Sunday, July 22, 2018

A 300,000 km GT-R?

Restoration and future proofing have become two extremely popular topics amongst Skyline GT-R owners, and rightly so: with an increasing number of cars leaving Japan as well as genuine OEM parts being discontinued we all want to make sure that our cars are healthy and running well.

In my two and a half years of ownership I have regularly taken the car for servicing at Nissan Prince Motorsport Tokyo every 6 months, while making countless visits both there and at Omori Factory as I was planning my CRS project. Here’s a few of the things I have learned so far. First of all, the good news: despite having its weak points, the BNR34 (and Skylines in general) are fairly robust cars. They were built and engineered in an era when Japan was really on top of the word in terms of quality and reliability and its main components can endure the test of time, if properly cared for.

The latest GT-R Magazine is dedicated to this specific topic and includes spotlights on cars with over 300,000 and 400,000 km on the odometer. One of the highest mileage cars, a BNR32, has been certified with 598,222 km at the time of publishing.

The magazine staff’s BNR34 V-spec II Nür has recently surpassed the 300,000 km mark and, having ran into it in person at Nismo Festival, I guarantee that you would never guess its mileage as it looks super fresh inside out, thanks to regular usage and meticulous maintenance. Main parts replaced during the past 200,000 km include: N1 turbines, steering rack and power steering pump replacement, main rod bearing, A/C evaporator and compressor, several sensors, power window motor, headlights refurbishment and strut towers sealant refresh.

The RB26 is also fairly robust and, according to Koyama-san at Nismo, if properly maintained, it can run healthy up to 120,000 km, after which starts showing signs of power loss and a proper overhaul is recommended. Good quality oil changes every 3,000 km, a healthy water pump and compressor and a robust timing belt are your engine’s best friends.

Cracking gaskets, turbines (especially standard ones with ceramic blades) and pistons are the usual suspects when it comes to major engine issues, while the block and crankshaft are quite robust and usually can enjoy a second life after a good overhaul.

This is nothing new, but regular use combined with meticulous maintenance will prolong the car’s life for many years and really keep it in top condition. As simple as it can be, this is actually where most owners (myself included) make rookie mistakes. Mistake number one is buying into the equation that less mileage equals to less deterioration. The allure of having a low digits odometer can be hard to resist, but, as Ochiai-san said during my last visit at Omori Factory, the worst thing you can do is to let these cars sit for years. Plastic and rubber harden and eventually crack if not properly used, while humidity and moisture can easily build inside the internals of the engine and transmission. I’ve kept my car in storage up to two months and this is definitely something that I won’t be doing again.

Luckily my GT-Rcame with full maintenance history (at a Nissan Prince dealership too) so I knew exactly what work was done to it, however, most auction cars come with very little history. In this case, according to Ochiai-san, running a few cycles of oil and fluid changes can be beneficial and help flushing out impurities. You don’t need to visit Omori Factory for any of this stuff: just find a reputable shop and make sure you stay on top of maintenance schedule.

The electronic components are also fairly robust, although it’s not uncommon for sensors to fail. Most of these parts are still available, albeit at increasing prices. On the other hand, several parts are now either discontinued or running on extremely low stock, which is one of the main reasons why I decided to start the CRS project now instead of a few years later.

As the works on my car have started I have been inspecting components and was generally surprised by how many of them stood the test of time in great shape. I have also had a chance to attend a masterclass about frame and underfloor restoration, courtesy of Ochiai-san, but more on this in my next post. 

Until next time.

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