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First Car. Starting College. D:

Mai-KeroMai-Kero Registered User regular
edited July 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
So I need a car for college, and right now I have three main options:

1. 1994 Mercury Topaz. Said to be in working condition with a few problems, and about 80k miles on it. Asking price is $700, but my offer will be lower, although I have to see it first. I have a few family members who know quite a bit about cars, and one of them should be able to tag along to inspect the car before I make a decision.

2. 1994 Ford Tempo. Said to be in working condition without air conditioning, plus a few other minor problems. 120k miles. I'm supposed to talk to the guy later today about seeing it/inspecting it and a price. I'm expecting it to be close to the Topaz.

3. Vaguely defined mustang. 120k miles, I think it's a fairly recent make, my friend's brother wants to sell it for $3000. My friend wasn't clear on the details, but gave me a number to call the brother at so I should have more information about it later today.

With the first two, I can buy them outright in cash. With the third, I'd need to look into a car loan. I bank with National City, but I'm not entirely sure on their rates. I'm currently employed full time over the summer at a really easy job that gives me a lot of fuck-around time, but pays minimum wage. I'll have to switch jobs once college starts in August since I can't work at this one around my schedule.

So, what should I do? Go for a cheap, possibly shitty car, or get a loan and buy something newer and presumably better?

Mai-Kero on
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Posts

  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    A mustang is going to be much more expensive to maintain in the long-run.

    Is there some reason you've settled on these particular cars, beyond price?

    Thanatos on
  • Mai-KeroMai-Kero Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Thanatos wrote: »
    A mustang is going to be much more expensive to maintain in the long-run.

    Is there some reason you've settled on these particular cars, beyond price?

    They're the first options I've found. I really have no idea what I'm doing here. Should I try shopping around at a dealership? I found the first two on my local craigslist and the third was suggested by a friend, like I said.

    Mai-Kero on
  • FirstComradeStalinFirstComradeStalin Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Keep shopping around. There are probably better options out there.

    FirstComradeStalin on
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  • ShogunShogun Hair long; money long; me and broke wizards we don't get along Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    I recommend imports over domestics, but I'm sure some guy from Detroit is going to come in here and chop my dick off. Look for a good Honda/Toyota.

    Shogun on
  • AtomBombAtomBomb Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    I vote import too, specifically Japanese. Honda, Toyota and Nissan. I've found them to be a lot more reliable, especially at the age/mileage that you're looking at. Where are you at? Maybe a few of us could look thru the craigslist for your city.

    The mustang is most likely a bad idea. Like Thanatos said, it's gonna be expensive to repair. And if you're getting a deal on it, it's most likely an abused and fucked up car, and the person selling it has had an epiphany about the amount of money they would have to invest to make/keep it reliable.

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  • Mai-KeroMai-Kero Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    AtomBomb wrote: »
    I vote import too, specifically Japanese. Honda, Toyota and Nissan. I've found them to be a lot more reliable, especially at the age/mileage that you're looking at. Where are you at? Maybe a few of us could look thru the craigslist for your city.

    The mustang is most likely a bad idea. Like Thanatos said, it's gonna be expensive to repair. And if you're getting a deal on it, it's most likely an abused and fucked up car, and the person selling it has had an epiphany about the amount of money they would have to invest to make/keep it reliable.

    I'm in the Akron/Canton area of Ohio. I've been looking through Craigslist a lot but there don't seem to be a lot of imports.

    Mai-Kero on
  • ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited July 2007
    Mai-Kero wrote: »
    AtomBomb wrote: »
    I vote import too, specifically Japanese. Honda, Toyota and Nissan. I've found them to be a lot more reliable, especially at the age/mileage that you're looking at. Where are you at? Maybe a few of us could look thru the craigslist for your city.

    The mustang is most likely a bad idea. Like Thanatos said, it's gonna be expensive to repair. And if you're getting a deal on it, it's most likely an abused and fucked up car, and the person selling it has had an epiphany about the amount of money they would have to invest to make/keep it reliable.

