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 2nd hand car advice. not a vn sadly
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voodoo92
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Posted - 02 Jan 2011 :  1:49:56 PM  Show Profile Send voodoo92 a Private Message
 
ok so im planning a road trip with 3 mates at around june. would love to take my VN but dont know if it would survive that trip, not that i dont have faith. Im thinking of going around alice springs and NT for about 2-3 weeks and need a reliable car to do it. im leaning towards a 4x4 just to be safe but would be ok with something else aslong as it will do the job. looking at getting something on ebay if possible with rego and roadworthy already at around the 3k mark.
would post it on another forum somewhere but this is the best car one i know of, especially with mechnight giving out all his hard learned knowledge free of charge:) So what kind of car should i be looking at for this journey and others in the future. Cheers
 

Bassist by day, VN nut by night
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Mechknight73
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robot-robot14

1001 Posts

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Posted - 02 Jan 2011 :  3:53:30 PM  Show Profile Send Mechknight73 a Private Message
 
Three factors to consider: reliability, comfort, and practicality. Any of the earlier Holdens will match it for reliability and practicality, but if comfort involves airconditioning, then that might be a problem.

For efficiency, reliability and all round strength, there are two to look out for; the HJ-Z Kingswoods, and the VB-H Commodores. As you're going in June, the aircon isn't an issue. Here's a rough list of what to look for:

Kingswoods:
173 (for fuel economy) preferably in a manual. Only say that just in case you had any battery problems (not likely unless battery or alternator is already shot) Get a wagon, as you can fold out either a swag or a foam mattress in the back and sleep in it comfortably, unless you're built like a basketballer

Known faults: timing gear- the original camshaft gear was made out of carbon fibre. Listen for a metallic whirring to confirm that it's an alloy one.
Crossmember sag: over time, the front crossmembers on all Kingswoods and their relatives sag. Simple to fix, take it to a panelbeater hand have it put on the rack. When they sag, they run out of adjustment shims, which means you no longer have a wheel alignment.

Oil leaks: if you see oil around either the rocker cover or the sump,check the tension on the nuts. Sometimes they just work loose, and need a little retensioning. All are easy access, and very little of the engine needs to be accessed by pulling it from the engine bay.
Rust- Kingswoods usually rust around the wheel arches, windscreens, door sills, bottom of the rear quarter panels and the battery tray. Check for the telltale signs of bog and rust scale.
They have the advantage of being extremely easy to work on, in a way that would make a VN blush.

VB-H Commodore: A little more luxurious than any model Kingswood, and improved handling. Loses out to the Kingswoods of interior space and ease of servicing. Still easy to work on, but not as easy. They also have the advantage that if you need some decent tyres, you can just bolt on the wheels from your VN.

Known faults: Heater/aircon switchgear: Early Commodores were known to wear out this switchbox prematurely. Check before buying that all is good.
Timing gear: See above
Heater core: Kingswoods will wear out theirs as well, but in the early Commodores, it's a major operation to replace them. On a Kingswood, you can get to it by unbolting the housing from the firewall.
Struts: Check to make sure the alignment is good on the front suspension, and there's no "flogging out" of the bolt holes in the strut towers.
Rust: Sill panels, windscreen surrounds, and rear quarters.

The Commodore's first motorsport victory wasn't on a racetrack. It was in one of the toughest tests a car can endure; rally. The 1979 Repco Endurance Rally saw a trio fo VB Commodores take out the first three places, by a long margin. They can survive rough conditions, but so long as you don't go onto a boggy, "4WD only" track, you should be ok.

With both the HJ-Z Kingswoods and the VC-H Commodores, it's pretty easy to get a good one for less than three grand. My VN only cost me two grand, and it had less than 200,000km on the clock.

Remember not to pay any attention to the odometer. You're looking at mechanical condition, plain and simple. If in doubt, have a grease monkey check it out.
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voodoo92
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Posted - 02 Jan 2011 :  4:07:48 PM  Show Profile Send voodoo92 a Private Message
 
i knew you would come through mech. they all sound great but i was leaning towards something more modern. around the vr/vs/vt era. i know there probabily alot more fidally with computers and such but its just the way a would prefere. my dad keeps suggesting either a range rover or land rover. i cant remembr which one he says but the more comfortable one. the only problem is, theres a lot of them on the internet but there all v8s and im not an open licence holder. im still on my Ls for a few more months cause i havent had a car to drive to get my hours up to the required level for my P plates.
 

