Nov 2008 20

With a small fleet of Nissan/Infiniti cars occupying the 4 car garage and much of the parking lot (uh hem, driveway), I could possibly qualify for a fleet discount with my state’s department of transportation, but inherently, having to maintain all the cars is almost a full time job. Some fluid always has to be changed, some rubber rotated, something washed, inspected, jump started… For the most part, these chores are pretty spread out through much of the year, although I do buy fuel filters in bulk and oil by the gallons. But not a single car has gone to a shop or dealership for anything other than the required yearly inspection or warranty work, so there’s always a long list of car projects.

Turbo paperweight

My B14 Sentra is a turbo paperweight. It was the first new car I bought and was more suitable for grocery getting or my hour long commute to college with a yawn-enducing 1.6L automatic. After many a time and dime, I swapped in a panty-wetting turbocharged JDM 2.0L with manual tranny that makes close to 500 wheel horsepower on a stock bottom end. It is also most likely home to many a small creature that has ventured in the cobweb infested wheel wells and undercarraige. This car has never seen salt, snow, or any winter weather and never will. And with that much horsepower, it’s not exactly a daily driver anymore either.

After the swap, the engine had some early hesitation and stumbling issues which could have been many things from a vacuum leak to turbulence in the air filter to the MSD ignition.  Since the hesitation was only at part throttle and when under no load, and it even occurred when parked in the no turbulent air garage, I finally threw the stock ignition and distributor back on to see if that fixed anything. While it didn’t appear to at first, after a winter parked in the same garage spot, I started the car up to get inspected and the hesitation mysteriously disappeared. Most likely it just took awhile longer for the computer to relearn. However, the hesitation was replaced with an annoying vacuum leak that causes the car to stall at every stop. And with the stock ignition, the boost is limited to a paltry 18 psi. Ok, so maybe that’s still a good deal of boost- enough to spin some serious rubber- but there’s something about feeling like a jet engine is strapped to your butt that I miss.  I’ll have to deal with it this spring.

The Infiniti I35 is a recent addition that was purchased to replace the ailing G20 as a comfortable daily driver. It was an ebay find and has needed some maintenance work but nothing major, most notably a wheel bearing. The suspension and brakes have also been upgraded, something I deem necessary on almost every stock car ever purchased. It was due for inspection in the fall but had been throwing a few codes during the hot summer for EGR and O2 sensor which I was hoping would clear in the cooler temperatures in order to pass without having to replace anything.  Sure enough, the car passed in the frigid December weather although the check engine light did recently appear for a few trips when the weather got a little warmer. The gas cap is tight, although I’m sure the spark plugs need replacing and I haven’t done much of any maintenance under the hood so I’ll also bother with it when it’s warmer.

After purchasing the I35, the G20 was going to be donated, sold for cheap, or junked, but this is shaping up to be a crappy winter and since the G20 actually passed inspection and has a set of Blizzaks to handle the snow and ice, it will stay on rotation for at least one more year. The G20 has as much pep as organizers at an AARP initiation and the rear suspension bounces like bed springs at a brothel. It ain’t pretty or fast, but it both runs and stops. The car has had some finicky issues in the past, some fixed (wheel bearings, fuel pump, cap and rotor), and some I’ve learned to deal with, like the dancing tach that is sometimes pegged at 10k at a red stoplight, and the intermittent wiper setting that is more random than consistent. It starts (99.9% of the time), handles decently, the heater has a sauna setting, and the dump-truck aided, spider web crack on the passenger side does not interfere with the drivers side view. Maybe in the end I’ll race it for Pinks- nothing to lose!

Other cars occupying prime garage real estate include another boosted car, a few track projects, and a G35 that is on it’s second engine due to a slight oil consumption issue (3 quarts in 1200 miles…), but more to come on those.