By on February 1, 2016

check engine light. Shutterstock user Bjoern Wylezich

Joey writes:

Hello Sajeev,

I’ve been a reader of yours for years and greatly enjoy your style. (Woot! —SM)

My question is about my ’97 Mazda 626, with a hair over 215,000 miles on it, that’s been in my family for its entire life. It’s reliable, economical, and generally in good condition.

However, I am up for a registration renewal in October, and I need to complete an emissions test. I figured that it would be a good idea to check up on the codes behind the check engine light. The codes came up as an evaporative system and catalytic converter errors, which are both emissions fails.

I think that there may be a leak in the exhaust (I can hear a sort of rasping occasionally with the windows down), which could be the cause of the catalyst code, but I wouldn’t know what to do with the evap system.

I put a set of new (cheap) tires on it about 6 months ago and put in a new starter two months ago. How much further should I go, and how much should I spend on a car with so many miles?

Sajeev answers:

I love that vintage of 626, which will explain the following answer: At this age and mileage, I suspect your check engine light repair is minor. Granted, it’s crucial to provide the actual code (not what it means), but I shall remain positive that it’s an easy fix. 

Start with a basic tune-up and new vacuum lines. The tune up includes new oxygen sensors if they are 100,000+ miles old. Vacuum lines are an oft-neglected reason for catalyst/lean exhaust codes, and are a cheap (but labor intensive) fix. Also usually cheap are some of the rubber fittings (like the one that holds the PCV valve). Those are only available at a dealership, but some are often duplicated as plastic fittings

If the exhaust leak is between the catalytic converters and the engine, then yes, that must be addressed to fix the code. Not that you’d refrain from fixing it otherwise … riiiiight?

And that goes back to your main query: how long do you dump money into this Mazda? The mere fact you wrote to me a fairly warm tale implies you like it more than anyone else with $1,000 and a need for a cheap beater. Provided I’m correct regarding the diagnosis/repair, it’d be foolish to not let the Mazda limp along for another year. Or five.

Best and Brightest?

[Photo courtesy: Shutterstock user Bjoern Wylezich]

Send your queries to [email protected] 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.

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77 Comments on “Piston Slap: Deep Six the 626?...”


  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    If it satisfies the owner he might as well keep it running. Just don’t test drive anything new lol.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      “Just don’t test drive anything new lol.”

      Yeah, he’d fall insanely in love with one of today’s blind, plastic-stuffed bunkermobiles.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      RockAuto has CCs for less than $100, and O2 sensors for $20. For maybe $500-700 you could replace the entire exhaust system, and perform the vacuum work Sajeev described.

      If the rest of the car is decent, keep it.

      • 0 avatar
        zamoti

        I do not reply with the intent of insulting the previous comment, but spending $500-$700 on a (loosely stated) $1000 car seems like a waste. It’s got 215k, is a bit old and is in need of an unknown repair. I would say that the old girl served you well, let her retire. This, however, is from is from a value perspective only. If there is an emotional attachment to this car, then you would want to be acutely aware that keeping the car is purely an emotional decision. However, owning a senior car will require a certain amount of patience; if getting to work reliably every day of the week is an imperative, you may find yourself inconvenienced by an increasingly fragile car. At such an age or mileage, little things will start to let go, repairs can be challenging if there is any rust involved. Seeing as how it’s a Mazda in an unstated location that needs exhaust work, I’m guessing this would not be easy.

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          If this car is his DD; then yes, the odds of not making it to work or elsewhere will continue to rise, and having a newer car available makes good sense; $500-$700 makes a good down payment on a newer used car, and you have the 626 for trade-in as well.

          If, however, this is a “pet car” as my indy mechanic calls mine, or basically a backup to your DD; then the playing field is different. It is probably worth more “alive than dead” at this point, and if can keep miles off of the DD, or fill in as the backup when the DD is in the shop, there is justification in keeping it; especially with the emotional factor mixed in. Once you get it to pass emissions; as a pet or backup car, it will probably need little more than insurance to keep it around in the near year.

