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used car time...


balthazar

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My wife's 'ex'-car is an '03 Pontiac GP SE. 3.1L. We bought it in '05 with 29K for $13K. When she upgraded to a new '09 Malibu 2LT, we debated selling the GP, but held onto it as an errand/spare car.

 

My older son got his license in early '11. This year he's been working 5 days/wk & driving the GP. He also has an active social schedule. I believe it has right about 139K on it.

 

It has really been an excellent car as far as reliability goes. Batteries, tires, brakes, and I did the A/C condenser & compressor last spring. Other than the radio LED window being blank, it's been trouble free and money well spent, IMO. 

 

Last night my son accidentally ran into the rear of another car. No one was hurt, thankfully, except the cars. GP: front bumper cover reusable, most of the styrofoam/minor structure behind it is trashed, hood is bad, one headlight smashed. Both front fenders are fine. Condenser is bowed in, radiator did not leak. Core support is straight. Both airbags went off, with the passenger one smashing the windshield on that side most effectively. 

 

KBB says trade-in on an (un-smashed) '03 GP is like $1400, retail is $2200. New airbags alone must be $1600, I'd guess the rest would be every bit of $3000 (if not more). I'm not putting $4500 into a $1400 car. No collision coverage on this one.

 

-- -- -- --

My son is a pretty dedicated musician, and regularly is hauling guitars, amp heads & cabinets- shoving some pretty large cabinets in the back seat of the GP. A mid-size wagon would be much more accommodating, ESP for gigs, but that's certainly secondary.

 

Found another.... '03 GP online tonight. 85K for an asking price of $2500, and it looks incredibly clean.

 

Is it nuts to consider this one, because the late model used market is pricey (dealer-wise, pretty much everything is over $10K).

I like the idea of a familiar car, and I have a bunch of spare parts (I am NOT keeping the mashed '03).

 
I'm open to suggestions on a 3rd vehicle; domestic, getting over -say- 23MPG city and is very reliable. Even tho sometimes I really am just wasting time idly, that doesn't mean I enjoy fielding calls @ 1AM for car trouble. A -say- Focus/Cruze is too small. A CUV is a possibility. What's out there with reliability, affordability & some cargo capacity?

 

 

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Malibu Maxx, if he is going to do some hauling and the car with 4 cylinder gives great gas mileage. Granted it is ugly as sin. Otherwise a W or a G body is not a bad idea other than fuel economy of course.

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Call me crazy, but I found a 2005 Pontiac Aztek with 85k miles for $5,250.   It was FWD, 19/26 mpg. The Buick Rendezvous's seem to go for a little bit more.  The Aztek would have cargo space, although Pontiac Aztek and reliability probably don't go hand in hand.

 

Chevy HHR and PT Cruiser could be a possibility.  Oldsmobile Alero has sort of a contemporary look, so even now they don't look too old or dated.

Edited by smk4565
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In your price range, methinks that 85k GP sounds fantastic. You might also look into Chryco minivans...insurance is ungodly cheap, parts available everywhere, and wide selection on the used market.

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GOing to look at a Magnum wagon & the aforementioned GP tomm. It's at a small dealer lot that tries to market itself as some sort of Euro 'hotsy' dealer; hopefully a Pontiac GP is an incredible scourge on their lot and they'll come down a bunch on the number, like to 1750.
I should bring my buddy the Arab trader- he regularly buys cars & parts for 30-40 cents on the asking dollar. Bought a '72 RS Camaro, asking price of $3800, for $800. 

 

My son scouted a few cars today on his rounds; a Roadmaster wagon (no), an Impala with an intake oil leak (no) and a Taurus wagon with 200K and a bad rack & pinion (no).
Well, the Taurus is asking $500... at $350 I could always scrap it when it blows up and break even. Meanwhile, I may be able to make some money back parting out the GP.

 

Will report tomm evening.

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Sounds like the GP would have a fantastic future as a 24 hours of Lemons car if you were so inclined. I no longer am able to race, mostly because of children in college.

Good luck to you in your car search...

Edited by A Horse With No Name
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$2500 GP had a bashed fender and horribly peeling clearcoat over a repaint, so that's out.

Magnum wagon was very clean, but a Hemi R/T, so that's out. Didn't even call on the price.

Looked a bit at an '03 Passat 1.8T wagon- that's a really well-sized package in & out, but the maintenance costs & reliability are not something I want to deal with. 111K and dealer price of 6995. My VW buddy says it should be closer to 3500-4000, and what's the story on the timing belt.

Called numerous times about a '06 Escape, clean for $3800 on CL but no answer/voice mailbox full.

Spun thru a bunch of used car lots, but everything is priced too high.

 

Friend has a '96 Taurus wagon with only 65K on it. Will give it a look tomm, at least I trust their word on the car's history. That's like only 3600 miles/year!

