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1985 Nissan Sentra
SOLD - 10/17/2015

59,325 Original Miles

4-cylinder 1.6 Liter
Automatic Transmission
Power Steering
Power Brakes
Air Conditioning
AM/FM Stereo

See a 1985 Nissan Sentra TV commercial by clicking here.

October 22, 2015 - Epilogue - It turns out that the 'father' looking for a nice car for his 'son' was actually a used car dealer out of Gloucester Point.  A friend at work who lives out that way saw it on the corner of Pruitt Automotive's  lot Monday morning.  No worries on my end - I got the $1500 I had in the car and that was what I was going to ask from anyone.  Actually, I feel happier, since even though I had told him all of the issues the car still had, I would have felt a little bad if anything had gone wrong for some poor kid driving his first car.  And if the guy can turn a profit, more power to him!
October 17, 2015 - SOLD - As nice a car as the Nissan is, it is a bit small for me. Thirty years after it was made it continues to provide the same  reliable, efficient transportation it was built for, but the 1985 Crown Victoria bought two weeks ago (and seen behind the Nissan at right)  is a far better driving experience and much prettier car.  Yeah, I'm shallow.  Anyway, I advertised the Nissan in the Antique Club newsletter hoping one of the members might be interested, and then posted it on the local Craig's List, where it lasted one day.  The car is destined to go to a young man just getting his driver's license out in Gloucester, and his dad is a mechanic who can deal with the car's electronic carburetor and distributor.  I hope he enjoys the car and appreciates the uniqueness - three decades after being the most popular import car of 1985, his will be one of the very few remaining!
July 26, 2015 - Hosed? - I checked out the Sentra's carburetor today and discovered an open vacuum port - always a bad thing.  I made a plug for it and now the idle is up and the car compensates when the A/C is turned on to keep the idle steady.  That may solve the stumbling issue.  We'll see.  I also noticed the water pump is leaking a little.  I plan to replace the timing belt and idler pulley, so I can do the water pump at the same time - it's a $25 part!
July 23, 2015 - Good and Bad Luck - I saw a right taillight for the Sentra on eBay for cheap, and even though I didn't think I needed one, I got it for $15 plus postage since I had not seen anything at all for the car.  It arrived today, and when I set the photo at right up I realized there was a crack (circled) in the lens!  So I can clean up the new one and have a use for it after all.  That's the good luck.  The bad luck is that the exhaust rattle is not gone, and adding another tailpipe bracket to steady it has not been a cure.  More worrisome, the idle, which has been good for weeks, suddenly started stumbling again.  I may have to break down and install the rebuilt carb.  That's a lot of wires and hoses...
July 3, 2015 - Small Stuff - The Nissan has had some small problems remaining that were annoying whenever I took it out.  First off, the exhaust rattled in right-hand turns, the idle was too low and it sometimes stalled in traffic with the AC on, and the A/C took a while to cool down.  Also, I had not finished getting the steering rack boot installed.  Less than an hour today got all four items taken care of.  The new exhaust pipe was a little too close to the left side heat shield and I bent it back into place.  The idle took some searching, but I found the screw with the help of the Haynes repair manual (Always the best to buy).  I bought 2 cans of R-12 Freon for the Nissan's pre-R134 system at the Richmond flea market and found my charging hose today - about 3/4 of one can got the site glass cleared up and the AC colder.  And finally, I used a brake spring tool to seat the inner boot rim.  All taken care of!
May 30, 2015 - More Bumpers - I picked up the new hood bumpers from Chesapeake Nissan today - they are a perfect match for the original parts.  Well, except for not being worn out and broken like the original item in the foreground.  A $9 fix for the annoying loud rattle at idle!. 
May 24, 2015 - Bumpers - Thirty years of sunlight had faded the Nissan's bumpers to a mottled dark gray (see the side view directly below in the previous post).  So I masked everything off and gave them a coat of black bumper paint to restore their original color.  They look much better.  I also discovered that an annoying rattle at idle was caused by bad hood bumpers - i got a set of Nissan bumpers off eBay for $10, ironically sold by a dealership just 20 miles away.  The idle issue has resolved itself - the car starts at 700 RPM and has no problems with the A/C on in traffic.  I have an exhaust system rattle to look into, but for the most part the car is pretty much finished!
May 16, 2015 - Axles, Brakes, and Boots - The Nissan has been waiting patiently in the driveway (and a couple of times in the back yard) while new gutters and windows were installed on the house.  I had ordered the axles and boots from Rock Auto for only $104 including shipping, and they came in less than a week!  The job SHOULD have taken an hour or two, but ended up taking SIX.  A large amount of time was spent trying to get the $%#@@! left drive axle out.  While the right side has a convenient slot for levering the inner CV joint assembly out of the transaxle, the left side does not.  I tried the suggested screwdriver tap from the right side, then tried a welding clamp on the housing, then pulled the axle apart trying to tug it loose.  I went back to the original screwdriver method and finally found the right angle - the CV assembly popped right out!  While I had everything apart, I decided to replace the automatic transmission fluid and spend $12 on new front pads - what looked like the original factory pads had enough meat to get through inspection, but they were more than halfway worn.  I also got the bad steering rack boot mostly replaced (note the missing tie rod just behind the disk rotor).  It is in place but I couldn't get the right angle to position the inner boot all the way on.  I'll try to either get the car up on ramps or find a lift somewhere.  I took the car around the block a few times and it all seemed to work well.  I, however, felt a bit creaky.  Concrete is sure a lot harder than it used to be!
