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Old 09-25-2011, 11:17 PM   #1
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Something to drive while my Geo is laid up...

Those who have read my posts, seen my "garage", seen my fuel log, etc. know I usually am driving the hell out of a '91 Geo Metro. Purchased the car in August '07, been driving it relatively trouble-free (except for burning a valve) for over 100k miles...

...Until the night before Labor Day.

Backstory... After the valve job, I had a persistent "ping". It would get worse as the temperature warmed...becoming worst on hot summer days while running the A/C. Almost going away during the coldest part of winter. I couldn't find the problem...the car wasn't overheating...temp gauge would run between 1/4 and 1/2 on the scale. I fiddled with timing, ran 91 octane gasoline, made sure the EGR was working, ensured the EGR ports on the intake manifold were clean, etc., all to no avail. So I lived with the ping.

Fast forward to early this summer... The A/C had been giving me some grief, but my wife really wanted it working. To be honest, so did I. Wound up replacing compressor, receiver/drier and some o-rings. Pulled a vacuum, and re-charged it. A/C worked fine, but on really hot days it would just shut off when I was driving on the freeway. Temp gauge reading about 1/2. Found out that there is a circuit that shuts off the A/C if the engine temp is too high. So......bingo. The gauge is not trustworthy. I replace the radiator. Some improvement, but not enough. So, I replace the thermostat. Compared both thermostats in a pan of water...old one never opened while on the stove. Car ran really great with new thermostat...

...for about 10 miles down the freeway. Then...a horrible buzzing noise and I lost power. Here are the pictures of what happened:







So, now I am looking for a good used head (so far all I've found need valve jobs) and a new piston. The cylinder wall appears to be savable. And...I needed another car (the Cad is still out of commission).

Thanks to "Cash for Clunkers", the price of a decent used car has been driven up from a few hundred dollars to well over a thousand. Even then, if you set a budget of $2k, there isn't much to find that isn't a parts car. It got to the point that I was willing to take just about anything that would move under its own power, and pass smog. I was driving a rental, and going broke rapidly.

A week after the engine died, I saw this standing on a street corner:





A 1981 Mercedes Benz 300SD Turbo Diesel...running, asking $1095. 38mpg written on the window (I think, ya, right...probably closer to mid '20s). But....being an older diesel, it is smog exempt in California. So, this is my new toy. It needs a few things, but so far it seems to be running OK. Mileage about 27 mpg (can't do a proper test, odometer is broken). After the Geo is fixed, this will hopefully be the "back pocket" car...used when something else breaks.
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Old 09-26-2011, 04:09 AM   #2
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Re: Something to drive while my Geo is laid up...

Bummer about the Geo.

Nice find! Looks clean. I had no idea that California was willing to let anything be smog-exempt.
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Old 09-26-2011, 04:16 AM   #3
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Re: Something to drive while my Geo is laid up...

That stinks. So do you think that the pinging overheated and weakened the exhaust valve stem? Or do you think the pinging was unrelated to the valve/engine failure?
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Old 09-26-2011, 08:48 PM   #4
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Re: Something to drive while my Geo is laid up...

Diesels are smog-exempt until late '90s. So they are not required to be certified every other year, or when the car changes hands, to be registered. The earlier cars, of course, had to meet whatever regulations were current when the cars were new.

I wouldn't be surprised that the pinging had an adverse effect on the broken exhaust valve. I'm guessing that I was driving for about 100k miles in a semi-overheated state. I guess it's a testament to the sturdiness of Geos that it held up so well!

So now, I'm searching for a head and piston...
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