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HI. So I am in need of a very cheap but reliable vehicle. I've heard good things mechanically about the Sidekick/Tracker. There is one on a local Craigslist type website. Its 4WD with a five speed which is important to me. Its got high miles as you can see (155k) but from what I understand these things are runners. You can see the light surface rust. I asked the seller about the frame and he said the frame is still good but he took a body hammer to the underside and says the underside of the body feels like it is starting to get weak.He's asking $1000 for it. I have a friend that can help with the surface body rust. What should I look for structurally and apart from pulling carpet is there anyway to check for a failing body? Here is a link to the actual advertisement. I plan on going to see it and possibly purchase it Tuesday. Any advice?
http:// http://classifieds.pennswoods.net/classifieds/viewad.cgi?adindex=2833095

- Matt
And yea I did typo the title lol
1998 Geo Tracker USA 1.6 5 speed.
 

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Agreed. The obvious rear quarter rust-out, indicates the need for a close underside inspection. ;)

 

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Presumably you are able to look at the car before making your decision. If so, get under the car, check the frame thoroughly, particularly in the rear by the gas tank and rear suspension, which is a known rust area. To be honest, things like floor pans, body, etc., are re-doable, particularly if you know how to weld. It's the frame you need to worry about.
Rust around the rear quarters, which is showing in the photo, may indicate that mud has collected in the wheel wells, or may indicate that the rear of the frame needs work. Personally, if I had a friend who could deal with body rust, and that's all the car has, I would go for it.
 

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Reading this in the ad...
I was going to use this as a project, but I just don't have the time or money. selling it for the same amount that I paid for it, and I just serviced both diffs, transmission and transfer case. Also installed new upstream O2 sensor (denso oem sensor).
Makes me think he encountered other problems he doesn't want to deal with.
 

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I just did some passenger side floorboard rust repair and noticed more under the car. Many of these 4x4 vehicles have seen there fair share of winter driving in salty lo-cals. My thought is, if it survived 20 years it is a solid vechile, grind and weld areas of concern before it get worse. Rust is like cancer, and will spread quickly if not treated.
 

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"... Some rust and small holes around the rear of the vehicle, but nothing major. ..."

Must be that "Some rust" is a relative thing.

Here (In the Great North-Wet US) if you can see rust in an overall picture like the one in the ad, we would call it "Major" and salute it! ;)

But for $1k, it might be ok... and kind of expected for your location. how does it run and how long do you need it to work for you?
 

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Really difficult to say without looking at the car. The rear wheel wells don't have a cover along the top of the wheel area, and the metal around the wheel well curves inward to create a kind of 'ledge'. A great place for mud to accumulate. You'll notice, at least in the photo, there appears to be no rust in the front wheel well area. Of course, the seller says that the floor pan appears 'weak'. But again, if the frame is in good condition, all of this is doable. It is harder and harder to find cars from a no-salt zone, in pristine rust free condition. In a rust zone, you would have needed to be vigilant about power washing and eventually re-sealing the underside of the car from day one.
 

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Rust is a relative thing. Out here seeing a car WITHOUT rust is impossible. Especially a '98. I need this thing to be a pretty strong workhorse, the idea is to cut out a car payment in turn for something reliable that will just need some things now and then. The seller so far seems to have been honest with me in telling me what is wrong. His initial plans were to build an off road buggy but decided his other two toys were enough to satisfy him for now. He currently runs it and it is inspected until 11/14 and he believes it will pass again. His exact words when I asked how frame rust was were "The frame is still good, surface rust on the back. When I serviced everything I took a body hammer and tapped around the whole frame and underside of the body and it's still there however the body is starting to get a little week in the rear". I asked him to send me pictures of the underside. But as far as the mechanics are concerned he says it runs great, which I would of course drive it and find out, and that the only issue is the slight rust on the wheel well. I've seen a lot of these cars with tons of rust on the rocker panels and this looks spotless there. Hopefully it's worth the 3 hour drive because even though that is nothing to me, my partner who is my drive down there is NOT looking forward to it. And again, at $1,000 I'm not expecting perfection. Just something I won't be sinking hundreds or thousands into right from the go.
 