    I'm in the Akron/Canton area of Ohio. I've been looking through Craigslist a lot but there don't seem to be a lot of imports.

    If you can make it to Columbus you can find anything you want. This I assure you.

    ViolentChemistry on
  • FearTheCowFearTheCow Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    All 3 of those cars have the possibility to be expensive to maintain in the long run....why single out the mustang? if it has a V6 and a late 90's model it could be a pretty good deal.

    FearTheCow on
  • mugginnsmugginns Jawsome Fresh CoastRegistered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Pretty much any car 1998 or older with over 100k miles is going to have problems at some point in the near future that will cost you.

    mugginns on
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  • ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited July 2007
    FearTheCow wrote: »
    All 3 of those cars have the possibility to be expensive to maintain in the long run....why single out the mustang? if it has a V6 and a late 90's model it could be a pretty good deal.

    Dude the 3.8L Ford V6 is a notoriously iffy engine.

    ViolentChemistry on
  • FristleFristle Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Pay more up-front, but pay for reliability. Research brand reliability at edmunds.com or take advice from other posters on this forum.

    The reason is, it's cheaper to borrow money to purchase a working reliable car than it is to borrow money to repair or replace car parts after the purchase.

    You're a teenager, so if you even have a credit card, I'm going to guess it's about 15-19% APR? You can get a used car loan for like 7%, maybe get parents to co-sign to keep the rate reasonable.

    Another reason is, you're new to vehicle maintenance and ownership. You don't want to have a high-maintenance junker that's in/out of the shop a lot. It would be an expensive lesson in automotive repairman rip-offery. If I were you I'd like to start easy and not have to deal with major repair issues until I really knew all about engines.

    Fristle on
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  • AtomBombAtomBomb Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Here are a few I found. Most are pretty lean on info, but you might find a gem in the bunch:

    91 Nissan Sentra $1500
    Mileage not listed, I would hope under 200k.

    92 Honda Accord $1550 227k

    91 Honda Civic $1750
    It's at a dealer though. I would try to buy from a private seller. They might try to screw you too, but at least they aren't a practiced professional at it.

    92 Toyota Camry $1750
    Mileage unlisted =(

    88 Honda CRX $1900

    98 VW Jetta $4200 I know it's out of your range, but the good thing about VW's is that it will still be worth really close to what you paid for it in 4 or 5 years when you're done with college.

    90 VW Jetta $1000 Could be worth a look.

    Well, that's just a quick look around. Nothing that jumped out as super awesome to me, but it's a start.

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  • ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited July 2007
    Most dealers don't bother trying to rip you off on sub-$2k cars. They just want them off the lot, they only took them in to rip someone else off by an amount that actually impacted their commission anyway, they can't make shit off of you at that price.

    Edit: By dealers I mean like the used lot at an actual new-car dealership.

    ViolentChemistry on
  • AtomBombAtomBomb Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Yeah, but they probably took it in knowing jack shit about it. I avoid dealers for the same reason I would avoid someone that has only owned the car for a short period of time. They don't have to lie because they don't know what's wrong with it. I'd rather have someone who knows it's history, even if they try to lie to me about it. Plus, most of the dealers that deal in these low end cars are pretty fly-by-night, at least where I live.

    This one actually looks pretty cool to me. It's on ebay, at about $1000 and has a day left. Good thing about ebay is you're competing with a majority of people that are factoring in shipping, which on a low end car can almost double the price. If you get one that you can go pick up you can get a great deal. Anyway, here it is: 1995 Honda : Civic LX Sedan

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  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    mugginns wrote: »
    Pretty much any car 1998 or older with over 100k miles is going to have problems at some point in the near future that will cost you.
    This is true of American cars.

    This is not true of foreign cars.

    My 1990 Honda Civic has 208k miles on it, and is still going strong.

    Thanatos on
  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Oh boy...

    You need to shift your eye to something that won't die on you before you're pulling enough pay to buy something shiney and new. That being said, both the Topaz and Tempo won't be lasting much longer. The shelf life of mid-90's low-end Ford models has pretty much expired. You'll be making a bet. A bad bet.

