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1995 300ZX Twin Turbo

This is the journal of my ownership of the car, so I could keep track of it and have easy access to it when I was active in the scene and people asked questions.

Progress (most recent to oldest): (items are bolded to make them easier for me to spot)


4 Jun 2009: Diehard battery from June 2005 died. Replaced with one marked 09/2007 from Bernie's stash.

May 2009:
New rear tires @ 121,600 miles - Kumho Ecsta XS: 275/40ZR17 98W
New front tires @ 121,200 miles - Kumho Ecsta XS: 245/40ZR17 91W
Changed oil @ 121, 700 miles
Prev. oil change @ 119,830 miles. Clearly missed noting some oil changes here prior.


24 May 2008: Mileage: 109,970 - Replaced the power steering pump, which went bad while we were down at ZDayZ, despite being replaced in October. While we were at it, we also installed a UR power steering pulley so the Z could use the four-rib belt instead of the three.


28 Oct 2007: Finished the job, dubbed VG30DETTXTZ by Raj. I could write about it here, but already did so on, in three parts:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

19 Aug 2007: The Z has sat in the driveway under a cover since the turbo seals blew in April. Finally began work on it - brought it into the garage, put it up on jackstands and removed the shocks and springs.

5 Jun 2007: Z was struck by lightning that apparently ricochetted off the tree next to it, to the concrete, to the Z. A hole has been burned in the paint, down to the metal.

21 Apr 2007: Smokescreened the highway between here and PA on the way to the spring ECZA meet - turbo seals finally gave.

8 Jan 2007: Rolled over 100k miles today.

6 Jan 2007: Mileage: 99874 - Had the guys at Rosenthal replace the worn front AVS Sport tires with Potenza RE-750s. Would have preferred to match the SO-3s in the rear, but they stopped making them in this size. Got an alignment as well, which fixed the steering wheel vibration at around 70-80 mph.


28 May 2006: Rolled over 90k miles on the drive to ZCon in Texas.

23 May 2006: Mileage: 88737 - Changed the oil; used Amsoil 10W30 Turbo formulated oil. Added BG 44K to gas. Cleaned the POP charger.

15 May 2006: Mileage: 88350 - Got new BF Goodrich Pole Position SO3 tires to replace my very worn Yokohama AVS Sports in the rear, and had an alignment done. Rob Arrington at Rosenthal Nissan in Tysons Corner rocks - the Z has never felt so smooth in my two years of ownership! No vibrations at all; not like when I had it aligned at Brown's in Sterling. No griping whatsoever about adjustable suspension parts, either. The man is a pro.

14 May 2006: Tech weekend at Bernie's! I came away from that with 8.5" TT rear wheels up front wrapped in Yokohama AVS tires, courtesy of Wayne, and a new brake system. Well, new to me. Mileage: 88290. Bernie installed R32 calipers up front, some sort of larger slotted rotors - Project Mu or GReddy; SS brake lines all the way around, Hawk HPS pads, and we bled the system and replaced the fluid with ATE Blue high temp racing fluid. On my way home I noticed that the wider wheels are more sensitive to nuances of the road, pulling off to the side occasionally, and hoped that no cops decided to pull me over for drunk driving - I'll have to get used to that! Otherwise, the new brake system feels good and not so squishy.

12 May 2006: ... And now for the past couple of weeks, the Z has mostly been boosting well. I hate intermittent issues...

6 May 2006: Installed 300 Degree BMC brace.

3 Apr 2006: Code 34 for the second time, after getting it previously and resetting the ECU. I guess this time it's for real. :-/

2 Apr 2006: Magically out of safety boost.

31 Mar 2006: I appear to be stuck in safety boost. Yay.

11 Mar 2006: Ran one more wire for the audio system - the remote power from the HU to the amp. Tested voltage and determined the amp is most likely dead.

The noise of the fuel pump is getting on my nerves again, so I visually inspected the wires going to the ECU - they all appear to be intact and untouched. Began mapping the mess of alarm system-related wires near the ECU.

