New Owner Checklist (aka the Newbie Files

Created: 8/11/1998 8:06 PM

Last updated: 8/29/2001

Author/source: Various

New Owner checklist-or what to do first now that you have it home.

Here's the order I did things:

Step one - Buy all three manuals (Parts/Workshop/Tech Notes) from your vendor of choice. Absolutely the best $100 you will spend on the car.

Brakes (don't want to take any chances) - At least flush the fluid and check for leaks. Check the condition of the pads and rotors. I rebuilt my calipers just on general principle - they were working OK but once apart I could tell that the wheel cylinders were starting to corrode.

Check clutch master and slave for leakage. Flush the fluid. A leaking master wrecks the carpeting, a leaking slave takes the paint off the frame just below the clutch housing. Be prepared to replace both cylinders, unless they have been recently replaced and maintained, they will start leaking soon after you change the fluid and start driving the car regularly.

Fuel system - if the pump gets noisy when warm replace it, it's about to die. Open up the access panel in the front trunk floor (Spare tire well) and make sure the fuel pump cover is all there and in place. It shrinks with age. If it isn't there and tight water runs onto the pump and rots out the electrical connectors. Check the hoses for deterioration. Pull the fuel pump out of the tank and make sure the boot hasn't started to rot. If the car was stored with a full tank of gas I can almost guarantee that the boot will be rotten. Plan on replacing the accumulator if it hasn't been changed in the past 10 years. It's inside the frame just behind the shifter. When it goes bad the car will not start HOT.

Electrical - clean or replace all the fuses (sounds weird but is very important), clean the contacts. If they get corroded with age the fuse box starts to melt. Replace any of the little metal relays that aren't Bosch, specifically anything marked "Lucas"

Check for the recalls, especially the sway bar reinforcement and ball joints. These are all covered in the Tech Notes Manual available from your favorite vendor.

Cooling system - if any of the hose-to-tube connections are dripping the slightest take apart and clean up. Seeping antifreeze becomes corrosive and will eat thru the aluminum tubes from the outside in, and they are very difficult to patch. At a minimum change the antifreeze and check for soft hoses, especially the ones buried on either side of the water pump. I ended up just replacing all my hoses. I also highly recommend the self-bleeder kit described on the DML.

This should keep you going for a while. Everything else can be fixed as it breaks or bothers you.


Breakdown Insurance:

It's ok to limp home, it's not ok to be towed home.  Towing is awkward,it's expensive, it's time consuming, it's aggravating and it's sometimes damaging to your D...not smart!.

Here's the ounce of prevention that might save you.

My D was towed in twice in the 30,000 to 35,000 mi range.   Once for the fuel pump, the other for the alternator.  Here's what I suggest, don't wait for them to quit, replace both and keep the originals as spares. Replace all the hoses and belts, again, don't wait for them to quit, keep the old ones as spares.  Carry tools, duct tape, fire extinguisher and jumper cables.  Be sure to check your spare tire to make sure it holds air (mine hadn't held air in years when I got it).  If it seeps take it to a shop and have rim sealer applied.  Check your jack, make sure it's operational.

If your water pump gives out unexpectedly you can generally limp home by adding water or coolant (carry a spare jug or two),  If your starter quits you can generally push start it one way or another and make it home.

If you're a gambler, just carry a AAA card and a cell 'phone..

Les Huckins

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