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  #1  
Old 12-30-2003, 11:43 AM
rperkin
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How can I tell if an SVX is good to buy (tranny, bearings, etc)?

Hi,

I joined the list yesterday...

The more I hear about these beasties, the more I'm hooked. I test-drove my first one two days ago--sweeeet.

Thing is, how do I know the tranny isn't about to go in a few weeks and that I won't need new bearings.

I found a 92 SVX silver with 55k miles, immaculate inside, outside is good (dings on the bumpers etc). One owner. I have the maintenance records which show general service at 26k and oil change every ???1000??? Unfortunately it's at a used car lot ( so chances of getting any help are -ve. The previous owner was apparently in his 50's, drove it a lot for two years then stored it and took it out for a spin every now and then.

It could use some front tires and they have very slightly more wear on the outside and the inside (is that fairly usual on an SVX from slight tire-roll like most other cars, or is it a sign of bearings starting to go out).

On an on-ramp onto the freeway I floored the gas pedal, the 4EAT shifted down after about a half-second (is that delay normal?). Then stayed in that gear upto 65 with the gas still on--off the gas it and changed up again -- seemed OK but I have no experience on these.

I do about 1000 miles a month and would be using this daily, if it breaks I have alternative transport (bicycle).

I'm smitten, but don't have too much cash to stretch to replace transmissions @ $3k a pop, but between this and a plug and play Lexus ES300 (yawn -- ultra boring), at the moment the ES300 is nagging at me being the sensible choice.

If I know the AT is solid, I'd jump at it (another 30kmiles before the AT goes, I can live with), but if its next week... it's gonna hurt lots.

cheers

Rich

Any help very gratefully appreciated (I'm in Redwood City, CA)
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  #2  
Old 12-30-2003, 12:19 PM
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Hi, Rich, and welome to the site!

It's difficult to tell how long a transmission's going to last. Some last 10k and some 130k (my first). Some of it's luck, some of it's how you take care of it and some is how you drive it.

One of the first symptoms of a bad tranny in an SVX is seen in the 2-3 upshift. And even then, if the shift isn't normal, sometimes it can be dialed in a little with an external adjustment.

Pull out the tranny's dipstick and make sure the fluid doesn't smell burned.

It sounds to me like you've found a very well maintained SVX. If you really want one, that's what to look for. You're lucky - I can't tell you how many people fell in love with the first SVX they drove and bought it thinking, 'well, it just has a few problems I have to fix and it'll be perfect!'

If you put reliability over the SVX's refinement and sweetness, then maybe the Lexus is for you. But, if you do buy the SVX, like many people you might learn to accept the high cost of maintenance as part of the deal.

I no longer drive my SVX every day, and I store it in the winters. I love that car, and I hope to have it for a long, long time. But it's not cheap to take care of. Mine proved very reliable. I had to replace my transmission eventually, but other than preventative stuff I had no big problems with the car.

Good luck, and let us know what you decide!
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  #3  
Old 12-30-2003, 01:07 PM
rperkin
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thanks Mr Pockets.

much appreciated, sounds like I just got lucky finally.
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  #4  
Old 12-30-2003, 01:10 PM
rperkin
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... where can I find the tranny's dipstick?

... on the tranny.

ok, if I look at the front of the car with the hood up, would it be on the left/center/right and front(near bumper)/middle/back(near cockpit)?

thanks

Rich
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  #5  
Old 12-30-2003, 01:48 PM
Ron Mummert Ron Mummert is offline
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Thumbs up

Welcome here. The best thing about the SVX is the fact that you've got a few hundred diehards on this site to give you free advice & sympathy when you need it.

The car "seems" solid. What kind of $ are they asking for it?

Most people here will tell you to add a tranny cooler (about $150.00 installed) as insurance no matter what the mileage on the car.

