I’ve decided to sell my 1995 Lada Niva after my latest trip to the auto-repair shop on Saturday. For the last four weeks I have been hearing a strange sound every time I rotated the wheel to make a 90-180 degree turn, whether to the left or right, but the sound was more predominant while turning left. A trip around the block with the mechanic caused little suspicion, probably because he is not very fazed by irregularities for whatever reason since he has more important things on his mind like preventing his property from being stripped away by oligarchs seeking to develop the land in the courts. His garage is located near the Circus which is becoming prime real estate since supposedly further development in Yerevan’s downtown area is prohibited. In any case, he raised the Niva over our heads with his hydraulic lift and found that the steering links on the right side had been bent ever so slightly so that the parts are rubbing together, thereby making the sound. He said I should not worry about something breaking and being stranded on the road somewhere, and that it was nothing anyone else would have paid attention anyway. Then he showed me something a bit disturbing—the solder welds of the undercarriage made at the factory were starting to split, but not rapidly. In one spot the solder was spurting out but in a weird solid state, like needle-thin stalactites. He and one of his associate mechanics told me to sell the car as soon as possible, even if I lost money on it.
I was told by several people actually to get rid of this thing. The motor mechanic in Vanadzor who rebuilt the engine a couple of years ago warned me not to buy the thing in the first place, but I didn’t listen as the price was too tempting at $2900. When some jerk who had been drinking and driving way to fast rammed into the corner of my front bumper partially ripping it off, the body work repairman told me then to sell it, since it had been in a front-end collision apparently—he pointed out the solder joints and commented that they were poorly bonded. On top of that, it seems that the car was painted sloppily just before it went up for sale as the paint is chipping in various spots revealing rusted metal underneath.
Since the Niva drives and handles very well overall and is supposedly very comfortable for such a car as many people have commented that “it has a soft ride,” I was planning on driving it into the ground. Since I have spent close to $2000 maintaining the thing during the last 2 ½ years I thought my plan was fairly sound. But the mechanic whom I trust insists that I should sell it fast then buy a newer model. The trouble as he pointed out is where to buy one. Going to the open-air auto-market can be a hassle as you don’t know who you’re going to end up dealing with—you hope a gentleman but more than likely a typical used-car pawning fast-talking mook. So once I do find another Niva I am interested in purchasing, hopefully one that hasn’t been driven very much but rides smooth (and doesn’t need to have its engine rebuilt as what happened in my case), I will take it to him so that he can inspect it, assuming that his garage is still open for business.
Anyway, if any knows of someone who needs a Niva for its workhorse capabilities and is not necessarily concerned about whether it is at a snail's pace literally coming apart at the seams, please tell them to contact me. I will make them a deal they cannot refuse.