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I'm thinking of buying a 1981 Nissan 280ZX turbo with 88,000 miles and am wondering what are the typical problems this car experiences? Does the automatic transmission last very long? I heard in the 90's version it did not. Any insight would be appreciated.
 

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My '81's got about 150000 miles on it. As far as problems, I've replaced the crank angle sensor, maybe the problem are on these cars. The 81's are prone to failure of this unit. Apparently Nissan realized the problem because the '82/'83's use a different setup. The fix is to install a distributor (with built in crank angle sensor) and oil pump drive shaft from an '82 or '83 turbo car into the '81. The tranny is pretty much bullet proof. If its properly cared for, it will easily outlast the car.
Beyond that, diff mounts break, the radios and interior parts break and the car rusts but the engines just keep on runnin'.
Dan
 

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My friend had a 280zxt from the same year, with ~120k miles, that he ended up selling to me for parts. The *only* real problem was the rust--the body was eaten all over the place, to the point where the metal around the left front shock mount was tearing a little bit further every time I lifted it up or put it back down on the wheels. I would definitely check for this, look carefully around and under the car for anything that's gone beyond surface rust, and if you buy the car, do something about any surface rust before it gets worse. Rust problems are unfortunately a trademark of the Z cars.

Mechanically beautiful though--the person he bought it from had maintained it religiously, since she worked for Datsun and got free service. The engine ran like a Swiss watch. I didn't pull the transmission apart, but I didn't hear anything about problems with it, and the fluid looked clean and didn't smell like burned clutches. The engine in yours might not be as good, but generally Nissan engines are some of the longest lasting around.

Other problems--the dash material often cracks with age, probably something to do with UV exposure. The one I pulled apart looked something like dried mud (it was the gold interior). The seats are often an issue, specifically the seams on the leather seats. In that car and my own '83 they've given out on the driver's seat. Aside from that I can't think of anything common, except for what I guess you would see in cars that age, little things like the windshield washer fluid level sensor going bad.

I hope this helps you out. If there isn't a serious rust problem, I would say go for it!

BTW, you don't have to post so often--posts don't vanish into the murk that quickly.
 

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Posting questions

Elaborating on ddbrunner's advice about posting: We noticed five or six similar posts from you the past 2 days about the wisdom of purchasing this '81 ZX. There are thousands of posts on this site.....you are just looking at the first page, in case you are not aware. Click on "older messages" for more and more pages, or do a search for something like "Buying 280ZX" for much more of the information that you seek.
 
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