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What to look for on a new non running car?


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#1 NotGreg

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Posted 15 July 2021 - 08:32 AM

Hello everyone!

I have zero experience with starquests, but I'm planning on looking at one this weekend. It's an 87 that does not run, the existing engine is in pieces and it comes with another that is supposed to be good. The good news is that it appears to have a good body and a really good interior. Does anyone have advice regarding common issues I can look for on a non-running car? I'm in the north so rust is one of my largest concerns, but I'll take any advice I can get.

Edited by NotGreg, 15 July 2021 - 09:03 PM.






#2 BlueCuda

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Posted 15 July 2021 - 09:08 AM

Check the cylinder head for cracks if it is removed.  They will be between the valves if they are there, might have to clean a little carbon off in that area.  

Look for hack job repairs in wiring etc.  I bought an 87 with a blown head gasket, head gasket was blown but the head was also cracked.  Because of that the engine was locked up.  I did get it free but the cylinders are pretty rough.  It also looks like a honey badger removed the radio.  I went into it assuming I would find that stuff.  Once I get it running then the list will get longer I am sure.

You might take a good battery with you and power it up to check for surprises.
87 Conquest M5 project

#3 techboy

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Posted 15 July 2021 - 09:45 AM

Look for rust like you said.... you said it had a good body, but look at the wheel wells very carefully, common place for these to rust.  Also, the passenger side frame rail.  Almost all of these have problems due to dripping A/C water.  And, a bit more difficult to see, but if it's been stored outside the firewall under the cowl can be rusted out and you don't even know it till you start tearing the car apart.

BlueCuda has great suggestions above too ... I second the wiring.  It's already old and brittle, having it hacked up makes it even worse.
1988 Starion ESi-R ... crushed by a tree 10/31/11 - back from the dead 8/2016
1988 Conquest TSi ... current driver - sold to Bigjoe 6/2016
1987 Conquest Flatty ... F/S thread - sold 8/2014
1987 Conquest TSi ... parts car - sold to Coldscrip 12/2011
1999 Eclipse 4G63 ... heavily modified.
Feeback Thread | Motor rebuild thread | Restoration thread

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#4 BC_99

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Posted 15 July 2021 - 11:41 AM

Those guys covered most of it...

But..

Crack the gas cap and take a sniff... if it's been sitting up for a long time, the fuel will have that nasty distinctive stench and it will also be rusty in there. Gas tanks are expensive to ship and finding a good one is nearly impossible. New fuel sending units are NLA, so if that one is rusted or varnished in and not working, you will be spending some coin to have it restored to working condition.

Parts are getting scarce, so keep that in mind.

BC
Steering coupler replacement U-Joints are available here...
http://www.starquest...howtopic=145280

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#5 NotGreg

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Posted 15 July 2021 - 12:39 PM

Thanks for the helpful replies, hopefully they will reduce the chances of me making a mistake.

When I asked about rust I was sent these two pictures. Any thoughts on these?
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#6 Fuze

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Posted 15 July 2021 - 01:29 PM

Looks like they put a jack under the rear of the rocker/quarter panel and bent it in the 1st pic. Also looks like they fixed that area and Bondo'd it at some point because the factory plastic stick-on chip protector is gone. The rear of that wheel-well is rotten. Looks like they treated it with an anti-rust coating on top of the paint.

These things are scarce and being picky might not be an option, but get ready for some restoration work. You're basically buying a shell so plan to redo a lot if not all of the systems (fuel, electric, brakes) eventually if you want it to be reliable/safe.

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#7 tsi_tom

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Posted 15 July 2021 - 04:29 PM

Have a car shipped from the west.
Engine
20 over forged pistons
Stock injection system

My restoration project: The Missouri Project

#8 87redcat

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Posted 16 July 2021 - 06:36 AM

Unless you like surprises, that rust is just the beginning of what's hidden. The spots those guys said about rust is dead on. But it creeps and gets everywhere. There's a point where you have to be honest with yourself and say its too far gone or I dont have the money, time or skills to fix this.

Take a good look at it and consider all these things. It might be the right price but restos add up quick.
I dropped 3 grand in parts, tires, etc on a 93 celica. And it still needs painted. Lucky for me theres only some surface rust. But that was going through everything, brakes, suspension, engine, trans, clutch.
Now my 86 flatty I'm building for the wife has more than double that in it and I'm still working on it. Getting a no rust roller would be cheaper in the long run, and easier.
Food for thought
I got blisters on my fingers!!!

#9 kev

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Posted 16 July 2021 - 07:34 AM

Yes, there is definitely rust in that quarter.   And if one is rusting like that, the other is probably the same or close. The front portion may have been the result of some damage underneath meaning that it may be localized to this area but the rust forming along the wheel lip in the back is very common.  It typically is more prominent on the drivers side (not really sure why) but the passenger side will start to show the same signs later on down the road.

