may be buying '91 accord with high miles need advice

i may be buying a 1991 accord that has 274,049 miles on it. the timing belt and water pump have already been replaced probably for the 2nd time in its
life about 40,000 miles ago. the auto trans shifts ok. is there anything to be extra concerned about with a car with that high of miles on it engine wise. the body is better than some with lower miles that old.
-jeff
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Is what you're paying consistent with the used car appraiser prices at www.edmunds.com ?
I think buying a car this old with this many miles is a huge roll of the dice. Sure, it could last 100k more. It might not.
I'd check the coolant in the reservoir and see how clean it looks. I'd test drive it for half an hour on the highway and half an hour local driving.

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A car with that many miles may be just as reliable as one a lot younger, but it will be a HOBBY and require LOTS of TLC to keep it in top shape.
If you're looking for a buy-it-and-drive-it, forget this one.
--
TeGGeR

The Unofficial Honda/Acura FAQ
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i may be buying a 1991 accord that has 274,049 miles on it. the timing belt and water pump have already been replaced probably for the 2nd time in its life about 40,000 miles ago. the auto trans shifts ok. is there anything to be extra concerned about with a car with that high of miles on it engine wise. the body is better than some with lower miles that old. -jeff
You may want to have it checked by a mechanic. A compression check should be done. Many engines that have 274,049 miles have what I refer to as "bad rings" and that's an expensive problem to fix. You may also want to run a carfax report on it--don't buy it if it has ever been involved in a accidents. Bent frames are VERY expensive to fix. You might have someone else start the car while you watch the exhaust pipe. If black smoke comes out--don't buy it. Mechanics can easily determine if an engine has a cracked head gasket--therefore, have the mechanic check that--that's also very expensive to repair.
try carfax.com or google Car Fax or carfax
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Jason Johnson wrote:

come on guy, how much honda mechanical experience do you have? be honest. you can have /very/ high mileage hondas that are almost perfect. similarly, you can have near new ones that are duds. chances are, if the vehicle's got this far, it's ok. it's all about maintenance standards. nothing else matters. and compression testing is pretty much a waste of time unless you've got some academic interest. minor variance means nothing. substantial variance you can usually hear on cold cranking. low compression is apparent from excessive blow-by, and even then, if the car's cheap and only going to be run for a year or so, so what? it'll still work, and keep on working for a /long/ time.

again, on a car this vintage, wtf does a carfax mean? if it had a reported repair year one, but has lasted the subsequent 14 years ok, then what? is it a lemon because it was repaired, even if the repair was factory standard? how does carfax help you differentiate between a good repair and a bad one??? carfax is utterly irrelevant at this stage - it's only possible value is on a nearly new car to see if it's a re-build or not, and even then, only as a price factor.

if the cat's cold, maybe. but if you're looking for oil consumption, oil gives blue smoke, not black. black is excess fuel, and that could be normal operation. catalysts mask a multitude of sins.

that's stating the obvious - advice on diagnosis would be much more helpful.

