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Need Help Assessing a car i am looking to buy

Joined
28 June 2023
Messages
36
Location
Ontario, Canada
Hi Everyone

I have been watching for a some time now and started looking at cars.

I am looking at a 1991 with ~36k miles. Its in the snap ring range. No maintenance history of this being preventatively fixed. Driving it the gear changer does not vibrate or move at all on acceleration or deceleration. Shifts extremely smoothly. Better than my S2000.

In first gear it sounds like a "bus" gear hum. Is this normal?

I can hear the AC compressor when I turn it on. It blows cold but not super cold. Is this normal?

ABS light on. So for sure the ABS system has failed which I understand is a common problem.

Radio does not work. Radiator fan makes noise. After the fan stopped the noise stopped. Belt and water pump last done in 2003! (this needs to be done right away) 4,000 miles since this.

The clutch has a really high release point. Is this adjustable on the NSX? Is this normal?

Passenger window slow and the drivers switch is for this window is reversed. Up is down and down is up. Other than the radio and the slow window the interior is in very good condition for its age. No scratches, no wear on the seats.

Paint is good but some noticeable blemishes here and there.

I have costed out the following but could use some help:

- Snap ring fix from Science of Speed $6800 all in. (parts and labor)
- Timing belt: $2500 (parts and labor)
- New Radio: Mita $1700 (anyone know what the repair cost is?) (part only)
- Cooling fan motor $400 (part only estimate)
- Window regulator assembly $1800 (part only)
- ABS (what is the cost to go to the NA2 ABS system) or the typical cost range to solve for the ABS issue. I see in the maintenance records this have been an on going problem that has been looked at several times. I see Mita has this for $2k but not available. Is this something that is not possible to get anymore?

Anything else I should be thinking about?

Thanks for your help
 
Last edited:
>In first gear it sounds like a "bus" gear hum. Is this normal?

Probably not. Not much to do except let it hum. Consider fixing this if you have to break open the transmission.

>I can hear the AC compressor when I turn it on. It blows cold but not super cold. Is this normal?

This is not desirable, but probably normal.

It could just need a recharge.

OR

The compressor has a case of the "black death". Which has started clogging the expansion valve.

THIS line item concerns me the most. This can cost thousands of dollars to fix as the whole entire interior has to come apart. It also takes a very diligent and skilled person to do it right. This is days of work and if it is rushed you will have a super undesirable driving experience as the MVAC system doesn't operate well, squeaks, rattles, and damaged interior parts.

This is a HARD TO FIX item and finding a shop that will do it perfectly is going to be HARD to do. I would only do this job myself or know it has been performed by a fanatic like myself.

In Japan, they just replace the entire HVAC system because it is so difficult and time consuming to rebuild. It is easy to scratch the e-brake lever and steering wheel. Everything needs to be wrapped and taped, it is an extremely labor intensive prodcedure. One needs a lot of space to do it right.

>ABS light on. So for sure the ABS system has failed which I understand is a common problem.

ALB, not ABS, but yes, it is normal to have issues.

>. Radiator fan makes noise. After the fan stopped the noise stopped.

This is the ALB motor running the 120 second time out cycle.

You can easily bypass the ALB. I have a post on how to do this, only takes a few minutes.

>Radio does not work
>- New Radio: Mita $1700 (anyone know what the repair cost is?) (part only)

Normal. It will need to be fixed or replaced.

The ONLY repair person I would recommend is @Heineken He is in Germany. Might as well send him your climate control and instrument cluster and be done with it all for the next 30 years.


>Belt and water pump last done in 2003! (this needs to be done right away) 4,000 miles since this.

Meh. This is not concerning, especially at 4000 miles.

>The clutch has a really high release point. I can adjust this on the S2000. Is this adjustable on the NSX? Is this normal?

This is normal and the way the NSX is built. You will get used to it.

>Passenger window slow and the drivers switch is for this window is reversed. Up is down and down is up.

This should be dealt with, will cost a few hundred dollars to remove the regulators and rebuild them with proper pulleys.

