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Old 03-14-2010, 09:55 PM   #1
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My wife's car blew up...

...and she's blaming ME for this. I had a Teamster thing to go to yesterday, which was about 90 miles from home. Liz suggested that instead of my Magnum (20-22MPG), I take her Festiva (45MPG). I did, and was maybe 20 miles from home; after turning, I was accelerating through the gears...just as I was reaching down to shift into 4th, BANG! Lots of smoke, smelled oil & coolant, I figured this wasn't good. I stopped, opened the hood...boy, was I right! The crank made a high-speed exit out the oil pan, which is now about three pieces. That's it for the roller skate, I think. Final odometer reading: 273,161 miles.

Liz is in the market for a cheap 40+MPG car. I'm thinking diesel VW, early TDI, an ECOdiesel, or a Metro.
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Old 03-14-2010, 11:08 PM   #2
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Re: My wife's car blew up...

wow that sucks, but that was allot of miles for a Festiva. hey I'm pretty sure you could get a Prius for one heck of a deal right now. People are trying to either have it fault on them so they can get in on the lawsuit or sell it off onto some other sucker.

a VW TDI is a good option, you could even convert it to run on veggie oil.

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Old 03-16-2010, 11:26 PM   #3
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Re: My wife's car blew up...

Sounds like my old Festiva. My guesser isn't what it once was, but I'd say I paid about $700 back in '98, and drove it for almost 3 years. When I got it, it went "clunk" on shifts when I ran it up through the gears. It turns out the Korean steel wasn't up to northeast road salt, and the front frame was missing under the radiator. The motor mount was a front-to back bar, and the front was lying on a transverse torsion bar. When I accelerated, the engine would lift up, and then drop back down to the bar when I stepped on the clutch. A piece of old bed frame bolted under the suspension nuts gave the motor mount a new home.

I didn't break the crank, what killed mine was losing a wheel bearing. All the metal balls fell out of one of the front wheels when I was driving on the Thruway in a snowstorm. I couldn't afford the "authorized service," so I ground along 10 miles to the next exit. Going only 20-35 MPH in six inches of unplowed snow did not look all that unusual. I couldn't find a place to leave it in the city during the storm, so I drove another 20 noisy miles on local roads to dump it in my driveway.

I was looking for a Metro to replace it, or its brother, the Suzuki Swift. Then I had an opportunity to buy an '02 Hyundai Accent new. I got 34 MPG highway if I took it easy, and 32 MPG if I was driving "affirmatively" (Route 128 style). For an economy car, I wish the mileage were better, but the ride was deluxe. I had the 1600 cc hatchback with air conditioning, clock and better seats, the 1500 cc basic model discontinued after '02 had a taller rear end and probably got better mileage. I can't say bad about the Accent except no cruise control, and the steering is responsive so you can't not watch the road if your hand is on the wheel. People think it's squirrelly, but after about 3000 miles I realized it was responding properly to unconscious steering wheel inputs that other cars ignore.

If I needed another commuter tomorrow, I would probably be shopping off the same list as you. A used Prius would be nice, but I would check if the battery pack was due for replacement. I would jump at the chance for an early Honda Insight, with people getting 60-70+ MPG. Those who have them aren't selling.
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Old 03-16-2010, 11:58 PM   #4
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Re: My wife's car blew up...

Are you looking for brand new or what? I just recently bought a 2002 Grand Am (yea...it's a chick car and I know it...) that I love. It's big enough that my 6'5" 300 lbs hulk can fit just fine, it comes with 4 door insurance rates, has just the right features (tilt wheel, AC, power locks) while not having the ones that fail (power windows, heated power mirrors, power windows, fancy radio, power windows), and is downright sporty with a 2.2 Ecotec and a 5 speed Getrag. I get 32 mpg on the highway at 70 mph and 25 in town. The big advantage is parts availability. The GM N-Body has been around for a long time and in huge numbers so any part is available and CHEAP. New front rotors are $15 each and I pay $50 for hub assemblies. I don't think you're going to touch those prices on the Asian commuters, if you can even find the parts. I was thinking long and hard about an Aveo until I tried to find basic stuff like brakes, axles, chassis parts, etc.

I think a Ford Focus would be very similar to my car in performance, cost, and parts availability. I just have a preference for the Ecotec over the current Zetec and Duratec.
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Old 03-17-2010, 07:10 PM   #5
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Re: My wife's car blew up...

Looking used, probably under $2K . No hurry..she has her Bummer, and her Grand National hits the road soon now that winter is over.

No Grand Am...not even close to the kind of mileage she wants (40+), and a 5-speed here is essentially mythical...I think I've seen one, ever.
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Old 03-18-2010, 12:01 AM   #6
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Re: My wife's car blew up...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarlaxle
, and a 5-speed here is essentially mythical...I think I've seen one, ever.
There is nothing mythical about my car.
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Old 03-18-2010, 08:04 AM   #7
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Re: My wife's car blew up...

about the ford focus, I had 2, probably the most trouble free cars I ever had.

Regular maintenance parts are cheap, I found out that about 3 times out of 4 that they're cheaper at the dealership's parts dept.

I had a 2001 with the 8 valves engine and the 5 speeds, that I bought new. It did around 30 MPG (us) on mixed driving, I was driving that car like I stole it. I had this car for 5 years and did 100000miles before I traded it in. All I did on this car were brakes, front swaybar endlinks and an alternator.

I still have a 2002 zx5 (wife's car) with the 16 valves engine and the 4 speeds automatic and it's fully equiped. I bought it used, 3 years ago, the only thing I did on that car was a new battery. It does around 26 MPG (us) on mixed driving, I wish it had a better fuel consumption for a car that size; my 2006 ford fusion se v6 has the exact same fuel consumption
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Old 03-18-2010, 08:40 AM   #8
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Re: My wife's car blew up...

My only complaint about the Focus is that the timing belt technically requires special tools to replace because the pulleys lack keyways or timing marks. Now you can get around that fact, but it's stiill always bugged me and the CMP and CKP are sensitive enough to throw a cam phaser code if you're off even just a tiny bit even though the PCM is more than able to compensate for a degree or two. Yes, it's a nit picky complaint. Oh yeah...and those rear brakes on those cars are a pain to work on, but a Geo Metro with the drum hubs isn't going to be any better.
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Old 03-18-2010, 11:26 AM   #9
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Re: My wife's car blew up...

Can't tell for the timing belt, on both engines, never had to do it; the recommended replacement interval is at every 120000 miles.

Never had to do the rear brakes either, but they do look like a PITA to do!
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Old 03-18-2010, 07:02 PM   #10
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Re: My wife's car blew up...

Geez, only 26MPG from a Focus? Cripes, my uncle's Ranger gets that or better! Nope, MINIMUM mileage she wants is 38-40, she's hoping to top 45 and would really like 50.

Rear brakes on a wrong-wheel drive car will be something replaced once in 150,000 miles or so...it's not like they actually do very much! Heck, the rears on my friend's Caravan went 130K, and that van hauled a set of drums in it all the time.

And you haven't seen PITA rear brakes until you have battled full-floater axles or Chrysler's weird early-60's press-fit drums!
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