated at least once.  I’ve been good about changing the fluid (drain and fill 3x, filter too) about once a year but I think I’m near the end on this trans.

So the question is should I seek out a used AT and have it swapped, send out for a quality rebuild or just replace the Max outright?  It’s been quite good to me with only minor repairs such as a cat, MAF and coils.  I can happily say that it’s a car that I’ve enjoyed quite a lot and wouldn’t mind keeping—the 3.0 VQ is still strong despite the miles.  The main complicating factor is that my wife’s car is not yet paid off and I don’t think I’ll be able to take on a 2nd auto loan; we still have about 3 years left on the current loan.

I’ve toyed with the notion of adding an older Miata to the stable for summer fun and occasional project; though affordable enough to buy outright and I wouldn’t mind it as a daily driver, I’m sure that it wouldn’t be much fun in the winter.  If I dump the Maxima, what would you think might be a suitable replacement?

Sajeev Answers:

Keep it, because you can’t afford a second loan. And why would you? This is far from a death sentence to your automotive needs, its just giving an old friend a helping hand when they need it the most.

You mentioned regular fluid changes. Good for you!  There’s a slim chance that adding a transmission additive (some recommend Lucas, I will not go that far) will fix the problem and this will be the end of the story for months…or maybe longer.  If so…perfection!

But if not, buying a remanufactured transmission is your best bet.  The moment someone cracks open your autobox for a visual inspection is the time when your hard earned dollars are wasted, misused. At this age and mileage, and transmission should be rebuilt/replaced, not somewhat disassembled, inspected, and a couple of parts fixed.

Who rebuilds a Nissan transaxle decently?  Not entirely sure. I’ve been bitten by local shops that never knew the specifics of a certain manufacturer’s design, so I tend to err on the cautious side: either get one from Nissan with a factory warranty or ring up the folks at Jasper.  As their website says, the 3 year warranty and quality control procedures gives “Peace of Mind” that isn’t available by a local shop.  And they usually drop ship to your trusty mechanic, for a quick install.  I am usually hesitant to outright recommend a particular vendor, but Jasper seems to give people on many forums just what their website promises, no matter the make and model.

Best and Brightest: approve or disapprove of this particular shameless shill?

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Piston Slap: Dreading “The Dreaded” ATF Flush? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/piston-slap-dreading-the-dreaded-atf-flush/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/piston-slap-dreading-the-dreaded-atf-flush/#comments Wed, 03 Aug 2011 15:04:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=405329 Jackson writes: I own a 2001 Nissan Maxima and a 2006 Corvette, both purchased new w/cash. I know the Maxima with 105,000+ miles has had two ATF services, which included the “dreaded ATF Flush”. So far the thing keeps running, only issue (unrelated) was a Cat replacement (99,000) and 3 O2 sensors around the same […]

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Jackson writes:

I own a 2001 Nissan Maxima and a 2006 Corvette, both purchased new w/cash. I know the Maxima with 105,000+ miles has had two ATF services, which included the “dreaded ATF Flush”. So far the thing keeps running, only issue (unrelated) was a Cat replacement (99,000) and 3 O2 sensors around the same time.

The 2006 Corvette at 5 years and 42,600 miles is due for a coolant service and I see that the ATF service is 50,000 (harsh) or 100,000 (normal). So far expenses have been limited to gas, once a year oil changes and a set of tires at 26,000 due to some aggressive driving, aggressive factory camber settings and a shard of metal. It’s been spotless so far besides a squeaky roof panel which has been solved by periodic application of Super Lube to some contact points. Should I do an ATF flush for the vette? It would be a BG machine. It’s a warm weather commuter for me (42 miles round trip per day of which 26 is highway miles on which avg. speed 75 mph which is just 3 days a week).

I have taken it on 6 long trips over the years as well as weekend cruises. I do use the paddles about 30% of the time, but do not really hoon it so much the past 2 years after getting 3 speeding tickets in 6 month period…which I fought and is another subject. So please advise.

Sajeev answers:

The easier of the two to E-diagnose is the ‘vette. First, I really hope you ditch(ed) those run flat tires for some donuts befitting a Porsche 911, as that is what the Corvette deserved from the factory. And like much like Motor Trend’s game changing car of the year, the 1997 Chevy Malibu, the C6 Corvette comes with a sealed-for-life transmission. Which begs the question, where did you hear about a 50,000 mile service interval under any condition? Not that owner’s manuals are always right, but I seriously doubt you read that from your glovebox.

