Are the 1982 diesel maxima's good or bad rigs??

General information about the first-generation Nissan Maxima in the US. What was the Datsun 810 became the luxury leader Maxima in the US in 1981.

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Syra
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Location: Spokane, WA

Are the 1982 diesel maxima's good or bad rigs??

#1

Post by Syra » 14 years ago

Hello all, first post (yay!). I am basically asking all you 1982 diesel maxima owners what you think of you're rides? I have one that was given to me a long while ago and now that I have a descent job, I am tempted to restore this old beater of a rig. However I am conecerned about how mechanically sound this vehicle is. It's quite abvious this car will need some work, immediately and specifically: The electrical wiring was modified, needs a new starter (I'll explain in a moment), a new alternator, a new seat thingy (the part where the seat attatches to the cars chassis is broken) as the seat is not solid, and um, needs somes door adjusments. When I first recieved this car it ran fine, starts right up and sounds beautiful. Unfortunately after some testing, I found the alternator was bad. And to make it worse, when I had it running, one day the key cylinder got stuck in the start position and I ended up frying the starter. The car right now is in runnable condition but I want to know maybe if it's worth the time and money i'm willing to invest in the vehicle. I would like to now some of the pros and cons of this vehicle. I would also like to know what kind of parts might have or are potentially going bad on a rig this old (about 180,000 miles). Anything to look for would be great. My intentions are truly to eventually make this a biodiesel rig. I also want to work on it so that I may potentially get a better understanding of diesel engine characteristics. I realize this is a large undertaking but some outside opinions would be greatly appreciated...
(PS I am a noob, so some terms may not be fully understood.) :P
My rig is a 1982 Nissam-Datsun 810 diesel, sedan, 5 speed manual.

I am what I wish to be, my will is what directs me...

goglio704
Posts: 726
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Location: East Tennessee

#2

Post by goglio704 » 14 years ago

I think you will find that most of the members of this forum really like their Maxima diesels. I wouldn't recommend one as a primary vehicle for a novice mechanic. By primary vehicle I mean a car that absolutely has to take you to work everday. This is not to say these cars are unreliable, but you are not going to walk in to a local parts store and have immediate access to things like starters and alternators or even thermostats. They will be special order and not as cheap as something really common like a 60 amp GM alternator which almost grows on trees. Most members of this forum keep spare parts for their cars. (Some keep spare cars) As far as an affordable, reliable diesel car, I don't think you could do much better. The engine is very solidly built and capable of 300k miles or more with decent maintenance. This forum may well be one the best things going for these cars because the members put real effort into helping each other. As an example, I will happily keep my eye out for a seat mounting bracket and let you know if I find one. We have at least two members running biodiesel and one running waste vegetable oil as well. If bio is your goal, I know you'll find support here. Welcome to the group.
Matt B.

83 Maxima Sedan, LD28, 5 speed, white, 130k miles. My original Maxima.
83 Maxima Sedan converted from gasser, LD28, 5 speed, 2 tone blue, 230k miles
82 Maxima Sedan, LD28, 3 speed auto, 2 tone Gray/Silver, 140k miles
81 810 Sedan, LD28, 3 speed auto, rust, rust, and more rust!

2005 Jeep Liberty CRD

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kassim503
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Location: Stony Brook, NY

#3

Post by kassim503 » 14 years ago

yeah, almost everything is a special order part, napa is a great source of parts for maxis, but usualy takes a few hours or a few days to get
'83 maxima sedan, l24e, a/t, black

227K SOLD 6/7/2012

glenlloyd
Posts: 640
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Location: Des Moines, Iowa
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#4

Post by glenlloyd » 14 years ago

I have owned my 1982 wagon since last september and I am extremely impressed with the diesel engine. For a normally aspirated diesel it is very strong and it's also well-built. As I have said before here in the forum, Nissan has made an effort to keep this engine from having problems, like the cast iron head instead of alloy, and running the camshaft with a timing chain instead of a belt. On the LD28 the belt only runs the injection pump so if the belt fails the car won't start, that's it, nothing gets destroyed.

