Sorry for disappearing for a while, been too distracted over the past few months. Been very busy with shopping for a house, finalizing the paperwork and moving into the new house.
It has now been over a year since we bought the Sprint in November 2015. It is still doing well and now has its own detached garage. It has always been stored indoors, but as you can see in the picture above, our last place was an apartment building with a big parking garage. While it was good for protecting the car from the elements, it was not a good place to work on the car, aside from the occasional vacuuming. Now that we've got our own house with a yard and garage, we are looking forward to doing a lot of repairs ourselves.
The first project will be replacing the heater core. We recently had a coolant flush done at a local mechanic, and the performance of the heater actually improved afterward, but it wasn't a big enough improvement and ultimately it still needs to be replaced. So we ordered the new heater core from The Wrench Monkey and it just arrived yesterday, so in the next couple of weeks we'll be attempting jstone68's method of replacing the heater core.
A couple of updates about the Sprint's performance over the past year:
After the wheel bearings and CV assembly were replaced in January 2016 on the front driver's side, there have been no other problems with wheel bearings or axles. We did not replace all 4 wheels when we did the bearings, just fixed the one wheel that was broken. Not sure whether the previous owners ever replaced any of the wheel bearings or CV assemblies, so the other 3 wheels might still have the original bearings from 1990, who knows. For now, we are taking the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach.
Took the car into the mountains in British Columbia in late June, and the car performed beautifully. We expected it to be slow and tedious in the mountains but it was great. Yes, the acceleration sucks on these cars, especially on the automatic models, but once you figure out how to drive them, it's perfectly easy to maintain highway speed even in the mountains - as long as you don't care how long it takes you to get to highway speed.
We are constantly surprised by how roomy these 5-door Sprints are. Our trip to BC was a cycling trip on the Kettle Valley Railway Trail - a 700+km abandoned railway that has been converted to a multi-use path for cycling, hiking, horseback, etc. Really great for cycling because railroads can only have a maximum of 2% incline, so it's perfect for cycling up a mountain - you don't even notice the elevation but over the course of 100KM, you've climbed an entire mountain! We left the car, cycled about 180 km of the trail, turned around and went all the way back for a total of 360km or so. It took just over 3 days to get back to the car. Anyway, we pulled off the entire trip without using an exterior bike rack. We were able to fit 2 full sized mountain bikes inside the car
, one with 27.5" rims, the other with 26" rims, a full sized suitcase style cooler with wheels and a handle, and four big bicycle panniers. It was incredible. I have been inside SUV's that would never be able to hold all that stuff. We had to take the front wheels off the bikes to fit it all in, but that was only because we had the cooler. Normally, we could fit two bikes inside this car without even taking the front wheels off, but they can only go in one specific way. Taking the wheel off gives you more options for shifting things around, which we needed to do because of the cooler.
Anyway, we are very happy with this car, it's reliable, convenient, and the mileage is incredible. It always feels like you're in that commercial where you're just laughing out loud every time you are at the pump. It gets 400-450 KM out of a tank easy, and the tank only holds about 28 litres. Costs about $25 to fill up and lasts a good 3 weeks. Not exactly sure about the amount of KM's because the wheels we have on it are a size too large, so the odometer and speedometer are under-reporting the real numbers.
A couple of minor issues with the car:
New tie-rod a couple of weeks ago. The tie-rod on the front passenger side had play so it was replaced.
We've had a couple of times when it has trouble starting after it rains. We mostly keep it in doors, but the couple of times it's been outside during the rain, it's had trouble starting afterwards. After letting it dry out, it starts fine and never has problems after that. The weird thing is that both times this has happened, it started fine when we turned it on to drive it into the garage, but after sitting in the garage for a few hours, it wouldn't start. After attempting to start it for a while, it eventually dries out and starts fine from there on out.
After the coolant flush, the car began to make strange noises that it had never made before. It's always frustrating when you get a mechanic to do something because you figure they are a professional, but then the car starts to show symptoms that it never had before. Right after the coolant flush, we heard strange whistling noises coming from the engine whenever the car was running. When it was idling, there was no whistle, but when you pressed the gas pedal, it would whistle. After a few days this completely stopped and it sounds normal again when applying the gas. Maybe it was the coolant settling in, or maybe there were air bubbles in the coolant, or something? I have no idea. Is it common for cars to have an adjustment period when the coolant is flushed and replaced?
There's a strange rattling noise that started happening since the coolant flush as well. When the car is in reverse, it sounds like something is rattling around in the engine. When it's in drive and going forward, it sounds fine. When it's in idle it sounds fine. (this car never really liked idle or reverse, to be honest. especially in the winter. All last winter it was a little shaky in reverse, but I don't think it made the strange rattling noise that it's making now)
Other than that, the car has been great. Replaced the stereo with a Hyundai CD player. Had to solder a custom harness adapter for it. I ripped the female port straight out of the old stereo and soldered it to the Hyundai harness using this schematic
, and it created an adapter that I was able to use with the original wiring in the Sprint.
One thing that's annoying about having an old car like this 1991 sprint is the aging of the plastics in the interior. Replacing that stereo resulted in cracking a bit of the plastic housing in the dashboard that surrounds the stereo. The brittle plastic just cracks. Same with the overhead sun visor. The little plastic hooks that holds the sun visor in place both cracked off, and now I have to try to salvage others from another car. Little things!