I need some seriously urgent car buying/selling/repairing advice please please!!!

I really need some help here from anyone knowledgeable. I’m in a huge bind and my Dad has come up unsurprisingly short of anything useful in the way of advice or help.

My '95 chevy cavalier’s transmission is no more. It died yesterday while I was delivering pizza. Incidentally, I deliver pizza on Sundays and teach private music lessons in people’s homes during the week, so ironically no car = no money.

To have the transmission repaired would cost me probably 1200 - 1500 or maybe even more. Big F@#king OUCH!!! But then I’d have my car back for the time being, until I could sell it.

Now, I’d like to buy a new car, and by “new” I mean “new”. I’m so damn tired of the unexpected maintenance issues that arise with used cars.

My Dad’s current piece of advice is to not fix it and to try to get a trade-in on a new car. (I won’t mention much about his first piece of advice except to say that it was less than ethical and certainly illegal). He claims that dealerships will give me 2 - 3000 towards a new car. That might seem plausible with a car in good condition, but without a tranny? Admittedly I’m ignorant on the subject so he could be dead on for all I know.

So can anyone here please give me some sound advice? I really don’t know what to do.

Should I:

A) Get it fixed and try to sell it?

B) Get it fixed and trade it in towards a new car?

C) Not get it fixed and attempt to trade it in towards a new car?

It is my understanding that with the economy being what it is, now is a good time to make a deal on a new car. But I can’t imagine they’d be desperate enough to offer me, even a small amount for a car with no transmission. :confused:

Thank you very much in advance.

I would strongly discourage a “new” car, unless you are filthy rich (and then this whole excercise would be moot) because of the depreciation hit you will take. Let somebody else with the financial resources absorb that loss. You can find plenty good cars that will last many years/miles at half the cost of “new”.

I would (if I was you in your shoes, or boots if you wear em):

Buy a quality used Japanese car from a private party. No trades, no dealers. If you have to go to a dealer or broker to get financing, do not trade in your car.

Dealers have ways of jimmying the figures that make it look like they give you $2-3k for junk cars, but trust me, they take it all back on the other end. Do a little homework on the car you find, make your best deal on it with out trades, freebies, cruises and other goofy shit dealers are always pulling.

I wouldn’t put another cent in your Chevy. Off the top of my head, I don’t know what book value is, but I’m guessing any money put into it will be lost. Sell it “as is” to a mechanic for a few hundred, who will put some “sweat equity” into it and turn a few bucks profit.

Of course, finding a used tranny from a junkyard is always an option also. Should be way cheaper than your estimate for repair. But then your stuck with the same car and any other problems it may have.

Motorcycles are always good options, but maybe not for hurling pizzas in Ill.

Good luck!

She told me she loved me like a brother. She was from Arkansas, hence the Joy!

Went to “www.kbb.com” and did an estimate on what the 95 Cav is worth and unfortunatly, it came back with “no value” for one in poor condition (mechanical defect). If it was “fair”, it would only be $1600.

What have you got against your old man? :wink:

Moe if decide to go for a new car or for a used car from a dealer, go to the Toyota dealer on South Franklin in Hempstead. We’ve gotten 5 cars from the same guy there, Alex, and they’ve always done right by us.

I’d recommend against buying a new car. You really don’t gain that much in reliability vs. a quality used car. There are tons of great used cars on the market, because of all the lease deals the auto dealers made over the last few years. Those cars are now off-lease, generally low mileage, and relatively inexpensive.

I expect you could buy two used cars for what you would spend on a new one, and chances are they would be nicer.

I think your Dad may be suggesting that your car may qualify for one of those ‘push, pull, or drag’ trade-in deals. Generally these aren’t worth the effort.

You say it would cost $1500 to fix your Cavalier – use that money as a down payment for a $5000-$6000 used car. Then save up to get your Cavalier fixed. Once you have it going, you can sell the Cavalier for cash, and if you want to upgrade the used car you can trade it in on something even better.

Tough call.

Purchasing a “new” car is never a good investment of money… however 0 percent fianancing can be tough to pass up if you can get it … especially if you’re getting rebates on top of it plus a nice warranty. This is one of the few times I’d be leaning towards new if you could afford it and get good terms.

If you want a new car, go for it.

Disclose the condition of the tranny. They’d probably find out anyhow when looking over it. They may not even want the trade if it’s that bad. You may end up having to turf it privately and use the recouped $$$ as a down payment on the new car.

Buying used is an idea, but your interest rate probably wont be close to what you can get through a dealership now.

