By on January 3, 2013

Sajeev and Steve – A close friend’s 2001 V6 Galant developed a death rattle and two reputable shops said the engine is toast. She’s currently driving my Volvo 940 Wagon I just got until she figures out what to do (paying it forward). She doesn’t have much free cash flow at the current time.My knowledge of cars is pretty extensive, but my mechanical knowledge of DIY fixing and repair is in its infancy, thus I’m a bit stumped and I hate to give bad advice. She’s been quoted ~$2500 for a running junkyard motor with <100k mi, and in excess of $3000 if she replaces key wear items on the new motor while its out of the car.

I’ve been trolling craigslist for 1992-1997 Camrys and Avalons,  Accords of similar vintage, GM W-Bodies with the 3.8L V6, and Vulcan Tauri* and have found a few worth looking into.

I’m leaning towards advising fixing the Galant – but today’s Piston Slap made me re-consider. I don’t know what the Galant would fetch in its current state, either – I’m thinking at least $750 due to its part-out ability (the body/wheels/interior/tires/battery are in decent shape). Is that crazy-talk? 

Obviously I want to get this as right as possible given the facts as I know them and was just wondering if you’d have a second to give this a sanity check. My friend fully understands that nothing is certain and that this is just a best guess.

Thanks and I apologize for the bother. All the best for you and your families in the new year.

*Fun fact: I was a financial analyst at Ford in a former life. When the Atlanta Assembly UAW would get angry, they’d make “Ta-bles” (a random smattering of Ford and Mercury trim bits all on one car) of which my plant had a few as corporate cars. These are probably worth something to the Taurus Club of America members.

Steve Says:

So you were in charge of making numbers dance on a computer for 40+ hours a week while your college dropout buddies got all the fun and perks?

I know whence you came. I had friends on both sides of the Atlanta Ford plant fence way back in the day. As for this Galant, I would strongly suggest the following.

Run that crappy car until it dies a gruesome horrible death. There are folks who will swear by Seafoam when it comes to oil sludge. Or synthetic oil. Or some elixir sold in the snake oil section of the auto parts store. None of them work, ever, when it comes to stopping the sludge monster.

If driving a car that sounds like a cement mixer is a non-starter for your friend, I would eventually look at trading in the Galant at Carmax or some other place that is just interested in getting the car. Normally I would suggest replacing the engine. But that would be based on finding another 2.7 Liter at a junkyard in excellent condition and the rest of her car being in perfect working order.

If that’s not the case right now, then just ditch this ride and start searching for a new one.

Let her follow our little car buying series here, here, here and here. Go and visit a few enthusiast forums for that car so you know what to look for in the future. Find a few good candidates with good histories, get an independent inspection, and let the car buying process take care of itself.

Sajeev Says:

See the photo above: Galants, much like Oldsmobile Auroras have charm in their design and fully-depreciated old car appeal.  The only problem? They must be killed with fire when a significant mechanical problem arises. Which is sad, but true…unless you are a fanboi. Which you are not.

Your lady friend needs to sell that heap to a junkyard, buy one of the craigslist cars you’ve mentioned, and hope it will be reliable enough for her to work through her cash flow problem. Move to the quickest path that gets her safely to her job. With a little luck and positive thinking, it will work out. Just make sure the replacement is fairly clean and all the trouble spots (model specific or just age related) are addressed in some manner. Which might involve extra cash spent on reconditioning.  By you, I assume.

Which goes back to your “pay it forward” comment. This isn’t the first time the B&B’s heard a story of a dude trying to help out a lady friend. One instance resulted in an enlightening email conversation between me and the OP: a true gentleman who is older, wiser and far smarter than I. He taught me why it’s okay to give money/time away: you hope it will actually make a difference in their lives.

So if the replacement car needs new tires, buy them for her. If she ever repays you, great.  If not…whatever. Kudos to you, sir.

For Me? I’m selfish: I want one of those “Ta-bles” that you speak of. Even if it isn’t this one.

 

 

 

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42 Comments on “New or Used? – It’s Hard To Be Galant When You’re Full Of Mud Edition...”


  • avatar
    danio3834

    I agree with ditching the Galant if the motor’s toast. You can get some fairly decent reliable hardware for 3k that would end up being less hassle.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    Yes, she wants to do a t-belt/waterpump/crankseal/oilpan gasket before the engine goes in the car. It’s about $300 in parts and 90 minutes with the engine out.

    But to the real thing – the price. I dunno if you are in BFE, or your friend is just getting a high price because they don’t want the job. But, a 15 second perusal of junkyards showed hundreds of used V6s for that car available at $300-800 nationwide.