Bassist by day, VN nut by night
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Mechknight73
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robot-robot14

1001 Posts

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Posted - 02 Jan 2011 :  5:36:44 PM  Show Profile Send Mechknight73 a Private Message
 
The VR/VS models would be a problem. Firstly, the VS is an alloy head engine. To find one without either cooling system or transmission issues for under 3 grand could be a problem. A VP would be easy to get for 2 grand that's in good nick. Unusual to see a VT for under 3 grand that's not a clunker. They also have the added issue of that fancy IRS rear end may couse you some trouble on rough terrain.

The VR is still an iron head V6, but they are just as prone to transmission troubles as the VS. If you manage to find either a VR or VS within your budget, I recommend you have both the cooling system and the transmission throrougly checked.

A VP as a second car, particularly in a wagon would be a good idea. Many of the parts interchange between VN and VP, so at least you'll have one functioning car at all times. VN-S seats will all interchange with each other, and they improved model by model.

In some ways, learning how to drive in an older car is a better idea, as the older cars require more input to be able to drive well. Lacking ABS, IRS, and sometimes even power steering makes it more of a challenge.

Range Rovers are comfortable, capable 4WDs, but you have to remember that any Holden will walk all over them for reliability. Many early Land Rovers had Holden conversions; they run Holden Reds in place of the original 6. Another thing to remember about Range Rovers, is that the 3.5 litre V8 in them does tend to be thirsty, especially when coupled to a transfer case and two tonnes plus of bodywork.
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voodoo92
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Posted - 02 Jan 2011 :  8:42:21 PM  Show Profile Send voodoo92 a Private Message
 
ok then sounds like a start to my search. i wasnt to keen on a rover anyway, just my dads input into my car decision. what about other makes of cars aart from commodore or holden. Know of anything else thats as reliable as holden... if thats possible lol. sorry but just trying to get as much feedback on as many cars a possible instead of just one select bunch. gonna choose this car CAREFULLY unlike the old vn beast
 

Bassist by day, VN nut by night
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Mechknight73
National Driver


robot-robot14

1001 Posts

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Posted - 02 Jan 2011 :  10:31:09 PM  Show Profile Send Mechknight73 a Private Message
 
If size isn't an issue, the Subarus are another one. There is a lot to be said for the Boxer engine; for a Japanese alloy head unit, they seem to be able to take a lot of abuse. The main things to look out for will be CV joints front and rear, oil leaks, rust, and undercarriage damage. As they're a "soft roader;" (intended for occasional 4 wheel driving, not Landcruiser territory) some might be driven too hard. Cooling system is the main one you should look out for. If the radiator is full of rust brown crap, ask a lot of questions. Obviously a bit lacking in interior space, but well built and reliable when maintained well.

Don't be tempted to buy a Mitsubishi Pajero OR Magna. Both suffer from two main problems; unreliable top ends and cooling system problems. And with the Pajero, consider this; the name is actually the Spanish word for "wanker." Both are also prone to electrical problems as well.

I've never seen a Camry driven in harsh territory, so cannot be sure how they bear up on consistently rough roads. They have a well-deserved reputation for reliability, with few real faults. Watch for CV joints (if you turn a corner and hear loud clicking noises from the front end) cooling system (again, alloy head) The interiors of these won't be "mint condition," as these had a design fault that meant the dash started to warp a bit. Don't worry, it's just the outer skin of the dash that's affected, and possibly the door trims.

Hyundai and Kia should not even be considered. Having worked in a Hyundai dealership, and seen Kias as trade ins, they are like buying a wooden crate when you really needed a sea container.

The '91 Nissan Skylines (Australian built) were reasonably tough. Suspension-wise they're a compromise between Ford's vague sponginess and Holden's sharpness. They feature the same RB30 6 cylinder as the VL Commodore used. Technical hint: If you get a manual, and want it to be quicker, fit it with the gearbox from a Pintara of the same year. Much closer ratios. They are very reliable, and have a reasonable amount of space inside.

If you can find one within your budget, a dual cab Hilux would be good. Obviously the newer the model, the more expensive it gets. They're not the most powerful thing on the road in the early models, but they are reliable to the point of boring Diesels in the early ones aren't turbocharged, but tend to cost more than petrol ones.