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While it sounds like you would like to get this car, that second photo above is of some concern - that appears a bit more than just surface rust on that part of the frame. You are now talking about structural welding, rather than just cosmetic, and frankly, in my experience, it does not stop at just one portion, but the heat from the welding will cause the next portion of frame to be compromised at some point, as well. I have been going through this with my frame now for about 3 years - I continue to do this, as I have owned the car for 19 years, and it is dependable, fun and has been my buddy for a long time. It's doubtful, however, that I would start out with a car that immediately needs structural welding. I would overlook a lot of body work that might need to be done, but the frame is a different story. This is not just the 'body starting to get a little weak in the rear'. This appears to be the chassis. And if this is the case, I will guarantee you that the cross members at the gas tank and by the rear bumper will need repair as well. Sadly, I would pass on this vehicle, unless you are looking for a project.
 

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While it sounds like you would like to get this car, that second photo above is of some concern - that appears a bit more than just surface rust on that part of the frame. You are now talking about structural welding, rather than just cosmetic, and frankly, in my experience, it does not stop at just one portion, but the heat from the welding will cause the next portion of frame to be compromised at some point, as well. I have been going through this with my frame now for about 3 years - I continue to do this, as I have owned the car for 19 years, and it is dependable, fun and has been my buddy for a long time. It's doubtful, however, that I would start out with a car that immediately needs structural welding. I would overlook a lot of body work that might need to be done, but the frame is a different story. This is not just the 'body starting to get a little weak in the rear'. This appears to be the chassis. And if this is the case, I will guarantee you that the cross members at the gas tank and by the rear bumper will need repair as well. Sadly, I would pass on this vehicle, unless you are looking for a project.
I am indeed not looking for a project. And you're correct, I would love to own this truck. I've always wanted one of these (or the sibling cars) but I'm not gonna make a foolish purchase either, even at $1,000. Thanks for your time and advice guys.
 

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You won't find this everyday but x2 what bex said....

And that is just what he is showing you. Prob the gas tank also leaks, all the fuel and brake lines are rusted out.

I knew something was up when he didn't show pix of the other side.
 

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You won't find this everyday but x2 what bex said....

And that is just what he is showing you. Prob the gas tank also leaks, all the fuel and brake lines are rusted out.

I knew something was up when he didn't show pix of the other side.
I thought that was a little fishy too at first but then I realized you can only post one picture on that website. I guess he just so happened to post the better side. :p
 

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Well, unless you buy it - you will neva know what changed his mind. I think the rest of use have some idea. I know I do.

Anytime you can see rust starting to bubble from behind those plastic trim pieces you can be sure it has pretty well consumed all the metal behind the plastic. Next the trim will be falling off.

At least one pic shows the frame already has damage too.

While this isn't much money he is willing to take a loss to get rid of it....
selling it for the same amount that I paid for it, and I just serviced both diffs, transmission and transfer case. Also installed new upstream O2 sensor (denso oem sensor).
you know he was up near the frame and the floor boards to do that work.

But hey if you think you can resurrect it, by all means go for it. It is that time of year. ;)
 

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You can't tell from pictures to me that frame looks like surface rust. I would offer him $700 and see what he says once you have given the frame a good going over. Even body panels need to be completely replace and covered wit POR 15 or some other rust paint. Chainsaw oil heated with wax toilet seals melted in it makes an excellent undercoating just do it every year. Avoid pressure washers like the plague if you have rustproofing it will wash it down the drain.
 

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... the idea is to cut out a car payment in turn for something reliable that will just need some things now and then. ...
With any car you make "payments." To the bank or in repairs... sometimes both.
 

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Agreed it is hard to tell from pix but look again a pic3 in the upper RH corner. You don't know what was cutoff there or what the rest of that frame looks like.

I will say that after seeing the pix he did send I would not be driving 3 hrs to see what he didn't show. Unless I need some other parts on this truck.

Don't forget you have to come back too. So that is 7-7.5hrs (ALL day) plus food & fuel. Longer should you buy it.

And then hope the fuel tank doesn't fall off on the way back. Can you say trailer?

Time is something you will never ever get back.
 
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