Wednesday, February 12, 2014

New Toy

I've always been a fan of cars, but I've never bought something so impractical in my life. This is a Toyota MR2 and that means that it's older than the first car I ever owned. On top of that it's a stick, which I generally hate, but I thought that I might like it with a car that wasn't a Subie since there's something fishy with Subie transmissions in my book. Next, the car has a T-Top which means that it can be made into a convertible, something that I will never use. It has no back seat and is a mid-engine sports car meaning that it's very cramped, both inside and within the engine bay. So yeah, quite impracticable, but the price won me over and it has a turbo...that and it does look sexy even for a 20 year old automobile. I bought it because it was a "barn find" that only had 62k on the odometer and boy was it cheap. But like all hobbies, there are many expensive pitfalls that you make and hopefully you eventually learn from them. Since the goal of this car is for me to learn how to do stuff, I'll start off by listing a few things that I've run into.

  • This car couldn't get started when I first got it. When this happens and you try everything you can from testing the ignition, compression, air, and gas, you'll have to get it towed. My first mistake was towing it to the dealership. They pulled some pretty sketchy stuff and I ended up paying 3x more than what I was planning on paying. It's much better to bring it to a mildly reputable independent shop and tell them exactly what you want. In my case I just wanted the car to run...I didn't want anything cleaned up or totally revamped. Unfortunately I got a whole lot more than I wanted, and all that came with a hefty bill. So lesson learned, Fuck the dealership. But if you ever have to do business with one, make sure to slowly spell out every little thing that they will be doing to the car and get everything in writing with regards to estimates, hidden costs, small parts, etc. It eats up more time to handle it thoroughly, but remember that they are there to fuck you over any way possible after they get a hold of your car.
  • So if a prospective purchasable car doesn't start and you will need to get it towed, auto-axe 1k from the price because although it will most likely not cost that much to get it running, it will be costly: anywhere from $200 up and you don't want any initial repairs to eat into your "good" deal.
  • Initially I looked at older model cars with low miles because of the lower insurance, cheaper price, and because I thought that it would be a good overall buy. The engine had low use, it wasn't out in the sun so there wouldn't be paint damage or cracks in the dash, and all I would essentially need to do would be to change out all the fluids, maybe a few parts, and I would be good to go. Did this happen? No. What I didn't know was that engines have a shit-ton of gaskets which keep all the oil and coolant inside of the engine and system. These have a fixed life span, and after 10+ years, they will eventually start leaking. Good thing is that a gasket is cheap, like $10-$30. Bad thing is that many of these parts are located deep within the engine...you know the stuff you see real mechanics with specialized tools doing. This is a much different task than me just screwing off in the garage. So yeah good thing is that I can do some of these repairs and wing it, but a lot of the major stuff I just don't have the tools and honestly I don't know what the fuck I'm doing. One can only trust a service manual so much...
  • I have also discovered why this thing called a timing belt sucks so much ass and why it's so expensive to replace. Timing belts make a car's whole system run by transferring needed rotational power to many needed parts of the car. Older cars have these belts which need to be replaced every 60k, 90k, or 100k, depending on the car. Newer cars have timing chains that are supposed to last for the "life of the engine" which isn't all that true, but it does mean that as long as an engine wasn't abused and was maintained regularly, you really shouldn't need to replace it until the engine requires a full rebuild around 200k or so. The belt itself is cheap, but it's all about the labor involved to get to the damn thing. This belt, at least on the MR2 is insane to get to...you have to remove SO many damn parts and then on top of that you barely have any room to work. This will be a goal of mine with this car, but oh boy...know that if I ever get a real car again, it will not have a timing belt.
So yeah here starts my mini-adventure as I delve into automobile maintenance and servicing using only the Internet and my wits.