By on October 18, 2013

King_Charles_I_by_Antoon_van_Dyck

“Don’t bid on that. I’m on it.”

Normally I wouldn’t be so mouthy and blunt with my competitors. But this guy was a rare breed. A large scale buyer and owner of five different car lots who maybe, just maybe, would give me the break I needed with buying this partricular vehicle.

Of course I would return the favor whenever it was asked of me. I just didn’t expect it to be the very next car.

After about seven seconds of futility trying to find a higher bid, the auctioneer laid down his hammer. I had bought this…

c701

A 2001 Volvo C70 HT with only 91k miles VIN# YV1NC53D21J021446. It was the first one out of the chute at the Carmax sale this afternoon and thanks to my friend and a motion with one finger and a fist to the auctioneer which meant, “I’m in at $1000″, the Volvo was now mine.

It needs a new engine which I have found for $600 a few hours a sale. If everything works out, I’ll have about $2000 in a unit that can easily sell for more than twice the price.

My work wasn’t done though. The very next car was a 2005 Dodge Stratus SXT in Black. 130k miles. Cloth interior. Alloy wheels with no roof. I can tell by his body language that he wanted the car and sure enough, he soon made the same motion as me, but with three fingers.

“Put me in at $300″ was the sign language of the moment. The bid started at $300, and it stayed there. Five seconds, ten seconds, nobody else. Sold. $300 plus a $60 auction fee. He had just bought an 05 Stratus for less than the value the steal would bring if it had been crushed.

It was an outstanding deal with just one small problem. The engine. This Stratus came with what may very well be the least reliable engine of modern times. The Chrysler 2.7 Liter engine. Dealers, owners, consumer advocacy groups, and even The Salvation Army have suffered the under-engineered and virulently denied failings of this engine.

“Steve, did you happen to catch the engine in that thing?”

I told him that I hadn’t, which was true. The vehicle hadn’t even been on my list of cars to look at that afternoon. But later in the auction when there was a lull between vehicles, I walked over, opened the hood, and sure enough, it was the 2.7 liter engine.

Sometimes the king’s rule is the one thing that can save you from burying your money in a bad car that will never make you a dime. In the case of my friend, he will likely spend about $2000 on the engine if he wants to retail it. But something tells me that he’ll just as likely use it for a parts car, and crush it once he finds a use for the tranny. At $360 for an 05′ model, even the absolutely crappiest of late model cars can break even.

Which reminds me, have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? A car that was poorly purchased, and poorly engineered? A beast of burden that you just happened to get rid of without costing you more than time and extreme heartache? Feel free to share.

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68 Comments on “Hammer Time: The King’s Rule...”


  • avatar
    areader

    Why is this behavior not unethical? It seems to me that a seller has a right to expect he will get the highest bid without collusion among the bidders.

    • 0 avatar
      360joules

      It gets even worse at county and local government auctions. You’ll see a list of vehicles and equipment on the auction notice for public sale that tempt you to attend. But when you go to the auction the vehicles or equipment that tempted you to attend never cross the auction block.

    • 0 avatar
      Japanese Buick

      I am with you on

    • 0 avatar
      Japanese Buick

      No question this behavior is unethical and it’s not just Carmax and the ilk who are getting shafted.

      I am treasurer of a charity that, among other fund raisers, has a car donation program. It’s run by a vendor that takes care of everything, sells the donated cars at auction, and sends us the proceeds minus their fee. In the years we’ve used this program we’ve gotten about a dozen cars donated this way, enough that I have an idea what’s “normal” to get for certain types of cars. And once in a while the amount the car supposedly got at auction is so laughably low, collusion like this between unethical buyers or fraud by the auction are the only logical explanations. In one case the car was actually donated by my wife so I know exactly the condition it was in and knew for sure something unethical like this happened when I got the results.. I asked the car donation vendor to look into it and got copied on emails from the compliance director asking others what happened which were never responded to and eventually my follow up calls stopped being returned.

      Bottom line, Sometimes the people you’re stealing from when you do this are charities and their donors.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven Lang

        Let me give you a foolproof way to overcome these issues.

        1) Show up.