10 Mar 2006: 84,504 miles - oil change.

19 Feb 2006: Finally finished installing the rest of my audio gear - ran the RCA cable from the head unit to the amp, connected the fuse & power lead to the battery, so I dunno why the sub isn't working now... Also wired in the AI Net, which works beautifully to let me access the iPod through the headunit.

21 Jan 2006: 83,200 miles - Installed an almost-new OEM exhaust system from the cats back; parts and time donated by Wayne (Governor). Much obliged for both, Wayne!


29 Oct 2005: Installed '90 rear speaker enclosures. Definitely makes a difference in the fullness of the sound, vs. hanging in air like the speakers have been. Still needs more bass, though.

2 Oct 2005: 79,606 miles - almost 80k! Replaced the fuel pressure regulator and dampener and tightened fuel line clamps. This seems to have gotten rid of the occasional fuel smell - I think it was the fpr, which showed a little dampness around the "rim". Also changed the oil.

9 Aug 2005: Replaced my old window mouldings with shiny new ones from KurumaZ - much better!

5 June 2005: Finally finished installing a new clutch & flywheel, which took way longer than it should have due to a variety of technical problems (not knowing how to properly align it, having to drill out broken studs, needing to wait for a late-ordered gasket...). While I was at it, I also replaced a coolant hose back there, as well as the rear main seal, pilot bushing, throw-out bearing, and shifter bushings. BIG thanks go to Dave N., Wayne, Cam and Eric! It would have taken way longer to finish without those guys. The forum post about it is here; eventually I intend to make a page here for it.

15 March 2005: Spent way too much time finally installing the new speakers and getting everything to work right - thanks to Eric and Cam for help. It's about time I had a working sound system in that car!

24 April 2005: The shifter developed a "hitch" going from first to second gear right around this day.

17 April 2005: Got the new (used) rear 8.5" TT wheels I picked up from Bernie installed. Nice to finally have the right size.

14 March 2005: Got the Z back from D&V - it's beautiful! They did such a good job, I'm not even going to waste words here - just go look at the pictures. Ron and Kevin were great guys to deal with; very professional yet also friendly.

28 February 2005: Picked up J-spec tails & bumper parts from Bernie and delivered them to D&V, where Ron & Kevin spent some time showing me the progress on my car and let me take photos.

25 February 2005: Dropped the Z off at D&V Autobody in Chantilly after hearing good things about them. Talking to them about the job just confirmed what I had heard about the interest they would take in my car and the attention they intend to give it.

17 February 2005: Got rear-ended in traffic on I-495 by a big white Ford Econoline van. Totally destroyed the bumper at, what, 3 mph? Amazing.

13 January 2005: Replaced the transmission and differential fluids with Redline. Thanks to Jeff for help with that.

7 January 2005: Bernie spliced in the new headlight socket and then hooked up my new HID kit. Also replaced the rubber gasket on the front of the nose panel, subtly neatening the car's appearance, and replaced the main fuse box under the hood, which was previously zip-tied down due to broken plastic parts. Driving home I could actually see for a change; HIDs are a nice addition. Mysteriously, the boost gauge now reads the highest it's ever read - in the middle of the third quadrant on the positive side, instead of stopping before it hits the middle line there.


15 December 2004: Got an alignment done at Brown's Sterling Nissan, where the tech griped at me for my new tension rods. Two of my parts guys have moved to another dealership - there's been a shift in the management.

13 December 2004: Leaving Bernie's is always nicer than arriving, but only because the car drives better. ;) This time he installed SPL adjustable tension rods as well as the front upper control arm (ds) I've needed to install for a while, and the ride home was the smoothest I've ever felt in that car. Also got the rubber trim put on the top of the nose panel to make it look more finished. Unfortunately the HID install will have to wait because of a fried socket.

26 November 2004: Thank you Wayne!! We put the Z back together today without a hitch. On the first drive after that, I discovered I was back up to 6 lbs of boost again.

17 November 2004: Tightened the fuel lines this morning - a small thing but I'm noting it here to remind myself in future winters... Thanks,! All of the clamps needed tightening, some as much as a whole turn.