  • avatar
    Waterview

    I’ve had two of these and both were fantastic. I regret getting rid of both of them, but after 12 years with each one, it was time for something else. That said, they are one of the most reliable and cost effective cars you can have. Fix it and keep going.

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    Why not side-grade to a 1997 Nissan Altima with half the clicks? Similar looks, classy interior, and pennies per serving.

    My guess is that part of the honeycomb in the cat has broken off at this mileage.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      There is no worse advice than to trade a well maintained older car that you’ve got a history in on an equally old car that you know nothing about.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        And everyone knows if you’re going to buy a mid-late 90’s Nissan anything – you do so by purchasing one with a VQ30.

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        Amen to this. OP has a tough call here. Info about available funds for replacement would help.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        There is no worse advice than to spend such a high percentage of the vehicle’s value on repairing it just because you’ve had it so long and know its history.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          You think a 20 year old Altima won’t have some maintenance to get caught up on, if not something even more serious repair-wise, that will very realistically add up to close to $1000 all said and done? Unless it’s a totally cherry one owner gem driven by a retiree who took it into the dealer for every single service in the manual, I wouldn’t “side-grade” as it was aptly called.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            No, I agree with you “side-grading” to an ancient Nissan is a bad idea too. It is time for the OP to get a newer car with lower miles.

            But the worse idea is to get oneself married to a beater by spending as much money as it is likely to take to get this car fixed. I’ve seen way too many people continue to throw good money after bad when they were advised to fix something like this. What is likely to happen is that another bill will come along that is a significant portion of the value of the car sooner rather than later. So a person ends up with a $1,000 car that they have spent $2,000 on recently. Had they pulled the plug when it was smart they would still have that $2,000 in their pocket and could have got $1,000 for it.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Fair enough, and I agree in full. It is definitely a hard call to make, especially to frugal people with a ‘keeper’ mentality.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Aren’t these cars famous for glass automatic transmissions, or was that the final generation 626? I looked at a bunch or 00-02 cars as a first car for a teen about 4 years ago, but what I heard about the trannies scared me away. Great looking car though.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Yep both these and the final gen of 626 were doomed to auto transmission hell by Ford’s “lovely” CD4E. It makes me really mad actually that otherwise excellent cars, the last of Mazda’s pre-Zoom Zoom era, were sullied with Ford junk transmissions. Stick with the manual and it’s smooth sailing.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        The CD4E was used because early (1993-1994) 626s of this generation with the Mazda transaxle had an unacceptable failure rate. I mean like 2-3 months into ownership, and a large chunk of the cars that were delivered suffered failure. The CD4E is certainly not the best transaxle in the world, but it was better than the Mazda unit it replaced.

        But, of course, none of that matters. Just like it doesnt matter that without Ford’s cash, Mazda wouldve folded decades ago (as with Jaguar). Nope, that isnt important, only how Mazda was perfect before stupid Ford ruined the company for fun. I also hear Bill Ford runs over a puppy everyday as he drives to work.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Another Ford auto transmission victim with a bad case of Stockholm syndrome?

          From a 626 Forum/FAQ site:

          “Early versions of the CD4E piled up a fairly terrible repair record, some of it the transmission’s fault, and some of it Mazda’s implementation of it. In the ’94 626 specifically, there appears to be a quirk in the speedometer gear set, and since the transmission’s shift points are determined at least partially by reported vehicle speed, this can result in erratic shifting and the flashing of the infamous Hold or O/D Off light — without the transmission being necessarily at fault at all. The transmission has had other problems as well: early versions are prone to blowing out the pump gasket, the failure rate of the original forward-clutch assembly is high, and line pressure occasionally goes off the scale. (For more detail on these problems, see Gears magazine, January 2000; it’s nowhere on line, but your trans shop may have a copy.) Mazda had an informal recall — um, a “Special Service Program” — of the ’94s (and only the ’94s) to correct the speedometer gear set, though it’s since expired. And Ford made running changes to the CD4E, revising the pump plate and gasket in November 1996 and redesigning the coast/forward clutch assembly in January 1998. Cooling capacity, another weak point, has been improved, though many owners are installing auxiliary transmission coolers to be on the safe side.

