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question for the home mechanic


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Hey folks,

A big reason (excuse) for buying my gtst was to learn how to do most of my own servicing etc at home, and i've been doing lots of reading. One thing that I can't find out though is this:

How do you know when to check for what? Is there a general guide as to what's done at certain kms?

Obviously I can't do everything myself, so I will take to my mechanic to do the bigger and trickier things, but I at least want to be able to care for my car and do the smaller things.

For people those of you in the know, could you give me a rough guide as to what has to be done where... (my old gal has done 180,000 km, and is a 93 r33 gtst).

(eg. 10.000 do this

15.000 do that

20,000 do this and that.

every 5000 change oil and do this.... etc....)

Thanks for your help in advance.

Hopefully we can get a good guide going, coz i'm sure a lot of people will find it handy!

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I don't know how correct this is. But as a General Rule I do these

3000 - 5000 Replace Oil and Filter + General Top up of all fluids

12000 -15000 (all of the Above Plus) Spark Plugs + Fuel Filter + Clean Coil Pack's with Contact Cleaner and spray coil pack's with silicone spray

30000 - 40000 (All of the Above Plus) O2 Sensor

100,000 Timing belt, Idler bearing, tensioner bearing, water pump, diff oil, gearbox oil... Mechanic does all of this

Every year just before Summer I do a coolant flush and put in new coolant.

Have not done an engine flush as of yet (engine is only 15000km's old)

Thats just what I do.. There is probaly more.

Hope that helps

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I dunno if you should change the spark plugs "12000-15000" if they are platinium piped plugs. They are designed to last about a 100000km and are about $20-26 a pop. Certainly if they if they are regular plugs, 12k-15k is about right.

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Maybe spray some electrical contact cleaner on the coil connections if they needed it.

You cant really clean an O2 sensor, they start to wear out after about 100,000k anyway, they dont sample as fast as they will do when new.

You can use a butane or gas torch to burn carbon off the tip, but this would only happen if your car was running majorly rich and clogged the sensor.

Injectors arent worth tampering with in my opinion.

You are best to use a quality premium fuel such as optimax or ultimate that have high amount of detergent in them. This will help keep them clean. Injector cleaners in the bottles are preety well usless, and as i say no real need to remove them and get them ultrasonically cleaned and flow tested unless there is a problem.


spelling error

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Personally, when i first get a car i like to do everything that doesnt involve major mech work:

oil & oil filter

coolant flush

coolant change

spark plugs


brake fluid

trans oil

diff oil

theres more but thats the core items. usually ends up costing about $250-300 but you can forget about all of them except oil for at least a good 6 months.

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For you guys that are changing your O2 sensors, I remember reading that you can use a ford replacement that costed $70 odd bucks instead of the nissan one which something like double the price... Is this correct, and do you have any model numbers or brands I can look for?

Thanks for all the input everyone, it's very handy. Another small question with the brake pads, do you change rear pads at the same time as front pads?

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Once brake fluid is flushed and replaced, it can be left for ages. Just do it when you first get the car, and then forget about it.

How I do it, quick, easy & fun :) :

1 - Remove the brake fluid reservoir cap

2 - Loosen front wheel nuts

3 - jack the car up at the front

4 - get a length (maybe 20cm?) of clear pvc aquarium type tubing that will fit the bleed nipple on the caliper, and pop it on. Soften with a lighter or hot water if it won't fit. Run the loose end into a container.

5 - Get an open ended spanner that fits the land on the nipple, and have it on there ready to crack the nipple on and off

6 - Have someone watching the reservoir, ready to pour in new fluid as the level drops

7 - Crack the bleed open. Quickly pump the brake pedal a few times to get the old fluid flowing out. It may take a bit, but keep pumping and itll make its way down the tubing. Have the other person top the reservoir up with the new fluid.

8 - keep going until the new fluid can be seen exiting the caliper, then have the bleed nipple closed. (helps at this point if the fresh fluid is a different colour to the old stuff)

9 - move onto each of the other calipers until complete.

At no point let the reservoir take in air - this is where problems can occur. Have someone constantly ready to top it up.

This isnt the only or best way to do it (ideally, you'd take it to a brake shop for a complete flush and refill) but ive had great success this way, and its easy to do.

good luck, have fun :)


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Front brake pads wear a lot quicker than the rear pads, due to when you brake the weight of the car shifting heavily onto the front suspension of the car, also why the front calipers are always bigger than the rear as well. Depending on how you drive, the type of brake pad you use influences how often you have to change the pads.

As with brake fluid, it should really only be influenced by time not distance or how hard you drive. Brake fluid as a minimum should be flushed every 24 months. Brake fluid only gets contaminated by the amount of water it absorbs (also believe me you don't want to spill it on paint) hence really how well its sealed off for example if your constantly taking the cap off and checking it will obviously wear quicker. By absorbing moisture it lowers the boiling point of the fluid and excessive use in a short time can lead to piston lockups.

I had it recently happen to myself in my bang around laser. Fanged around for a while, fluid in rear left (futherest from the master cylinder) expanded and put an uneven amount of pressure on the pad compared to the other brakes. What happen is that in a straight line the car pulled to the left and under light braking it caused even more pressure to be put on the piston causing one wheel to lock up and pull dangerously to the left. I had this happen to myself in heavy traffic and the pulling power was unbelievable not to mention the time it took me to stop. It's after bad experience like that, that you take more care in attending to fluid. Anyway I probably got carried away with my own story but in conclusion brake fluid IMO should be changed every 12 months or in smaller intervals if you attend to it often and the consquences can be significant...... :wassup:

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I dont think the size of the caliper or the weight distribution is what effects the brake pad life.

Its more the fact that the brake bias is set to around 70% front 30% rear, in the master cylinder valving.

Not always that figure varies from car to car, but the fronts always do more work that the rears. Fronts should always lock before the rear, so you don't loose control.

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