Sounds like monkey work on the reversed operation.

>- Snap ring fix from Science of Speed $6800 all in. (parts and labor)

Wow, that is a lot to R&R the case cover.

Recommend: Buy the updated case cover new from amayama.com, keep the paperwork, and store it. You have a 24/25 of not needing it. Just keep the part in your closet and the chances are that you will never need it, but you will have the critical part if you need it.

Also get the updated casing engraved at a trophy shop, because there is no great way to determine if it has been changed with the updated casing. (I have found that the big black ink stamp indicates the newer casing, but I only have a very low N value, so I cannot prove it. I also have a post on this. )

>- Timing belt: $2500 (parts and labor)

Meh. If doing this makes you feel better, but I would not. I just got done replacing a low usage belt and I wish I had not...complete waste of time and money.

>- Cooling fan motor $400 (part only estimate)

If this noise stops in first 120 seconds within moving the car...it's not the radiator fan.

>- ABS (what is the cost to go to the NA2 ABS system) or the typical cost range to solve for the ABS issue.

One can gracefully disable the system for $0.

The system can be rebuilt and this requires some skill and abilities. An upgrade to the NA2 system is probably most desirable.

>- Window regulator assembly $1800 (part only)

This is fixed with a parts kit @whrdnsx has them and a few hundred dollars.

The new ones are just as crummy as the old ones. Waste of money and time to get new ones as they were poorly designed.

If you want any further analysis: post a bunch of photos and the entire VIN
 
>In first gear it sounds like a "bus" gear hum. Is this normal?

Probably not. Not much to do except let it hum. Consider fixing this if you have to break open the transmission.

>I can hear the AC compressor when I turn it on. It blows cold but not super cold. Is this normal?

This is not desirable, but probably normal.

It could just need a recharge.

OR

The compressor has a case of the "black death". Which has started clogging the expansion valve.

THIS line item concerns me the most. This can cost thousands of dollars to fix as the whole entire interior has to come apart. It also takes a very diligent and skilled person to do it right. This is days of work and if it is rushed you will have a super undesirable driving experience as the MVAC system doesn't operate well, squeaks, rattles, and damaged interior parts.

This is a HARD TO FIX item and finding a shop that will do it perfectly is going to be HARD to do. I would only do this job myself or know it has been performed by a fanatic like myself.

In Japan, they just replace the entire HVAC system because it is so difficult and time consuming to rebuild. It is easy to scratch the e-brake lever and steering wheel. Everything needs to be wrapped and taped, it is an extremely labor intensive prodcedure. One needs a lot of space to do it right.

>ABS light on. So for sure the ABS system has failed which I understand is a common problem.

ALB, not ABS, but yes, it is normal to have issues.

>. Radiator fan makes noise. After the fan stopped the noise stopped.

This is the ALB motor running the 120 second time out cycle.

You can easily bypass the ALB. I have a post on how to do this, only takes a few minutes.

>Radio does not work
>- New Radio: Mita $1700 (anyone know what the repair cost is?) (part only)

Normal. It will need to be fixed or replaced.

The ONLY repair person I would recommend is @Heineken He is in Germany. Might as well send him your climate control and instrument cluster and be done with it all for the next 30 years.


>Belt and water pump last done in 2003! (this needs to be done right away) 4,000 miles since this.

Meh. This is not concerning, especially at 4000 miles.

>The clutch has a really high release point. I can adjust this on the S2000. Is this adjustable on the NSX? Is this normal?

This is normal and the way the NSX is built. You will get used to it.

>Passenger window slow and the drivers switch is for this window is reversed. Up is down and down is up.

This should be dealt with, will cost a few hundred dollars to remove the regulators and rebuild them with proper pulleys.

Sounds like monkey work on the reversed operation.

>- Snap ring fix from Science of Speed $6800 all in. (parts and labor)

Wow, that is a lot to R&R the case cover.

Recommend: Buy the updated case cover new from amayama.com, keep the paperwork, and store it. You have a 24/25 of not needing it. Just keep the part in your closet and the chances are that you will never need it, but you will have the critical part if you need it.