        That’s right. You need to show up at the auction and do a few things to protect your interest. These include…

        A) Make sure your charity car looks clean. Most charities are too cheap to invest in a good clean-up of their vehicle. If the car looks like shit and has redeeming qualities that are strictly sentimental, then you’re pretty much going to damn it to the crusher. It’s not the auction’s responsibility to inspect the vehicle’s condition. It’s yours because you are the owner.

        B) Tell the auctioneer what your reserve is, and remember to be nice to him. You can piss off plenty of people in this business, but it can be lethal to piss off the auctioneer. Let him perform his magic and, if you can, dress business casual on the block. You don’t need a suit. But if you do have a good look about you, it can easily add value to your property.

        C) Your biggest danger in this business is not collusion among the buyers nor is it the fast talker standing beside you. It’s the auction. A lot of auctions will offer little to no sale fee for charities, and then charge the buyers twice to three times the normal fees for buying the vehicle.

        This can massively depress the value of your vehicles on the block. I have seen charity cars sell for $1500 that had $360 buy fees attached to them. I have also seen thousands of vehicles go for less than their scrap value because the inflated fee has weighed the price down. The auctions play this game because they know you will never, ever ask them about the buyer fees.

        Insist that the buyer fees remain the same for the dealers. That should be a non-negotiable. Also, you may want to consider spending a bit of time just getting to know a few. Relationships can not only help you get those extra couple of bids, they can also help you become more aware of issues related to your inventory.

        Good luck!

  • avatar
    mcarr

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but if the seller wants a certain price, he should set a reserve price. Otherwise, all’s fair and so forth.

    Also, I find humor in the expectation of ethics in the car selling biz.

  • avatar
    Morea

    “steel” not “steal”. (Freudian slip?)

  • avatar
    -Nate

    As one who bought low end auction klunkers for rebuilding and resale for decades , I find your willingness to share refreshing .

    My rule was : never pay over scrap value as I always fixed _everything_ .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    olddavid

    My ego told me I could keep Opel’s Omega/Cadillac on the road. Still looks great in the driveway. A mute testament to hard-won humility. Soon to bring the $250 per ton its actually worth.

    • 0 avatar
      Battles

      Omegas are the apex predators of the Bangernomics community in the UK.
      Cheap, readily available, reliable and easy to fix if they do go wrong.
      WTF went wrong with the Catera?

      I seem to do at least one post a week in support of the Omega on TTAC and I will continue to do so until I maybe buy one and find out the awful truth…

      • 0 avatar
        Acubra

        3.0V6 engine and much higher equipment level (more things to go wrong), more relaxed approach to maintenance and harsher climate (much hotter at average) to start with.

        • 0 avatar
          Battles

          The three litre (not liter!) engine was always available on the Omega and it’s got a better reputation than the four cylinder, as far as I know.
          Wasn’t it used in Saabs and stuff too?

          This is the first time anyone’s mentioned the hotter climate in response to my staunch defence of the Omega, it’s a really good point.
          I guess for comparison we’d need to see how many Omegas were sold and survived being run in, say the south of Spain or Italy.

          • 0 avatar
            olddavid

            My problems have been myriad. First, like all good wrenchers, I had to change the “lifetime” trans fluid. The kit had only one new gasket for two pans. Two coil modules. Disconnected the rear self-leveler after umpteen attempts to fix. Radiator blew. Climate control went black. Oil cooler seal kaput. Two MAF sensors. Two O2 sensors. A body control module. And that’s just this year. Only 55k miles. I’ve truly met my match. But I will admit the Omega UK website was the go-to place for tech and practical advice. I have everything working again save the climate control. The funny thing is, when all is working, I enjoy driving it long distance. Just can’t rely on it in a Montana or Alberta winter trip. You wouldn’t either. Too bad.

  • avatar
    mr_mike

    Nice to have you back Mr. Lang. Hopefully you are here to stay!!!

  • avatar
    tbhride

    It is good to see Hammer Time and Steve Lang back on these pages!

  • avatar
    brettc

    Glad to see Steve Back at TTAC. I look forward to seeing items from him again.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I’ve had one terrible Volvo. An ’82 245T. The biodegradable wiring harness caused it to catch fire on Rt 128 in MA. Stupidly, I put it out and had it towed home. Should have let it burn to the ground. Paid to much for it in the first place, put too much money into it. About the only thing that didn’t have any issues was the turbo. This was back in the mid 90s, so the car was <15 years old.