    I'd up my price tag to the ~$2000 range and look for '96+ Accord/Civic or Corolla, an '02+ Hyundai Accent/Elantra, or anything else that was made after 2000.

    As it has been said, the simple reliability of the Japanese market will be worth more in the long term. I drove a 1990 Camry into the ground... for 16 years after it drove off the line. You'll find a shitbox, don't worry... the last thing you need is a shitbox that doesn't start.

    The Crowing One on
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  • mugginnsmugginns Jawsome Fresh CoastRegistered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Thanatos wrote: »
    mugginns wrote: »
    Pretty much any car 1998 or older with over 100k miles is going to have problems at some point in the near future that will cost you.
    This is true of American cars.

    This is not true of foreign cars.

    My 1990 Honda Civic has 208k miles on it, and is still going strong.

    And you've never had to put a decent chunk of change into fixing anything on it?

    edit: I doubt I'd ever pay over $1000 for a car 15 years old. Unless it was a classic, or something.

    mugginns on
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  • RuckusRuckus Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    I got my 92 Nissan Sentra in '02, sold it in '05 because I needed a four wheel drive vehicle for work. I bought it for about $6000, sold it for about $4500, and put maybe $500 of repairs into it during it's life (alternator rebuild, main power relay, head gasket). I bought it at about 250,000k, sold it at about 330,000k.

    My '98 Nissan Pathfinder has so far cost me about $1000 since summer 2005, which includes 2 new tires, 2 new batteries, and diagnostic fees to find out that it's going to cost $1000 to fix the ABS system, but I don't really need ABS).

    Ruckus on
  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    mugginns wrote: »
    Thanatos wrote: »
    mugginns wrote: »
    Pretty much any car 1998 or older with over 100k miles is going to have problems at some point in the near future that will cost you.
    This is true of American cars.

    This is not true of foreign cars.

    My 1990 Honda Civic has 208k miles on it, and is still going strong.

    And you've never had to put a decent chunk of change into fixing anything on it?

    That's an unfair question. The answer, simply, is "yes."

    The more complete answer is "Yes, but not nearly as much as if I had an American block under the hood." What you'll need to fix on a '90 civic will be rust spots (if yr up north), muffler degrading, basic maintainance (plugs, transmission, etc), brakes. The issue is that a Honda/Toyota will fall apart on you while the engine still runs strong, whereas an American block (especially low-end v6's) will drop out while the rest of the body is having the same problems as an import.

    Basically, owning a car is expensive.

    The Crowing One on
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  • DrHookensteinDrHookenstein Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Couldn't he go older and look at cheaply maintained cars like old model VW bugs? (1960's through 1970's models, I mean)

    You can get those things to run on "a coke and a smile," right?

    DrHookenstein on
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  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Couldn't he go older and look at cheaply maintained cars like old model VW bugs? (1960's through 1970's models, I mean)

    You can get those things to run on "a coke and a smile," right?

    Nope. Bad, bad idea.

    At this point, maintaining a car older than 20 years (and that's pushing it) is an expensive thing that we all like to call a "hobby."

    The Crowing One on
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  • wmelonwmelon Registered User regular
    edited July 2007

    The more complete answer is "Yes, but not nearly as much as if I had an American block under the hood." What you'll need to fix on a '90 civic will be rust spots (if yr up north), muffler degrading, basic maintainance (plugs, transmission, etc), brakes. The issue is that a Honda/Toyota will fall apart on you while the engine still runs strong, whereas an American block (especially low-end v6's) will drop out while the rest of the body is having the same problems as an import.

    Basically, owning a car is expensive.

    Now this isn't entirely true. Really anything GM makes that has the 3.8L v6 in it will most likely fall apart before the engine dies. They use that engine in lots and lots of cars, so it's not terribly difficult to find one that has it.

