Our 1993 Dodge Daytona Project

The story: with Ryan driving to school, and bad weather coming on, we needed another operable car. At first, we looked for an inexpensive (under $2K), sensible, gas-saving car. But after responding to several totally bogus ads, I ran across an ad for a 1993 Dodge Daytona (ad is below) on 29 October 2008. The ad had been posted that day and I managed to contact the owner. Yes, he still had it. I asked a few questions and decided I wanted to look at it. I told him that I was about 2 hours drive from his house, but that if he would hold it, I would walk out the door right away. He promised to hold it so Ryan and I hit the road. It was just after 6PM on a school night! We found the house, then had to drive another 10 miles to the car where we checked it out the best we could at night. Fortunately it was in a moderately lit parking lot. The car had a few issues, but seemed straight and solid and safe, so we haggled a little bit and sealed the deal. The drive home was uneventful, other than arriving at the house at 12:06AM.

This page will document the progress (or lack of it) as time goes on.

 

Original Ad:

1993 DODGE DAYTONA ES - $1200 (Laweranceville)


Reply to: see below
Date: 2008-10-29, 11:23AM EDT


1993 DAYTONA ES
V6, 161K MILES,
5 SPEED, RED,
RUNS AND DRIVES
VERY GOOD.

What we ended up with:

Well, the car drove ok and as stated above, we made it home ok.. The motor is clean, strong, runs with no ticks or strange noises, and does not leak. The manual transmission is solid, but the shifter is a little sloppy. The interior is fairly clean and the seats are in good condition. The only unexpected problem I found on the way home was that about half-way back, the turn signals quit working. By playing around I found that I could make them work by pulling the lever toward me while holding it in the position I wanted for the turn signal. After a few days of driving it, the problem seems to be heat related. When the car is cool, the signals work fine. When it warms up inside, the problem above reappears. Further, when the problem does appear, the headlights need to be on while holding the lever in the proper position to get the signals to work. I figure there is weak plastic inside and the metal is expanding with the heat. Hopefully, I can get the entire pod from a junkyard. Otherwise, the problems are fairly minor. Here is a list of the things that I have noticed to need to be fixed (in no particular order of importance:

After the above are fixed, the only thing left will be to a paintjob and the car will be very nice indeed. The car has been at least partly repainted at some point and the clear coat is peeling. There are also a couple minor dings on the car. All plastic appears to be in good condition though.

 

Record of expenses and repairs:

The following table will document repairs and costs of the vehicle as we go.

Action
Date purchased
Where purchased
Date fixed
Cost (rounded to even $)
initial purchase 29 October 2008 previous owner N/A $1,150.00
removed blackout treatment on headlights N/A N/A 7 November 2008 $0.00
gas cartridges for hatchback 4 November 2008 AutoZone 9 November 2008 $33.00
headlight polish 6 November 2008 AutoZone  

$7.00

sandpaper (for headlight polish) 10 November 2008 aprox $10   $5.50
window switch (driver's door) 8 November 2008 EBay (awaiting delivery) $10.00
window motor belt & grease 13 & 16 November 2008 AutoZone / O'Reilly 16 November 2008 $39.00
secure driver's door panel N/A N/A 16 November 2008 $0.00
turn signal switch 11 November 2008 junk yard 12 November 2008 $4.00
seatbelt buckle 11 November 2008 junk yard 11 November 2008 $4.00
balance tires   aprox $40    
fix radio 14 November 2008 junk yard 14 November 2008 $13.00
windshield wipers 11 November 2008 Auto Zone 11 November 2008 $21.50
shifter bushing 22 January 2009 Auto Zone/Home Depot 31 January 2009 $3.00
Total cost to date  
$1,290.00
 
Other items purchased , but not needed - will ebay and hopefully get this money back
windshield washer fluid container & pump 11 November 2008 junk yard not needed $7.00
back seat latch 11 November 2008 junk yard fixed old one $6.00
power mirror control 11 November 2008 junk yard not needed $5.00
door lock actuator (might need this after all) 11 November 2008 junk yard apparently not needed $4.00
extra radio 14 November 2008 junk yard not needed $13.00
Total cost of spare parts   
$35.00

 

NOTES:

When I was in the junk yard, I noted they had a good windhield fluid reservoir with the pump. I was not sure if I needed it, but I knew the washer was not currently working. I decided to get it, just in case. It turns out that the pump runs, it was just out of fluid. It works fine now, so I will put this one on EBay.

