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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The 1989 Montero, first day.

Hi here. My name is Michael, and this is my story. I'm a geek, but my area of interest is in technology, not auto mechanics. I love that there are people that geek out on cars as much as I do on tech... and this is me reaching out to you guys. :)

Today I bought a 1989 Mitsubishi Montero LS with 200k miles on it for $1700. It is a silver 4 door, and is in really good shape (aesthetically) for being nearly 20 years old. The guy I bought it from works for a Dodge dealer in town, so I may not have been as diligent as I should have been with this purchase. I may have a clearer picture of why he was getting rid of it (hint: I don't think it was because his wife insisted he do this to make room for more of his toys.) There were two owners prior to me (he, and his parents). Paraphrasing: "It was my wife's car. It never gave us problems and has been a joy to own."

I got it home today, and decided to take a few minutes to fix the driver's side mirror. It was loose, and wouldn't stay put. I also tightened the passenger side up for good measure. I decided to run to the sore and pick up some necessities (iPhone charger, 1/8" to cassette adaptor, cup holders, etc.). I mean c'mon on.. those *are* necessities, right?

When I fired it up, I noticed smoke coming form the exhaust. I hadn't seen that before, so I was a bit surprised by it. I do remember him mentioning occasional smoke so I thought nothing of it. I took off, thinking to my self that it is a $1700 car, and I expect it to do the things a 20 year old $1700 car might. I got to the first stop sign, and had to goose it a bit to get into traffic... again with the smoke. But it didn't happen again the whole trip. Not at lights, or changing lanes (I accelerate when changing lanes).

I got home and had dinner with my wife and son, then decided to head out to get a little work done. I can work at any coffee shop with WIFI - I'm a software developer and serial entrepreneur (my company is http://hypersites.com in case you care). Tonight's office is a Starbucks at the local mall. I digress... I sat in the driver's seat for a bit with the Montero running while I unpackaged and installed the above necessities. Finally after testing the tape adaptor and realizing that those things and iPhones aren't good friends, I decided to head out anyway. I put it in drive, and gave it some gas. Wow, mosquitos beware... it happened then, but not thereafter.

It seems that once it is warm, this doesn't happen. I've RTFF and have seen a few mentions of similar issues. This one in particular seems to fit well: Blue Smoker !

I'm willing to put in a couple/few hundred bucks to see if it is the valve guide seals... assuming I can find someone locally to do it. Otherwise it looks like I'd be spending as much again as I did on the thing to begin with to have a full valve job done.

What are your thoughts? Anyone? Should I just call this guy and try to give it back to him? I have looked at two other cars, and had them both inspected by a dealer's service department. Both times the dealers suggested I run - not walk - away from the deals. One was a 1989 Dodge Raider, oddly.

This time I thought I was OK. Maybe not, huh?

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First of all welcome to the forum and providing us with some entertaining reading. Often we get semi-mechanical types who do not possess the same literacy skills as you do. This is not a critasism but an observations on my part. It takes all types to make the woorld spin around.

Now with your problem...errr question you have reagrding your new purchase.

Firstly you need to assess what the smoke is and where it is coming from. It is best to decribe the colour and smell so you will not need to taste. Blue is oil buring, while white is water or coolant.

Another diagnosics is to monitor your engine oil levels (and colour) to see if they drop and or look whitish meaning water is entering, Do the same with the coolant, check cold and then check while engine is running to see if bubbles appear or any sign of oil entering. Don't open rad cap when hot or else you will get 3rd degree burns!

After you provide some more info we can help with your next decision; do I fix or do I return. Both choices will provide you with a new set of challenges so be prepared.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hey Jim. Thanks for the reply.

I decided to take it to a lube shop to have the oil changed, and fluids filled. I was completely up front with them and gave them the same description I gave the forum. The first thing the mechanic mentioned were the valve cover gaskets (that right?). I also had them wash the engine so I could keep an eye on things. It was covered in oil underneath.

I told him it doesn't leak on the ground and he was like "Umm... yeah. That is because this panel is catching it all." Woops. heh.

Anyway, they gave it a clean bill of health aside from the leaks (and that silly gasket problem). They also recommended that I replace one of the belts (22 cracks per 6"?). I'll do that this week once I determine whether or not I want to keep it. They said $1700 was a good deal... I'm less apprehensive now.

It is a brief blue puff of smoke, and only at startup. I'll keep an eye on it now that I know that all of the fluids are replaced and at recommended levels. The tires were set to 20lbs too... they are now 30.

They told me to at least check the oil every time I fill it up. I've never had to do that as I've always driven new cars. Stinking Dave Ramsey... he convinced me to give up my 2003 Murano and get this thing. Thing is... we couldn't be happier. Debt free ROCKS. :)

Thanks again... and I'll keep you guys updated... and I'll have my wife take a whiff next time I crank her up. (the car that is :p )
 

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Sounds like nothing to be worried about. The guy in the lube shop was right, it is the valve stem oil seals. At tickover or when turned off when warm a little engine oil is seeping past the seals and into combustion chamber (in uk we call this "upper cylinder lubrication!!"). Unless there is serious smoke (like you cant see behind you) it should be ok. Check the plugs just to make sure they are not becoming fouled.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It was a fair bit of smoke this last time... enough to be embarrassing anyway. They had just done some work so I'm not going to count this one.