May 1, 2015 - Mostly Fixed - The body shop guy did an amazing job of straightening out the rear bumper assembly, considering how bad it had been creased.  He was able to cut the inner bumper frame apart and straighten the individual pieces, then re-weld it.  The plastic cover was placed in a heating booth and brought mostly back into shape, and everything went back together looking very good.  Not perfect, but considering it only cost me $450 and I was able to send the incorrect bumper cover back for a full refund, I am very pleased.  The car also got a new inspection, but it needs both CV axles replaced, one steering rack boot, and possibly a water pump.  Only the steering rack boot was a possible failure, but they let me slip by as it was marginal and I will replace it before I drive it.  It will be a while, as we have our big national car show tomorrow, and an MG drive planned for Sunday!
April 25, 2015 - Two Steps Forward, One Step Back - Work and family travel have kept me busy this month, but I did manage to get the Nissan's rusty tailpipe replaced last week just before heading off to DC.  Good timing, as the body guy was ready to start on the car and my neighbors delivered it to him while I was gone.  As you can see from the photo i took today, he did a great job of pulling out the dent, and straightened the bumper bar.  However, the new bumper cover was completely wrong.  Besides not having the rub strip that the original bumper had, it mounts completely differently and would have to be heavily cut and modified to go on at all.  Happily, the body guy can get the original bumper cover in presentable, if not perfect, shape and reuse it.  The shop is also going to take care of the car's inspection, which is due early next week.  The tailpipe was the only issue I know of, so it should pass OK.
March 28, 2015 - Getting Closer - I was getting concerned waiting for the go/no go on the rear bumper from the body guy, only to find out today that he has it almost done!  I thought he was going to let me know first, but the support is straightened and painted, and the bumper cover was sent over today so He can get it fitted.  Once that is done he'll pick up the car and get the back end pulled back into shape. The car has been sitting this week - been cold and rainy out. 
March 15, 2015 - Or Not - The Burlington bumper turned out to be from a coupe, which is completely different.  Further searching only turned up more outdated listings, so i have the body guy looking at the bumper support to see if he can get ti straight enough to support the new bumper cover.  The cooling system is pretty clean now, and the car got some extreme testing in bumper-to-bumper Interstate traffic where we sat for 30 minutes at a time.  The cold start high idle continues to be an issue, but I have the new carb to install.
March 10, 2015 - Bumpers! - Sunny and warm and enough daylight after work to make use of it.  I flushed the radiator again and put some cleaner in to run for a few days.  I am driving the Sentra back and forth to work, and it seems to be getting better every day.  The bumper cover on eBay was too good to pass up (plus when will I ever see another one?) so I bought it.  And of course, after calling a dozen junk yards and being told their Sentras had been scrapped, I found one in Burlington NC today that had two!  So for $100, I will have a complete good bumper assembly.  And a friend brought a body-guy over from the shop he works at and I got a quote of $350 to fix the back end.  He'll do the work as soon as I get the bumper, which could be as early as this weekend!  The guy I bought it from makes a run to Suffolk every now and then and thinks he may come Saturday.
March 8, 2015 - Split and Sealed - After weeks of bitter cold, snow, and rain, we had a 70 degree, sunny day today!  I was able to remove the bumper cover with little effort, and then got the oil leak fixed.  Two clamps were so loose they moved when I touched them.  All cinched down now, and no leaks visible.  I should be able to straighten the bumper metal core enough to work again, and if the bumper cover won't straighten out, I have the eBay one.  I'm going to give her a good run again today - with the cooling system working and the engine idling down, it should be much nicer to drive.
March 7, 2015 - Drip Discovered - The weather has not cooperated since I cleared the snow from around the Sentra, but we finally had a nice day today.  I was at a car club event most of the day, but had enough of the sunny and 50-degree afternoon left to track down the oil leak - it's just a loose hose clamp on the power steering rack.  So far, attempts to find another rear bumper have failed.  All the yards that listed them on crushed them a couple of years ago and did not update their listings.  I have found some in self-service yards on the West Coats, but none of the parts pullers out there have responded to my request for one.  I found a new plastic cover on eBay and decided that I will first try to remove the original bumper cover and straighten both it and the core metal support.  If I can at least get the core piece straight, I have until April 2 to buy the one on eBay.
