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1995 Sedan Deville Spring Edition
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Discussion Starter #1
Aw hell,

The mechanic who does the repairs on my company trucks is also a independent car dealer (moves around 75 vehicles a year my guess) called me and told me he has a 1998 Eldorado (base coupe, not ETC) in white diamond and neutral interior he picked up from a customer of his. Mileage is about 48,000 (pretty low for a almost 10 year old car). He sold her the car several years ago after aquiring it from it's original owner.

It was since owned by the proverbial little old lady and he says it is "like new" (yeah, I'll be the judge of that) BUT... he is offering it to me for $7500 out the door (maybe I can get it down a few hundred more). Now, I am going to look at this probably today (Monday 6/25) and am almost hoping I can find a reason NOT to buy this car, only because I don't want to take on the debt right now.

The pro's are:

1. I want an Eldorado (bad)!
2. This is the color combo I want (White Diamond over Neutral).
3. The mileage is low, which is good (up to a point anyway, it may have been under-driven which worries me)
4. The price can't be beat IF it is as clean as he says it is.


The cons:

1. As already stated, I don't really want to spend this $ at this instant.
2. Northstar - Just got mom's 97 Deville back from the dealer to get timeserts/HG's done. I dread this possibility and it seems almost certain that it will happen at some point in the cars life. Could happen next week for all I know.
3. Little old lady car. Means it was either very well cared for (hopefully), or not well cared for. There doesn't seem to be much in-between on these.
This worries me. A lot. The car may look great, but there may be neglect-related problems lurking deep in the engine compartment.

Ok, so I will go look at the car and give it a thorough inspection in and out. I may like what I see, or I may not. If I do, given the price, does anyone else here think it sounds like a good deal? I already ran bluebook on this, and it comes out at $8500 to over $9k with the low mileage depending on options. If nothing else I could probably resell it in a week for $1000 more than I paid.

Clearly, I need to see maintenace records, do a full inspection etc. to know if this car is a keeper. In any case, I should point out that I want the car, but I don't need it. My 1995 Deville is still a beautiful, solid and reliable car that I can use daily. The Eldo would just be a second car and thus an unneccessary luxury from a practical standpoint.

I hate when something like this comes up and puts me on the spot. I guess my other big question is whether I'd do better to hold out for a 2000 or 01 Eldo instead. I know nothing really changed interior wise from 98 on, and the exterior got minor changes (less brightwork) but is the powertrain any better after 2000? There seems to be much dispute about this point.


KDirk
 

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1996 Deville (sold), 2000 Mustang GT
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Usually little old lady cars are the WORST to buy, at least in my opinion.

1. Alot of little old ladies don't realize oil has to be changed every 3 months or 3000 miles, with such low miles i wonder how many times she changed it

2. Lots of carbon build up, not that big a deal, clean the tb, and change the spark plugs, maybe a cat converter.

3. The biggest issue is coolant, if you can't find records that it was changed, i would assume it hasn't been, and you may run into hg issues.

Even though it has low mileage its still a 10 year old car, plan on budgeting in repairs. Emotional decisions are usually the worst ones you can make.
 

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White Diamond 2001 STS
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2. Northstar - Just got mom's 97 Deville back from the dealer to get timeserts/HG's done. I dread this possibility and it seems almost certain that it will happen at some point in the cars life. Could happen next week for all I know.
Anything could happen tomorrow. You could get hit by a train. Or that Eldorado could go its whole life without ever needing a head gasket replacement. My '97 has, so far. It's actually my brother's car now. 160k miles on the original engine and gaskets. It hasn't required ANY seal or gasket replacement, besides the water pump. The hundreds of stories you hear here (and your own experience with ONE) is a drop in the bucket compared with total engine production.

is the powertrain any better after 2000? There seems to be much dispute about this point.
Having owned both, I prefer the 2000+ version. The engine seems smoother, less NVH, and it runs great on regular fuel. The possibility of head gasket problems seems to be reduced with the 2000+ version. Indeed, the length and pitch of the cylinder head bolts was revised with the 2000+ engine, making head gasket failures relatively rare compared with the previous engine.

Such low miles can be a bad thing, especially with the Northstar. It wants to run, and run hard. Carbon buildup is not uncommon on lightly-used engines, as is the sticking of oil rings. Neither is an incurable problem, but in general, the engine would rather be treated like a rented mule than a show queen.
 

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1995 Sedan Deville Spring Edition
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268 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
EcSTSatic-

I's not that I'm uncomfortable about owning a N*, I've worked on a few already (though nothing I'd consider major repairs admittedly) I just hate the idea of buying a car and then having to throw $2500 plus into it in short order (which is, of course, an unknown) just to keep it running. I know I am over-stressing this point, so I'll just shut up about the head gaskets already.

