Help - I'm thinking of buying a '95 BMW

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Xisiqomelir
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Help - I'm thinking of buying a '95 BMW

Postby Xisiqomelir » Tue Jan 31, 2006 5:37 pm

The lemon in question.

First off, this is only one of a bunch of cars I'm looking at, and I might cave and drop my 10K on a Honda Civic because of gas mileage. So you don't need to tell me "You should get a Civic instead, they have better gas mileage". Assume I have a limitless gas budget.

What I don't have is a limitless repairs budget. So I'm concerned about mechanical reliability. The car I'm looking at hasn't got too many miles (85K) on it, but I have no idea what I should be looking for re: the engine to avoid paying for lots of foreign parts and specialized BMW labour fees if some finickety piece of the car crumbles to bits. So, anyone ever owned or worked on a '95 740i, and if you have, what should I check out on the car when I go look at it in person this weekend? I'd like to know about all the delicate and fragile components I should check out.

All info much appreciated!
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Postby Gura » Tue Jan 31, 2006 5:44 pm

for 9500....take the cash. put it down on something new. bmw's are hell. especially ones that are getting old. just money sinks. i hate them personally :)
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Postby teflor the ranger » Tue Jan 31, 2006 7:02 pm

- Check the color of the transmission fluid. If it's black, send it back.

- Check the antifreeze (radiator fluid), if it's a soupy brown or black or has any traces of oil in it, forget about it.

- Check the ground underneath the car for fluid spots and drips.

- Check engine light. (If someone is trying to sell a car while this mystery light is on, just walk away. They don't know what's wrong and their best guess is probably wrong.)

- Get a maintenance log if available.

- Pop the hood and inspect the subframe parts. If they appear newer than the car, or appears to have been bent back into shape (not symmetrical, bare metal scratches) this car has been in a fairly damaging accident.

- Are the headlights aligned? If not, chances are this car has been in an accident.

- Exhaust noise - step out of the car while it is running and look underneath the vehicle. Is there any whining or whistling from the exhaust? Does the exhaust look rusted (don't touch it's hot)? You're looking at a thousand dollars either now or a year down the road.

- Safety equipment - BMW recommends that you replace the airbag every 10 years or 100,000 miles. You can get away with not doing so, but if you're going to buy a BMW you might as well pretend like you have the money.

- Belts, check to see if they're worn. A timing belt or chain on your 740 can be a nightmare to replace ($500+). The serpentine belt (the one most visible) is a fairly expensive maintenance item (~$250).

- Ensure that the vehicle passes the most stringent safety inspection that your area has to offer (IE, if you live in Virginia, make sure the dealer guarantees that the vehicle will pass Maryland inspection).

Aside from those major points, general condition should make much of the sale. Complain about the interior, the look under the hood, the noises the vehicle makes. Take it over a speed bump or two just to see how he shocks handle (and listen for rattles).

Take a few sharp turns and listen to see if there is a dull rumble (yet another $700 if so).

Finally, even though it's winter, check to see if the air conditioning works well (another $2700). You don't want to be that guy.
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Postby Vaprak » Tue Jan 31, 2006 7:03 pm

Spend your 10k on a honda, toyota, or nissan and you'll be money ahead with very few if any worries about repairs. Plus the gas mileage will be better :)

Don't buy a new car. Let someone else pay the first year's depreciation as they drive it off the lot. Cars are almost never a sound financial investment. You'd be smart to pay cash for one so you aren't paying interest on a loan for such a horrible investment.
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Postby Corth » Tue Jan 31, 2006 7:09 pm

If your repair budget is an issue, get the Honda. Also, used Hyundai's are very cheap but in the past few years they have significantly improved in quality. A 2002 Hyundai Elantra might be worth looking into. Probably half the cost of a Civic from the same year, but nearly as reliable. Not sure if the 10 year / 100,000 mile manufacturer's warranty is transferable, but I am guessing it is.

