By on March 28, 2017

2008 Maxima, Image: Nissan

This week’s episode of Ask Jack is all about the magic boxes that separate today’s cars from their predecessors — and the unintended consequences of when it all goes wrong.

Reader Eiriksmal writes:

I hope I’ve startled you with this bold introduction. There’s a question I have that only you can answer … probably. It takes a sophisticated man with all sorts of worldly experience that I lack.

You see, I drive a car without antilock brakes, traction control, or stability control. I’m a whipper snapper who’s only been driving 14 years, so I never knew an era without ABS, at the very least. My beloved sixth-generation Maxima, what with the six-speed manual, has a malfunctioning ABS module, so the ABS and TC (no yaw sensor was installed on the 6MT cars — ESC was autotragic only) are kaput. I’ve driven it sans braking assistance for 2.5 years, but today was my first heart-clenching episode caused by a lack of experience with driving an ABS-less car.

I noticed when bedding in some new brakes recently that the back end tries to come around the front in a panic stop after the wheels lock. Sometimes it just squirms a little, other times it would step the back end out a solid 6-8 inches. This confuses me. When I’m pointing in a straight line, holding the steering wheel tight, and jamming the pedal to the floor, why does the lighter back end try to rotate around the heavy nose?

Today, a jerk in an Escape lumbered out in front of me …

This sounds like trouble.

(Read More…)

By on August 29, 2016

1996 Nissan Maxima GXE in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Maxima has been with us since the 1981 Datsun 810 Maxima, which became the Datsun Maxima, then the Datsun Maxima by Nissan, and finally the Nissan Maxima.

Starting out as a Z-car-based sporty sedan, it grew into an electronic-gadget-packed luxury sedan, then became bigger, more powerful, and less crazy with each successive generation until we arrived at the current competent-but-not-particularly-exciting Maxima.

The fifth-generation Maxima, made for the 1994 through 1999 model years, seems to be the last for which the manual-transmission option was selected by a significant minority of buyers; you could get one after 1999, but I never see anything but automatics in my junkyard travels.

Here’s a mean-looking ’96 that I spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on February 4, 2016

IMG_1122

Like cockroaches scattering in the light, Americans are fleeing sedans for the upright comfort and wagon-like space of crossovers.

The full-size sedan segment has recently been hit hard, Maxima included. Since 2012, the auto market has expanded 20 percent, while full-size sedan sales have contracted 14 percent. Based on an aging design and the entrance of Korean rivals, the Maxima’s 12-percent market share in 2012 dwindled to eight percent in 2015.

There is a fair chance no more than six people will read this review, and five of those readers will be future doctoral students deconstructing the final days of the sedan. Does that mean no matter how good the Maxima is — or could be — it’s doomed to fail?

(Read More…)

By on December 21, 2015

15 - 1981 Datsun Maxima in California junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

The 1980s were confusing times for figuring out badges on U.S.-market Japanese cars.

You had the Toyota Corolla Tercel (which wasn’t related to the Corolla). You had the ever-shifting miasma of various Mitsubishi-based Chryslers. You had the Nissan Stanza Wagon (which was a non-Stanza Prairie at home). And you had all the brand bewilderment of the Datsun-to-Nissan changeover of the early part of the decade (to be fair, Detroit was doing the same sort of badging sleight-of-hand, e.g., front- and rear-wheel-drive Cutlasses in the same showroom).

The Datsun 810 became the Nissan Maxima during the 1981-1984 period, but it didn’t happen like flipping a switch; here’s a Datsun 810 with “by Nissan” and Maxima badging that I spotted in a Northern California wrecking yard a few months ago. (Read More…)

By on November 3, 2015

2016 Nissan 370Z at St-Eustache (Micra Cup)

Bark and I, either by fate or consequence, were presented with very similar automotive options lately. While his choice was made on the Emerald Aisle, mine was made over the phone before a planned trip to watch the final round of the Nissan Micra Cup in Quebec.

And while he was less than impressed with the 370Z  — and, on the surface, I can’t disagree — his view extended to the rest of the Nissan lineup.

