By on October 7, 2013

TTAC commentator mnm4ever writes:

Sajeev,

I have 2 slightly older cars in my stable and both are having similar issues. We have a 2001 MR2 Spyder with 72k miles, and a 2002 Honda CRV with 230k miles. The CRV recently got new shocks and springs, new lower front control arms and front compliance bushings, and new front ball joints. While it now rides a little bit better, it still crashes over bumps and just feels like an old worn suspension even with all the new components.

When shifting between drive and reverse, there is a “clunk” in the front end somewhere, this clunk was there before all the parts were replaced, and was supposedly caused by the worn out compliance bushings, which is why I replaced all those parts as well. Unfortunately it didn’t fix the noise. My mechanic has been over the car a couple of times and doesn’t know where the noises are coming from, he says it’s just old. He is an otherwise excellent mechanic, so I am surprised at his lack of ideas, but he knows I am probably too cheap to pay him to really tear it apart anyway so that could affect his answers.

The MR2 has significantly less mileage and is in excellent shape overall. But the suspension has the same worn out feeling, it doesn’t feel “tight” anymore. Driving fast over bumpy pavement, or over speed bumps it feels and sounds pretty much the same as the CRV, almost like something in the suspension is loose or worn out. Cowl shake on an old convertible amplifies the issue. The MR2 also exhibits an odd “looseness” when I turn the wheel at low speed tight turns, like pulling in or out of a driveway or parking space, it feels like the power steering over-boosts the last little bit of steering angle, but its unnerving when you are rolling forward or backward and the car suddenly turns in more than you expected. During normal driving the steering feels properly assisted and tight, so that could just be a trait of that car. The same mechanic says the MR2 is fine and I am just spoiled by the newer GTI. We want to keep this car and I want to do a proper overhaul on the suspension, I just put brand new tires on it, and I have a shelf full of chassis bracing components and new struts ready to install, but I do not want to do the labor twice. So I am trying to figure out the right way to fix it and the right components to change so I take care of all of the weak spots at once.

My guess is that new bushings may help the problem on both cars. Forums are not as helpful as you would think… I have read pages and pages of information but the CRV drivers do not spend a lot of time working on their own suspension and the MR2 drivers are way more concerned with performance mods rather than restoring the original ride quality. So my question is: Is there any way to restore the ride quality on older cars back to something close to new car feel? Or is the CRV just too old, and the MR2 just too much of a convertible to make it as good as new?

Thanks for any advice!

Sajeev answers:

Replacing so many parts, pouring such amounts of money into a heavily depreciated, high mileage vehicle (CRV more than the MR2) is a pretty bad idea.  Stop and ponder: why do I care to make an old machine run exactly like new?  Is it really worth it?

If yes, you must be the nutty automotive restoration type.  That is, you see money and cars differently than most: as what’s poured into a 230,000 mile CRV will never, EVER come back.

Personal aside: back in ’99, I had a suspension overhaul performed in my 1988 Mercury Cougar XR-7 with 130k and 10+ years of abuse from the brutal roads of Houston’s Third Ward.  New (non-saggy) springs, shocks, bushings, end links, ball joints, etc. The only parts remaining untouched were the spindles, sway bars and the control arms’ metal skeletons. I took one fast sweeper and was sold on the $2000 spent: the Cougar felt “new” on any road, in any dynamic test.

Years later, adding 75 lbs of chassis stiffeners, Koni shocks and a ’98 Cobra rear sway bar turned a respectable machine into something pretty bad ass on the street. Which proves a point:

I justify the cost to an extinct animal (get it? Fox Cougar?) with some unique 1980s Muscle Car curb appeal, but your need for a perfect old Honda CUV is flawed.  Perhaps you need to replace every last bushing, but you’ve spent enough: make sure the tires have plenty of non-dry rotted tread on them and let it be. If it still drives you nuts, time to upgrade to a CUV with far less mileage and sell this one to someone who doesn’t really care.

The MR2 Spyder is like my Cougar: a fun toy that’s damn near impossible to replicate.  But don’t be afraid to attack the problem in stages: add the chassis bracing, install the new struts and consider putting a new (not reman) steering rack to kill any possible steering slop. Perhaps the ball joints are just a touch too loose and the bushings are past it (i.e. from abuse on bad roads), but I think you’ll be thrilled with the perfection gained from extra braces and new shocks.

