Piston Slap: Probing the Outer Limits?
Hello everyone, thank you for taking the time to read my question. I own a ’97 Ford Probe with around 160–170 thousand kilometres. I am not sure because the odometer quit working about a year and a half ago.
In the last six months I have spent about $2000 replacing the timing belt, alternator, other belts, the exhaust system and the windshield. My mechanic is now telling me that I need another $1,500 in suspension work in the very near future. Plus, my car is now holding revs until it warms up so I think I may need to get that checked out, and I also think it will soon be time to replace the crankshaft ignition sensor for the third time in 4 years, about an 8–9 hundred dollar job. All of these expenses on a 12 year old car have got me thinking about replacing it with something newer.
I am curious about readers’ opinions on this question. Keep it and fix it? Or sell it and look for something new? Also has anyone had any experienced buying formal rental cars? I am looking at some 2008 tauruses (taurusi?) that were previously rental units. They tend to have very low mileage, about 30-40 thousand km, and very attractive prices, about 15–19 thousand depending on the options. Could one of these be a good idea if I do decide to sell my current car? (Note: prices in Canadian dollars.) Thanks in advance.
Probes are a love/hate affair: girls love (loved?) them, which is odd considering the seemingly offensive name. But I digress . . .
Most of the work done sounds normal for a car this age, with that mileage. Exhaust systems rust out and alternators go bad. Belts are standard wear items. Your funny idle could be bad vacuum lines, a call for a tune up (spark plugs, etc.) or possibly an idle-air control solenoid. All are somewhat cheap to fix. The problem with the crank sensor sounds fishy, either the wiring needs attention (it never was the sensor) or the sensor is a cheap replacement. No matter, unless you have a “check engine” light or starting problem, I wouldn’t worry about it: that sensor either works or you’re stranded.
If my only other alternative is a $15,000 Ford Five Hundred/Taurus (which sounds like a lousy price) that’s so rental-grade it Hertz, I’m gonna stick with the Probe. And pocket twelve grand for your retirement. Its a great platform that’s an absolute blast with a fresh suspension and re-tuned motor. The Taurus? Not so much. And your car’s connection to the wacky-insane 1980s Ford concept cars with the same name only make the appeal more intriguing. Or perhaps, probing?
Drive other cars and see if you want to take the plunge. Remember how much money this will cost, too. If driving a Taurus makes you want that Probe out of your head, talk to TTAC’s own Jonny Lieberman. He’ll get your beater a new home and a short, painful life as a participant in the 24 Hours of LeMons. Probes are one of the hot tickets for that event.
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I say ditch the Probe before its too late. I sometimes put that much into my 3 series BMW with 157K miles, but it was still solid when it got hit and totaled. I still managed to get $10K out of a 10 year old car though. Something tells me there isn't that much value in the Probe and there's probably a reason I rarely see them on the road now a days. I say look around for another used car. It may be $1500 here, $2k there, then you're still stuck with the old car and still shelling out a lot of money.