          This is not to say, of course, that you can’t get a lemon in the G/GF4A-EL line either, but during the middle Nineties, the GF4A-EL was somewhat more reliable than the CD4E. When ZF acquired 51 percent of the Batavia facility in 1999, one of the announced goals was to beef up the CD4E for use in the Tribute/Escape; the 626 version also benefited.”

          Seems that Mazda’s GF is generally regarded as more reliable.

          I’m not specifically saying that Mazda partnering with Ford overall was terrible, but more so anyone borrowing a Ford automatic transmission that isn’t a C3/C6 or a 4R70W is asking for trouble.

        • 0 avatar
          USAFMech

          John’s off-putting hyperbole aside, does anyone have any good reads on the impact for had at Mazda and/or Jaguar? I’ve owned both marques, but everything I’ve heard is apocryphal. ie, Jaguars basically being beat together in sheds with body panel tolerances in the 1/2in range.

          • 0 avatar
            CGHill

            I owned a 2000 626, trading in a ’93; both were assembled at Flat Rock, Michigan, alongside various Fords. That later 626 (with the CD4E, mind you) was the single least troublesome car I ever owned; I’d probably have it today were it not for some damnable deer.

            And I note that I bought it in spite of the 626 Transmission FAQ, in an effort to put my money where my mouth was. (Unlike some slushboxes, the CD4E is eminently flushable, and it appreciates a 30k change interval.)

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Never flush an automatic transmission. Ever. Drain + fill + change filter if applicable.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “Never flush an automatic transmission. Ever. Drain + fill + change filter if applicable.”

            this is one of those bits of conventional wisdom which really isn’t all that wise. if your automatic transmission dies shortly after a fluid change, it was about to die anyway. The timing of the fluid change was coincidental.

            That is, unless it was a Chrysler “Ultradrive” A604/41TE transaxle. Which means chances are your owner’s manual is still securely shrink-wrapped and you put Dexron III in a transaxle which needs ATF+3/+4.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @ Jim, Corey did not say to not change the trans fluid just not to buy the “trans flush” that many people sell instead of doing it right by dropping the pan and changing the filter. Half of the problem is that those machines are filled with “universal” fluid and then they add a small bottle of fluid changer that is supposed to make that universal fluid compatible with the car they are servicing. Of course others just fill it with the universal stuff and call it good.

      • 0 avatar
        Exfordtech

        CD4E was Mazda’s child.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Chances are if you’ve got a big leak, you’ve ruined the cat and/or the O2 sensors over time.

    All of those things are big bucks to fix, probably over half the value of the car. So my advice – if it’s not simply a leak you can fix with a new pipe (or similar), dump it.

  • avatar
    sproc

    If the exhaust leak hasn’t reached the point where the structural integrity of the system is compromised, I’d definitely try to locate and patch the leak first. Plenty of fairly decent products out there which might buy you some time, and there’s small chance the catalyst code might clear with the proper flow. Also, not sure of the O2 sensor configuration on this car, but at this point they may be so rusted in that you risk damaging the whole section of piping trying to get them out.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    10 year old Buick with the Series III 3800.
    Failed emissions. Installed a new catayltic converter and changed the oxygen senor.

    Put new tires on earlier this year.

    Then the ECM goes!

    It has less than 80,000 miles on it. The bumper/plastic work has dings and scratches on all 4 corners. Otherwise the body is good and rust free.

    So, I have the same issue as the original poster. What to do?

  • avatar
    JimZ

    this surprises me; someone I know bought a used ’97 Protege with half of the miles on it and that has been the absolute shittiest car I’ve seen in a long time. the interior materials turned white and crumbling at the merest mention of sunlight, and everything past the engine has needed replacement.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    It grieves me to agree with the dump-it brigade that will predominate here. Always sad when a family buys just-the-right-car and nurtures it for decades only to eventually have to put it down like a beloved pet.

