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bought my first Z, needs a little tlc

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So i bought my first Z, 1981 280zx non turbo. I'm no mechanic, but do know a few things. any and all help is greatly appreciated and please excuse my ignorance certain things.

first off, it needs a head gasket. Once it starts (ill get to that), cold, it won't smoke, will idle rough at first but smooth out, although it does idle a little higher (about 1000-1100 rpms) than what i have been reading it should idle at. If the car is allowed to get up to temperature, then shut off for a few minutes, it smokes white and smells like coolant for a bit till what has leaked in while it was off is burned up.

If this does not sound accurate to a head gasket, please correct me.

It seems there are lots of options for head gaskets, if any of you know a good brand to get or which ones to stay away from, that would greatly be appreciated.

Now for the starting issue.

The car seems to start at random, sometimes it starts right up, other times i have to cycle the ignition key off and back to start anywhere from a few times to many times. I put a brand new starter on it and every time i turn the key i hear clicking from the passenger floor area. I have also checked the fuses and fusible links, all are good. From what i have read it seems it could be the ignition relay or ignition switch? Im not too sure where either of these are located. also, the relays on the passenger side of the engine compartment are not marked.

I don't think this is relevant to the starting issue, but there is a loose wire hanging out near the starter (picture below) i have tried grounding it to the frame and just leaving it. doesn't seem to make a difference either way. It is also too short to reach the mounting bolt on the starter. any ideas where it might go?


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  • 2 weeks later...

www.xenons130.com/reference has an FSM to download that will have the instructions and specs for re-assembly. Engine Mechanical chapter. Hopefully you already have it and used it for dis-assembly and will give some good instructions to the shop that rebuilds the head. There are some simple, easy to make mistakes that can cost you a lot of money if the shop makes them.

Hit the caps button for "I" and the start of a new sentence, if you can. It makes the world a better place and builds character.

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