Also get the updated casing engraved at a trophy shop, because there is no great way to determine if it has been changed with the updated casing. (I have found that the big black ink stamp indicates the newer casing, but I only have a very low N value, so I cannot prove it. I also have a post on this. )

>- Timing belt: $2500 (parts and labor)

Meh. If doing this makes you feel better, but I would not. I just got done replacing a low usage belt and I wish I had not...complete waste of time and money.

>- Cooling fan motor $400 (part only estimate)

If this noise stops in first 120 seconds within moving the car...it's not the radiator fan.

>- ABS (what is the cost to go to the NA2 ABS system) or the typical cost range to solve for the ABS issue.

One can gracefully disable the system for $0.

The system can be rebuilt and this requires some skill and abilities. An upgrade to the NA2 system is probably most desirable.

>- Window regulator assembly $1800 (part only)

This is fixed with a parts kit @whrdnsx has them and a few hundred dollars.

The new ones are just as crummy as the old ones. Waste of money and time to get new ones as they were poorly designed.

If you want any further analysis: post a bunch of photos and the entire VIN
Thanks for the info much appreciated
 
Hi Everyone

I have been watching for a some time now and started looking at cars.

I am looking at a 1991 with ~36k miles. Its in the snap ring range. No maintenance history of this being preventatively fixed. Driving it the gear changer does not vibrate or move at all on acceleration or deceleration. Shifts extremely smoothly. Better than my S2000.

In first gear it sounds like a "bus" gear hum. Is this normal?
Bus? There will be a slight gear whine in 1st gear but it'll be faint. Even my old Integra did this.
I can hear the AC compressor when I turn it on. It blows cold but not super cold. Is this normal?
For a car this age, it's probably normal. You might want to check if it's been converted to R134 since you won't be able to get it filled with the old R12 anymore. The NSX also has a lot of AC lines so leaks are a bit more common (but not crazy common) than other cars.
ABS light on. So for sure the ABS system has failed which I understand is a common problem.
Very very common problem. Most upgrade to the newer 2000+ ABS units. There are rebuild kits and mitigating services available but eventually all the early ABS units fail eventually. The good news is, even if it fails it's not dangerous. It's just annoying and noisy.
Radio does not work.
Common issue. No real known fix on the Bose radio.
Radiator fan makes noise. After the fan stopped the noise stopped.
Not sure what you mean... The fan makes noise? What kind of noise?
Belt and water pump last done in 2003! (this needs to be done right away) 4,000 miles since this.
Your biggest concern is the timing belt. You need to get this done.
The clutch has a really high release point. Is this adjustable on the NSX? Is this normal?
You can adjust it but the stock pickup point specified in the repair manual is pretty high.
Passenger window slow and the drivers switch is for this window is reversed. Up is down and down is up. Other than the radio and the slow window the interior is in very good condition for its age. No scratches, no wear on the seats.
Slow window regulators is very common. Search here for various fixes.
Paint is good but some noticeable blemishes here and there.

I have costed out the following but could use some help:

- Snap ring fix from Science of Speed $6800 all in. (parts and labor)
Snap ring has been well documented on here. If it was my car and I only put a few hundred of miles on the car each year i'd skip fixing it until 2nd gear starts popping out or other problems start to lurke. Catastrophic Snap ring failure tends to happen when driven hard. Most owners of this vintage NSX with low miles never track their NSXs for example. This is your call though.
- Timing belt: $2500 (parts and labor)
about average...
- New Radio: Mita $1700 (anyone know what the repair cost is?) (part only)
See above...
- Cooling fan motor $400 (part only estimate)
Buy used from eBay
- Window regulator assembly $1800 (part only)
No way... it's way cheaper than this. Look at Amayama from Japan
- ABS (what is the cost to go to the NA2 ABS system) or the typical cost range to solve for the ABS issue. I see in the maintenance records this have been an on going problem that has been looked at several times. I see Mita has this for $2k but not available. Is this something that is not possible to get anymore?
2000+ ABS On backorder IIRC
Anything else I should be thinking about?

