I'd like to welcome you to the GVR4 forums. Thank you for showing interest in our little neck of the woods. Now, let's go ahead, answer a few questions, and get a few things straight.
Q - "Are these cars reliable? I hear they have problems."
A - Are you reliable? Do you have problems? You see reliability is as much a measure of the typical owner as it is the car, probably more so. These cars are 20 years old now. They have problems, it's a fact. Fortunately, the typical GVR4 owner is a little older than the typical 95 Honda Civic owner. We tend to have jobs that pay above minimum wage and don't hassle with 16 year old girlfriends who key our cars when they get mad we didn't call them Friday night. So while the typical owner of a mid 90's Integra/Civic is worried about the Ebay HID kit and having his friend fire up the torch so he can drop the car ghetto style, we are checking the tranny fluid level and rust proofing or replacing front subframes. While they might be scraping the cash together to get a 19.95 "Carbon Fiber Look" exhaust welded onto their stock rear section regardless of the obvious smoke they have billowing out at idle, we are probably checking for frayed wires and thin hoses, focusing on when we have to do the next timing belt change.
See there is a scale. It's called the "Importance Scale". It goes like this.
Fart Cans/EBAY HID Kits<--------------------------------------------------------------->Mainenance
Generally speaking, around here, we fall towards the right side of that scale. If you fall towards the right side of that scale, then again, welcome to the boards. If not, sell or don't buy a VR4. There are precious few of them left and we don't need you mucking anymore of them up, than people like you already have.
Q - "What parts will break/fail/need be worried about?
A - All of it. All parts will fail, break or need to be replaced depending on two things. First, where you fit on that scale up there. Very important. And second, what you plan on doing to the car. If you want a Daily Driver, then understand daily drivers typically don't have 70mm turbos and 4 inch exhausts and the ones that do will typically break down at an accelerated rate. To paraphrase a quote from the famous American soldier Aldo Raines, "When you buy this car, you take on Deb't." That debt is paid in replacing almost every part you know to be 20 years old. It appears when you have a 3000 budget and you don't throw it all in a giant turbo, ignoring the hundreds of other moving parts. But in general, your specific car will have about as many problems as items you willfully ignore. One thing to note is that radiator hose, the one with the texture on it? It's twenty years old. And the transmission? Yeah the gears have gone through 20 winters of driving and are probably not factory fresh anymore. All of these things need to be addressed. To ignore them puts you back towards the left side of the scale, and we don't like that.
Q - "Don't these cars have x problem and Y problem?"
A - For the most part, no. The people who have owned DSM's, and subsequently GVR4's due to the similarity, have had cars which present with those problems. But let's look at who these people are. Is it the local high school kids back in 2002 complaining about bad clutches and trannies on the 1G's they bought as a first car? Sure it is. Why? Because high school kids race everywhere, at all times. They do zero maintenance. They think they bought a race car, when in fact they bought an abused POS time bomb they drive like a maniac and then complain about when it fails due to their own neglect on some internet forum. Barring abject failure of the manufacturer or just overall crap quality(Yugo anybody?), any car is as reliable and problem prone as the typical owner allows it to be. Find the first five mid 90's Integra's or Civic you can, and count the number with a major visual or audible problem. Why is that number so high? Because high school and college kids who know F-All about anything mechanical own and maintain them, and by maintain, I mean, spend date money on an EBAY exhaust, rims and HID kits. The problems of the owner will be reflected in the car. If you are a problem, then so will the car be. There is a reason the number one cause of death for males 16-25 is auto accidents. And those deaths, are not car specific. It is the desire of that age group to drive fast and stupid, and that is reflected in the care they have for their car, in general.
Q - "What is the thing I should look for before I buy one?"
A - Preferably everything. I like to actually look at the car before I buy it. If you mean what is the one "Go - No Go" item, there isn't one. Having a motor is nice. Tranny would be cool. The motor doesn't have to be running because it probably has over 150K on it and will need work anyway. If it's running, great. Maybe check for obscene amounts of rust. A little rust you can deal with, no floorpan though? You probably wanna keep shopping unless you like welding as I do. It works like this. Go back to the "Cars For Sale" section since you're a member now, hopefully, and look at those cars. Find the number that are ready to go out of the box, need nothing. It's about 1-3% of them, maybe. My car has 10-15 grand into it easy, and I couldn't sell it as "Needs Nothing". If you buy a GVR4 or almost any 1G and most 2G DSM's now, you bought a project. Understand that before you even consider buying it.
Q - "Whats the first thing I should do when I get the car?"