    In the OP's range i'd suggest an 88-91 Buick LeSabre. They're practically bulletproof if you do the basic maintenance, and pretty easy on gas too. Should be easy to find sub $1500

    wmelon on
  • Uncle LongUncle Long Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    wmelon wrote: »

    The more complete answer is "Yes, but not nearly as much as if I had an American block under the hood." What you'll need to fix on a '90 civic will be rust spots (if yr up north), muffler degrading, basic maintainance (plugs, transmission, etc), brakes. The issue is that a Honda/Toyota will fall apart on you while the engine still runs strong, whereas an American block (especially low-end v6's) will drop out while the rest of the body is having the same problems as an import.

    Basically, owning a car is expensive.

    Now this isn't entirely true. Really anything GM makes that has the 3.8L v6 in it will most likely fall apart before the engine dies. They use that engine in lots and lots of cars, so it's not terribly difficult to find one that has it.

    In the OP's range i'd suggest an 88-91 Buick LeSabre. They're practically bulletproof if you do the basic maintenance, and pretty easy on gas too. Should be easy to find sub $1500

    GMs 3800 is a good engine. A lot of the Buicks from the period you're talking about have them set in there sideways which can make it hard to get at plugs.

    Hell, the engine was still running great on my 87 Riviera up until my sophomore year in college when one of my dumbass friends decided he would 'fix' my brakes for me by putting transmission fluid in my brake fluid. Of course he didn't tell me until it was all said and done and I couldn't break at a red light.

    Everything else about that car was great though.

    Uncle Long on
  • Mai-KeroMai-Kero Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    So what am I looking at towards getting a car loan in the $2-3k range for a used honda/toyota/buick lesabre/etc? Can I just go up to my bank (national city) or online and get it quick and easy, or is it more of a prolonged process?

    Mai-Kero on
  • AtomBombAtomBomb Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Couldn't he go older and look at cheaply maintained cars like old model VW bugs? (1960's through 1970's models, I mean)

    You can get those things to run on "a coke and a smile," right?

    Yeah, this is bad. Bugs are "simple", but that doesn't mean they are reliable. I've had 2 bugs and a squareback, and while I could generally get myself where I was going, there was always something wrong with them. On one I got to where I could swap out an exploded generator pulley in five minutes in the dark. The trunk will be full of spare parts. It's true that they are a hobby first and a mode of transportation second.

    Ideally, you want to find a car that some old folks drove to and from the grocery store and to church once a week. Even better would be if they took it to the dealer for all the preventative maintenance. I got lucky in 1992-93 and bought an '80 Civic from the original owner for $600. It was a beautiful car. If I hadn't driven it like I was in the Paris-Dakar Rally I might still be driving it.

    AtomBomb on
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  • AtomBombAtomBomb Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Mai-Kero wrote: »
    So what am I looking at towards getting a car loan in the $2-3k range for a used honda/toyota/buick lesabre/etc? Can I just go up to my bank (national city) or online and get it quick and easy, or is it more of a prolonged process?

    When I last got a loan for a used car it was pretty easy. The loan was for around $5000, I went to my bank, filled out a few papers and left with a cashier's check. I think I went in before to make sure I could qualify, but I didn't get the money until I knew exactly how much I needed, when I found the car I wanted. HOWEVER, bank experiences will vary wildly. If you try to do it on your own, and you've had very little credit, it might be difficult. However, if you can go with someone (preferably a parent, or at least a relative) with good credit, a $3,000 loan should not be hard to get.

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  • FristleFristle Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Mai-Kero wrote: »
    So what am I looking at towards getting a car loan in the $2-3k range for a used honda/toyota/buick lesabre/etc? Can I just go up to my bank (national city) or online and get it quick and easy, or is it more of a prolonged process?

    Whichever bank you do use, I think the policy is that you have to be a member first. Sometimes this is as easy as opening a savings account with $5. When you get a loan, ask about automatic payment discounts. National City Bank, for instance, gives a 0.25% discount on the loan if you let them auto-debit the car payment from your bank account. If you can manage not to overdraw your account with this method, it will save you some cash.

