Hello! My nom de plume (nom de clavier?)
is JoeBob, and this is my story:
After many years of driving large Detroit iron, I purchased a 1991 Geo Metro. For the last 4 years, I have been very happily getting 30-45 MPH (it's an automatic, and has A/C). I have an '83 Cad Eldorado from which I've been attempting to remove the transaxle in the little time on the weekends between honey-dos. So, for a while, I have had only one car running. I knew I was skating on thin ice here.
Unbeknownst to me, I was slowly toasting the engine in the Geo. The car had a mild ping that I could not seem to get rid of. It seemed to be running fine, temperature gauge was reading about half way. A/C didn't work until this summer.
First suspected something was up after fixing the A/C...it would shut off when the car reached operating temperature. A little research showed that it was shutting off because the car was overheating! After replacing the radiator, it got better, but not cured. Then I replaced the thermostat. Tested the old and new thermostats in a pan of boiling water...the new one had opened before the water boiled, the old one never did open.
With the new thermostat, the car ran just fine. Got on the freeway, drove about 10 miles at 70...car was running better than it ever had, so it seemed. Then the engine started making a horrible noise, and I lost power. An exhaust valve head broke off and tore the hell out of the piston and cylinder head.
So...I was stuck. Next day was Labor Day. All the car rental places were closed. I started prowling Craigslist looking for a car. I wanted something my wife could drive (she is short, and "full figured"). Also, we're both in our fifties, and not as agile as when we were 16. This eliminated most small imports, small domestic cars (although she can get into and out of a 4-door Geo just fine). I had a budget of $2k. And didn't want to get into payments. Craigslist didn't help...everything I could find was either already sold, not what she wanted, didn't run, people couldn't get the car smogged, etc. Or people didn't call me back (OK, one person called me back over a week after I called her...)
Fast forward a week...I've been looking for a good used, cheap car, and finding nothing. Thank you Cash for Clunkers
. I am dreading paying for another week with the rental. I am prowling the various vacant lots around here (Antelope Valley, CA) where there are all those used cars people are trying to get rid of. On one corner in lovely Rosamond, I see a red Mercedes. I stop and look...scrawled on the windows "Runs good. 38 mpg. (ya, right) Diesel. $1095.
I stop and look...paint job was from a spray can (but then, so was my Geo's). Tires are well used. Windshield has a crack. Looks like a bit of bondo here and there. But...Interior looks fairly presentable. It IS a diesel...that makes it exempt from the biennial smog certification ritual we Californians know and love. So I call the guy.
We meet a couple hours later. Car starts up, seems to run smooth. I take it for a drive on the freeway, take it up to 75-80 with no problem. Offer him $1000 even, he takes it. After I get the car home (at this point, I WAS desperate enough to not look as closely as I might have), I found a little rust inside the passenger door, a little in a wheelwell and under the battery tray. Also, I think this car may have spent some time in very cold temperatures...there is an AC cord coming from somewhere on the engine block... leading me to believe there is a block heater...something about which we here in Southern California don't know.
Acceleration on this car seems to vary, from almost like a gas car to veeerrryyy ssslllooowww...up 'till about 25 mph or so, then it will suddenly kick in and go like a bat outta hell.
Big burning question (that's why I'm here...asking Big Burning Questions) is: Where the heck is the transmission dipstick? I can't seem to find it!
Oh, and for your enjoyment (or amusement, as the case may be), here's a couple pictures: