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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone. I am 17 years old, and my father is looking at purchasing a 91 MR2 non-turbo. It's a manual with about 140k on it. Even though it's my dad's car, we'll be sharing it. I drive an Acura Integra, so we will trade when he needs the extra two seats for my little brothers. I've been part of the Honda community for a few years now, but I'm glad to have something else to learn about. I hope to learn a lot about how to take care of this car.

I'm sure you don't care as much about me as you do about the car. Like I said, it's a 91, yellow, 5 speed manual, 140k miles, and T-tops. The clutch, brakes, and tires have all been replaced in the last few thousand miles. It has a Magnaflow exhaust, tinted windows, and a TRD gauge cluster. It's not perfect, though, as the speedometer doesn't work (seems to be a common problem, as well as an expensive fix) and it needs a timing belt and water pump. There is also a whining noise that appears to be related to the power steering pump (I came to this conclusion because the noise goes away when the steering wheel is turned). The car also has some rattles, but I know that this is normal for a 15 year old car.

We've had a mechanic look at the car, and the only problems are the ones that I've mentioned. The quarter panels have been repainted, but there are no signs of major bodywork. I realize that this is stupid, but I forgot to write down the VIN to run a Carfax. :disappoin

One question so far is this: will the odometer stop counting mileage when the speedometer breaks? And would the mileage on the TRD cluster start at zero no matter when it was installed? I ask because the odometer says 70k miles, but I know that it isn't that low, and the owner claims 140k.

Plans for the car are just to keep it in tip-top shape. I'll be doing a full tune-up soon after we buy the car (assuming we don't hit any bumps in the plan). I'm thinking spark plugs/wires, distributor cap/rotor, change engine and transmission oil, coolant flush/fill, air filter and fuel filter. The timing belt/water pump will also be replaced, but I don't have the ability to do it myself. Anything else I should look at doing? After reading the BGB, I see the charcoal canister and gas cap o-ring should be checked. Do these normally go bad on high mileage MR2s? How about a valve adjustment? (what's a ballpark figure of the cost of this?) I'll also inspect the CV shafts (the CVs in my Integra are already going out after only 100k).

I'm glad to get more involved in the Toyota community (my mom has a 90 4runner, but that's a little different). Thanks for your time, and I'm welcome to any thoughts, suggestions, or flames.

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Cliff Notes:
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-> 91 non-turbo, 140k
-> Broken speedo
-> What maintenance?

BTW, I posted this exact same post at mr2oc, if anyone here reads that forum as well.
 

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Shoobie said:
Hey everyone. I am 17 years old, and my father is looking at purchasing a 91 MR2 non-turbo. It's a manual with about 140k on it. Even though it's my dad's car, we'll be sharing it. I drive an Acura Integra, so we will trade when he needs the extra two seats for my little brothers. I've been part of the Honda community for a few years now, but I'm glad to have something else to learn about. I hope to learn a lot about how to take care of this car.

I'm sure you don't care as much about me as you do about the car. Like I said, it's a 91, yellow, 5 speed manual, 140k miles, and T-tops. The clutch, brakes, and tires have all been replaced in the last few thousand miles. It has a Magnaflow exhaust, tinted windows, and a TRD gauge cluster. It's not perfect, though, as the speedometer doesn't work (seems to be a common problem, as well as an expensive fix) and it needs a timing belt and water pump. There is also a whining noise that appears to be related to the power steering pump (I came to this conclusion because the noise goes away when the steering wheel is turned). The car also has some rattles, but I know that this is normal for a 15 year old car.

We've had a mechanic look at the car, and the only problems are the ones that I've mentioned. The quarter panels have been repainted, but there are no signs of major bodywork. I realize that this is stupid, but I forgot to write down the VIN to run a Carfax. :disappoin

One question so far is this: will the odometer stop counting mileage when the speedometer breaks? And would the mileage on the TRD cluster start at zero no matter when it was installed? I ask because the odometer says 70k miles, but I know that it isn't that low, and the owner claims 140k.