Bearings are unpredictable, & determining if that hum back there is a bearing or a tire may be difficult unless you put the car on a lift & let a mechanic listen to it. I'd suggest doing this prior to purchase & if noisey, offer several hundred bucks less to the dealer. Speaking of tires, if both edges are worn evenly, they may have simply been underinflated for too long. BUT... it's always best to replace all four at the same time. There are many threads in here about why. My '92 has about 128K on it, with around 70K on a rebuilt tranny. In three years & 50K miles, the only "non-standard" repair has been one rear wheel bearing.
It's also a daily driver. Good luck with yours should you "do the deed".

Ron.
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  #6  
Old 12-30-2003, 01:53 PM
Ron Mummert Ron Mummert is offline
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Smile Re: ... where can I find the tranny's dipstick?

Quote:
Originally posted by rperkin
... on the tranny.

ok, if I look at the front of the car with the hood up, would it be on the left/center/right and front(near bumper)/middle/back(near cockpit)?

thanks

Rich

Right side between engine & firewall. Luckily it's bright yellow, unless covered with grease (not a good sign).

Ron.
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  #7  
Old 12-30-2003, 01:53 PM
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Open the hood and stand over the left fender, facing the car. Stick out your right hand.

The dipstick is behind the throttle body (which is covered by a plastic thing that says 'H-6') on the driver's side of the engine compartment. You shouldn't have to look too hard - it's a yellow handle. But make sure you can see well enough in there before you pull it out - finding the hole it fits in can be difficult in the dark.

I want to make sure I've made my point. I consider the SVX to be a very reliable car. It's not a Camry, but it is dependable. But remember, also, that it's an expensive car to maintain and that '92 (while low on mileage) is 12 or 13 years old. Stuff may not break very often, but when it does it can be very expensive. It isn't always very expensive, but it can be.

Fortunately, there's this great online community willing to help educate owners and help them solve problems.
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  #8  
Old 12-30-2003, 01:58 PM
rperkin
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fitting a cooler

It's a used lot that has 6.5 advertised. I'd expect to pay a little more in this area but it seems way pricey. But then that's the sticker price which I wouldn't get close to, especially as it's the year end What would you expect to pay? Asuming tires are warn, bearings and tranny are just ok, not perfect but not bad?

Where would I go to get a tranny cooler fitted? I'm expecting a Subaru dealer wouldn't fit it as it's a non-stock part.

Do I need to go to Pep-Boys or some mod-shop?

I'll be bummed if I don't get 15k out of the tranny, any more than that I can live with no problem.

15k would be a very nice excuse to JUST HAVE TO GET a stick instead--again, would that be a non-dealer mod-shop I'd need to go to?

cheers

Rich
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  #9  
Old 12-30-2003, 02:32 PM
Ron Mummert Ron Mummert is offline
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Rich - I paid exactly what they're asking three years ago! However, this was from a private owner on the east coast. I consider 55K as very low mileage, so the dealer (none of whom I trust), should offer AT LEAST a 30 day warranty, or if sold AS IS, at least a grand less than that sticker price.

There are ten thousand opinions about who makes the best tranny cooler. I have a small B & M 16,000 GVW that cost about 50 bucks. I had a local tranny repair shop install it for $85.00. Left coast prices may vary.

Have fun. Ron.
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'01 Miata SE - 79K
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  #10  
Old 12-30-2003, 02:52 PM
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You'll have to look around for a place to install a cooler - you're right, a dealer certainly won't do it. If you do buy the car, have that cooler and a filter installed. I've had a couple places tell me that a cooler wouldn't fit where I wanted it (in front of the AC condenser), so I put it there myself. Plenty of room.

As for a five-speed, I don't even know where you'd go to get one installed. I think your best bet, were it to come to that, would be to take the specs from Smallcar's five speed kit to local shops and talk to them about it. You'd need to talk to performance shops - most repair places wouldn't touch a project like that for plenty of reasons.

