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Old 03-18-2010, 07:09 PM   #11
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Re: My wife's car blew up...

The timing belts aren't hard really. You just have to be very careful to time them correctly. The special tools are pretty simple. One is a piece of flat stock that fits into the backside of the cams to hold them in the correct position for TDC. The other one is a sepcial bolt that threads into a plugged hole on the block that serves as a crank stop to put the crank at TDC (and often required removal of the cat to get to). Then, you slide the belt on, loosen the cam bolts so the pulleys take up all the slack, and tighten them back down. It makes for a very simple system to get "just right" but the penalty for failure is high.

The backyard mechanic can stick anything flat in the slot of the cams to make sure they're timed correctly and put the keyway on the crank vertical which should be the correct TDC point. You just have to be accurate. Like I said, it's not a bad job, but you need to be careful and I'm kind of a timing marks and/or timing chain kind of guy.

I've done battle with plenty of floater rear brakes. Even the modern drums with floating rotors are a PITA (they get stuck). Rear brakes on wrong wheel drive cares are for making noise. Interestingly enough, my mom's 05 Camry has gone through rear brakes twice as fast as fronts. I replaced her factory fronts at 100,000 miles only because the rotors were getting close to spec (lots of pad life left though!) and I was moving far away.
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Old 03-19-2010, 07:59 AM   #12
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Re: My wife's car blew up...

do you have Toyota Echo and Toyota Yaris in USA??

They do get real good mileage, almost as good as a Prius, for half the price tag. They're around since 1999 so the older ones can be bought for cheap.

I can't tell about their reliability, and the parts are probably darn expensive.
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Old 03-20-2010, 10:51 AM   #13
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Re: My wife's car blew up...

They're pretty uncommon around here...and even a 5-speed Echo won't top 40MPG.

And I think I get to battle rear brakes in my F-350 soon.
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Old 03-20-2010, 01:35 PM   #14
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Re: My wife's car blew up...

i know a guy with an old escort 5 speed. Claims he can get mid 40s on the highway. Parts should be cheap as well. The VW diesels get ridiculous mileage, but, command a premium price. Also consider that diesel in some parts runs very expensive in the winter as it has to compete with home furnaces (it's heating oil). I think your best bet is an old metro or another festiva. Old civics are good too, but, they have that cursed honda resale value to worry about.
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Old 03-20-2010, 03:22 PM   #15
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Re: My wife's car blew up...

REMEMBER THE OLD FESTIVA COMMERCIALS WITH ALL THE DOORS FLAPPING OPEN AND CLOSED? i thought the thing was gonna blow up right then and there!
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Old 03-20-2010, 09:29 PM   #16
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Re: My wife's car blew up...

Instead of another Festiva, you could also look for a Ford Aspire. It's the same car one year or more newer with a rounded body instead of rectangular.
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Old 03-21-2010, 10:48 AM   #17
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Re: My wife's car blew up...

Found precisely one Aspire within 100 miles. It was an automatic. And a former rental. Yuck.

She looked at a 1996 Metro eaarlier this week...wrong engine (1.3 instead of 1.0), no A/C, cooked clutch, and the guy wanted about three times what it was worth.
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Old 03-21-2010, 02:38 PM   #18
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Re: My wife's car blew up...

What about a Saturn SL1? They're plentiful with a 5 speed and should get about 38. The cars have their quirks, but as long as you get a single overhead cam instead of a dual overhead cam I think you should be ok. That might get you into a newer car with fewer miles.
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Old 03-21-2010, 10:37 PM   #19
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Re: My wife's car blew up...

Not an option, for the simple reason I do not FIT in a Saturn! I literally cannot drive one without a tilt column. Even with tilt, it's very uncomfortable for me. She says she's looking at a TDI Golf tomorrow.
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Old 03-21-2010, 10:40 PM   #20
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Re: My wife's car blew up...

I feel your pain. I really don't fit in one either, but I thought I'd throw it out there. I don't think you can go wrong with a TDI. The only thing I've ever seen on them is the manifolds load up with a carbon-like mass. Even then it's a simple fix. You pop the manifolds off once in the life of the car and get them hot tanked. The 5 valve gas engines on the other hand...
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