Got Issues? Nothing new…

Everyone’s been waiting for it – yes, the Datsun 280z has issues. But at almost 35 yrs old (come this April), who doesn’t? Isn’t that like 65+ in car years? :] Let’s go over a few…

1) Coolant Drooling – had to re-top off the coolant this weekend… there appears to be a small leak on top of the radiator. It slowly leaks, steams up against the hood, and there’s a small green pool forming on the top of the radiator. Appears to be coming from the cap itself (which would be a good problem to have). Interestingly enough, no matter how irregular the coolant is refilled, it always goes back to minimum.

2) Acceleration Hesitation – this has got to be priority #1.  Randomly, when the throttle is pushed down, the car hesitates as if it’s gasping for air, and RPMs drop. I’ve yet to figure this one out. Sometimes it happens on a cold morning, sometimes when warmed and humming down the freeway in 4th gear. It can happen when the fuel is low or when the fuel is full. It can happen when the 280z barrels out of a deep turn, or driving straight. Interestingly, it’s happened twice in the same spot on 101 flying by the 880N on ramp). Here’s what we’re looking at in terms of the priority cue:

  • Replace fuel filter ~$13
  • Clean gas tank ~$60 (muratic acid / chain / POR-15 method)
  • Air Flow Meter (AFM) ~$100 (after core exchange)
  • Replace fuel pump (previous owner replaced it already, i presume he had the same issue…)
  • Replace injectors ~$400
Now just so the readers aren’t worried, it’s NOT a frequent problem – but concerning none the less.
So i started with the cheapest option first: the fuel filter. Since I didn’t know when it was last replaced (replace every 24k miles), might has well start there.
new and old filters
Datsun 280z fuel filter
Two worm gear clamps, a tightening screw, and the replace was easy. Word of note, make sure you have a bucket to catch the fuel left in the filter (and dispose of it properly).
Datsun 280z new fuel filter installed
After the change, even though it’s been running well, I’ll always have to keep an eye on the issues.
Rained again lastnight… forgot about the leak in the windshield. If you do see a 280z rolling around, i’m the one with the orange bandanna in the corner soaking up the water hahaha

4 Replies to “Got Issues? Nothing new…”

  1. Hey man,

    Loving the z I have a 76 280. I dont know if you have fixed the problem about the car gasping for air or not. In all reality the car is actually gasping for fuel I had the same exact problem and I changed all the same parts but it never fixed it just made it some what less frequent. There is an answer though replace the gas tank I had mine cut open and found out there is a mesh screen inside the tank that rusts over time and restricts the flow of fuel. (mine happened when I put a lot of strain on the motor considering it needed more fuel faster). I went to an aluminum shop and had them make me a replica tank that was as close to original specs as possible. Installed it the same exact way the old one came out and now a year later I can be as aggressive as I like with my Z and not feel even the slightest bit of power loss.

    1. Thanks Jacob! Yes, i’m just about ready to drop the tank. Though in my case, I haven’t had an issue since changing octane grades (87 to 91). Since then, I haven’t had the issue. But once i do again, i’m dropping that tank and taking a look inside.

  2. I have the same issue with the slight pooling of coolant at the bottom of the filler neck, and the coolant reservoir showing at just above the MIN level. How did you resolve this issue? As simple as a new radiator cap?

    1. Yep – a new radiator cap did it. Upon simple inspection, the rubber gasket was worn and cracked on the old one. It looks as though I didn’t have enough coolant in there as well, and seems like the levels have stabilized.

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