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Re: Car Maintenance Question
Old 07-11-2004, 11:20 PM   #21
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Re: Car Maintenance Question

I got to babbling so much about car repairs I forgot I was going to respond to the door panel question.

I've had several occasions to take door panels off several cars, and the general concept is the same: The door panel "hangs" from the top edge, has upholstery glued over cardboard-masquerading-as-wood-paneling and has an assortment of screws, nylon plunge clips and metal edge clips holding the panel to the door, and unless you use a flat tool to locate and carefully pry out each and every clip you'll tear up the cardboard-masquerading-as-wood-paneling and that part of the panel will never stick to the door again. Also those little nylon thingies never quite work the same when reused, but they usually work well enough for me the sedcond time; if you're picky you can get more at an auto parts store.

Most door panels have armrests and/or pull handles on them, and there will be a bolt or two holding them on, sometimes hidden under pop-off covers. If there are any electrical controls on the panel there will be wiring, but it's usually bundled and has a connector you can disconnect after pulling the panel away a bit.
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Re: Car Maintenance Question
Old 07-11-2004, 11:37 PM   #22
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Re: Car Maintenance Question

BigMoneyJim: Good info ! I'll add some stuff, as I usually seem to need to

So, it comes down to this, There are 'usually' scres along the bottom of the door panel, remove these. There are 'usually' screws holding the armrest to the door panel, remove these.
I assume you have electric locks and I know you have electric windows, so no need to remove lock/window handles.
Now, work from the bottom with a flat wide tool like a putty knife, but be careful not to cut the door panel or force it in as you may cut wiring and carefully try to 'pop' the door panel out off the clips BMJ mentioned. If it just won't go, look for more screws where it is stuck. Once the bottom is all popped, move up each side, remembering what BMJ said about the door panel being 'hung' on the top of the door. Once bottom and sides are loose, swing the bottom of the door panel up slowly, looking for electrical connectors. Unplug them as you see them. Be careful, there is usually a 'button' to press to remove them, and if you don't do this, you will break the plug. Once unplugged, keep swinging the door panel up to between 30-45 degrees and try to lift it straight up off the inner door. That should be it.
As for the track and the window, that can be more complicated. Once warning, often times there is a spring to help the window go up, so the 'scissors' like to pinch fingers, HARD ! That being said, you will have to figure out why it came off the track, broken roller, bent track or whatever.
It's not that bad, as long as you are fairly mechanical and take your time. I strongly suggest you get a repair manual on your car first, they usually have a small section on electric window repair.
Hope this helps.

-pan-
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Re: Car Maintenance Question
Old 07-13-2004, 02:01 PM   #23
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Re: Car Maintenance Question

Quote:
* If the other belts/hoses break, it's just an inconvenience, but the timing belt is different. * Most cars need them replaced at 70K to 80K miles.
*
I think it's California law that timing belts on new cars have to be designed to last 100K miles. The same car sold in Nevada (for example) says change the timing belt at 60K. Well that's the case for my Subaru, anyway. Go figure.


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Re: Car Maintenance Question
Old 07-13-2004, 05:26 PM   #24
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Re: Car Maintenance Question

I was told by a Detroit auto engineer that you don't need to add oil until the red light goes on, and that the 2000 mile oil change cult was just mind manipulation by the oil industry. Of course his perception of reality was somewhat altered by substance abuse at the time. My own life expectancy went way up when I decided I was too old to party in Detroit anymore.

Not to hijack the thread, but I have two old cars with front axle shimmies and shakes, and various other maladies. The dealer says $800 to fix the older one. The car looks like hell. The newer one is being fixed today but just the exhaust and a broken spring !?!? (Have you heard of a broken spring on a car lately?) and it will still shake the steering wheel on the highway. Damages estimated at $700. I don't trust either one further than I can walk home.

I finally reached my goal of monthly deposits into my 457 plan, defined benenfit account, plus some extra cash into my investment account, totalling about $1500 a month. Now my cars are ready to fall apart and are costing way too much, which threatens my retirement savings budget.

I am lusting after a Scion xB, lots of room, high gas mileage, it's ugly but you can't see how ugly when you are driving. But the payments are going to screw up my investments. Here I finally ratcheted up to my savings goal and now all my stuff is breaking, and the house needs a new roof. Oh well, thats life I guess! What is worse, regular payments or unexpected repairs on unreliable cars?

