maintainability of used cars


Old 05-20-02, 03:13 PM
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Red face maintainability of used cars

I'm considering purchasing a used automobile, and given that I'm considering late-80's to mid-90's models, I must factor in maintainability.

Q1: What is the best way to find out what is the maintainability reputation of particular models?

Q2: Of the following models, please indicate the maintainability (generally speaking, of course). Please rate them in numbers from 1 to 10 (with 10 being "completely easy to maintain", and 1 being "maintainable as a Ferrari/Lamborghini")

- 1987 Porsche 944 or 944S
- 1992 Nissan 300ZX (3.0L naturally aspirated)
- 1994 Nissan 240SX (2.4L naturally aspirated)
- 1987 BMW 635Csi
- 1995 Dodge Stealth RT (AWD)
- 1992 Acura Integra GS (1.8L naturally aspirated)
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Old 05-20-02, 04:07 PM
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Seems like all ones to me,get a GM easier to work on,parts are cheaper to buy.
Old 05-20-02, 09:24 PM
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My .02:

All of the cars you mentioned aren't worth a wooden nickel for serviceability and they will soak you something wicked for parts and maintenance. You'll see I always recommend the OEM manual for servicing a car. That's just a drop in the bucket with these choices .

Most of those cars are quite complex, some of the parts are expensive (especially the Porsche and the 300ZX). High dollar prices for common parts are the norm.

The Dodge is a rebadged Mitsubishi 3000GT. As lackluster as they get. Not one of Chrysler's better rebadging efforts.

The Porsche is a decent car, but the 944 is an orphan and not even a shadow close to its 911 brother for resale, performance or serviceability. Parts are expensive. It's not what's it cost, it's how much you've got!

The BMW is the same as the Porsche. You'll need OEM manuals to figure most things out on them as they are quite complex. Watch out: When European cars get this old, they tend to get expensive. This is a common fallacy with these cars. People think that things won't go wrong. When they do, they get sticker shock with the prices of parts and their availability.

The Nissan is a decent car, but again, make sure your wallet is heavy when it comes time to service it. Many parts are unique to it, and cost is accordingly so.

The Acura is the safest bet but surely the most boring of the bunch in my belief. It's the most sensible of the group.

Want easy serviceability? As mentioned, get an old GM. Far superior in reliability, ease of service and parts availability. That's why I own Trans Ams and not European sports cars . Of course, the style doesn't appeal to

Old, GM and rear wheel drive...that's where to go if you want ease of service. Those get 1's in my book . Lol.
Old 05-20-02, 11:10 PM
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I'm with Davo and Joe. Buy some DETROIT IRON, rear wheel drive for your everyday driver. The cars you've mentioned are really nice but most have probably been driven hard. That's what people bought the sports cars for. For a second or project car, but the one you just like most. I have an old MR2 (hardly an Acura) which is fairly dependable. It's very well built, quick and a blast to drive... but you need to take out a loan to buy parts for it. For example, just priced a new sunroof (manual) for it...$600.00. Replaced parking brake cables back a year or so $185.00 each. The problem is that these cars aren't near as common as the GM's the guys mentioned. Parts are made overseas because there is either no plants or no demand in the USA. In addition to the cost of parts, you'll also run into the pesky waiting for the parts to get here. My everyday is a Suburban.

Maybe Joe and Davo could confirm this, but in south Louisiana we always thought that the Porsche was just a souped up VW.
Old 05-21-02, 12:30 AM
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Thumbs down

I'd go for the Integra. They're just fast enough to make spirited driving fun, they rarely break at all & they're quite easy to service. They also get fantastic fuel economy if driven sanely.

Change the oil & filter regularly & follow the OEM service schedule for the rest of the car. It'll last a good long time & it'll be cheap & fun to drive.
Old 05-22-02, 10:58 AM
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I disagree on the Integra....

My cousin had a 1990 (same body style) and torwards the end he got soaked something fierce for parts. Radiator, CV joints, alternator, etc, etc, etc.

The parts were expensive and it started getting expensive very fast. He wound up dumping it for a new Golf.

