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Thread: Basic tune-up questions

  1. #1
    The alphabet begins w/ Z. AndysPlit's Avatar
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    Default Basic tune-up questions

    I am about to do a few things on my own to prepare the car for the roadtrip. They are very basic questions, as I am a novice under the hood. I have done the starter, alternator, theromstat, and oil on my own. So I guess this is the next step.

    -When changing the cap and rotor, are there any parts that need to be greased? My Haynes manual seems to indicate that some is needed here and there around the distributor.

    -What should I be aware of when installing new spark plugs? Do I need a particular wrench? For reason I am weary of this. I know this may sound ludicrous to some of you.

    -Is an air filter and air cleaner the same thing?

    I'm going to purchase the major tune-up kit from MSA. I'm not even going to touch the valves on my own.

    Thanks!

    1978 Datsun 280Z (owned since Aug 1997)
    1986 Nissan 300ZX 2+2 (SOLD!)
    1996 Nissan 300ZX 2+2 (daily driver)

  2. #2
    Registered User d240zx2's Avatar
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    First, unless the car is running poorly or the engine is missing, stuttering, etc., I wouldn't suggest going into the dizzy with your admittedly low skill and knowledge level. Let a pro handle that until your abilities and tool chest are up to it.

    You can change the plugs and plug wires just fine, just remember to take one wire off and put the new one on before taking off another. You'll need a 13/16 spark plug socket. Remove the plugs. When installing the new NGK plugs (do not use other brands...they'll last about a week), make sure the gap between the L-shaped electrode and the center part is correct per your FSM. Do not overtighten when installing the spark plug and make sure it is seated squarely in the socket otherwise you could crack the porcelain insulator when tightening. Tighten until snug, then just a little bit more. The "little bit more" compresses the washer sufficiently to prevent combustion gas leaks.

    Typically the air filter is what you'll find inside the air cleaner.

    Others can chime in with additional recommendations.

    Regards,
    First & Third owner of HLS30-00721
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    New owner of HLS30-15653
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    Frank in Houston, Texas

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    beandip beandip's Avatar
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    I stress do not over tighten the plugs . My advise is to buy some anti-seize and apply just a little on the threads of the plugs before you install them. This will prevent any future aluminum to steel galling if you were to remove a spark plug when hot. Most everything you need to tune the engine can be found at your local parts store. These are vary basic engines and there is not much to tune. In the future buy a good timing light, and also torque wrench . If you have a Harbor Fright close by they are a good source for those. I would buy a good quality metric socket set and end wrench set in metric both open end and box end. Sears is good for them or S&K , Snap On , but Snap On is spendy. also a set of feeler gages. Used to gap the plugs and set the valves. Just buy a little at a time . You won't need all of this at once or right away , hopefully. If you keep up on the maintenance on your Z it won't leave you stranded. Enjoy the ride. Gary
    I'd rather die while I am living than live while I am dieing. CZC 1887 IZCC 12602 Member of NorthWest Z Car Club

  4. #4
    NW Native JonnyRock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by d240zx2 View Post
    You'll need a 13/16 spark plug socket. Remove the plugs.
    The spark plug socket is convenient, but not entirely necessary. The nice thing about a spark plug socket is that it has a soft insert inside it which grips the end of the plug, preventing it from falling out while you're installing and removing your plugs.

