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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all. I'm trying to work out the value of a car for a friend. I call her my adopted mother, she's in her late 60s, her and her husband been a long time friend of my wife and I - we used to frequent car shows together and just generally enjoy each others company. About 4 years ago her husband passed, and she has continued to battle a bunch of severe medical conditions - she's battled cancer a few times, and after a stem cell transplant is now faced with some pretty aggressive graft vs. host disease. It's been a rough few years, but she is a fighter! She is no longer able to drive, and isn't going to regain that ability in the future as she is moving into a partially assisted living apartment.

So, she has a 2007 Impala LT that she's owned since new with 77,000 miles on it, 3.9, heated leather, moon roof, single disc mp3. I say it's in odd condition because it's in both great and poor condition. It's sat, pretty much continuously (less than 4k miles), for the the last 3.5 years, outside on pavement. The wheels are in poor condition with corrosion around the centers, and the car is pretty rotten underneath. It looks like a car with 150,000+ miles would around this part of the country where we destroy automobiles with rock-salt every winter. One of the rear tires wouldn't even turn at first when I drove it last week, had to back up/pull ahead 3-4 times to break it free. I drove it home, and have put about 100 miles on it just to get it loosened up and doing some driving again.

On top of the rust underneath (the body is fine) the car has hail damage to every horizontal panel - hood, roof, trunk, quarters. The A/C doesn't work, it's got a noisy busing in the rear suspension, and it has a persistent (cleared it 3 times in 3 days) check engine light for a P0521 - oil pressure sensor. The sensor was replaced this spring when it was last serviced, so I fear that problem may be in the wiring. Exhaust is really rotten too, I wouldn't bet on more than another 12 months out of that. Tire pressure monitor system is apparently not working at all.

But, on the flip side, its in perfect condition inside. Motor runs great, tranny seems to be ok - it didn't engage right away from a stop sign when cold one time - I'd chalk that up to some sticky valve body action from all the sitting. Rides perfect, other than the one noisy bushing everything is real quiet and smooth.

I'm either going to buy this car from her to replace my aging 2003, or I'm going to help her sell it. The trouble is I have no idea what this thing is worth. KBB, which we all know is to be taken with a (big) grain of salt, puts it at $6k in fair condition given the miles. If I substitute it to 150,000 miles which is much closer to how it actually appears underneath it's $3,600 in fair condition. Then you have all the defects on top of that. So, it's really odd, I know it's been well cared for, driven easy, and has low miles with a spotless interior. But, it's real rusty underneath, and definitely needs some work to be 100%, and even then it's got the hail damage and the completely trashed wheels.

My thoughts were that if selling this I'd probably list it for $5,000, but be ready to take an offer as low as $4,000. If I buy it outright, fully knowing all the issues and concerns, I don't think I'd pay more than $3,500 for it. What do you guys think? I appreciate any input you've got!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'll grab some pictures in the day-light. Really, the hail damage isn't very noticeable - although there is plenty of it, 20+ little marble sized dents. It never broke the paint open anywhere, so it hasn't really hurt the finish. The biggest detractors are really the rust underneath and mechanical issues that need attention (A/C, Check Engine light). It's like it's a 175,000 mile chassis with a 75,000 mile interior and drive train.
 

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To be perfectly honest, I don't think that I would even pay $4k for the car. These cars have horrible resale values even when they are in great condition. The fact that is sat so long is another "con" - in my experience, when cars just sit like that, it causes all sorts of issues.

Add to that the hail damage, the rust issues underneath, the A/C issues, check-engine light, etc, etc, etc and you honestly don't have much there...

Would be interested to see pics though.

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I feel that 3500 would be the top end. You know you are going to put another 2-3K in it including tires. Then you have a fair condition 8/9 year old Impala Impala with hail damage for 5-6 thousand total. That is not even a bargain in my eyes.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Here are a few pictures - the rest are in the next post. The hail damage is really hard to photograph. It's not extreme, but definitely present. The rust isn't outrageous, but it's pretty advanced given the relatively low miles. I don't know how well you can see on the wheels, but every center is corroded and chewed up from the middle to past the lugnuts or even beyond on some of them. I may have been unclear, it has great tires on it, pretty much brand new.

I agree, I wouldn't want to have too much tied up in this car, maybe even $3,500 is too much. I appreciate the input, keep it coming.
 

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If it's been just sitting for 3.5 years outside on pavement and put on 4k miles in that time, I assumed the tires may be starting to rot or had flat spots. No?

The inside does look good - oeverall better than I was expecting. I still think 3500 is the top of whats it's worth in its current neglected condition.
 