06 November 2004: Much thanks to Wayne for dropping by to help me change out the crank seal! While in there anyway I figured I ought to replace the idler pulley studs after hearing multiple stories of them breaking, but the operation was stopped when we used up all the nuts, old and new, for the extraction process. So the Z gets to hang out in the garage again.

25 October 2004: Helped Rene troubleshoot his Z with Vamsi's help. This is always good because I learn things. Even better was that the car worked by the end of the evening, through no fault of ours - damned gremlins in the system...

24 October 2004: Went by Merchant's this morning to have them check out my wheel balance because there's been a wobble still between 20 and 35 mph. But they found instead that the driver's side upper control arm is loose. Because I NEED something else to add to the list of things to fix.

23 October 2004: Went back by Bernie's to switch out my ECU with another to see if that would quiet the fuel pump - no luck (yeah, some luck that would be...). In trying to figure out why the seal around the back hatch wasn't fitting right, someone realized it was actually flipped, so we fixed that. Bernie ran a pressure test which exposed air leaking in at least two places, but we ran out of time to find them. Meanwhile, Bernie's slick salesmanship got me leaving with a new JWT POP charger installed. Look out for that man! However, in the whole process of the evening, what with pulling off and reinstalling hose ends, I seem to have dropped a pound or two of boost and only go to about 3 psi now.

The clutch started making a groaning sound when depressed first thing in the morning about a week ago. As of this night it started doing it more often. Diagnosed as the throw-out bearing going bad.

19 October 2004: Dropped in on YugoBernie and had him switch out my leaking tension rod bushings with new ES bushings. Discovered the driver's side tension rod was slightly bent - no surprise by now. He also started hunting after the source of the too-noisy fuel pump. Switched out the fuel filter and the fuel pressure regulator, but it's still just as loud.

14 October 2004: Stopped in at the quarterly club Tech Night at the local Nissan dealer and discovered that my crank seal is leaking. Great. This is what I get for allowing my help to ignore the directions. So I'll be performing surgery again some time soon...

13 October 2004: Checked out the local Z club and met some cool folks there. Lots of helpful people - wish I'd met them earlier. Learned a lot about my particular car - thanks, guys, for all the info.

06 October 2004: The guys at Brown's Sterling Nissan were kind enough to clean off a lot of the oil on the bottom of my car a week ago, and then to put it up on the lift today for me to see if we can tell where the leak might be... looks like the power steering pump may be leaking, which makes sense because it was really grimy when I went in there to change the belts. They also think the valve cover gaskets are leaking and showed me where. Also the shifter boot, farther back.

The clutch is also going, and the 2nd and 4th gear synchros. So while I'd love to make some upgrades to the car, it looks like I'll be putting money into just getting it all fixed for now. Upgrades can always come later, since they're more expensive than stock parts, and the total cost of stock parts I have to get now is already pretty high. It will feel good enough for starters to just get the car to a reliable state.

08 September 2004: Got tired of not being able to drive the Z, so I took out the new fuel pump and put the old one back in, in case the source of the problem is burning out the pump - it can keep doing it to the old one.

04 September 2004: DCKev dropped by and let me try his module in place of mine - it behaves the same. So it appears it's not the module.

01 September 2004: The new fuel pump was steadily trying to get as loud as the old one, so the Z is again in pieces in the garage while I try to figure out what the problem is. Tested the pump itself, both old and new - both give readings in the "good" range. Tested the continuity of the wires between the pump and the control module and they all test out good. Tested the voltage running to the pump, and that's where it didn't match up - it runs constantly at around 14v at idle, never dropping to 3v like the manual says it should. Now I have to figure out how to test the voltage going to the module.

29 August 2004: 63,966 miles - Rene kindly changed out my fuel pump, so now I can have some peace when I drive - much thanks!

28 August 2004: Caravanned up to the ECZA 1st Annual Summer Show in Delaware and took photos.

22 August 2004: Met the owners of 7 other Z32s from the area today. That's a good crowd; friendly and helpful with no unnecessary attitude. I took a couple of photos.

