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What to look for in a 300zx?

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Spend a bit of time looking and know that the one best deals come when you aren't ready.


I spend years looking for cars and they seem to fall into my lap when I'm not looking.


As far as condition of car, it depends on what your area of expertise is.


For me, interior and body to a certain extent is important because mechanical stuff is my specialty.


Reject any car that has rust around the windshield or leaks around the windshield.......unless you are good with rust repair and auto glass.


I bought a pristine 1987 300zx that had 300,000 miles on it but I've seen beaters with less than 100k on the odometer.


Look for any fatal flaws of the body such as rust in the floors.

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Pull the rear carpets and look for rust. The lights and quarter windows leak back there.


Check the floors under the seats for rust. The T-tops leak there,


Check the passenger side frame rail for rust. The battery leaks down on it and eats the paint.


Rapidly open and close the throttle in gear and listen for clunking. The rear u-joints and subframe bushings tend to need replacing.


Ball joints may need replacing.


Check the usual stuff for any car. Shocks/struts, radiator (they rust out in the corners), leaks, etc.


Z31s make great daily drivers. Look for maintenence records for the timing belt. I daily drove two very rusted Z31s for almost 4 years without any issues other than alternators and one radiator.

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What year 300ZX?


If you are not a mechanic the 300ZX can be be very expensive to maintain. Call some shops and ask them how much it costs to do various repairs to get  a feel for what you might be in for.


It is not the best choice as a first car for a teenager.  You will probably beat it to death or wreck it.


Get a 4runner instead. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
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Check both rails for rust and to see if mangled.  They get really mangled in the front beside the trans for some reason (jack stands?).  If it has mud flaps, try to check behind them, usually rust there.  Check rear of fenders for rust, leaves get down there and it's rusts from the inside.  Check quarters really good for rust.  Get under rear bumper and looks at the insides of quarters for holes, get rust there from inside leaking, left side from antenna leaks.  Check rockers for rust.  Check under spare tire & Jack Kit.  Jack kit holder is a big sponge.  Check where rear crossmember bolts up in front of rear wheels, this gets rusted/torn.  Tie rod ends, but that's any car. 


NA drivetrains are pretty bullet proof, auto transmissions have the normal problems.  Mechanical parts are available new, rebuilt or used since they made a lot of Z's. 


Good deals are out there, but most I see are either ruff, rotting & overpriced or clean & overpriced.  Just noticed you're in Cali, so you should be able to find some decent rust free Z's.


Bleh, just noticed this is an old post.....

Edited by Dunkine
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Anyone buying a Z31 should buy a good one or go for something else. The mechanicals are no problem it's the body and trim, get one that has not been parked out in the weather. I bought one for a race car and while the body was straight it had rust in places that were not obvious eg the bodywork underneath the front edge of the windscreen was rusted right out and was impossible to repair economically back to standard. This damage could not be seen without pulling the dash out.

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