    Joey is clearly my kind of people for even sending Sajeev this question.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    The key here is finding a competent indy shop that knows diagnostics that will affordably and correctly diagnose what I suspect is a not critically expensive repair. The worst thing that could happen is to fall victim to a “swaptronics specialist” at a dealer’s service department. Posting the exact EVAP code would help the B&B maybe set you on the right track.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I bet it’s the lamest code, the P0442.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      This x1000. Everything is an unknown until you have a mechanic you can trust take a look at it and determine exactly what you need to fix it, and estimate how much it will cost.

      We are fortunate to have a competent indy shop here in town who I take all our cars to, and I recommend to everyone. In 2013-2014 my family pet, the ’95 Taurus wagon, failed emissions. I paid him $50 in 2013 and $200 in 2014 to replace what parts it took to get it pass emissions, he then drove it to the other side of the block and a station that has the gear to test pre-1996 cars with OBD-1 computers, and I picked it up with the new tag in place.

      Last year it did not pass again, so once again I took around the block to him. I thought this was going to be it; it is 21 years old, has +200K miles on it, and you could tell from listening and smelling it as it ran that the Vulcan heart of it is getting very worn and tired.

      Got a call a few days later to come pick up it, that will be $75. They wouldn’t tell me exactly what he did; but apparently he was there under the hood while they tested it, and tweaked it somehow to get it to pass.

      If you are going to keep a pet car like that; find a good indy mechanic you can trust, and send as much business his way as you can. They will hopefully return the favor and help you keep your pet car on the road without taking you to the cleaners.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        My brother gets some work farmed out to him from other indy shops, the one anecdote I like to reference is the $25 fuel injector in a throttle body injected Iron Duke ’89 Century that he quickly and correctly diagnosed. Well the original shop had already thrown a bunch of parts and time at it and the sweet little old lady who owned this car ended up with a $950 bill, my brother with a small fraction of that for the actual correct repair.

        An actual competent and honest mechanic is priceless.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          I’ve been in almost that exact situation. In this case it was in a 4.9 Cadillac that they had gone as far as rebuilding the transmission to solve what turned out to be dirty injectors. So after throwing something like $3000 at the car I fixed the issue by confirming poor fuel flow with the shop’s injector flow test bench, using it to clean them and verifying that they were all flowing the same volume again. She was into it for $300. On the plus side it was good word of mouth for us and that was why she ended up at our shop because she had heard that we will get it fixed w/o just throwing parts at it.

          I do have to admit that my job was made easier by the previous shops throwing so many parts at it which led me to go straight to the injectors, well that and knowing that the GM injectors were not the best.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            What kinda MPGs were you observing out of that 4.9?

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            I’ve never owned a 4.9 I was the one that pinpointed and fixed the problem that other shops had taken her for over $3000 with zero change in the driveablity problem.

  • avatar
    e30gator

    I’m not sure where you live or what the emissions laws are there, but if you have till October, you have some time to think about it. In Boston where my brother lived until recently, an inspection fail just meant that you got a yellow sticker in the window and about a year to fix it. If that’s the case, you have almost two years before you’d have to deal with it. At that age and those miles, your car might just make the decision for you.

    Also, (and I know it’s illegal, so NOT my official recommendation) I’ve heard of people pulling the CEL bulb and going to certain inspection locations with rather lax technicians on hand.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Good call, but MY97 is OBDII and more than likely they will just scan for codes rather than checking the light. If say you took out the bulb, cleared the code, and it didn’t come back while they tested it than maybe it could work.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Now that I think about it the OBDII won’t make itself available for testing after a period when its been reset. Typically one to three drive cycles, so it could be reset and just wait to see if it comes back in a drive cycle. if it does not, hurry up and get it down there.

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      Unless it’s a totally crooked shop (sadly, they’re out there), I believe anywhere there’s an emissions test they have to plug into the OBD II port. In many places that *is* the test, no tailpipe sniffer involved. The CEL itself is irrelevant.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      they’re /supposed/ to make sure the CEL works at the start of the test, when the cluster enables “tell-tale” mode at key-on. and even then, a code scan is done so even if you’d just cleared codes it’d report “Not ready for test” (depending on manufacturer it might also have the DTC P1000 present) and you’d still fail.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        If one really wanted to get cute there is probably a way to splice some wiring to power during “tell tale” but to disable/unplug the light on the actual circuitboard. Pointless though because of the OBDII testing cycle. I’ve actually been thinking this though, even if you through software or hardware blocked OBDII warning codes, you’d have to know what the emissions software was looking for in order to determine success. If it were simply looking for the existence of codes than sure that would be a solution, but its probably looking for other metrics as well which you would have to replicate in software somehow.

