Caveats when buying a '99 VR4

Asked by Nov 15, 2011 at 05:21 AM about the 1999 Mitsubishi 3000GT 2 Dr VR-4 Turbo AWD Hatchback

Question type: Shopping & Pricing

Hi,
I'm planning to buy a '99 model 3000GT VR4 and I was wondering if there are any things to watch out for? I'm experienced at buying used cars and i have basic enthusiast level knowledge about cars but no hand-on experience on repairs.

Now this particular car that i'm buying has done 215,000km and the engine was professinoally overhauled (as claimed) in 2008. The seller claims to be the first owner and he has the documents to prove it (i can take care of this bit, no issues here).

the only thing i'm worried about is the engine. How reliable do you think the engine is after the overhaul? I mean in terms of life extepectency? how many more kilos is it good for after an overhaul?

How about the tranmission? any inherent problems on the VR4?

At this milage, i expect the lower arms, stabilizers, bushes, suspensions at be worn. The owner does not know if these parts have been replaced so i will have to go through his service book to find out (I don't like such sneaky sellers who expect you to discover the faults)

I usually take my car for a visual inspection over the ramp and this tells me if there are leaks, suspension issues etc so I'm planning to get this done.

Any parts that are hard to find or really expensive to replace?

thank you for your time ....

P.S: I'm based in Middle East

1 Answer

95

I have a 1995 VR4 with 90K miles that I have posted for sale for $11,000 USD. If the owner took care of the car, look for a 60K service and a 120K service. At both services the following should have been changed: timing belt, accessory belts, timing belt tensioner, spark plugs, fuel fiter, water pump. At the 120K service, the oil pump should have been changed also. Drive the car and make sure the car switches gears fine. You do not want any grinding when switching gears. Could be a sign of synchros going bad if there is grinding. Fluids in the transmission, transfer case and rear differential should have been changed every 30,000 miles. Look for this in his log book. The person should only have used premium unleaded gasoline. Look for evidence of using synthetic motor oil, and if in a dusty environment the oil change interval should be less (maybe 2000 miles). Turn on the radio and make sure the power antenna goes up and down. Some of these cars had recalls for their transaxle leaking. I do not remember which year, so you have to do some more homework. More evidence that the person took care of their VR4 is the rotation and balancing of their tires. I do this every 3000 miles, but it could be acceptable to do at 7500 mile intervals as well. Because of the AWD, you have to ensure even wear of the front and rear tires. If there is more than 2/10 inch difference between front and rear tires, you can ruin your viscous coupling (AWD) system. If you get a flat on these cars on tires that are not brand new, you will most likely have to change all 4 tires. Ask the gentleman when he changed and how he changed the tires, if he ever had a flat and how he dealt with it. Lastly, get a boost controller, pump the boost to .9 bar or at most 1 bar (14.7 psi). If you do this, run NKG copper, one range colder spark plugs, gapped at 0.32 in, and change them every 15K miles. Get better break pads (porterfield R4S pads) and cryo treated rotors as well as higher boiling point break fluid (motul 600). I think it never freezes in the middle east, so you could run water with WATER WETTER in your cooling system instead of 50%:50% mix coolant:water. Enjoy. Take care of the car, and you will enjoy it for many years to come.

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