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The Sleek and Fabulous Gray Putt-Putt

In 1999 I bought a 1988 Chevy Nova (no, not the muscle car, the Toyota with a bowtie), with a 5-speed manual transmission and a 1.2 liter transverse-mounted 4 cylinder engine with original 26,000 miles on it in California. This week, the odometer hit 200,000!

In 1999, my ex-husband, an independent auto repair shop owner, went through and did some maintenance, oil, radiator, hoses, etc., but he also did the timing chain.

This car is amazing! I live in Rochester, NY since 2008 and she starts every morning. I’ve had to handle some emergent repairs, most recently the front disc brakes, master cylinder and rear struts, but nothing really with the engine other than regular oil changes and an occasional tune-up. My question is what should I expect now that there are 200,000 miles on it. And yes, it’s the original clutch. Please advise. Thanks! Lyz

According to the Gates manual the 1988 Chevy Nova has a timing belt, not a chain. That’s why your ex changed it. It’s scheduled to be changed every 60,000 miles.

You’re overdue to change the timing belt again. And you should change the tesioner and the water pump at the same time. The front main seal too if it’s seeping oil.

I’d suggest getting a maintenance schedule, or a Haynes Repair Manual from the local bookstore. That way you’ll have the maintenance schedule and be able to keep the car maintained. How long it will last if you do this is anybody’s guess.

In addition to that, it’s a bloody miracle that the clutch has lasted this long. Expect it to die. Watch for signs of slippage and get it fixed as soon as you detect them so you don’t end up stranded somewhere.

Thank you! I’ll do as you suggest.

So far I haven’t detected any signs of slippage. One reason it’s lasted this long is the first 11 years it was on the road it was towed behind the first owner’s motor home and just used for short trips. He was a customer of my ex-husband and when he passed away we bought the car from the estate. Also, in CA you do more freeway driving, so less shifting. Here in Rochester that’s a different story.