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1982 280ZX
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Can anyone tell me if the heater / air conditioning box under the dash is the same on non A/C cars? Is it possible to retrofit A/C into a 280ZX with just the missing A/C parts or are there extra under-dash parts and other electronics necessary (other than the controls obviously!) Thanks!
 

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Yes, this can be done. I did it on my 280z which came from factory with NO a/c. Now, I have yet to see a 280zx that did not come with air conditioning...
However, I do see that you may be from Canukistan (No pun intended hehe, I do love Canada), so it is probably safe for me to say that you have a Canadian-spec car that possibly never had AC due to thee, shall I say 'cooler weather conditions':cool:
Either that, or your car has AC and is either not working or missing parts.

I can tell you that on the 280z (U.S. spec car) an AC system from another 280z will fit right in. All the plugs are on the harness from Nissan and everything is pretty much plug and play. Now, the heater box on my car only had 3 fan settings (off, 1, 2, and 3) and you really want as much air flow as possible in hot weather. So I got another unit that had 4 settings and also had the evaporator core, expansion valve and all the other AC components involved. I cannot speak for the 280zx... but I would think that it would be no different. If this is the case, what you would need to do is get the parts from a car that came with AC and swap them in yours. I can elaborate if you need...

Bon
 

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1982 280ZX
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Really appreciate the feedback here. You guessed correctly: it's a Canadian car.

You made me feel slightly less dumb though... I've been kicking myself about not checking whether the car had A/C before I agreed to buy it. See, when I heard my wife's friend was selling the car, I just said "I'LL TAKE IT!", sight unseen. I owned an 82 280ZX in the early 90s (in the USA) and my recollection was that all of them had A/C- so I just stupidly assumed this car would too. Oh well, 30 years later, no less impulsive and apparently no smarter either. :LOL:

I'll definitely be getting back in touch with you about doing this retrofit. I'm going to start looking around for parts and see if anything's out there. This car has the (apparently common) under dash coolant valve leak, so I had planned to remove the dash this fall/winter and deal with that. I'm thinking now that I may as well install any under-dash parts at the same time.

If I understood correctly, it might be simplest to find a complete heater a/c box with evaporator, expansion valve, etc, to install as a single big unit? Or will the evaporator and expansion valve etc slot in to the heater box I already have? I've seen hints online that they may be different boxes but nothing definitive at all. Hopefully I can find controls with whatever car might donate the A/C parts, I guess I'll start searching.

Thanks again, much obliged!
 

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hey there ain't nobody out there dumber than me haha... so consider yourself a step up!
So, first thing is to do check and make sure whether the car does or does not have AC. Just look under the hood and check for the following: belt and compressor assembly, ac flow and return lines going into the firewall, receiver dryer assembly, and condenser core assembly. If you don't see any of these, then you'll know no AC :eek: also you'll see where the lines go through the firewall, that the port will be blocked off. If your car has all of these, then you just have a broken system that needs inspection and repair.

Yes, that water c*ck valve leak is common. these are now new back in stock from certain vendors online, get one while you can.

The heater core / evap control unit should all be housed in the center control box assembly, however I do not know for sure, as I have only done this on the 280z, not the zx.
on mine, the only thing inside the control unit was the heater core and lines. the control unit I replaced it with had the evap core, heater core, and expansion valve. now, the expansion valve on my car could be removed and installed... in fact, mine was faulty and I had to get another one... BUT, I believe on the 280zx, it is an integreal part of the evap core (might need to research that)... the only reason I think this, is because I went looking for another core at a local vender and I found one that was available for the 280z, but turned out that is was actually for the 280zx, not the 280z, and it looked different. so beware of that....

also, I forgot to ask, is your car a GLL with the automatic climate controls? if so, there will be extra steps involved.

there is no reason to dig into your dash, unless you find that the car did NOT come with AC! if it has it, then you just need to diagnose the problem.
if it indeed does not have the system... then you might as well go all out. Before you do all of that, I would get all the components needed first...
and if you decide to remove the dash and all, plan on it being down for awhile... take the time to go through everything. I did a lot of repairing, cleaning, and inspecting when I had my dash out.

Bon
 

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1982 280ZX
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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Thanks for the info bonfire79- I know the car doesn't have A/C, which is what shocked me, as I had just always assumed they all had A/C since I never saw one in the USA without it. I was a bit (a lot) bummed out about that but I had already agreed to buy the car and it's a friend so....

