I'm allowed to curse out an 81-year old lady, right?

A few months back, I bought the SuaMobile, a 1979 Cadillac, from a relative. Well, kinda a relative - she’s my grandfather’s cousin-in-law. But she’s close to the family - indeed, for most of the past 15 years, she’s been really dependent on my mother.
Anyway, she was family, she swore the car was in great shape, and I had seen her driving it for about 15 years. So I didn’t get it checked out by a mechanic.

She told me that the front seat was stuck in the forward position - the seat motor had burned out, and the self-retracting antenna was broken. But that was about it. Heck, no problem, I can get those fixed pretty cheap.

Well, I bought it, for $1200.
The first time I drove it, I discovered that the front alignment was way off.
The second time I drove it, I discovered that the speedometer was off by about 10 mph.
The first rainstorm after I got it, I discovered that the fucking roof leaked.
Three weeks after I bought it, both the alternator and the battery died.
The first hot day, I learned that the air conditioning didn’t work.
And so on, and so on.
I just got it back from the shop.

She called me yesterday and left a message - apparently I got a parking ticket on the car whilie it was still registered in her name (the ticket must have fell off the car - I knew nothing about it). So I have to call her back.

I’m allowed to curse her out for lying to me, right? Some of this she may honestly have not known about. But, praytell, how the fuck do you not notice the water dripping down on your crotch when you are driving?!! How do you not know the air conditioner is screwed? **How the hell do you not notice that the steering wheel is turned 90 degrees to the right when you are going straight!!!

Lying bitch.


Well, that sucks.

In all fairness to your great aunt, when something like an alternator goes it can go really quickly. If the alternator goes bad, it can fry the battery.

Look at it this way, for under $2800, you now own a 1979 Cadillac with a 425 V-8 that is in good running condition. Didn’t you say that her mechanic had offered her $3000 for it. It still looks like you got a good deal. I am assuming that there is nothing else wrong with it. If there is, then I retract everything you said and you can chew her out.

Nah, you can’t curse her out. For 81 year old ladies it’s all about the smack-down. Go for the legs. Them oldies aren’t quick enough to regain their balance.

I wouldn’t cuss her out.

I’d ask how long its been since she has drove it & tell her the problems the car is having.

Sua, you can say anything except “You stink to me” to her. :smiley:

(Aside: old law school joke. Raise your hand if you get it.)

OK, one by one…

  1. The wheel alignment…she has been driving the car for 15 years, and probably didn’t notice the pulling. You do tend to get used to the idiosyncracies of your own vehicle, and just automatically compensate for its shortcomings.

  2. Ditto with the speedo…and apart from the overhead ‘checkers’ on freeways or being picked up by the wallopers, how are you meant to know how accurate your speedo is?

  3. She’s an old lady. Maybe she never turned the air-conditioner on, prefering to use the old-fashioned method of winding down the windows?

  4. Now the leaking roof DOES raise some rather intimate questions about why she never detected the dampness on her crotch. Perhaps she enjoyed the sensation??? :smiley: :smiley:

Caveat emptor. She’s probably cackling away to her Elderly Citizens Clubmates about how she screwed you over well and good…put it down to a learning experience, and remember that a SECOND HAND CAR is a second-hand car and is ALWAYS going to have some sort of problems. You are quite lucky that (at least from what you described) that the defects you inherited are relatively minor!!

Do any damned thing you want - you’re a lawyer!

and, after cursing her out, sue her boney ass.

Let me get this straight – you bought a 23 year old car (apparently without test driving it first) and you’re surprised when it needs work?

It’s a good rule of thumb that when you buy a used car you should expect to put several hundred dollars of work into it and you should adjust your expectations upwards if the car is very old and the price is very low. And btw, 1979 was at the end of a period of time in which the American car industry was not known for its quality.

Opal, that was funny as hell!

Sorry bout that, carry on

She’s 81. She may not be aware of the problems with the car. But the car should have been checked out by a qualified mechanic before you bought it.
Sorry. You’ll know for next time.

Sua, I’ve owned two cars that were “driven by little old ladies and only to the drugstore and back.” In both cases, I’ve had to do extensive work.

Y’all may not think much of this theory, but it’s one that’s held true for me over the years: Older cars don’t adjust well to changes in their usage patterns.

