Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Matty's First Car

Last Saturday Tania and I were able to find Matty his first car. I had searched on CL for a few weeks and decided on a budget more than the vehicle type. Matty wanted a Miata which met one of my criteria points of being reasonably safe, the problem being most were well over double what I had decided for a budget. Friday night I found one that was close and with the intent of some negotiation we set up an appointment to look at it. Before we left the house I called on two other cars and had numbers for an additional four.

During the hour long drive to meet the Miata owner I decided to do a local dealer search on my phone and found a 2005 Cavalier listed for 3k which I called to verify it was still available. I had not seen anything near that new at that price level through private individuals or dealers. My intent was to find a dealer that might have two or three vehicles that met some of my criteria.

We met the Miata owner and looked over the car, it was a 92 with 134k and a brand new paint job. The paint on it was white and a fair paint job, the wheels were spray bombed black and overall the car looked very good for being 20 years old. I drove the car and it had few rattles, was amazingly gutless, handled nice for its age and had horribly hard seats. The owner was asking 4k and was willing to negotiate, I told him I had other cars to look at and we left.

We then drove to the dealer with the Cavalier and after asking about it the first thing they told me was "you do know this is a manual transmission". That being what Matty wanted and being an obvious problem for them was a good negotiation point. The car itself has 137k miles, new tires and brakes, air-conditioning, AM/FM/CD, Tilt Steering, Remote Trunk Opener, fold down rear seats and some exterior package I have not been able to identify which included Rally Stripes and a factory rear wing.

After a 15 minute test drive and some opening negotiations we ended up leaving the sales person in the showroom and were seated at the owners desk. Through the process of apparently "stealing food from the mouths of my children" I was able to negotiate an out the door price of 2800 which included tax and license fees.

The reward for my satisfying negotiation was a bright orange check engine light illuminating 10 seconds after pulling off the lot. I drove it over to an auto parts store and the code was a P0141 aft 02 sensor. It was a fairly painless replacement and despite the mileage on the car it runs very strong. The only true problems with it are of a cosmetic nature. The car is from Georgia and has some UV damage which compounds the normal UV damage that most Cavaliers have. The plastic trim at the base of the windshield as well as the bezel around the gauges are both broken and cracked. I have plans for repairing them. Another area of UV damage is to the rally stripes which are made of vinyl and have split and cracked. For now I will just remove them and then decide later with Matty if we want to replace them.

The last area was the headlamps which were damaged worse than I have ever seen. After burning up three sheets of 120 grit DA paper on the driver side headlamp I decided to try and fill in the remaining cracks with lacquer thinner. This worked well and I was able to work up through the grits until I polished them clear again. These before pictures were taken after the dealership had washed the car, we removed the light housings and washed them.

Matty wont be able to drive solo until December, so I plan on driving the car off and on over the next few months to make sure there are no problems with it. It should be very economical to operate and the parts are very cheap for it, the headlamp housings new are less than $50.00 for the pair, fixing them was more about showing Matty that not everything needs to be thrown away and replaced with new.

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