18 August 2004: Got the Z back today, so now I can finally drive it. It drives MUCH better after having that work done.

17 August 2004: 63,086 miles - Brought the Z to Datsun Dynamics yesterday and got the report today. Bad news comes in three words: valve cover gaskets. They want to charge a lot for that, so it will have to wait. Meanwhile, they found that the leaking oil had killed the steering rack bushings, which explains why when I turned right and then straightened out, the steering wheel stayed turned to the right. So I had them replace those with Energy Suspension urethane bushings, which can handle being soaked in oil till I can fix the gaskets. They also did an alignment.

Additionally, they found a loose bolt in the right rear lower control arm and tightened that up. The HICAS light no longer comes on, and the unnerving twitch that used to happen around corners has stopped.

Dave and the guys at Datsun Dynamics were great people to deal with, speaking to my level and not being pushy about getting them to do anything. The pricing is not so great, though, so I'll have to shop around in the future.

15 August 2004: 63,063 miles - Dropped by Merchant's today and found the right front wheel is really toed in and the front tires have flat spots. I was just putting off replacing them anyway, but knew they didn't match the much better Z-rated tires in the rear, so I went ahead and got new front tires. They were unable to fix the alignment, so I'll have to take it elsewhere.

14 August 2004: FINISHED! Much to my surprise, the engine started right up when I turned the key. I shut it off, flushed the radiator, put in the new coolant, went through the process of getting the air out, with no problems. The temperature gauge goes to halfway and sits there. The engine runs smoothly.

The car, however, does not - I took it for its test drive down the street and it feels like I have a square tire at around 25 MPH, and smoke is coming out from under the hood. I went right back home. Solomon came to check it out and said I did an excellent job; that the smoke is oil from the mystery leak I already knew about burning off, and the bumpiness has to do with tires, to go get them checked out.

Aside from all that, I'm totally excited to be finally finished with this project, and okay with moving on to address the next thing. A big thank you goes out to everyone who helped me out with this; you all know who you are!

13 August 2004: Got the final belt on using the "bicycle chain" method, tightened them all, and dropped in the radiator. Actually attempting to start the car will have to wait until tomorrow, since I'm sure the alarm will go off when I reconnect the battery, and it's 12:00 at night.

11 August 2004: Installed the new bolt, the timing belt covers, and everything up to the first two drive belts, but got stuck with the power steering belt, unable to get it over its pulleys. It was late anyway, so I stopped for the night.

8 August 2004: Saturday was an unbelievably beautiful day, unseasonably cool and dry. Having gotten and installed the previously broken bolt earlier in the week (thanks again, Gary), I was looking forward to spending the day in the garage putting the car back together, but by now I've learned to expect that it's not going to be that easy. The very first bolt I went to put in broke off at less torque than specified. So then Sunday morning was spent figuring out how to extract a broken bolt end. At least that turned out to be a successful operation. Now waiting for THAT bolt to arrive...

4 August 2004: As of today, the car is titled and registered and I have plates to put on it when I get home. Finally! Here's hoping the rest of the reassembly goes smoothly...

1 August 2004: I finally got my little plastic parts, and it turns out they're little rubber parts that must harden with time and heat. turned out to be helpful in locating someone who had a couple of the parts, and I got the rest unexpectedly early from the dealer.

So yesterday I stuck them on their metal plates and installed those, and the cam gears and then had to stop and wait for help getting the timing belt on and aligned properly. Solomon came by then, so I can rest assured that was all done right. He also showed me how to apply silicone gasket maker, and we installed the water pump.

Today I continued but progress was halted suddenly when a bolt snapped, so now I'll be waiting for more parts. Again.

17 July 2004: After some setbacks with having to order more parts as I encountered them (small stuff) and going out of town and juggling other projects, I'm finally at the stage where I can start reassembling. I got all the way to the block and replaced the cam seals, but wanted some help with replacing the front main seal. It's a little harder to get to, and my instructions from various places had a variety of warnings about exactly how careful you have to be. Solomon came by to give me a hand with that, and I'm glad he did; every time I watch him I learn good stuff, and I wouldn't have known some of the stuff he knows from experience. Now I'm waiting for the arrival of these little plastic parts that go on the metal plates that go on next; they fell right off when I was wiping down the plates and shattered on the ground. I guess 9 years of engine block heat will make some plastic brittle! I took some photos of the process.