    Fristle on
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  • Mai-KeroMai-Kero Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Fristle wrote: »
    Mai-Kero wrote: »
    So what am I looking at towards getting a car loan in the $2-3k range for a used honda/toyota/buick lesabre/etc? Can I just go up to my bank (national city) or online and get it quick and easy, or is it more of a prolonged process?

    Whichever bank you do use, I think the policy is that you have to be a member first. Sometimes this is as easy as opening a savings account with $5. When you get a loan, ask about automatic payment discounts. National City Bank, for instance, gives a 0.25% discount on the loan if you let them auto-debit the car payment from your bank account. If you can manage not to overdraw your account with this method, it will save you some cash.

    Awesome, I can probably do that.

    Mai-Kero on
  • GafotoGafoto Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    mugginns wrote: »
    Thanatos wrote: »
    mugginns wrote: »
    Pretty much any car 1998 or older with over 100k miles is going to have problems at some point in the near future that will cost you.
    This is true of American cars.

    This is not true of foreign cars.

    My 1990 Honda Civic has 208k miles on it, and is still going strong.

    And you've never had to put a decent chunk of change into fixing anything on it?

    I have a 1996 Acura Integra with just under 170k on it. I bought it from the previous owner earlier this year and it has run like a damn top. My parents have owned a similar model, a 98 civic coupe for about 4 years and have had zero problems with their car besides basic maintenance. Our early 90s Mercury Sable has been a friggin' nightmare on the other hand with multiple transmission rebuilds, coolant and oils leaks and just generally being a poorly designed car.

    The only thing that you will have to worry about with a civic is replacing things that will wear (brake items, oil/fluids), the muffler (this is a common problem on civics but is fairly cheap) and the timing belt roughly every 70-100 thousand miles.

    So what I'm saying is buy a civic. They have a reputation for a reason. The only complaint I've ever heard of them is that they're pretty pedestrian in style and are just not powerful cars so if you're looking for a sports car, don't buy one.

    Gafoto on
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  • bagelpiratebagelpirate Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    For used cars, STAY AWAY FROM FORD, and even further away from mercury. Since they are knock-off cut-corners refurbed fords.

    With your price range, I HIGHLY recommend a Toyota or Honda, that will be your most reliable bet.

    if you can spend a little more, look for a ~97 or so Subaru Impreza or Legacy. I'm a suby fan though.

    bagelpirate on
  • ShogunShogun Hair long; money long; me and broke wizards we don't get along Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    I too have a 96 integra. I bought it with 69k on it and it now has almost 122k on it and the only thing I've done is regular stuff. Religious with the oil changes, every 6-12 months I flush out the radiator, transmission, brakes, and power steering. Replace with fresh fluid. The only thing I've actually replaced were the tie-rods on my front wheels. They weren't really bad but it made quite the difference in turning and curves and what not. At 150k or so I'll do the timing belt and water pump.

    The car runs like a champ. Plain and simple.

    edit: and I bought my car from a private seller for 6k if that helps. You can get a cheap solid honda for a really good price if you're willing to be patient.

    Shogun on
  • Mai-KeroMai-Kero Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    How good would an 88 CRX be as far as hondas go?

    Would a 96 Chevy Cavalier do okay?

    Mai-Kero on
  • GafotoGafoto Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Mai-Kero wrote: »
    How good would an 88 CRX be as far as hondas go?

    CRXs are very tiny and light. They're fun to drive but they don't have alot of room, not sure how much that matters to you.

    Gafoto on
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  • IrohIroh Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Mai-Kero wrote: »
    Thanatos wrote: »
    A mustang is going to be much more expensive to maintain in the long-run.

    Is there some reason you've settled on these particular cars, beyond price?

    They're the first options I've found. I really have no idea what I'm doing here. Should I try shopping around at a dealership? I found the first two on my local craigslist and the third was suggested by a friend, like I said.

    Stay away from dealers if you can. Sorry if it's already been said, but that alone adds a hefty chunk of change versus buying from a private owner, and needs to be understood.

