Need Assistance Purchasing a Non-Computerized Vehicle

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posted on Apr, 11 2012 @ 11:22 AM
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So, I have recently become obsessed with late 1970's to early 1980's station wagons. Every time I see one, I want to run to it and give it hugs and kisses. I want one.

To tell you the truth, I don't know much about cars other than how to perform basic fixes, fluid refills, filter/tire changes, etc. I would like to learn how to actually diagnose and fix my own car when something goes wrong, though.

The car I currently have is a late '90s 2-door coupe which I've owned for 12 years. It's a nice little fella by the name of Sparky, and has been very tried and true. The only problem is that Sparky has some plastic parts. These plastic parts are in the habit of breaking fairly frequently. For example: the plastic pins on my door panels have fallen off like 2-3x on each door. It sucks to have to wrestle with the door panel every time I open or shut it until I can find time to take the car in to get the pins reordered or replaced. There are also problems with various rubber or plastic strips and seals coming unglued or unpinned and just flying away as I'm driving. It's pretty annoying. My car, unfortunately, is looking pretty sad at this point. Still drives beautifully though.

There are also some strange wiring or computer problems where lights blink randomly or dings ding randomly or some of the gauges stop working when I go over a bump or something. I don't know how to fix these things, and no mechanic has ever fixed them or told me what has caused them. Granted, every time I've brought the car in, of course, the problem cannot be reproduced.

So, while I love my car and could probably keep it running for another 20 years, I am seriously considering giving it away to someone and purchasing an old vehicle whose parts all work together without any computerized interference and with a lesser amount of plastic included in the model.

I like my buddies from the Volvo 240 series the best:


But would settle for one of these sweethearts in the Mercedes 300 or 350 series:



My real questions are:

- What is the model year range of vehicles I should aim for when looking for a non-computerized vehicle?
- What are some things I should look at when inspecting each vehicle before a test-drive or purchase?
- What are some things I should listen for during a test drive?
- I've heard that it is better to get an older automatic than an older manual - what is the truth in this?
- What suggestions do you have for me?

Any help is appreciated.

Thank you for your time.
edit on 4/11/2012 by ottobot because: (no reason given)




posted on Apr, 11 2012 @ 11:28 AM
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reply to post by ottobot
 


You might also want to ask around in the "Survival" forum on this site. These older, non-computerized vehicles are also of interest to us preppers for the ability to better resist EMP attacks. Good luck finding what you're looking for.



posted on Apr, 11 2012 @ 11:36 AM
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reply to post by ottobot
 


Depends on where you live, and what you have now. My `94 Olds CS is a beautiful car that junkyards have a ton of parts to keep her going. Still has a basic computer for the diagnostics but nothing like the junk they put in newer cars. Puting your foot down shouldn`t require a committee, a vote, and a decision to burn rubber.


Sounds like your relays and connectors are starting to come loose and any idiot with a voltmeter and a garage could figure out what needs fixing. If you have taken it to a real mechanic that is.

I`d say keep what you got and educate yourself a little in automotive repair and it would save you some money in the long run. What kind of car do you have and have tried finding a club or forum site that deals with the family your car belongs to.

And if you must have an older wagon i`d go with a old Chevy Chevelle/Nova station wagon, keeps the muscle but adds boot space
edit on 11-4-2012 by StratosFear because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 11 2012 @ 11:47 AM
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Your periodic light flashing buzzer dinging could be a result of ground wires ...Like you have said there is a lot of plastic and if you have a piece of electronic attached to it it requires a ground ...I would look at that ...as far as non computer cars well you got to go back pre 90s I would think ..A VW diesel wagon would be my choice , mid 80s ...good luck ..peace



posted on Apr, 11 2012 @ 11:55 AM
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reply to post by StratosFear
 


Well. You give me some good things to think about.

I live in the PNW US so I need something that will stand up to potentially crazy winters, a daily commute, and camping trips.

When I take it into a mechanic, they use their machines but then say, "Well, I can't find a problem." Maybe it's just my car trying to speak to me, since it only happens when I am around.

My car is a Plymouth Neon... haha... so, no, I do not think there are many car clubs around for these. Bahahhhaaaaa. But, you are right, I could probably invest more time into figuring out how to fix the random problems I do have with pins and such.

You're right, the Chevelles are snappy.

I think I like the Nomad the best of them, though:


The Concours is ok, but a little too muscly for me:
edit on 4/11/2012 by ottobot because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 11 2012 @ 11:58 AM
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Originally posted by AnonymousCitizen
reply to post by ottobot
 


You might also want to ask around in the "Survival" forum on this site. These older, non-computerized vehicles are also of interest to us preppers for the ability to better resist EMP attacks. Good luck finding what you're looking for.