don't waste the money.
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Jason Johnson wrote:
> > i may be buying a 1991 accord that has 274,049 miles on it. the timing belt > and water pump have already been replaced probably for the 2nd time in its > life about 40,000 miles ago. the auto trans shifts ok. is there anything to > be extra concerned about with a car with that high of miles on it engine > wise. the body is better than some with lower miles that old. > > -jeff > > You may want to have it checked by a mechanic. A compression check should > be done. Many engines that have 274,049 miles have what I refer to as "bad > rings" and that's an expensive problem to fix. come on guy, how much honda mechanical experience do you have? be honest. you can have /very/ high mileage hondas that are almost perfect. similarly, you can have near new ones that are duds. chances are, if the vehicle's got this far, it's ok. it's all about maintenance standards. nothing else matters. and compression testing is pretty much a waste of time unless you've got some academic interest. minor variance means nothing. substantial variance you can usually hear on cold cranking. low compression is apparent from excessive blow-by, and even then, if the car's cheap and only going to be run for a year or so, so what? it'll still work, and keep on working for a /long/ time. > You may also want to run a carfax report on it--don't buy it if it has > ever been involved in a accidents. Bent frames are VERY expensive to fix. again, on a car this vintage, wtf does a carfax mean? if it had a reported repair year one, but has lasted the subsequent 14 years ok, then what? is it a lemon because it was repaired, even if the repair was factory standard? how does carfax help you differentiate between a good repair and a bad one??? carfax is utterly irrelevant at this stage - it's only possible value is on a nearly new car to see if it's a re-build or not, and even then, only as a price factor. > You might have someone else start the car while you watch the exhaust > pipe. If black smoke comes out--don't buy it. if the cat's cold, maybe. but if you're looking for oil consumption, oil gives blue smoke, not black. black is excess fuel, and that could be normal operation. catalysts mask a multitude of sins. > Mechanics can easily determine if an engine has a cracked head > gasket--therefore, have the mechanic check that--that's also very > expensive to repair. that's stating the obvious - advice on diagnosis would be much more helpful. > > try carfax.com or google Car Fax or carfax don't waste the money.
Jim, I usually agree with your posts and I have also learned a lot from the posts of other real mechanics that post in this newsgroup. I am nothing more than a back yard mechanic. However, I disagree with you related to this car. Bad rings are a serious issue related to cars that have 274,049 miles on them. We have both followed old cars down the freeway or interstate and seen black or blue smoke smoke coming out of the exhaust pipes. You don't see black smoke or blue smoke coming out of the exhaust pipes of most newer vehicles. I would not advise anyone (unless they were a mechanic) to buy a car that has bad rings. The best way of discovering bad rings is by conducting a compression check. Do you know of a better way of checking the rings other than a compression check? I would not buy a car if black smoke or blue smoke came out of the exhaust pipe. An engine that is working normally should have almost no smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe. I was referring to excessive amounts of smoke in my post--I should have been more clear on that point. The reason that I mentioned the carfax report was to help the poster avoid buying a car that had been involved in an accident. As you know, a bent frame is a major problem. jason
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Jason Johnson wrote:

1. while high mileage can mean worn rings, worn rings do not mean high mileage - mileage alone is not an indication of ring condition. and cracked rings are another story entirely independent of mileage.
2. there are several reasons for blue smoke - rings is only one. black smoke is something entirely different again and /nothing/ to do with rings. and you /do/ see smoke on newer vehicles if there's something wrong with them - just like older vehicles.
3. a carfax report doesn't tell you if the frame is bent. period. on a car this age, it's an utter waste of money.
you have yet to make a single posting here of any value. even something like "get aaa to do an inspection" would be more helpful that bleating about a bunch of stuff you don't know about but irrationally fear or worse, spending money on something you don't need and that won't help.
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Jason Johnson wrote:
> > Jason Johnson wrote:
> > > > i may be buying a 1991 accord that has 274,049 miles on it. the timing belt > > and water pump have already been replaced probably for the 2nd time in its > > life about 40,000 miles ago. the auto trans shifts ok. is there anything to > > be extra concerned about with a car with that high of miles on it engine > > wise. the body is better than some with lower miles that old. > > > > -jeff > > > > You may want to have it checked by a mechanic. A compression check should > > be done. Many engines that have 274,049 miles have what I refer to as "bad > > rings" and that's an expensive problem to fix. > > come on guy, how much honda mechanical experience do you have? be > honest. you can have /very/ high mileage hondas that are almost > perfect. similarly, you can have near new ones that are duds. chances > are, if the vehicle's got this far, it's ok. it's all about > maintenance standards. nothing else matters. and compression testing > is pretty much a waste of time unless you've got some academic interest. > minor variance means nothing. substantial variance you can usually > hear on cold cranking. low compression is apparent from excessive > blow-by, and even then, if the car's cheap and only going to be run for > a year or so, so what? it'll still work, and keep on working for a > /long/ time. > > > You may also want to run a carfax report on it--don't buy it if it has > > ever been involved in a accidents. Bent frames are VERY expensive to fix. > > again, on a car this vintage, wtf does a carfax mean? if it had a > reported repair year one, but has lasted the subsequent 14 years ok, > then what? is it a lemon because it was repaired, even if the repair > was factory standard? how does carfax help you differentiate between a > good repair and a bad one??? carfax is utterly irrelevant at this stage > - it's only possible value is on a nearly new car to see if it's a > re-build or not, and even then, only as a price factor. > > > You might have someone else start the car while you watch the exhaust > > pipe. If black smoke comes out--don't buy it. > > if the cat's cold, maybe. but if you're looking for oil consumption, > oil gives blue smoke, not black. black is excess fuel, and that could > be normal operation. catalysts mask a multitude of sins. > > > Mechanics can easily determine if an engine has a cracked head > > gasket--therefore, have the mechanic check that--that's also very > > expensive to repair. > > that's stating the obvious - advice on diagnosis would be much more helpful. > > > > > try carfax.com or google Car Fax or carfax > > don't waste the money. > > Jim, > I usually agree with your posts and I have also learned a lot from the > posts of other real mechanics that post in this newsgroup. I am nothing > more than a back yard mechanic. However, I disagree with you related to > this car. Bad rings are a serious issue related to cars that have 274,049 > miles on them. We have both followed old cars down the freeway or > interstate and seen black or blue smoke smoke coming out of the exhaust > pipes. You don't see black smoke or blue smoke coming out of the exhaust > pipes of most newer vehicles. I would not advise anyone (unless they were > a mechanic) to buy a car that has bad rings. The best way of discovering > bad rings is by conducting a compression check. Do you know of a better > way of checking the rings other than a compression check? I would not buy > a car if black smoke or blue smoke came out of the exhaust pipe. An engine > that is working normally should have almost no smoke coming out of the > exhaust pipe. I was referring to excessive amounts of smoke in my post--I > should have been more clear on that point. The reason that I mentioned the > carfax report was to help the poster avoid buying a car that had been > involved in an accident. As you know, a bent frame is a major problem. > jason 1. while high mileage can mean worn rings, worn rings do not mean high mileage - mileage alone is not an indication of ring condition. and cracked rings are another story entirely independent of mileage.
Cars that have 274,049 miles on them are more likely to have bad rings than a car that has less than 100,000 miles on them. It's for that reason a compression check should be done to determine if the car does have signs of bad rings. 2. there are several reasons for blue smoke - rings is only one. black smoke is something entirely different again and /nothing/ to do with rings. and you /do/ see smoke on newer vehicles if there's something wrong with them - just like older vehicles.
That is true. However excess levels of blue smoke or black smoke indicate there is something wrong with the engine which would be a reason for not buying that used car. I would not buy a car that had excess amounts of blue smoke or black smoke coming out of the exhaust. Yes, I agree some newer cars that have something wrong with them do have blue or black smoke coming out of the exhaust pipes--I also would not buy one of those cars.
3. a carfax report doesn't tell you if the frame is bent. period. on a car this age, it's an utter waste of money.
Yes, that is true. However, if a carfax report indicated that a car was involved in an accident--it could mean that the frame was bent. If the carfax report indicated that the car had NEVER been involved in an accident, that would mean that it's unlikely that the car has a bent frame. Without a carfax report, you don't know--you are taking a gamble related to a bent frame. you have yet to make a single posting here of any value. even something like "get aaa to do an inspection" would be more helpful that bleating about a bunch of stuff you don't know about but irrationally fear or worse, spending money on something you don't need and that won't help.
I rarely post in this newsgroup but enjoy visiting this newsgroup since I learn a lot from the mechanics.
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Jason Johnson wrote:

jason, with respect, a compression test doesn't tell you much unless you're already trying to diagnose a problem. it doesn't necessarily tell you if you have a cracked ring and it doesn't necessarily tell you if low compression is rings or a valve. [a wet test does, but let's get real here - you're inspecting a 91 accord. do you want to pay for hours of testing when an experienced mechanic can tell you if the engine's ok in about 30 seconds? - blow-by with the engine running is what you really want to know, and that's literally a 30 second test.]

that is utterly incorrect. absence of carfax record simply means no /reported/ damage - and possibly the worst kind of backyard repair. inspection is the /only/ definitive method of determining frame health.

you're "taking a gamble" if you don't get a physical inspection from an experienced mechanic. call aaa to have them look at the vehicle if you don't know what you're doing. that's much better use of the money you'd otherwise spend on carfax.

