My '96 Maxima joined the 300K (mi) club

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Mar 2, 2004
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1996 Maxima GLE 3.0 V6, auto trans -- rolled over to 300k today. There's something special about a mechanical odometer doing the rollover, than a digital readout just spitting out a new number...

Car is still in pretty good shape-- I could hop in it tonight and drive to California and back with zero concerns. It's my commuter that sees a 70 mile round trip 5-7 days a week to Louisville and back for work. Has never left me stranded and I've owned it since 200k (2015-ish), when I paid my mom $400 for it, which was what the dealer was going to give her for trade in. She bought it in 2002 w/ 50k, the year after I graduated high school.

These days I wish it got better gas mileage (24-26mpg average), but I would miss the power of a DOHC V6 in a lightweight car, which holds its own compared to most modern cars.

Issues it has right now:

Some oil seepage that doesn't leave drips, but slathers stuff in grime which is a pain when you want to work on it-- it's on the engine block behind the harmonic balancer. I'm pretty confident it's the oil pressure sender or worst case scenario, the upper oil pan. The most I have to add in a 5k-7.5k OCI is 1/2 quart of oil.

Transmission is leaking at the input shaft (I've eliminated all other possible sources). More an annoyance than anything, it will leave a couple drips if left overnight, and covers stuff in grime from tranny back (automatic underbody coating?). It needs a half quart ATF added every 3 or 4 oil changes, I'm not going to mess with it until it gets worse.

The idle air control valve system doesn't work right. The system is hideously complex, with independent solenoids for raising idle; one for power steering when you turn the wheel, one for A/C compressor, a thermostatically controlled element on the throttle body to raise idle speed when cold (coolant runs through it), and then the electric IAC valve itself. I spent a good many hours working on it, changing parts, and gave up. I settled on unplugging the IAC valve and setting the idle stop screw to 750 RPM at operating temp in gear. Downside to that approach is it requires some manual throttle input at cold starts (under 45F or so) for the first 15-20 seconds. Sort of like a carbureted engine whose high idle position doesn't work right. When I get some free time I'll work on it some more, but it doesn't really bother me so tends to fall to the bottom of the to-do list. No codes other than the idle speed circuit code.

I've got a shop under construction with a vehicle lift planned, so I think there's a good chance I can coax this thing to 350k+ with no major engine or transmission work, other than seals perhaps. Luckily it's a white car so paint has held up good, once it starts looking like a hooptie is when I get tired of vehicles and need to upgrade.

rollover video

300k.jpg


(image from late last summer) would post more recent pics but really needs a bath!
IMG_2722.jpg
 
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Joined
Apr 27, 2013
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MO USA
Cannot wait to hear more about your shop as well. My advice would be to scout out a similar vehicle at your local auto dismantler. Tell them your motivation for possibly buying parts. They may make you a "retainer deal" that gives you access to the salvage parts as first right of refusal to help your cause. Good Luck!
 
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Jun 15, 2003
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ME
Those were the good old nissan days. You could even get that car with a stick shift. From Infiniti with a stick shift even.
The Japanese midsize sedans were all nice. They weren't trying to shame the buyer into something bigger (and more expensive) like the domestics. And I like the analog gauges vs the glass cockpits they come with now. And how an ignition key feels when it's clicking through the switches.
 
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Man, those Nissan's from the golden era of Japanese cars were right up there with Toyota and Honda in terms of quality. Unfortunately, they were overly complicated and rusted much worse than the competitors. Up here in MN, that gen Maxima is all but history. They all suffered from horrible core support rot.

That being said, I would absolutely KILL for a minty fresh '02-'03 Maxima with the 3.5 and the 6-speed.
 

92saturnsl2

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Mar 2, 2004
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Man, those Nissan's from the golden era of Japanese cars were right up there with Toyota and Honda in terms of quality. Unfortunately, they were overly complicated and rusted much worse than the competitors. Up here in MN, that gen Maxima is all but history. They all suffered from horrible core support rot.

That being said, I would absolutely KILL for a minty fresh '02-'03 Maxima with the 3.5 and the 6-speed.
Indeed, I think the 90's through early '00s Nissans were some of the best. Later on they went south in quality, but I have no direct experience with the later model years.

I've noticed some rust behind the rear wheels (quarter panels) creeping in, from 5 years of living in KY. We only get a handful of snow / ice storms each year, but the salt to precipitation ratio here seems to be about 2:1 -- two rocks of salt for every snowflake that falls. After a "snow storm" there's often a solid layer of salt on the road (long after the snow has melted and dried), that takes a couple good rain showers to wash away.

I've had the front bumper off a couple times, and I've got the beginnings rusting of the core support, but nothing major. I'm keeping an eye on it, but that lower core support (that is the first to rust/rot) can be replaced without too much trouble if you're handy with a welder. It's when the whole support (lower and sides, etc.) rots away that you're in trouble.
 
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Mar 19, 2022
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Had a friend with a 96 and a 5 speed. That thing was a tire fryer for sure. As has been said, back when Nissan made a good car.
 
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Those were pretty quick cars in their day, especially with the 5-speed.

It matters less these days, with cars being more powerful, and automatic transmissions being more efficient and quicker shifting.

But, 25-30 years ago, it was common for the manual-equipped version of a car to be a little faster. And it was the case with those Maximas.

Younger folks won’t remember, but for us Gen-X’ers who grew up in the 80s and 90s, those Maximas, from around ‘89-96 or so, they were enthusiast’s cars. Sort of a front-wheel drive Japanese BMW, if you will. Those 3.0 DOHC V6s in the SE trim level were pretty peppy, again, especially with the manual. And they were made well. The interiors were especially nice if you got the leather.

I remember test-driving a ‘93 SE 5-speed. Pearl white, charcoal leather, sunroof, Bose, 5-speed, when I was 18. Was advised not to buy it due to recurring problems with the cam gears. I didn’t know a lot about cars or engines back then. I ended up not getting it due to that advice. Bought an ‘87 with low mileage instead, which ended up being a good car after some initial money spent on a steering rack and CV axles.

Still, to this day, wish I’d gotten that ‘93 instead! Cam gear problems or no!
 
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Loved my Maxima.

My 95 made it to 150 with me, 250 with my sister and was still running strong (but beat up) after her.....
 
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