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Old 11-16-2016, 11:48 AM   #38 (permalink)
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: 1000 Islands, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 22,459

Blackfly - '98 Geo Metro
Team Metro
Last 3: 70.09 mpg (US)

MPGiata - '90 Mazda Miata
90 day: 55.97 mpg (US)

Even Fancier Metro - '14 Mitsubishi Mirage top spec
90 day: 70.75 mpg (US)

Appliance car - '14 Mitsubishi Mirage ES (base)
90 day: 67.41 mpg (US)
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it runs! it drives!

I picked the keys up from the owner's mailbox (I still haven't either met or spoken to him) and got a chance to take it for a spin.

Keepin' the dream alive...

The engine fired up surprisingly easily, after about 8 cranks of the starter, on a weak battery that I brought. Considering it hadn't been started in over a year, that's not too bad. I was prepared with quick-start spray and everything.

- An alarming amount of valve/lifter noise at first: hydraulic lifters devoid of any oil! It resolved itself reasonably quickly, and after that there was no ticking on re-starts.

- No unusual exhaust smoke. Exhaust pipes/muffler are intact.

- I watched for crank pulley wobble and couldn't spot any at idle or when revving the engine.

- Brake light on the dash was on (looks like low fluid level -- didn't have any to confirm).

Road test!

- The engine stumbled a tiny bit when cold (missed a little), but was fine once it started to warm up. It pulled strong; no odd noises.

- Transmission shifts nicely (the stubby shifter is so fun to use). Though it was a bit balky in 1st & 2nd for the first minute or two when cold. No synchro issues.

- The clutch felt good; I did a number of full throttle accels in higher than normal gear to test for slippage.

- THE GEARING IS ATROCIOUS and / or fun. 1-3-5 would be a very workable MPG strategy for this car. A taller final drive/rear end swap is an option. But why can't we just have fun 1-4, then a big overdrive for 5th?

- Steering felt tight. I actually chuckled at how nimble it makes the car feel. Before I headed out, I checked for tie rod & ball joint play and didn't find anything significant. But once or twice I heard a mystery clunk in the front end on left turns. Control arm bushing? Shock mount?

- A bit more body roll than I remember.

- Brakes were very noisy, while progressively scraping a year's worth of rust off the rotors with each stop. But aside from that, they seemed fine: it stopped straight with a few hard pedal stabs from ~80 kph / 50 mph.

- Tires were flat-spotted after a year of sitting with 20 PSI in them. I pumped them up to 40. They got quieter/smoother as I drove, but still weren't quite round by the time I got back.

- I put the top down on this grey but unseasonably warm (~10 C / 50 F) November day, and returned with a smile on my face.

Dun dun dunnnnnn... the only surprise discovery...

The temp gauge increased relatively quickly towards hot, and I found the coolant was very low. I topped it up, and when I got back from the test drive saw seepage from this hairline crack in the radiator top tank.

Other minor annoyances:

Rattly exhaust heat shields.

- Ignition key/seatbelt/headlights buzzer was on CONSTANTLY. No matter what I did, I couldn't get it to shut off!

To sum up:

Honestly, I did not think it was going to start, run, shift, drive & stop as well as it did. I guess I was expecting a crap drive to match its crap cosmetic condition.

If I can get in touch with the owner again, I'm going to find out how negotiable his price is...

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Project MPGiata! Mods for getting 50+ MPG from a 1990 Miata
Honda mods: Ecomodding my $800 Honda Fit 5-speed beater
Mitsu mods: 70 MPG in my ecomodded, dirt cheap, 3-cylinder Mirage.
Ecodriving test: Manual vs. automatic transmission MPG showdown

has launched a forum for the efficient new Mitsubishi Mirage - fuel efficiency info for Geo Metro owners - electric car conversion on a beer budget
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