After impulsively buying the cheapest DeLorean in the USA for only $14,000, I was very worried that it wouldn’t stay cheap for long. The failing transmission was certainly a bad omen, along with the fact that it doesn’t drive more than a few yards without the engine stalling, but putting those two huge issues aside, there’s certainly going to be more repairs needed. With my mechanic, the Car Wizard, excited for yet another financial bloodletting, we poked around to see how bad my DeLorean actually was.
About half of the problems with this DMC-12 come from sitting for what appears to be many years. It very well could be the car that Doc Brown had to store in a mine for 100 years after getting trapped in 1885, since the tires are ancient and destroyed — and the more we run the engine, the more the ancient, dried seals begin bursting with fluid. After a few short and terrifying test drives, the engine is leaking various fluids from almost everywhere.
Additionally, the fuel system is struggling for life, and is the likely cause of my stalling issue. As the car warms up, the fuel pump begins screaming in agony, and my mechanic suspects the stalling comes from a lack of fuel pressure, which would be more of an issue under load. Since it runs perfectly on the lift without a load, it’s probably not an electrical issue. Don’t worry, though, there are plenty of electrical problems to deal with, as well.
For totally different reasons, neither of the tiny windows inside the DeLorean’s gullwing doors will roll down. The passenger side responds to the commands of the window switch by making a violent thumping noise, while the driver’s side window switch feels loose, and completely unresponsive. Of course, the door struts are also weak, giving the iconic doors the look of a droopy, injured seagull. My speedometer doesn’t work either, caused by the cable being ripped from the front hub. While the car was up on the lift, we also discovered the rear brakes do absolutely nothing, which would explain horrible performance.
Even with all of these issues fixed, there are still issues prior owners have caused — the most glaring being the exhaust. The original dual mufflers have been replaced with a single cherry bomb-style system leading out the passenger side, with a faux exhaust tip welded to the drivers side to appear stock. This makes the engine sound like a cross between a Volkswagen dune buggy and a modified Honda Civic — so, clearly, this needs to go away immediately.
As for the failing transmission, I’ve actually found some affordable options to get that sorted, which is really good news, since the list of other problems is pretty long. And like any car that’s been sitting for years, fixing this first round of problems will only clear the way for the next weakest links to fail. Don’t worry, I’m still very excited about the car — and I have zero intentions of parking it on railroad tracks just yet …