These gearboxes normally go 100,000-ish miles before servicing, and your driving habits are definitely within that realm. If you have the motivation, check the fluid’s condition using the link’s info. Odds are the ATF is fine, it should have a pink color with a slightly sweet smell. If it has black-ish bits and smells like a BBQ pit, change it according to factory procedures…and good luck with that!

Now about the Maxima: I question if an “ATF flush” is really something to dread. I’d be quite thrilled with your vehicle, if I were to buy it from you. The biggest plus in the flush’s favor is how it blows out all the old fluid from the torque convertor, which is essentially impossible in vehicles without a drain plug on said convertor’s case. While it doesn’t change the transmission filter, I’ve been told by several techs that this filter isn’t exactly that high tolerance in its filtering capability. Which implies…

…that doing the “dreaded ATF flush” when your fluid degrades essentially makes the transmission filter a lifetime service part. My thoughts are completely debunked over here, but I see their opinion as more applicable to car with more advanced transmission failures.

What say you, Best and Brightest?

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Piston Slap: The Minima-Maxima and The Circle of Life http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/piston-slap-the-minima-maxima-and-the-circle-of-life/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/piston-slap-the-minima-maxima-and-the-circle-of-life/#comments Thu, 09 Jun 2011 14:41:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=396659 Fred B. writes: Sajeev, You recent article about racks prompted me to write.  I am the proud owner of a 1996 Nissan Maxima.  I’ve had it since about 30k miles.  Over the course of its 209k mile life it has garnered additional accouterments along with its original generous kit.  Specifically, the paint has gracelessly aged […]

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Fred B. writes:

Sajeev,

You recent article about racks prompted me to write.  I am the proud owner of a 1996 Nissan Maxima.  I’ve had it since about 30k miles.  Over the course of its 209k mile life it has garnered additional accouterments along with its original generous kit.  Specifically, the paint has gracelessly aged in the Texas sun to a rosy multi-hued patina that varies from nearly bare steel on some of the flat parts to the original red on the sheltered parts.  The car hasn’t lived in Texas all of its life.  Its formative years were spent in Indiana, where the salt festooned winter streets customized the underside.  In fact, it used to make such a racket that I removed the heat shields from the exhaust system.

The interior has also received the gentle blessings of years of use.  The leather rear headrests are cracked, and just recently the driver’s side seat has ripped.  The ebrake boot is shredded, although that is more a function of a poor design, every model of this vintage I have ever seen has a shredded boot.  Otherwise, this car seems to have been built out of lifetime parts.  (I did swap out the stereo, another problem with these models, and I simply stopped changing oxygen sensors after I spent my thousandth dollar doing so.  That was more than ten years ago.  Otherwise, original transmission, engine, pretty much everything.  New belts and other consumables at 100k, regular synthetic oil, probably need to replace the transmission fluid.)

To the point, I no longer take the car out of town.  I pretty much drive it back and forth to work and take two of my children several days a week for a low speed commute and to soccer practice in a medium sized town.  The steering rack is leaking fluid.  It has been leaking fluid for two years.  I top it off every once in a while, and it doesn’t give me a problem.  However, the fluid is apparently dripping onto the front control arm bushings, causing them to deteriorate.  My mechanic says that they will eventually go, but that watchful waiting is ok, and that it is not worth replacing just the bushings because I would have to replace the entire arms and the new bushings would simply be destroyed by the leaking rack.

He is quoting me $1500 for the rack and $700 for the control arm job.  Here’s my question: At what point do I give up on this sun-mellowed beast?  I don’t think it is worth north of $2k for the repairs.  It is still pretty sprightly, comfortable to drive and gets me around.  I can afford another car, but I need five seats and the nothing about the possibilities (other than last chance at a Panther) leap out at me (I am half waiting for the G8 GTs or the 2010 Maximas fall below $20k, but that is at least a year away in my estimation.).  We have a minivan for trips and schlepping the whole family around.  I thought that something like the transmission would give out and make my decision (relatively) easy.  I doubt that the bushings couldn’t just be replaced, but I am not sure how much risk I am taking by simply waiting for them to fail.  If the transmission or engine isn’t going to fail, it means that the car will fail when the bushings go, and I’m not sure I want to be there when that happens.

