4WD virgin - just bought 2001 Challenger and have questions!

Submitted: Thursday, Mar 29, 2012 at 19:25
ThreadID: 92881 Views:4074 Replies:9 FollowUps:5
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Hi all,

Mr Google sent me here and I've decided to join. After years of using not very equipped cars I've just upgraded from my trusty VS Commodore wagon to a 2001 Mitsubishi Challenger. At first I thought I got a good deal but after today spending $400 on new Rocker Cover Gaskets, then checking the service book to find I'm 9000km overdue for a Timing Belt, I'm starting to wonder. I still love the look and condition of the car though so hopefully my investment will pay off. I have 150 Acres near Murray Bridge in SA and I'm hoping to use the car to get there in comfort but also use it's practicality. A few questions I have about the car though.

1. How long can I wait before doing the Timing Belt and pump? I'm driving it to Melbourne tomorrow and am a little nervous.
2. Is the motor a "free spinning" motor or will it do damage if the belt goes
3. It was fine before I took it to the mechanics today, but on the way back the 4WD light on the dash is flashing. It's fine in 4WD and stays on, but in 2WD it's supposed to be off. The workshop just did the rocker covers so not sure what the go is!

Thanks in advance. Here's a pic of my rig:

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Reply By: Member - John - Thursday, Mar 29, 2012 at 19:34

Thursday, Mar 29, 2012 at 19:34
G'day, you have just woken Murphy up and he is sharpening his timing belt sword, it will be used tomorrow on the way to Melbourne for sure........... Good luck, John
John and Jan

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AnswerID: 481777

Reply By: Ross M - Thursday, Mar 29, 2012 at 20:15

Thursday, Mar 29, 2012 at 20:15
Nice truck, my neighbour has one.
If it is 9000km over the timing belt kms then it means the service book is just a book no service about it. Your engine is due for a new belt.
Unfortunatley I can't tell if it runs free as older camry's do or if it crashes.
A Mitsu afficionado might be able to shed more light on it. Pushing it to do a long trip before all is checked out though.

Are you going to tow a lot with it? They aren't the most economical vehicle under tow conditions. Reliable engine with good service attention.
If the belt wasn't done then probably the gearbox, driveline, diffs and engine might all be crying out for some TLC too.

AnswerID: 481782

Follow Up By: Madfisher - Thursday, Mar 29, 2012 at 20:23

Thursday, Mar 29, 2012 at 20:23
Good advice, it would be a good idea to change all fluids . hoses and belts to insure long life. Have a good look at the service history as well.
Cheers pete
FollowupID: 757090

Reply By: Madfisher - Thursday, Mar 29, 2012 at 20:19

Thursday, Mar 29, 2012 at 20:19
Mate for more specific info on Mits try the Vic Pajero club forum. very knowledable people on there about all things Mitchi. I dont think the 24 valve motors are free spinners.
Good luck Pete
AnswerID: 481783

Reply By: splits - Thursday, Mar 29, 2012 at 20:44

Thursday, Mar 29, 2012 at 20:44
Years ago while working on new Toyotas, the book said 100,000 ks for the timing belt for the 2 litre diesels. We fixed a few broken ones and found they were all around 180,000 so they had a fair bit in reserve.

All of them were in Hiace vans and being commercial vehicles they had all clocked up the ks fairly quickly. Yours may be different because the belt is now 11 years old and, being rubber, age may now come in to it so it is hard to say what will happen if you keep going.

I intend replacing the belt on my Hilux diesel next week. It is an 03 model with 110,000 ks on it. The book says 150,000 but it is going to take me years to get up that far at the rate I am going so I thought 9 years is long enough.

Those Toyota engines did do a lot of damage when the belts broke. I am not familiar with yours but I would imagine there would be a very good chance it would be the same.
AnswerID: 481789

Follow Up By: Ross M - Thursday, Mar 29, 2012 at 21:02

Thursday, Mar 29, 2012 at 21:02
BT50 Mazda has 120,000 km as the interval but some have broken at 85,000km
so who can tell.
FollowupID: 757101

Reply By: Rockape - Thursday, Mar 29, 2012 at 22:52

Thursday, Mar 29, 2012 at 22:52
Have a think about it,
I am not going to tell you that it will be ok and no one else can, but these are the things to consider.

Mitsi motors are strong and have a good rep.
I know I have one in my cheap as chips Hyundai excel with a mitsi motor and I can't kill it. I changed the belt late and the belt was like new.

If you drive it and keep the revs down and keep the acceleration and deceleration down to the minimum do you think that will help.

I am not going to tell you all is good so you will have to decide yourself. I would drive it, but that is me not you.