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Agreed - it does look nice in the pics - especially the inside. But like mentioned, it's hard to see the hail damage in pics, etc. I understand what the OP meant by it's in good condition, but not really... :) Looks fine with a brief glimpse, but when you consider all of the issues it has (tires probably need replaced, wheels need some TLC, needs a new exhaust, needs A/C work, has the CEL, which may be a sign of internal engine damage, etc), it's going to be a tough sell. Personally, I wouldn't want to be bothered with buying it just to resell it. This is the type of car that's probably best for a trade-in, in my opinion. Or, if you have a place to store it and have plenty of time, maybe part it out, like @donmateo mentioned.

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Discussion Starter #11
Well, I've had it for a week, and put some miles on it. Starts, runs and drives really well - it's nice a quiet, rides good, everything is nice and tight minus one strut bushing out back. The tires are really good - I'll have to check the date code but they are a non-issue at this point. The hail damage is like invisible in the pictures, but it's pretty obvious when you walk up to it - not a big detractor, but it's definitely gonna hurt resale value.

I think if I can get it for like $3,000 I think it's worth that. The A/C probably will take a recharge fine, the bushing in the rear is not a big deal at this point, and the check engine light for oil pressure is either a bad sensor or wiring - that'll be the most expensive diagnosis/repair. If I can get 75k out of it over the next 3-4 years, which I think is totally plausible, then I'd be pretty happy with having only laid out $3k to start with. I agree it's more trouble than it's worth to buy, fix, and resell - the condition just isn't there to make any bank. Thanks for looking guys - anybody else with an opinion lets hear it!
 

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One more thing to consider - you are getting to that mileage where a transmission issue could pop up at any minute. THe transmission in these cars is known to be a problem area, especially once you get up over 75k/80k miles. So you could run into a situation where you need a transmission rebuild within the fist 10k/20k.

Just something else to keep in mind (I think you mentioned something about a hard shift when starting from a stop once, which is a sign of the transmission-related issues that I'm referring to).

Not trying to talk you out of it, just trying to provide the most useful info I can.

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Discussion Starter #13
One more thing to consider - you are getting to that mileage where a transmission issue could pop up at any minute. THe transmission in these cars is known to be a problem area, especially once you get up over 75k/80k miles. So you could run into a situation where you need a transmission rebuild within the fist 10k/20k.

Just something else to keep in mind (I think you mentioned something about a hard shift when starting from a stop once, which is a sign of the transmission-related issues that I'm referring to).

Not trying to talk you out of it, just trying to provide the most useful info I can.

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It's good counsel - gotta have realistic expectations. I think any car you buy for $3k probably would have the potential for major repairs. Fluid looks good on the tranny, but a drain, filter, and fill would be on my short list of to-dos.
 

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If I had the time and money I would make it a project car for a awesome daily driver, it's got potential that thing is clean as heck on the inside. Polar opposite of mine, filthy inside clean outside lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
For inquiring minds, I ended up buying the car for $3,000. I figure with a couple of small repairs I should have a car that I can put a lot of miles on over the next few years. And having so little into it makes you feel a little bit better about muddy boots, not washing it every week, etc. So hopefully I'll have some fairly trouble free years out of it with a little work - we'll see.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
And... I hit the first snag. I dropped it off to have UHaul put a hitch on it (installation for $17 - yea, you guys fool with it) and they called back and said they won't put it on, too rusty. It took another look, it is pretty rusty! Not sure if I'll put the hitch on myself or maybe rebox the frame there.
 

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Just continuing to chronicle this car a little bit for those that may be interested. I ended up buying and installing a hitch myself. After a good hard look at the rear frame it really didn't seem too bad - it for sure was rusty, but mostly surface scale. Certainly the integrity of the frame was ok. I've seen done some pulling with it, including pulling my 1,100lbs side-by-side a couple of hundred miles - and it works just fine.

The delayed/harsh forward from the transmission continues to present itself once and a while - typically when cold or when very hot. I'm going to drop the pan, change the filter, and add some Lucas transmission fix, and just see how far I can get. Sounds like the lip seal just keep getting worse, or just stay kind of a nuance - we'll see.

First week it was on the road I had to replace an alternator, and within a few days the fuel lines from tank to engine. The alternator was a complete surprise, but the fuel lines were expected. Just the price of ownership.

I did an oil change over the weekend, and handled the oil pressure sensor while I was at it. That cured my check engine light, I was pleased with that for sure. Overall, the car has been running really good. It tows my trailer nicely, gets pretty decent gas mileage, and is in real nice shape for the most part.

I will say I am glad I bought it and kept it - my friend passed away last month from complications with the graft vs. host disease she's been fighting for years. It was a bit unexpected, but maybe for the best as she's really been suffering. So, I am reminded of her when I drive the car, and that definitely makes it worth it to me.
 

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I do like the updates, and the story behind it all. Thanks for sharing.
 
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