Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Desperatly need opinions on car buying situation!

Hello, I’m new to the forum, but was hoping this would be the place to turn for “good unbias” opinions, If you are a good help, i’ll stick around and visit often! I currently drive a 1994 Saturn SL(4cyc. 5spd, 4door, basic no power nuthin! 160,000miles+ normal wear and tear and then some, but only paid $300 many year ago) I’m kinda getting sick of it’s small size, age, broken parts(maybe new clutch in 10k?), and lack of luxury. My dad is now selling my sisters car, a 1998 Chrysler Cirrus LXI(V6, auto. loaded, few small things wrong with it, but good solid car) My dad said he’d make me a deal on the chrysler: $2000(which is below trade-in) As much as I do like the Cirrus, and the large luxuries, the fuel millage(and other small things wear and tear items) make me hesitant to bite the bullet and buy it. On one hand, the Saturn is more than paid for itself(and 30MPG) but i think it’s buying price on the Cirrus makes it attractive. What do you know about the longevity of these two cars, and the ease of matinence(as I try to do everything myself) But there is another monkey in the wrench…I also have a 1997 Ram, extended cab 2wd, it’s my occasional weekend driver for chores, and occasional family farm duties. If I do keep and run the saturn into the ground, do I take this “truck buyers market” to sell the RAM and get the newer 4wd that will make me survive these wisconsin winters? If it helps, my daily drive is mostly interstate, but some in-city driving, and a few days a week I bring a work truck home, so I’m not driving a personal car at all. The cirrus has had over half it’s life adult woman driven, with new carpet, and other new parts. Thanks for any and all information or thoughts on my dilema!

My Thoughts

Let me say that I like cars with an American badge like your Saturn and the Cirrus and the Ram do. I have Chrysler cars in my driveway.

That Saturn sure doesn’t owe you anything. From what I have read these are not usually cars that can go the distance and I think their resale speaks to that. I can see why you are hesitant about a clutch, etcetera. Sounds like you deserve an up-grade.

The Cirrus is a very strong possibility. I was going to tell you to stay away from it because I thought it had the 2.7L engine that so many people complained were unexpectedly short-lived. However, I see that the Cirrus has a 2.5L engine and I’m not familiar with it. Briefly looking at web sites it doesn’t jump out as problematic. This may be a good way to go. You didn’t say how many miles are on it or what the “small things” are or how small they are, but the price is right and you know the owners, both pluses. I almost think it could be a “no-brainer.”

How many miles on the Cirrus and what are some “small things” examples?

As far as MPG is concerned, do the math. Take the number of miles you drive in a year and the MPG for each car and see what the difference in gallons is in a year. Use a best case and worst case “cost per gallon” for gas and then you can see the actual difference now and possibly future. I sometimes like to then divide by 52 weeks and see how many small McDonalds french-fries per week the difference would be.

Ease of maintenance I don’t know what kinds of things you do, but all these cars are either easy or difficult depending on your ability, tools, knowledge, and what it is you’re doing. I don’t find maintenance unusually challenging on my Chrysler products. The Gates Timing Belts Company lists this engine as an “interference” type, like many/most cars are. A breaking timing belt can just about destroy the engine, so you’ll need to check to be sure it was replaced by now and see when it’s due again. I don’t know if this is the kind of maintenance you do.

You say, “The cirrus has had over half it’s life adult woman driven.” I’m just curious. Is this a good thing or bad thing?

I don’t do trucks, so that’s about all I’ve got until we get more info.

Enjoy that Cirrus! You’ll be riding on a cloud!

You left out a key piece of information. How many miles on the Cirrus? Without knowing that I can’t give an informed opinion. Also, why is this vehicle being sold if it’s such a good car?

Here’s what I can say:

The V6 and the automatic in the Cirrus will keep the gas mileage well below what you’re used to in your Saturn, and the V6 will be more difficult to work on. For instance; open the hood on the Cirrus and try to figure out how you would remove the spark plugs from the rear cylinder bank. Look at the clearance between the accessory drive belts and the fender. Can you work in there?