I put an ad in denver.craigslist.org offering to trade a valve job for a spanking new web site. We'll see if I get any takers.

Oh, she seems to run much better now that she has all new fluids, and I have a better perspective on the whole thing. ;-)

Thanks again guys.
 

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I think that your on the winning side now. Wouldn't worry to much about a valve job at this stage and just keep an eye on the basics (ie oil, water, smoke, etc). Often when you start to work on machines of this vintage you don't know where to stop. One thing leads to another and then another (sound like web design).

Drive it & enjoy being debt free.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I've been watching it over the last day. It seems the "only when cranked up" rule may not be quite the rule. It smokes pretty good now through the first several decent acts of acceleration. After that, there is no smoke until it cools down. This was not the case before I had the oil changed.

Still watching. I'll check the oil in the morning and see where I am, though I haven't seen anything leak since yesterday.
 

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What are laws now in CO on emission controls? This may be a governing factor on what you do as if it isn't legal you can't drive on road. May also be a good come-back on purchase agreement if it can't pass emissions. Been a few years since I've lived stateside and I understand they have got tougher.

Supposo yuou could always move to Wyo and work your IT from a log cabin.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hey Jim, gang... another update... thanks for reading.

I went today to have the title transferred to my name with the intention of getting Colorado plates. They wouldn't give me plates until an emissions test was passed. Well, after I came to, I headed straight over to the test facility.

The line was really small (two cars ahead of me), but the wait just tedious. Not because the employees were slow or the process sucked, but because of the anticipation of failure, the subsequent mockery, and the resulting expense involved in the required repairs.

But no, actually, it passed. Sweet. Really sweet. The earlier pain was well worth the $25 test cost.

I'll keep a close eye on it like I'd planned... I didn't check the oil this AM (totally spaced it. remember this is a brand new to me habit I'll have to inject into my routine).
 

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Can' tbe too bad if it passed emissions test. Most likely water vapour smoke rather than oil I suspect. That may be good or bad depending on where it is leaking.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hey all, thought I'd give you and update.

After having spent some time with the Montero, I've determined that if the thing sits idle for any period of time (say 5 to 10 seconds or so) it smokes (nice blue tint). After it gets moving, the smoke stops (or dissolves :0) and if I slow down, stop (a red to green light before a stop) then immediately accelerate, no smoke.

That could be why it passed emissions, and why it smokes on first takeoff. Start the car, **** around for a few seconds (seat belt, radio, iPhone, whatever), then go.

The liquid levels are all in good order. I haven't added any oil to the thing since last report and have checked it several times. No movement at all.

Is there some way that while idle, oil gets somewhere it shouldn't then gets burned out when the engine engages? Again I'm no car geek, but that is what it seems like to me.

I'm thinking that a trip to a dealer for a checkup probably wouldn't hurt. I should also have the gaskets replaced like we'd talked about above. Maybe a combo trip.

Oh! Almost forgot... it nearly stalled on me at a light one day this week, but hasn't done that again since. It freaked me out a bit... but I'm over it now :p

Hoping you all had a productive Valentines day ;)
 

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From your latest description I would say you have some worn valve guide seals. This would allow a little oil to seep past when sitting and cold but once it is warmed up they would seal better and no smoke.

You can fix ($$$$.$$) but given your vintage and milage I really wouldn't worry about. Changing to a higher viscosity oil like 20w50 will help as it can't seep past the seals as easy. I would try this coming into summer to see if it makes a diff.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Translation: "Given that your car is older than most US college level sophomores, REGAN was still POTUS when it was made, and that it has 203k+ miles on it... don't sink another dollar into it unless you have to."

Heh. That about right? ;-)
 

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You got it. May go for another 200+ miles or might die in downtown Denver during rush hour tomorrow. How clear is your crystal ball?

jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
My crystal ball remains clear no matter the angle from which I peer into it. ;)

I'm taking it to the dealer tomorrow to get their opinions on a chronological repair list. Fix this, then that, then that, and that. Woo... fun.

The brakes are clicking in the front now. Pull up to a stoplight, and as it comes to a stop, there is a tick in the brake pedal. Sounds like it is coming from the front brakes, but who knows?

Thanks again for humoring my AMD (advanced mechanical hypochondria.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hey everyone,

I know it has been a while, but I wanted to give you a quick update.

After deciding that selling this thing and buying a new one would be about the same price (because I'd buy a more expensive car to avoid problems), I decided to buckle down and have the engine torn down and all gaskets replaced. It was $1,800 and included some other stuff too, but the bottom line? Runs like a dream. No smoke, no leaks, no nothing. SWEET.

Nearly a week ago I also had an alignment done, and two new tires put on the front. I had already put two on the back due to damage. So now I have 4 new tires, and perfect alignment. Combine that with the oil-tight, tuned engine and this car is a dream.

We're on a colossal road trip in the Montero now. It will cover about 4500 miles - we're over 210k miles already. Here is a map of the trip if you'd like to see: http://is.gd/7JWY I'm using Twitter to document the trip. If you haven't seen it, check this out: http://twitter.com/z3rr0 you'll see updates with bkite in them... those are location based tweets.

Thanks again for all of the feedback, and apologies for taking so long to give an update. :)
 
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