I just bought a 87 Maxima today, pick it up this weekend after paperwork is finished, and can't wait to drive it. This review has made me feel much more at ease with my purchase.
I think the 1987 Maxima is a dependable car overall. In August I purchased one for $1900 with minor issues. The alignment was loose, causing sensitive steering cost $30, the mechanic said the struts and control arms will need replacing soon. The misalignment caused 3 tire blowouts in a one-week period. Once, going down the highway at 70+ MPH, and the other two at 40-45 MPH. The brakes are sounding and the passenger windows both front and rear either don't work or have difficulty rolling back up without assistance. Also, there is an annoying leakage in the sunroof. Hopefully, these problems will be relatively inexpensive to fix. I hope you enjoy your Maxima. The ride is smooth, comfortable and there is no extra noise on the engine. Runs like new (deep, throaty engine voice) with 120K+ miles.
I bought my '87 Maxima about two years ago, (January) and I have had almost 0 problems. I got it for about $750.00 and it only had about 85K on it. The original owner (an elderly woman) never took it on the highway and, to my knowledge, rarely took it any farther than a ten mile radius around her house. She bought a newer car and her grand daughter told me about this one, and for a steal of a price. I wasted no time in going over to test drive it.
Let me tell you about the "almost 0 problems" I have experienced with this vehicle. My sun roof does leak when I take it through a car wash. I have to have a towel with me to clean up any and all the water that is going to drip in (never fun). It never did it when it rained however just last week it started doing it. I have repaired it; however it hasn't rained since so I don't know if the repair worked.
The engine burns oil from time to time. I can see a little smoke coming from under the hood of the car. It will only do that for about the first 10 minutes of driving (It may be an oil leak as well). And like any older car you buy, they all come with a whole variety of their own little issues (which are unavoidable) but not really a big deal. They don't really add up to much.
All in all, I think that making this purchase has not only saved me a lot of money in gas, but also, I think, in traffic tickets. Because really, I don't think an Officer looks twice at a car like that. In a two year span I have only been pulled over about 2 or three times (no ticket followed). Mine is still in great shape; it has brand new paint and if it wasn't 2007, you'd think it was a brand new car. So, for what the car is, it's class and the year it was made, I'll give the 1987 Nissan Maxima, 4 door sedan V-6 an 8 out of 10.
My Max has been in the family since new and currently has only 68K miles. Overall has been a very reliable car with only typical maintenance items.
Engine power is excellent, as is the braking. Handling in very good, although some cars of the era were somewhat better.
The silver paint looks great, has kept it gloss, but as expected as a car of this year it does show some fine scratch haloing.
A few problems have cropped up in the cars old age, which may help those other 2nd generation Max owners.
If your transmission will not shift into gear correctly, check if your shifter linkage bushings are worn at both the shifter end and transmission end.
If you're getting lower fuel mileage, check your cylinder head temp sensor, harness, oxygen sensor and cracked vacuum lines.
When your sunroof leaks, it is likely that one or more of your drain tubes are clogged. The two located in the lower rear inside quarter panel are most likely the problem. The forward two are located in the rocker panel and accessed through the door sill plate.
Lube the window tracks if the power windows are slow.
Well, that's it. Overall a great little car that keeps on ticking.