Vaprak: I would not suggest buying a Nissan. I do a lot of lemon law work. Around 35% of my cases are Nissans. Way more than their market share. Particularly the Nissan Quest (water leaks, brake problems, transmission), and the Nissan/Infiniti SUV's (brake problems).
Having said all that, the situation has been handled, so this thread is pretty much at an end. -Kossuth

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Postby teflor the ranger » Tue Jan 31, 2006 7:16 pm

Corth wrote:If your repair budget is an issue, get the Honda. Also, used Hyundai's are very cheap but in the past few years they have significantly improved in quality. A 2002 Hyundai Elantra might be worth looking into. Probably half the cost of a Civic from the same year, but nearly as reliable. Not sure if the 10 year / 100,000 mile manufacturer's warranty is transferable, but I am guessing it is.

Vaprak: I would not suggest buying a Nissan. I do a lot of lemon law work. Around 35% of my cases are Nissans. Way more than their market share. Particularly the Nissan Quest (water leaks, brake problems, transmission), and the Nissan/Infiniti SUV's (brake problems).


The Hyundai warranty is transferable - however, make sure the previous owner did all the required maintenance or that you're buying from a dealer that won't give you a hassle about their warranty repair work.

A word of warning, however, before 2002, Hyundais have a 6yr/60,000mi warranty which is pretty much done and over with for most vehicles -

Take a look at the Sonata, but I do have to warn you, make sure the steering wheel is centered with the driver's seat in the model you're considering buying.

Many Hyundais on the road have a steering wheel that's an inch or more offset from the center of the driver's seat. It's hell on your back after six hours on the road.

Other vehicle suggestions I can make for under 10k are the 2002 Ford Taurus (V6) or a 2001 Honda Accord (manual I4).
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Postby Kifle » Tue Jan 31, 2006 11:20 pm

Not saying the taurus sucks or anything, but I had horrible problems with mine, and I know a few other people who've had the same transmission problems with theirs. Again, not that that would definately indicate a known problem, but just a heads up.

The accord, however, is an awesome car. I was also going to suggest one. The civics feel more cheap and "thin" while the accord gives you that wonderful feeling of middle class :)

Also, I wouldn't get that BMW. Repair costs, as you know, are expensive as hell and just aren't worth it. Rich people lease BMWs and then the lots resell them to poor people who want to look rich -- who also end up picking up all the repair tab on the car when something goes wrong 20k miles down the road.
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Postby Lilira » Wed Feb 01, 2006 12:12 am

I still very much miss my '99 Camry.

I'm driving a 02 Dodge Gr. Caravan for room reasons, (Largish family) and the damn thing keeps breaking.

Never again.
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Postby Ashiwi » Wed Feb 01, 2006 1:40 am

'92 Toyota Corolla.

Say what you will... I've put over 25K miles on it since I bought it, I drive close to 1K miles in it a month, I've taken it off-road on numerous occasions, I perform minimal maintenance on it, doing 80+ on extended stretches is not an uncommon occurrence.

I've put less than $500.00 of major repairs into it... replaced the alternator, the water pump, and had some minor electrical work done after a shovel in my trunk got dislodged and shorted out my back panel.

I get 33-38 mpg in it, and that's not all highway.

Consumer Reports called it "the car that would not die."

I sure will miss it when it finally dies.
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Postby Teshidee » Wed Feb 01, 2006 1:40 am

assuming a limitless gas budget... get a porsche. so much more sexay! :D

bmw's are useless bunches of crap.
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Postby selerial » Wed Feb 01, 2006 2:30 am

Ashiwi wrote:'92 Toyota Corolla.

Say what you will... I've put over 25K miles on it since I bought it, I drive close to 1K miles in it a month, I've taken it off-road on numerous occasions, I perform minimal maintenance on it, doing 80+ on extended stretches is not an uncommon occurrence.

I've put less than $500.00 of major repairs into it... replaced the alternator, the water pump, and had some minor electrical work done after a shovel in my trunk got dislodged and shorted out my back panel.

I get 33-38 mpg in it, and that's not all highway.

Consumer Reports called it "the car that would not die."

I sure will miss it when it finally dies.


Hm, I had a Corolla around that age, I think. Sort of manilla colored and boxy. It handled really well. Then on my first day of my current job the breaks fell off (it had like 100k on it). This was right in my yard so I just used my mother's Bug and got a Ford Focus ('00) at the end of the week. That lasted me until recently (150k miles), and was a fairly decent ride.

