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Old 09-02-2008, 07:30 AM   #11 (permalink)
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can you pay a mechanic to mod a car for you?

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Old 09-02-2008, 10:31 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I think that would depend on the mechanic. I am sure a dealership would NOT do it for you. In the U.S. it would be very expensive ($60-$100 per hour) to have a mechanic do it. I think that if I needed a mechanic to mod. I would just stick with the driving habits and regular maintenance.
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Old 09-02-2008, 06:25 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Will View Post
I think that if I needed a mechanic to mod. I would just stick with the driving habits and regular maintenance.
I second that!! Technique will get you much farther than mods will. Which I have yet to perfect.
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Old 10-02-2008, 03:14 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Johnny Mullet

I did the same thing with a $300-1989 4dr Geo......it has already paid for itself in 5000 miles. Spent about $1200 total...Haven't driven my van since. 48 mpg average...51 mpg highway 60 mph...54 mpg highway 55 mph. Worst was 43.5 on a rough, hilly, fast trip with lots of town miles (70 mph on highway). By the way, just for kicks, this 190,000 mile car with the 3 cyl. and 5 speed tranny will do 87 mph!!! 3rd gear to 65 mph recommended for passing.
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Old 10-02-2008, 07:41 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I had to buy a JDM motor 3 months after buying this car. The JDM motor cost $295 at the time/plus shipping. The JDM paid for itself in gas savings alone in 6 weeks. The car paid for itself in 10 months. That JDM is running strong and getting 60mpg after 40k miles. I never used a service manual to replace the motor - it's that simple. And believe me, I am no mechanic.

If you find a Metro with a broke motor, just replace it with a JDM, and happy motoring. I think they are running $395 these days. WELL worth the investment. It's pretty easy to salvage these and get them back on the road. Hmmm...sounds like a money-making opportunity...
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Old 10-02-2008, 10:43 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Another savings that no one has pointed out is the enormous confidence you get by breathing your zombie econobox back to life yourself. Bolted that new engine in on your own time? Swapped out the 5th gear? Used to be a four-cylinder, now it's something else? After having tackled projects like that, you develop a problem of some kind in your car and somebody asks, "Where do you take it to get it worked on," do you EVER say "the shop?" No! You say, "MY shop." It's the ongoing costs that really make the car expensive to own, and frankly popping the hood on anything less than ten years old makes my eyes cross. But the old 'Yota, nah. Up the hood goes, out come the wrenches, and what little money I have in my pocket stays put. If the thought of rolling up to the mechanic's bay makes you feel suddenly impoverished, knowing you can crack open the engine and fix it yourself - because you've done it already! - is a confident, secure feeling. 1000-mile trip? No problem. Let me just drop this bag of tools in the back and off we go.

To all the shade-tree wrenches out there, I tip my greasy cap to you.
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Old 10-02-2008, 11:38 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Nice job with the metro; I'm very impressed. I've started taking 1200+ mile trips on weekends for business, and I'd really like to find a 3cyl Metro.

While I wouldn't mind repairing it as things break if I were driving it around town, I can't exactly walk home when I'm 500 miles from home. Given your experience, what should I replace/repair immediately after buying a Metro before trying to take it on a long trip?
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Old 10-02-2008, 12:04 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1337 View Post
...what should I replace/repair immediately after buying a Metro before trying to take it on a long trip?
If I bought a Metro, I'd immediately replace the alternator belt and timing belt. And I'd give it a Jiffy Lube/Grease monkey service.

I'd carry an extra timing belt, an alternator belt, a very modest set of metric tools, a screwdriver set, a quart of oil, a little antifreeze, windshield fluid, and a tire plug kit. I have a small basket I keep these in behind the rear seat. Make sure the spare has air in it and you have a working jack. When I bought my metro, the spare was completely flat - but holds air now just fine.
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Old 10-02-2008, 06:42 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Generic Advice ('cause I don't own a Metro).

Before buying:
Look for known issues (sever rust at Metro's control arm mounts).
If you can't fix it yourself, be sure you have a written estimate from a shop willing to do the repair.

Immediately replace:
  1. Alternator belt ( Keep old one as spare if in fair condition. )
  2. Timing belt. ( Keep old one as spare if in fair condition. )
  3. Water pump ( This assumes you've got to remove it to R&R Timing belt. )
  4. Thermostat (OEM or good brand name eg. - GATES)
  5. Transmission oil. ( & Filter if it's an automatic. )
  6. Brake fluid.
  7. Power Steering Fluid
  8. Engine Coolant
  9. Coolant hoses. ( If at all questionable. )

Immediately Inspect and replace as necessary:
Brake linings and hardware.
Brake hoses ( for fraying or badly weather checked outer sheath. )
All exterior lights: brake, turn signal, clearance, hi/lo beams.
For frequent 1200 mile trips, if spare is a temporary, replace with a real rim and tire.

I like 99Metro's road kit, but would add a test light and duct tape.
Depending on where you're driving, I might also add a spare head light.
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Old 10-02-2008, 11:12 PM   #20 (permalink)
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[SOLD] Highway Warrior - '00 Mazda Protege LX 1.6L Manual
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Sounds good, thanks for the help.

Does anyone have an estimate on how much TestDrive's list of replacement parts would cost?

If there's a minor oil leak, should I rebuild the engine and replace the gaskets? Could I rebuild an engine in a couple weekends if I'm decently handy?

I rarely see a metro pop up on Craigslist around here (central IL, so Champaign-Urbana, Springfield, Decatur, Peoria). If I see a ratty old 3cyl manual, should I jump on it? How much is too much to pay for a metro that may need engine work?

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