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1997 Geo Tracker 4x4


fc24151
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I just bought a 97 Tracker. Mechanically, it is in great shape. However, I was hoping somebody on here who knows what their way around one could help me out with some of the issues that it does have.

- The clear plastic cover in front of the gauge display is, what appears to be, scratched. to the point that I don't think sanding is a viable option. What would be the best way and where would I go to look to replace the plastic cover?

- On the drivers side, the "step", or strip of body underneath the door has 2 pretty sizeable rust holes. Should I just take it to a body shop or is there an easier DIY way to fix it?

- The tracks to move both seats are what seems to be rusted to the point where they absolutely will not move. Generous amounts of WD40 and PB blaster did not help at all. What would be the best way to get em moving?

- Underneath the geo, there is hardly any rust. The original owner had the frame lined. However, with the small rust issues, (the previously mentioned door step and also underneath the battery reservoir), should I be worried about rust in the floor panels?

- It is the 3 speed automatic, and driving it 400 miles back from where it was purchased- surprisingly- there were not any issues. Until 4000+ rpm were being maintained and it would putt like it was trying to stall out. It never did actually stall out. I threw a bottle of fuel injector cleaner in and haven't had the issue since. Is this common with these motors? (16 valve)? Is it better to continue with the fuel injector cleaner or simply replace the injectors?

- There is apparently a leak somewhere on the passenger side door to the point where water is making its way through the door and depositing on the passenger side floor. Being stationed in Virginia at the moment, that means a sheet of ice on the passenger floor. The window liner appears to be in working order. Can looks be deceiving? Should the liner be replaced, and if not, what else could be causing the leak?

That's just about everything I can think of at the moment. If anybody has any input on any of these issues or just some general geo knowledge, I'd love to hear it. 

 

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fc24151...I'll throw some quick comments your way, let's see if others jump into the discussion...Welcome to the forums!

On 1/9/2017 at 7:29 PM, fc24151 said:

I just bought a 97 Tracker. Mechanically, it is in great shape. However, I was hoping somebody on here who knows what their way around one could help me out with some of the issues that it does have.

- The clear plastic cover in front of the gauge display is, what appears to be, scratched. to the point that I don't think sanding is a viable option. What would be the best way and where would I go to look to replace the plastic cover?

There are plastics suppliers, you need a durable and UV resistant plastic, and a shop that specializes can help here.  You have the original panel face as a template, they can cut to shape much easier than we can do this ourselves.

- On the drivers side, the "step", or strip of body underneath the door has 2 pretty sizeable rust holes. Should I just take it to a body shop or is there an easier DIY way to fix it?

Rust of this type can be tackled but does need to be eradicated completely.  POR15 and other products can convert oxidized (rusted) metal to harmless substances, and this helps.  That needs to be followed with proper priming and sealing before applying a quality color coat and clear finish.  If this all sounds busy and challenging, try an estimate from a local body shop.  If too costly, consider tackling this yourself.

- The tracks to move both seats are what seems to be rusted to the point where they absolutely will not move. Generous amounts of WD40 and PB blaster did not help at all. What would be the best way to get em moving?

You may need to remove the tracks and have them bead blasted to remove the rust and scale.  This would enable a close safety inspection.  If the rails are rusty, I'd also be concerned about integrity of the hardware and floorboards.  Any new hardware must be just like the original pieces for tensile strength and type.

- Underneath the geo, there is hardly any rust. The original owner had the frame lined. However, with the small rust issues, (the previously mentioned door step and also underneath the battery reservoir), should I be worried about rust in the floor panels?I

Inspect these panels for any signs of "exfoliation".  This is that raised or bubbly paint phenomenon that is actually rust building beneath the primer and paint.  Exfoliation can be severe enough to impact the integrity and structural worth of a panel, floorboard or unitized body/chassis.  At least worth a close exam.

- It is the 3 speed automatic, and driving it 400 miles back from where it was purchased- surprisingly- there were not any issues. Until 4000+ rpm were being maintained and it would putt like it was trying to stall out. It never did actually stall out. I threw a bottle of fuel injector cleaner in and haven't had the issue since. Is this common with these motors? (16 valve)? Is it better to continue with the fuel injector cleaner or simply replace the injectors?