....1000 miles a month. *sigh* I work 60 miles from my house (housing is damned expensive around Boston/Cambridge) so I end up driving 600 miles a week. =+P

I've actually bounced from a Ford F150 to a Toyota Corolla to a Ford Focus to a (Toyota) Scion tC. This last car has nice accelleration and handles pretty well, but I have found that after putting 8k miles on it already that it's probably a little bit small for me. (I'm 6'5"). Otherwise seems like a decent car.
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Postby Jhorr » Wed Feb 01, 2006 3:36 am

I leased a new 2004 BMW and I love it.

My rationale? I wanted it and it's a dream to drive.

Also, I wanted to buy a new car but I could only afford 1/2 a car. So I leased it with the thought that in 3 years I'd buy my own used BMW with my own driving history (accident-free, 750 miles per month or 75% of national average .. i.e. LOW miles), factory maintenance for free under their 4-year warranty, for a pre-set residual value (about $15,000).

One other thing I learned: don't buy certified pre-owned... it's about the same price as leasing a brand new car.

Good luck with your decision..
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Postby Corth » Wed Feb 01, 2006 4:19 am

There is no worthwhile financial rationale for buying (or leasing) a new car. Only personal preference. A new car is ALWAYS a luxury.

When you buy used you take on a risk that the previous owner abused the vehicle. On the other hand, when you buy new, its not a risk that the vehicle will lose most of its value in the first few years. Its a certainty. Automobiles depreciate very quickly in the first few years, and then the depreciation levels out. Buying a two year old car allows you to avoid almost half of the total depreciation that the car will undergo during its useful life.

When you buy a vehicle used, you have succeeded in letting someone else pay for the luxury of driving a brand new car. Most economical way to play it, imho, is to buy two year old cars and sell them at five years old. You have purchased it after most of the hardcore depreciation occurred, and sold it before it starts getting old enough to regularly need repairs. And you still got decent value for it when you sold it.

Financing a depreciating asset like a new car is just about the worst financial decision you can make besides having children. :)

Corth
Having said all that, the situation has been handled, so this thread is pretty much at an end. -Kossuth



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Postby Thilindel » Wed Feb 01, 2006 7:40 am

This is pretty upfront:

Having been in the car business for _quite_ awhile . . .


Cars to avoid - PERIOD

FORD 3.8L AND 4.2L (overbored 3.8L) Chronic head gasket troubles.
3.0L AND 3.8L Front drive automatic. Chronic transmission troubles.
Aerostar, Windstar, Freestar - Transmission problems
4.6L Fords, Engine will smoke due to poor engineering regarding seals.

GM
ALL 3100 and 3400 engines GARBAGE. Inner intake gasket nightmares. (Though the "3.1L" from 89-93 was fine. It will say '3100' on 94 and newer)
..That's about it for GM cars. They were pretty damned good if you avoid those 3100/3400 engines.

DODGE/CHRYSLER. WTF ARE YOU THINKING BUYING ONE OF THESE? ALL 3.0's smoke like hell, ALL transmissions suck ass...*whap* Don't ever buy that again - CHARNAME! **Mitsubishi/Eagle/Jeep are also part of chrysler crap, so beware. Example: 1995 Mitsubishi Galant is 2.4L (Chrysler engine) Will have chronic lifter rattle.

And be VERY careful with Toyota's 2200 and 3000 Engines. They have a VERY tight engine tolerance. If you don't change the oil every 3k miles, you WILL screw your engine over. Just search how many class action suits are pending vs. Toyota due to these engine failures. One old guy even had his engine fail at 340 miles past oil change. His car had 21,000 miles even.

Happy Car Hunting!
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Nissans

Postby Adriorn Darkcloak » Wed Feb 01, 2006 2:49 pm

I've driven three decades of the Nissan Altima. I've never ever had to go get anything repaired. 1991 Altima, 1992 Altima and bought my first and only new car ever, the 2002 Nissan Altima when it came out. What Corth said about Nissans is partially true, avoid the big cars. Otherwise, the Nissan line of cars is one of the best, up there with Honda as far as stability and price.

My best friend is a huge car aficionado, owning several cars periodically. He does custom work on them and repairs everything himself. He has constantly told me, avoid BMW unless you're the type that likes to work and repair your own car. If so, buy a BMW.
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Postby Lilira » Wed Feb 01, 2006 4:08 pm

Also..

A friend of ours bought two BMW's used (97 and 98 had logs and everything, cars were kept up). They spent more time in the shop than he did driving them. (That's why he had two.)