So what kind of strategies are people using to get reliable transportation at a low cost? I am leaning toward the new Toyauto solution. We like to drive a lot on the weekend, it is our recreation, visiting different places (I ride my bicycle to work). So reliability and gas mileage are important. I'd like to have a car I trust enough to do some old town Detroit back street cruising at 4:00 am again. The city really comes alive at night. Chitown is pretty fun too, since you can drive like an idiot and fit right in. Only problem with Chitcago is that I always seem to leave with no money left, hoping I have enough gas to get home. On the way back to Michigan, the steel mills in Gary are pretty cool, the rising smoke glows at night, and the oil refinery flares are really awesome.

Anyway, back to the main question: does anyone have a good car buying strategy to recommend?
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Re: Car Maintenance Question
Old 07-13-2004, 05:27 PM   #25
 
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Re: Car Maintenance Question

There should not be any laws re. when you should
change your timing belt, or inspect your car, or wear a seat belt, or a motorcycle helmet, or who you can hire or fire, or your reasons for hiring and firing, or who you can sell/rent to or not. Land of the free? It's a distant
memory.

John Galt
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Re: Car Maintenance Question
Old 07-13-2004, 07:33 PM   #26
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Re: Car Maintenance Question

John, you are right. We'll be nanny lawed to death while our civil rights are slowly drained to save us from terrorism.

Lets see. Several tests have shown that even under severe conditions, oils that meet the "S" grades (pretty much all of them) will work beautifully through 5000 tough city miles with no breakdowns in the oil or its additive packages. It starts getting weak at around 7-8k. Bottom line, follow the manufacturers recommendations, which are 5000-7500 for most cars. 3000 mile oil changes are not only a waste, you are creating opportunities for "Mike, the guy we hired 3 days ago" to ruin your car. I was driving by Midas the other day...they put up an "oil change, lube and fluid check for $14.99" sign a while back. Sounded good to me. As I drove by, one of the mechanics was backing an older rx-7 out of one of the bays. Then as I sat at the light, it started blowing a little smoke out the exhaust. As the light turned green 20 seconds later, the "navy smoke screen" was billowing out of the car and obscuring visibility across four lanes of traffic. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that they either badly overfilled the engine or drained it and forgot to refill. I'll keep changing my own.

I too looked at the scion xB with some longing, although I wont need a car for many years. A heck of a lot of room, should enjoy excellent toyota reliability, and a nice price. Consumer reports did a review on it this month and they hated it. Buzzy, hard ride, stiff handling, noisy, vibration, no balls at all. I think I'll look at 2006-7 used models rather than 2004-5 models in 5-9 years when I'm in the market for another used car.

By the way, you guys with the door skin removal instructions have never removed a panel from a BMW. The factory installs several midgets with small sledge hammers and pointy sticks behind every panel, and in the event one is removed without full factory approval and in the prescribed manner, your fingers are hammered and small holes are poked in you.
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Geez, you'd think Detroit would have used cars.
Old 07-13-2004, 11:23 PM   #27
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Geez, you'd think Detroit would have used cars.

I bought new in college, saw how my future spouse did buying used, and swore I'd never buy new again. Including that new car, in the last 22 years we've run through seven cars for a total purchase cost of ~$30K.

I've tried eBay Motors and local websites but the Hawaii pickings have been slim. Maybe you'll do better in your area.

However, I think most people still turn to the newspaper classifieds. Match the cars you like against the Consumer Reports Used Car Guide (or a website like Edmunds or Kelly Blue Book) and decide how much you're willing to pay.

If you like what you see, get the complete VIN and let the owner know you'll be running it on CarFax. The owner's reaction will tell you if you actually have to do so, or you can run unlimited CarFax numbers for a month for something like $20. This helped us "discover" a couple altered salvage titles and a "little old lady car" that was actually a battle-scarred rolled-odometer veteran of several rental fleets & previous owners.

When you narrow it down to a couple candidates, find a trusty mechanic who'll check it over for his hourly rate. $75 is well worth the intimidation factor when you discuss the mechanic's findings with the current owner.