    Want a a good learning project? Here it is. Acquire engine and do the swap yourself. $800-$1.5 K total. More importantly, you learn how to perform that most basic of car tasks, the engine swap.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    Porschespeed – OP here:

    The $2500 includes the new motor and removal/installation, which didn’t seem totally unreasonable. I just don’t have the time in the foreseeable future to do an engine swap on any car, and my wife’s tolerances are already strained by the elderly Volvo.

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      Fair enough Nick, I just toss out the options…

      As I’m sure others will/have offered, get the best Camry (or Hondota of choice except NO 5spd auto hondas ever) within the budget. If your market particularly over-values Camcords, a well-maintained Taurus/Sable is another route to go.

      Avoid dealers like the plague, especially at the sub $5K price point. CL and a good mechanical inspection by AAA or a wrench you trust. If you have 2nd tier advos like “CarSoup” or “AutoTrader” or whatever in your market, check them too. They’ve often got poor slobs who grossly overvalue their car and it sits for 6 months. I’ve found them to be very motivated sellers – because most folks just go to CL.

      Good luck!

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Dump the Galant and get an old Camry, as Sajeev suggested. A $2500 engine job in the Galant will only raise its value by about $500.

  • avatar
    ajla

    If she does go the GM route, don’t forget about the C or H-bodies. Compared to the W-bodies, I’ve always felt the larger car is much easier to work on, usually has better build quality, and they don’t really cost much more.

    Also, since she seems willing to go back as far as ’92, from ’89 to ’93 the Buick Century and Cutlass Ciera were available with the 3300 V6. They aren’t the sexiest looking cars, but they should prove reliable and cost WAY less than the competing Honda/Toyota.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      You and I think in the same vein, for the true DIY, a clean example will serve well. Trouble is a 3300 era (or 3800 H-body) ride is approaching college age at this point.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick 2012

        Thanks for the C and H Body info, though ’92 to ’99 H Body LeSabres have a serious subframe rust issue. My aunt had one break while driving due to corrosion in an otherwise well-maintained car.

        http://www.buickforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=16054

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @28-cars-later, the last H-body 3800s were built in 2005 (Buick Lesabre and Pontiac Bonneville). IIRC the Lesabre’s were perenial “best buys” from one of the consumer/family magazines. There seem to be wayyyyyyyyyyyy more Lesabres built than Bonnevilles judging by the used car market.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Wow, wasn’t aware.

        H-body Lesabre/eighty eight/bonnes were bought by regular people thus would be more likely used as a regular winter car (as opposed to a cream puff) and later beat by the buy-here pay-here crowd.

        If you can find one, Ninety Eight, Park Ave, or possibly 4.9 Deville (run from Northstar), all were C-bodies (Ninety Eight through ’93 and then H-body to ’95) with solid drive trains (first two are 3800, Caddy 4.9 is reasonably solid). If you can find one not hooptified, you have a better chance of being garaged and not destroyed underneath. I truly wish I was 21 again and it was 2002, with the only change being I now lack a negative balance in my checking account… I would buy up some 90′s GM goodness.

        @Nick 2012

        EDIT: You know now that I think about it, you’ll be hard pressed to find most of those cars in clean or even average condition, esp Ninety Eights. So here would be my plan of attack:

        Since Park Ave will be the most plentiful of C-bodies (being made to 2005) ask her if she would she drive a Park Ave, or if its too big/old man/unappealing?

        If the answer is no you’re pretty much out of the C-body game, if its suitable, than ask if a V8 is out of the question to eliminate 4.9 Devilles.

        The two better GM engines of the period are the 3800 V6 and the 3300 V6, which is based on the 3800 block. 3300 V6 was I believe only offered on mid level Olds/Buicks and was gone by 95, but if you find one running, you could have a reasonable beater for sub $2000. 3800 is available in H and C body (and later W-body) through the end of their respective runs but both cars are ‘bigger’, def more of a yacht than Galant. The thing that makes 3800 cars appealing despite being bigger, is they usually make for excellent poor-man’s Camcords. Sometimes you need something reasonably cheap and dependable to just get to work, 3800 fits the bill nicely.

        Another added bonus of most GM V6 engines of the period is the use of a ye old timing chain. GM V6 platforms (and I believe Vulcan Tauri) have an automatic $600+ advantage over the Asian makes out of the gate for this reason alone. Some might argue the timing belt cost is worth the price of admission for Toyonda, or the savings in said chain doesn’t make up for other design failures in GM/Ford products. Personally in a beater, I’d take the chain and deal with the other stupid stuff age and poor design may throw you’re way. A beater’s primary job is to run, not to look pretty, be trendy, sip gas, or have any resale value.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        @PrincipalDan

        Concur on the Lesabre overpopulation, when I do see used Bonnes, they have about 658,000 miles on them for $6999 as buy here pay here specials.