Edited by balthazar
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How hard would it he to rebuild the GP with parts from the pick and pull? Used airbags can be tested.

Market for anything under 5k seems really iffy, IMHO

Again, good luck!

03 Passat was from a bad era of VW for that car. Run, do not walk.

Edited by A Horse With No Name
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What about a 2002-2005 era Ford Focus, they had a sedan, hatch and wagon of that car, they are under $5,000 and fuel efficient and cheap to repair.  There are a lot of Chrysler Sebrings under $5k and Buick Century type cars that are cheap.

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The Century / GP W-Bodies all have the infamous intake gasket dark cloud hanging if it hasn't been done before... tho otherwise they are very reliable.

Looked at an '09 Sebring today too, but not impressed and the trunk opening is smaller than our '09 Malibu.

 

I have to check Fords- I'm not up on their recent catalog and they have a plethora of body styles/ models.

 

Would be nice to have the Passat wagon with a 3.8L GM V6. ;)

 

Nothing is 'cheap' unless it's really tired, tho. $4000 gets some pretty ragged stuff.

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On the 96 Taurus, the non-DOHC engines are slow, but as reliable as any 3800. The DOHC engines are fairly trouble free, but not to the extent of the pushrod.

Sniff the transmission fluid. If purchased, take for an immediate transmission fluid flush and filter change just to be safe. There is a reason Ford paid GM to develop the fwd 6-speed for them later.

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Check out a VW TDI wagon (Golf wagon) pre 06 with a manual-6-7 thou, but will hold value forever and run forever with proper maintenance.  Throw timing belts and basic maintenance at them and they will literally run 400 or 500 K.  Diesel means 48-50 MPG.

 

Would depend on your son  being able to drive a manual though as the automatics are not good in that era.


The Century / GP W-Bodies all have the infamous intake gasket dark cloud hanging if it hasn't been done before... tho otherwise they are very reliable.

Looked at an '09 Sebring today too, but not impressed and the trunk opening is smaller than our '09 Malibu.

 

I have to check Fords- I'm not up on their recent catalog and they have a plethora of body styles/ models.

 

Would be nice to have the Passat wagon with a 3.8L GM V6. ;)

 

Nothing is 'cheap' unless it's really tired, tho. $4000 gets some pretty ragged stuff.

 

 

The used car market is stupid.  One either needs pretty much a sub 2K beater or to spend real money.

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Another thought for a decent cheap car could be a diesel Benz of older vintage.  I have an acquaintance that runs a garage that repairs them.. Once you get them sorted, they run forever.  However, i do not think this is at all what Balthazar is looking for.

 

I still say Town and Country FTW....

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Saw a '97 MB S-class with only 57K online for $5250. Same mileage & price as an '01 GP GT.

 

Made a handshake deal on the Taurus wagon. It's actually a '95, clock says 70281. A friend's father's, bought new. A bit of PS groan, probably needs new struts. On residential streets it moved fine. All power equipment works, no body damage or rust, other than some ink (?) stains on the one footwell carpet, interior is pretty clean. $1800. KBB says $2100, so sounds reasonable. 10-4 on a full fluids servicing, plus check out the brakes/bearings, trans & coolant.

 

This is the 3.0L V6 - any scuttlebutt on these?

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Oh, so original body Taurus, not the fish-eye.

 

Tractor engines basically. Ford's equivalent of the 3800 minus the power. Keep the oil changed and they'll be fine for quite a while.

 

The transmission will go before the engine does.  Probably the fatal item for most of the ones that have been taken off the road thus far.

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Needs a thorough cleaning in & out, but body is excellent. Paint is going to take some elbow grease, but it comes up pretty well. All fluids look good, no leaks. PS box is going to need replacing at some point, it groans the way my '94 F-150 did at one point. It's all legal-like as of this morn, and getting the dry-rotted tires replaced tomm. I'm sort of liking it.

 

DD, this is last year of the 2nd gen; the 3rd gen is the fish eye one. Yea- can't warm up to those at all.

 

I was hoping to put the 16" tires on the Taurus with a set of factory 16" rims, but the GP's tires are 2.5" taller and the front susp. on the Ford won't allow that sort of anarchy. I don't think it's worth it to pick up a set of 5-spoke 16" Taurus rims in addition to the cost of the tires, even tho I can get a nice set of those rims for $120.

 

Going to get it washed/polished, then I'll get a pic up.

 

This amount of storage/cargo capacity (it's 2" longer than the GP) is SORELY lacking in the market today. All the typical 'go-to' smaller SUVs have no room inside, with cargo floors commonly around 2' long. The more I've looked at the current crop of CUVs / smaller SUVs, the more I realize how poorly packaged they are relative to a long roof.

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