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gm4life

Cars... What should I do...

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A little history leason on me, I have a son freshman in college living at home to save money. (It is smart and works for our family.) I have a daughter yet in highschool as a soph she will turn 16 in March. Of course the car-debate will arise, I have bought 3 cars in the past 7 years very unlike me I do buy in spurts, but I think I am stuck getting another one for her or my son. That is a fact I guess, but what to get. My wife said get a Sunfire or Cobalt, I would rather get something larger and older for the same or less money. My son is a Pontiac guy at heart but likes Chevy too. I don't want another Impala from the same generation or a Bonneville. My son likes the 1996-1999 Bonneville SSE/SSEi or 1998-1999 SLE *when they had the SSE body styling* are they good cars? If it is supercharged do you need to put premium in it? Anyone own one or have an experinse with them, I want something in the 4-6K price range with under 100K on the clock. Color is not a big deal no gold or maroon as I already have a vehicles in those colors. I also want something with NO RUST undercoating is a plus, if it is well taken care of and is about or under 100K I would be happy. Can I pick one of these up for that? And am I kidding myself that I can find them priced right with no rust? If you see any amazing deals in the coming months hit me up. Leather and sunroof are nice for him but not a need. Do they have any big problems? Oh and what is the first year they put the 3800 Series II? 1996? Do they have the intake problems other 3800 Series II have? I also approved of the Bonneville put noticed SLE/SSE/SSEi's are hard to find most are SE's which he nor I want, yuck. Have at it and any info is helpful so are nice high quality photos or brochure scans!

Edited by gm4life
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Most Bonnies at that age are going to be pretty beat up-(at least here they are), and not as easy to find....

I'd stick with the SLE...

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I don't know how big the college/university is, but I think you should let him live on campus instead and not give him a car. Yes, it saves money to live at home, but he's missing a good experience, and you wouldn't need to buy another car and pay to maintain it.

Just MO.

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Well I am sure that is what is happening. Trust me we have been around the block around that. I told him he COULD live at home like I did. I am no worse for the wear. Now about the car... Dave I hope that isn't true that they are so beat up.

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Northie it is a college of 2000 students my wife went there. It is 7K a year to live in a dumby dorm and he didn't want too, trust me if we found a nice GM car for him he would MUCH rather have that. He wants a Camaro when he gets out. (Then I don't have to buy one, but I will be co-signing on that loan!) :rolleyes::P

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Well I do know the supercharged 3800's require premium fuel, I've been running regular in mine due to cost and its has taken a toll on the motor.

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What has it done to yours? Hurt it? What about 89 mid-grade with E10, that is what is in my SLE, Torrent and Chevrolet all take.

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Thank you! My son would totally agree. Oh as for the car I am in Iowa. On the WI/IL board where Iowa meets them on the mighty Miss. I will go to Des Monies, Chicago, Madison, Millwaukee, Waterloo, Greenbay, Quad Cities for a car... Or even the Twin Cities as well... Any other way to find cars beside autotrader and Cars.com or Craigslist? So can I find one in the 4-6K price bracket with under 100K in good-great shape? I like cars owned by old farts too so long as the drove there cars 5K or so a year.

Edited by gm4life
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Loss of power and ping under acceleration. I'm sure there are more negatives to running regular, but these are what I've experienced so far. I'm planning to do some major work to my drivetrain in the coming months and then I'll have to make the switch back to premium fuel.

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How about building his own electric car? That'd be a fun project for any college student. Someone in my dorm has a first-gen Saturn SL with its gasoline engine and gas tank replaced with an electric motor and a collection of batteries.

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Personally I'd buy a Cobalt. Newer, probably much less problematic and lower miles, etc.

I have an 18 YO and a 15 getting ready to turn 16 YO, so I am thinking Cobalt, but I had the same Bonneville thought you did.

Chris

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Just thought I'd fill you in on another 3800 update. At about 104,700 miles my Riviera's intake manifold gasket began leaking this past Thursday. I just had it replaced and the bill came out $578 including an oil change and 2 gallons of antifreeze. So I would have all gaskets checked by a mechanic you trust on any car with a 3800 engine even if the mileage is bellow 100K just to be sure.

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I do plan on that and replacing the intake with the improved design... Thanks tho... Still looking waiting and thinking... Honestly I can't wait to have another Bonneville.

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Honestly, check out fuel economy above all else. As a grad student, and having many undergrad friends, all you need are 5 seats, and maybe some configurable space to haul things (fold down rear seats).

I know you like your Bonnevilles, but have you considered the 2nd-gen Oldsmobile Aurora? VERY similar to the last Bonneville, but with much better engines and interiors.

I will ALWAYS put in a good word for my 2nd-gen Aurora, as it gets pretty good fuel economy, and the 3.5 has a lot of power. The cars are a little quirky, though, so if you want to go that route I can PM you all the things to look into. I love my car, all my friends love riding in my car, and the trunk holds a lot. No fold-down rear seats, though, but the seats are comfortable as hell. I average 20/21mpg in mixed driving, keep in mind I'm in LA, so mileage could be a little higher elsewhere. I've also gotten 30+ on the highway before.

Same motor can be found in the uplevel Intrigues, from 1999 onward, I believe. Those are good cars, and look classy still even with a design that's 10 years old. The 2002s were the best-equipped, and free from all initial quality bugs.