19 June 2004: Picked up all my parts from the dealer, including the shop manual and owner's manual - it's like Christmas! Except I had to pay for it. But the guys in the Brown's Sterling Nissan parts department gave me an excellent deal, coming slightly under Courtesy Nissan's prices for the timing belt parts.

13 June 2004: 63,053 miles - Made the decision to undertake changing the timing belt myself. My usual mechanics won't touch this, which of course makes me wonder about my decision, but then I can take as long as I want while they're confined to something like 6 hours, so maybe that's the issue. Too much of a pain; not worth it for them. Solomon says we can do this, and I want to learn about this car, and this seems like as good a way as any to do that. And I still can't drive it; may as well take it apart! :/ So I cleared out the garage today in preparation.

6 June 2004: 62,872 miles - Replaced the PCV valves and immediate hoses. What a pain in the ass! I did the passenger's side valve myself. My auto maintenance class instructor, Solomon, showed up then and helped me with the driver's side valve, for which I am very thankful - we had to remove so many hoses to get in there that I almost lost track. The whole operation took about 5 hours, mostly because he let me fumble my way through what I could - the sign of a good teacher, not to just do it himself! Prior to this the only automotive projects I've undertaken were on my Sunfire, and they were changing the brake pads and replacing spark plugs, boots, and wire equivalents (no wires in the Sunfire 2.4l), and the ICM housing. Also helped Matt change plugs and wires and the PCV valve on his Mazda Protege. BIG difference in complexity! Solomon showed me some tips for working with tools that will be good to know.

The valves definitely needed to be changed - they were so clogged it's a wonder any air got through there. You can see photos here. I had decided they probably needed changing due to a variety of symptoms: White Plains Nissan suspected that the oil leak they found was in the rear main seal. Mario told me that he replaced the valve cover gaskets last fall. And lastly, when I first checked under the hood, I found the oil dipstick sticking out an inch or two from where it should be. I read on that one guy went through 3 or 4 rear main seals and a set of valve cover gaskets before figuring out that the PCV valves were so clogged they were causing pressure to build and seals to blow.

Title status: No one has it. Not the bank, the DMV, or the seller. So now I have to wait for a re-issue. I'm sure that'll take a while.

1 June 2004: Got a fog lamp replaced so it could pass its safety inspection, which it did later in the day. Don't know why that's a requirement... my other car doesn't even HAVE fog lamps... My regular mechanics couldn't replace it so I had to take it to the dealer (can't wait to get the shop manual, which I did place an order for). While there I ordered the parts required to replace the PCV valves.

I have to say the guys in the Parts department at Brown's Nissan in Sterling are by far the best of three shops I visited - very friendly and helpful, unlike the people I talked to in the other shops. Conveniently for me, they are also the closest.

28 May 2004: Drove it on another trip permit, still waiting for the title, so I can't register and get plates yet. Held my breath while getting the emissions inspection - it's been blowing white smoke, but only at start-up and when I hit the gas to pass. My mechanics said drive it and see if it goes away - maybe stuff just needs to burn off. Mario backed this up when he told me he put it in storage in November or December and only put a couple hundred miles on it since then. Anyway, it passed inspection. One of these days I'll be able to drive it enough to see if that smoke clears up!

22 May 2004: Got my friend Matt to drive me up to pick up the car. The several-hour drive back was a lot of fun and an excellent way to get to know the car. Thanks to Mario of Toys From The Attic for parting with his baby! I know that was a very hard decision.

My bank told me the other bank would be sending me the title in the mail, so I got no title at the time.

16 May 2004: Drove up to White Plains, NY, to check out the car, after having White Plains Nissan check it out first - it scored well on all points except for an oil leak. This was my second time driving a 300ZX, and the first time driving a turbo model - it blew me away. I was being picky, and it was in beautiful condition, configured exactly the way I'd been looking for, with just over 62k miles on it, for $15k. How could I pass it up?