Misfit6794-

You have clearly conveyed my biggest worry. Little old lady cars are sometimes very well kept. Seems most are not, but I will be able to get a good idea of how the owner treated it from a detailed inspection when I go to look at it. I know that she just recently drove it to Texas for a vacation (from St. Louis, MO) so it obviously runs well [enough] for her to have trusted it on a long road trip. This is somewhat reassuring, but I still have my doubts.

jadcock-

You are right regarding the uncertainty of what may happen. Like I said above, I'll not beat-up the head gasket issue any further (in this post anyway)

I do appreciate your input on the 98 vs. 2000 engine. It is valuable to have the advice of someone who has owned and run both as you have. As well, your observations on the need for the N* to be run hard semi-regularly to keep the cobwebs out is entirely correct, and I am aware of this - yet another reason I question the condition of the vehicle.

I thank each of you for your response. The opinion that nobody has shared yet is whether $7500 is a good price (assuming the car is not riddled with problems visible or not, which I do not know yet). If it is truly clean and in impeccable mechanical condition, would you buy at $7500?

KDirk
 

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1992 STS / 2005 MB G500 / 2003 STS / 2006 XLR-V
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Id get him down to 7000 and take it.

The bottom line is this, if there are no service records indicating at the VERY LEAST, the oil and ESPECIALLY the coolant were changed, id pass... period. No discussion.

With the headgasket issue always lurking, I will not take a chance on a Northstar that doesnt have the coolant history 100 percent up to date, even moreso if someone switched it to the green coolant. Theres just too much evidence to even take a chance on this fact.
 

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1995 Sedan Deville Spring Edition
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Discussion Starter #7
playdrv4me-

Point well made and well taken. I had already planned on dealing down the price (even if it is less than book value). If he won't budge, forget it. I never pay asking price. Period.

Further, I have no intention of buying a N* equipped car with no way of verifying proper maintenance, even if it looks as clean as the midnight snow to my own eyes. There are simply too many around for sale to take a chance on one that is questionable to start with. Now, if he has the service history, we'll talk.

I am off to see it in about an hour. Just got the call that he has it out in front of his shop and ready to show as he picked it up from the current owner at lunchtime. This should be interesting....will post back later.

KDirk
 

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1996 Deville (sold), 2000 Mustang GT
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If the dealer is also a mechanic he should be more than willing to provide you both a cylinder leak test, and a compression test. If it passes the cylinder leak test (should stop your hg worries) than I would give him 7000 as stated before.
 

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White Diamond '03 DHS (with DTS floor shift)
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Usually little old lady cars are the WORST to buy, at least in my opinion.

1. Alot of little old ladies don't realize oil has to be changed every 3 months or 3000 miles, with such low miles i wonder how many times she changed it

2. Lots of carbon build up, not that big a deal, clean the tb, and change the spark plugs, maybe a cat converter.

3. The biggest issue is coolant, if you can't find records that it was changed, i would assume it hasn't been, and you may run into hg issues.

Even though it has low mileage its still a 10 year old car, plan on budgeting in repairs. Emotional decisions are usually the worst ones you can make.
Oil DOSEN'T need to be changed every 3/3000. The '98 is good for up to 7500 miles, though I doubt that a little old lady did enough highway driving to accomplish that. At any rate, the car would have told her when it was time for a change right on the dash in big letters CHANGE OIL. Ignor it and it will start flashing I believe. That would be the least of my worries. I'd be more concerned about coolant changes. Since it is a pretty good bet that she didn't do her own maintanence, you can probably be pretty sure someone at some point told her she needed a coolant change. If for no other reason than to make money.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well, I looked at this car two days in a row, in great detail. Bottom line, I passed on it. The car only had 46,350 miles on it, but the passenger side mirror housing was scuffed up (rubbed against another car), there was a scratch on the wheel well flare on the front driver side - not too large - maybe 3/4" long by 3/16" high, but all the way to metal, again from getting too close to something. Repaint on this fender alone would have been over $700 my guess (white diamond). The front license bracket was also crunched, though the bumper was undamaged.

The interior was decent, though the drivers door interior trim panel had the hooks broken off along the bottom edge (dammit, why do they ALWAYS screw this up?) and there was a split in the armrest covering. A new door panel would run me $400. The drivers seat and the steering wheel were a bit dingy, but not worn. A good scrubbing would bring them right back out.

Mechanically, it ran and drove well, good quiet and solid. All accessories worked, but I pulled the codes and it had some strange history codes (mostly PCM, 1 SDM and 1 IRC code). These probably were caused by a bad battery, as the car had a new battery in it. Nonetheless, there was one related to a fuel level sensor problem that looked like an intermittant, and some class II data fault codes. Kinda spooked me.

The overall condition of the car was probably 8 out of 10, but the fact that the outside was filthy (lots of bird droppings, road dust etc.) and the dinginess of parts of the interior leather gave me the indication that the previous owner was not really meticulous about maintenance.

I am of the opinion that what you can see wrong with a used car usually speaks volumes about it's owner and the kind of care it got. By extension, you can guess at how much might be wrong that you can't see. If it looks like it has more miles on that is really does, then the previous owner probably wasn't entirely conscientious about the care and maintenance (or the odometer was rigged, which I know wasn't the case here).

This is especially true of a car like the Eldorado. Really, this was a very expensive car new. I don't understand how people can buy a nearly $50,000 car and not treat it like gold. I know I'm a fanatic about maintaining my car, and not many people share my impossibly high standards, but it just baffles me.

The wrap up: I know I can do better, even with a higher mileage car, as far as the cleanliness and kind of care the car appears to have received. I'd also prefer a 2000/01 (or even an '02, but these will be harder to find I know) to get the revised N* which gives me just a hair more confidence in the head bolts not pulling out and also has the revised body moldings. On this last point, I am torn, because I like the additional chrome on the 98, but the painted moldings will hold up better over time because they won't pit, and can usually be repainted if they get scratched.

My search continues...

KDirk
 

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... I don't want to take on the debt right now...
... I don't really want to spend this $ at this instant...
... I don't need it...
... would just be an unneccessary luxury ...

... I could probably resell it in a week for $1000 more than I paid.

Last post,
...I passed on it...

KDirk
Sounds like the dealer had it priced about right.

Had it not needed the $1,100 in repairs would you have paid $8,600 for it?

Sounds like you'd already talked yourself out of it in your original post. :)
 

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Rickko is correct as well as the Ranger. My 98 was owned by a couple in their 80's and I bought it with 39k. The fuel sender issue (many of this vintage had it) could have been resolved, and the coolant changed. Have never had any major issues on mine. White Diamond with neutral interior, too. Runs like a monster and tires, batteries, fluids are the only maintenance. Pd book in 03 for it and now 108k. Door clip issue also is an relatively easy fix. Sorry you passed, but "horror stories on the N*" cause many to avoid perfectly great Eldo's. Plan to keep mine 250k or more....
 

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1995 Sedan Deville Spring Edition
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Discussion Starter #13
Yeah,

I'll probably look back at this in a month and kick myself. Then again, the Eldo is not a terribly rare car (production was low vs. Devillle or Seville of same years, but not "limited edition" low) so I'm not worried about being able to find another decent one.

Really, I talked myself out of it more because of issues other than the problems (or potential problems) with the car itself. It had more to do with simple practicality. Right now, I don't have to buy a car, I would only have been buying it because I wanted it.

That's fine, but when I got to thinking about the money, where I would park it (have two vehicles already) and the fact that I would now be dividing my time and efforts at maintaining two cars at once (keeping one spotless and solid is a lot of work), when there are still things I need to do to my 95, it just didn't make sense to take the jump now.

I'll sock away a few more $ and buy one next year. This one was commanding a premium for it's low miles, and I understand that. I would be perfectly happy to buy a better optioned, newer Eldo with 65-75,000 miles instead, and pay the same as the one I passed up as long as it was still a clean well maintained car, and the timing was right for me to make the purchase.

Really, it all just came down to getting my priorities straight. Making snap decisions is an occasional bad habit of mine, and I chose to exercise a bit of restraint this time around.

Anyway, my thanks to everyone who gave their input on this.

KDirk
 

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... Have never had any major issues on mine.... Runs like a monster; tires, batteries, fluids are the only maintenance. ...and now 108k. ... Plan to keep mine 250k or more....
Sounds like you're talking about my '97. Got it May of '03. Now has 110k+; still without any sign of weakening.

Had to add a qt of oil every 800 to 1k miles when I bought; routine remains unchanged 4 yrs later. Extra cost for that minor inconvenience? Less than $150 so far.

Looking at my records I calculate my '97 STS costs me barely 12-cents per mile to keep maintained. Not bad for a 10 year old $50k car.

..rickko..
 

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07 Black Raven CTS, 07 Gold Mist CTS
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You're playing my song, Rickko. My theory is almost like women, I can only afford one quality unit at a time. Good luck and your posts were very enjoyable....by the way, I read somewhere that the production on the 98 Eldo was 14,000 for what its worth.
 
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