LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 08-23-2015, 05:27 PM   #1 (permalink)
Junior Member
kvndoom's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 9
Default 2007 Altima SE: The Monkey's Paw

The Monkey's Paw. The Bottle Imp. It may have many names but the premise is the same. It is an object that provides its owner with the illusion of happiness, but that happiness comes at a steep price. Its owner must pass it on once he realizes the price he paid, glad beyond words that it is gone, selfishly glad that someone else has taken away his suffering.

This tale of terror is all 100% true. And I found out yesterday that it has not ended.

Back in May I saw a car on Craigslist that caught my eye and made my heart skip a beat. A navy blue 2007 Altima sedan, V6 and manual transmission, and tan interior. Not even 80,000 miles on the odometer. One owner car, clean Carfax (I think I still have it printed out somewhere). It was listed for $9500. On a whim I shot the guy a text message and asked if he'd take $8000. Incredibly, he said yes to that price.

This would be perfect! The 2007 I had bought in July 2014 has served me well (17,000 trouble free miles in 13 months as I write this, needing only regular maintenance and a few wear items replaced). My plan was to buy the car and leave it parked, just updating the stereo a bit at a time as I had money and free time, and then when we felt Kaylee (age 16) was ready to step up to independent driving (mid to late- 2016), I would just make the blue car my daily driver and she'd get the gray one I bought last year.

Did I mention it was blue? White and blue are my #1 and #2 favorite car colors. So if this thing had been white, I would have bought it just the same. If I had been dark gray, maybe but probably. Red, black, or sliver? I never would have considered it. My eyes betrayed me that day. They made me love something unlovable.

I sold the idea to Karen, and for the price it made perfect sense. I would have it paid off by the time it became a full-time car, and it would be customized to my liking by that point as well.

The salesman actually drove the car out to my house for me to look it over. He had to cross the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel on a weekday to do so, meaning a 30 mile drive took almost 3 hours. Back then I saw that as a heroic act of customer satisfaction. Now I wonder if it wasn't an act of desperation. Anyway, when he did finally get here, I checked it out pretty thoroughly. I drove it up on my Rhino Ramps, inspected everything under the hood, took it for a spin. The powertrain, suspension, and interior of that car were immaculate. I don't doubt that it would have provided 5 or more years of solid mechanical reliability.

I did notice a couple things not working though. The sunroof wasn't responding to the buttons and the interior lights (doors, dome, visors) weren't working either. Probably just a fuse, I thought. Fortunately I keep spare fuses, so I looked online to see which ones were for the sunroof and interior lighting. The lighting fuse was indeed blown, and replacing it made the lights work again, but the sunroof fuse was fine.

Now there's a rule above all rules that one has to follow when buying used cars: everybody lies. I know this, and I try to live by it. If a used car doesn't pass the smell test, just walk away. There's one thing to find problems that you couldn't have seen before purchase. There's another to know problems exist and buy it anyway. This car didn't pass the smell test because of the sunroof. And I remember that day clearly. My Spidey Senses went off. But my fatal mistake was not listening to them. I let emotions override my logic. Everything else was good, right? The sunroof probably just needed a new motor right? THIS CAR WAS A V6 MANUAL IN BLUE WITH 74,000 MILES, RIGHT?!?

I got the loan with my credit union; I bought the car. That was on a Monday.

The following Saturday I decided to take some time and tackle the sunroof. Probably just needed a new motor... I took out the screws to the sunglasses holder, pulled it out, and broken glass fell everywhere. I'm sure most of what came out of my mouth in the next few minutes wouldn't be appropriate to repeat around small children. I cleaned all that up, fearing where and how this would end.

That sunroof glass up there obviously wasn't original. At some point it had been shattered and then replaced. Hmmmm... There's more to it though. The motor was disconnected. Trying hard to regain optimism about this situation, I hoped that maybe whomever replaced the glass just forgot to reconnect the motor. I plugged it in, and tried to open the sunroof. Well unfortunately, the motor worked. Yes I worded that properly. This horrific grinding sound ensued, and close inspection revealed that the sunroof track, the grooved plastic rope that the motor engages to move the glass, was stuck. The metal teeth on the motor assembly were grinding down the grooves on the rope instead of moving it back and forth. A scenario played itself out in my imagination- whatever the impact was on the roof of this car that had caused the sunroof to shatter, had been severe enough to cause the track to get stuck as well. There was no evidence of a major dent on the roof anywhere, just small dings here and there which one would expect on an 8 year old car. Regardless, I had made an assumption that the sunroof would be a simple fix, and I got burned. But I'm not even done.

Remember when I said I bought the car even though it didn't pass the smell test? Never do that. Ever. Not following my own advice cost me. You'll see though, it's gonna cost somebody else even more.

I knew I would have to suck it up and sell the car, and cut my losses. Karen and I discussed it and she asked why not get it fixed, but I knew I would lose more money fixing it than dumping it. Besides, what if there were more problems that hadn't been discovered yet?

So yeah, about that last sentence... A few days after I signed the papers, the TPMS light began flashing. I verified correct tire pressure, even disconnected the battery. but it kept coming back. It's no coincidence that this didn't happen the day the salesman drove it to my house, or the day I drove out to pick it up. I'm sure that it can be cleared temporarily in the ECU, only to rear its head again later.

Everybody lies.