February 27, 2015 - Snow Job - Weather has not been cooperating with any hopes of working on a car outside, but today the temperature got up to an almost tolerable 29, and the sun came out.  So I shoveled the area in front of the car clear and got to work.  The cooling system was in desperate need of cleaning, and wanted to replace the thermostat and fan switch.  I replaced the thermostat, which was the original Nissan  unit, but the fan switch was stuck and bent the bottom of the radiator when i tried to get it out, so it is hanging in for now.  The fan circuit gets power and the fan worked when I jumped the connector, so if the cooling fan doesn't work I'll have to see what I can do about getting the temp switch out.  The engine idled down properly every time, so the carb seems to be happier.  One small glitch was that the white radiator drain plug (inset image) vanished while I was flushing the radiator.  Given that the plug happens to be snow-colored, I picked up a new one from O'Reilly's rather than freeze fingers trying to find the old one.  One bigger glitch - the last time I started the car with everything done, it started leaking transmission fluid.  :Sigh. 
February 22, 2015 - Cleaning - With snow and ice hitting us the night I drove the car in to work, I haven't been able to do anything on the car until today (You can see the snow under the doorsill on the photo at left).  However, we have high 40s today and I decided to drag out the vacuum cleaner.  The interior and trunk of the Nissan are beautiful - even the driver's side carpet cleaned up great.  The spare and jack have obviously never been used.  I have been busy on eBay, though.  A great stroke of luck snagged me a rebuilt carburetor in the box for $24.50!  A new fan temperature switch is also on the way.  I am going to replace it and the thermostat and flush the cooling system  all at once.  Hopefully the weather will improve some - the Sentra sits outside, but i did get the car cover in and will cover her up now that the snow and ice have melted off.
February 16, 2015 - Hi-ho, Hi-ho... - It's off to work we go.  Well, we went, anyway.  I work about 25 miles from home with mostly Interstate driving and occasional heavy traffic. This made for a more rugged operational test, which the Nissan passed pretty well.  I say pretty well because the 3,000 RPM idle was a pain in traffic, and she got warm (never even close to overheating) due to what I expect is a faulty cooling fan switch.  Nothing serious in either case, and the car ran and drove really well.  The 1.6/Automatic combination is strong at low speeds, but lacks the 'pep' of the manual tranny version on the Interstate.  This is pretty normal with any econobox.  I have a couple of weeks left to sort out issues before the deadline for Charlotte National AACA Meet registration.  If I can get the carb and cooling fan sorted I may enter the Nissan in the High Percentage of Original Features (HPOF) category.
February 15, 2015 - On the Road! - Weather and an out-of-town trip has kept me from the Nissan the past week, but I got back today to a pile of eBay goodies that had arrived while I was gone.  These include the showroom sales manual, owner's manual set, factory shop manual, Haynes manual, spare hubcap, new rotor, new gas cap, plastic-headed keys, and a car cover.  Although it was very cold, the sky was clear and I decided to take the Sentra out for its first real drive.  Other than a high idle caused by issues with the electronic carb, it ran great.  The transmission is smooth, it rides and handles well, the brakes are excellent, and very happily given the 20s temperature, the heater works great.  Interstate driving is no problem, with the engine turning over about 3000 RPM at 55 MPH.   I'll drive the car to work this week and give it a better shakedown.  Given the standard plate registration, I can drive the car as much as I want.   I am looking at either an earlier non-electronic version of the stock carb or swapping out to a Weber setup.
February 10, 2015 - Legal! - I went to DMV this morning and got the title and plates for the Nissan.  The clerk also corrected the title which said it was a 4-door, instead of a 2-door.  Weather is not cooperating: raining, windy and in the low 30s.  I did locate a possible body repair source - I'll run the Nissan over to him and see what eh thinks about getting the dent out of the trunk.  Then I'll just need a back bumper.  The car is registered under normal plates so I can drive it as much as I want to.
February 8, 2015 - Day 2 Update - The plug wires and distributor cap seem to have cured the rough running - the car has a high idle when cold, but settles down as it warms up and runs great.  I changed oil and filter this morning, and put in a new air filter.  Then I attacked the paint.  The car had black splotches and chalked paint that looked pretty bad.  I attacked it with Maguire's Ultimate Polishing Compounds and it came out really nice.  You can see the difference on the roof panel.  I also got the rear bumper off.  It looks much better without it.  Have my normal eBay stuff started - got the owner's manual set, a factory shop manual, showroom sales folder, a Haynes manual, and a car cover all on the way.
February 7, 2015 - Veteran Econobox - Ever since I sold the Jaguar, I have been itching to get something else. However, it seemed stupid to spend a lot of money on another car when I still have some things to do with what I already have.  So I did something marginally  less stupid - I bought a 1985 Nissan Sentra sedan, the single most popular car of the 1980s, and nearly extinct today.  This particular car has 58K original miles, working A/C, a near-perfect interior, current inspection, and a 'slightly' damaged rear bumper.  It was running really bad when I checked it out this morning, and I had guessed the electronic carburetor was bad.  Still, the rest of the car was very nice, so I bought it for $800.  One side has been polished, but the rest is very oxidized.  I put in new plug wires and a distributor cap tonight, and it ran beautifully!  The stumbling may be intermittent, but so far it is OK.  And everything works great.  It has power steering and brakes and a nice AM/FM stereo.  The back bumper will cost about $100, and I should be able to get the minimal damage out of the back of the trunk myself.  A neat and very practical antique car to save!

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