We bought a thing

The transmission on my wife’s Echo has been slipping for a while. (It has a right to slip, because it has almost 350,000 miles on it.) Also the A/C has been broken on it for two summers now, and we haven’t been willing to pay to have that fixed because of the aforementioned mileage. We finally decided it was time to get her a newer, better functioning car, which we did today. Mostly.

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We picked up a 2000 Suzuki Grand Vitara today. I say “mostly” better functioning because while it only has 116,000 miles on it, is in pretty good shape cosmetically, and the A/C will freeze you out, it does have one glaring issue. The 2.5L V6 that came in these were known for a failing timing chain tensioner, typically occurring right around 100,000 miles. This example is no exception. We got it cheap enough that even after buying the timing chain parts, along with some other parts, we’ll still have a few hundred less than book value in it. I’ll replace the water pump and oil pump while I have it apart, because it’s a nasty enough jigsaw puzzle that I only want to do this once. Here’s a picture of the parts in the kit, in roughly the installed layout:

The book time for this repair is 8.3 hours. I have no doubt it will take me a lot more than that. I can do it; I’ve done headgaskets on two different cars with overhead cams and many lesser repair projects. It’s clattering pretty good, but I don’t think I heard valves kissing pistons, so I don’t believe any unfixable damage has been done.

It won’t get anywhere near the gas mileage as the Echo, but surprisingly, the GV is the same length as the Echo, only five inches wider, and eight inches taller. My wife will be able to make the transition to driving it without a problem. (She’s always driven smaller cars, so size was important.) I will admit a bit of trepidation about the repairs, but if I take my time, follow the directions, and quadruple-check for timing issues before starting it (interference engine!) I’ll be fine.

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I’m excited to have my wife in a lower-mileage car with functioning A/C. She has real problems with hot and humid weather, so SWMO summers are pretty tough on her.

Wish me luck!

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