I'm still not done. My first instinct was to take it Carmax and hope for the best. Similar 2007 V6's with even more miles were on Carmax lots for $10000 and higher, so assuming they pad their no-haggle pricing with 3 grand, I should get 7 at minimum. KBB trade-in for that car was around $8500, so I would happily take even $7500 just to get out of the loan and cut my losses. Unfortunately I hadn't gotten my registration yet, so I couldn't dump the car, and outside it sat. The second week we had several heavy rain storms. Finally my registration came in the mail. After I got off work I proceeded to get my few possessions out of the car before I went to Carmax for a quote. When I opened the rear driver side door to get something off the back seat... The door was almost full of water. Not only could I hear it sloshing around, I could feel the weight of it. I had to park on an incline and then wave the door back and forth to get the water to come out. It took a while. I truly hoped that that would be the last day I ever saw that wretched car. Finally, off to Carmax I went.

By now everyone knows the Carmax routine. You give them the keys, you mope around for half an hour, they give you a quote. The rep had to enter some info into the database before we got started though. And of course he asked me the obvious question:

"So why do you want to sell this car when you just got it last month?"
"Oh, my fiancee is mad because I didn't get an automatic."
Everybody lies.

Amazingly, they didn't even check the sunroof! It wasn't on the list of negatives that the rep showed me post-inspection. In fact it practically got a perfectly clean bill of health. I was inwardly excited because what if I got $8000 for it, right then and there? It wouldn't have been an expensive lesson after all!

They offered me $6000. Bastards. Although, there's a certain irony involved in me getting pissed about being lowballed on a car I knew was a piece of crap to start with.

Defeated and deflated, I returned home, and went to Plan B: "Sell you car" using Autotrader. Autotrader produced a quote of $8000, but it would have to be inspected by one of their partner dealers first. Of course it would. Still, I had to try. The partner dealership in this case was a local Hyundai place. My birthday was nearing and we were going on vacation for that, so it had to wait a week.

When we returned, I called the rep at the Hyundai dealership and set a time to come by. As that time neared, I got in the Altima to head out there, and... well, you remember the day I test drove the car and said that the fuse to the interior lights was blown? Guess what- it had blown again. After sitting completely untouched for a week. This was getting worse by the minute. I tried to replace the fuse, and I heard the new fuse crackle and zap the instant I put it in the socket. On top of everything else, this car had electrical problems. Suddenly Carmax' $6000 didn't sound like a bad deal, because if I didn't get rid of that car soon, it might be impossible to get rid of it at all. I literally was having thoughts of driving it into a tree or parked car, weighing the cost of increased insurance premiums for 3 years versus the labor costs of fixing a damaged sunroof mechanism and random electrical gremlins.

Things went better at the Hyundai dealership though. First, the standard question of course-

"Why are you selling this car when you just got it?"
"Seemed like a good idea at the time, but we've got plumbing problems at the house and I don't want money tied up in a car payment."
Everybody lies.

He checked the car out, and I sat for an hour while he did that and talked to his manager. When he FINALLY came in, he asked the question I dreaded hearing most:

"Hey, did you know your sunroof isn't working?"
"Really? ****! Shoot man, I never even use the sunroof. I didn't even test it when I bought the car."
Everybody lies.

"Well," he said, "we have to take it into consideration that it will need to be fixed. So we can't give you the full $8000. My manager said the best we can do is 7."
"Ooooh," I said with a falsely concerned facial expression. "Let me sleep on that okay?" I knew full well I was going to take the $7000. I was actually partying like it's 1999 on the inside, but I couldn't let that show. Why was I so happy, you ask? Because he didn't notice that the interior lights weren't working!

Two days later, I drove the Altima to work. After work I was going to drive straight to the Hyundai dealership and dump it. But that damned car just HAD to spite me one more time, you know? I had been using it for short hops and errands, trying to not sell it with a full tank of gas. When I had come home after my first trip to the Hyundai place, I had 1/4 tank left. When I started it two days later, it showed an empty tank. The needle didn't budge. Just another brick in the wall.

I logged on to the bank, paid the loan down to $7000, and that evening that cursed car was out of my life forever. For the record, the fuel gauge showed 1/4 tank again when I drove it for the last time.

But see this is the thing with the Monkey's Paw. It always winds up with somebody else. Until it is destroyed or one final person accepts his fate and keeps it until death, knowing that it will claim his soul.

The only reason I sat down to write this wall of text today is because I saw this last night while perusing Craigslist:

In case the ad disappears, I screen captured it for historical purposes:

When I saw that, I knew right then and there that this story must be told.

Two very important tidbits: One- "I'm the second owner." No, actually he's the third. When the dealership had posted the car for sale after they got it from me, I looked at the Carfax. It did indeed reflect my one month of suffering. If he looked at the Carfax himself, he would have seen that. Did he ask himself why the last person only had it for one month? Did his Spidey Senses go off? Did he still buy the car even after it failed the smell test?!? Obviously they fixed the sunroof and replaced the TPMS sensors, at minimum. But I know what evil lies beneath.

Two- "Just looking for payoff on the loan. Not trying to make anything." It didn't take him long (but longer than it took me!) to find out what he had gotten himself into. Now he wants out, no profit at all, JUST GET THE GODFORSAKEN THING OUT OF MY SIGHT. The dealership had listed it for $10,800 but I don't know if he paid that much or not. I can all but guarantee he's losing money though. He's going to eat his down payment and TTL.

He might sell it quickly. Who knows? But I bet anyone smart enough to get the VIN and run a carfax is going to see "2nd owner- one month and sold it... 3rd owner- two months and selling it??" and run like ****. No dealership is going to give him 9 grand. I already know what Carmax will offer. At best he can try Autotrader and maybe get $8000, but that car's in their system now and that might set off some alarms. But sooner or later someone will look at the car's retail book value and see that $9000 is a steal and buy this thing off him. Then the Monkey's Paw moves on.

I have a feeling I will see this car for sale somewhere yet again...
kvndoom is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Forum - The Truth About Cars forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:
Please select your insurance company (Optional)


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 02:03 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Copyright ©2000 - 2022, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.1
Garage Plus vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2022 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.