1983 Datsun 280zx not starting! - Nissan : Datsun ZCar forum :Nissan Z Forum: 240Z to 370Z
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#1 (permalink) Old 05-28-2011, 12:40 PM
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1983 Datsun 280zx not starting!

So a week ago I bought this car for a very reasonable price all running 1983 Datsun 280zx turbo with the 5 speed transmission, the guy I bought the car from got it in trade because of what was thought to be a bad clutch. He let it sit for a year in his barn before working on it. The mechanic looked at it and found the clutch master cylinder was empty so he added fluid, bled the clutch and it shifted fine so he assumed all the car needed was a slave cylinder. Thats how I bought the car running and able to drive with a slave cylinder. I towed the car home after purchase using AAA. When home I wanted to see if the car would move at all and come to find it shifted fine the fluid level was great and no leaks at all, so i proceeded to drive it around my little community I live in for 5 miles or so to make sure it ran and shifted good before I took it out further.

Heres where the problems start and I am at a loss of what to do so any help would be amazing and greatly appreciated. Im going to try to give as much information as I can. And yes the check engine light is on.

After driving it around my community I brought it home, registered the car and put my plates on. Then the car needing a little bit of TLC interior wise I drove it to the local AutoZone about a 3 mile trip and purchased some seat covers and other misc. parts. The car ran great there and the turbo worked perfectly. After getting the parts I got into the car and it wouldn't start at all just turned over and over. I noticed the gas gauge (digital dash) was 2 lines from empty so I assumed like a few other cars I have had in the past the fuel gauge may be wrong and I was out of gas. I kept trying hoping it was a bubble in the gas line or something not know then eventually the car started, very rough but started and was shooting black smoke out of the tail pipe. The AutoZone employee looked at me and said wow looks like your burning some oil you probably need an engine rebuild on that old "beast" , well needless to say Im glad he isnt my mechanic. I could be wrong but black smoke is the car running to rich not oil burning. Nevertheless I backed out of the parking spot and it kept sputtering out and I had to restart the car. So fearing I wouldn't make it to the gas station I pulled back into the parking spot and shut the car off. I called some friends to bring me gas and they headed out with 15 dollars (around here thats around 3.5 gallons). After I called them I tried to start it again and nothing, so I just let it sit. When they got to me which was about 45 minutes later we put the gas in and started the car right up, relieved that thats all it was I took off towards my home not knowing what was to come later. Before getting home I stopped and filled up with regular gas and gave it a car wash to clean the fresh barn bird crap off the car. I got home and put the seat covers on and did a few interior cosmetic fixes and then decided I wanted to take the t-tops off and go for a drive because it was so nice out.
Then I left my house and 2 miles away more problems started, when the turbo would spool or i would give it a good amount of throttle the car would bog down so I assumed it was either just the bad gas from before working through or a clogged fuel filter. I decided to keep going not to worried I was 99 percent sure it was a fuel filter. I was wrong. Half way up a hill about 9 miles from my starting point the car started to sputter out and die, black smoke again was poring from my tail pipe not in one steady stream but in little bursts and the car was back firing. So a little discouraged I back the car off the hill into a driveway and waited a few minutes. Thinking the fuel filter was acting up I tapped it with a wrench and kept trying to start it with no success. An hour went by and I tried to start it again. No luck. So I called AAA, and they sent a tow truck out which would take about 15 mins to get to me. Between the end of my call to AAA and the tow truck getting to me I pulled the positive terminal out of the battery which leads to the starter and left it out for about 2 mins. Putting the positive back on the car didn't start immediately when trying to start about 3 times later it sprung to life, no skips, no smoke, nothing, it was as if nothing was wrong. So I called the tow truck driver and canceled my tow and drove home. At higher rpm the car would skip a little bit but overall ran good, so I got it home. Scared now of running out of tows for the year in a 3 day period I decided to leave my car at home and take my daily to my buddies and left the Datsun overnight at my place.