Injector cleaner and a new fuel filter would make a difference.  The filter may have water or debris that the injector cleaner has temporarily unclogged.  Does sound like a fuel supply issue, which can be as simple as the need for a new fuel filter.  Try the simple stuff first, new injectors and a fuel pump are spendy.

- There is apparently a leak somewhere on the passenger side door to the point where water is making its way through the door and depositing on the passenger side floor. Being stationed in Virginia at the moment, that means a sheet of ice on the passenger floor. The window liner appears to be in working order. Can looks be deceiving? Should the liner be replaced, and if not, what else could be causing the leak?

Pressure and vacuum can create leaks, but this could just be seals that are stiff or lined with a dirt film.  I really like 303 Aerospace Protectant for its ability to renew rubber without damaging it.  Wiping down the seals with 303 might make a big difference, both in cleaning the seals and making them more pliant.  303 is a UV blocker, too!

That's just about everything I can think of at the moment. If anybody has any input on any of these issues or just some general geo knowledge, I'd love to hear it. 

 

 

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  • 4 years later...

I just purchased a 1998 geo tracker. Of course I had two people look at it it had a transmission fluid leak. I should’ve walked away but the rest of it APPEARED to be in great shape. Well no after fixing a bunch of stuff $700 later at a mechanic speedometer still doesn’t work check engine light on for o2 sensor and after moving it for tree cutters wouldn’t start. My friend cleaned relay started ran good but now the alternator locked up burned up belt. Ok you think no biggie I’ll change it we’ll after taking out the windshield wiper reservoir and battery holy crap a hole bigger than the car!!!! So now what have I just thrown near 1500 out the window?  There is a little play in the strut tower and where the shock mounts is completely rusted and pretty much gone. You can see the whole shock and wheel well through the hole. Is this worth having repaired welded strut mount replaced?  etc ugh. Got a price of 600 to weld but that is from pics and me finding necessary parts. Any help and honesty would greatly be appreciated. I hate to let it go but I need to be realistic. 

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Sharon...Wow, aside from the mechanical expenses, the rust issue can be serious.  If you can take some cell phone photos of the hole and rust, providing as much view of rust damage as possible, I would be glad to comment.  Rust can be a deal breaker, maybe not in this case.  The good news is the Tracker's frame/drivable chassis rather than a unitized body/chassis.  Let's see the extent of the damage.

Moses

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Sharon...I got the visual from the photos.  The rust is exceptional.  Is the underside of the Tracker equally rusted?  This looks like the result of road salt exposure or what can happen when a vehicle has been run in salt water surf.  This major rust is in the area of the battery, which does hint of possible battery acid damage.  However, similar rust in other areas of the frame and body would rule out an isolated problem at the battery section. 

The concern here, as you suggest, is "good money after bad".  A primary consideration is safety and whether the frame or superstructure of the body is affected by rust like you photographed.  If the right front wheel well and strut tower are the full extent of the damage, that could be fixed if affordable and practical.  If this rust perforation is a pattern for similar damage elsewhere beneath the vehicle, the Tracker would be a "parts car" for salvaging and selling the powertrain, rear axle and other pieces.

My suggestion is to get the vehicle to a reputable body shop that can lift the Tracker on a hoist and evaluate the rest of the frame, the bottom of the body (including floor pans) and the steel brake, fuel and other lines beneath the vehicle.  It is worth a half-hour's labor charge to have a professional body/frame shop evaluate the extent of the rust and offer a rough idea of what it would take to fix it and the cost.  That would be the basis for an "informed decision" on your part.

If rust is pervasive, your theory about cutting losses may turn out the right choice.  I would at least pursue an evaluation and estimate from a shop that specializes in both body and frame work.  Speculating or subletting a series of "patch repairs" is not the right approach.  You have already discovered that shops simply put repair work on the clock and charge accordingly, whether you end up with a dependable vehicle or not.  What you need is an impartial shop that will offer an objective, professional opinion.

If the vehicle were in the air and you could photograph it from one end of the undercarriage to the other (bumper to bumper, all areas of the underside), I would be glad to offer my opinion.  A reputable frame/body shop should be able to do so as well.

Moses

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