        I’ve heard some beef on post ’99 H-bodies both here on TTAC and elsewhere in my travels. Never drivetrain, just all sorts of other annoying stupid s*it. Plus you have the dex-cool fiasco in that timeframe, 3800 wasn’t as affected was 3100/3400 but there will still prob be coolant probs on Grandpa’s Lesabre. if I was leaning for a post 2000 MY 3800, I would opt Park Ave, or Grand Prix.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I’d go for the Eighty-Eight cream puff over the Ninety-Eight – simply because of the overly complex electrics they put in the Ninety-Eight.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        You’d be more likely to find an Eighty Eight, but if this sub-frame issue Nick mentioned was a genuine defect in the H design, until MY94 Ninety Eight offers a possible escape from the problem.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Taurus or Sable. You haven’t told us what her budget is exactally but in my area (desert Southwest) there are many old Taurus/Sables with sub 100,000 miles and roughly $5,000 price tags.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      I’ve been pitching the $2500-$3000 ‘no debt’ special, though she’s looking at new-ish Mazda6s with <30k mi that Carmax has for under $14,000, so there is really a range. I have a feeling she'll either do something $13-15k or $2-3k and not split the baby.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        There’s a huge difference in mileage and abuse in that price range. I’d really encourage her to try to hit somewhere between $5K & $10K and take a small payment for a much better car. I would also encourage her to join a credit union if she hasn’t already. My credit unions loan terms are very resonable regardless of the age of the vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick 2012

        @PrincipalDan – very true and I’d be more comfortable with a $3k Taurus than a $3k CamCord. Our Craigslist attracts posts from a number of rural towns in about a 50 mi radius. I’m frankly blown away by the number of clean Taurus/Sable twins for sale for less than $3500. These are pre-fleet only cars and I think many saw these as luxury-type cars at the time. Its sad these folks got hammered on resale value.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Look at it this way, their resale woes are your opportunity.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Credit unions also often have used auto buying services where you can get clean cars.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      +1 on a Tarus/Sable with the 3.0 Vulcan. I just changed the original water pump out on a 1996 with 213K miles on it. Still runs like new. Original transmission too. Find a well-maintained one (for cheap, yes, as said above there is an upside to low resale values) and drive it until financial conditions improve.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    That Sable AIV would look killer in black!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “When the Atlanta Assembly UAW would get angry, they’d make “Ta-bles” (a random smattering of Ford and Mercury trim bits all on one car)”

    I love how *this* is their response when they were mad. This should have been every 1,000th car, like a lottery.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      @28-Cars-Later:

      Our second shift (comprised of new, inexperienced rookies) ran a measurably faster line with better quality, too.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Funny how the rookies could run a more expedient assembly line without sacrificing quality. Maybe they brought their “A” games in order to prove themselves… or perhaps the other lines just set the bar so low?

  • avatar
    KalapanaBlack

    Normally I would suggest replacing the engine. But that would be based on finding another 2.7 Liter at a junkyard in excellent condition and the rest of her car being in perfect working order.

    Steve, the 8th generation Galant had the Mitsubishi 6G72 3.0L DOHC V6, not the Chrysler 2.7L sludgefest.

    I find it HIGHLY unlikely that a replacement 6G72 would cost $2500. Maybe from a Mitsubishi dealer at inflated labor rates. LKQ should be able to source a replacement for under $500 all day long, with similar labor to install at an independent mechanic. I’ve had some unfortunate experience with rebuilding the top-end of a similar 6G75 3.5L Mitsubishi V6 in a Diamante, and parts prices are not outlandish. A full gasket kit from Mitsubishi was around $300, a set of head bolts was around $120. I find it hard to believe that any “death rattle” that resulted from normal use (i.e. not a thrown rod) couldn’t be solved with these parts and less than 15 hours of labor.

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    Is it just me or does Piston Slap seem to receive an inordinate amount of questions about Galants? This is odd to me considering I see Galants on the road about as often as 550 Maranellos. Are TTAC readers closet Mitsubishi fans?!

  • avatar
    55_wrench

    Skip the Lesabre unless you like:
    * replacing window regulators. Lots of times. Google the problem and you’ll see what I mean.
    * a most horrible front seat.

    I had no beefs about the engine at all, it was the crummy body they saddled it with that made me want to sell it before its time. And I did, at a loss.

    Best go for a Camry or Avalon. Avalons have a chance of being gently driven by older drivers–if you can find a gen2, go for it. I picked mine up 20 months ago for <7 grand at 123,000 miles and it's now at 171K with no problems. At all. Oil consumption is a pint at 5,000 mile intervals.