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Mr Persistant
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Aladdin

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Posted - 03 Jan 2011 :  10:15:51 AM  Show Profile Send Mr Persistant a Private Message
 
[quote You're looking at mechanical condition, plain and simple. If in doubt, have a grease monkey check it out.
[/quote]

This.

All cars - and I mean every brand and model - have various issues. Why do you think there are so many mechanical repair workshops? Even Landrovers are reliable vehicles if you spend enough time and money on them.

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Mechknight73
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robot-robot14

1001 Posts

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Posted - 03 Jan 2011 :  11:23:04 AM  Show Profile Send Mechknight73 a Private Message
 
True, but in order to get a Range Rover up to spec, it will cost a lot more. To get a Range Rover in the kind of reliable condition you could expect of a well tuned VN, you'd need at least $3000 to buy it. Voodoo92's issue is not having to spend so much to get it to that point. Some cars have a lot more issues than others, particularly when put into rough terrain. VNs are relible because of what Holden put their prototypes through in road testing; an example is their transmission test.
Step 1. Drive vehicle onto skid pan and begin to smoke tyres.
Step 2. at about 2000rpm, attempt to shift into reverse
Step 3. continue to shift gears as indelicately as possible. The objective is to find the actual breaking point of the transmission.

If it can't survive a bit of hoonery, that component is sent back to the engineers for a redesign
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Mr Persistant
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Aladdin

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Posted - 03 Jan 2011 :  3:09:07 PM  Show Profile Send Mr Persistant a Private Message
 
Totally agree. The joke was meant to be that EVEN a pile of crap like a landrover can be made reliable, IF you put enough money and effort into it. Great, fun, vehicles offroad, when working. But totally crap axles, diffs, gearboxes, t/fer cases, so-so/crap engines and crap interiors. They make a Commodore look pretty damn good for reliability. There is a reason you can by an old Series 1 Discovery so cheaply. Many are mostly now offroad toys for people with other cars for everyday use.

I agree Commodores are great value, unfairly criticised by the public and media. Only problem is every car needs money spent on parts and maintenance.

I don't know what state Voodoo's car is in or even how many miles it has done. Perhaps he should personally, or with professional assistance, compile a list of all the things that need doing to it in order to make it reliable. Work out what it would cost to fix.

If you buy something else, for $3000, it's going to be pretty much the same situation all over again - why not at least assess what it might take to continue with the VN? Seems like substantial progress has already been made. Could be closer than he realises. I don't know.

Then do up a spreadsheet or list of the cost of all the parts obtained as cheaply as possible. (probably not Repco - hey, I used to be a Repco fanboy too )

What are the jobs he can do himself? Does he have all the tools? Can he get mates to assist him with knowledge and/or tools? There is a lot of cheap NEW parts available for Commodores, and every mechanic and half the population have a reasonable idea how to fix them.

Anyway, I wasn't going to get into this, because it's really hard to try do so much with little money - I KNOW!
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voodoo92
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150 Posts

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Posted - 03 Jan 2011 :  3:41:58 PM  Show Profile Send voodoo92 a Private Message
 
Dont want to admit it because i was keen to get a 4x4 or simmilar for this, but i think your right Mr persistant. from where i stand now these are the things i know need doing.
Engine mounts
shock and springs
Wheel allignment
Paint rear door and change over door card
Cut whole car
Get engine tuned up.
I know there must be something else but i cant think of anything at the moment. But it deffinatly seems like a better idea to just finish of vinnie and use it. I suppose im just worried that he wont be able to take the trip or something could go wrong and it would be stuffed out in the middle of no where. its done 305 000 kms but it reads 187. somehow... hehe.
 

Bassist by day, VN nut by night
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Mr Persistant
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Aladdin

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Posted - 03 Jan 2011 :  5:06:44 PM  Show Profile Send Mr Persistant a Private Message
 
quote:
Originally posted by voodoo92


Engine mounts
shock and springs
Wheel allignment
Cut whole car
Get engine tuned up.



Okay, 305k kms. Mine has almost as many, but uses next to no oil. I plan on mine going for a lot longer yet. Absent any history of major abuse, no reason why it shouldn't. Actually, its the rest of the car that's fallen down around the engine.

