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First a long rant.

As I have documented Here, restoration of the mechanical components of my project Lancer station wagon is almost complete. Only remaining mechanical bits is to replace the universal joints, suspension overhaul, and tidy up the brake lines plus look in to upgrading the front brakes to disc brakes. Tinkering and painting is done. I’m satisfied with the tinkering job. But not happy with the quality of the paint work. (hence the reluctance to post pics) Interior is not restored. But everything is working fine.

 

So far, the project took more time than I anticipated. While it is still far from completion, it is back on the road. Given the sheer practicality, ease of maintenance, decent fuel economy and the crazy vehicle prices, I guess I will use it is as my daily driver for a while.

 

While the car is quite reliable, I had one issue that was not fixed after showing to 4 different mechanics. The car would suddenly start stalling and the engine dies soon after. It fails to start again for quite a while. None of the mechanics could find the fault. Twice I was stranded on the middle of the road with this issue. Once I brought the mechanic and when he started, it started from the first crank and drove fine thereafter! The next time it stalled in the middle of the road, I brought the same mechanic and this time it didn’t start. Since he also could not fix it by the road side, it was taken to his garage in a vehicle carrier. The next morning when he started the car again to find the fault, it started and ran well. Then it stalled again a couple of days ago. This time it was very close my home and I managed to push it with the help of kind and helpful passers-by. This time I decided to try my hands with it. Since the petrol flow from the new petrol pump was low even after replacing the petrol pump, I checked the fuel lines. The fuel line was clogged almost cutting off the petrol supply with some sponge bits, some nylon bristles and a very small amount of rust. The petrol filter is good and there was minimal rust or other debris in the petrol tank.

 

The car is running well for now. But I’m still not certain that this is the issue that led to the sudden stalling in the middle of the road, because I think a good mechanic would not fail to diagnose a clogged fuel line based on the symptoms. The issue was very difficult to replicate. All of a sudden it stops and all of a sudden it starts without giving any chance to troubleshoot the issue. Looks like it has got a mind of its own. After this incident, I’m driving in a constant fear of the car breaking down in the middle of the road.

 

Now, to my problems.

1. Is there any service that provides road side assistance like minor mechanical repairs and towing/carrier service available round the clock? 

 

There is a subscription-based website and an app that says they do towing/carrier services round the clock, island wide plus road side assistance. I’m not impressed after talking to the customer care.

Automobile association of Ceylon claims to offer these services plus help fellow motorists. I would like to know your experiences with AA before forking out the life membership fee. Any other perks of being a member of AA?

 

2. Any good garages that offer a kind of service warranty for cars of this vintage?

I mean if I get it repaired at them and fix every bit that they say that needs to be fixed/replaced, they sort of guarantee that the car will keep running till the next service. I didn’t check with the Un!t€d motors if they still repair cars this old. Do they provide a superior reliable service compared to other mechanics?

 

3. Any recommendation for a mechanic/garage to get the car checked to reduce my anxiety?

4. Any other tips on daily driving an old car?

 

 

In a summary what I’m looking for is to keep daily driving a very old car while properly taking care of it. In return I am looking for it to be reliable. And in the odd chance it breaks down in the middle of the road, I want someone to come try fix it roadside or take it to a garage while I use a taxi till my car is fixed.

 

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Posted (edited)

The biggest issue in Sri Lanka is just that you hardly find any garages/mechanics who actually care about what they are doing. As a result...corners are cut and not enough attention to detail is given when restoration work is being carried out. The few mechanics who are that good are always busy and extremely busy. However, there are also mechanics who are quite capable although too lazy to care...if you are with one of these mechanics then you can always sit with them and make them do things over and over again. (negotiate a slightly higher price than he quotes but say you pay only if the job is up to your expectation and any redos are on his account....they get the idea after you get them to redo the first two or three panels)

2. No...in Sri Lanka there is no such formal warranty structure (for old cars). However, if you do go to a decent garage to rectify an issue and you are a long-term customer and/or the garage is part of the restoration project they will sort out related issues where some will be FOC and some they will negotiate a price with you. (these are also garages run by actual car fanatics). To be fair...it is difficult to offer warranty on a classic car as anything can go wrong whenever as most of the components would have surpassed their op life anyway. Only time I have seen warranties being offered on old cars (even in Japan) is when the car has undergone a complete and utter restoration (we are talking about complete replacement or refurbishment of every single part).

3. Check messages

4. Give your car a checkup frequently (make sure things are properly tight, tires have proper pressure, fluid levels are normal, etc...). Get every little thing you notice looked at (do not put off anything) and be diligent with fluid changes, pre-emptive parts replacements (when cannot replace..at least get something like a proper rebuild kit and refurbish them). Be gentle with your car...don't drive like mad max over pot holes...put brute force when opening/closing/shimmying things...don't do things like let the car hit the little barricading stump when reversing in to parking slots.

Also, find a garage that actually cares where you can be sure or make sure that every nut and bolt gets tightened to the proper torque, every panel and rubber grommet is clipped back on as it is supposed to be.  

Edited by iRage
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Hmmmm, so you car stalls when it is heated up and won't start for a while until the engine clearly cools down?

This happened to my Starlet, my earth wire (Not sure what but it was connected from my battery to the transmission or somewhere) from the battery was heavily damaged by a previous maka baas and I had to replace it and never happened again. Yours might be a different issue.

