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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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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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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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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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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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Discussion Starter #8
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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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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My advice once you get it home - change out all fluids (coolant, oil, diffs, tranny, transfer case, etc.).
Do a compression test on the engine to verify valve timing. Post your results.
Replace plugs and gap them to .028”.
Make sure tires are filled to about 23psi.
Confirm that the check engine light is on with the key on, and off when running. I don’t know if the engine ever threw any codes, but you may want to put in the diagnostic jumper, get the codes, and then erase them by removing the dome light fuse for a minute to erase whatever is in memory, and then get the codes again. Code 12 means that the computer doesn’t see any major faults. Some instructions here, or ask:
http://www.rhinopower.org/diag/cel.html
And enjoy.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
My advice once you get it home - change out all fluids (coolant, oil, diffs, tranny, transfer case, etc.).
Do a compression test on the engine to verify valve timing. Post your results.
Replace plugs and gap them to .028”.
Make sure tires are filled to about 23psi.
Confirm that the check engine light is on with the key on, and off when running. I don’t know if the engine ever threw any codes, but you may want to put in the diagnostic jumper, get the codes, and then erase them by removing the dome light fuse for a minute to erase whatever is in memory, and then get the codes again. Code 12 means that the computer doesn’t see any major faults. Some instructions here, or ask:
Check Engine Light
And enjoy.
Will do - this is very helpful. Thanks again!!!
 
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