I am NOT David Tracy.
I live in the 'burbs of Philly, in an apartment, am married, and while I like Jeeps and regret selling the '89 Comanche (with 4.0L engine, only surface rust, rear Wheel Drive) have never really owned/ridden in them much. I have an aversion to overly rusted vehicles, and if I own 8? 9? I would much rather them all be running at the same time or only one be broken at a time.
However, I read a lot of his articles, and wanted to see if I could get a car I could tinker on and be a regular daily driver that was enjoyable to tool around in. Small and Zippy. I hadn't had a vehicle for years, not since my '99 Contour died (pretty sure it was just the fuel pump, but it's long gone by now) and with Buttercup 2.0 being in Kindergarten and the Mrs Buttercup working full time, it seemed like time for me to have a vehicle. So I sold some stuff I haven't used to people who would use them (Guitar, bike, amp) and Enter the 2003 Lancer ES:
It was $500, had 182K on the clock, a good stereo, and best of all:
Yes, you could row your own gears! Within a month I had changed out the air filter, spark plugs, cabin filter, PCV valve, and put in a new passenger side-view mirror. I was going to look at getting a new thermostat dial as this one had broken off and been replaced by a cable that was pulled for heat and pushed for cool - but pushing didn't really do anything, and the AC didn't work either. I had plans to change out the brake pads, we got a mechanic to change the timing belt, and I was going to try and troubleshoot the radiator fan, which I was pretty sure wasn't coming on. One hot summer day I was going through a drive-through and the engine was running a bit warmer than normal, and kept revving. Never heard of that, and never heard it again, but that's what it did.
There was some Rust-Rot on the back quarter panels, so I figured over time I'd have a house+garage and would get Grinder and welder and go to town.
I had PLANS for this thing. But remember, I'm not David Tracy.
Over time, I noticed that the transmission was a bit noisier than it should be, and was only really quiet when the clutch was depressed. So I figure it needs a new clutch, but I'd confirm that with the mechanic for the inspection - which, living in PA, takes a morning, and they check EVERYTHING - so I'd ask about it then, and get them to replace it.
Quick side note - I will admit that I think I did cause some of the additional noise. Driving to work/wearing shoes during the week, and then driving barefoot later at night... well, you learn the clutch point is different when you have 1/2 rubber sole, and the grinding noises remind you. Wear shoes people, wear shoes.
So I take it in for the inspection, let him know that yes I know I need a new clutch as well, if he could price one of those up for me as well. 1/2 day later he calls me up, tells me I need new struts (given the age I figured it was time) and then... "Yeah that noise isn't coming from your clutch, it's coming from your trans."
"Yeah, we had a stethoscope we used, and it's definitely the trans, sounds like a bearing has let go. The noise stops because when you press the clutch in it stops spinning."
So did I fix it? Tear it apart in my apartment parking lot? Nope, didn't even cross my mind. I got prices for a used one, but the best one had 120K miles on it, and the price for replacing it AND making it so the car could pass inspection was a few times more than what was paid for the car. So what is someone then to do?
I donated it to NPR, and will be using the tax credit on my 2020 Tax returns.
So no, I am not David Tracy. One day I will have a garage (next Thursday, as long as closing goes well!) and then I'll get something and tinker. Until then, both the current place and the new place are very close to a rail line, so I'll be commuting via train a few more
(In all seriousness, I thoroughly enjoy reading David's articles, and David if you by chance read this, PLEASE keep buying beaters and tinkering so I can keep living vicariously through your articles!)
Just Jeepin' last edited by
If you're feeling brave, he has an account here you could tag...
Speaking as someone who's constantly dumping money into old Jeeps, I commend your wisdom. If I had a garage, a lift, the tools, and a fully functional back, I'd think about doing more of it myself, but pretty much none of those are going to happen.
SilentbutnotreallyDeadly last edited by SilentbutnotreallyDeadly
Exage03040 last edited by
I wanted to hear about you putting the input shaft in the dishwasher.
pip bip last edited by
@misterbuttercup those generation Lancers are great! mine had 728k km on it when it let go. did 513k km on original engine.
Shop-Teacher last edited by
@misterbuttercup I love David too, but you were right not to sink a bunch of money into that one.
@just-jeepin Yeah, I thought about tagging him... Might still, but I dunno.
Thanks! I felt bad getting rid of it, but could not justify the time+money to sink into it.
@silentbutnotreallydeadly Yeah, that's what the plan is next time. I'll have a garage by then, can take the train into work, and it won't be essential for me to pick up our kids from school/day care by then.
@exage03040 maybe next time? and maybe when I'm about to get rid of the dishwasher? I don't fancy the lingering taste of greasy debris on the cutlery. It would be a great litmus test of an appliance, to be sure, but not my own
@pip-bip Wow, that's impressive! In km this one had around 294K on it. The engine was very solid, and we were going to look into getting a new trans+clutch, but the cost was too great. The mechanic was actually impressed by the engine given the miles on it. It warmed up and stayed on temp, and there were no leaks at all and it didn't burn oil. If it was just the clutch it would've been fixed and I'd still be driving it.
pip bip last edited by
@misterbuttercup my first clutch gave out not much more than that. so it'd done ok honestly. they could take abuse like it was nothing.
I was seriously impressed with how tight the clutch was when I got it-which is partly what made me think that everything transmission-wise was fine.