    Ended up selling it to a co-workers 85yo Grandfather who only used it to go 2 miles to the grocery store and back. And the @#$@#%@# thing never gave him a BIT of trouble for the 3-4 years until he died. It always was happy to sit for weeks on end and fire right up, but Dog forbid you went very far in it…

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      Swedish cars are notoriously temperamental.
      Contrary to your Volvo all my SAABs would start misbehaving if I stopped using them on a regular basis. My current 9-5 Aero seems to throw an ABS malfunction code any time it stays parked longer than 2 weeks. If I drive it all the time – not a single problem. Go figure.

      Another popular tale among saabers is that you never talk about selling it when your saab can “hear” you, as it immediately begins to misbehave in some way.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      My 244 likes to give me false warnings on the dash whenever I’m acting careless or giving light symptoms of road rage.

      Thankfully it hasn’t had any of the headlight issues that it gave the original owner.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    I thought the issues with the 2.7 were fixed before the 2004 model year, and primarily affected the 2002′s?

    Hard to say what killed this one, but my faith that Chrysler can fix oil sludge build-up in their engines is just as good as my faith that they can produce a reliable automatic transmission.

  • avatar
    oldowl

    I once bought a VW “Squareback” very used for $300. It caught fire from a bad gas line. No one was hurt. Sold it for parts at $100. Cheaper than a rental for the time it lasted.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Every car I ever bought for the wrong reason turned out to be a “beast of burden”, because when you buy a car that you don’t really like or is just wrong for your needs it doesn’t matter how good it is, it sucks

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    When I was a young lad and light on funds, I stumbled across a nice looking, still in good shape 1980 Cadillac Sedan Deville. I was in need of wheels and had little to spend (recipe for success there). The car was owned by the same woman who had sold me my first car 9 years prior. I figured she sold me a good car before, this time would be no different. The test ride was great.. Except I did not drive (insurance reasons). I gave it a pass as I knew this person and she knew me. She wouldn’t pull one on *me*, right? Well…

    I purchased the car for about 950 or so.. baby blue with 93K miles. It ran real nice and everything worked including the straight-from-hell auto climate control. Then, that is where things got.. dicey. After replacing a noisy lifter, a leaky fuel bowl and an alternator, the car ran great. Truly enjoyable. The 368 was very smooth and made good power. From there however, it became possessed by the same GM demons that had plagued me prior. Climate control tanked, reverse started to slip (I think it was slipping before, hence the no test drive rule), ball joints were on their way out and the y pipe had a hole in it from rusting. Amidst all of that, the wipers would stop working intermittently. I was privy to this feature during a spring downpour on I-95 outside of Boston with a very skittish passenger next to me. Very bad. The screams were unbearable.. That is what she told me anyway.

    Soon, the trans would not shift out of second. I figured since I had replaced so many GM transmissions before, I would do this one as well.
    Nope. Someone had apparently lost one of the torque converter bolts and replaced it with a course threaded one and forced into the hole.
    I could not get it out. These problems came to a head when the car shifted on jack stands while I was under it. I thought for sure it was trying to kill me. I called it and then called the scrapper. For the kingly sum of 20 dollars paid to me, the car was driven on to a trailer and taken away. “She runs good!” the man said. I said nothing.

    While I didn’t lose my shirt on the car, I lost enough to never return to GM. This would be the third GM product to run down the same list of failures. Enough was enough. This one was definitely poorly engineered and poorly purchased.

    Strange footnote, I used to drive by this person’s house until recently. One day on the way home from work, I noticed the garage had burnt down. The fact she pulled one on me still stung and while I would never wish anything such as fire on anyone, I have to say, I didn’t feel as bad as I could’ve.

    • 0 avatar
      bachewy

      I’ve owned two GM money pits like that, a ’69 Chevelle and a ’77 Camaro. Both were sexy cars that I couldn’t wait to buy but over a period of 1 and 2 years in turn, they both fell apart with every moveable piece of the car breaking. I thought the poor engineering in those cars was a thing of the past until my daughter bought a 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix. At 130k miles the engine was as smooth as butter but everything else in the car just failed even after repeated repairs. The old cars were engineered to have parts replaced, that new car was NOT. It was clear that Grand Prix was built to be put together once and never taken apart or repaired.