Good point, I will ask around - thanks for the tip!



posted on Apr, 11 2012 @ 12:08 PM
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Originally posted by the2ofusr1
Your periodic light flashing buzzer dinging could be a result of ground wires ...Like you have said there is a lot of plastic and if you have a piece of electronic attached to it it requires a ground ...I would look at that ...as far as non computer cars well you got to go back pre 90s I would think ..A VW diesel wagon would be my choice , mid 80s ...good luck ..peace


Ok, I will look into it - like I said, I'm not good at repair at this point, but I have always thought it was something to do with wires falling out of place or being frayed or whatever. Thanks for the insight!

I do like the VW wagons, they always look like they are smiling:



posted on Apr, 11 2012 @ 12:25 PM
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Before you make a decision on a vehicle go online and check pricing and availability for basic components, all of the major auto parts stores have extensive databases. Finding out if you have to wait three to five business days for a fuel filter or you have to pay $30 for a gasket is important. Most cars of this age that still run were probably well cared for by previous owners, Here are a couple things to look at...........
1. When you pop the hood look for obvious signs of neglect such as heavy rust, blocked off hoses (sometimes screws are inserted to block off vacuum hoses, hoses hanging with only one side connected is a problem) coat hangers and other "Mcgyver" tricks.
2. Pull the oil dipstick, the oil should be dark in color, if it's light colored like coffee with creamer the block may be cracked and the engine is toast.
3. Transmission fluid should be red in color, if it looks brown or smells "burnt" you should say thanks and walk away.
4. Look under the car for holes in the floor and heavy rust deposits. Check the rails that run along the outside edge of the car under the doors and pinch the metal between thumb and forefinger, if a piece breaks off that's a problem.
Go to the library or book store, there are many books that tell you what to look for when purchasing a used vehicle, while specific items vary depending on the vehicle, basic items are pretty consistent.



posted on Apr, 11 2012 @ 12:47 PM
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reply to post by ottobot
 

Here is what I would do, were I you, and for reference, I am an Old School Automotive Engineer and Mechanic.
I would purchase a well known brand of car that had been taken really good care, of, or, partially, or fully restored to new condition.
I would then tear down the engine and install new, stainless steel valves and hardened seats, and would probably just go with aluminum cylinder heads. I would bore out the cylinders, align bore the crank bed, and install Forged Pistons in a 10 1/2: 1 ratio, and a good short duration, medium lift camshaft, if money were not a problem, these would be roller.
Obtain a good brand of Distributor if you are running points, but some of the new optic readers are a real nice alternative. I would go with a duel points setup myself, Mallory is a good brand here. I would use an MSD 50,000 Volt Ignition coil. I would run an aftermarket carburetor, some of the stock ones leave much to be desired.
I would install a new, aluminum radiator and electric cooling fans. I would rebuild the entire drive train, transmission, and rear end, I would use a Ford 9".

On the body, I would install gas shocks, Monroe makes a good one, and good radial tires on light rims, such as mags.



posted on Apr, 11 2012 @ 12:55 PM
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So many different ways you can go.
First find a site of the car of your choice with others who share your feelings of the same car, you will get a ton of infomation and advice.
From there you will need a repair manual,lots of money , lots of time and an another car to drive.
good luck !



posted on Apr, 11 2012 @ 01:23 PM
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reply to post by ottobot
 


I ran a 1969 car as everyday to and from work transport for a good few years until someone decided they were going to steal it.

Depending on if your in a dry / sunny state or not the main thing I would say to look for is rust especially in structural areas like the door seals, also running a magnet over the body work to test for huge blobs of filler isnt a bad idea either, a quick cheap respray can hide a lot of bad bodywork. Other people might think the opposite but personally Im much more comfortable playing with mechanics then doing bodywork so I would make that my priority

As far as I know the opposite is true as far as the manual / automatic gear box, early auto boxes sucked and are annoying to fix.

General advice with buying any car but especially old ones is to feel the bonnet when you go and see it to make sure it hasn't been warmed up before you test it, older cars can have a hard time starting from cold if the carbs / choke isnt set up properly.

On mine I did make a few modifications to make it more pleasant to drive daily, changed it to an optical ignition timing (as someone above suggested) and also swapped out the old generator for an alternator so I could run the lights and wipers and a modern stereo at the same time without draining the battery flat.

I think (not sure as im fron the uk) but at some point in the late 60's early 70s US cars started having a lot of emissions control devices fitted to them which sapped power from the engines, so maybe something before then



posted on Apr, 11 2012 @ 01:43 PM
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reply to post by ottobot
 


You actually might find a car club for that, and you could just tell them what its doing and within an hour you might have 2 or 3 ppl telling you a few things you can do yourself or at least a direction. Ive got a pull-a-part junkyard here i was at a few days ago and i saw 3 of them and only on the front row so parts are plentiful out there.