The next morning was beautiful out so I went home and started the car it started and I let it idle for a while when some friends wanted me to go to lunch with them. Thinking the car just had a hiccup I decided to take it out to lunch....bad idea. Well I got to the place we were having lunch which was about 4 miles from my house and the car ran great the way there I got there early so went to a local hardware store to look around and kill time before lunch. After 30 mins in there i left and the car started right up and I drove it next door to the pizza place in town. We had lunch and about an hour went by. After lunch I came out and it started a bit hard but started, figuring again it was the fuel filter i wanted to go for a drive to maybe clear out the last bit of that old gas, so I did. About 8 more miles later my friends called and wanted me to get an ice cream so I met them for an ice cream, parked my car and ate. After the ice cream came out and tried to start the car.... again nothing. Getting frustrated because I was gonna be late for work I figured the fuel filter was clogged and I would let the car sit a few hours and change the filter at lunch since the filter is right in the engine bay.

Heres where my troubleshooting started....

At lunch i pulled the fuel filter off the car and blew through it, no resistance. And when I turned the key on I hear the fuel pump but just to make sure there wasn't a clog in the fuel lines i pulled the positive battery terminal off, the top tube off the fuel filter with the key turned to aux so the fuel pump would kick on once i touched off the positive battery terminal. When I did so the fuel pump kicked on and started a mini gas geyser from the filter so I knew that wasn't the problem. I put all the hoses back on and then reconnected the battery and kept trying to turn the car over until the battery died hoping I wouldn't have to use my last AAA tow for the year. Needless to say I had to and got the car towed home. Since then I have trickle charged the battery to full and tried to start it after letting it sit for the night. Nothing. Then I decided to check the three things needed to make an engine run. Spark, fuel, and air. Fuel checked out good. Air checked out good from what i could see the air filter was new. When turning the car over I noticed it got very "gas" smelling so I pulled the plugs out of the car and checked they were soaked in fuel so fearing I flooded the car from trying to start it so much i left the plugs out let the cylinders air out for about 3 hours. Then cleaned the plugs off put them back in and tried again...Nothing. So I did some research online and thats how I found this site, but I came across a few things to check so I looked into them. Some people said the coolant temp, and head temp sensor will default to -40 when bad and will cause the car to dump fuel in and on warm days (its around 70 here now) may flood out the motor. I got excited because that made since to me as to what was going on. So I ordered one for next day delivery. While waiting for those parts to get here I did some more research and found that some people said a bad MAF could do stuff similar to what my car is doing, and others said a cam position sensor. Wanting to wait to check the coolant temp sensor I just stored that in the back of my mind. Then realizing I never did check if it had true spark that night I pulled each spark plug out of the motor and put the threads on a ground and saw if there was a spark... No spark. So fearing the flooding fouled the spark plugs beyond repair I decided to put a metal rod in the end of the plug wires and see if that sparked when touched off. Nothing from any plug wire (the plug wires are new accel performance wires so those are good). So I realized it may not be the coolant temp sensor or head temp sensor and started keying into the ignition system. I started from the beginning, the coil. Which I heard is a common thing to go. I pulled the ignition coil out and ohm tested it and it would just jump around and never stay consistent so I knew that was bad. I canceled the order on the temp sensors and bought a coil hoping thats all it was. I replaced the coil with the new one and put everything back together. Once again nothing the car will just turn over and over and over without even a sputter. So I am at a loss mechanically and mentally I don't like to take things to shops I like working on my own cars but don't know where to turn.


I have some ideas as far as the temp sensors, the MAF, the computer (worst case scenario), the fuel pressure regulator, the distributor and rotor. I cant think of anything else or even begin to think if there is a better place to start checking for a solution. Any help or suggestions will be much appreciated and I know this was a long winded thread but I figured the more exact information the better. Thank you so much and ill be on this site most of the day doing research.

If any pictures are needed to help with ideas I can take and post pictures no problem.

Again thank you for your time.

1983 Datsun 280zx Turbo
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#2 (permalink) Old 05-28-2011, 02:12 PM
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Re: 1983 Datsun 280zx not starting!