Once upon a time BMW might have been a wonderful car. They've sucked for the last couple of decades. I find it laughable that such a POC could be a status symbol.
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Postby Thilindel » Wed Feb 01, 2006 5:46 pm

If you read Car and Driver, you'll see Mercedes they test drive that have faulty brake lights even. Mercedes is going down hill as well. Hell, who wouldn't after piggybacking Chrysler :(
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Postby teflor the ranger » Wed Feb 01, 2006 6:24 pm

Thilindel wrote:Cars to avoid - PERIOD

FORD 3.8L AND 4.2L (overbored 3.8L) Chronic head gasket troubles.
3.0L AND 3.8L Front drive automatic. Chronic transmission troubles.
Aerostar, Windstar, Freestar - Transmission problems
4.6L Fords, Engine will smoke due to poor engineering regarding seals.


Pre 1996 generally. Good idea to replace head gasket at 90,000 with an aftermarket product (insanely cheap compared to other makes).

Chronic transmission troubles due to poor maintenance. If regular transmission services was actually performed, the vehicles tend to be fine.

Also, most Fords this old tend to have 100k+ miles on it - so they are a "pos" technically because you can't find a good one - not because they were necessarily poorly made.
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Postby teflor the ranger » Wed Feb 01, 2006 6:27 pm

Thilindel wrote:If you read Car and Driver, you'll see Mercedes they test drive that have faulty brake lights even. Mercedes is going down hill as well. Hell, who wouldn't after piggybacking Chrysler :(


Dodge... this auto maker.
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Postby Zabam » Wed Feb 01, 2006 7:21 pm

There's only one reason to own a Beemer....The Autobahn

They are made to run hot and require a lot of maintenence as previouly stated. I got to blow two up during four years living in Germany. If you want to pay for the fun then go for it, if you want value I'd say Honda or Toyota.

If you have Autobahn-like conditions that you drive daily, the big Bay-Em-Va's are the only way to fly.
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Postby Thilindel » Wed Feb 01, 2006 7:30 pm

teflor the ranger wrote:
Thilindel wrote:Cars to avoid - PERIOD

FORD 3.8L AND 4.2L (overbored 3.8L) Chronic head gasket troubles.
3.0L AND 3.8L Front drive automatic. Chronic transmission troubles.
Aerostar, Windstar, Freestar - Transmission problems
4.6L Fords, Engine will smoke due to poor engineering regarding seals.


Pre 1996 generally. Good idea to replace head gasket at 90,000 with an aftermarket product (insanely cheap compared to other makes).

Chronic transmission troubles due to poor maintenance. If regular transmission services was actually performed, the vehicles tend to be fine.

Also, most Fords this old tend to have 100k+ miles on it - so they are a "pos" technically because you can't find a good one - not because they were necessarily poorly made.


Sorry tef, but 4.2L Fords - http://forums.treemedia.com/fb/showthre ... 2#post2812 is just one of many gripes, let alone 4.2L _started_ in 1997, not pre-1996, as they weren't in production. The 4.9L I-6 was replaced by the 4.2L V-6 (bored 3.8L a.k.a. 'Junk') There was no redesign of the 3.8L either. 1996, Taurus went to standard 3.0L and a 'performance' 3.0L. The 3.8L was discontinued from Taurus. However, Mustangs and Windstars still will be cursed with this engine for years to come. We had virtually all 3.8's with gasket problems. As I stated in another thread, I have an auctioneering license. I've tossed TONS of cars out the door. Wolfe's Evansville Auto Auction. Look it up :) Let alone we didn't sell vehicles with over 80K miles -at my family's lot. Ford just needs to quit pumping quantity and push quality instead :(.
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Postby Thilindel » Wed Feb 01, 2006 7:37 pm

teflor the ranger wrote:
Thilindel wrote:If you read Car and Driver, you'll see Mercedes they test drive that have faulty brake lights even. Mercedes is going down hill as well. Hell, who wouldn't after piggybacking Chrysler :(


Dodge... this auto maker.