Sure, you can get a Miata and I can get a new Mustang GT..but screw that. That’s loser talk!  We are in it to win it…son! 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

75 Comments on “Piston Slap: You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’?...”


  • avatar
    -Nate

    Agreed ~

    If you like thew basic car , don’t worry just fix the damned thing and fix it right , every time , no short cuts , no Chinese ball joints etc. .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      The original ball joints may very well have been manufactured in China.

      • 0 avatar

        You just need some rubber therapy.

        A set of sway bar bushings and end links is pretty easy for most cars, and assuming your tires are OK, and the shocks are still somewhat involved, replacing these four rubber bits and four links will tighten it all up real quick.

        A lot of bushings last 60k, but no one specs a replacement interval, in order to make the lifetime calculations look better. I’ve seen some that sack at 30k and a few make it 80k, but they all go south around 50k. End links and bushings aren’t a lot of $ but the result is HUGE.

        If you can change your oil you can do this. Jack up the car, pull the wheels, and it is usually one or two bolts per sway bushing. I oft have to fight with end links, but silicone is helpful.

        At your mileage, consider control arm bushings too. They are all Golden Gromments. They all wear out. If they all line up, life is good. Corallary…if one grommet in the suspension is shot, it will take out others, but if all are good, it lasts.

        Don’t go for sport bushings unless you are racing-I’m not smarter than the OE. Most mechanics won’t fix this either because they don’t get a lot of time with your car or know it well enough.

        End links and bushings at 60k service. In Europe, you replace all of these on a regular basis to pass MOT, TUV, or whatever…in the US we get all shocked that the rubber bit the entire car vibrates against wears out.

  • avatar
    greaseyknight

    The clunk between drive and reverse sounds like classic signs of a bad motor mount. I would hope that would be the first thing that a mechanic would look at, instead of suspension especially since the car has 200+k.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Were CV joints and/or engine mounts considered for the bump on the CRV?
    I gather they have been already replaced or checked out to be ok. I can see the poster’s frustration as the little things can drive you mad after a while. Still cheaper than buying something else. At least you have a good idea what is wrong with the CRV and what is not.

    The MR2? Suck it up and upgrade. Throw the braces on and reassess.
    Then drive the hell out of it.

  • avatar

    For the MR2, didn’t they have some kind of variable electro system for the steering? That might also have something to do with it. Or it could indeed be a trait of the car. I have a friend with an MR2 that, like you (the write-in) is HUGE on original condition over modifying. I could see if he’s noticed the same thing in his.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    That’s what…like $1500 worth of work on the CRV? I just have no idea why anyone would put that kind of money into a 12-year-old economy car with 230k miles on it. And yes…motor mount.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      Most do it because the car still runs and the repair bill is still much, much less than the TCO of a new or even gently used CR-V.

      • 0 avatar

        Exactly. Why bother with another used vehicle and its headaches? In the next couple weeks I’ll be getting new front wheel bearings done on my Echo (just shy of 469,000 miles). While I’m at it, it’s due for shocks/struts and it’s still on the original springs. I figure it’s upgrade time: Eibach Sportlines and Monroe OESpectrums are on the way as I type this, and new sway-link bushings to boot.

        The car still has lots of life left in it, and I have (albeit slow) fun in it still. There’s not a single econobox out there that’ll give me the fun of no ABS, ESC, electronic throttle, and loads of added weight from airbags. My car is “safe enough” and more interior volume than a ’13 Ford Focus sedan… from a 2000 subcompact still capable of 0-60 in the high-8′s/low-9′s (she’s old but still pulls well) and 40+mpg. Screw a used replacement; I know the car. We’ve had it since new.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        This. That motor’s probably good for another two hundred thou (might get a compression check to make sure), and if the tranny is going south a junkyard replacement can’t be more than $1500 or so. Assuming the body is solid and everything works–and being a Honda, probably yes–why not spend a few grand to get another 5-6 payment-free years out of it?

        • 0 avatar
          Fordson

          Because it’s still giving him problems, he’s still paying his mechanic to try to chase the issues down, because it still crashes over bumps, because he has read pages and pages of internet forums trying to chase it down, and because even with the Japanese mystique, 230k is pretty far along.

          At some point, what you are paying your mechanic to chase the issue, PLUS the time you are spending yourself on the internet trying to find the right direction to POINT your mechanic, etc. is just not worth it to you.

