Things to Look for When Buying a S13 240

These are some of the common problems with 240s that potential buyers
should check for and keep in mind when buying a 240.

- Engine

  • 1989-1990 Models came with a Single Over Head Cam engine (SOHC)
  • 1991+ Models came with a Dual Over Head Cam engine (DOHC)

- Rust

  • Hatch
  • Frame Rails
  • Rocker Panels
  • Floor Pans
  • Spare Tire Well


  • Weighs more, and considered to be bad for drifting, although it can be
    easily disabled

- HUD (Heads up display)

  • Only comes on coupes, but often doesn’t work

- Leaks

  • Leaking sunroofs will let water into the floor pan
  • Leaks around the hatch/taillights will let water into the spare tire well

- Timing Chain Rattle

  • The timing chain guide often wears and causes a clicking sound
  • Expensive to have fixed by a shop / dealer
  • Usually happens on, but not limted to, higher mileage KA24 engines

- Differential (VLSD vs. Non-VLSD)

  • 1989-1990 Models did NOT come with a VLSD
  • 1991+ Models did come with VLSD.
  • VLSD Were not available in US models
  • VLSDs can be swapped from various Nissans (300zx, Infiniti Q45, etc.)

If you can come up with any more problem areas for 240s, please post
them here so that they can be added to this list

  • Locks

  • Check all locks (both doors and trunk) as they are known to sieze (I have to go through passenger side :frowning: ).

  • Radio Antenna

  • The retractable antenna is likely to be broken, or the motor worn out, check to make sure you get reception at various locations on a test drive.

  • Misc. Electrical Operation(s)

  • This should not have to be said, but check all operation of the electrical devices such as: rear defogger, wipers (front - intermittent esp., rear - if applicable), power door locks (again), headlights (the switch on the mast, and the button on the dash, both up and down), cruise control (if applicable).

  • A/C

  • Known to not work in many 240s for various reasons; can be expensive to fix as a change-over will probably be required.

Firstly it should be mentioned that most of these apply to the S13 only. That being said, here are a few more things to look for (and some more detail for some things already mentioned):

Specific Rust Locations

  • driver side floor above exhaust
  • driver side frame rail by exhaust
  • driver side frame rail at bend bulkhead/floor
  • driver side frame rail on wheel well side
  • driver side wheel well
  • passenger side frame rail at bend
  • passenger side frame rail on wheel well side
  • rear frame rails behind top suspension mounts back
  • passenger seat rear mount and floor area
  • rocker panels
  • front strut mounts
  • quarter panels
  • a-pillars
  • trunk behind rear wheel wells
  • trunk underneath spare tire
  • rear hatch (especially under spoiler if present)
  • rear centre panel


  • reversing lights often fail to work (a result of a bad gear selector switch)
  • cigarette lighters are almost always shorted or burnt out


  • Cigarette Lighters only get power when the Ignition is on.

That’s what girlfriends/wives/(hookers?) are for :shock:

Other things to look for:

  • TCU Failing (this controls most of your interior timed accessories such as
    seatbelt chime, headlight popup timer, etc.)

  • Driver seat belt poping out. I dunno if a Dealer can service this since
    it is a Technical Service Bulletin item.

A common problem that can be a bugger to solve … drive around for a bit and watch the idle when you clutch in and hit the brakes at a stop.

A lot of people have trouble with the cars dying out then or idle dropping to a really low level … to a range of problems. I had this problem but it was solved by a simple cleaning of the main engine harnesses, others havn’t been so lucky.

Uh…sorry to break up the love fest, but maybe I should get a 91+?

Y’all just scared the CRAP out of me!

I was about to check out a 90 at a lot in Whitby tomorrow. Honestly, thanks for the heads-up, but wow!

In a nutshell, should I understand the car is a great ride, but body and electrical problems?

I’m on a budget, and wouldn’t be able to dump a load of cash into the car for a while (over winter maybe). Is this a bad buy cause I don’t have a wad to blow? Or is it better so I can find and fix the little leaks and squeaks before the bad weather?

I’m a tuning novice, so enlighten me.

Well you’re not buying a 15 year old car for $1000 and expecting perfect mechanical workings are you? Any car this old will start to show it’s weak spots … and we’ve just listed this car’s particulars. If you watch for these things when buying the car and manage to avoid them … you’ll have a solid ride. Good luck :slight_smile:

Well you’re not buying a 15 year old car for $1000 and expecting perfect mechanical workings are you?

You gotta remember, I’m coming from the Saturn community and plastic cars.

I guess I was living in a bit of a fog, forgetting about rust and everything that happens in the real world!

All good points. I’ll report back tonight and get your opinions on this car. As I said, you gave me everything to look out for, and that’s awesome. Thanks

My bad! I forgot to mention that! I own a 2000 Saturn SL2, and the transmission is almost dead. I’ve had a few “unnatural” problems with the car, so for the same amount of money as a swap, I’m figuring I’d just get a car I’ve had a hard-on for. If no luck, then I stick with it and get the swap done. I’ll be falling into a Bimmer in '07, so I need something to kinda get me through till then.
So yeah, either spend the dough and fix the Saturn, or pick up a car that is more prone to stay fixed WHEN fixed.
I’ve been reading threads through SON like crazy, and don’t seem to find major mechanical issues, as opposed to other forums for certain GM-affiliated corporations. Plus, you guys and S13s come highly recommended.

…so here I am!

hit the nail on the head about the locations of rust!

im having a friend go monster garage style on the floor / framerail near the exhaust… it should be Ok…i think it looks nastier than it is… I was quoted $500 from a frame shop to fix it all too…frames in the rear look fine since the car is oilsprayed every year.

I wonder how much of the strength of the car comes from that “frame” since its unibody…

Check your windshield washer fluid pumps too. There common…

and newer doesnt necessarily = more reliable. its all about how the previous owner treated their car and the condition its in. there are some 95s that are starting to rust to shi.t… but if u browse the forum… you’ll notice that there are a good handful of min s13s with minimal rust if any.

watch for working interior components

  1. instrument panel illumination
  2. interior buttons light up

i had to custom wire the illumination and just gave up on the buttons…

plus. the center console panels are hard to paint, the paint doesnt seem to stick to them very well so it’d be good if you get a nice interior.

mines a 90 and it came out around 5000 to get it in good realiable working condition (with 2 sets of tires), even though i bought it for 2000,

Very informative post as I will soon be looking for an S13 hatch

I give this topic two :thumleft: :thumleft:, its going to help me so much for when i buy a 240.

forgot to add if ur lookin for a car and it has good paint, take a magnet and go along then fenders and anywhere eles u want to check for how much bondo there is :smiley:

oh yeah, a new problem I just found on my 1990.

the cowl, beneath the plastic shrowd, beneath the windsheild wipers, mine was completly rotten…

just had a couple of questions as i am looking to buy a new 240 myself and have found that most of the 240sx 91-94 have a rust new the towers under the hood? should i try to find one without the rust right beside the towers or this is usual and can be fixed for a lot of money?

Let side


Sorry for the crude attempt at drawing with my writing.


And post an intro.

yeah WTF is that?