      I’m done with GM forever.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      This post was like a little capsule review in the comments. Thanks for writing it.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “One day on the way home from work, I noticed the garage had burnt down.”

      Perhaps she had recently sold a car to someone less forgiving then you… just sayin’ karma’s a bitch

    • 0 avatar
      jeffzekas

      Chevy Celebrity- peeling paint, cracked head, bad manifolds, constant break downs. My kids and I been driving Subaru, Toyota & Honda ever since.

  • avatar
    Shane Rimmer

    Several years ago, I jumped on a “Crazy Eights” deal for a 2004 Mustang V6 model for $8,888. I really liked that car when it worked, but I had to take it to the shop about once a month for issues that ranged from a disintegrated idler pulley to a full power steering rack replacement (covered under warranty, thankfully).

    The final straw was when it developed, at 40,000 miles, some sort of fuel issue. The car would start misfiring and, then, cut off even with half a tank of gas. I took it to the dealership three times to get it fixed and, partially, paid for a couple of fuel pumps and fuel filters. On the third trip, they kept the car for a few days until they actually replicated the issue, but they had no idea what was wrong. In desperation, they replaced the entire fuel system.

    I picked the car up and they told me that they’d fix it for free if it gave me any more trouble. I paid them and thanked them, then, drove to the nearest Nissan dealership. They offered me $9,700 for the car, so a deal was struck and the Mustang was out of my life. For all I know, it may still be out there providing trouble free service to somebody after the full fuel system replacement, but I was fed up.

    That was the one car I was glad I bought an extended warranty on, but it still cost me $150 per trip.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Actually, my brand new 05 Odyssey was a beast of burden.

    I bought it in haste, thinking we just had to have a replacement minivan a day before going to the beach (our old one was dead).

    I should have rented a vehicle and taken more time to shop. The Odyssey is the only car I ever bought before driving.

    The Odyssey (I’ve described it here before) broke the next day, and ended up in Lemon Law court within a year. I owned the car for 20 awful months, but fortunately its faults were all warranty items that only cost me a lot of inconvenience. The dealer was even worse than the car.

    I won the case, and promptly trading that thing for what I owed was a very happy day.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The only vehicle I ever bought in desperation turned out to be great. Oldsmobile was stolen in Detroit back in 2001. After the insurance companies grace period passed I was given a check for very little (high deductible and then the car had a salvage title.)

    So with my $1000 check in hand I went car shopping intending to finance and use the check as a deposit. I wanted something quickly because ride sharing with my wife was unbearable (which is why she’s now my ex). The local Ford dealer specialized in off lease vehicles because of the high number of Ford employees in the area. Went all over the used car lots of the local dealers and came back to a 1997 Escort wagon with a mere 21,000 miles on it and a Michigan title that indicated it had been owned since new by a resident of a local retirement village. 2001 the SUV/CUV craze was rolling along and NO ONE wanted wagons. Struck a deal for basically 50% of the original purchase price.

    The only major non preventive maintenance repairs in 8 years of ownership was a transmission rebuild that was largely due to my neglectfulness. The shop that rebuilt it rebuilt the trans to Mazda Protege specs (Escorts sister car) and made it much more fun to drive.

    Divorced in 2009 and the ex-wife took the car because it was paid for. Was still serving her faithfully (despite her abuse) when her poor health took her life this year.

    Great car and the only one I ever bought that didn’t include months of searching and test driving.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      We had a 97 sedan and I was very impressed with it’s reliability. We replaced the front wheel bearings at about 130K and that was it. Gave it to my mother-in-law who subsequently loaned it out to a troublesome grandson who promptly wrecked it. We should have kept the damned thing as a hand-me-down for the kids.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Welcome back Mr. Lang.

    We have 2004 Stratus ES with the 2.7l engine. Right now it has just over 160k on the clock and doing well except for one issue. It needs a new water pump (hint, it is connected to the timing chain). I run synthetic in all of our cars regardless but I think (hope?) most of the issues were worked out earlier in the engine development.

    • 0 avatar
      Halftruth

      Flipper, how do you know it needs a new WP? By the oil? I ask as it would seem that the engine would grenade quickly with water getting in there. Two relatives have had 2.7s that did not have any sludging and ran well past 100k with normal maint. Hate that design though (internal water pump that is chain driven).