Wow, huge first post.
In the future you will need to shorten it up a LOT.
Most people on here like it to the point.
Anyway, your symptoms indicate the ignition module. (search)
Replace it and see where you are at.

Catch some ZZZ's[br]Visit our blog at http://www.bens280zx.blogspot.com/
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#3 (permalink) Old 05-28-2011, 03:24 PM
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Re: 1983 Datsun 280zx not starting!

Thank you I know it was long winded but I was thinking the more info the better. I am going to try that and see where it gets me and ill keep you posted. Thanks again.

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#4 (permalink) Old 05-28-2011, 07:11 PM
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Re: 1983 Datsun 280zx not starting!

It's not that it is long winded...it is b/c there is so much of it. Break it apart with paragraphing and periods. Dreamteam is right...I didn't attempt it...anything past 4 lines get blurred on the computer screen.

Chattanooga, TN 82 white w/ red na coupe 153,000 83 2+2 330k mi 82 Black/buck 126k mi
White82 http://www.zcar.com/members_rides/ma..._876147.0.html
Heater valve repair http://www.zcar.com/70-83_tech_discu..._895221.0.html
Black 82: http://www.zcar.com/members_rides/82..._901420.0.html
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#5 (permalink) Old 05-29-2011, 05:37 AM
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Re: 1983 Datsun 280zx not starting!

Ill remember to keep it short next time , thank you.

I fixed the z, all I did was take all the plugs out left them out for 45 mins. I cleaned the plugs and gapped them all properly put a squirt of starter fluid in each cylinder before putting the plugs back in, put the car back together and started the car. The car is running great now. ;D

I also took a project upon myself which looks really good. I relocated the radio to the area the temperture controls are or were.

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#6 (permalink) Old 05-29-2011, 07:42 AM
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Re: 1983 Datsun 280zx not starting!

Pictures...or it didn't happen

Chattanooga, TN 82 white w/ red na coupe 153,000 83 2+2 330k mi 82 Black/buck 126k mi
White82 http://www.zcar.com/members_rides/ma..._876147.0.html
Heater valve repair http://www.zcar.com/70-83_tech_discu..._895221.0.html
Black 82: http://www.zcar.com/members_rides/82..._901420.0.html
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#7 (permalink) Old 05-29-2011, 09:42 AM
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Re: 1983 Datsun 280zx not starting!

Here is a pic it fit easily the wiring was a pain and I haven't reinstalled my heater controlls anywhere yet it is my summer car so I'm not sure if I'm going to yet. I put a temp metal back plate that I will probably mount other gauges in (fuel pressure, voltage) and make look better later. I like the radio here better because I can keep my hand on the shifter and touch the radio.

And I know my shifter knob is as some say "ricer" it was in the car when I bought it I ordered a stock Z shifter knob and am waiting for it to get to me.



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#8 (permalink) Old 05-29-2011, 12:29 PM
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Re: 1983 Datsun 280zx not starting!

where is the heat and ac?

Chattanooga, TN 82 white w/ red na coupe 153,000 83 2+2 330k mi 82 Black/buck 126k mi
White82 http://www.zcar.com/members_rides/ma..._876147.0.html
Heater valve repair http://www.zcar.com/70-83_tech_discu..._895221.0.html
Black 82: http://www.zcar.com/members_rides/82..._901420.0.html
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#9 (permalink) Old 05-29-2011, 10:15 PM
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Re: 1983 Datsun 280zx not starting!

I took it out I was going to remount it where the radio was supposed to be but got halfway through the teardown and realized I can't there are some gears and levers in these heater controls unlike the controls of the hondas I'm used to driving which are a plug in box. I am only using the car as a summer car and a project so I don't need heat anyway I am only going to take it out on nice days.

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#10 (permalink) Old 05-29-2011, 11:19 PM
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Re: 1983 Datsun 280zx not starting!

I took her out washed her and went on a mini photo shoot for about 20 mins and got some good shots. Now i just need to repaint it. Im thinking of doing plymouth prowler purple i want something different.




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