          I know that getting a Toyota Echo to 469,000 miles CAN be done, but I have no interest in trying it, and it sounds like this guy probably would not either. Getting an MR2 to drive like new and getting a 2002 CRV or an Echo to drive like new…let’s just say the rewards are an order of magnitude different.

          • 0 avatar

            Like new would be awful ;) But I’ve driven another 400k+ Echo used as a parts runner and good Lord almighty mine feels so much tighter, so I’m not that worried.

            Only 140,000 miles were by me personally, but most people still wouldn’t stomach that well, I’m sure. Still, I have my eyes on better stuff for someday– a 1750 GTV Bertone Coupe, Miata’s, the MR2 Spyder, Mustangs, BRZ’s… whatev. Just a matter of getting there.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            400K in an Echo and looking for an Alfa Bertone or MR2 one day? You sir are my new hero.

          • 0 avatar

            @ 28-Cars-Later: not sure if serious. But there really is a ’71 1750 GTV I’ve been eying for years. Poor thing is just sitting there doing nothing.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    At this point, the CR-V is just cheap transportation. You’ve got to appreciate it and all of its quirks with that in mind. If it really bothers you that much, cut your losses and move on; there’s no sense in putting any more work into it that isn’t absolutely necessary. I’d probably flip it before it needed another new set of tires. However, I’m all for you trying to chase the original driving experience of the MR2…

  • avatar
    toplessFC3Sman

    I was really surprised at how much of the front-end clunking on my DD came from the end-links between the sway bars and the LCAs – replacing those was a night-and-day difference. Also, depending on the construction of the strut top mounts & bearings, if those weren’t replaced with the springs & struts, they could be causing it too.

    And the motor mounts, as stated by previous comments.

  • avatar
    BC

    I am usually a strong proponent of fix rather than replace. For $1500 in suspension replacements, you should get at least another 100k miles of low cost driving in a trusted machine. That sure beats a car payment. I also take pleasure in driving a high mileage car. Superior engineering can be quantified in many ways and perhaps the hardest to accomplish and most over-looked is the sustained excellence necessary in high mileage cars. Any make can put something pleasurable together for 40k miles. But what about at 160k or 260k? Volvo, saab, old mercedes, and many japanese makes shine at this and it usually speaks to some combination of elegant engineering, serviceability, rust resistance, and owner allegiance.

    The biggest thing I can think of why not to do this is if the interior/exterior is wearing out/damaged/rusted or if the car no longer suits your needs. You are also going to find that no mechanic knows your car as well as you do. You’ll never get that money back by selling so if you’re not going to continue to own it, don’t bother.

    • 0 avatar
      azmtbkr81

      Good points. I take more pride in owning an older, well kept vehicle than something new and shiny. A car that “wears in” instead of “wearing out” is special indeed.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I only spent $700 on the suspension, but I agree, I still expect to get another 100k out of this car. It still drives nice, even with the clunks… its only bad on bad pavement. Funny thing is, I was driving a rental Captiva recently and hated it, I though my CRV drove much nicer than the almost new Chevy.

      • 0 avatar
        krayzie

        You just haven’t experienced the subframe clunk with bolts popping on every turn including stop and go yet on your GTI. Just wait till you start getting that problem then the MR2 and CRV suspension problems are probably non-issue. I just spent $900 bucks on a Tyrolsport front and rear collar kit w/ labor and couldn’t fix it (near end of warranty I already got new front suspension bushings free). Very frustrating I only got 85,000km on my Golf 5 GTI.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      I agree there is a certain amount of bragging rights to having a car with close to 200K and yet it looks like it has 50K on it. I’ve done it several times, and none were the makes you listed, but hey go for what works for you.

      “Crashing” over the bumps could also be the end of travel rubber bump stops if they are missing or worn out.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    There is a similarly worn out CR-V, a 2001, that I regularly work on. After replacing a few ball joints and a tie rod over the past year, the sway bar bushings are causing a bit of a knock over bumps. The owner has elected to not change them because “it’s a rattly-worn out car and if it’s just a noise and nothing is going to fall out, just leave it”.

    So it really depends on what your tolerance is. I’d definitely want to know what exactly is causing the noise. Sounds like in this case, maybe a motor or trans mount.