A - My answer for this is not in line with many but I am a man of constant sorrow. I am of the opinion, that you tear it down or as I told Steve one day, hit the reset button. Doing a semi-thorough tear down, not into the motor or anything, just the externals mostly, allows you to really see what you're dealing with. A friend bought a 97 Talon a while back with a 1G head swap. He only paid a grand for it so a good deal for a mostly complete car. Upon cursory inspection, it looked pretty good. Upon tearing it down, it had the 95 cams in a 1G head, with a ghetto cut steel block off plate for a 2G T-stat housing to fit the 1G head. It had a JB Weld holding the rigged cam position sensor on the drivers side of the head. It had RTV blocking off the cam seal where the 1G CAS should have been. It had a 2G intake manifold RTV sealed on the big port 1G head. So my position is tear it down. Outside of that, the answer is basic. Belts, hoses, timing, fluids. From there, just listen for the noises or find the leak and fix it.
Q - "I just got my GVR4 but I don't have the badge number. Can you help me find it?"
A - Probably not. Those of us who know what number our car is are the lucky ones I guess. The numbers were applied on the docks after they arrived from Japan. This tells you two things. One, the GVR4 is not a DSM. They are "DSM-Like" in drivetrain only. DSM's were built in America, not imported from Japan. Two, the numbering system is arbitrary. The badges were randomly slapped on and key fobs thrown in to match the badge. Occasionally, a new owner will buy a car without a badge which has a VIN registered here on the site, but for the most part, if you don't know, and the previous owner doesn't know, we don't know either. Sometimes people have had luck finding something in the car, a scrap of paper stuffed in the glovebox or on the back of a card from some dealership, with the number of the car on it. In this case, if you need a badge, still not a lot of help. You can buy a random badge from time to time for 100+ dollars these days. You can also get a Key fob with the badge number, hack off the ring attachment part and paste it up there. This is the cheapest way to do it and although not the right size, I think it looks acceptable as a substitute. I would never separate my car from it's badge and find the practice to be underhanded except in the case of sending it to the crusher, in which case the badge should be removed and retired. Side note, I really like my badge number, because it is a Prime Number.
Q - "Can I fit 20" rims on my GVR4? Can you help me with the wiring for my Neon and HID's"
A - Probably and Yes. Will you suffer some ridicule at the hand of the more classically minded individuals on the boards? You bet your 20" DUB's you will. This is where we look at the matters of taste and generally that means, younger owners with, what some would say, crazy ideas. The members of the board, as I mentioned elsewhere, tend to be older, more reserved. Our opinions on taste tend to shy away from the gaudy and obscene and lean more towards the classic OEM in appearance. While many of us swap rims and do JDM bumpers, cut holes in their hoods for external wastegates, we tend to have strong opinions about what constitutes good taste and what constitutes getting laughed at. Generally speaking, around here, appearance mods should likewise be functional. While some of the younger members may, in the opinions of many, be corrupt in certain judgments, we tend to help them anyway unless the idea is obscene to the true definition of the group. A recent example of this would be the 'Can I convert to RWD' question, and the subsequent position many of the more learned members took regarding this inquiry. It should however be noted that taste is an individual thing. If your personal taste leans towards the flamboyant, maybe the GVR4 isn't for you. It's not a flamboyant car by design, rather it's a somewhat boxy 4 door sedan with a lot of potential. Most people see the car as such, and that tends to be reflected in their aesthetic choices. Basically, if you are thinking of that Duraflex body kit on Ebay before you even bought the car, a few of us hope you will reconsider or simply move along.
Q -"Wow, you're kind of grumpy. Isn't this a help and support forum?"
A - Yes. And I take my 20 years of working on DSM's and GVR4's very seriously. I didn't just randomly choose one of these cars one day and then decide it was better than sliced buttered bread. I came to that conclusion after doing comparisons with other comparable vehicles and motors over the course of years. I happen to believe that the 4G63 motor is one of, if not the finest small displacement power making engines ever made. I have worked on almost any car you can imagine save for a few exotics, most of which I have done more than basic maintenance. Now it's my turn to share that knowledge with the new kids who are just getting started at this car obsession. I help a small group of younger guys around me right now with their DSM's and always start our relationship with the same sentiment. "You bought this car thinking you bought a race car. Those days are over. This isn't a race car. This is a test. A test to determine how well you listen. I know more about your car right now, than you will five years from now. From here on out, after we determine the budget and your final goal, you will do exactly what I say. You will buy the parts I tell you. You will run all purchases past me first. We will start at the back of the car, and work our way forward, contrary to how you think we should do this. You will not spend money on body kits and rims when you still need suspension, head work, engine work, electronics, etc. We will work the mechanical parts first, getting it running reliably, then you can worry about what it looks like. If you agree to this, then let's get started. If not, the roll this piece of crap out of my driveway and find someone else to help you." Yes. Exactly that way.
So that about sums it up. If there are any other questions that need an honest answer feel free to post them. I'll be glad to answer them as will any of the other rowdy types around here.
And welcome to the boards. Now get to work.