    If you don't currently have one (sounds like you don't), you can pick one up at any hardware store; or if you have a sufficiently deep 13/16 socket already, that can be used. It just takes a bit more care so the plug doesn't fall out of it and screw up the gap, strip threads when you start, or break the porcelain.
    ***PREVIOUSLY OWNED***
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  5. #5
    HS130-150591 4/79 zbane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by beandip View Post
    snip...I would buy a good quality metric socket set and end wrench set in metric both open end and box end.
    When you do get a set of sockets, make sure they are not the star shaped ones! If you must, order a set of solid six sided sockets. Doing this will save you hours of headaches, busted knuckles, and rounded heads.
    Occasionally you can find a set of "gear ratchets." These work nicely and allow you to surround longer bolts, as the handle encompasses the head/bolt/nut. While they are somewhat convenient, the set that I have hasn't held up well. Go for quality, even if it costs a little bit more.
    Last edited by zbane; 03-07-2008 at 09:55 PM.
    David
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    Former frequent poster sblake01's Avatar
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    I would suggest against using a 13/16 non sparkplug socket for changing plugs especially if you're not experienced with changing plugs. Get a spark plug socket. If you're going to buy tools, buy the right tools for what you're doing. For instance, I would use feeler guages to adjust the rocker clearance but I'd use a spark plug gap tool for spark plugs. I'd use a non magnetic, non conductive set of feeeler guages to set the air gap in the distributor. Having said that, I would also suggest that you stay away from the things I mention in the last two sentences based on your professed skil level. Make sure your coolant/anti freeze is topped up and fresh. I flush and refill my cooling sytems once a year. Check the level and condition of the brake fluid. I also do a fuel injector cleaning prior to each smog check but that requires special tools which I do have and might be a little over the top for most home mechanics. The cap and rotor doesn't really have to be changed all that often on cars with electronic ignition. Remove the cap and inspect the contacts in the cap and on the rotor itself. If they look good I usually just hit them lightly with a soft wire brush on my Dremel and call it good.
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    CraZZZy about Z's DatsunZsRule's Avatar
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    Well you can go crazy (like I do with mine ) and do more than just the Basic Tune up but I don't know how far your comfortable going.

    Looks like your questions here have already been answered but I second the motion on using the correct socket specifically for spark plugs. Yes, you can get by using a regular deep 13/16 socket, but you can run a higher risk of cross threading the plugs as already mentioned plus that little rubber insert in the spark plug socket helps prevent breaking off the top of the spark plug. Makes the risk less anyways I always recommend nothing but the factory NGK plugs for these cars that are stock. If a distributor cap and rotor head is needed, then make sure the cap and rotor head are the same brand. Using a rotor head thats a different brand than the cap can cause an incorrect air gap.

    Back to the topic on plugs, they come pre gapped, but still double check them with your spark plug guage. During shipment the "pre gap" can get messed up from being bumped around so keep that in mind as well.

    Good luck with everything
    Jared (1977 280Z - SOLD )

    "Any car can get you where you need to go. A special car gets you there with a smile on your face"

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    beandip beandip's Avatar
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    I never use a socket to install spark plugs . I use my bare hands and screw them in finger tight, then tighten with a socket . This way I never cross thread a spark plug. Same with lug nuts. Gary
    I'd rather die while I am living than live while I am dieing. CZC 1887 IZCC 12602 Member of NorthWest Z Car Club

  9. #9
    The alphabet begins w/ Z. AndysPlit's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the tips so far guys. I'll be picking up a socket wrench before the weekend, and I'll try not to screw in the plugs too tight. And of course I will use only NGK since my engine is stock.

    I just got word that she'll be ready by Friday. I had to take her back to the body shop and have some areas touched up recently. They are not charging me because there were a few spots that showed some flaws in their workmanship. Hopefully this it.

    I'll get the new tires this Saturday and follow that up with some of the advice given thus far for the tune-up.

    Any more suggestions, I'm here.

    Thanks!

    1978 Datsun 280Z (owned since Aug 1997)
    1986 Nissan 300ZX 2+2 (SOLD!)
    1996 Nissan 300ZX 2+2 (daily driver)

  10. #10
    CraZZZy about Z's DatsunZsRule's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by beandip View Post
    I never use a socket to install spark plugs . I use my bare hands and screw them in finger tight, then tighten with a socket . This way I never cross thread a spark plug. Same with lug nuts. Gary
    Yeah, I do the same thing. I still use the correct spark plug socket though
    Jared (1977 280Z - SOLD )

    "Any car can get you where you need to go. A special car gets you there with a smile on your face"

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