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Thinking about buying a 1996 Geo Tracker LSi Convertible

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Looks good from the pictures.  About 140k miles.  Standard transmission.

What should I look for?

What should I beware of?

Are they any typical problems with these vehicles with this kind of mileage?

A friend had one and said you had to beware of the front pulley chewing up the keyway on the crankshaft.  Is that a common problem?

Any idea what a fair price is for this model?

thanks in advance!!

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Well, I can cast out some general concerns.  For model specifics, Knyte is the guy.  I'll get his attention and have him reply to your concerns.

Aside from the engine's condition, I would make sure the transfer case and transmission work well.  The manual transmission is a good thing, make sure the clutch works properly and does not slip.  Be sure the transmission does not slide out of any gear.

A concern with light 4x4s is whether the front and rear axles work properly and whether the vehicle has ever been damaged.  If you don't have a CarFax (which is not always the whole story anyway), I would get the vehicle onto a four-wheel alignment rack and check for a straight frame and suspension. 

Make sure the frame is intact, straight, and that the body and frame do not have perforation rust.  A recent forum exchange was about a badly rusted Geo Tracker that a lady purchased.  It was nickel and diming to get the Geo into running order.  Then she discovered rust behind the battery box that had eaten up the entire fender well.

The cloth tops and bows are a big issue with the Geo Tracker.  Be sure the top has all the pieces, that the cloth and framework are weather tight.  Look for overall originality with the vehicle.  History is everything with a used vehicle.  If you can trace the ownership back and have documented history of the service/maintenance, that's ideal.


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Ah, an LSi, nice.  That's the top trim level for Trackers.  It should have very well bolstered front seats and a split rear seat (which I personally love - I sought out LSi seats for my Tracker), power steering, and possibly air conditioning and automatic hubs ?

Aside from Moses' excellent advice above, I'd add the following:

Assuming you've checked all the usual places for rust - door seams, battery tray - have a look in each rear wheel well.  You'll notice there is a  body mount towards the front of the arch.  Check here for rust, this is a common area where rust can form and cause a lot of damage.  Also, the fuel tank skid plating is another place to look carefully.  I'd say with the miles you mention, there's every chance that skid plate and/or bracket might be bit corroded, so it wouldn't be too far out of the ordinary.

Don't be surprised if it leaks a bit of oil - they all do around the distributor; it's an easy fix with an inexpensive gasket.  If left unchecked, it can contaminate the clutch, however.

I haven't heard of the pulley issue you mention, but who knows - could be a bit of a narrower issue I simply haven't come across.

See if you can find out when the timing belt has been changed.  If the PO doesn't know, you will want to have that changed out sooner rather than later, so you KNOW the condition.  There's nothing worse than a BIG breakdown when simple preventative maintenance could have avoided it.

Lastly, check the inside of each door along the area around the mirror, between the door panel and the weather stripping.  The sheet metal often fractures here.  Again, easy fix for the right person, so it could be a bargaining point :)

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Thanks guys!  I really appreciate the rapid replies.  Supposedly it has had two owners.  

I'm originally from the upstate NY area so I'm familiar with how rust sends a lot of vehicles to an early grave.  Not sure if the Tracker is native to Virginia or not.

I was thinking about it as a fun toy, but with a car, truck, and several motorcycles already in the stable, it is a hard purchase to rationalize.  It might be a bit small for me and 3 dogs.  The soft top does not appeal to me much.  I'd prefer a hardtop.

I previously had a 1988 Suzuki Sidekick 4 door, and I was impressed with the heavy duty build and quality.  Underneath, It looked a lot like a 1/2 ton truck.

This was an additional note:   "air bag light on and check engine light is on saying evap purge control valve"

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Thanks much, Knyte!  That's the Geo Tracker expertise needed here.  Knyte knows every rust hideout on these vehicles, and that insight is priceless.

The timing belt is crucial.  If an interference engine, skipping cogs on a loose or worn belt, or a broken belt, can instantly bend valves or bury them in piston crowns.

I fully agree that the Geo Tracker IFS and previous Samurai beam axle chassis are stout.  These are serious 4x4 contenders.  We took two preproduction 2-door Tracker 4x4s over the Rubicon Trail in the mid-nineties to prove that point.  They earned Chevrolet/Geo a national ad campaign!


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