From an enthusiast’s perch, Bark may not be able to see the forest for the trees.

(Read More…)

By on September 25, 2015

i30

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” It’s an old idea, but one that has increasing relevance in an era where automation is likely to permanently tilt the balance between capital and labor well off the scale. When all the jobs are done by robots, and the robots are owned by a small group of people, and there’s no way to earn enough money through labor to buy robot capital of your own, then won’t we have entered a stasis of sorts in society? And won’t the bolder thinkers among us then propose that the spoils of the robot labor be divided equally? And won’t they have a bit of a point?

There’s also the idea that if you have something that you don’t need, and someone else needs something that they don’t have, and the “something” in question is the same thing, that the reasonable thing to do is to hand that thing that you don’t need over to the someone who needs it. This was the argument I used in 1987 when my brother, known to all and sundry as “Bark M”, found himself in possession of a set of new Z-Mags thanks to our parents liking him best. He didn’t need another set of wheels, but I’d just broken my back wheel riding off a loading dock for no reason at all, so I requisitioned his Z-Mags for my own use. This was made easier by the fact that I was fifteen years old and he was nine. That’s another lesson: equitable redistribution usually requires unreasonable force.

So what does this have to do with the Nissan Maxima, recently summarized in these electronic pages?

(Read More…)

By on July 15, 2015

14 - 1984 Nissan Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Maximas of the ’80s, like their Toyota Cressida counterparts, were pretty reliable and held their heads above the scrap-value waterline for decades after all the early Sentras got crushed. We’ve seen this ’85 sedan with 5-speed, this gig-rig ’86 wagon with pleading note to the tow-truck driver and this super-weird ’86 sedan with brake fluid used as coolant and washer fluid in this series so far, and today we’re heading to the San Francisco Bay Area to see this last-year-of-rear-wheel-drive example. (Read More…)

By on June 19, 2015

Maxima 8.15.15 AM

Nissan USA’s Maxima sales figures are about to look very good. Oh, not in comparison with, for instance, Nissan’s own Altima, one of America’s best-selling cars, but rather, in comparison with recent Nissan Maxima sales figures.

New, eighth-generation Maximas are beginning to arrive at dealers. These cars, as you might expect, replace the seventh-generation Maxima, a car that was launched back in 2008, just at the onset of a recession.

The aged Maxima, therefore, has appeared particularly unwell of late. With poor demand and few available Maximas to speak of, May 2015 volume was cut in half in the United States, year-over-year. (Read More…)

By on May 5, 2015

14 - 1985 Nissan Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

A front-wheel-drive Nissan Maxima in the junkyard must have something special to induce me to shoot photographs. We’ve seen this gig-rig ’86 wagon with pleading note to the tow-truck driver and this super-weird ’86 sedan with brake fluid used as coolant and washer fluid in this series so far, and now I’ve found this extremely rare 5-speed-equipped ’85 in a Northern California yard. (Read More…)

By on April 2, 2015

2016 Nissan Maxima

Months after making its debut during a Super Bowl ad, Nissan is showing us the rest of the 2016 Maxima.

(Read More…)

By on February 3, 2015

B87WOdPIcAALf8K

A return of the 4DSC?

(Read More…)

By on August 1, 2014

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. (Read More…)

By on January 17, 2014

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. (Read More…)

By on September 20, 2013

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. (Read More…)

By on January 7, 2013

This week has been nothing less than the usual.

The top 5 vehicles were either Toyotas or Ford trucks, with a 2005 Toyota RAV4 that had galloped 425,904 miles skating right past a 2003 Ford E250 with 413,579. Eight of the top ten were either the usual Ford/Chevy/Toyota truck, or a Honda/Toyota car. Only a solitary Vulcan V6 Ford car and a Nissan Maxima interrupted the usual domination. Both of those models I’m thinking about adding to the list just because they are frequent enough to merit that distinction along with Sajeev’s beloved Panthers.

But then again, I did have one big surprise. Anyone remember the Mercury Capri?

(Read More…)

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Seth Parks, United States
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Kyree Williams, United States