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Old Nissan Maxima 1985

Hey guys so I’ve recently been thinking about attempting to either try and fix my parents old maxima or look into maybe having someone fix it up a bit but I’m not sure if it’s worth the costs… The cars been sitting now for about 6 years and what originally was wrong was the timing belt was bad. My parents had just put a new transmission in right before that had happened (bad luck I guess) and they just didn’t bother to put the money into it afterwards… It has 124K miles on it. Any idea what the costs of fixing it would be? I’ll post some photos below.

Before dreaming about replacing the timing belt, remove the gas cap and take a whiff of what the gas smells like in the gas tank.

Does it smell like gasoline? Or does it have rancid/varnish-like odor?

If it’s latter, call the auto recycler and take the $100.00.


Two words - Money Pit

Frist see if it is an interference engine, then a better decision can be made.

Just checked, it’s an interference engine. So if the engine was running when the belt broke, the engine is likely toast. So yes, a BIG money pit, you’ll never get the money back you’ll put into this.

Since it has rebuilt tranny, and the sentimental value of this car to the OP, seems a shame not to give it a fighting chance anyway. The big $$$ risk is the timing belt incident damaged the valves and or pistons. But that can be checked by installing a new timing belt and measuring the compression. Until the timing belt is properly installed and set to the correct timing marks, be extra careful that neither the crankshaft nor the camshaft is rotated from its current position. When the timing belt is installed, it may be necessary to rotate them, but do so following the factory service manual instructions, to avoid damaging a possibly – if you are lucky – otherwise undamaged engine.

Install a timing belt and check the compression of all cylinders. That’s the first step if I were in this position.


You mean to say that if the smell out of the gas tank smells like a swamp? Replace the timing belt?


Tester … well, I wasn’t thinking the tank would smell like a swamp … lol …

But if it did, the tank may have to be removed and cleaned and the fuel lines purged of the old gasoline first. I think the OP understands already, not a good idea to cause a surge of polluted gasoline into the fuel injectors and engine.

As an alternative, if a different order of work was desirable for some reason, the OP could install the new timing belt, and disable the fuel system before doing the compression check.

Well the timing belt literally went bad as soon as we moved at the time 6 years ago. Basically ran from the old house up to the new house. So I’m really not sure if it caused major damage to the valves or Pistons… But uh yeah if it’s going to cost over 2 grand I maybe better off just putting that to a newer car.

Guess there’s no way to tell unless I get a new timing belt on there right?

hmmm … well I guess it might be possible to not install the timing belt. Instead, to perform a leak down test on each cylinder, manually adjusting the crankshaft and camshaft so that particular cylinder being measured is at top dead center on the intake stroke. In that configuration the cylinder should be totally sealed and hold pressure. If the valves or piston were toast, the leak down test would likely show that.

A 30 year old car that’s been sitting for 6 years undriven would be a big gamble, even without a broken timing belt. New rubber/hoses/tires/brakes/cleanout fuel system/etc./etc. With a broken timing belt on an interference engine…

Note the removed valve cover - how long’s it been like that?

I agree that the OP is looking at a project. But sometimes projects can be fun. It just depends. Me, if someone up and gave me this car, I’d tell them, thanks, but I didn’t want it. I just don’t have time for a 85 Maxima project car. But the OP may feel differently about it, given the personal nature of the situation.

Texases, about 3 years? My neighbors son had looked at it and took some parts out and never put them back… He was going to charge us $700 just for the timing belt at the time. But we didn’t have the money at the time so yeah. It’s been sitting for some time.

George, my mom loves the car and wants to get it fixed one day… I was thinking of buying a Manuel on the car and trying to tackle one thing at a time and see what I could do. . But I’m also not a mechanic so I’m limited in the repairs this car requires.

I have a question… I recently heard that some colleges take in broken down cars and work on them as “instruction pieces” has anyone heard about this ?

Yes. High school auto shops used to do that too, but high school auto shops aren’t as common as they used to be. That’s a shame, but it seems to be true. But colleges and especially junior colleges still have auto shops. Auto mechanics have to have a way to be trained, and it is an important profession these days, approaching a sort of hi-tech job. Whether they’d take in an 85 Maxima, doubtful, but worth asking anyway.

George, well worth the inquiry anyways. I’m going to ask Pasadena city college about it. They have a pretty good program there. Damn shame. These were good cars

It’s fuel injected, right?

I believe so George