Mysterious Non-Running Engine Diagnosis: 1992 Mitsubishi Montero Sport RS

While surfing CL, I found a '92 Mitsubishi Montero Sport RS for sale. Here’s the ad:

“I am selling my 1992 Mitsubishi Montero RS, mileage 150 000, manual Transmission for $700. The engine is not working and oil is leaking (but not excessively). I think the time belt needs to be changed as well. However, the car does have new tires and two spare ones (in good condition). It has had break system replaced; transmission and differential are in good condition. The car does not have any rust or body damage. Come and see it and I will take the best offer.”

For some reason, my wife hasn’t said no (yet). The kicker is that I’d have to find a buddy who’d flat bed it about 180 miles, just counting the highway. After speaking to the owner’s wife on the phone, who had to translate since her husband speaks Hindi, I found out they’re leaving the country by the 23rd or so. She said if they can’t sell it by then, they would have to make arrangements to get rid of it since they can’t bring it with them. This translates to me as either “dirt cheap” or “possibly free.”

When I asked specifics about why the engine doesn’t work, she said they haven’t had it diagnosed since it’s in their driveway. Even though the timing belt has to be replaced, she made it clear to me that it hadn’t given way, destroying the engine. She said that the oil leak was somewhere “near a pipe” by the oil pump. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but it would mean possible engine damage. Research also indicated that these engines tend to have their valve rings fail at about this time in their life, leading to oil usage, so that could be a factor.

This is pretty much my dream car, even though it gets abysmal mileage and could very well end my marriage even getting it running. Between that vague information, I’m trying to figure out if it’s worth going for. Ideally, I’d like to avoid an engine swap since the depth of my automotive experience is pretty good but not amazing. What can I possibly expect out of this and is it worth it? Does anyone here have experience with these trucks and things to watch out for? Also, will it end my marriage?

From your post, I think that the owners are more savvy than you are givingthe credit. They seem to know about timing belts, but they don’t think it is worthwhile to get the engine running? Certainly there must be some Montero Sport RS available somewhere that does run. Frankly, I don’t think that an 18 year old car that doesn’t run is worth very much. They won’t give the car away as it is worth something as scrap metal.

This is a 3.0 Mitsubishi engine. A timing belt should not render the engine null and void. It’s a non-interference engine. Leaking is usually limited to cam seals as far as “usual suspects”.

The valve guides and valve seals were a weak spot for this engine. Remanufactured heads are about $1000 from a Mopar dealer. It should be the same from a Mitsubishi dealer. An engine reman’d long block is about $2800, but I doubt it would be necessary. I’m just giving you the stuff I’ve priced.

It’s literally worth more in scrap. The price should be somewhere <$500. That’s my opinion, anyway.