AnswerID: 481809

Follow Up By: GT Campers - Friday, Mar 30, 2012 at 07:52

Friday, Mar 30, 2012 at 07:52
Three words:
FollowupID: 757129

Reply By: SA Mitsi Fan - Friday, Mar 30, 2012 at 09:13

Friday, Mar 30, 2012 at 09:13
Thanks heaps for all the replies guys. Paranoia set in overnight and I've cancelled the road trip. If the motor went while in the middle of nowhere I'd be so dirty on myself. I had a read up regarding the 4wd light and checked out the Pajero forum - a lot of interesting but conflicting info around! Ultimately the light wasn't flashing before I had a mechanic do the rocker cover gaskets yesterday so I rang them first thing and it's back there now. Fingers crossed it's something simple like they didn't connect a hose.

I will be towing with the car so it looks like I will need to spend a bit on her before using it properly as mentioned. I'm just really dissapointed what I thought was a great, honest deal is turning into an expensive purchase. I'm gonna go right through the service book and note down everything that has been done and everything that has been skipped so I know where I stand. I guess the silver lining is I could have bought a car with a few more kms but no certainty about what was done and what wasn't...
AnswerID: 481837

Follow Up By: Ross M - Friday, Mar 30, 2012 at 11:02

Friday, Mar 30, 2012 at 11:02
Going through the service book may not prove very much as if it has been stealership serviced. This is because the service book, which has been stamped with every service, is just that a book which has been stamped at each service interval. After checking the book you won't know what has been done and what was skipped. It all relies on the honesty and integrity of the dealer and their staff.
I haven't found any up to acceptable standards of practice.

In many many cases the stamping of the servcie book bears no correlation with the actual service the car has received. While people all believe the the same delusion, re the importance and standing of a fully stamped book, there will continue to be dealers who DO NOT service but they are religious in stamping books.

Every dealer serviced vehicle is likely to have this happen to it cos it makes the dealer lots of money. Eg. A $500 service fee for a $50 oil and filter is not uncommon.
Moral of story. Begin your own schedule of maintenance so you do know what has been done, of course use the book schedule as the guide.

PS Recently heard of a Mercedes car after the 50,000 service, found out dealer had never changed the engine oil.
FollowupID: 757149

Follow Up By: SA Mitsi Fan - Friday, Mar 30, 2012 at 11:22

Friday, Mar 30, 2012 at 11:22
Mechanic just rang - apparently it was a split vaccum hose causing the 4wd flashing light error......happy with that!
FollowupID: 757151

Reply By: Member - John and Val - Friday, Mar 30, 2012 at 11:06

Friday, Mar 30, 2012 at 11:06
Hi, and welcome to ExplorOz.

Getting right away from timing belts and such.

I gather you are new to 4WD. To get the best out of your very nice looking vehicle, suggest it's worth increasing the skill set of the users. Probably the best way is to join a 4WD club offering good training. We'd been driving for half a century and thought we knew it all (well some of it anyway!). We joined a club and each spent 3 days doing their "basic" training, much of that time with an accredited trainer in the passenger seat. Learned an enormous amount that has allowed us to confidently tackle things we wouldn't have dreamed of previously. As well as the pool of expertise that such a club provides, the camaraderie and the opportunity for excursions with like minded people is great.


J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

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AnswerID: 481843

Reply By: SA Mitsi Fan - Friday, Mar 30, 2012 at 11:14

Friday, Mar 30, 2012 at 11:14
Yeah good advice regarding the service books! Interestingly the book is pretty thorough. Each interval has an invoice stapled to it up the the 180k one. For the 180k service, they have written "no" next to each thing they didn't do and then ticked all the things they did. The 195k page is blank but has oil and filter written in pen with 201105kms noted. The 210k page is blank but has an invoice for $535 for a new thermostat and recon radiator. So I think the history up to 180k is pretty good but I'll probably go over everything and start my own history now as recommended :).

Thanks for the tips on the club John. At this point I hadn't planned on doing heaps of offroad stuff other than driving around my property but I think once I get the mechanicals sorted, the 4wd bug will bite :)
AnswerID: 481845

Reply By: SA Mitsi Fan - Sunday, Apr 01, 2012 at 22:00

Sunday, Apr 01, 2012 at 22:00
Hi all,

Update on the rig. Ok, against good advice and my own concerns about it, yesterday I got back from an 1800km round trip. Friday arvo I had the car emptied and my previous car ( VS commodore ) was set for the trip. The Commodore was for sale and I hadn't had any calls on it.....until Friday. So a guy showed up with cash and took it away leaving me car-less apart from the Challenger. I got the car back from the mechnics that morning after they fixed the 4wd light error and took it to see another mate who works on Land Rovers all day. He popped the top Timing Cover of and said the belt looked in ok condition ( no cracks ) and felt ok. No gaurantees but he thought it would be alright. So circumstance led me to it and luckily it paid off. The car drove great the whole way. I'll be getting the Belt done this week. A few more questions I have now.

1. The car was really bumpy and the ride felt a lot rougher than if I was in my commo - is this normal for a 4wd?

2. The Challenger has Central Locking but it's with the key - is there a cheap and easy way to get a "button" style Central locking?

3. Today I got given a set of Rhino Roof Racks that were on a Ford Explorer. They seem to have different mounts - are these universal or can you get brand specific brackets?

Thanks in advance :)
AnswerID: 482124

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