enjoy away, but why do you give mechanical advice if you're not a mechanic? that's what i don't understand with your posts jason.
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Jason Johnson wrote:
> > Jason Johnson wrote:
> > > > Jason Johnson wrote:
"hondaman"
> > > > > > i may be buying a 1991 accord that has 274,049 miles on it. the > timing belt > > > and water pump have already been replaced probably for the 2nd time > in its > > > life about 40,000 miles ago. the auto trans shifts ok. is there > anything to > > > be extra concerned about with a car with that high of miles on it engine > > > wise. the body is better than some with lower miles that old. > > > > > > -jeff > > > > > > You may want to have it checked by a mechanic. A compression check should > > > be done. Many engines that have 274,049 miles have what I refer to as "bad > > > rings" and that's an expensive problem to fix. > > > > come on guy, how much honda mechanical experience do you have? be > > honest. you can have /very/ high mileage hondas that are almost > > perfect. similarly, you can have near new ones that are duds. chances > > are, if the vehicle's got this far, it's ok. it's all about > > maintenance standards. nothing else matters. and compression testing > > is pretty much a waste of time unless you've got some academic interest. > > minor variance means nothing. substantial variance you can usually > > hear on cold cranking. low compression is apparent from excessive > > blow-by, and even then, if the car's cheap and only going to be run for > > a year or so, so what? it'll still work, and keep on working for a > > /long/ time. > > > > > You may also want to run a carfax report on it--don't buy it if it has > > > ever been involved in a accidents. Bent frames are VERY expensive to fix. > > > > again, on a car this vintage, wtf does a carfax mean? if it had a > > reported repair year one, but has lasted the subsequent 14 years ok, > > then what? is it a lemon because it was repaired, even if the repair > > was factory standard? how does carfax help you differentiate between a > > good repair and a bad one??? carfax is utterly irrelevant at this stage > > - it's only possible value is on a nearly new car to see if it's a > > re-build or not, and even then, only as a price factor. > > > > > You might have someone else start the car while you watch the exhaust > > > pipe. If black smoke comes out--don't buy it. > > > > if the cat's cold, maybe. but if you're looking for oil consumption, > > oil gives blue smoke, not black. black is excess fuel, and that could > > be normal operation. catalysts mask a multitude of sins. > > > > > Mechanics can easily determine if an engine has a cracked head > > > gasket--therefore, have the mechanic check that--that's also very > > > expensive to repair. > > > > that's stating the obvious - advice on diagnosis would be much more helpful. > > > > > > > > try carfax.com or google Car Fax or carfax > > > > don't waste the money. > > > > Jim, > > I usually agree with your posts and I have also learned a lot from the > > posts of other real mechanics that post in this newsgroup. I am nothing > > more than a back yard mechanic. However, I disagree with you related to > > this car. Bad rings are a serious issue related to cars that have 274,049 > > miles on them. We have both followed old cars down the freeway or > > interstate and seen black or blue smoke smoke coming out of the exhaust > > pipes. You don't see black smoke or blue smoke coming out of the exhaust > > pipes of most newer vehicles. I would not advise anyone (unless they were > > a mechanic) to buy a car that has bad rings. The best way of discovering > > bad rings is by conducting a compression check. Do you know of a better > > way of checking the rings other than a compression check? I would not buy > > a car if black smoke or blue smoke came out of the exhaust pipe. An engine > > that is working normally should have almost no smoke coming out of the > > exhaust pipe. I was referring to excessive amounts of smoke in my post--I > > should have been more clear on that point. The reason that I mentioned the > > carfax report was to help the poster avoid buying a car that had been > > involved in an accident. As you know, a bent frame is a major problem. > > jason > > 1. while high mileage can mean worn rings, worn rings do not mean high > mileage - mileage alone is not an indication of ring condition. and > cracked rings are another story entirely independent of mileage. > > Cars that have 274,049 miles on them are more likely to have bad rings > than a car that has less than 100,000 miles on them. It's for that > reason a compression check should be done to determine if the car > does have signs of bad rings. jason, with respect, a compression test doesn't tell you much unless you're already trying to diagnose a problem. it doesn't necessarily tell you if you have a cracked ring and it doesn't necessarily tell you if low compression is rings or a valve. [a wet test does, but let's get real here - you're inspecting a 91 accord. do you want to pay for hours of testing when an experienced mechanic can tell you if the engine's ok in about 30 seconds? - blow-by with the engine running is what you really want to know, and that's literally a 30 second test.] > > 2. there are several reasons for blue smoke - rings is only one. black > smoke is something entirely different again and /nothing/ to do with > rings. and you /do/ see smoke on newer vehicles if there's something > wrong with them - just like older vehicles. > > That is true. However excess levels of blue smoke or black smoke > indicate there is something wrong with the engine which would be a reason > for not buying that used car. I would not buy a car that had excess amounts > of blue smoke or black smoke coming out of the exhaust. Yes, I agree some > newer cars that have something wrong with them do have blue or black smoke > coming out of the exhaust pipes--I also would not buy one of those cars. > > > > 3. a carfax report doesn't tell you if the frame is bent. period. on a > car this age, it's an utter waste of money. > > Yes, that is true. However, if a carfax report indicated that a car was > involved in an accident--it could mean that the frame was bent. If the > carfax report indicated that the car had NEVER been involved in an > accident, that would mean that it's unlikely that the car has a bent > frame. that is utterly incorrect. absence of carfax record simply means no /reported/ damage - and possibly the worst kind of backyard repair. inspection is the /only/ definitive method of determining frame health. > Without a carfax report, you don't know--you are taking a gamble > related to a bent frame. you're "taking a gamble" if you don't get a physical inspection from an experienced mechanic. call aaa to have them look at the vehicle if you don't know what you're doing. that's much better use of the money you'd otherwise spend on carfax. > > you have yet to make a single posting here of any value. even something > like "get aaa to do an inspection" would be more helpful that bleating > about a bunch of stuff you don't know about but irrationally fear or > worse, spending money on something you don't need and that won't help. > > I rarely post in this newsgroup but enjoy visiting this newsgroup since I > learn a lot from the mechanics. enjoy away, but why do you give mechanical advice if you're not a mechanic? that's what i don't understand with your posts jason.
Good point. I will probably not post in this newsgroup even if I know the answers. Most of my mechanical experience was on cars made prior to 1980 so I know very little about the electrical systems used in newer cars. I guess that you only want regular subscribers that are mechanics or people that are requesting help. It's kind of like when I worked in a hospital lab. The doctors would only spend time with other doctors and not make friends with anyone that was not a doctor. They only talked to us if it was related to a case. I guess that mechanics are the same type of people as the doctors. Jason
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Jason Johnson wrote:

not really - and i'm not getting at you jason. if you want to learn stuff, just ask - we're all usually happy to help.
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On Sat, 27 May 2006 20:48:32 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@nospam.com (Jason Johnson) wrote:
<snip discussion>

uh ... because everyone has an opinion and the OP was asking for advise on purchasing a vehicle - not a mechanical problem specifically. Jason was expressing an opinion on what he would do if he were purchasing such a vehicle. Your differing helps to put the suggestions into perspective tho and all the info can then constitute real value. What constitutes a "mechanic' ? - there are *many* mechanics that don't know squat, do crappy work and will eagerly scam you for all your money given the chance. There are also many people who do not call themselves mechanics who have extensive mechanical knowledge & experience whose opinions can be very valuable. There is no criteria for posting in these groups - readers need to use their own judgment on the value of the info provided.

don't let others dictate to you Jason & don't allow yourself to feel 'less than' anyone else either. "Everybody is a Star" - Sly & The Family Stone. Jim's criticism can be of value, accept it as knowledge gained - nothing more.
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hondaman wrote:

as stated by others, if you know about cars and can fix them yourself, go ahead and buy it. it'll be fast, probably reliable and comfy. cheap to insure & gas too.
quick & dirty: check inside the oil cover. gummy deposits are a bad sign. excess oil consumption [if you test drive it long enough to find out or the seller is honest] is a bad sign. excessive blow-by [oil filler cap off with the engine running] is a bad sign.
radiator cap, oily is a bad sign. dry is a bad sign. bubbles are a bad sign [once fully bled].
touch wheel hubs after driving. fronts should be warmer than rears, but any difference in temp side to side means binding brakes and the need to recondition. if you're handy with that stuff, look to recondition the brakes yourself pretty much right away after purchase.
beware steering system oil leaks of any kind.
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