My second car was a 1981 Pontiac Grand Prix that was previously driven by my great uncle. I got it in 1990 and it had only 51,000 miles on it when I first got it. Uncle Arthur, who lived to be 99, used it only occasionally. And when his eyesight and reflexes started going, he had my much-younger great aunt drive him around in it. When she died, he really had no use for it, so he sold it to my parents, who gave it to me.

I started driving it back and forth to college (500 miles each way) and things really started to break down. I replaced the alternator and battery. The headliner caved in, so I replaced that. AC worked fine when I first got it, but went in and out intermittently within a few months. Then it started leaking oil and the transmission started slipping. The car was basically shot within two years. Some asshole who was trying to impress my then-girlfriend trashed it, pouring sugar in the gas tank and smashing up the exterior, which is a different story altogether, but I got book value for the car from this guy after threatening criminal charges. It’s a blessing that he trashed the car, because it was on its way out anyway…

A couple months later, a friend of my father gave me an almost identical 1981 Grand Prix, which was driven by his elderly mother. This one had many more miles (95,000 IIRC), but had a much more consistent service record. She had the oil changed every 2,500 miles and kept it in nice shape. Still, after I changed the car’s usage patterns and started driving it a lot more than it had previously been driven, things started breaking down again. It burned oil, had some electrical problems and had problems idling. Finally, I blew the tranny and had the car hauled off to the scrap heap.

I really believe that changes to a car’s usage patterns can bring about problems. Of course, I don’t have much to back this up (Maybe it’s just that 1981 Pontiacs are crappy cars), but I’ve seen a lot of friends who have had similar problems after getting cars from granny.

  1. I had driven the car several times over the years - usually running errands for her.
  2. I wasn’t surprised it needed work - I anticipated that. I anticipated the “several hundred dollars.” I did not anticipate 140% of the selling price. And I’m still going to need to put in several hundred more dollars into the car. The speedometer is still not fixed nor is the front end alignment, it needs a paint job to avoid rusting, and the headlights are screwy.

And I’m not pissed at her about the alternator and battery, or the speedometer, or a few other things. I am pissed at her about the things, particularly the fucking roof, that she could not have been unaware of.

When you drive the car straight, the steering wheel completely blocks your view of the speedometer. You’d notice that.

But all in all, you guys are absolutely right - I should have had the car checked out. It just pisses me off.
My family didn’t even know this woman existed until my grandfather’s funeral. Hell, my grandfather never knew she existed, or his cousin for that matter - there was a religious rift in my grandfather’s family about 100 years ago, and both sides of the family disowned each other.
She appears at the funeral, she has no living family in the area, and my family effectively adopts her. She’s at my parents’ house for every holiday for the past 15 years, we help her move, help her deal with her brother’s will, give her a life beyond the confines of her little apartment. And this is the thanks.


Raises hand

Slocum v. Food Fair Stores of Florida

So, I’m curious. You drove the car several times and you didn’t notice that the wheel was blocking the speedometer?
Is this your first car? See, the thing is, I don’t think you have any grounds for cursing this 81 year old woman. Aside from getting a good reinforcing dose of * caveat emptor * at a reasonably affordable price, none of the things you’ve mentioned are especially outrageous for a car that age. I would have gone into the deal expecting to pay at least what you’ve paid.
Another good rule of car ownership. Don’t buy an old beater if you’re not willing to do some of the work yourself. Battery and alternator are easy and you can get alternators for cheap at the junkyard. Leaking roof? That’s what duct tape is for. Speedometer is off? Write “60” on a piece of duct tape and put it on the appropriate place on the gauge.

About the roof: is it possible that she just never drove it when it rained? She’s getting old, knows she can’t handle slipepry roads as well as she used to, and at considering her age, there probably aren’t a whole lot of things that she’s urgently needed to do right away that couldn’t be put off until it dries off outside.

Also, this illustrates a bigger lesson.

Never, NEVER, EEEEEEEEEEEEVER buy anything that can fail from someone you are either related to, or someone who is close to you or the family. Nor do you you sell to anyone you’re close to.

That’s just a formula for disaster. Next time buy from some huckster that you don’t know, so there’s no hard feelings.

That’s my thought. My mother would do anything possible to avoid driving in the rain, and worried herself sick when I had to drive to or from work in it.

The Kelly Blue Book is a good way to check out the value of a used car, although the online version doesn’t go back before 1982, I think.