I purchased the back seat latch. But when disassembling to replace it, I found out what the problem was and was able to repair it. Will EBay the extra at a later date.

 

BLOGGING AS SHE GOES

I decided to blog some of this as I figure out what is wrong and how to fix it.

11 November 2008: Productive day at the junk yard. Found a 93 Daytona and two Lebarons of the proper year. I was able to get everything on the list that I wanted to buy from a junk yard, and then some. The only thing left at this point is the window motor, and I want to just buy a reconditioned one. Fix it once and be done with it. I hope to have the driver's window fixed by the end of next week. I was searching for parts on EBay and came across a serendipitous auction of a brand new window switch set for the driver's door for $10 - including shipping. The switch buttons in the car are very faded and for all I know, they could be part of the problem. I felt it was worth the purchase. When the switch set arrives, I will remove the door panel to see if the window and/or mirror problems can be be attributed to wiring. I suspect the window motor is bad, but that whoever tried to take off the door panel may have messed up the mirror wiring. Hopefully, I can fix everything. Once I confirm the window motor is bad, I will order a reconditioned one and install the works. I guess I should check fuses for the mirrors and the radio first (would be funny if they are on the same bad fuse). I definitely need to get the tires and wheels looked at. Something is definitely a little off with one of the rear ones, I think the passenger side. It's not bad, but it is noticeable. Once I get the turn signal switch replaced and tested, I believe the car will be considered safe for all drivers in the household. All in all, I am feeling very good about this car.

12 November 2008: Well, got some more work done on the car today. Ryan and I replaced the turn signal switch and it seems to be working correctly. While we were at it, we checked out the radio with a meter. Power is getting to the radio, but it won't turn on. If I can't find another radio, I will have to find someone that can fix this one. I also went ahead and pulled the driver's side door panel to see if I can figure out what is up with the window. It turns out that the window was being held up by a piece of 1x4 screwed into the door panel! I will post pictures tomorrow or soon at least. Plus I discovered that the window motor actually works, it just isn't hooked up to whatever mechanism actually pushes the window up and down. I have never seen the weird track that somehow runs the windows so I guess I need to go back to the junkyard to see how the window is supposed to work. As a bonus though, while I had the door panel open I discovered that the reason the power mirrors didn't work is because the switch wasn't hooked up. So now I have another part (the switch) that I can EBay. Finally, the mounting clips for the door panel are bent and/or stripped, so I either need to pick them up from AutoZone or from the junkyard. If all works well, I should have the tires and the passenger door lock fixed by this weekend. As soon as I figure out what parts I need for the driver's window, I will get them ordered and that shouldn't take but a couple hours to finish up the window, mirrors, and door panel. That will just leave the headlights to be polished up. Oh yeah, and that silly radio. I have several radios so I would just need to get a mounting kit to adapt a single din radio to a double din hole. Or else buy a new, totally cool radio, like this one. That's a decision for later.

13 November 2008: Did some research on the window belt and it doesn't look like it should be difficult to replace. The only thing is that the previous owner removed all traces of the old belt. The belt I bought says its for Chrysler/Plymouth products through 91, and this is a 93. Hmmmmmmmmmm. Well, it looks like it should fit, but I think its definitely time for another trip to the junkyard. Another plus, the removal and reset of the switches apparently fixed the passenger door lock actuator also! I guess it was a bad connection. So, I have yet another part to Ebay. Finally, I found that about any radio from the mid-80's to 1999 should fit. Plenty on Ebay, and prob will be able to find on in the junkyard.