And then let the bargaining begin. It's best to give the impression that you're in no hurry.

I've heard some good things about buying cars at the end of their lease, or buying from rental fleets. I don't know how well that works in the land of ice & snow...
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Re: Car Maintenance Question
Old 07-14-2004, 12:03 AM   #28
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Re: Car Maintenance Question

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So what kind of strategies are people using to get reliable transportation at a low cost?
Find out which new cars are being heavily discounted, find somebody selling a used one, and haggle.

It doesn't sound like you're in the SUV market, but Ford SUVs, for example, are really not bad cars, but the used market is *really* beaten up due to new car discounting. Not only will asking prices be low, but the seller will be grateful for whatever you offer them.

(In case it wasn't obvious, I have a 1998 Ford Explorer for sale )
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Re: Car Maintenance Question
Old 07-14-2004, 03:46 AM   #29
 
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Re: Car Maintenance Question

Yep, the haggling is important. Fortunately for us, I enjoy it. I negotiate practically everything, vehicles included. If you are not terribly fussy about the model and are patient, you can find folks desperate for cash.
That's where I've made my best buys. Also, you can
try a trade for anything you have laying around that
rolls, flies, floats, etc.

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Re: Car Maintenance Question
Old 07-14-2004, 08:04 AM   #30
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Re: Car Maintenance Question

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Anyway, back to the main question: does anyone have a good car buying strategy to recommend?
Here's mine in a nutshell:

1. Buy a new Toyota or Honda and keep it for at least 10 years. If you can stomach the risk, find a 2-3 year old Toyota or Honda from a private owner and have a mechanic check it over before you buy.

2. If you buy new, find the 10 nearest new car dealerships that sell the model you're looking for, find the name of the fleet sales manager at those 10 places, and fax them each a letter asking for an out the door price on that car. Specify any color/accessory requirements clearly and explain that you will be buying from the lowest price offer that you receive in the next 24 hours. Wait 24 hours and then buy from the lowest offer you get.

Right now I have a 95 Toyota with just over 90K miles and a 00 Honda with 43K miles and will have no need to get a new car for probably another decade.

malakito.
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Re: Car Maintenance Question
Old 07-14-2004, 02:34 PM   #31
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Re: Car Maintenance Question

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There should not be any laws re. when you should
change your timing belt, or inspect your car, or wear a seat belt, or a motorcycle helmet,
The CA Law requires car manufacturers to make their timing belts last 100K miles. It does not say that an individual must replace their timing belts every 100K miles - that would be nuts.

And you should wear your seatbelt If you crash near me I want your corpse to stay safely strapped in your car, not fly out - potentially at me. Thanks.

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Re: Car Maintenance Question
Old 07-14-2004, 06:39 PM   #32
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Re: Car Maintenance Question

Thanks all - for help on hung-up electric window on my 93 Corolla.

I'm using all your suggestions-
John G - since I'm retired and too busy doin fun things I'll take your suggestion and leave it - I wedged shims in the side to keep window up until the time comes when I get to Barnes and read Chilton as per TH; then I'll make an attempt to fix it using great tips from Big$Jim & Panhead. If that fails I'll find the cheapest car repair guy I can find to fix all the broken clips, connectors and wires that I ripped out after losing my cool because I lost some tool inside the door panel.

My honey do list is quite long - I told my wife months before retirement that "I'll do that when we retire". The door panel comes after I install the attic ladder, fix some leaking faucets, roll over an IRA etc. etc.

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Re: Car Maintenance Question
Old 07-14-2004, 08:09 PM   #33
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Re: Car Maintenance Question

Quote:
There should not be any laws re. when you should
change your timing belt, or inspect your car, or wear a seat belt, or a motorcycle helmet, or who you can hire or fire, or your reasons for hiring and firing, or who you can sell/rent to or not. *Land of the free? *It's a distant
memory.
This is one of those good sounding slogans that really don't stand up to a bit of thought. Just to deal with a traffic related point: You don't wear a helmet. You go down. You have a brain injury. You very rapidly run out of money. You are put on Medicaid. I pay taxes to support your (formerly Ayn Rand quoting) carcass that might still be walking around if you had worn the helmet. Why do you think all companies make people wear hardhats on construction sites? The head is not made for 60 mph collisions. If the owner of the head can't figure that out, then the rest of us have an insurable interest in seeing that he wears the hat anyhow.
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Re: Car Maintenance Question
Old 07-14-2004, 08:33 PM   #34
 
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Re: Car Maintenance Question

Sorry Mikey! I don't buy it. Your liberal knee jerk
thinking leads to everyone being responsible to everyone else for everything bad that happens.
This could be the basis of more bad law than anything else. BTW, those hard hats are not required to protect
heads nearly as much as to protect the employer from law suits. Let's not get into this. You're over your head.