If you've ever driven a MB diesel (non-turbo) you'll know that the Maxima has significantly better engine performance, it is really not a slug.

Anyway, I'm not sure I would recommend "restoring" the car so much as making the car servicable for you. These aren't going to be recognized as something worth restoration, but they are recognized as one of the few really good diesel powered passenger cars brought into the US during the "dark ages" of diesel in this country.

The Maxima is a solid piece of transportation, and if you take care of the issues you'll have a good car.

Oh yeah...clean your front strut spring seats!! - (see my post)

steve a
97 Jetta TDI, 86 VW Golf D
89 VW Fox diesel, 92 MB 300SD W140

gir - won't the sploding hurt?
zim - silence!

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asavage
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Re: Are the 1982 diesel maxima's good or bad rigs??

#5

Post by asavage » 14 years ago

Syra wrote:Hello all, first post (yay!).
Welcome to our treehouse ;)

I'd like to encourage you, and anyone who hasn't already, to update your Profile to include at the least your location. This can save a lot of questions later, esp. when asking about availability of used parts.

Adding a Signature that includes the year and particulars of your ride can also help avoid misdirection -- although from the numbers of Maxima diesels imported, odds are that any three out of four people here will have an '83.

Get yourself a Factory Service Manual before you do anything else. You won't be sorry. If you don't want to buy one from eBay, I bought that spare '82 FSM last week, I'll gladly resell it (I already have a set of them for myself).
I am basically asking all you 1982 diesel maxima owners what you think of you're rides?
For myself, I've owned several diesel vehicles, and in 1994 I started looking for a small or mid-size wagon with a diesel and AT. I disliked the Four cyl. diesels for NVH reasons and for lack of power -- the exception being the Peugeot turbodiesel wagons, but they are pretty rare too. I saw a Maxi dsl wagon in my bank's parking lot one day, hung around and talked to the owner, then started looking for one. I searched high, I searched low, and they were just not around for sale.

Two years later, I was driving down an unfamiliar street, taking a shortcut, and there was one sitting with a For Sale sign in it. Took out a loan, bought it: a one-owner rig, but from the east coast much of its life and rather rusty and downtrodden, but only 86k miles. You can read more about it in this post.

After a couple of years the honeymoon was over and there are some areas that show its age and such, I sold it to a co-worker. But with the stipulation that when he tired of it, I got first right of refusal. Well, two years ago I bought it back.

I really like the engine/trans; I'm not quite so keen on the car itself. As a wagon, I dislike that the seats won't fold into a flat platform in back (I'm spoiled by my old Volvo 145, and later GM & Ford fullsize wagons). The driver's seat is not comfortable on long trips, and the transmission tunnel is too wide, forcing your right foot too far to the left and making my back hurt. The brakes are fairly small for the weight of the wagon. Not much rear suspension travel on the leaf-spring wagons IMO. Cruise control won't set above 76 MPH by design. Can't turn off "Key is in the Ign." voice (but it's relatively easy to disconnect: one wire, ask me how). Things like that led me to sell it, but I want to transplant the engine/trans into an old American wagon someday, and the easiest way to store it is to keep it in a driving wagon, so that's what I do, and I do drive it every so often.

Then I picked up an '83 wagon, I'm not sure why. It has OD which seems to be nice.
I am conecerned about how mechanically sound this vehicle is. It's quite abvious this car will need some work, immediately and specifically: The electrical wiring was modified, needs a new starter (I'll explain in a moment), a new alternator, a new seat thingy (the part where the seat attatches to the cars chassis is broken) as the seat is not solid, and um, needs somes door adjusments.
On the doors, pls read my Door Cracking post first. The doors are also rather rust-prone at the lower edges, but don't seem to sag much for all that.

The alternator is special, due to the extended rotor, special rear housing (that also incorporates an oil seal) and the mounting for the vacuum pump. You can sometimes find a cheap rebuilt unit on eBay, as low as $60 around last Christmas. If you have yours rebuilt, make damn sure they know they are dealing with a diesel alternator and know to replace that oil seal in the back -- it has to be replaced when the alternator is disassembled, it's only about $4 but will ruin your alternator when engine oil leaks out of the seal.

