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Fuel Gauge not working, Malaysian Jungle Stanza

Hi all!

I live in Hawaii. I’m getting married in Malaysia (my future wife is Malay). I am an engineer and I want to prove it to her family.

As an act of international diplomacy, intercultural exchange, marital worthiness, and just for the challenge of a difficult problem, I want to try and fix the no-functional fuel gauge on this car.

Here’s the info I have:
SE Asian Domestic Market (RHD) 1983 NIssan Stanza.
Fuel gauge has not worked for several years.

My plan:
Purchase the 1983 Nissan Stanza Service Manual (DONE)
Go to a junkyard and get a used fuel sender assembly.
Go to a junkyard and get a used gauge cluster.
Bring a continuity meter to test the wire harness that must run from the gauge cluster to the sending unit.

Questions:
Will a fuel sender assembly purchased in the states work in an asian domestic market car?
I CAN’T screw this up. What are the pitfalls? What should I be extra careful of?

I’m worried the plastic of the old gauge cluster will fall apart in my hands, all the clips will break off, and I won’t be able to get it back together.

I’m also worried that the seal around the sending unit won’t remain intact. Is there some kind of compound out there I can use as a precaution?

Help!

Many thanks! Mahalo and terima kasih!

-L

Before you purchase any parts and start tearing into things I suggest you first do some simple trouble shooting to see where the problem is at. Most of the time this kind of trouble is due to faulty contacts on the fuel sender in the tank. They get dirty and lose connection. Use the meter to see if you have voltage on the wire from the gauge to the sender on the tank. There may be some sort of access panel you can take off above the tank to gain access to the connection. Your manual should tell you about that. Good move on getting the service manual BTW. The best thing you could do besides fixing the trouble. If you have voltage getting to the sender then the trouble is most likely with the sender in the tank. Some folks have fixed this kind of trouble by adding a product from Chevron called Techron to the fuel tank. It cleans the fuel system. Sometimes it takes a couple of applications to fix the trouble. So you might be able to fix the trouble without taking anything apart. There are other products available also that can do the same thing.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the sender unit is the same for both models sold overseas and in the US. If there is a difference between the two I’m sure it would still work and fit but it may be calibrated differently.

I’m guessing that you need to take anything that you might possibly need as you get one shot at this, or at least you don’t want to make multiple trips. I think the sending units will be the same, Nissan probably doesn’t want to reinvent the wheel for each country they sell in. The gauge cluster may not be the same but the gauge itself should be the same.

I would take splices, extra wire and the proper fuse along. If the gauge doesn’t work at any fuel level, then the sending unit probably isn’t the problem, but don’t rule it out. I suspect it will be a wire at one of the connections or the gauge itself.

BTW, you probably already know this but Malaysia is not that backward, parts will be available locally.

Um, you should be concerned about screwing up the fuel pump while you are in there. Then a month after you leave the car will be stalling and they’ll ask what you did to it-it was fine before. Replace pump and sender at the same time and harness too, or simply take it to a mechanic and pay him instead. Its just as important to know when not to get involved in a repair-especially with relatives.

Is this your first automotive repair or have you done stuff like this before?

Having lived in Malaysia for 5 years, there are some very good mechanics and Nissan parts are easy to find. It`s amazing how they keep very old cars running and rebuilding old Volvos to look likje new.

I would just first try some trouble-shooting as per contacts and then likely find a good mechanic. Ask any foreign resident there, eg. US embassy employees, Brits, etc., and they will point you to a good mechanic. Labor is cheap there, so the repair will not bankrupt you. Don`t take it to the Nissan dealer; it will be fixed properly, but all parts even remotely related to the problem will be replaced.