I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that the tranny will last another 15k. I haven't seen the car, but if it's shifting okay, I would expect it to last a good long while yet.
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  #11  
Old 12-30-2003, 05:16 PM
oab_au oab_au is offline
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Check the transmission.

Gid'ay Rich welcome to the group.

The main thing that you need to check out is the transmission. It is a 92 model with 50k on it. Some of the early models came with a lining on the lock_up clutch, that would flack off. The small pieces of facing tended to flow into the ATF cooler in the bottom of the radiator, to block the flow of fluid that is used to lubricate the gear train in the box. The result is, the gear train wears out from lack of lube. We don't know when the factory corrected this problem, it appears to have been some time in 93.

I would have an Auto transmission specialist, check for any. pieces that may be blocking the ATF flow through the cooler. If the cooler flow is blocked, the transmission is suspect, as it may have been lacking lube to the gears for sometime. If the cooler is not blocked but has pieces of lining in there, I would have the cooler flushed out to clear it and fit a ATF filter to the inlet side to catch the lining pieces. I would also get the pan removed to clean the screen in there of any crap. If this is done you should have no trouble from this common problem.

The other problem that tends to destroy the box is when the brake band needs adjusting. The effect of this, is a flair or slipping as it changes from 1st to 2nd or 2nd to 3rd. The transmission has an adjustment on the side of the box to adjust the band. This is a small job for a service dept. Doesn't cost much, but if the band is not adjusted, and it is continued to be driven, it will destroy the box.

There is a lot written about how the box generates a lot of heat. This comes from the before mentioned blocking of the cooler, and from the torque converter.

The SVX is a high speed touring car, to this end it is fitted with a very high diff ratio. When you are driving around town, the torque converter has to do a lot of work, to lower the gear ratio. This produces a lot of heat, thats why the oil is cooled in the radiator. To prevent this drive it in third gear unless you are up and running at a cruising speed. This will lower the ratio from 2.5:1 to 3.5:1. The car will respond and accelerate better. The transmission will last longer, as the gear train is locked together, spinning as a single unit.

Other than that, get a warranty on it and get the work that I have outlined done to establish the condition of the box. If it turns out that the cooler is blocked and the box is stuffed, You can get replaced under the warranty. Just ensure that the cooler is cleared if they replace the box, so that it does not happen again, a lot weren't so the replacement box failed too.

Follow Mr. Pockets advice on fitting a cooler and do a bit of ATF sniffing, brown or burnt smelling ATF spells trouble. I hope I have not put you off but I have seen a lot of cases where these things have been ignored and the transmission has been blamed as weak,frail. This box is as strong as any other auto, and there is no reason that it would not be as reliably, as the rest of this great car.

All the best, look forward to your SVX.
Harvey.
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  #12  
Old 12-30-2003, 05:42 PM
Chicane Chicane is offline
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Well... >knocks on wood< my SVX has been GREAT. Extremely reliable car. Yeah, I did get stranded up in MI once, but that was because I hit a rock on my exhaust manifold and made my timing belt jump. Anyway, I love it. Its at about 165k, the engine burns almost no oil, and it drives great. The suspension is worn out, and my exhaust leaks, but I don't care. I get looks all the time, and people are always interested in it.

The only thing I really don't like about it is the 'looks fast' factor. Cops suck. >sigh<

- Rob
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  #13  
Old 01-01-2004, 11:48 AM
mark10t
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A couple of things I haven't seen mentioned yet in this thread-

I would STRONGLY recommend synthetic ATF (i.e., Mobil 1, AMSOIL) changed (or better yet- with a GOOD flush) at the earliest opportunity for transmission longevity. Relatively cheap 'insurance'.

It sounds like it might be a '92 that hasn't had the 'ferrite bead crush mod' done to it yet (the mention of 'hesitation').

I concur with what has been said about you finding a low-mileage SVX that has apparently been well-cared for. This is probably as good a 'recommendation' that can be had.

Good Luck.

-Mark
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