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I just recently bought a 98 Eclipse GS with a 420a engine with automatic transmission with 156,000 miles. I was curious to know what are some of the common problems I should expect to find on a 420a engine
 

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I just recently bought a 98 Eclipse GS with a 420a Nox Vidmate VLC engine with automatic transmission with 156,000 miles. I was curious to know what are some of the common problems I should expect to find on a 420a engine
The Eclipses are alright. I've owned two of that generation. They seem to be fairly reliable, but they are slow and boring. You won't want to install a turbo on the non-turbo model. The engines are completely different, and the cost of turboing the 420a just isn't worth it. If you want a turbo model, buy a turbo model. Going from the Sentra to an Eclipse isn't an upgrade. They were both low end commuter cars.
 

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Congrats on your new ride. Fairly reliable engine as long as it's maintained. Like any engine with a timing belt they need changing. Dont recall factory recommendation but I think its...70-75k miles or so. I was planning to do it after I hit 73k anyway but that time line became an immediate issue when one of the idler pulley bearings failed. Fortunately I was standing there with the hood up just doing a periodic inspection and it started a shower of silver glitter from around the belt cover!!! Surprisingly didnt make much noise either as it was occuring! I happened to notice it and shut the engine off. Right place right time!

These are interference engines (clearance between valves and pistons is such that if the belt breaks or skips a couple teeth the valves and pistons could have a nasty encounter and cause serious damage).
If you don't know the cars history or the belt was changed some time ago...better safe than sorry!

A timing belt kit generally (or should) consists of a new belt, 2 idler pulleys, a hydraulic tensioner. Also some kits include a water pump...but if not you should replace that at the time due to its location behind the belt cover (its driven by the timing belt). While you're there and its all apart...remove the cam gears and replace the front oil seals on both camshafts. Also the o-ring seal on the cam sensor (at the rear of the exhaust cam). Dont over tighten the sensor because you could crack the mounting ears. Its hard not to break stuff on cars this old because the plastic parts get brittle from age and engine heat. Of course you have to top it all off again so new valve cover gasket along with new spark plug hole o-ring seals and valve cover bolt grommets. Don't over tighten those valve cover bolts because they strip out the aluminum threads on the head very easily! Especially if theyve been done a few times.

Clearance is tight and its no picnic doing changing a timing belt...especially getting those loooong passenger side motor mount bolts out! Speaking of which...good time to change at least passenger side mount...if not all 4 due to mileage...unless its already been done.

Of course...new drive belts and hoses go without saying if you're not sure how old...and a new thermostat too while the system is drained of water. Carefully inspect the radiator if you're not sure whether its original. If it is...its got to go! I rebuilt my and thought the radiator was still good at 73k miles as it was still cooling fine and flowing well with no leaks. I even repainted it to look like new....BUT time had taken its toll! A week after I finished the motor I was driving down street and all of a sudden saw steam under the hood and shut it off. Pushed it home half a block. The upper radiator bung broke right off! Hose and clamp still connected to it! Replacing is cheap insurance!! Think I bought it at Advance Auto with a coupon code online. (that way the warranty is local too).

If you're not mechanically inclined or have never worked on a setup like this...probably a good idea to have someone else do it...or at the very least have someone assist who has worked on these cars.

Not trying to sour you on your new purchase...but...its a higher mileage car and is new to you so replace critical items you're not certain have already been changed!

Most important thing is whether you're working on it or driving it...have fun!
 
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