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Motors Keep or Replace?

Discussion in 'General' started by boiled_elephant, 2 Feb 2021.

  1. boiled_elephant

    boiled_elephant Merom Celeron 4 lyfe

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    Just an update for posterity. The Astra is no more.

    A second chap who is very transparent and has a good rate on his labour undertook to do the head gasket, and to redo the timing chain because the previous original MUPPET garage had cheaped out and bought the kit that doesn't include the cam sprockets - so the new chain was slapping about on worn-down old sprockets. £650 down the drain. New mechanic was also horrified that they charged £650 for the timing chain job, and that they didn't just plough on and do the head gasket at the same time, since it's only an extra hour once you're that far in.

    Anyway, he got in there this time and #2 piston is about 1mm smaller than the cylinder, you can literally see down the side of it. Covered in coked up deposits from burnt fuel. Head gasket has clearly been on the way since before I bought it.

    We pondered 2nd hand engine and new chain kit on it - that'd only be about £800. But then he checked the undercarriage and found: a broken rear spring, two weeping rear shocks, corroded brake cable mounts, a badly corroded exhaust mount and rear bushes that had cracked long ago, been siliconed up by some cowboy (first garage is my guess) and had cracked again.

    Another local garage gave this car a clean MOT and an 'all clear' on visual inspection for me not 4 weeks ago. Needless to say I'm not happy with them about that.

    Windscreen also has a chip, so all in - bushes, shocks, springs, windscreen, engine, chain kit - you're talking £1200 or so. **** that.

    The current mechanic said "we can do it all if you really want, but the car's only worth £1k after all that's sorted, and you can get much better condition used cars than this for £1.5k, so if it was mine I wouldn't bother."

    I thanked him for his honesty and let him scrap the vehicle to cover the labour costs.

    One important distinction this whole experience has taught me is: when you go to a garage/mechanic, note whether they have plenty of indoor storage space or not. Garage 1 had none; consequently they were rushed, tight for space, and reluctant to stop a job halfway through or store a vehicle halfway through a job. This newest guy has masses of indoor space (his bread & butter is lorry repairs) so it was no sweat for him to just stop when he saw the cylinder, roll it into a corner, wait for me to come in and see it for myself, and talk it over.

    If you find a mechanic like this - transparent, no pressure, not rushing himself or you, lots of covered storage space - hang onto them.

    And inspect a car for yourself underneath before you buy it.

    And don't take a chance on an engine that rattles or knocks. If it sounds clapped out, it probably is.
     
  2. Arboreal

    Arboreal Keeper of the Electric Currants

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    That's disappointing news about the car, but good that you have found an honest and pragmatic mechanic.
    Maybe he'll be able to advise what to get for £1.5K, or help you look.
    I have a youngish mechanic as a tenant who does a lot of work to recommission stuff he's bought cheaply, and I can get good advice from him.
    He saved me from disaster just over a year go when I bought a cheap Citroen C3 as a 'get me by' car. He gave it the once over the day after I bought it and was generally happy with it.
    He then called in a friend, who had a look at the engine and said something, he immediately took the key out of the ignition and put it in his pocket.
    The car was impounded as amazingly the cam belt was slopping by 40-50mm! The person that fitted it didn't set up the tensioner properly, and it could have jumped off at any moment :jawdrop:.
    So, my cheap car was suddenly not so cheap.... He did a brilliant job of changing the cam belt and tensioner that day, also fitted a new water pump and did and oil and filter change for a tad over £200.
    He likes cars up to about 2008 as they are less complex electronically, and you can do more physically rather than with a laptop...

    GLW buying.
     
    boiled_elephant likes this.
  3. boiled_elephant

    boiled_elephant Merom Celeron 4 lyfe

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    Two of my mechanic friends concur with the up-to-2008 rule. Rock and a hard place now, though, because they're all getting a bit rusty underneath and long in the tooth...
     
  4. oasked

    oasked Stuck in (better) mud

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    Ouch! Sorry to hear it was such a disaster. I hope you get better luck next time.
     
  5. Krikkit

    Krikkit All glory to the hypnotoad! Super Moderator

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    Shame, sounds like you got unlucky with the original purchase really... If you want anything giving a once-over roughly around Chester then let me know, happy to kick some tyres :)
     
  6. boiled_elephant

    boiled_elephant Merom Celeron 4 lyfe

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    It gets better - the eBay seller who I returned the unused timing chain kit to is claiming that two little bolts are missing from the box, and is refusing to refund it! My mechanic swears blind they went back in the box (he barely got round to opening the thing). The seller swears he hasn't misplaced them.

    Knowing eBay, this will be basically a 50/50 whether I get my money back or not.

    edit 2021-03-12: eBay are actually coming through and guaranteeing a refund for me! At their expense, not the seller's. Their staff mucked up and opened the wrong kind of return case on it, so they consider it 'their fault'. Even though the seller is clearly a scamming *****.
     
    Last edited: 12 Mar 2021

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