Buying a "little old lady" car

Okay guys, here is my question. I have the opportunity to by the proverbial “little old lady” car. It is a 2007 Buick Lucerne with only 6,000 miles on it. The women is my friend’s Aunt, so I know the car’s history. It has all the options and was serviced by the local Buick dealer during her time owning it. I live in Green Bay, WI. The car was never in a garage, only a carport. It looks fine, and drives well. What are areas of concern about a car that was used so infrequently, by an elderly lady, probably never driven more than a few miles at a time and never on the highway? I can can get very reasonable.

buy NOT by and I can get it very reasonable. Sorry about the grammar errors.

Well probably time for new tires, and battery, check the manual for fluids, ie trans, coolant, timing belt if applicable, go for it if you like the car. You will probably not find a better 07 at this point. Though I have to remember my wife repeated to me my mantra never buy or sell a car from or to a friend or relative. We got rid of an 03 windstar, while a week later grand neice needed a minivan and I said too bad we could not help you. Oh well.

I totally understand the not buying from a friend comment. I get that! All the things you mentioned seem pragmatic. Any thoughts about the inner parts…engine, suspension, etc. on a car that hasn’t really been used much?

Well, not as many negatives as there were 30 years ago. Plastics and rubber is much better today so the old dry gasket problem isn’t the deal it was. She probably had the oil changed twice a year, maybe? The tires may be flat-spotted or a bit hard seeing as how they are 8 years old, otherwise it should be good.

Perhaps someone out there is aware of any quirks or pratfalls of the Buick Lucerne in general in addition to the above suggestions?

With that few miles on it I’d seriously consider it. First though ask if you can take her to the dealer and get the records of the repairs and maintenance that they performed. They may allow you access if she calls and request that the record be given to you. Butter them up and tell them that you plan on using their services, even if you don’t.

Engine and Tranny should be good as long as she has had an oil change every year. If not their could be a lot of sludge in that engine.

Then check the owners manual and read up on the suggested replacement of the timing belt, it should be at it’s end of life…not in miles but in years…as the belt has an age limit.

Tires may be dry rotted and beyond the safe age of use.
A new tranny filter and some fresh fluid would be good, a new serpentine belt are in order, and have the brake fluid flushed.


jump on it!!!

I think you need not worry too much, I remember the what if brothers, always thinking of a deal and backing out because of what if? It is a crapshoot, but I think the odds are in your favor if you consider previous response.

Like BD above, no reason to overly worry if you can get a good price on this car. Whatever’s wrong can be fixed after all. A carport is a pretty good storage place. A heated garage is more problematic. An unheated garage is usually best.

I’d be most concerned about the exhaust system, driving it infrequently can cause a rusty exhaust. So ask your shop to inspect the exhaust system for signs of rust problems, especially rusting inside-out.

If you do decide to buy this car, good idea to replace all the fluids as first order of business. Second is to carefully check all the rubber and plastic parts, and replace those that are starting to show signs of deterioration. Third, remove all four wheels to visually check all the brake parts, especially the caliper pistons, for signs of leaking brake fluid. Fourth, check for rodent damage to the wiring, storing acorns in hidden places like the air intake, etc.

Sounds like a steal to me if the price is right but the first thing I would do with it is change the oil and filter and continue to do so on a regular basis.

George what is wrong with a heated garage ?

ALL fluids, rubber, and what really no one has mentioned is fuel and the fuel system. That stuff turns to varnish. Old ethanol gas is horrible. Gas tank could be loaded with rust if its not all plastic, and the system could be dirty. You’ll want to take it on a good long highway drive, and I’d personally change the fuel filter several times.

Outside of that it sounds like a good deal to me provided the price is right

I appreciate all the suggestions… I’ll post later with my decision after we inspect more rigorously.

If the oil and filter were changed regularly, this is a relatively low risk buy. I don’t believe this car has a timing belt.

But be prepared to have to change the coolant and drive belts. The battery may also be in need for replacement.

A friend of mine has bought several “old ladies” cars and he budgets $400 to get them in shape, excluding possible tires.

In any case don’t pay more than the going retail price as determined by KBB or other book.

Good luck!

I agree with the comment that the exhaust system might rust out early. That wouldn’t stop me from buying the car at the right price, though.

VOLVO V70 wrote:
George what is wrong with a heated garage ?

I believe he’s referring to the fact that a salt-covered car will corrode more quickly at higher temperatures, so an unheated garage is better in that regard.

Barkydog I follow 50% of the friends and relative rule. I would buy a vehicle from a friend or relative if the price was within reason. Like any used vehicle I expect unforeseen problems. From past experience I would never sell or even give a vehicle to a friend or relative.

Any 7 or 8 year old car is going to need some maintenance, this one is no different. If you are a high mileage driver, then this is the perfect car for you. I would jump on it in a heartbeat. I would not worry about sludging, that only occurs in some vehicles that are driven hard enough to get the engine very warm and then shut down a lot. I doubt that any engine would go through enough of these cycles in 6k miles to sludge up, even if the oil were never changed.

As for the rusty gas tank potential problem… Anyway to check to see if that is indeed true?