    Actually, on that same CR-V a while ago, when first moving or stopping in first or reverse it was making a horrible clunking sound and I found one of the upper control arm bolts had backed out quite a bit. Don’t ask me how, but it did. Some loctite and retorqing and it hasn’t been back.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      If you let it go long enough, the ball will wear out the socket of the sway bar link and fall out.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Today, there are really nice poly center bushings for the swaybar, and all steel articulating end links so you engage the bar immediately. With all the money already spent, this last step is almost nothing, and can be done by most people.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    My first thought was engine/trans mount as well. However, consider this: improperly shimmed/sized brake pads can also cause “clunks” when going from forward to reverse. Cheaper generic pads like the Napa brand ones on my 4runner do this, as did the cheap replacement pads on my old Civic Wagon.

    As far as crashing over bumps with all of those refreshed front suspension pieces, what kind of shocks and springs did you put in? Aftermarket pieces vary greatly in how much more/less stiff they are compared to OEM, which was very carefully tuned for your vehicle. My general experience is that Monroe brand shocks/struts tend to ride softer, KYB struts are stiffer.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Aftermarket shocks, not OEM, and definitely more stiffness than the originals. So good point, that could be it too. I don’t think the brake pads are to blame because the clunk now happens at engine start-up sometimes too, so more evidence pointing to engine mounts I think.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Monroe, especially sensi-trac, are mush-o-matics….

      • 0 avatar

        That’s not something I wanna hear right now… OESPectrums are what I just bought (similar to Sensi-trac), hearing they’re firmer than KYB Excel-G’s/GR2′s like I have now. Meh, they’d be gone in a could years anyway.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    CRV is definitely at the point of diminishing returns and the MR2? Do things slowly as you can afford them because it is obviously your baby and your toy.

  • avatar
    PonchoIndian

    get rid of them both and buy a CPO Crown Vic

  • avatar
    tedward

    Subframe bushings? Definitely engine mounts need to be replaced.

    I went through this with my old BMW. I’d recommend replacing every single bushing on the car at once. It’s not the parts that cost really, it’s the labor here, so getting it down in as few visits as possible is key if you’re not doing it yourself.

    And for god’s sake keep that MR2, it can’t be replaced with a new product and a comprehensive bushing refresh should fix any issues you have.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    The Honda is definitely in cut your losses territory. The MR2 is a classic. My only question to other B+B on it would be urethane vs. OEM. Look on the bright side, you could be waiting for the IMS bearing in a Boxster to fail.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Another good point @racer-esq… Urethane vs OEM bushings? I am guessing OEM is better for compliancy but Urethane would last longer?

      And no IMS bearing in the MR2, but they do have a history of pre-cat failures causing cylinder scoring which means replace the engine, and valve clatter which is annoying. Of course then engines are only about $1500!

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Well that’s your excuse to put in the 190 HP 6MT Celica drivetrain, right?

        • 0 avatar
          mnm4ever

          Yes I keep a eye out for cheap 2ZZ engines, just in case. They also make a 2L stroker 1ZZ that’s supposed to be great, not as peaky as the 2ZZ and keeps the timing chain setup instead of a timing belt. And the MR2 really needs a 6MT, the 5th gear is way to high for highway driving. I have also heard you can swap in a Toyota or Lexus V6 if you want some serious power, but honestly, I think 300hp in that car would be scary. Its my wife’s car, she doesn’t want me to go too crazy on it!

          • 0 avatar

            Maybe they mean the small Toyota v6 like I have. That one is only good for 200 hp with change.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            Yes I think you can swap in almost any of the Toyota V6′s from the older ones all the way up to the new 3.5 from a Lexus ES. Seems like a lot of work to get 200hp though, if I was actually going to do all that effort I would want to make it worthwhile… could be a seriously fast car.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Urethane not only lasts longer, but handling is certainly improved. However, they are not as compliant as OEM, but OEM is usually ride biased. It depends on the OP’s preference, but since he likes his MR2, I would imagine the more performance oriented items would be preferred.

      • 0 avatar
        MK

        Urethane is not really recommended if the OP is trying to get the ride back. Generally urethane gives a much harsher ride than the oem rubber.
        Most guys I know who have done this have regretted it, but this is in the jeep world not the sporty 2 seater jobby.
        Ymmv.

        In addition to the stuff I saw mentioned above, look at sway bar links and bushings and check the main driveshaft for play (my wife’s older mustang had a loose rear yoke on the driveshaft that made a serious clunk when going from reverse to drive).

