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1995 Maxima SE 5-Speed (Pittsburgh)

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Old 05-18-2013, 12:14 AM   #1
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Smile 1995 Maxima SE 5-Speed (Pittsburgh)

Inspired by 95maxrider's build thread, and 2013 SCCA video footage, I decided to start my own build thread. We are truly starting from scratch here...

I joined Steel Cities Region SCCA this spring and ran my first solo event two weeks ago. What I brought was my almost completely stock 1995 SE with 182K original single owner miles and a ton of work ahead of me.

Having just replaced the clutch 2 weeks before the event (Nissan clutch, TOB, and flywheel) I made no further preparations before driving out to the event as a complete n00b -- my confidence stemming from 18 years of experience driving this car.

After having the clutch replaced, and specifically instructing the mechanics to completely clean the corrosion from the bell housing, the engine is running better than it ever has in a long while. After suspecting an engine grounding problem a few years ago and rigging supplemental ground wires which somewhat addressed the problem, it still ran a little rough and I would regularly get crank sensor errors. Not anymore! It sure starts and runs smooth now. If you haven't done this by now, don't waste any more time. No more engine light. No more hard starting.

We replaced the power steering pump that was leaking pretty badly, both steering rack boots, and the passenger side tie rod end. The passenger side axle boot was badly damaged and was replaced as well as the inner axle seal. There was a leak in the oil sending unit and crank seal which were also replaced, as well as a few cracked belts for the power steering and A/C compressor. As you might imagine, it's not leaking anything anymore, and isn't as likely to fly apart on a whim.

Tires are currently all-season Bridgestone RE960AS 215/60R15 with a bit of tread life left on them. They were originally bought for their performance in snow/wet and definitely not for autocross. Since we can now do autocross with street tires (and I'm a n00b) I'll wear these out before I get something more serious.

Struts were replaced 7 or so years ago. Springs are all original. Although I originally bought the car in Florida, Pittsburgh has taken a serious toll on it's suspension. I did nothing to prepare for our first event, and was nearly disqualified from racing because my driver-side lower control arm bushings were so worn. After about 8 guys checked it out for safety issues, and I talked to them a little about how this was top on my list of repairs, I was allowed to run. Woohoo!

I was able to get six runs that day. Went off track twice in the beginning as I was getting used to the whole driving around cones thing, but ended up placing 2nd in my class (HS) behind a 2006 Mini, and ranking 3rd among all the rookies (behind a 911 and a WRX). OK that was not too bad for my first time, especially considering the shameful state of my suspension.

The first thing I did was order some ES bushings for both control arms as well as ES bushings for my sway bars. My driver side ball joint was on the way out too, so with the help of my father-in-law/mechanical engineer extraordinaire, we went about replacing them. Currently we have only managed to replace the bushings and ball joint on the driver-side control arm. It was a tough job without using a hydraulic press, but he was determined to do it and succeeded after about 3 hours of persistent hammering and whatnot. I think he hurt his shoulder in the process and we haven't gotten around to replacing the other side or the sway bar bushings. It's already so much quieter and turn-in and effective alignment seems to be improved. The inside tread on the front driver's side tire was slightly worn and will have to be replaced sooner rather than later...

I'm a little disappointed that we haven't been able to get to both sides before the next event on Sunday, but this car is the scrappiest thing out there and I'm looking forward to focusing on further improvement of my driving skills before I get too serious about upgrades.

By the end of the summer I hope to finish replacing all my suspension bushings (front and rear), get some new tires, and if I'm lucky invest in some new struts and springs. For the time being, I'm happy to stay in the stock class. This should help keep costs down, and allow me to focus more on my driving, and I'm already getting around the track faster than newer/better cars out there, so this is all very encouraging.

I've followed this forum since the very beginning, and now may actually be able to take advantage of all the knowledge that members have posted here. I look forward to your feedback and insight on how I can accomplish my modest goals, and hope to continue sharing the details of my progress right here. I also hope my experience can serve as an example of how far you can go in the stock class with some well-chosen improvements. Wish me luck!
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Old 05-18-2013, 03:59 AM   #2
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I've always wanted to auto x my maxima
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Old 10-01-2013, 12:29 AM   #3
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Update. I've been to 6 of 7 SCCA autocross events this season. The time, energy, and money spent getting the Maxima race worthy has more than paid off and I can definitely say it's driving better than it has for 15 years -- possibly ever!

Everything is still stock. Here's a quick update on what's been going on...

The new clutch has been great. Smooth takeoffs every time. And I've not had a single ECU code since they cleaned the transmission bell housing. Seriously get this done if you experience anomalies from perfectly good sensors.

For tires, I went with 205/50R15 BF Goodrich Rivals. Even though there are 2" shorter than stock, they fit the stock rims really nicely and make this car corner like a superstar. The stock load index is 94, and these are 87, so you really have to keep them pumped up to 45psi or more or they will roll over under heavy braking.

Since my previous post, both control arms have been refurbished, as well as the sway bar end links. My left rear window regulator has failed, so I have that shimmed closed with cardboard and tape until I can get around to repairing it. Both of my low beams also went out the other night at the same time -- had to drive home with high beams. Had my starter lockup between runs one particularly hot afternoon this summer, but it hasn't given me any trouble since. Had a battery cable come loose last Thursday, but that was also easily fixed.