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      A leaky or wet weep hole is usually the signal for impending water pump failure. That, and bearing noise. Any coolant passing through the inboard seal will drain out there before getting to the outboard bearing and the timing chain.

      Make sure you get the best quality pump you can find, Flipper35. You don’t want to have to redo that job. It was the same situation with my mother’s Quad-4 powered Sunfire GT a few years ago. I dreaded doing the job simply because I knew that aftermarket water pumps aren’t terribly reliable and I didn’t want to do it a second time. I looked at a bunch of water pumps with cheap bearings – many with a lifetime warranty, some unlabeled, some with nothing but CHINA – until I found what I wanted. On the AC Delco unit someone had considered the bearing to be respectable enough to actually put their name on it: FAG MADE IN CANADA. That was 80k miles ago. I’m hoping for at least 120k like the OE unit.

  • avatar

    Never had a really bad deal on a car.

    My ’93 Saturn, bought new, did have to get a new engine at 63k. Since the oil use problem was common in saturns of this vintage, and since they would probably have ended up doing a ring and a valve job, I got them to give me a new engine for $700 (probably about $1,000 in current dollars). Then the thing started nickel and diming me around 130k. Not great. I would have done much better though with an integra (the car I shopped it against).

    My latest car–’08 Civic stick, bought end of jan 2012 with 35k for 11k. Only problem so far was a thermostat.

  • avatar
    missmySE-R

    Break it down, it’s Hammer Time!
    Really happy to see the return of one of my favs back at TTAC.
    Hope the lack of fanfare regarding the return is simply Steve’s modesty and not indicative of limited future contribution.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      Thanks! I did write an article earlier this week that was the flip side of this one. If things do pan out, maybe I’ll be here for another seven years… again.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    My 90 Cressida. Bought as a time capsule car 70K miles on it in virtually show-room condition, including Toyota’s “oops we didnt torque the cyl head down tight enough issue.” Spent $3k on replacing and retorquing the head gaskets. Now it seems to have the Toyota “oops we put crappy valve stem seals in it issue.” I figure I’ll mile it out now. At least it’s lovely to drive though.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I’ve had several, but the one I’ve had the most experience with had to have been a Plymouth Horizon I grabbed for $900 ($400 too much) across state.

    After selling my craptacular VW Type 3 Fastback I was desperate for any practical transportation, and with my mind being set on the OmniHorizons weird styling and trusty 2.2 I had to have one, a bonus was that the one I had found was a ’90 so it had an interior that was put together from various finds in the Chrysler parts bin, a bit depressing compared to the interior of early OmniZons with their multi-tierd glove compartments and pop-out center console lights.

    A test drive shows that the car was a bit fun, but in dire need of tires and an alignment so after drive it across state I had a stage 0 done on it, alignment, tires, whatever. Cheap and tinny but loyal car that thing was.

    Junkyard trips were often fruitless with most parts from other OmnisHorizons not swapping in, the fuel hoses had to be replaced due to a clog, underneath bits of the car were shedding away from rust, and the rear shock absorbers or something were bad so the rear end would bounce everywhere over bumps (this was more fun than annoying).

    I took this car on a number of lengthy trips and the only tow it needed was when the timing belt went, I sold it once the automatic transmission started requiring my attention to shift, and soon began popping out of gear, new fluid and gasket did nothing to fix this.

    That car as cheap, rusty, battered, and lousy as it was, was still a good friend to the end. I let a poor guy “finance it” in segments up to $700, he wanted it because it could fit his kids. His kids, as young as they were, actually liked the car and for all that I know might restore GLHs in their teens. The owner managed to crank more miles out of that Horizon so its still out there somewhere.

    After that was an ’89 Tercel DX that was built better and less crusty, but that thing wanted Ryoku broiled on a frying pan with how it ate up summer heat, used materials that were equally as cheap as the Horizon and in some areas were thinner. Got my license in it and IMMEDIATLY sold it for the Volvo 240 I have now, I wanted to profit off it and use that money fixing up a Panther but now, well lets see how it holds together when it hits 150k.

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      I suppose I’m not the only one that likes to drive around cheap junk.