  • avatar
    jetcal1

    The answer is; it depends.
    What are you going to do with the CRV?
    If the car is going to become a hand me down, recondition it! Better to give a child a reconditioned car with the important bits reconditioned then to have them spend the same amount of money on another used car and then have to pour money into it.

    If you are just going to run it for yourself, then save the money. You will not get back when it comes time to sell or trade.

    MR2? Spend the money. It will follow a different depreciation curve in a few more years.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    @Sajeeve:
    In part I’m going to disagree with you; not in the fact that the owner will never realize any return from it, but rather that the owner was hoping to return the car to its original feel in order to continue enjoying it. He was doing it for the pleasure of continuing to own the cars as they originally rode, not trying to turn them into things they’re not or make a profit.

    Your own rebuttal exemplifies upgrading ‘extinct animals’ while ignoring that many people just want to rejuvenate them to what they remember (which may, in some cases, be unrealistic). I have a 1990 Ford F-150 that’s certainly not worth spending thousands of dollars on to restore it, but I’m certainly not a fan of dash panels literally falling off (held on only by the lights and wiper knob) or the fact that I can’t securely mount my radio because a previous one was literally yanked out of the dash, breaking the radio mounts long before I purchased it. I want to replace these panels, but to have the tasks done by a professional shop is just too expensive–forcing me to leave the truck looking and feeling like nothing more than a beater at least until he gains the official status of “antique”. Since so many were built and sold back in the ’90 to ’93 period, the only real value is the bed itself, rust free despite being used in the ‘rust belt’ for the last 13 years simply because it was never used on salt-treated roads during the winter. I want to make the truck look and run good because that’s the way I typically treat my vehicles, not because I expect to make any more money out of them. This truck had more rust on it before I bought it than any previous vehicle I have owned–ever–and still has far less rust on it than any truck of its generation in my area.

    And that is this person’s point; he wants his car to ride ‘like new’ because that’s the way HE treats his vehicles. And that’s why he wanted to know why, after all the work he did, that it doesn’t.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I agree with Sajeev’s advice, ditch the CR-V for another beige DD if it comes down to it but keep the MR2. In addition to being a convertible, its got quite a bit of panache all its own, I’m sure a head turner. If you’re going to sink money into an older car make it worth your time.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    There is merit to rehabilitating older vehicles that are otherwise intact and running well. There is nothing in showrooms today that could replicate the overall experience of my ’92 SE-R, so I’ve replaced everything in the front suspension and added a few stiffening bars. Next up: +1 brakes.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    If he’s talking about the 2nd gen CR-V I don’t think there is any car like it available in showrooms today either
    But as cars do depreciate a lot faster in the US than here in Norway (where a 10 year old car is the norm, and my 2003 CR-V is still worth roughly 15K) it probably isn’t worth spending too much on, off course depending on the general state of the vehicle as a whole.
    My CR-V had a broken rear spring, and a leaking front damper (at only 130.000 miles, what happened to Honda reliability XD), so before the summer vacation I got a set of sligthly lower H&R springs and adjustable Koni’s for it. Made it a much more stationwagon-like car to drive(not a fan of CUV’s really, I just needed the rear seatroom) even if you can’t really call it a sportscar yet.
    BTW ,CR-V are known for worn links in the front suspension,it should be easy to find which one ,if that is the case.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “If he’s talking about the 2nd gen CR-V I don’t think there is any car like it available in showrooms today”

      Why do you say that?

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        The packaging of the 1st and 2nd gen CRVs is incredible, add to that excellent visibility that was ruined with the sloping rear pillar on the third gens. Interior quality and the amount of nice touches like the famous built in picnic table have also been lost on newer iterations of CRVs. There’s a good reason the older CRVs have insane resale value. Very long lived cars, with but a few weak spots: 1st gens need the valve clearances to be kept in check, and their staked in u-joints lead to expensive whole-driveshaft replacement later on in life (or just live with the drivetrain clunks). 1st gens also tend to need rear trailing arm bushings as they get to be 10+ years old, as do the Civics that it is based on. 2nd gen CRVs have the same stupid driveshaft design but benefit from the excellent k24 engine with a timing chain. The 2nd gens are prone to A/C compressor failure. That may sound like a lot of stuff to go wrong, but in reality, just about any other car will have a list atleast twice as long.

        • 0 avatar
          Zykotec

          Pretty much my reasoning for that claim yes ;)
          I have to add, it is about as basic ( I hate having too many gadgets in a car)as a modern car can get, while still having Japanese reliability and a reasonably powerful engine (by European standards)

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Not to long of a list, most of the better cars have a few chinks in the armor in certain model years.