Most recently, I've added a Stillen Adjustable Rear Sway Bar. It's still quite new to me, but I can recommend it without question. If you have a 4G Maxima and don't have a RSB you will love what it does to the feel. For autocross, it definitely helped rotate the rear end in a more controlled manner under acceleration, and it's fantastic on the highway. See my thread on the 4G Maxima discussion area about it.

As a novice I've managed to do just fine in the Maxima. I rank about 50% better than the other drivers, and I've been PAXing even higher. Almost everyone is driving really nice Corvettes, WRXs, BRZs, Miatas, S2000s, RX8s, and Mustangs so it feels nice to place competitively without having to spend competitively.

Here are standings in my club for the curious:
http://scrsolo.com/standings/

Getting new springs and struts are still high on my list, but I'm really glad that I held out and didn't get them this season. First of all they are a big purchase, and second I'm still not quite sure what I want/need. Coil-overs would be sweet but would put me out of stock class. If not, just Tokico Blues and which springs? I'm still looking for a compromise between autocross and highway driving comfort-wise, but I've pretty much given up on every-day city driving because Pittsburgh roads are so bad. I haven't addressed the rear bushings yet, but it almost seems I should just replace the entire rear assembly for $500 rather than going through the effort of refurbishing the one I have. Any thoughts on that? Refurbishing the front control arms wasn't fun, and we even got professional help popping out bushings on the second one instead of hurting ourselves all over again.

And how about some 18" rims and dropping the height and inch or two? Not to mention how much better that would look, I expect all of these things could do a lot towards getting me around autocross courses faster. I've been told a strut tower brace can also help here, but that would also put me out of stock class. Staying stock this year has allowed me to focus my energy on improving my driving skills without significant handling changes each time I race. Next year the bigger changes will mean more, and I won't be doing them to a car that requires additional work.

If I get a chance, and have the courage, I'm going to replace the valve cover gaskets which are occasionally leaking oil onto the manifold. This seems to happen under high RPMs before the engine has warmed up, so I try to let it do that before I take it to redline. New gaskets would get rid of that issue/smell.

I'm interested in other minor appearance improvements, though at some point I really need to address how rust is starting to form in the rear quarter panels. The whole car would look nice with a fresh coat of Super Black, but I don't know much about the cost/viability of doing all that.

Here is a link so some recent photos:
http://bebop.tesuji.org/content.agen...os&name=maxima

The other helmeted driver is Michelle who has also been driving the Maxima.

I'll update again after my next couple of events, ending my 2013 season. -pc






Last edited by ugufru; 10-01-2013 at 12:50 AM.
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Old 10-01-2013, 05:26 PM   #4
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Whoah!!! you know your braking/turning hard when you rear wheel comes off the ground. nice i want to restore my 97 eventually nice to see youre doing good. btw try rally cross alot more wear and tear but way more fun.
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Old 11-07-2013, 04:10 PM   #5
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Just saw this thread, nice work! I had fun Auto-Xing the Infiniti, IMO our cars are actually decent at handling. But with stock suspension, and even a street set-up like mine, it still feels like a boat.

Coilovers are the only way man, but if you want to go for a strut/spring setup then you have to go Konis if you want to be competitive. You are saying Tokico HP Blue, they are nice for the street but don't provide much dampning - still feels like a boat

Post up videos of your runs if you can
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Old 04-22-2014, 09:04 PM   #6
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Update for 2014 Season:

After watching wheel prices on eBay and Craisglist all winter, I hopped on a deal for a set of 17x7" OEM wheels for a Juke that were new in the box. This changes everything!

1) The +2 wheels size takes me out of stock class. I think I'll be running in STX.
2) The Dunlop Direzza DIIs i put on them are a perfect match (235/45R17)
3) i can now try other mods like a strut tower brace and use polyurethane bushings wherever.

So far I've replaced the spark plugs and added a bottle of Techron, but otherwise everythings just they way it was last fall.

Theres a Trackcross at PittRace tomorrow so I'm hoping everything else holds up!
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Old 04-24-2014, 03:35 PM   #7
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Here is the latest photo with the new tires and wheels:
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Old 09-26-2015, 07:38 PM   #8
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Update 2015: I'm still on the 17x7s with DIIs and they have been great for autocross. They are the perfect size for this car to be sure (235/45R17). Since my previous update I have also: - Found and added a used Stilled FSTB - Fixed my valve cover seals (no more leaks - Replaced my radiator - Replaced my polyurethane FSB bushings (they break and wear out quickly) - Konis + Eibachs - Eliminated all of my squeaks and rattles. (feels "new" again) - Replaced my stock steering wheel with a 300zx steering wheel (much improved road feel) - Found and installed some OEM leather seats (yay) - Finally removed the dealer-added pinstripes ...And even though the paint is still all scratched and dented, a good waxing has really made it look pretty good. I've got rust bubbling under my rear fenders though and its already rusted through some of my lower sections I don't know how much longer I will autoX the car, but I'm preregistered to compete through the end of this year. After October, we'll be returning to DD status and I'll be selling my G35x to make room for something better to race in the spring. A nice G37 6MT would suit me just fine...
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Old 01-07-2016, 01:12 PM   #9
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hi paul lmao
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