Yeah the Nomad is what i was thinking of, but with older cars like that fuel economy might be a factor for you. They make these little things that are called "hatchbacks" but they are really just kidding themselves what the are, are mini-station wagons


Hatchbacks look like `86 Ford Mustangs


Srry there are certain vehicles that in my circle of gearheads and grease munkies we like to make fun of, and well the two you posted in the OP would be two that we`d lay it on kindof thick but its all in good fun. My comment would be "WTH would you want a thing like that unless you`re little 80 year old woman" ,and a good comeback would be "Well at least i dont have to fill it up everytime i back down the driveway".



posted on Apr, 11 2012 @ 01:47 PM
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I'll retract my entire last post and just say.

Get one of these




Hawt!!



posted on Apr, 11 2012 @ 01:48 PM
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reply to post by autowrench
 


If i saw all this done to an old volvo wagon i`d drop dead on the spot LMAO.
Now a Chevy Nomad with a stroked 350 to 383 would be one hell of a grocery getter



posted on Apr, 11 2012 @ 01:49 PM
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I recommend FORD. Not so much cars and station wagons as pickups, or broncos... (4 wheel drive)

In my opinion Fords are tough, easy to repair, and most older Fords have interchangeable parts... My pickup has a Lincoln parts LOL


Small electronic parts such as the ignition module can be reverted to their mechanical counterpart in early models. Whatever vehicle you get, consider getting the manual for it too ... unless you know about those things (mechanics)

I also highly recommend an older standard vehicle, as you can 'pop the clutch' to get them going, not so with newer models.

Good luck
edit on 11-4-2012 by Invariance because: can't speel today



posted on Apr, 11 2012 @ 03:31 PM
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Originally posted by StratosFear
reply to post by ottobot
 


You actually might find a car club for that, and you could just tell them what its doing and within an hour you might have 2 or 3 ppl telling you a few things you can do yourself or at least a direction. Ive got a pull-a-part junkyard here i was at a few days ago and i saw 3 of them and only on the front row so parts are plentiful out there.


Yes, parts are definitely plentiful. The problem is, this type of car has this type of problem (broken plastic, dying rubber, etc), so where do I go to find reliable parts when the parts just weren't reliably made? It sucks.



Yeah the Nomad is what i was thinking of, but with older cars like that fuel economy might be a factor for you. They make these little things that are called "hatchbacks" but they are really just kidding themselves what the are, are mini-station wagons


Hatchbacks look like `86 Ford Mustangs

Well, I have three kids and a dog that I like to carry around, so I'd prefer a bigger end. Yeah, I was also thinking the Nomad would have poor gas mileage, but it looks good anyway!



Srry there are certain vehicles that in my circle of gearheads and grease munkies we like to make fun of, and well the two you posted in the OP would be two that we`d lay it on kindof thick but its all in good fun. My comment would be "WTH would you want a thing like that unless you`re little 80 year old woman" ,and a good comeback would be "Well at least i dont have to fill it up everytime i back down the driveway".

I'm a propeller head and I don't care if you make fun of me, I admit to being dorky/geeky/nerdy, etc and I have no problem with it.

To be honest, I AM an eighty year old woman... at heart, anyway. So, it's cool. I don't need power or flash or whatever, I just want a reliable car that isn't made of plastic and that I can learn to fix myself. Since I am a female with relatively little car knowledge, and have nothing to prove other than I woke up one day suddenly in love with old station wagons - I could use any help I can get.
edit on 4/11/2012 by ottobot because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 11 2012 @ 03:34 PM
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reply to post by Trublbrwing
 


Excellent point, I hadn't even thought about checking online for wait time on parts. Thank you for the suggestions, I will definitely take them to heart. So, when I am under the car, is there anything else I should look for? What do messed up undercarriages look like, other than rusty? Holes? How can I tell if something is worn down?



posted on Apr, 11 2012 @ 03:37 PM
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reply to post by autowrench
 


I would totally like to learn to do all that stuff once I learned the ins and outs of my car.

First, I need to get a car, though.



posted on Apr, 11 2012 @ 03:40 PM
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Originally posted by OLD HIPPY DUDE
So many different ways you can go.
First find a site of the car of your choice with others who share your feelings of the same car, you will get a ton of infomation and advice.
From there you will need a repair manual,lots of money , lots of time and an another car to drive.
good luck !


Yeah, I still don't know what car I'd like, exactly, but I have a pretty good idea of the makes and models I am most interested in.

If I purchased one, it would only be after I'd checked it out and driven it, so I knew it was drive able
but that I could work on and upgrade at will.

Thanks for the tips!



posted on Apr, 11 2012 @ 03:41 PM
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reply to post by davespanners
 


Haha, looking sharp! Too small, though, for my purposes. Hmm. Maybe it's not, I will actually look at similar cars a bit further.





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