Fixing What Ain't Broke: R32 Skyline Preventive Maintenance

So you have an R32 Skyline, you'll want to keep it going with horsepower rather than Flintstone power right? To that end you'll want to do some basic maintenance on it. If you're lucky your car will have meticulous service records and a handwritten letter from a Japanese mechanic stating how he and his ancestors have been deeply honored to work on your car and that he will commit sepukku in shame should even a stripped bolt be found on delivery.

In a lot of cases you'll be like me and your best source for your car's service history will be tarots and tea leaves.

So in such a case what should you do? Well, the best case scenario if you've got the funds is to simply assume the worst and operate as if the car had never been kept up on its service. Of course have the car inspected by a trustworthy qualified mechanic and see if any obvious issues need addressing. Generally though, even on a tip-top car there are certain things you'll want to inspect and/or replace.

I'll give you an idea first by showing you this scan of the maintenance intervals from the Australian R32 service manual (it's the only one you can get in English. Fun fact: Australia was the only official export market for the R32 Skyline):

If you want the full manual, here's a link where you can download it. Whether you plan on working on your car yourself or not get it because it's not like experienced Skyline mechanics are in every Spiffy Lube joint in the country.

I found that link from one of the Skyline forums - it has the R32 service manual, RB engine manual, plus manuals for the R33 and R34...and a PDF on Saab electrical cables. Random file is random.

So let me list the most important points (listed prices are just for materials and fluids since labor costs if you don't do it yourself will vary):

  1. Oil and filter - This should be a no-brainer. Choose a good synthetic 15W50 or 10W30 – you'll need 5 liters. I used Motul 300V 15W50 since that's what my tuner recommended for my R35 after the engine was built so using the same in my R32 keeps things simpler. For the filter, a stock R32 uses the same one as a 300ZX – a Fram PH3682 or equivalent. On a car with a Greddy oil filter relocation kit like mine though you need a different filter. I'll elaborate more in a future DIY post but it needs a 1985-87 Toyota Corolla GTS oil filter instead. Cost: $150ish including the oil, filter, and drain plug washer.
    I like Motul because they're a respected company, they partner with Nissan for their race efforts, and their 300V motorcycle oil that I use in my Gixxer smells like bananas! Yep, BANANAS!

  2. Spark plugs - Easy enough to do on an R32. NGK PFR6A-11 platinums are stock or you can go for NGK Iridium BCPR7EIX plugs. My car had NGK Iridiums fitted already and they looked like they were still okay but I got new ones cheap enough that I didn't see much point in keeping the old ones. Cost: $120 retail for a set of six NGK Iridiums but I got mine from Amazon for less than a third of that.
    Old and new plugs from my car

  3. Air filter - What you need to do for this will vary greatly since some cars will come with the stock airbox and need a new panel filter while others like mine will come with an aftermarket intake setup.
  4. Fuel filter – Recommended to be changed at 100,000 kilometers. Most R32s will be over that. If it hasn't been changed, buy an OEM one or a Fram G5237. You may want to swap the fuel lines too – inspect them at the very least. Cost: The Fram retails for about 32 bucks but can easily be had for less than a third of that.
  5. Gearbox fluid – A lot of R32s suffer from grindy fourth gears. It may signal a need for a rebuild or just swapping to Redline Heavy Shockproof may fix it if the synchros aren't badly worn. In any case, changing the tranny fluid is a good precaution. I had some grinding with my car and the Redline fluid cured it – great stuff! Cost: 100ish bucks for the Heavy Shockproof – you'll need about 4.1 liters so 5 one quart bottles will do you.
    Redline is good stuff...for your car. Don't drink it bro.

  6. Timing and accessory belts – This is very important. It's recommended to change the timing belt at 100Ks and if you don't know for sure it was already done and when, do it anyway. It's not cheap but the RB is an interference-type engine so if your belt ever snaps engine go bang and wallet go dead. It's a good idea to change the idler and tensioner pulleys plus the water pump at the same time so you'll find online shops selling 100K service kits that include a timing belt plus the pulleys and water pump. There are three accessory drive belts and they need to come off for the timing belt change so it's a good time to swap them. They're easily obtained from a local parts store like Autozone or Pep Boys - just specify the following metric measurements (rough inch equivalents are in parentheses): Alternator - 4PK880 (345), power steering 4PK925 (365), aircon 4PK950 (375). Cost: About $300-600 for the timing belt kit depending on where you get it and what type of parts you get (reinforced timing belt, N1 water pump versus OEM, etc.). The accessory belts cost about 60 bucks all told.
    The pieces of a typical "100K service kit" - new water pump, timing belt, and idler/tensioner pulleys.

  7. Diff fluids – GL5 75-90 to 85-90 is recommended. I used Redline 75-90 in mine. You'll need about 1 liter for the front and 1.6 for the rear. Cost: 55ish bucks for three one quart bottles of Redline.
  8. Transfer case and ATTESSA – needs Nissan Automatic Fluid Type D, available at your local Nissan dealer.
  9. Coolant swap – If you want to stick to Nissan stuff then the usual Nissan Long-Life Coolant is fine or use something similar. I went with Nissan fluid for mine though I could also have gone with Water Wetter and distilled water since hell will freeze over sooner than my part of Arizona.
  10. Brakes – of course you'll want to thoroughly check the brakes – pads, rotors, calipers, fluid etc. Costs will vary of course depending on how much you need done.
  11. Power steering fluid – give it a thorough check. Redline power steering fluid is good if you need some.
  12. Wiper blades – these are easy to swap since R32s use the generic J-hook attachment. Just grab your old blades and take them down to your local parts store and pick up whatever set you fancy in the same lengths. Just one little thing to consider though – you know those fancy one-piece blades with an asymmetrical shape that's supposed to keep the wipers planted at high speeds – Bosch Icons for example? Well, JDM cars have the wipers mounted in the opposite direction from US cars so you can still use them but they'll be upside down. Get regular symmetrical blades if that bothers your OCD.

And that should cover the basic preventive maintenance needs. Keep in mind that these are the basics - your R32 will be over two decades old so there may be plenty of other stuff that needs attention like worn suspension bushings or old tires or whatnot. These basics will get you off to a good start though for a long period of R32 ownership.

EDIT: I realized I forgot to include the accessory belts so I added them to the timing belt entry.


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