        • 0 avatar
          mazdaman007

          Need to get VAG on it, they should have a solution for you in short order.

        • 0 avatar
          e30gator

          I guess it really depends on the amount of scrutiny involved. Like I said, my brother’s beat-to-shit ’98 Mustang with aftermarket exhaust passed Massachusetts inspection, but that test lasted all of 4 minutes.

          If you just reset the codes/disable the CEL, it wouldn’t hold up under a thorough inspection.

          That said, I’ll bet just asking around those places where you’re likely to encounter fellow beater enthusiasts will yield you some of the choicest sites for an inspection. Either way it sounds like you have some time to figure it out.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Wink wink inspection is always a nice thing to have. My ex years back drove a Neon better suited for demo derby than state roads but out in BFE the standards seem to vary vs shops in the big city.

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          What you need to pass an OBD check is all the readiness monitors passing. If you just clear faults, it won’t help you. Depending on age and state, you might get away without one or two readiness monitors complete. Sometimes you can get lucky if you can avoid having the monitor that fails complete its test cycle. I was able to avoid secondary air on my wagon because the exhaust was already hot, and I just needed the others to set. With Evap you probably won’t be so lucky.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            EVAP will by pass if the conditions necessary to complete the test are not met after two drive cycles separated by a cold soak of 8+ hrs. So EVAP is easy to get around by filling the tank to the very top and limiting the driving to the bare minimum required to run a drive cycle, let it cold soak and making the second drive cycle the drive to the test station.

    • 0 avatar
      Exfordtech

      Inspections failures in Massachusetts have 2 flavors. A red R indicates a safety failure, the vehicle is technically not to be driven until repaired. A black R indicates an emissions failure, and there is a time limit as to how long you can drive before repairs and retesting.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    In this county you can get an emissions waiver. Essentially you pay $250 to “fix it” with a shop and upon failure of this you file for the waiver which you can do for three years.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Great thread on the subject: http://www.superhonda.com/forum/f55/emission-inspections-101-ways-get-around-system-257392/

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      TTAC cracks me up. One moment we are excoriating VW for finding ways around US emissions requirements, the next we are posting ways of skirting smog tests.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Hang on,
        There is a difference between a few posters informing people about ways some people skirt smog tests and TTAC itself reporting on VW’s actions.

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          I doubt the OP car, like my Taurus; is racking up tens of thousands of miles anymore; or will be around for an additional decade…

          The whole purpose for emissions testing and programs like cash for clunkers is to get the older, more polluting cars off the road. I do understand and agree with the concept; especially in large metro areas already fighting with high pollution levels.

          My mine problem with it is that cars in about the 20-25 YO bracket don’t get to make it to antique status because of the tests. Some are driven by poor people (who also can’t cough up the money for a newer used car); but some are also cars that the owner hopes to keep till it reaches antique status, and no longer has to pass emissions.

          So yes, I have no problem skirting the smog tests on a few cars to keep them away from the crusher. But we are not talking about a lot, and I make no pretense about the fact that they are dirty cars emissions wise.

          VW was living for years on the reputation of producing clean diesels, and producing millions of cars during those years, while knowing they did not meet emission laws.

  • avatar
    rickentropic

    Follow the most specific repair advice your trusted mechanic suggests. Keep the car.
    One year from now, in many states, you can register the car with antique plates and be done with exhaust peepers.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    I say keep it, and invest the money in it. I can’t see dumping a car that has served you well. Besides, who want’s a car payment?
    As far as the Ford connection goes, Mazda and Ford were partners for many years. It wouldn’t surprise me if the trans was a Ford item. However, many people never service their transmissions at proper intervals and wonder why they fail. This was also a problem with Volvos. They promised lifetime fluid, when in reality, there is no such thing. The fluid needs changed regularly…if not often.
    Anyway, keep the car, and keep it maintained. It will serve you well for years to come.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    I’m betting that this question is now moot as it may have came in back in Aug or Sep.