Tough call, but I would be leaning towards new in your case.

I got an estimate there for $3270 without accounting for the mechanical defect which is one reason I was considering fixing it for 1500 something.

The trade-in thing seems dead out. I just called Toyota out of curiosity and they’d give me maybe $500 with a good tranny.

What have you got against your old man? :wink: **

OK, well, aside from anything referenced in the OP :wink: he had to finish off the conversation with “Hey maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your life”, meaning “see how stupid you were for quitting that office job to study music” as if every financial bump I hit is evidence that I made the wrong decision. While I don’t have any regrets at all, even if I did I’d hope he’d have the good taste not to shove them in my face when I’m seeking his help. [/end rant]

OK, gato and others who suggest going used, disregarding the trade-in talk, should I go through a dealer or not? Intuituvely, it seems that going through a dealer is safer.

Sara, I’d love to get the info on your guy. Send it my way if you don’t mind :slight_smile:

If I could afford a Toyota, life might be slightly less bad. At this particular moment in time I’m thinking more like a used Hyundai. Of course in my frustrated state my thoughts on what the heck to do are changing rapidly.

All your posts are helping… lots.

::pressing submit with hopes that the hampsters are refreshed from their nap::


My advice is right up there with Gato’s. What I would do, in your place is start searching hiugh & low for a 5-7 year old used Honda or Toyota. They seem to have the least amount of troubles with regard to maintenance, parts are cheap, and there are tons of mechanics who know how to work on them. You can also, seemingly, drive them forever if you’re good with the tune ups and oil changes.

Good luck!


The junkyard tranny option doesn’t sound too bad to me. I’m mechanically challenged, but I was able to swap out the transmission in a Chevy Nova. a '95 Cavalier might be more dificult, though. Maybe you could check out a Chilton’s guide from a library and see if you think you could handle it. Then sell it and buy a good used Honda, Toyota or Nissan. From a private owner, not a dealer.


Do not go through a dealer, it is not safer for your pocketbook. People sell cars for all kinds of reasons. What I would do if I were you, is go to the library and look at books that talk about how to buy a new/used car. There are lots of tips. I got a book like that and it was really helpful in helping me decide what my needs were, and what to look for in dealing with a private party.

Dealers are much more motivated by the profit motive. People who need to sell their car often have other motivations for getting rid of their car, so I think that better deals are to be found from private parties.

One thing that you should do, is earmark about $80 for a mechanic’s inspection. When you find the car that you think you want to buy, have a 3rd party mechanic inspect it. It costs about $80, but that mechanic will be able to tell you if there is anything majorly wrong. By telling your seller that you are going to do this, you’re also putting them on notice that you are not an easy target.

Just do a ton or research and you’ll be good.

The link didn’t work, so I couldn’t check for sure, but I don’t believe this number. There are two blue book values – one is the price you can expect to pay for the car at a used car lot, and one is the price you can expect to sell your car for. I suspect you looked at the former, which has no meaning as a private seller. As a reference, my 1997 Mercury Sable in good condition is worth about $1600. There’s no way a 95 Cavalier is worth much more than that.

I’d say sell the car as-is for a few hundred bucks. You may find someone mechanically inclined who is willing to do the transmission work themselves. Paying someone to do the work and then hoping to recover the costs in the selling price is a bad idea, in my opinion.

I would avoid dealerships if possible. Private party sellers are abundant and in most cases (crosses fingers) are generally honest and reasonable. I don’t have any problem with buying from them. They know the car and can answer specific questions. Sometimes they tend to think thier car is worth more than others, but armed with a good knowledge of the used market value, you can get a fair deal.

Dealers, on the other hand, tend to mask faults and are professional liars for the most part. They need to get a car for next to nothing and sell it for as much as possible in order to make a living. They know nothing about the history of individual cars. Not all dealers are crooks, mind you, but they are highly motivated to get as much as possible for a car.

Don’t be too hard on the old man. He probably has your best interests at heart. :slight_smile: Lord knows my old man was full of shit when I was younger.

Now I wish I’d listened to him more often…

“Being drunk is the best feeling in my poor world.”-- Uncle Gabby

Hmm, at Kragen they have transmissions for $350+ Remanf’d. You might ask them what yours costs.

Because I’s like to avoid retyping it, I’ll just quote myself from Buying a used car - any advice?:

I’ll append to the above comments that you can purchase an extended warranty independent of a dealer, should you pursue the private seller market.

Additional info in these threads:

Used car prices and Kelley Blue Book

Used Car Price Negotiation