Saturday, January 7, 2012

On the theory that.....

If the only vehicle one owns is an old beat up refugee from the salvage yard, then one should own TWO such vehicles to be assured of transportation. With that in mind, I placed an ad on Craigslist:

I am looking for a second vehicle. As a lifelong car mechanic and tech instructor... I'm a bit picky. I won't sweat the small things... dings and small dents, accessories that may not work, brakes or exhaust needing service, etc. It does need to be an inspected vehicle, or perhaps one that just failed inspection and has an estimate from a legitimate shop on needed service.

What would suit?

An unmolested Jeep Cherokee with a manual trans. By unmolested, I mean one which has not been jacked up/chopped down, or used as 4x4 off roader.

A Volvo 240 or 740, preferably with a manual trans but auto is okay. Prefer it not be turbo. Station wagon would be a plus.

A Ranger or S-10 pickup with a manual trans. Use, wear, dings, dents are okay. Abused, 'hot rodded', lowered, etc.... not interested.

Full size rear wheel drive GM coupe, sedan, or wagon if it's mechanically sound and not rusted out. Appearance is not a big problem. I'll be picky about engine and trans though...

Mid to late 90's Subaru. Preferably manual, preferably a wagon. I know their engines get a bit noisy with mileage. that does not concern me greatly.

I'm open to suggestions, and I'm a cash buyer. I know the majority of responses to this ad will be scammers, but I'll do my best to weed them out. Please don't ask for my phone number, or ask me to call you for details. If you have something you think we can deal on, please just e-mail and tell me what it is. I will answer all legitimate responses, even if it's simply a polite 'No thank you'.


Folks are e-mailing about vehicles they have for sale, but so far none are making it past my grumpy old mechanic filter. Ones that haven't made the cut:

Bronco II
Explorer (s)
Jeep Grand Cherokee (s). (Need a stack of spare transmissions)
Minivan (s)... (Arg)
Dodge Intrepid
VW Jetta (Already have one, thanks)

Keep trying... E-mail is free!


og said...

The Jeep is a good choice, durable and easy to work on. I have seen very few manuals, though. The Explorer in a v8 is ok, but drinks gas, the 6 has aluminum heads and scrubs the head gaskets off every 90,000 miles. The all cast inline 6 in a Jeep is a much better choice.

Carteach0 said...

The Cherokee came with inline four or six, but not the eight. Both the four and six are 200,000-300,000 mile engines if serviced and not abused.

The week link on the Jeep is the transmission. The Grand Cherokees can be found for dirt cheap... as long as you have a shed full of Chrysler automatic transmissions. The manual trans base model Cherokee... if you can keep it from rusting away, will last forever.

The explorers, in any configuration, to me are more trouble than they are worth. I know some folks are happy with theirs, and all the more to them. Me, from a repair shop perspective... I've seen too many serious expensive issues with them.

og said...

I have now almost a half million miles of experience with Explorer; I never saw an issue with one that didn't point to neglect or abuse; I'm curious what you've seen.

Carteach0 said...

Neglect and abuse... that about covers it. The factory schedule is a MINIMUM to keep the vehicle in decent shape, and I have yet to see someone who will do even that basic amount of service.

Gas and go till it quits, that's the general rule. For some folks, even the gas is a maybe.

As for frequent problems with the explorer family I have seen over the years...

Front hub bearings
Transmission pumps
Blend door actuators
Fuel pumps
Fuel pressure regulators
EGR valves that carbon up
Throttle plates that carbon up
Ignition coils that leak
Cap/rotor/cables that corrode
bMAP sensors that go wonky
TOS sensors that wear out
ACT sensors that quit

This isn't actually a terrible list from my viewpoint. It's just what I see most often that's not related to lack of service or abusive driving.

Og... I have to say something. You commented that the V-6 engines 'scrub' the head gaskets off in 90,000 miles. By using that word, you revealed a knowledge of how metals and machinery work that is bone deep. I am very, very impressed.

og said...

yeah, you got it spot on, all those things are items I carefully watch and clean/service etc. I find the minor maintenance I do to make that stuff happens pays huge dividends in reliability.

(I was hoping you weren't going to come up with some NEW horror I had to obsess about!)

I had a HS teacher that took two 1/4" diameter rods 24" long, exactly the same length at room temperature, one cast iron, and one aluminum. He then soaked them in boiling water for a whole class, and we saw how much the amuminum grew compared to the cast.

This constant action of expand/contract with the thermal cycle is the cause of most bimetal engine failures, IMHO. The gaskets just can't survive it, and VW seems to be the only company who has figured it out. I'm not exactly sure how.

Anonymous said...

I'm sticking to the Ford Ranger..I have had three or four. My current ride is a 96 with 358,000+. Purchased for $1200 several years ago (3 or 4) with 150,000 or so miles. Ball joints and that is about it...

Joat said...

Don't discount the Cherokee automatics, the AW4 that came in the 4.0 Cherokees, is a 200 -to 300k transition. Some '94 6 cyl. Grands also had it. I've had a number of Cherokees with well over 200k miles on the automatic without problem.