      I have to replace my truck soon. If its not the fact that it needs a new torque converter ( lockup clutch is slipping ), its the damn rust. The whole cab has gotten significantly eaten up in the 2 years and some odd months I’ve owned it. I’ll keep it around for truck stuff but, not as a daily. Not bad for $400.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Yea, I was lucky with the Volvo but the rest of my cars were brought to avoid financing anything, plus I can say things like “I took a broken rusty $800 car across several states without needing a tow”, bragging about cheap cars can make you look stupid or impressive, I just enjoy the reactions.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I suspect even if you tire of the Volvo you won’t want to get rid of it. While certainly slow, quirky, and sometimes frustrating these cars laugh at bean counters and planned obsolescence. I’m fully convinced even if its no longer in my hands, mine will outlive me.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        I’ll never tire of its reliability, but I’m beginning to re-think my priorities with the amount of timemoney I put into it, granted I’m of the belief that any car takes a bit of work to keep going, may as well stick to one you like.

  • avatar
    jaydez

    My first car:
    1986 VW Jetta. It was my first car so I was 16 and stupid. It looked nice but since I never had it inspected I got hammered on it. The engine had a bad cylinder, the Transmission started slipping a month after i bought it and the alternator was shot. I paid $2000 for it and drove it for 4 months.

    After that 4 months I was going to work one day and a woman not paying attention turned in front of me in her 4 Runner. Her insurance company gave me $3000 for the car. I was happy with that.

  • avatar
    Battles

    Desperate for a car in 1997, I accepted my Dad’s mate’s kind offer of a free 1988 Ford Orion, the top of the line 1.6 Ghia injection model with the boot floor completely rusted out and a month left on the MOT road worthiness inspection.
    I poured all the money I had in the world into insuring it, ran it for about two weeks and then realised that it was never going to be road legal after it failed the test.
    I sold the engine (which was the fastest available at the time), gearbox, electric windows, interior, alarm, wheels blah blah and ended up massively in profit.
    My Dad made me give the cash to his mate.
    I basically stripped the car for parts for him, for free.

  • avatar
    Delta9A1

    2006 CTS-V. Purchased without a test drive as it had been stored for a year and was not licensed and had two flat tires. Started up with a boost and sounded great (Borla exhaust), but had a long list of problems after I was the owner. Rotors, brakes, dented wheel (only visible once tires off, four tires (knew those were bad), engine mount, some sort of concrete spotting on the black paint (looked like dirt until washed), and then once the temperatures dropped, an unholy tapping from a sticking hydraulic valve that only went away after it warmed up. Kept it for two summers, during which it became obvious that the Tremec had been abused and the syncros were going, and it started refusing to shift into reverse. Mechanic couldn’t adjust the tranny, so I traded it in on a new GTI. Dealership did the test drive without needing to shift into reverse (at least they never mentioned a problem), and it was a warm day, so the valves didn’t stick. Took a bath on the experience, but I checked the “huge V8″ off my bucket list and used it to check off “hot hatch”. I do miss the 6.0L LS2 – it sounded like death was chasing me!

  • avatar
    ajla

    I owned 3 N-bodies.

    Windstar and Chevy Colorado were also hilarious in their build quality, but at least those didn’t require a personal cash outlay.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    In 2002 I bought the new Saturn Vue. It was a wonderful car until it broke. Then it broke continuously. Finally threw a timing chain with no warning. Every time we went to Saturn it seemed to cost a $k so suppose I could have bought a lot of different cars with that money.

    Just bought a 99 olds Bravada and am replacing the trannie this weekend. Hope it’s not going to be Deja Vu.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      You need to stop buying midsized and compact GM SUV’s.

      On the other hand, I bought an 07 Saab 9-7x earlier this week. So what the hell do I know!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I remember in 2004/5 when we on the used lot started getting the first year Vues in from our GM wholesaler. The gruffy old mechanic just shook his head and begged the lot owner to stop buying them because of the numerous problems he’d had or heard about with them. I don’t think you’ll have a repeat disaster with your Bravada based on our previous discussions, just the typical GM stuff.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Steve check the tranny on the 01 Volvo, those years were fraught with problems.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      The problems had nothing to do with the transmission. The 5-speed automatic Volvo used was engineered by Aisin. A firm that has done a great job with making millions of durable transmissions for Toyota.

      The reason why Volvo transmissions in these models are crap is because Volvo decided to create this myth known as “lifetime transmission fluid”.