    • 0 avatar
      azmtbkr81

      Really? There are like 8,795 different CUVs on the market here in the US, I’m sure he could find one he likes.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Oh I like a lot newer CUVs, I just don’t want to spend money on any of them. For what I use it for, the CRV is perfect. If it dies I will probably just go back to using the GTI for everything. I just hate keeping it clean after the dogs are in it, and I am too OCD about it to let it get messed up. :)

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    Ok, OP here and I have to say a big thank you for the insightful and helpful comments!! Just for a little perspective, the CRV was a hand-me-down from my parents, I know the history, and its nice enough that everything on it works and it looks good, but not so nice that it’s really worth selling or trading. It makes the perfect spare car for us, hauling the dogs to the dog park, grocery runs, crappy weather car, etc. I spent about $700 all together including the alignment, not $1500. I’ve got about a grand in it over 3 yrs of ownership, its simply cheaper to keep her at this point. Oh, and I don’t pay my mechanic to work on it, he is a friend, he checked it out for free, and he gives me a deal on work too. Most stuff I do myself.

    That all being said, if the answer is that its simply old, then fine, I can live with the clunking. Or if its a big expense to fix, same thing. I think motor mounts are the answer though, they were never replaced. I am curious about the driveshaft replacement that @gtemnykh mentioned… perhaps that is something to consider?

    As for the MR2, yes we do love it and my wife is so happy with it she doesn’t want to replace it. I offered to buy her a new car (selfishly, as I can’t justify 2 fun cars for myself but if she picked one that I happened to like… lol) and she said I don’t want a new car, can’t you just restore my Spyder?? Gotta love a woman that is happiest with a 12yo car and insists on a stick shift! So yes, eventually I will be dumping way more money into that car than it’s worth, but I won’t be selling it so I don’t care. I am not going to go crazy on it, but I want it to drive as nice as possible. I think bushings are the answer too, but as I said, I don’t want to do the work twice, so before tearing it down I was hoping for some good ideas on what else to replace while under there.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      Well then that adds up – if it’s much less (less than half) of what I though because you’re doing the work, and you are maybe only an engine mount or two, a set of end links and maybe some bushings away from a fix, that makes a lot of sense.

      I agree – I don’t use the GTI for those things, either…

    • 0 avatar

      MR2 Spyders are still one of my favorite sports cars in recent years. Got to try one out (sadly with huge wheels) and loved the growl over my shoulder. Then my friend (who already has a couple other odd cars I like) went and got an MR2 Spyder. I will say this, though: do some research. That engine (1ZZ-FED) has a history of issues into the upper 100k range. It’s of course shared with the Celica GT, so that’d be another car to look into about proper care techniques or issues that may come up.

      • 0 avatar

        Which you already know as I see above… alright.

        • 0 avatar
          mnm4ever

          Yea we already have the weepy head gasket and a little valve clatter at start-up. But it doesn’t even leak enough to drip on the floor, just gets the engine dirty, and the clatter goes away when it warms up. I yanked the pre-cats the first weekend we got the car, they were complete and non-degraded so I think we avoided that catastrophe. If it dies, then replacing the stock engine isn’t too expensive, its only crazy if I decide to upgrade things. After writing this I started checking out parts, and they now have a replacement 5th gearset with a lower ratio for highway use, much less expensive than the new 6MT with LSD and lower final drive I was looking at before! So I could fix it cheap or fix it expensive, just depends on what I want to accomplish with it.

          Thanks for checking on the steering thing, guess I will have to keep researching that one.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    Oh and one more thing… I wasn’t really attempting to “restore” the CRV, just using it as sort of practice for restoring the MR2. It just happens that I did all that work and still had some issues, so as to not make the same (yet much more expensive) mistakes on the MR2 I figured this was a good time to get advice on what to do different or additionally on the good car.

  • avatar
    BMWnut

    Some lateral thinking from my side: how much of an issue is flexing of the bodyshell on an old car? Every other point seems to have been covered, so I am just asking. I know that rally cars get seam welded to take extreme punishment.

    After a quarter of million miles of rough roads, perhaps the body is just a bit more flexible than it used to be. Of the car, that is – with humans it works the other way round, hehehe. If it is the case, fixing the welds would require money than the the car is worth. Sad.

