Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Katy, TX
The main purpose of this thread, I guess, is venting - so I thought I'd start it off by saying feel free to post your horror stories below. I'm going to post mine, and if anyone can help, that would be awesome. If not, well, at least I got to vent.
So, I just bought a 1996 Jeep Cherokee that I found on Craigslist (warning flag 1). My sister in law (who is 22 and just starting out) had her car completely die on her about a month after moving to Virginia for work... where she has no family, no friends, and no alternate transportation. Has been having to get rides to/from work with her boss (which is always awesome). Anyway, because I'm a sucker for helping people, I was looking for something I could buy and send her way to help her out. Enter Craigslist and the Jeep (which, I'm thinking I will rename Tom, after Tom Hanks, who starred in Money Pit... hello, Foreshadowing).
Anyway, I show up to look at the Jeep, and it's in really good condition. All the electrics work, the guy who had it before me took good care of it and even did a few pieces of custom work (nothing major, just exhaust and a few other minor things). The car was clearly loved. It was listed for $1500. Any car that old and listed that low should have some problems, so when I test drove it and noticed a few things, I wasn't too worried. The brakes needed work, the shocks were done, the front driver's seat had a small tear, and the engine thermostat wouldn't read (warning flag 2). I look under the hood, can't see anything overtly wrong, but see a loose wire (warning flag 3). The engine sounded great, though, had no problems in performance (for a car that old), and the tires were in good shape, so we ended up settling for $1200. I'm excited. I like this. This is a Good Day. This is also where Good Day takes off the mask Mission: Impossible style, and reveals that he was Bad Day all along, drenched in Satan's sweaty funk and just waiting for his opportunity.
It's raining pretty heavily, and because I drive a stick but the person I brought along to drive the car back in case I bought it can't drive stick, she (my little sister) would have to drive Tom back. In the rain. With no working brakes. So, instead, I bring it straight to a brake shop and spend $300 bucks to get them done. The Brake shop was like 1/4 mile from where I bought it, and no problem to get it there. From the Brake shop, we're going to drive two miles to AutoZone where I can get spark plugs and wires for some basic tune up work.
The car dies before it even gets there. In fact, it dies first at the intersection in front of the autozone, then the driver (my sister) gets it to restart so we can get into the parking lot, and it dies again in a cloud of white explosion when the lower radiator hose bursts from the overheating.
It spent all day, overnight, and most of the next ,day in that parking lot while we tried to get it limping back to my house, which was still 25 miles away. We get it, after much sweat, tears, and words that would make a sailor blush and probably tempted the wrath of the Almighty, we get it running (new radiator hoses, new thermostat, new thermostat housing, gasket, etc.). It makes it to my place no problem.
Next morning, I start it to go get some gas, and it does nothing but billow white smoke out the exaust, and overheats on the way. I bring it to my mechanic, who is awesome, reasonably priced, and honest. Worth his weight in gold. Oh, it overheated and died in front of his shop, so we have to push it in.
I just got back from him looking: needs a new engine. Quoted $5,000.00, as an estimate. The rebuilt engine alone is running $2,700.00. Did I mention that my wife and I are teachers, and the whole reason we were even looking at cars this cheap was because this was all we could afford?
So, now I have new problems. Between the leaking head gasket, the blown 3 and 4 cylinders (3 even has those awesome metal shavings everyone loves), the now-leaking radiator, and I'm-sure-there-were-more-problems-but-I-couldn't-hear-them-over-my-soul-sobbing, what I seem to have is a large, attractive looking, well-maintained $1800 paperweight that I could sell to a scrap yard for $400. Unless someone on here knows where I can find a 4.0 L 6 cylinder engine that would work for a LOT less in Houston, TX. Or someone profoundly undervaluing their time offers to do an engine swap for a case of beer or something (I don't drink, but I hear those are valuable to people who do).
Either way, 5 days into owning this car and I'm already having to seriously consider taking a 4 digit loss. So, that's my horror story - anyone else want to share?