Actually, this is a damned shame! The new Galant 3.8L is a very nice car. It actually seems more refined than the sticker would imply. Zippy little bastard too!
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Postby Kifle » Wed Feb 01, 2006 9:28 pm

I say get an audi!
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Postby Dalar » Wed Feb 01, 2006 9:32 pm

I love my 2006 Accord Coupe ^^
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Postby Thilindel » Wed Feb 01, 2006 9:39 pm

mm! Isn't that the 5.9 sec 0-60 one? *dream*
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Postby Thilindel » Wed Feb 01, 2006 10:00 pm

teflor the ranger wrote:
Chronic transmission troubles due to poor maintenance. If regular transmission services was actually performed, the vehicles tend to be fine.



I almost forgot to reply to that. Ask _any_ Ford mechanic: Ford designs their transmissions to fail. There are always exceptions, as one of the employees we had would brag that his '89 Taurus (3.0L) had 178, 000 miles and no troubles - But that's very rare. I'm not kidding, every Taurus we've dealt with on the C-line was tranny troubled. Especially the 3.8L's transmission. There are pending, STILL, class actions regarding Ford's 3.0L's tranny, but it's quite clear the 3.8L's sucks. Even the rear-wheel drive '89 and newer 3.8L Thunderbird/Cougar's automatic trans suck.
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Postby Sarell » Thu Feb 02, 2006 6:11 am

I think the seats look comfy and it has a pretty nice looking armrest, not as nice as mine, but pretty nice. I don't like the colour, white is boring and beige is pretty scary for the under 60. It's looks pretty sweet otherwise, maybe not as stylish as an old mustang or something, I like vans too, vans are cool, you don't relise how cool until you have one full of people... so there...

I think you should buy it and run it into the ground, and do bodgy fix up jobs yourself as you go along, it'll be sweet fun. You should paint the bonnet with blackboard paint and let people write on it wherever you go to make it less boring. Then when you finish with it, you should have a let's smash the BMW 7 series party where for the price of one carton of beer, you give people a hammer, and go nuts. I went to a party recently where they decided to dismantle and blow up a car while it was running, it was sweet, you should do that.

Alternately, you should get an old period cast iron bathtub with clawfeet, and have it converted into a little buggy for yourself. Imagine scooting around town in a tub! I've always dreamed of doing that, I think you could make a fine tub for 10K. I have a hard time sometimes keeping up with the ongoing costs of my fairly new luxury car when I could be buying CDs and intruments and holidays instead, I wish I had gone for a tub. I hope that helps. Lots of love, Sarell.
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Postby ssar » Thu Feb 02, 2006 1:44 pm

You can't go past the ol' Land Rover troopie, something like:

Image

Or if you are after a budget model:

Image

Or if you are interested in some after-maarket extras on it:

Image

mmm
BEER
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Postby Yasden » Thu Feb 02, 2006 5:57 pm

I love my 2004 Hyundai Tiburon GT.

I bought it new almost 2 years ago. I also bought a '99 Dodge Durango used in 2003. I still owe 8 grand on the Dodge. The Tiburon's already down to 10.

The point I'm trying to make here is that unless you have the complete and whole amount of cash to purchase a used car, don't bother. Corth is correct in that the depreciation hits hardest for the first 2-3 years. However, the financial institutions are aware of this as well. Good luck trying to get a good APR from your bank/credit union on a used car. Any lender is MUCH more willing (including the Motor Credit company the car dealer uses) to give you a sweet APR on a NEW car. If you have a really good credit, you can even walk away with one of those specials you see on the TV a lot, like 0%.

My Dodge has only needed regular mileage maintenance, as it sits at 86k right now. Sure there have been plenty of recalls etc. with their transmissions, but I made sure to get the 5.2L (not the 4.7) and I made sure I bought a lease return, that way the dealer/previous owner had to eat the costs from doing any major work to the vehicle. The APR on this loan sits at 16.9% 72-month loan, due to the fact that I had a HORRIBLE credit rating when I bought this. My minimum is $385 a month, I paid 3k down on the 18k price (so I've been paying on a 15k car). Yeah, I could refinance, but I'm paying it off soon as I get my tax return. :P

The Tiburon just rolled over 19k. She's my black beauty, and I got her for a sweet 9.9% 60-month loan. My minimums are $421 a month, and I paid 0 down, but had a $1500 buyer bonus applied to that. Don't forget, this is only a 60-month loan, not 72. The car's original price was 18.7k. Sure, my credit wasn't all that much better, but I'm pointing out the significant differences in what you'll end up paying overall.

