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Old 03-21-2013, 05:04 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Poor Girl's Car

A friend of mine has a '99 Mazda Protege LX Auto with 138,000 miles. The transmission has died, and the cheapest quote she found to get it replaced is $1,500. It averages about 27 MPG when running properly.

Timing belt, fluids, battery are all relatively new. Everything works great on the car, except the transmission.

What do you think she could get for the car "as is" listing it on Craigs List?

Is it worth having the work done to fix it if it has a private party value of $1,900 when working?

I'm teaching the girl how to drive a manual, and she has about $1000 cash on hand.

What would you recommend this poor girl do? She needs a reliable and safe car to transport the kids she nannys.

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Old 03-21-2013, 05:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Dump the car and pick up a '95-'99 Nissan Sentra with a manual (not the SE). If she can't drive a manual, learn. Automatics in small cars are, in general, not very good.

Relatively low maintenance (timing chain, not belt), reliable, boring, good fuel economy (rated up to 40mpg).

I often see them for about a grand in acceptable condition on CL.

She probably won't get more than $500-600 for the broken Mazda, but try for more. Maybe have her offer to trade straight across for a running car if she literally has no available cash.
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Old 03-21-2013, 06:00 PM   #3 (permalink)
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The Sentra wasn't even on my radar, thanks for the suggestion. I'll take a look at those. I have been looking at the Chevy Prizm and Toyota Corolla since they should be reliable and economical. She has close to $1,000, and I'm teaching her how to drive a manual.

I'd like to get something '96 or newer so I can use my diagnostic equipment and maybe someday get her an UG. I really want something that will go another 5 years without any major problems. She has had nothing but terrible luck with cars; blown head gasket on a Forester, 2 not at fault accidents in other cars, and now this Mazda.
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Old 03-21-2013, 07:13 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redpoint5 View Post
The Sentra wasn't even on my radar, thanks for the suggestion. I'll take a look at those. I have been looking at the Chevy Prizm and Toyota Corolla since they should be reliable and economical. She has close to $1,000, and I'm teaching her how to drive a manual.

I'd like to get something '96 or newer so I can use my diagnostic equipment and maybe someday get her an UG. I really want something that will go another 5 years without any major problems. She has had nothing but terrible luck with cars; blown head gasket on a Forester, 2 not at fault accidents in other cars, and now this Mazda.
Head gasket failures are very common in certain Subarus. No surprise there.

Hopefully her luck improves.
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Old 03-21-2013, 07:52 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I hate to say it, but it ain't worth much, as Darcane stated. $500 if she's lucky as is, or a $400 return on spending $1500 to fix the transmission. So it's pretty much a matter of whether or not she'd want to keep it once the transmission was fixed. I personally would dump it, add whatever she gets for it to the $1000, and buy the oldest Honda Civic with airbags and a 5 speed in the best shape she can find. Usually I wouldn't care about airbags, but if she is hauling kids around then it would be the way to go. The Sentra is also a good choice, as would be a Tercel/Corolla, I am just biased to Hondas.
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Old 03-21-2013, 10:10 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Seems like a wash on fixing it or selling it. Could possibly profit $500 by spending $1,500 on a transmission and sell it, or I could sell it as is for $500.

The perfect scenario would be to find a trashed Protege with a blown motor and buy it for $500. Then pay a shade tree mechanic to swap the transmissions. Then I could sell the trashed car to a junk yard for a couple hundred. Still, there is risk of a bad tranny in the junk car too.

Really looking forward to getting her into a manually shifted car so she can start saving some gas money and can forget about transmission issues.
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Old 03-21-2013, 10:27 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Ya unfortunately in a situation like this, you are pretty much swapping diseases instead of fixing the problem. If she needs a car tomorrow and time is the priority, and the rest of the car is in good shape, then it might be worth just scrounging up the difference and fixing it. But if she can get by for a while without it while you see if you can find a $500 buyer for it, or a parts car, or a cheap Civic etc, then that route is better. There is no way to really come out ahead, it's more a matter of how valuable the downtime is.
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Old 03-21-2013, 10:39 PM   #8 (permalink)
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You don't get much in the way of a 1000$ car. Unless you have time and patience at least you know this car. Would this car other than the trans last the 5 years? Can't you find a junkyard trans for 500$ or so and it might have a 6 month guarantee. You might find a sweet deal on something or you might get a horrible lemon. Just problem after problem. Civics are always good but priced right go fast.
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Old 03-21-2013, 10:47 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Check Inventory - Pull-A-Part

Pull it yourself if a 96 is compatible trans is 60$ 25$ core 15$ for 30 day warranty. 150$ and a good friend car fixed. Sorry your not close.
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Old 03-21-2013, 11:11 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I'm having my fiance drive my Jeep Liberty while the friend drives a POS 1998 Pontiac Grand Prix. Long term, I really want to sell the Jeep, Grand Prix, and Protege and get 2 good cars. I can do a zero-interest loan for the friend, so I don't mind buying the car and getting paid back later. Still need to get the future wife something better (more fuel efficient, reliable, safe). I'm considering an electric since we will be a 2+ car family and I might be able to charge at work for free.

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