So, what are your thoughts on doing something with the front end like what you did on your Lincoln vs. just waiting for it to fail?  Also, I haven’t shopped the front end job, but do those prices seem ballpark reasonable?

Sajeev answers:

Since you mentioned it, I don’t hesitate to fix (just about) anything on my rust free, 170,000 mile Mark VIII.  The black leather interior is original, smells kinda luxurious and still gets compliments from random people. With modifications to its air sprung chassis and 330hp on tap, it drives better than most new cars. If I keep my wits about me, I can hyper-mile it to 32 MPG, even on E10 gas.  And I drive it anywhere I want, usually with a grin on my face. Mess with a good thing?

No way. I don’t want another daily driver, much less the associated monthly payment of a newer luxury coupe of this caliber. It’s worth every penny for a Mark VIII in this condition, with an owner so motivated to make it happen. But I am the exception, not the rule. I don’t expect anyone to be even remotely like me.

And for your ride, I’m not feelin’ it. There’s not enough Maxima love in your letter, and this Nissan needs a lot of work. Suspension work is expensive, but worth it.  Interior stuff for cars with no aftermarket restoration support is fiddly and pricey, you’d need a clean parts car (or some luck and a 50% off sale at a junkyard) to do this in a reasonable budget. So this is a car you run into the ground, sell it to the junkyard and start all over again. That is, after all, the circle of automotive life.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Curbside Classic CA Vacation – Highly Un-Los Gatos Edition: 1977 Datsun 810 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/curbside-classic-ca-vacation-highly-un-los-gatos-edition-1977-datsun-810/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/curbside-classic-ca-vacation-highly-un-los-gatos-edition-1977-datsun-810/#comments Sat, 02 Jan 2010 22:50:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=340531 We lived in Los Gatos from 1987 to 1993. It was already becoming a high-priced enclave for Silicon Valley high fliers then, and now it’s utterly transformed. The Ford, Chevy and even the Honda dealers are now all shuttered, but the RR, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Lamborghini and Bentley dealers are flourishing. Disneyland-esque mansions the size […]

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old-school los gatos Datsun 810

We lived in Los Gatos from 1987 to 1993. It was already becoming a high-priced enclave for Silicon Valley high fliers then, and now it’s utterly transformed. The Ford, Chevy and even the Honda dealers are now all shuttered, but the RR, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Lamborghini and Bentley dealers are flourishing. Disneyland-esque mansions the size of hotels have replaced little ranchers. Driving back into to town after a wonderful hike in the hills with friends, I saw the ultimate extremes: a brand-new “reproduction” full-sized water-wheel “mill” on a dry, scrubby hillside, “turning” slowly while the pump-fed recirculating “stream” spilled from its “sluice” to “power” it. This thing was the size of a two or three-story house; a “lawn ornament” of grandiose proportions straight out of a theme park. Ok; I don’t have any problems with folks having lots of money; but do they have to spend it in such grotesque ways? But just a block away from our old house I found the perfect antidote to my nouveau riche nausea: a 1977 Datsun 810.

CC SM 77 017 800

Datsun was late to the game with six-cylinder sedans. Toyota had been selling their Buick-esque Crown since the mid-sixties. Finally, in 1977 Datsun sent this 810 our way, utilizing the Z-car’s 2.4 liter SOHC rated at 125 hp. It was essentially a federalized version of the Nissan Bluebird Maxima, and the subsequent generations reverted to the Maxima name to this day.

CC SM 77 020 800

These cars shared their platforms and quite a few other parts with the second-generation Datsun 280ZX, including their semi-trailing arm IRS. They were fairly straight-forward, traditional and pretty boring RWD sedans, similar to the Tokyo taxis that Nissan and Datsun built for decades; the Japanese Mercedes w123. To my memory, they never sold in significant numbers, but gave loyal Datsun buyers a way to move up the ladder without leaving the fold. And there definitely aren’t many around these days. Thank you, Datsun 810, for being there so that I could stop holding my nose for our brief time in Los Gatos.

More Curbside Classics here

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