dj06482 SuperDork
7/21/16 10:43 a.m.

This began as a car search for a young family we know who needs solid transportation after their old car died a few months back. What initially started as a search for a car that could get through West Virginia inspection morphed into a move for them back to CT, so I was able to search locally and only worry about the local requirements (OBDII emissions check).

After searching on Craigslist for longer than I'd like to admit and hitting a number of dead-ends, we came up with this:

Key Items:

  • 1.8L
  • CVT
  • Has the ABS option
  • 142k
  • No accident history (according to AutoCheck)
  • Looks to be about a 2-3 owner car
dj06482 SuperDork
7/21/16 10:58 a.m.

It desperately needs some maintenance and cleaning, here's the punchlist:

  • Oil Change (maybe two - fluid is really dark)
  • CVT fluid change
  • TPMS light
  • Inside is filthy
  • Front tires are corded

I thought I would have a few weeks to work through the list before our friends would come up from West Virginia. I texted him a picture of the car last night, and he said "Great, I'll be there Saturday." So, this will have to move along pretty quickly!

TGMF Reader
7/21/16 1:47 p.m.

Or gather the needed materials and spend the saturday with the new owner help bring all the maintenance up to date himself. that way he will take care of it instead of driving it into the ground like his last car.

dj06482 SuperDork
7/24/16 7:57 p.m.
TGMF wrote: Or gather the needed materials and spend the saturday with the new owner help bring all the maintenance up to date himself. that way he will take care of it instead of driving it into the ground like his last car.

That's a great idea - when the owner moves back to CT, I plan to have him work with me on the maintenance items. We did that on his previous car until he moved away. He's a hard worker and has a good technical aptitude, so I think he'll pick it up pretty quickly.

dj06482 SuperDork
7/24/16 8:30 p.m.

So, we bought and had the car delivered on Wednesday. Thursday my wife (she's a keeper) spent the day cleaning out the car. It was filthy! Someone had smoked in the car (more on that later) and had a dog in it at some point, so it was a mess. So she vacuumed, used the carpet cleaner all over the car (seats, carpet, even the headliner), and took care of most of the dog hair. When I got home that night, she asked me to remove the seats so she could clean under them.

The first thing I noticed was that the passenger seat wouldn't slide forward - a problem that prevented me from removing the seat. So, I tackled that one first. I could see the mechanism was bent and broken. I was able to create a shim with a spare piece of metal from another project, so that was fixed:

dj06482 SuperDork
7/24/16 8:48 p.m.

So, removing the passenger seat is where things got interesting. I found some interesting material:

  • a lighter
  • two spoons with a light brown residue on top, with the spoons blackened on the bottom

I figured the previous owner was a little crazy, as they had the car repossessed in June of last year and still owed $12k plus on the car (which was probably not much more than that new). But this was something I definitely wasn't expecting!!!

So after getting the seat unbolted so I could clean under it, I checked out the underside of the car, and my punch list got longer. The left front CVT boot had a pinhole leak, and the exhaust flange on the catalytic converter wasn't attached to the cat pipe, but was securely bolted to the mid-pipe:

As all the bolts were nice and rusty, so I knew I'd have a fun day ahead of me on Friday. I also pulled the two front wheels to take them to Town Fair Tire on Friday. The rotors didn't look spectacular, but the pads had good meat left to them, so I decided brakes could wait.

Thursday morning, I picked up CVT fluid from the local Nissan dealer on the way to work, and when I got into the office the first thing was asking my boss for the day off on Friday.

I ordered the following parts on Thursday:

  • two new front tires (appointment was for Friday morning)
  • cabin filter (my wife said it would need one, based on the smoke smell)
  • air filter (I figured if it needed a cabin filter, there was a good chance it needed one of these, as well)
dj06482 SuperDork
7/24/16 8:53 p.m.

Friday was nuts. I was out the door by 7AM to take the kids to swim practice, and then went straight to the tire shop and dropped the wheels off. Then I headed to Wal-Mart, Harbor Freight (I literally got a 25% off coupon via text two minutes before I walked into the store), Autozone, and the local NAPA. Here was the haul from that morning:

I took off the hat I threw on my head in the morning, put on my trusty GRM shirt, and was ready to head to the garage.

dj06482 SuperDork
7/24/16 9:03 p.m.

The first step was to put on the new tires, torque the wheels down, and then loosen and re-tighten the rear lug nuts.