The reason I need to go into the dash anyway is that there's a coolant flow valve in there, and according to a document I found online, there's a seal in there that goes bad and when it does, it leaks coolant into the passenger footwell when you try to turn down the heat, which is exactly the symptom I have. Apparently there's no way to get at it without removing the dash. If I get the trans finished, I think I'll be applying the "vice grips across the heater hose" technique until I can work on the heating/cooling situation.

I'm going to have to take a look and see if the firewall even has cutouts for A/C lines. I would have guessed it would, but then I assumed they all had A/C too. 😆

Oh, and mine's not a GL, mine's the version with wind-up windows (I also thought they all had power windows :rolleyes:), no cruise, no computerized voice, no bells or whistles at all. Oh, Canada.

EDIT: oh and yeah, I only want the dash out once!
 

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1982 280ZX
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Pulling the dash is the easiest part. ;)
Hehe, well, I read in one place that it was basically "pull the steering wheel and then like 4 screws and the dash falls out" and someone else said it was an 8 hour job. Obviously I'm hoping for the former ;)

Also, maybe I should start a new thread, but I think it's relevant enough to continue here- anyone ever thought of hacking a modern 12V compressor A/C system from a Prius or a Tesla or something in? It's gotta be possible right? And there are some obvious upsides. I'm all for factory and original if the parts are available and affordable but at first glance they're not common and quite pricey. I'm also thinking that modern parts are smaller and that there's gotta be something that will fit inside the heater box. I don't really need climate control. I just need (want) cold, on/off.
 

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8 / 71 240Z, HLS30-40031, L24-052899, Sunshine Yellow
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The evaporator goes between the blower housing and the heater. It would be best to find an evaporator / case assembly.
Font Parallel Pattern Line art Drawing

You can control the compressor and a fan with a Universal Air Conditioner SW 6493C A/C Thermostat.
You just stick the end of the capillary tube between the fins on the evaporator core.
You won’t need any of the climate control stuff.
Product Data transfer cable Font Output device Cable

Check this place, Great deals from Gearhead Enterprises in Air-Conditioning-Accessories- | eBay Stores
I needed a 12” X 24” condenser for my ‘71 Z.
You can check their kits for an inventory of what you need but don’t buy one. Just getting parts will be $1000.00 cheaper.
Let us know what stock Datsun bolt-on parts you can get and we can go from there.
 

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1983 280ZX Turbo
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I've done a complete write-up more than once on removing the 280ZX dash, but this one has illustrations.


Basically (from memory, haven't done this in 10+ years):

  • Remove the under-dash panels above the footwells. (4 screws total)
  • Remove the small trim panels on each side of the radio (2 screws total)
  • Remove radio (8 screws total, plus unplug radio and antenna)
  • Remove 4 large screws under dash
  • Remove 4 screws along top front of dash (Be careful with the small rectangular cosmetic plugs over them, they're easy to break)
  • Disconnect speedometer cable (unscrew the connecting collar under dash)
  • Disconnect electrical plugs under dash, right side
  • Remove screws above and below climate control panel
  • Remove plastic trim above and below steering wheel (misc. screws)
  • Peel off horn hub, remove nut holding steering wheel in place. (MARK steering shaft and wheel so you can re-mount wheel correctly!)
  • Pull off wheel or use steering wheel puller (mine comes off without puller)
  • You may want to loosen and remove the turn signal assembly to get more room to pull the dash. (One screw, underneath right side of switch assy.)
  • Remove dash, scraping A-pillar plastic trim as little as possible.

Par time for this is about 90 minutes.

When re-installing dash, check the location of the speedometer cable as you sit it in place. It tends to go down the wrong side of the steering column and won't connect to the speedo cable. Make sure it's on the right side of the steering column so you don't get done and find out you have to loosen the whole dash again. (Don't ask how I learned this.)
 

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1982 280ZX
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks Dave and Pilgrim, that's some really useful info all around. This reassures me that I'll be able to come up with some kind of plan that won't completely break the budget - and I'm much less worried about a 90 minute job than a whole weekend deal. I'm looking at bits and pieces in between trying to track down the tools I need to tackle the transmission. Cheers!
 

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1982 280ZX
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The evaporator goes between the blower housing and the heater. It would be best to find an evaporator / case assembly.
View attachment 109502
OK, I've had a chance to take a look at the fsm - am I right in thinking that the evaporator unit is a drop-in replacement for what they're calling the "heater duct" (7) in the non-A/C verson? If diagrams can be trusted it looks like it might slot in there. That would be ideal, obviously.

White Motor vehicle Mode of transport Font Line


Also, while I've found that there are precious few transmissions in scrapyards around North America, it seems like things like A/C parts are quite a bit more plentiful. Seems like heater controls, evaporators with housing etc. are available and not hyper expensive.
 
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