Luxury and convenience come with a price.

The V6 automatic will be more difficult to drive in snow than your manual Saturn, too, so factor that into your equation.

I’m not a big fan of Chrysler vehicles, and they’ve never rated higher than “average” for reliability. That doesn’t mean it can’t be a good car, but it’s something to think about. I’m used to Honda and Toyota reliability, and I tend to judge everything else by that, which might not be fair.

I’m not a truck guy, either. I have a 4x4 Ford Ranger as a work truck, but I would never buy such a vehicle with my own money. My Subaru AWD station wagon is a better vehicle in snow, and the gas mileage of the truck is awful.

This is a good time to buy a truck, as you say, but it’s not a good time to sell or trade a truck, so it balances out, and, once again, a 4WD truck will burn more gas than a 2WD truck.

You obviously can’t buy both, so first you have to decide whether you want a new car or a new truck.

Personally, if I had a car that had only cost me $300 and was running well, I’d drive it into the ground. It’s unlikely you will ever have a less-expensive-to-operate vehicle again in your life, and I would milk it for all it’s worth, saving money every mile.

On the other hand, comfort and convenience are nice, and if they are worth the extra money to you, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Don’t limit your options. This Cirrus is not the only used car for sale. The good thing is you know its history, which is worth a lot, and the price seems OK (but I still don’t know the mileage), but there are lots of other nice cars, and many of them have 4-cylinder engines, which are less expensive to own and drive than V6s.

If you only need a truck for occasional chores I would say keep what you have. Why spend tens of thousands of dollars for a vehicle you only use once in a while?

Hope this helps. What about the mileage on the Cirrus?

Thanks you two guys for your information. Both great points. I did forget some information about the Cirrus. I’ve been driving the Cirrus for a few weeks to see how I like it, and what kinda of MPG it would get me on my daily drives. With the 2.5V6 it only got me around 24MPG. As far as whats wrong with it, power seat is not 100% working(short girl was driving, it’s stuck all the way up, and i’m a tall guy) and it’s got some rust hole in the outside body pannel infront of rear wheelwell drivers side. As far as miles on the car: 128k. Other than the rust, the interior is in great shape. My reason to get rid of the saturn is it’s starting to nickel and dime me(fouls out plugs ever 15k or so and something in brakes goes click click click from 50mph down to 25pmh) and I would like a little larger car with such things as power windows, and keyless entry. My father also would just take a couple hundred out of my bank everymonth, so no loan would be needed for this car, which would be nice. Thanks again!

I’d say 24 mpg is the best you will get. Maybe once or twice on a long highway trip it could do better, but in town it could also be worse. You’ve certainly got your money’s worth from the Saturn, and it’s probably time to start looking for something else. Fouling plugs is not a good sign.

Honestly, with 128K miles and rust through the body this Cirrus falls into the $1,000 car category in my book. The rust will only get worse, and if there’s rust in one place there’s probably rust elsewhere, too.

I think this Cirrus has already seen its best days. You might get some miles out of it, or it could start costing big money very soon. There’s no way to know. I would skip it unless you absolutely LOVE it, and even then I wouldn’t pay $2,000 for it.

Can you dump the Saturn and drive your truck while you save for a car?

Financially you’re better to keep the Saturn. If you do decide to get rid of it, you might look around first. But I’m not the one that has to tell your family!

Yes, this is a “truck buyers’ market”…but NOT a “truck sellers’ market”. Many of the dealers around my home won’t take trucks in trade anymore because they can’t unload the ones they have even at deep, deep discounts. Peoepl are trying to sell them private-sale and they’re just sitting in their front yards without offers. Unless your neck of the woods is different, you’ll get little for your Ram. I’d recommend keeping that one too.