Don't fork out for car carrier services to just drive a car on the road but try to fix it. 

Why don't you show your car to my mechanic? Hapuarachchi Motor Garage down Nawala road (Check on Google Maps for accurate location). He's dirt cheap (I don't even know how he's still in business, he fixed my Camry Gear Selector Cable for a grand total of 600 rupees) and he actually is amazing at diagnosing stuff the minute he takes a seat inside the car. Cons: He's always f**king busy because its a single man operation and he always has like 30-40 cars waiting to be fixed.

Just describe the problem and see what he tells you, even though he's busy you can get a diagnose from him within 10mins 

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Just now, MaleCortana said:

Hmmmm, so you car stalls when it is heated up and won't start for a while until the engine clearly cools down?

This happened to my Starlet, my earth wire (Not sure what but it was connected from my battery to the transmission or somewhere) from the battery was heavily damaged by a previous maka baas and I had to replace it and never happened again. Yours might be a different issue.

Don't fork out for car carrier services to just drive a car on the road but try to fix it. 

Why don't you show your car to my mechanic? Hapuarachchi Motor Garage down Nawala road (Check on Google Maps for accurate location). He's dirt cheap (I don't even know how he's still in business, he fixed my Camry Gear Selector Cable for a grand total of 600 rupees) and he actually is amazing at diagnosing stuff the minute he takes a seat inside the car. Cons: He's always f**king busy because its a single man operation and he always has like 30-40 cars waiting to be fixed.

Just describe the problem and see what he tells you, even though he's busy you can get a diagnose from him within 10mins 

I just went to your restoration thread and I've seen him fix the exact same car once when I was there lol. This is the car with four drum breaks on all four corners yeah? He did a break fluid change on one when I was there, so he has experience in dealing with cars like this.

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37 minutes ago, MaleCortana said:

Hmmmm, so you car stalls when it is heated up and won't start for a while until the engine clearly cools down?

Not always when it is heated up. Once it failed to move out of the garage. On another occasion it ran fine with the engine about to boil! I let it sit for some time to cool off and continued driving.

On one occasion I paid a mechanics 'golaya' to go with me to Deniyaya just so that he may pickup the issue and would be helpful in diagnosis rather than I describing the symptoms. It drove like a dream up and down the highway!

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Oh damn, these issues looks like it came out of a TinTin novel rip. 

Varatone and the Phantom Heating Issue.

Anyway I hope you get it fixed. But if the car works sometimes but other times doesn't there has to be another variable you're not noticing. Wb the radio or anything? Lights? These cars are fairly simple but isolating certain elements should be able to easily deduce something 

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Thank you all for helping me!

 

I want to keep this thread specifically regarding daily driving of old cars since there's a separate thread for the restoration.

 

Looks like there are no 'service warrant' for old cars.

How is the service provided by the automobile association of Ceylon? Their life membership costs 23,850. Automobile associations are becoming rather obsolete with online maps and navigation, ability to search for nearest garage online, and forums like this/Facebook groups to meet fellow motorists. Still the road side assistance remains seems relevant. The rather steep fee is what makes me wonder if this is of any value.

 

I forgot about insurance. I'm currently on a third party insurance. Would it be a good idea to have a comprehensive insurance since I'll be using it daily?

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On 5/9/2021 at 9:49 AM, varotone said:

I forgot about insurance. I'm currently on a third party insurance. Would it be a good idea to have a comprehensive insurance since I'll be using it daily?

I beleive unless your car is a super rare car that costs millions and can be insured as some sort of priceless asset, it is not going ot be worth it (based on my experience with the Trueno and the Morris Minor). The premium hike for a a comprehensive cover was...well..not too bad...however, what it would re-emburse me for damages was next to nothing (it did not take in to fact that the parts were super rare and cost an arm and a leg). So in my case it was not worth it...but for something a little bit more reasonable to fix, it might be worth it...so just talk to some insurance companies and see what they offer (mind you..these young insurance agents will offer you the sun and the moon giftwrapped in silver wrapping and golden ribbons...I found it useful to talk to grumpy old sales people who did not care a rat's a$$)

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  • 2 weeks later...

The AA is a great institution but can be a hit or miss. Personally it is not worthwhile for me. I just call the nearest carrier lorry if the car is unfixable. However it depends on the individual. I know they helped out my mother a few times in the 90s when she got stranded with her behemoth Patrol with a flat. Their Club house near the Ramada offers cheap booze and food, so there's that.

Companies do fully insure classic cars. Speak to an agent. 

There are a few dedicated classic car garages, but not worthwhile for a Lancer IMO. Best to give it to a trusty local mechanic and to study the car yourself. Educate yourself on the basics like how the carbs work, ignition timing etc.

Anything over 25 years is bound to give you trouble. That's part of the deal. The best you can do is not to take short cuts mechanically when restoring. Be warned, you will come across some shit cars on your collecting journey, that breakdown constantly no matter how much you spend. I am not superstitious at all ,but I nearly burned down an RX7 FC because that f*ckr of a car brokedown all the time. Then the FD Efini I had with more or less the same Wankel was just bulletproof. So yes, cars do have personalities.

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2 hours ago, MasterDon said:

Companies do fully insure classic cars.

Yes...but the question is..is it worth it ? Especially considering the percentage of the repair costs they are willing to cover. For something like a Lancer (or a modded Trueno..or common Minor) it becomes battling out a brain-boggling question noh ?

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