Thanks for your help
My comments in-line above in blue
 
Bus? There will be a slight gear whine in 1st gear but it'll be faint. Even my old Integra did this.

For a car this age, it's probably normal. You might want to check if it's been converted to R134 since you won't be able to get it filled with the old R12 anymore. The NSX also has a lot of AC lines so leaks are a bit more common (but not crazy common) than other cars.


Very very common problem. Most upgrade to the newer 2000+ ABS units. There are rebuild kits and mitigating services available but eventually all the early ABS units fail eventually. The good news is, even if it fails it's not dangerous. It's just annoying and noisy.

Common issue. No real known fix on the Bose radio.

Not sure what you mean... The fan makes noise? What kind of noise?

Your biggest concern is the timing belt. You need to get this done.


You can adjust it but the stock pickup point specified in the repair manual is pretty high.

Slow window regulators is very common. Search here for various fixes.

Snap ring has been well documented on here. If it was my car and I only put a few hundred of miles on the car each year i'd skip fixing it until 2nd gear starts popping out or other problems start to lurke. Catastrophic Snap ring failure tends to happen when driven hard. Most owners of this vintage NSX with low miles never track their NSXs for example. This is your call though.

about average...

See above...

Buy used from eBay

No way... it's way cheaper than this. Look at Amayama from Japan

2000+ ABS On backorder IIRC


My comments in-line above in blue
Thank you for this! Appreciate it.
 
Since I joined Prime in 2011, I don't recall anybody ever reporting a timing belt failure leading to engine damage on the NSX although there are cases of TB replacements gone wrong causing damage. Numerous owners have reported cooling hose failures which, in a number of cases have caused significant engine damage. I would obsess over a cooling hose failure before I would obsess over a TB failure (unless you know the hoses have been replaced at some point).

Do you know that the head unit is dead or is it the amplifiers in the doors and subwoofer? The door and subwoofer amp are normally fixable for a very reasonable price. Prime member Heineken has done some head unit repairs. Once you can do PMs you can have a discussion with him about repair options.

The snap ring range is a dilemma. Just because you are in the range does not mean it will be a problem. You could consider Drew's suggestion and purchase the case. If you ever need to pull the transmission for a clutch replacement then may be you do the case when the transmission is out. Given the age of the car (no failure in 30+ years), driving it and waiting for symptoms before doing the actual repair seems like a viable option..

The 2000+ ABS upgrade is a good solution if you want to keep the ABS, otherwise deletion is a viable solution. Check around and I think a used ABS from the S2000 works and is significantly lower in cost (less than $200 for the modulator from used parts vendors).

Drew has covered just about all the other issues. Unless they have failed completely, don't bother with new window regulators as they will eventually suffer from the same problems in a few years. There are some small upgrades for the early sliders and the cable attachment available from SOS. The regulator upgrade kits from Hugo help with the slow window problem; but, are no longer available. Perhaps that is what whrdnsx has available?

Depending on what the noise is, the rad fan motor may be rebuildable (the condenser fans are rebuildable).

As RYU notes, if you want to price out replacement parts go to amayama.com.

I will depart with the used Ferrari maxim - the cheapest used Ferrari to own is usually the most expensive used Ferrari you can afford. Take your expected restoration costs and add it to the purchase price and maybe you can get a nicer NSX with some maintenance history. Or maybe not - I haven't been in the market 13 years.
 
Several commenters have mentioned upgrading to a 2000+ ABS modulator, but I don't think that's an option any longer. Or, at least, not with new parts. Science of Speed no longer has the kit on their site, and Mita still lists it but says it has been discontinued.
 
Thanks for all the great advice. This will be an exciting week. I could be a new NSX owner by the end of it. Fingers crossed. I am getting the sense that parts and solutions are becoming harder to find. Although I enjoy the project aspect of the car almost as much as driving it. I am hearing that I should find the most complete/sorted car that I can. My absolute mecca would be to get a NA2 1997-2001 but those are out of my price range unfortunately.
 
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