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Unread 09-06-2009, 06:09 PM
 
10,485 posts, read 12,902,612 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmwguydc View Post
You're going to laugh at me, but I would look for a Buick with the 3.8L engine. They are total grandparent mobiles, but you can find them from the late 90s with lower mileage, and the 3.8 engine is very reliable. The 3.8 is a V6 engine, though I would stay away from the supercharged versions, since they tend to have more maintenance issues and require premium fuel. Cars to look for include the Park Avenue, Regal, and LeSabre. The Century had a 3.1L V6 engine which most would not recommend across the board, since it does not have the near-bulletproof (with proper maintenance) reliability of the 3.8, though I think the last of the Century series were not problematic. Another nice thing about a Buick is that it's an American car that's relatively easy to fix.

As for negotiating, I would look at vehicles in the $3200-$3500 range max, since few are going to knock too much off the price, unless it's grossly overpriced.
No one would laugh at you for giving an opinion. But, aren't the 3.8 engines prone to intake manifold problems? I always like the Regal grand sport, even considered buying one, if not for the potential reliability issues. One thing I do know for sure they are notorious for power window problems. Overall, they are more powerful, and nicer to drive than a Civic or Corolla, but are higher maintenance IMO.
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Unread 09-06-2009, 06:24 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
9,035 posts, read 13,596,687 times
Reputation: 4671
Quote:
Originally Posted by las vegas drunk View Post
No one would laugh at you for giving an opinion. But, aren't the 3.8 engines prone to intake manifold problems? I always like the Regal grand sport, even considered buying one, if not for the potential reliability issues. One thing I do know for sure they are notorious for power window problems. Overall, they are more powerful, and nicer to drive than a Civic or Corolla, but are higher maintenance IMO.
Very good point. There have been issues with the intake manifold, due to it being plastic, though not all of the 3.8s had the problem. I think it was far worse in a 3.1L equipped vehicle. If it ever loses coolant, that's the sign that something is wrong, and some will just refill the coolant and keep driving, which causes more damage. It's a few hundred dollars to fix, provided it's attended to in a timely fashion, since ignoring it can lead to a ruined engine.

There is an updated manifold that was released, so that's something to check with any 3.8L GM engine, whether or not it has been replaced. If not, I'd say it's cheap insurance to negotiate the price and have it done immediately as a preventive maintenance measure. Otherwise, the 3.8 has been a good engine, and Buicks have had better quality control than their Pontiac, Chevrolet, and Oldsmobile twins.
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Unread 09-06-2009, 07:05 PM
 
Location: Nutley, NJ
2,504 posts, read 3,798,146 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by las vegas drunk View Post
This is true only with Honda's, but not the Toyota's. If the timing belt brakes on a Honda, it will crush the valves, basically ruining the engine. On the Toyota, they have non-interference engines, so the car will stop, but only will need to have the timing belt replaced to run again.
This is true and a very good point. I am just glad Toyota for the most part is now using Timing Chains again.

But Las Vegas is correct pick a used Toyota over a used Honda just for the fact that he mentioned. I know it may not make sense to the lay person, but if a Honda's timing belt breaks (taking in consideration the years that you are looking at) the engine will be shot and obviously the car needs to be junked. If it breaks on a Toyota you are looking at around a $300 repair.

That's one of the reasons I suggested a mid 90s Camry.
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Unread 09-06-2009, 07:30 PM
 
46 posts, read 82,623 times
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get the VIN and get a "Car fax" done too. That may tell you if it has been in an accident or other problems. Not all things will turn up but it gives you an idea.
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Unread 09-08-2009, 05:15 PM
 
Location: North Carolina
18 posts, read 23,054 times
Reputation: 11
I just went to look at a 1992, 2Dr, Honda Accord with 107K. The owner has put new tires, new brakes, new starter, new alternator, all new fluids, new belts (including timing belt) on the car. The inside is very well maintained and the exterior looks pretty good except for a bit of rust on the bottom of the door. The seller is asking $2500 which is a tiny bit lower than kbb for a car in good condition for that year and model. I need to validate the VIN against Car fax and have a mechanic look it over but I'm inclined to take it and give him $2500. This is the first time I've bought a used car and it's very STRESSFUL!
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Unread 09-08-2009, 05:44 PM
 
Location: Central Texas
11,127 posts, read 10,363,230 times
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That is very low mileage for a 16 year old car. If everything is as you say - it sounds like a good buy.
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Unread 09-08-2009, 06:38 PM
 
Location: Nutley, NJ
2,504 posts, read 3,798,146 times
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It sounds like you did your research.

#1 Don't use KBB as a price guide--they are always on the high side. Use 1992 Honda Accord Pricing and Information Edmunds.com True Market Value

I actually own the same car--a 1992 Accord LX 4 Door with 185K miles. Some repairs over the years besides regular maintenance items like brakes and muffler are the distributor; Master Windows Switch, Master Window Motor, Passenger Window Regulator, Main relay ($65). The most expensive to get repaired was a failed rear main engine seal back in 2000.

But it is a reliable car and any car this old will need a little more TLC than a newer car.

I would try to get the car for around $1700 depending upon what your mechanic says and please that is the most important step--have a private mechanic look it over.

Please keep us informed and good luck!!!
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Unread 09-08-2009, 06:45 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
8,710 posts, read 19,164,709 times
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+1 on what Johnfrisco said - if you don't have the expertise to know what you are looking at, get a mechanic to look for you.

You should cultivate a good working relationship with a good independent car shop, have these guys look at the car, then have them maintain it for you.

If you don't know cars, you will be *way* ahead to have this indy shop do your routine maintenance like oil changes - they will know the correct type and amount of oil, give you a factory or factory equivalent filter, and not try to sell you BS "services" like engine "flushes".

On the other hand, "stupid lube" quick-lube outfits are going to give you whatever oil and filter they could get cheap, maybe damage your dipstick, drain plug, and/or cross thread the filter, then try to sell you all sorts of BS like engine flush.

Free market, your choice.
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Unread 09-09-2009, 12:49 PM
 
845 posts, read 1,130,246 times
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Steer clear of old Civics and Camrys. You will easily use up your $3000 buying the car, with no money left to repair the timing belt or the variety of things that break on those cars. Not to mention they are very slow.

Get a Saturn SL2 for $1,500 easily. Most reliable, economical cars out there for the price!
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Unread 09-09-2009, 03:01 PM
 
Location: San Bruno, CA
4,694 posts, read 5,311,389 times
Reputation: 2402
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wing Feathers View Post
Steer clear of old Civics and Camrys. You will easily use up your $3000 buying the car, with no money left to repair the timing belt or the variety of things that break on those cars. Not to mention they are very slow.

Get a Saturn SL2 for $1,500 easily. Most reliable, economical cars out there for the price!
What? The older Civics and Camry's are precisely how Honda/Toyota got their reputation to where they are now. My driving instructor years ago had an older generation Camry that ran over a million miles with little maintenance (one transmission rebuild). This is a car that is constantly abused by new drivers.
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