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Re: Car Maintenance Question
Old 07-15-2004, 10:48 AM   #35
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Re: Car Maintenance Question

Damn, I just saw the rest of this thread, I know I should let it rest but I can't help but chime in on this one.

John Galt wrote:

"There should not be any laws re. when you should
change your timing belt, or inspect your car, or wear a seat belt, or a motorcycle helmet, or who you can hire or fire, or your reasons for hiring and firing, or who you can sell/rent to or not. Land of the free? It's a distant
memory."

....and the words that came out of my mouth were, "AMEN, BROTHER !".

Then I got to:

"Sorry Mikey! I don't buy it. Your liberal knee jerk
thinking leads to everyone being responsible to everyone else for everything bad that happens.
This could be the basis of more bad law than anything else. BTW, those hard hats are not required to protect
heads nearly as much as to protect the employer from law suits. Let's not get into this. You're over your head. "

and I say it again, "AMEN, BROTHER!".

I thought America was based on the concept of freedom, but instead all we do is choke it out with laws designed to protect us from us. Darwinism baby, that's how its supposed to work here.

John Galt, once again, it's probably a biker thing. After all, for us freedom IS what it's all about !

-Pan-



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Re: Car Maintenance Question
Old 07-15-2004, 11:02 AM   #36
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Re: Car Maintenance Question

Oh well - heh heh - LA just passed a helmut law - this generates smoke
and fire every ten years or so - reminds me of icons in the old Byzantine empire. ?? wasn't Easy rider (the movie) shot in LA.

Boy o boy us liberals are bad news!

Of course, I pay a guy under the table for my auto inspection sticker. Inspection - I don't need no stinking inspection - did the same in Colorado.
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Re: Car Maintenance Question
Old 07-15-2004, 12:45 PM   #37
 
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Re: Car Maintenance Question

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Your liberal knee jerk..
John Galt
Hey John, those pesky liberals are even more libertarian than than the 'conservatives' these days.
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Re: Car Maintenance Question
Old 07-15-2004, 01:03 PM   #38
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Re: Car Maintenance Question

I'm kinda up the middle on this one. I dont think the govvinmint should "nanny" you on what you can and cant do, even if its dumb not to do it.

On the other hand, I dont think your insurance company and the hospitals should have any liability towards making payments or giving treatment to people who do stupid things and get hurt.

Would you leave the helmet and seatbelt off, or get behind the wheel of a car drunk, if you knew your car/bike/health insurance did not apply and any costs to fix yourself and anyone else you hurt all came out of your own pocket, from penny #1?

Its impossible to do though. We're way too far down the road of it never being your own fault for doing something, and the net under the trapeeze is expected at this point.
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Re: Car Maintenance Question
Old 07-15-2004, 04:19 PM   #39
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Re: Car Maintenance Question

(contributing to the off-topicness)

mikey,

*I'm going to pile on, too. *It is absolutely not the government's business to protect dumb people from themselves. *As TH says, though, the problem is that the nanny state nearly requires intrusion by the government. * We're offered security--at a price--and you can't opt out.

* *I rode a motorcycle every day on the streets of LA for years. *I always wore a helmet, gloves, and real shoes because I thought it was foolish to do otherwise. * I didn't resent wearing the gear ("mom says you have to put on a coat"). * Taking your position the next logical step--Why should the govt allow people to ride motorcycles at all? *They are clearly much more dangerous per passenger mile than cars. *

* Actions have consequences. *

samclem

*
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Re: Car Maintenance Question
Old 07-15-2004, 05:09 PM   #40
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Re: Car Maintenance Question

Shoot, I may never leave the house again!
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