Starter: eBay again. Another seller fairly regularly has one rebuilt for sale for $60, the best deal you'll get. A couple of members may have a spare to sell you. Commercial rebuilt units aren't cheap. I bought a Nissan rebuild unit in 1998 for $170 from the dealer and thought that was quite a deal. I haven't checked lately to see if they still offer it, but it wouldn't surprise me to find that they do.

Seat tracks: any Gen1 Maxi seat track will do. If you're quick with email, I'm going to a JY in 12 hours to pull some parts from an '82 wagon that has very decent (though greasy -- grrrrr!) front seats, and if you email me (asavage@iname.com) before I leave in the AM, I'll pick up the seat tracks for cheap -- probably under $20 for a pair. Specify driver's or pass'.
. . . one day the key cylinder got stuck in the start position . . .
I work as a locksmith these days and can probably repair your ign assy, should you wish to go that way. Also, read my post about keys and keycodes.
and I ended up frying the starter. The car right now is in runnable condition but I want to know maybe if it's worth the time and money i'm willing to invest in the vehicle. I would like to now some of the pros and cons of this vehicle. I would also like to know what kind of parts might have or are potentially going bad on a rig this old (about 180,000 miles). Anything to look for would be great.
In addition to the Common Problems section of the FAQ, PS pressure hose do leak, the engine torque damper is frequently bad, tie rod ends and ball joints go to hell if not regularly greased, and the steering rack boots are always (always!) bad and let dirt into the rack. Other than that, rust.
My intentions are truly to eventually make this a biodiesel rig.
I'm a big fan of BD, but read all of this post and understand the implications of BD or ULSD and the Bosch VE IP before running B100 or any serious concentration above B20.
I also want to work on it so that I may potentially get a better understanding of diesel engine characteristics.
Well . . . Nissan has built a lot of different diesel engines, and the LD28 and to a greater extent the SDxx are pretty different from a lot of other diesels, so I'm not sure how much of your LD28 experience will carry over to other diesels. But welcome to the fold!
Regards,
Al S.

1982 Maxima diesel wagon, 2nd & 4th owner, 165k miles, rusty & burgundy/grey. Purchased 1996, SOLD 16Feb10
1983 Maxima diesel wagon, 199k miles, rusty, light yellow/light brown. SOLD 14Jul07
1981 720 SD22 (scrapped 04Sep07)
1983 Sentra CD17, 255k, bought 06Jul08, gave it away 22Jun10.

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asavage
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Location: Duvall, Wash.
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#6

Post by asavage » 14 years ago

Ron, though I didn't receive your email in time (I was two hours out by the time you sent it), I took a gamble and actually pulled the driver's seat tracks from the '82 wagon at the JY today -- from your email, I guessed right! It'll run you $10 plus shipping to Spokane from 98368, which shouldn't be much, as you're just across the Cascades from me.

To answer your other question:
I'm also curious about how cross compatible the parts between these early Maxima's are.


Most of the body parts are the same between the gasser & diesel versions. For example, the seat tracks are identical on both ;) . Some of the body wiring is different, because the dsl has a GPC and the dsl & gasser instrument clusters are quite different.

However, the bigger difference is between the Sedan & Wagon. You didn't mention which style you have (hint: put it in your Signature: use the Profile link at the top of every page). The Wagon has different rear suspension & rear brakes, the taillights and rear bumper are different, the power antenna is different, and the rear doors are different.

Did you read about the '82 Wagon for sale in Yakima yet?
Regards,
Al S.

1982 Maxima diesel wagon, 2nd & 4th owner, 165k miles, rusty & burgundy/grey. Purchased 1996, SOLD 16Feb10
1983 Maxima diesel wagon, 199k miles, rusty, light yellow/light brown. SOLD 14Jul07
1981 720 SD22 (scrapped 04Sep07)
1983 Sentra CD17, 255k, bought 06Jul08, gave it away 22Jun10.

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