Overall, though, I'd say the Aurora is the better car. Nice interior materials and design, and there are a lot of thoughtful little touches that make you go "wow...I can't believe they thought of that!" Auroras also have Magnasteer, so like all Magnasteer systems it can be programmed by a GM dealership to different power steering boost settings for like $50. I recommend the firmest setting. For the Aurora, though, get the 3.5 over the 4.0. Even though the V8 sounds like it has more power, you really just take a penalty in fuel economy and handling. The 3.5 has a better weight balance, and a gas tank that holds an extra gallon. The 4.0 (V8) is more front-heavy, and the 0-60 times are within a tenth of a second of each other.

Edited by Croc
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I have had both that body style Bonneville (1992 loaded SE) and a 2001 Aurora 3.5. I love both cars but the Pontiac was a better car. Even though I'm a die hard Oldsmobile fan the Aurora is a constant maintenance car. The Aurora is much more modern, comfortable, and has plenty of power even with the V6 but the repairs will kill ya and many mechanics that I have dealt with don't like to play with the Aurora so mine always ends up at the dealership which means $97.00/hr labor.

Edit:

Tip, when buying an H body GM car pull back the trunk carpeting around the rear wheels. The wheel wells on these cars (Bonneville/LeSabre/Eighty Eight) tend to rot away, starting around the top or middle of the well then working its way to the trunk floor. Its hard to tell from the outside (tire side) of the well because 1. everything is black 2. the placement of the shock hide a lot of the well(which is were the rot starts) Both my 92 Bonneville and 93 LeSabre had rot here and both I fixed with fiberglass.

Edited by Brougham-Holiday
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I have had both that body style Bonneville (1992 loaded SE) and a 2001 Aurora 3.5. I love both cars but the Pontiac was a better car. Even though I'm a die hard Oldsmobile fan the Aurora is a constant maintenance car. The Aurora is much more modern, comfortable, and has plenty of power even with the V6 but the repairs will kill ya and many mechanics that I have dealt with don't like to play with the Aurora so mine always ends up at the dealership which means $97.00/hr labor.

Interesting you say that...the only issue I have had that wasn't already an issue when I bought the car was the PCS needed replacement.

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Both our on the list...

2001-2002 Aurora 3.5

1998-1999 Bonneville SLE/SSE L36 3.8

I don't want to got the Cobalt route because I will have to drive it. I don't want a little car not yet. I almost got an Aurora fall 2007 an '01 Red 3.5, but he was asking to much, way to much. I would rather go Bonneville just because I am a Pontiac man, if the right Aurora pops up both would be great car, and have enough power and drive nice. My son likes big cars, and so do I. That is why my wife is driving the Torrent although we do trade between the too.

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Can you get a nice Aurora (NO RUST) with under 75K for 6-7K? On the Bonneville I want to go 5-6K or so but under 75K is way hard to find in SSE trim level... But I have a guy whom works for a huge Toyo dealership great guy but he drives Honda's... :AH-HA_wink: He can find anything we want... So it depends... I am looking foward to another whip just as much as my son whom will be driving it, and I will be footing the bill. Isn't that sick? Although if it is a Bonneville SSE or Aurora at least it will be fun to drive...

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gm4life...I understand you want to get something both you and your son would enjoy, but why not consider something cheap and efficient if your son is primarily going to be driving it? Sure a Bonneville SSEI would be nice, and I'm sure he would love it to death, but is that really something he would "need" right now? Your country is falling into hard times, gas prices are at a small point of relief right now, but is most likely going to still climb up at a slow and steady pace. Do you really want to put yourself at risk to buy something that goes through gas like crazy? If your son plans on buying a Camaro after school, why not get something that's cheap to run and maintain until he's done school, so that when it's time for him to replace it, it won't be too hard to sell, and he can then get something "fun" for himself?

When it was time for me to get my first car, there were several things I wanted to buy, but since I made crappy money at my part-time job, I bought what I could afford, which at the time was a 1990 sunbird 4 door. No it wasn't cool, and yes, my friends had cooler cars than I did, but the whole point of it was to get me to and from school and my co-op placement (something I couldn't do with a bus-pass at the time). My dad helped me out with insurance and the occasional $20 for gas so I was deeply grateful for that, but looking back, I didn't want to put him in a position where I would ask for more help than I had to, so I drove that POS till I could afford something better. Yes, I drove the POS for 4 years, but that ain't the point. I was only in high school at the time.

Moral of the story, is that I hope that your looking at this car as a way of your son getting to and from school, and not as a way to serve your own needs of having a Bonneville back in your driveway, because if your son will be putting in the gas and paying the insurance, he's going to be hurting in the longrun.

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Can you get a nice Aurora (NO RUST) with under 75K for 6-7K?

Maybe. I bought my Aurora a little over a year ago with similar mileage as you've indicated, and it worked out to 7.5k plus tax. There was a good bit of haggling involved though, and I nearly walked out of the deal at the last minute (that got me an extra $500 off and a brake replacement).

Shouldn't be too bad, though.

I'll trot out something now, though:

2001 3.5 Aurora

19mpg City

28mpg Highway

1999 Bonneville 3.8 Supercharged

18mpg City

27mpg Highway

I haven't owned a supercharged 3.8, so I don't have a basis for comparison, but the 3.5 delivers ~22 or ~23 combined, and I've gotten 30+ on the highway before. With gas prices and the economy where they are, every mpg counts! It also meets LEV emmissions.

Plus, the 3.5 doesn't require premium, and it runs great no matter what I put in it (I try to stay with Chevron since they put Techron in all grades, but if none is around, I'll spring for premium).

Edited by Croc
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Thanks Croc I would go with a L36 3.8 no a Supercharged L67. So the 3.5 is doesn't need premium and it isn't recommend in the book. Honestly I would do a 3.8 L36 or a 3.5 DOHC.

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