Plans for the car are just to keep it in tip-top shape. I'll be doing a full tune-up soon after we buy the car (assuming we don't hit any bumps in the plan). I'm thinking spark plugs/wires, distributor cap/rotor, change engine and transmission oil, coolant flush/fill, air filter and fuel filter. The timing belt/water pump will also be replaced, but I don't have the ability to do it myself. Anything else I should look at doing? After reading the BGB, I see the charcoal canister and gas cap o-ring should be checked. Do these normally go bad on high mileage MR2s? How about a valve adjustment? (what's a ballpark figure of the cost of this?) I'll also inspect the CV shafts (the CVs in my Integra are already going out after only 100k).

I'm glad to get more involved in the Toyota community (my mom has a 90 4runner, but that's a little different). Thanks for your time, and I'm welcome to any thoughts, suggestions, or flames.

----------
Cliff Notes:
----------
-> 91 non-turbo, 140k
-> Broken speedo
-> What maintenance?

BTW, I posted this exact same post at mr2oc, if anyone here reads that forum as well.
Grats on your 2 and welcome to the community. Look forward to seeing pics of your car.

I'll try to answer your questions as much as I can.

1. The speedo problem isn't necessarily expensive. You can get the upper and lower cables both from Napa for about $65. It's not uncommon that the plastic bit in the tranny will break and it just needs to be replaced.

2. The water pump isn't so bad on the 5sfe as long as you don't have to wrestle with frozen bolts. I haven't done one, but the timing belt looks to be a PITA.

3. Have you checked the fluid levels in the PS pump? Make sure you actually look into it, I had one fool me by staining the sides of the reservoir so it looked full. The pump is in the frunk (front trunk) and is easy to access. If the fluid levels are good and you're still getting the noise you might as well replace it before it dies.

4. I am not positive about this at all, but I believe the odometer is a different system than the speedo so it should keep counting. Can anyone confirm or correct this?

The mileage doesn't have to have started at 0 when the new gauges were installed, you can have them adjusted to the approxmate current milage of the vehicle when you order it, at least you can through the stealership.

5. For the maintenance stuff it sounds like you're certainly on the right track. I can't say I've ever heard of anyone complaining about their charcoal cannister or their gas cap O-ring.

I don't know anything about getting valves adjusted; can someone elaborate on what this would entail?
 

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You might want to think about just getting rid of the power steering alltogether. The fronts of these cars are so light, it's not really necessary to have PS. I've never liked PS on any car I've driven, I prefer the old fashioned way.

Timing belt is a very big PITA. It either takes you a lot of work to do yourself, or a lot of money to have a shop do it. Coolant flush is also a pain, since there is about 400 miles of coolant lines from the front to the back of the car. It's pretty time consuming.

Congrats on the car, I'm sure you will enjoy it! Welcome to the forum also, these guys are really cool and helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
I hope the speedo isn't too tough to fix, because my parents are hesitant to let me drive the car without it working (a speeding ticket would kill my insurance rates, as I'm only 17).

Isn't it required to remove the timing belt to access the water pump? That's how it was on my Integra, and I figured this engine would be similar.

As for the coolant flush, would a simple drain and fill be sufficient?

No wonder we couldn't find the PS resevior, didn't check the frunk. :hammer:

One last thing, the engine code for this car is 5SFE, right?

EDIT: Forgot to mention, the car is now in the driveway, so all I need is the key!
 

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Shoobie said:
I hope the speedo isn't too tough to fix, because my parents are hesitant to let me drive the car without it working (a speeding ticket would kill my insurance rates, as I'm only 17).

Isn't it required to remove the timing belt to access the water pump? That's how it was on my Integra, and I figured this engine would be similar.

As for the coolant flush, would a simple drain and fill be sufficient?

No wonder we couldn't find the PS resevior, didn't check the frunk. :hammer:

One last thing, the engine code for this car is 5SFE, right?

EDIT: Forgot to mention, the car is now in the driveway, so all I need is the key!
How difficult it is to fix will depend on where the problem lies. You first need to determine if the problem is in the tranny or a cable or in the gauge cluster. Easiest way to do this is disconnect the speedo cable from the tranny and put a drill on it (reverse) and run it up a bit with someone watching the speedo to see if it moves. If it doesn't move then it's either in the cable or gauge cluster.

The PS reservoir is under the frunk cowl (if you have one) on the passenger side.

Grats on the car! :clap:
 
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