Quarter panel patch panels are not available new or aftermarket.  You would need to repair this be either forming the panels yourself out of sheet metal or find donor panels from a rust free car. There is a member here who sells parts and typically has some sheet metal patch panels.  I just looked at his site (link below) and he has some passenger side panels available now. I will say that I searched for almost two years for rust free quarters for my car and that was 15 years ago.   They are pretty hard to find now.  Although I'm in rust belt state.

https://starquestpar...qTpiDv4Pl7Tc-Eo



I agree with the others in general....mechanicals aren't the hard part.  Although parts are getting harder to find, mechanical components can be sourced. It's a rust free body that would put you in the best starting position.

#10 mikec

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Posted 16 July 2021 - 09:00 PM

The previous guys have covered the body shell rust issues.  Another common rust problem on StarQuests is the beefy metal beam inside the bumpers.  The front bumper is especially vulnerable thanks to the fog lamp openings.  Water gets past these openings - especially when water is blasted at them from a garden hose while washing the car - and flows past the hard foam bumper filler piece.  This foam though absorbs some water... and then holds it against the face of the metal beam making it rust away.  If you crawl under the front bumper and look at it from behind & below, you will see some triangular slots in it to drain the water.  The foam blocks much of these drains unfortunately.

There are also long and flat metal bars that hold the chin spoiler assembly to the bumper cover.  There are two bars on each side of the car: one inside the bumper and one on the spoiler piece; they basically clamp the spoiler to the bumper.  The piece inside the bumper sits in whatever water soaks the foam so those bars are often disintegrated.  A member of this website offered stainless steel replacement pieces; I don't know if they are still available or not.

You can't really see or check for this rust when examining the car unless the painted bumper cover part is removed.  It's something to be aware of however.  On my car I trimmed the back/bottom edge of the foam away - chamfering it - to make a larger space for water to reach those drains.  And I don't blast the fog lamp openings with water when washing the car!

Other things I would look at:
1: look at the half-shafts and their CV joints.  These are the shafts going from the differential to the rear wheels.  Are the boots around the u-joints intact or are they split/torn?  If damaged, the CV joints will likely be bad as road grit/grime gets through the cracks and grinds away at the joints.  There should grease inside these boots as well; when the boots are damaged this grease is lost which also kills the CV joints.  This problem can happen on pretty much any car with independent suspension on the driven wheels: rear wheel or front wheel drive cars.  The half-shafts and CV joints can be rebuilt... or aftermarket assemblies may still be available for the 87s; the different (and larger) ones on 88-later cars are pretty much NLA.  Finding a local shop that will rebuild your halfshaft/CV assemblies is pretty much the only option for 88-later shops.

2: Look at the differential itself.  You'll notice a long piece extending forwards: this is the torque tube.  It has a big bearing inside it.  If the outer casing is damaged, or if seals are bad, the bearing may have been subjected to road crud.  It can be replaced - a lot of labor but not an expensive part.  Where the torque tube attaches to the face of the differential is a spline coupler.  When the lubrication is lost, or damaged by road grime, this coupler assembly wears.  The coupler parts are no longer available (NLA).  To test: put the parking brake ON if possible, otherwise hold both rear wheels FIRMLY in position, put the transmission into neutral, and rotate the main drive shaft by hand back and forth.  It should rotate only a little bit before you feel it trying to drive the rear wheels.  if it can be rotated 1/4 turn or more, the torque tube coupler, differential guts, and/or CV joints need serious attention.  Next, look at the mounts for the differential and torque tube.  You will see the differential is supported by two large rubber blocks.  It is common for one, or both, to fail and be split.  When this happens, the engine torque tries to rotate the differential; the block with the split will open up - it will not hold the differential in position - so the differential will rotate a little and lift up until it smacks into the trunk floor.  I don't think these blocks are available any longer either.  The torque tube has a few long bolts at the front end - where the drive shaft connects to it - that pass through rubber pads.  These rarely have problems.  It's the big rubber blocks that fail.

3: spin the steering wheel back and forth.  How much freeplay is there around the straight-ahead spot?  if a lot, then:
- steering coupler is bad.  This is a u-joint like thing that connects the steering shaft to the steering gearbox.  It's visible just below the brake master cylinder.  If brake fluid ever dripped onto it, the brake fluid likely ate through the rubber parts of the coupler, destroying it.  The steering wheel will move somewhere around 1/4 turn each way before actually steering the front wheels!  Yikes!  These couplers are also NLA I believe; other posts on this website talk about alternatives, ways to repair them, etc.
- steering gearbox is worn.  These can be rebuilt.  Many rebuilt units sold by parts stores and online stores are THE WRONG ONES!  StarQuest steering boxes have a longer input shaft compared to many other Mitsu built cars using a similar gearbox... and many rebuilders don't seem to care about this.  Send the gearbox from your car to a good local rebuilding shop instead.

Hacked wiring... rust in the gas tank.. body rust... rotted interiors... those are the most common issues with "barn find" StarQuests.

mike c.

#11 NotGreg

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Posted 17 July 2021 - 06:27 PM

Wow, thanks for all the really good replies. There were too many unknowns on this car and it was 200 miles away, so I decided to leave it alone. Looks like my search will continue on for now.




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