    If that is not the case and it is not due for emissions until Oct 2016 then the answer is that it is time to trade it in. If the CEL is not currently illuminated all the better. If it is then clear the codes down the street before you take it in to trade.

    You can try the clear the code and do the drive cycle on the way to the test and hope for the best to be able to get another year out of it. It is possible that you can get the system to run all of the self tests before the situation that causes the codes pops up. With the EVAP you can fool it as it will do a two trip bypass if conditions are wrong for it to run the test properly. To run the test the fuel level needs to be in the middle range and the temps also need to be moderate. If there are two trips back to back w/o the proper conditions met it will report that the EVAP system passed the test even though it has not run.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    Unless I missed it we don’t really know how much work this car will be expected to do. That isn’t a lot of miles for a 97, at least not for the Houston area(don’t know where he is). At about 12k miles per year I would keep it a long time and think fixing it would be cheaper than buying a later model. However, if it’s going to commute 100 miles per day I think I would keep looking for later model vehicles with better mileage. Seems like it’s the former case.

    Shouldn’t be hard to be getting solid answers with OBDII.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      That is what I was thinking; if we are talking a “pet” car that gets occasional use; it would be silly to pay for a replacement. If it is a daily driver that gets driven lots of miles each day; then a replacement may be in order. If nothing else, get another car and just keep this one around until they get tired of looking at it, then selling it off.

  • avatar

    yup, my life right here. In my area of NY, a lit CE light = fail.

    I’ve nursed one spotty cat (works but lights off late) through two inspections in one car. My 13 year old car is gonna need new hoses to clear a lean fault but I have the summer to take the engine apart to get to those buried hoses.

    The car hasn’t left you walking, so that is a very important bit. Get nn your brand specific forums. Nothing new ever happens, so I’m sure that your error codes are dealt with by others who will discuss a DIY. I once got four error codes on my 3 series. Forum says accordian intake hose at back of manifold is shot. Feel around, and fingers go through rotten hose. Even with a good visual inspection, would never have found these cracks…thanks e46fanatics !

    Even if you don’t DIY, at least you’ll know how much work you are looking at.

    My basic rule…if it doesn’t leave mama walking, and the repairs are less than the state tax on a new ride, fix it.

    • 0 avatar
      macmcmacmac

      Funny, when I first moved to Ottawa, I had to get my 1987 Mustang LX 5.0 emissions tested and it passed despite two completely rusted away air injection lines. I guess there are a lot more failures with the CEL method. Ontario has recently taken that approach, as not enough cars were failing ($$$$$$$).

  • avatar
    macmcmacmac

    Dilly of a pickle. Sort of the same situation my friend was in with her 1998 626. Generally reliable, it nevertheless was beginning to suffer from regularly occurring small failures. The final straw was the brake lines blowing on a trip home from work. I figured I could do them cheaply enough but when I couldn’t even find where they disappeared to once they left the master cylinder I decided to hell with it. I had been the main wrench on this car for 12 years as she is not what you would call financially comfortable enough to send it to the dealers for anything but exhaust work. The fact that I had come out and found the entire passenger side rocker panel hanging on by only the paint one day convinced me the car was coming due for knackering. It was too bad, as it had only 120,000kms on it. I could see a panicked phone call coming in the near future though, this time with rusted through fuel lines and gas everywhere, so it was time to call time. She regarded it as a reliable vehicle, but for the amount of miles on it, I’d say 3 alternators, two CV joints, a complete exhaust system, half a dozen sway bar end links, and rusting through wasn’t exactly stellar reliability. The tranny gave me cause to worry as every once in awhile it would engage drive with an alimighty THWACK. Probably the aforementioned pressure problem. Some Lucas tranny treatment seemed to help but I couldn’t get the thought of plastic pistons inside there out of my mind.

    The engine was ungodly silent at idle though, and the car itself was remarkably fuel effiicent, at least compared to her old 16V Volvo 740 wagon.

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