I'm not much of a body/paint man; can't help much there. That said, if it looks like a total bag of ****e from 6 feet away, I might reconsider sinking money into it. I'd be concerned about constantly attracting police attention. A quality respray is pretty expensive, so I don't think I'd proceed if that were necessary. But the localised repair and polish sounds feasible. DIY? Or get a quote?

Engine mounts..they might be a bit tricky,maybe even a right pr*ck, but not impossible. I bought an engine support beam recently with this in mind ($125 or so from Repco)

http://cgi.ebay.com.au/Holden-Commodore-V6-Engine-Transmission-Mount-VN-VR-/380300341413?pt=AU_Car_Parts_Accessories&hash=item588baab0a5
$114 delivered to your door for all three. Almost bought 'em myself.

WCS, you have do drop the crossmember a little or something, which would be a good reason to do this job around the same time you do the front struts/shockies, since if you will need a wheel alignment then anyway.

Alignment: about $50 ??

Full set of 4 shockies: http://cgi.ebay.com.au/Fr-Rr-Shock-Absorbers-Commodore-Sedan-VL-VN-VP-/130468805960?pt=AU_Car_Parts_Accessories&hash=item1e608bfd48

Springs: have yours been hacked/lowered? Shame you can't pick some std springs up from the wreckers or someone who's lowering their car and doesn't want, or will sell cheaply, their std springs. I would try save money here. They want $260+ for painted-yellow lowered springs...I'd look around for a used stock set free, or $80 the lot, at most.

Cheapo spring compressors from Supercheap...maybe $40...these look like what I have > Ebay: $40 delivered

http://cgi.ebay.com.au/COIL-SPRING-COMPRESSOR-HEAVY-DUTY-/250717559198?pt=AU_Hand_Tools&hash=item3a5fee599e

Engine tune up. No such thing on a VN, tbh. Yes, they'll charge you for a tune-up. What matters is are your spark plugs in reasonable shape? Do you know? Your leads? Leads are important and relatively cheap for perfectly fine ones > no nead to buy the "Super-Duper-Extra-Fancy" ones...Bosch or similar are fine >>> Don't necessarily choose these ones, but $60 seems ballpark
http://cgi.ebay.com.au/HOLDEN-VN-VP-VR-V6-TOP-GUN-IGNITION-PLUG-LEAD-SET-8mm-/120663779499?pt=AU_Car_Parts_Accessories&hash=item1c181f28ab

Look, here's some genuine GMH platinums for $62, good for 100k kms
..****, I paid double that for my Iridiums.

http://cgi.ebay.com.au/COMMODORE-VN-VS-VT-VY-V6-GENUINE-SPARK-PLUGS-PLATINUM-/260699091190?pt=AU_Car_Parts_Accessories&hash=item3cb2e070f6

Change your fuel filter if scheduled, and ditto air filter, and Bob's your uncle > one "Tune Up" completed.


Make a little list in Excel with all the prices and add it up.
You could also ring up Repco and get them to prepare a quote for all the same parts, just for interest sake. Shop around by all means!When you want to save money, you have to. Yes, it takes time.

There's possibly other stuff that needs doing. Cooling system look okay? Do you know how old the ignition system is? The CAS? These are all mini-projects you could do piecemeal, as long as you're happy about the amount of money in total that the car is going to consume.

>> This is why you get it all down on paper or Excel. See what cost you're faced with if you want a car you trust to drive across Australia.

Ask yourself if you have this much money available. Also ask yourself do you want to sink this much money into this old car or keep saving for a newer car while you just use this to get around locally?

And in case you are wondering, there is no super-cheap way out spending money on car maintenance, other than driving around in a car you know has a bunch of stuff wrong with it and you accept you are taking your chances with reliabilty (hopefully not safety). And there are plenty of people who do that too.

I think most of this you can do yourself. It's just hard-nosed pragmatism, and putting it down in hard numbers so that you can see what you're faced with and whether you want to go down that path.