When these "premium" cars get old like this, parts become less popular and they go up in price.

Just beaware that old and foreign means you will pay more for parts as they become less popular and older.
Old 05-24-02, 12:02 AM
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Joe, how did he get "soaked"?? None of the parts you listed are terribly expensive unless you're paying full list price from the dealer.

I buy Car Quest lifetime warranty reman axles for $59.

A Bosch reman alternator is about $133, add another $100 if you want a genuine ND reman alternator. BUT...ND alternators rarely actually fail. The brushes wear out & they can be replaced for less than $25 using genuine ND parts.

An aftermarket radiator (Go-Dan or Modine) costs a whopping $129 w/ lifetime warranty.

These prices (with the exception of the axles) are very much in line w/ a typical 1990 model GM RWD car. For example, an AC Delco reman CS series alternator for a 1990 Caprice sells for about $130 wholesale in my neck of the woods.

An equivalent aftermarket radiator for the Caprice sells for $50 more than the Acura unit I cited above.

I service quite a few of these cars on a regular basis & every one of my customers is VERY satisfied with them. For the most part, they just don't break. Sore spots w/ the '92 model are failed distributor shaft bearings (replacement dist. available from Honda for about $100) and leaky rear brake calipers at or near the 100K mile mark. Reman calipers available nearly anywhere for $50 or less.

Acuras don't like low-budget aftermarket brake pads or aftermarket timing belts. You pay a premium for the OEM parts, but they're worth it in this case.

Cheap aftermarket pads squeal like crazy. The better quality aftermarket pads don't squeal, but they're no cheaper than the OEM pads & the OEM pads last longer in my experience.

Aftermarket T-belts don't seem to fit as well as OEM (are you listening, GATES???) and carry a 60K replacement interval. The OEM service replacement belt is good for 90K & fits perfectly.
Old 05-24-02, 06:50 AM
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How did he get soaked? By putting a couple grand in the course of a few months with Acura...using OEM parts .

Knuckles: That being said, regarding this 92 Acura this poster is considering:

1) It likely is nearing the 100k mile mark at this age.

2) That being said, these repairs will likely be needed at this age. It gets expensive. Other cars, while needing repairs (any used car does) aren't as costly. Being a premium car (Acura is a premium make), it's had a lot of issues. Honda has had woes with distributors on their regular line, shouldn't be with an's supposed to be of higher quality.

3) If you want easy to service, fun and spirited, get an American sports car. You can mod a Camaro, Firebird, or Mustang far easier than an Integra and it will look nicer, retain its value longer, and pound for pound be a ton more fun than any Acura. Not to mention you'll leave it standing still at the stoplight eating your dust .

Many parts for these V8s are of common design with other cars in the line meaning they are available, cheap and usually easy to replace in the grand scheme of things. Also there is a lot of information, support, and following on the internet as well as in books and clubs. While the Acura is up and coming in the import circles as a popular car, it can't touch a F body or Mustang for following and likely never will.

As for CS130 Delco alternator prices, I think you're getting ripped Lol. Are you buying at jobber prices with your Delco guy? (I am, so maybe the difference lies here). I just pulled up a 90 305 vin E Caprice on the Triad and the alternator goes for 78 bucks to 120 depending on the amperage...I'm sure a factory ND or Acura rebuild is much higher. I believe the vin Y 307 in this year also uses a coworker has one in his 88 Caprice wagon we commute with every day.

I think the car should be better given its supposed status. I find it to be lackluster, boring and bland at best. Give me a rear drive US made sports car over it any day. For status, parts availability, ease of service, collectability, whatever it is.

My .02
Old 05-24-02, 06:54 AM
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Also, regarding alternators, given that we are changing just brushes, you're talking 10 bucks for them at a parts store for a typical CSI Delco style alternator.

I've rebuilt the whole deal (as I'm sure you have as well) with new bearings, rectifier, regulator and the like for under 50 bucks. Better than rebuilt. I work with an old timer that showed me how to do it.....and when he does a job with me, it's complete..down to polishing the shaft, checking for shorts, cleaning the case and such.

It's a true lost art .

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