Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Trials and Tribulations of My 30-Year-Old "New" Car!

In reading the following list, you have to understand that I am not complaining about the "new" car I bought.  I still love it!  But I wanted to catalog what has gone wrong with this car to date, because it has given me an unprecedented level of trouble.  And I say that as someone who has excelled at buying problematic cars!

Also, I have a method to my madness.  After making this blog entry, I intend to do a follow-up posting about what I have learned from this trying experience!  Okay, here goes:

I bought the car on November 10, 2012.  It had a bit over 74,000 miles showing on the odometer (most likely 174,000 miles!).

Stuff I found inside the car after I bought it ... hmmmm.

My LN7 ... posing next to the place it is trying to send me!

* Just driving it back home, I noticed that I was breathing in a LOT of exhaust fumes, and getting light-headed.  I subsequently bought a carbon-monoxide (CO) detector and found that I was breathing in rather alarming amounts of this toxic gas.  More on that later.

*  I got home and looked at the tires ... there were three different sizes of them (all 13" diameter), and at least one of them was almost bald.  I later replaced these with new 14" Firestone Winterforce tires.

* The passenger's side door lock quit working almost immediately, so I ordered 2 new lock cylinders from ebay.

* The accessory drive belt was squealing, so I replaced it.  Within about 10 days, it started squealing again.  In the process, I found that the alternator bracket was missing a bolt.  I found one to put in.

*  I noticed that the passenger's side door has a huge gap between it and the body along the rear surface behind the window.  Unresolved as of yet, but I did glue some foam in there to help keep the exhaust gas out.

*  Parking brake didn't work.  The 3rd time I attempted to fix it, it finally stayed fixed.

*  The hatchback would not stay open.  Ordered new struts from AutoZone.  That is still working.

*  Car was running rough, stalling and missing.  I replaced the spark plugs, spark plug wires, coil, and eventually the carburetor.  Problem was not fixed.

*  Blew out the lower radiator hose.  Replaced it.

* As soon as I put in the new radiator hose, it became apparent that I had a blown head gasket. I took it to a shop where they replaced the head gasket, made the warped head flat again, did a valve job, installed a new camshaft, a new water pump, and a new timing belt.

*  Car seemed to run better, but the carburetor now stuck coming off idle, so that it wouldn't go until you pressed quite hard, and then all of a sudden, it would cut loose, and you'd have too much acceleration.  Still having that problem, but at a less severe level.

*  BEFORE all the engine repairs and carb change, I averaged 29 mpg.  AFTER all the repairs and installing the rebuilt car, I'm averaging about 25 mpg.  Wait, WHAT!

*  To help with the CO problem, I sprayed foam into all the crevasses around the hatchback.  I also put an extended tailpipe on the car.  Those things helped a little, but the engine rebuild is what really made the carbon-monoxide problem go away.

*  Driver's side door stuck shut.  Ordered a new latch, which took 20 days to arrive.  In the mean time I had to climb in and out of the passenger's door.  But when the car was in the shop for engine repair, he used the driver's door.  After that, it wouldn't shut at all, so I had to duct tape it shut and enter/exit through the passenger's door.

*  Water temp gauge stopped working.  New sender was installed along with the head gasket job.

*  Replaced the driver's side latch.  Other than some funkiness with the lock cylinder orientation, it basically works.

*  New winter tires (on 14" Escort rims from ebay) required 1" thick adapters, which pushed the wheels out farther than they should be.  Right rear wheel hits the fender when carrying a passenger.

*   Yesterday morning, my seat broke.  The seat came unattached from where it had been welded to the seat track.  I took it out at put the passenger's seat over on the driver's side.

*  This morning, the car would not start.  Roll-started it and drove to the gym.  After my cardio session, the LN7 would not start again.  Diagnosis:  Broken "yoke" on the negative terminal.

I'm sure I've left out quite a few items, but that's most of what I've dealt with since buying this car.

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