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      With passenger cars, I imagine the chassis doesn’t really suffer too much loss of stiffness on rough roads, since the suspension and bushings will bear most of that wear and tear.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    mnm,

    The a loose u joint in the driveshaft will most likely manifest itself as either a clunk, and/or as a vibration at certain speeds, often times at higher speeds (50+ mph). My MPV needed a new u joint and it too has a staked in design. There’s a company that makes replacement u-joints that fit our driveshafts, they’re a bear to fit, but they get the job done ($30 for the part and an afternoon of cussing, a hydraulic press is a big help). Afterwards, I had to rebalance my driveshaft myself, which is a pretty scary and hilarious experience:

    (this is for a rwd based car): jack the rear end up on jackstands. Put a piece of chalk on a pole and put the car in drive. With the driveshaft spinning at a good rate, slowly bring the chalk towards the shaft, until it just nicks it once. Stop the engine. Put two hose clamps around the driveshaft where the chalk mark is. Tighten them so that they are both opposite the chalk mark. Now in a trial and error fashion, start the car up and put it in drive, and ‘accelerate’ to various highway speeds, feeling for vibrations, in the beginning they will be very strong. Stop the engine, space the clamps symmetrically away from each other traveling up the circumference of the driveshaft up towards the chalk mark. Rinse and repeat until vibrations are minimized. My Mazda’s been vibration free for 2 years with this setup, clamps are aluminum and don’t rust.

    Or… have a driveshaft shop balance you driveshaft!! Should be a couple of hundred dollars. A new driveshaft assembly from Honda is close to $1000.

    I still think that engine mounts are the first things to check since the clunk is at startup as you said.

  • avatar
    andyinatl

    This article brings to memory my old Infiniti G20, that had a semi-serious clunk while going over the regular bumps, that you could feel in the pedals for some weird reason. I replaced control arms, various suspension bushings, all struts, all to no avail. What it ultimately turned out to be, was the automatic transmission mount. I didn’t think to inspect it earlier, but all engine mounts looked ok. However, when i finally replaced that automatic transmission mount, the car went to being the super smooth over bumps again.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    So I have been driving the CRV the past couple of days and really paying attention to what it does. The clunk doesn’t happen all the time, but sometimes as the car starts it will clunk, and sometimes when shifting between drive and reverse, but once under way I don’t ever hear it. So I think you guys are on the right track with motor mounts or maybe trans mounts too.

    The “crashing” part is perhaps not as bad as I originally described. Just driving around it rides great, excellent really, if a bit firm because of the stiffer springs. But over washboard-like pavement and sharp bumps like harsh speed bumps or broken pavement the suspension feels almost like its rattling. This is where it’s similar to the MR2, rides nice most of the time except over hard pavement. The CRV has stiffer than OEM springs and the tires are not good tires, I bought cheap tires and am now paying the price. All of the components that were replaced also included new bushings, so it has new control arm bushings, bump stops, etc. It could just be the stiff springs and crappy tires along with a 200k+ body shell making it feel so rattly. I am going to try replacing the sway bar bushings and end links since they are cheap and if that doesn’t do it then I will probably just live with it until I need tires again.

    For the MR2 I think I will get OEM bushings for every part I can reasonably afford, along with control arms and sway bars/bushings and the previously mentioned bracing and struts. We like to autocross it occasionally but I have found that the course we go to has terrible pavement and overly stiff suspension doesn’t seem to work as well as more compliance with really good tires. It isn’t a track rat. It also needs a new clutch which is going to be a big job, so I am trying to get all that stuff done at the same time while everything is apart. I was planning to get an lightened flywheel and might do the CV joints and axles then too. I have been toying with the idea of a 6MT swap too at this stage, but not sure I am ready to drop $1200+ on one when the current trans is fine.

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      Have you considered the strut top-hats as well? Sometimes they get worn and move around a little more than they should. You’ve covered all the areas I’d immediately think of (front control arms, LCAB, compliance bushing, etc). If the swaybar bushings and the few things that other people have suggested, don’t pan out, maybe take a look at the rear control arm suspension bushings, too.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        I replaced the struts with complete assembled units, including new top hats and bump stops, so they are new as well. But I did not do the rear control arms or bushings, as they are pretty expensive and very difficult to change, and they didn’t look too bad. The noises seem to come from the front, but that’s just my guess, I could be wrong. Good idea to check them as the rear got a lot less attention than the front.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India