Gotta rush off now, and get into something I've been procrastinating somewhat on. Please excuse me if I cannot come back for a little while.
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voodoo92
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music-guitar

150 Posts

Male

Posted - 03 Jan 2011 :  9:50:04 PM  Show Profile Send voodoo92 a Private Message
 
lol thats a lotta stuff to think about there but luckily ive done alot of that already. are there 2/3/4 engine mounts in total? and does this require it to be lifted out at all or can iget away with just jacking up the sump with a block oof timber under it? Im preety sure i can but better to be safe than sorry. The shockies and springs im gonna buy brand new most likely depending on where the best price is. Supercheap auto has a number of different sets ranging from around 46 to 200. im thinking of something around the 80 mark. Is this each or set of 2? Preety sure its singles. and there all Gabriel which i think should be a good brand.
With the tune up, my plugs seem alright, and i have brand new leads that i got on speacial for 50 bucks. hi performance ones aswell so preety good. Fuel filter was done when i did the vapour hoses and engine oil has been done twice since i got it aswell. air filter is going to be replaced when iget the spare money for a KandN pod. i already have a pod but its rusted and preety useless.
As for the body work, just the rear door and then buff. the rest look bearable and nothing on it should attract to much attention from the polices except my P plates. Also forgot to add to the list the front brakes. All this should be started at around february hopefully because iv got some money to save up for mothers xmas present.
 

Bassist by day, VN nut by night
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Mechknight73
National Driver


robot-robot14

1001 Posts

Male

Posted - 03 Jan 2011 :  11:39:18 PM  Show Profile Send Mechknight73 a Private Message
 
The engine is mounted via four components; the engine mounts themselves, the bell housing on the gearbox, and the mounts on the gearbox. Anyone step in to correct me if I'm wrong, but you'll likely have to take off the bonnet, and lift the engine with a block and tackle. Should be enough space to get at the mounts with the engine lifted. Just make sure there's nothing to upset the process of lifting such as power steering hoses, radiator hoses or wiring harness.

You didn't happen to mention what colour your car is, but if it isn't a metallic colour, you can safely do the cut and polish yourself. Give it a thorough wash, chamois it dry, and park in the shade. With some cut and polish, grab two open weave cloths. put some polish on it about the size of a 20c piece, and rub reasonably hard in a circular motion, as if you were sanding a timber box. You will see a shine start to build. With the other cloth, you wipe off the residue. I recommend doing about a 400mm diameter bit at a time, maybe a little more. Just keep looking across the paint to see if the shine is uniform. If it isn't then it means you still have some oxide to cut through.

With the rear door, you have a variety of ways to do it. If the door is stuffed, and you plan on replacing it anyway, buy another one and strip out the door handle, the interior door trim, and as much of the "not to be painted" parts as you can. If you pay a panelbeater to do it, they would charge a lot less than if you have a complete door. Although if you do it yourself, the hardest part, where most people screw up, is surface prep. Make sure all surfaces don't have any rust, dodgy paint or comtaminants on it, and it's almost the same as painting a letterbox with an aerosol can.

There are also TAFE workshops that do panelbeating for people. All they charge you is for the paint and materials, the labour is free. Look it up in your local area and find out.
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voodoo92
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music-guitar

150 Posts

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Posted - 03 Jan 2011 :  11:52:37 PM  Show Profile Send voodoo92 a Private Message
 
the painting should be the easy part. the car is the generic commodore colour of white with the door being beige. i had all the things to do it already just busywith other things first. and my mates dad has a buffer i think thats why im gonna take it there to do it, but after ive painted the door so i can get it all looking decent enough.
And thats a kinda bumma to hear about the mounts. i thought there were 4 so thats good but i was hopeing to just jack it up slightly to relieve the weight from the mounts.
 

Bassist by day, VN nut by night
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Mechknight73
National Driver


robot-robot14

1001 Posts

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Posted - 04 Jan 2011 :  12:12:44 AM  Show Profile Send Mechknight73 a Private Message
 
I don't mean you have to take out the engine altogether, just lift it high enough to get the old mounts off and the new ones on. Although when you take the bonnet off, remember to put some padding and/or blocks of wood under the "points" at the back edge of the bonnet. Learned that the hard way when the bonnet slid back and cracked the windscreen.

Edited by - Mechknight73 on 04 Jan 2011 12:14:17 AM
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voodoo92
Fully Licenced


music-guitar

150 Posts

Male

Posted - 04 Jan 2011 :  3:46:40 PM  Show Profile Send voodoo92 a Private Message
 
brnad new windscreen so probabily one of the first things i do hehe. would i need to disconnect anything to hoist it up? like hoses etc?
 

Bassist by day, VN nut by night
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