    If mine was totalled today, i'd run out and get another one.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ll 2nd the horrible drivers seat. Mom and Dad had a ’92 LeSabre that was misery to drive long distances, a very unsupportive seat (theirs was the base Custom model with cloth manual seats), a throttle that was too light on the spring, so you couldn’t rest your foot gently without tiring your leg, or using the cruise, or finding the 108mph speed limiter.

      Theirs under the original 36,000 mile warranty was an utter POS. Once it hit 40,000 miles though, it was a reliable if boring cruiser. Many times the A/C control would fritz out and require a new control-head, the Passkey system failed, needed struts at 5,000 miles due to noise, tires at the same time due to the craptastic Dynamush suspension that even my parents grew to hate, water pump, master cylinder, it blew out both rear brake cylinders, two alternators, a blower motor…. I had to take the front doors apart to put insulation behind the front speakers to quiet the rattle from the plastic liner that was directly on the back of the speakers (Concert Sound II system).

      Once it got out of warranty, and all the bugs out of it, and new aftermarket struts, it was a dependable car, and is still on the road, but my parents were bored of it, and it was 12 years old. They offered to give it to me, and I turned them down as it was a miserable car to drive without me doing some serious upgrades to it (SSEi suspension, a better seat..)

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Good point, an Avalon would fit the bill nicely provided one can be found at a reasonable price and it wasn’t using that sludge prone engine referenced in yesterday’s Piston Slap article.

      • 0 avatar
        55_wrench

        –Mine is supposed to be the sludger, but I see no signs so far. Oil changes are 3-5K intervals using Valvoline or Castrol dino juice, and so far I’m having no problems.
        Perhaps it had something to do with proper maintenance history. I bought the car from the original owner, and they appeared to have taken good care of it.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I think your on the right track. Sludge happens over time, if the oil were frequently changed, even with design issues, less sludge would occur simply because of the frequent changes.

  • avatar
    Irate Destroyer

    As a current 2001 Galant owner (4cyl. with 192K) I would take Steve and Sajeev’s advice and just run it until it dies. Once the Galant in question is dead sell it to a junkyard and move on to a significantly more reliable Camry or Civic/Accord. The engine swap combined with the renowned Mitsu “build quality” could easily result in gigantic paperweight.

    @gslippy I think you meant “raise the value TO $500″ Just of curiosity I took my Galant to Carmax last week and got the whopping offer of….. $800.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Don’t put any extra cash into old Mitsubishis, they are not worth keeping. First car was 1981 “fun to drive, C&D recommended” Mitsu made Twin-Stick “Champ imported for Plymouth”, that was a money pit after 60k miles,

    Something was always breaking, clutch died at 90K, motor needed main seal at 95K and it was gone. I bought it used at 4 years old with 45K, considered a ‘good buy’. Would have been better off with a four year old Cutlass.

    Here in “salted roads city”, pre-2004 Galants are extinct, and they are made here in IL! See used rental ones from BHPH dealers with dents, soon to be history.

  • avatar
    V6

    Galants are cool. I have a JDM Galant VXR with the 2.0 mivec v6, 1994 with 230k on the clock. revs to just under 8000rpm, burns no oil, lots of soft touch plastics in the interior, just a nice well made car. the interior has stood up really well and the super smooth engine seems like it has plenty of life left to me.

    in saying that, if the engine went kaput I think I would just get a new car. the down time having no car while engine is being rebuilt or replaced would be too much of an inconvenience and the cost I don’t think would be worth it

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    Thank you all for the excellent, detailed and timely advice. It is very much appreciated. My friend – assuming all goes well in the financing department – probably will get a 2011 Mazda6 with 19k miles from Carmax for a hair under $14,000 and live with the payments.

    I am going to hound her to get an oil change done right away with a high-quality synthetic and change at 7,500mi regardless of what the maintenance minder says. Pep Boys is selling 5 qts of Valvoline SynPower for $22 (if you buy 10 quarts) with a PureOne filter.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Know nothing about Mazdas but 14K for an 2011 MY seems too good to be true, esp for what is considered a mid-size these days. Factory warranty still apply?

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    Warranty still does apply, and Carmax is the seller. With Carmax selling the car, I feel as comfortable as is possible that the car hasn’t been for a saltwater swim (sight unseen at this point). She read all of Steve Lang’s used car buying advice columns too. Prior history indicates fleet usage, but probably was a Ford employee leased car as it was only titled in Dearborn and not to a rental agency.

    Its a base model (whatever that means now) but comes with power everything but seat, keyless entry, steering wheel controls, etc.


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