Honestly, I'd go for a good import model. I'd say Hyundai, but I'm biased. The new Tiburon SE's are sweet, and now come in an orange/rust color. If you're looking for something 4-door, the Sonata has gotten TONS of great reviews and plenty of awards to back it up. It might not be as luxurious as a Big Money Waste (BMW), but it's definitely got the pep.
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Postby Xisiqomelir » Thu Feb 02, 2006 7:59 pm

Thanks for all the advice my evils (and you too goodies ;) ). I decided against the car in my OP because of the whole Nickasil engine thing, and now I can't find decent deals on 7s and 5s in my area (Norcal).

Dug around and I'm going to look at a bunch of Accords and Galants this weekend, and a Catera, which can apparently be a huge lemon (77%) or okayish (23%).

Also, don't worry that I'm going to buy impulsively, I have lots of time to think about this. Final purchase will be all cash for sure, 10-14K budget excluding insurance/registration/initial service etc. I'll intend to keep whatever car I get for 3-5 years.
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Postby Kallinar » Thu Feb 02, 2006 10:01 pm

Good deal! I would never buy a car from anyone in Rancho Cordova.
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Postby teflor the ranger » Tue Feb 07, 2006 6:15 am

Thilindel wrote:
teflor the ranger wrote:
Thilindel wrote:Cars to avoid - PERIOD

FORD 3.8L AND 4.2L (overbored 3.8L) Chronic head gasket troubles.
3.0L AND 3.8L Front drive automatic. Chronic transmission troubles.
Aerostar, Windstar, Freestar - Transmission problems
4.6L Fords, Engine will smoke due to poor engineering regarding seals.


Pre 1996 generally. Good idea to replace head gasket at 90,000 with an aftermarket product (insanely cheap compared to other makes).

Chronic transmission troubles due to poor maintenance. If regular transmission services was actually performed, the vehicles tend to be fine.

Also, most Fords this old tend to have 100k+ miles on it - so they are a "pos" technically because you can't find a good one - not because they were necessarily poorly made.


Sorry tef, but 4.2L Fords - http://forums.treemedia.com/fb/showthre ... 2#post2812 is just one of many gripes, let alone 4.2L _started_ in 1997, not pre-1996, as they weren't in production. The 4.9L I-6 was replaced by the 4.2L V-6 (bored 3.8L a.k.a. 'Junk') There was no redesign of the 3.8L either. 1996, Taurus went to standard 3.0L and a 'performance' 3.0L. The 3.8L was discontinued from Taurus. However, Mustangs and Windstars still will be cursed with this engine for years to come. We had virtually all 3.8's with gasket problems. As I stated in another thread, I have an auctioneering license. I've tossed TONS of cars out the door. Wolfe's Evansville Auto Auction. Look it up :) Let alone we didn't sell vehicles with over 80K miles -at my family's lot. Ford just needs to quit pumping quantity and push quality instead :(.


Sorry, Thil, but you missed the part where I clearly stated that you should replace the head gasket at 90k?

I've had two Fords, both with the 3.8, neither of which seemed designed to fail, both I personally serviced and they both died at about 150k - not due to failure, but due to being in multiple pieces.

Another thing - are you surprised that a Ford at auction will end up being a piece of junk? If a Ford still runs decently, it'll be sitting on a dealer's lot, especially so close to Detroit.

A bad Ford at an auto auction should _not_ be a surprise.

That all being said, be careful about buying a used Ford and NEVER pick one up at an auction house (or hybrid vehicles).
Teflor does. Teflor does not.
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Postby moritheil » Tue Feb 07, 2006 8:58 pm

I'm late to this fracas, but I should point out that you ought to be aware of whether or not your state requires prior serious damage to be listed . . . there have been nightmare stories of people buying cars without knowing they were almost totally rebuilt and losing control while driving.
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Postby Xisiqomelir » Tue Feb 21, 2006 10:11 pm

Threw down a week ago. Had everything checked out, got all service records, ran CARFAX, and had it looked at by a Caddy mech.

Rides pretty nice, and took it down to LA and up again for the long weekend. All in all, I'm pretty happy (and fingers crossed).

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Postby kwirl » Tue Feb 21, 2006 10:42 pm

nice!

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