Here are the old tires:

And the new:

So, for a lot longer than I'd like to admit, I fought with the old bolts between the catalytic converter pipe and the mid-pipe. The passenger side was brutal, but I developed a better technique for the driver's side and it only took 1/2 hour. I used a Dremel with a reinforced cut-off wheel, but am open to better suggestions for the future.

After getting the two flanges separated, I needed to see some of the parts pile disappear, so I put on the new windshield wipers, and filled up the fluid. I came in for a drink of water and my wife just about had a heart attack:

I was glad I had just washed my hands, otherwise I would have been a mess...

dj06482 SuperDork
7/24/16 9:17 p.m.

I needed to run to the local hardware store to get some new hardware to make the exhaust flange work, so I hopped in the shower and headed out. I raided the bins, and came home with plenty of options for cobbling something together.

The exhaust piping was 2", but the problem was that the bolt holes on the 1 3/4 - 2" split flange didn't line up wide the holes in the mid-pipe flange. Luckily, I had also bought a 2 - 2 1/4" flange, as well, so I was able to use both in tandem. The 2-2 1/4" flange alone wouldn't have worked, as it would have slipped over the slight bulge in the exhaust pipe that the smaller split flange was able to catch.

It's a hack, but the pipes will stay together, and it seems like it's not leaking:

Then it was time to run out with the family for their VBS program. We got them to bed late that night, and I headed back out to the garage around 9:30 PM. The plan was to be asleep by midnight, but we know how that went.

dj06482 SuperDork
7/24/16 9:26 p.m.

So after losing most of the day to the exhaust situation, I needed to make some progress on the fluids. I took the car around the block to warm everything up, and then pulled into the garage. Being pressed for time, I figured I'd go with the drain/fill method for the CVT as opposed to pumping it out of the transmission cooler (see related thread here).

Just under 5.5 qts came out, and the fluid was light brown, so it needed to be changed. I added just under that amount back, and switched over to the oil. The oil change was uneventful, but the oil was pretty dirty coming out, so I decided to do a second oil change to try to flush any crud out.

I removed the driver's side seat, and although it wasn't as eventful as the passenger side, I did find a suspicious looking pill. I finished vacuuming under both seats, and reinstalled them.

I also took care of the air and cabin filters, both of which needed to be changed.

Sorry for the bad pic, it was late and I was working on 3 hours sleep.

I also patched the pinhole leak on the driver axle with some electrical tape as a temporary fix. I'll have to get a new axle once the car returns.

dj06482 SuperDork
7/24/16 9:35 p.m.

So, I went to bed at 2:30 AM Saturday morning, and was up by 6. Took the car out to warm everything up, and got the CVT fluid level correct. Pulled the car into the garage and pulled the plug for the second oil change.

I was working with my father-in-law and brother in law on Saturday (we installed two skylights and a window by 1PM), so I finished the oil change later in the afternoon.

My friend picked up the paperwork and spent the day at the DMV to get the car registered. Thankfully, everything went through and the car had new plates. The hardware I had picked up on Friday at Autozone didn't work, so I figured I'd take care of that Sunday morning.

dj06482 SuperDork
7/24/16 9:46 p.m.

Sunday morning, in the homestretch. The only two things I need to do were clean the windshield (inside and out) and get the plates on.

Washing the windshield was easy enough, and I headed out to Advance Auto (I spread the love around to Autozone, NAPA, and Advance for this project) for the license plate hardware. After 1/2 hour, and trying multiple options, I found nothing that worked. About the only thing I accomplished at Advance was to take a picture after the car wash I ran it through this morning:

Home Depot was only slightly more productive. I took in two of the three speed nuts, and was able to confirm they were #12 24, so I bought them in 3/4" length. Of course that was slighty too short, so I went back in to get the 1" version. I put two on, but the third wasn't working (the fourth mount was snapped off, so I zip-tied that one). So, I brought that speed nut in to determine it was a M6 1.0, so I was able to pick one of those. After almost two hours of running around, the car finally had plates fastened front and rear.

And with that, it was time to deliver the car to its new owner:

dj06482 SuperDork
7/19/17 12:42 p.m.

Just to add a few updates: A friend of my friend was trying to flush the radiator and ended up getting a ton of coolant in the CVT transmission. We disconnected the transmission fluid return hose from the radiator to the transmission, so as my friend added fluid, we drained fluid out. We worked in tandem until the fluid was all looking good. I'm sure the coolant shortened the life of the CVT transmission (which is known as being particularly sensitive to fluid), but hopefully he'll get some more life out of it before it goes.

The motor mounts are in poor shape, so I've ordered new ones that we'll swap in once I have a free weekend.

Our Preferred Partners