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Old 07-14-2019, 07:32 AM   #1 (permalink)
JDB
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Default Opportunity to Buy Tracker

Hello from New York State. I have an opportunity to buy a 1994 Geo Tracker and I am looking for advice/opinions/guidance. It's a 1.6 Liter 8 valve, automatic, 4WD, 2 door with hard top. The frame is in great condition - there isn't even surface rust. The body is in fair condition with only a small amount of rust bubbling behind the fender. The paint is original (black) and it looks expectedly worn, as does the hard top. The side windows are fogged/may need to be replaced. The interior is clean. According to the seller, it needs front pads/rotors and a new battery. It runs strong however, there is a significant oil leak making its way down to the exhaust and causing smoke. I've been researching the potential leak and it sounds like the most common problem is the distributor o-rings (as opposed to rear main seal). The seller is willing to let it go for $500. I'm wondering if it is worth taking a chance? I can do some of the work myself (brakes, etc) but would likely pay a professional to have the oil leak fixed. Obviously, there might be more (unknown) issues that could arise as the Tracker has been sitting for 3-4 years. But even if it cost $1000 in repairs, it seems like I wouldn't be buried and could recoup my investment if I decided to sell. Does this sound like it's worth the "risk?" Thanks for your advice!
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Old 07-14-2019, 09:10 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Based on your description, and my knowledge of the vehicle and mechanical ability, I'd be "snapping it up".

I recognize that your mechanical abilities (and experience) are probably different to mine, but, you haven't described any issues that a reasonably sharp "weekend mechanic" can't tackle (even the distributor O-ring leak - if that's what it is - a rear main seal falls into a different class).

For the oil leak start with a spray-on degreaser and a garden hose, get everything as clean as you can, let it dry, dust with talcum powder and then start the engine and look closely, another common leak point is the rocker cover gasket.

If it is the distributor O-ring, mark the position of the distributor before removal - the distributor shaft can only fit one way, making it a relatively easy re-install.

A word of advice - forget "recouping your investment" when it comes to vehicles, it's never going to happen, you're not even going to "break even", you need to settle for just getting your money's worth - the only exception to this rule will be classic vehicles.
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Old 07-14-2019, 02:20 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fordem View Post
Based on your description, and my knowledge of the vehicle and mechanical ability, I'd be "snapping it up".

I recognize that your mechanical abilities (and experience) are probably different to mine, but, you haven't described any issues that a reasonably sharp "weekend mechanic" can't tackle (even the distributor O-ring leak - if that's what it is - a rear main seal falls into a different class).

For the oil leak start with a spray-on degreaser and a garden hose, get everything as clean as you can, let it dry, dust with talcum powder and then start the engine and look closely, another common leak point is the rocker cover gasket.

If it is the distributor O-ring, mark the position of the distributor before removal - the distributor shaft can only fit one way, making it a relatively easy re-install.

A word of advice - forget "recouping your investment" when it comes to vehicles, it's never going to happen, you're not even going to "break even", you need to settle for just getting your money's worth - the only exception to this rule will be classic vehicles.
X2. I'd bet the oil is from the valve/cam cover. Good luck
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Old 07-14-2019, 06:57 PM   #4 (permalink)
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LOL....Ah, such true words, Fordem....This from a guy who spent 5 thou to make a 2thou car look good....Hmmm, I do believe that's 7thou total....so far......lol again Once I started, I just kept going...
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Old 07-14-2019, 07:00 PM   #5 (permalink)
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X2. I'd bet the oil is from the valve/cam cover. Good luck
Thanks for the reply!
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Old 07-14-2019, 07:00 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Thank you.
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Old 07-15-2019, 05:20 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Wow. No need for me to add my comment, but for $500, I’d buy it and spend the thousands to have it shipped over to me. A great find. And you’ll find great info here when you’re ready to start fixing it up. Good luck.

Edit: there are only two things that would stop me from purchasing a Trackick: a rusty frame (you say this one is fine - bang on it with a hammer, just in case. My frame ‘looked fine’ too, but they rust from the inside out. NY is a rust belt area), and overheating. If the engine has ever overheated, a head gasket job might be in your future. I’d confirm with the seller that it never overheated.
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Old 07-15-2019, 08:42 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bex View Post
Wow. No need for me to add my comment, but for $500, I’d buy it and spend the thousands to have it shipped over to me. A great find. And you’ll find great info here when you’re ready to start fixing it up. Good luck.

Edit: there are only two things that would stop me from purchasing a Trackick: a rusty frame (you say this one is fine - bang on it with a hammer, just in case. My frame ‘looked fine’ too, but they rust from the inside out. NY is a rust belt area), and overheating. If the engine has ever overheated, a head gasket job might be in your future. I’d confirm with the seller that it never overheated.
Great advice. Thanks again. I plan to buy it and will likely be utilizing all of the great info on this site as I attempt to get it on the road!!
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Old 07-15-2019, 01:49 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Just for comparison, here in New Mexico, the average cost of a 1990s SideKick or Tracker was about $1,500 a few years ago. Now, you're lucky to find one in the $3,000-4,500 range. They're getting rare and the Tracker/Kicks in the southwest desert are getting popular for their lack of rust. In short, sounds like the one you're interested in is in fairly good shape, no rust, etc. Any Tracker than runs for $500 is a steal. The issues you cite are fairly easy and inexpensive to correct. I'd buy it in a heartbeat. So join the club of these fun vehicles. They're actually quite reliable in spite of their age with modest care. When you buy it - post a photo. We want to see this $500 gem.
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Old 07-15-2019, 03:12 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I definitely will!! Plan to pick it up Thursday - fingers crossed!
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