16 November 2008: OK, this is a couple days worth here. On 14 November, I went to the junkyard right after work and quickly scanned the Chrysler/Plymouth/Dodge/Jeep section for radios. Most cars have already had them removed. I managed to find one exactly like the one in the car, a couple others that were similar, and two Infinity upgraded radios. I bought one like was already in the car, and one of the Infinity radios. I wanted to see if the sound quality difference was really noticable. I installed the stock one in the junkyard parking lot and and was happy when it worked. When I got home, I unplugged it and put in the Infinity. At first it didn't seem to work, but after playing around with it, I discovered that only the search function or manual tuning did not work. If you set the station, then turned off the power and back on, it played. Its beyond my skills to fix, which is too bad because the sound quality was awsome! The next morning, Derek and I went to a University open house so having music was a blessing. Derek seemed to be excited about the school, but I am going to make him look at another one or two before he makes a choice. Then this afternoon, Ryan and I finally got around to replacing the belt on the window. On our first try, we broke the new belt when we were not being careful about how the track lined up at the feed end. The window motor has a lot of torque! So, off to buy a second belt and it only took about 10 minutes to properly install it, then it seemed like 45 minutes to properly install the door panel. Anyway, the car is completely together! I will probably still replace the passenger door lock, because it started sticking again. Not sure why it only sticks sometimes, but I have the part and I know how to fix it, so I should just go ahead and do it. Tomorrow, hopefully I will get the tires rotated and balanced also to see if that will cure the slight roughness and the noise. Then just need to polish out the headlights. Will consider putting in brighter halogen bulbs also.

2 December 2008: OK, I haven't been on here in a while, nor have I done anything else to the car. The car is still running very well and is now getting 25.5MPG. I think that is about as good as it will get. I still have to get the tires balanced and rub out the headlights, though they are not too bad now that they are clean.

16 January 2009: I finally figured out what was going on with the turn signals after taking the pod apart a couple times. The problem appears to be the press fit of the connectors. When the interior of the car gets hot, the plastic apparently expands enough that the pins on the left side of the pod no longer make contact with their mate. I tried to see if I can get a tighter connection, but was unable to. It works ok while its cool, but will get flaky when it warms up. At least I figured out all I have to do is push the left side of the pod forward into the dash if it quits working on me and usually it will continue working the whole way home.

8 February 2009: Still haven't polished out the headlights. Its warm today so maybe I'll get to it. That and I still need to replace the pod with the turn signals. The only thing that has been an issue lately is the shifter. A couple weeks ago, I went to put it in reverse and the shifter came right off the cable. I was able to slide the end on the bar on the shifter and it held until I got home, but it came off again. Working from the passenger seat, I was able to pop the bushing out of the cable end. The part of the bushing that was away from me had deteriorated and broken. This part is not available anywhere and the Dodge dealer wanted $150 for a new shifter cable. Since there was no other visible wear and the shifter was smooth, I decided to repair it myself. I checked online and found a thread where someone had made their own bushing, but I wanted to see if I could find one at a junk yard first, since I knew there was a 93 in there. I took it apart and found that the previous owner had repaired it himself also, except he didn't use a bushing. So, I found a piece of fuel hose that was large enough to fit over the rod at the end of the shifter and thick enough to mostly fill the hole in the cable end. There was a little slop, but I figured it would be OK. I had to buy a whole foot of the hose, but only used about 3/4 of an inch. I also bought a 1" fender washer and a small, but heavy duty clip. I had to drill out the hole in the washer to 5/16" (it was originally 1/4") and it fit perfect. The clip fit perfectly on the groove of the rod to hold it all together. Total repair cost about $3.00 and a little time. Much better than what the Dodge dealer wanted from me.