      If you don’t change them, the transmissions will usually give out around the 90k to 120k mark. However, I have experienced some stunning success with changing the fluid using the Gibbons method.

      You can find it here…

      https://www.google.com/#q=volvo+transmission+gibbons+method

      I have taken many a Volvo transmission that had a brutally hard shift, and enabled it to have smooth shifts and no lingering transmission issues. In fact, I’ve found Volvos to be surprisingly decent cars to finance. Although the electronics in them stink to high heaven and the check engine lights are just about as sensitive as Richard Simmons on the Howard Stern show.

      These cars are cheap at the auctions which is partially due to the fact that these cars can be a bitch to maintain. If you get one that already has the transmission replaced, all you need to do is perform one Gibbons fluid change every couple of years, and you’re fine so long as you sell them where emissions aren’t a factor (because of the chronic check engine light issues).

      The engines can last over 300k and almost be happy about it. In fact, I had an 01 XC70 wagon that was traded in with over 300k during tax season this year. I think nearly everything had broke within it. Both the engine and tranny were on their last legs and the car was worth more dead than alive. But it still managed to get $1200 at the auction that day which, to me, was jaw dropping.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Thanks for the reply and the excellent link, I wasn’t aware of a lifetime fluid faux pas as early as 2001. I’m a happy 240 owner myself and am frequently over at the Volvo shop hanging out so I get an earful on the good, the bad, and the ugly.

        There are several regular C70 customers that come through and although the cars are nice they seem to be very fincky. Both they and the S70s are known for the check engine lights, however I’ve seen the motors do at least 200K I imagine they could keep going with proper service. I believe Volvo has been using Aisin transmissions for some time, my own Volvo has an Aisin Warner 4spd and from what I understand the same model was used in the Cressida.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    The 01 volvos xc wagons had the crappy tranny with the lifetime fluid few mad 120,000 I think the vert had a different tranny but change the fluid no matter what the book says. And Welcome back Steve

  • avatar
    Joss

    Why we got a portrait of a king who lost his head to a warted general? Are you converting to surplus?

  • avatar
    anti121hero

    Years back I bought a 84 plymouth reliant, dark grey 4dr with red interior/vinyl benches and the “electronically carburetted” 2.2. It had only 90k and I paid 800 for it with an extra set of winter tires. The second day I drove it the choke started sticking, so I had to either drive it at full throttle or idle or else it would stall out. It constantly stalled at stop signs and lights, I had to putter the gas with the brakes, in the middle of intersections and just going down the road. To top it off the exhaust broke off while I was in reverse so the whole thing twisted and wrecked itself. I got brand new exhaust from the cat back but it never fit right so it constantly came apart when I hit the smallest bump, and this thing was LOUD with no exhaust and a stuck choke. The alternator died on me while I was driving home, I replaced that, the battery, starter, all belts and hoses, did front end work and more that I can’t recall at the moment. It handled like a shopping cart and almost killed me a couple of times, nearly careening into trees and spinning around a few times. The vinyl would burn or freeze your ass depending on the season. A rear tire blew out going 40, so I had to replace that. It was atrociously slow especially up hills, and only returned about 20 mpg. The last day I drove it both benches were packed with five of my buddies and the exhaust came apart conveniently in the city as my choke was stuck wide open, and I just so happened to pass two black and white crown vics. Immediately pulled over, they were questioning my two year overdue inspection (I had been pulled over probably ten times for this before) and told me my car sounded like a tank and that hey were surprised my friends weren’t sick from the exhaust fumes. My charming charisma got me out of that without a ticket, and I drove it to my friends house where I pulled into his driveway and a huge rock completely destroyed my catalytic converter. At this point I was so fed up it sat in his driveway for a month and I finally sold it to for 400, not running, in various states of disrepair and with about 120k on the clock. In hindsight, that was the worst vehicle I have ever owned but I loved every minute of owning it. It was a beast in the snow, when it ran good, it ran great, and nobody knew what it was. The salt belt and cheap engineering killed most of these off years ago, but mine was almost perfect cosmetically. I bought a loaded 98 intrigue after this for 500$ which turned out to be the best vehicle I have ever owned, until it hit black ice and ended upside down in a field, as seen on my avatar.


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