    As for specific vehicles, the only thing I can offer is that all of your current options are Fords, which are notoriously bad high-mileage vehicles. That and if you live anywhere in the midwest, especially Michigan, it is advantageous to buy a domestic vehicle so that you can find a competent mechanic.

    Edit: The '96 Cavalier would probably last you quite awhile, and I've not heard a whole lot of complaints from people who own them. Even if it does have some problems, the parts are so widely available that it shouldn't be tough or expensive to have repaired. If you can find a GM car with a Buick 3800 motor in it, jump on it. They are practically bulletproof.

    Iroh on
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  • FearTheCowFearTheCow Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    The mid 90's and newer 4cyl, manual ford rangers run for a long time if you are looking for a small pick-up truck, ford automatics suck though. early toyota's last a long time because of the 22R series motor.

    FearTheCow on
  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Mai-Kero wrote: »
    How good would an 88 CRX be as far as hondas go?

    Would a 96 Chevy Cavalier do okay?

    CRX... yum. The d-series under the hood there (assumed) is a fantastically unbreakable engine. Toss one of the newer K-series, or even a B under there are you have yourself one of the greatest autocross machines ever. Haha...

    But in seriousness, don't let my hard-on for Hondas get in the way.

    A CRX isn't something you're really going to want to deal with. I have never seen a daily-driver CRX in good shape, and that's for a good reason. You're talking about a twenty year old discontinued Civic-based two-seater. Getting parts won't be too much of a hassle, but there are few people who know the CRX inside-out anymore. Buying one starts to creep in on the whole "hobby" side of things, unfortunately.

    The Cav would probably be fine. It's a so-so car in general.

    Hold out a bit for something in the '94-'00 range, you'll be surprised at what you can find when you just wait.

    The Crowing One on
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  • Mai-KeroMai-Kero Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    So while I'm probably going to hold out for a civic or Toyota corrola or something, I did see a 1994 Volvo 960 that looked pretty good for the price. The only problem is, it needs a #6 ball bearing. Are Volvos at all reliable/cheap to maintain? How much would the repair on the ball bearing cost?

    Mai-Kero on
  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Mai-Kero wrote: »
    So while I'm probably going to hold out for a civic or Toyota corrola or something, I did see a 1994 Volvo 960 that looked pretty good for the price. The only problem is, it needs a #6 ball bearing. Are Volvos at all reliable/cheap to maintain? How much would the repair on the ball bearing cost?

    Volvos are a mixed bag. They run, and damn the run well. My father is driving an almost 12 year old s70 that's still chugging away, 200k miles etc. The downside is that while some card will either dull themselves out, or just plain old stop working, Volvos have the strange life-cycle of sort of "degrading" after too long.

    What I mean is that when a car goes it's usually either major or minor. It's a "R" sticker for inspection because of rust or emissions, or its the steering column dropping out or the engine overheating... Volvos sort-of... take their time. What I've seen with a number of Volvos is that things break as they do on any other car... sometimes minor sometimes major. But the engine and drivetrain kinda fade out, get very sluggish and inefficient.

    If it's got LOW milage on it, it would be a good shot, but I'd stay away from Volvos after their 120k birthday. They become a little bit of a crapshoot.

    As far as maintainance, the bearing shouldn't be bad as long as labor costs don't eff you up. Their parts (if I remember correctly) tend to be on the higher side of the consumer auto market.

    The Crowing One on
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  • AtomBombAtomBomb Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    I'm not sure what you mean by #6 ball bearing. I'm assuming that this has something to do with the sixth cylinder of the engine. Is it a camshaft bearing? Does the car actually run at this point? Most of the bearings I can think of that are related to the engine (ie- not a wheel bearing or something), are probably going to require major surgery to get to and fix. And if the car isn't running, that's probably what they THINK is wrong with it, once you've got someone with the car in pieces they may find other stuff too.

    If you've got more info I may be able to offer better advice, but right now I'm thinking it's a bad idea.

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  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    The bearings are (in the situation) used within the breaks, I believe.

    The Crowing One on
    3rddocbottom.jpg
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