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In a pickle, need advice!

Desperately need some advice. Bear with me, the back=story is a bit of an auto-themed soap opera:

I’m still driving a 2007 Civic that was a college graduation gift. It isn’t flashy, just a 4-cylinder automatic, but I’ve kept up the maintenance and haven’t had a single problem with it for 90k miles. It’s clean, it’s reliable, and I love it. My husband on the other hand… I love him very much, he’s a hard worker and provides well, given difficult circumstances… but he doesn’t have the best track record with cars. He doesn’t wash them, he doesn’t maintain them, and his judgment is… not the best when it comes to buying them

In spite of my best efforts, I’ve been under-or-unemployed for the last few years and money is very, very tight. My mister manages keep us afloat thanks to his decent, recession-proof job. It’s a good job, but requires a lot of travel. When his 2003, 120k mile Scion xB had to be replaced, he thought to replace it with a used car we could buy outright since our credit isn’t great and we need a car payment like a hole in the head. That meant an old car with high mileage, so I thought we should go for something with a reputation for being dependable- a Honda, or maybe a Toyota- and have our trusty, honest mechanic check it out before purchase. That didn’t happen.

He decided to buy a 1994 Mustang from a Ford dealer for $5k: a 6-cylinder manual transmission with 89k miles. Now once upon a time I had a 1993 Ford Tempo that, in spite of religious maintenance, was a steaming pile of unreliable car. So I voiced my concerns about 90s era Fords. Hubby assured me he’d done the research and that 94 was a good year for Mustangs. It did have a clean Carfax. I decided to trust his judgement and hoped for the best.

This was eight weeks ago and the car has blown up three times. The first time, the dealer replaced the head gasket- covered by the warranty. It blew up again. Then the dealer replaced the engine- not covered by warranty- and replaced the worn clutch while they were at it- also not under warranty, but they did that repair at cost. We just got it back yesterday and it lasted two hours on the road and blew up again.

I was unenthusiastic about the purchase to begin with and after the second blow up, I wanted to eat the loss and get rid of the car. I told my husband, if this happens again, maybe we shouldn’t tow it to the dealer again (which is over an hour away, takes forever on repairs, doesn’t return calls promptly, and generally has given us terrible service). Maybe, I suggested, we should just eat the loss, junk it, and figure something else out. However, he did end up towing it back to the dealer. Then he called a lawyer- although he had called two lawyers after the second blow up and both told him he had no case.

Now, friends, excepting the few days the Mustang actually ran, he’s been using (and trashing) my Civic since the beginning of summer. Pre-Mustang, because his xB was unreliable and had no functional air conditioning. Post-Mustang, because the dealer took forever to complete each repair. Now I’m not unreasonable, he IS the breadwinner and has to work. I can smile through my teeth and wash my baby, clean the trash out of her, and do the maintenance on the weekends. Heck, I even suggested I use the “new” used car once he bought it, given how much more driving he has to do (which didn’t happen because he chose the Mustang because he wanted to drive it). But now I’m without wheels at all, 5-6 days a week. My city has no public transportation to speak of, so my life has effectively stopped. I can’t look for work, go to the grocery store, or even drive the kid back and forth to school. I’m about ready to fall out of my tree.

So what do I need here? First, tell me if the 94 Mustang was indeed any good. I know I’d feel much better if I knew if the purchase wasn’t as foolish as it initially seemed. Second, if someone is familiar with California law, do we have any kind of case, or is contacting an attorney a waste of time? Lastly, I’ve been looking into alternative ways to get a decent second car in the short-term. We need a relatively low monthly payment, have less-than-stellar credit, and not a lot to put down. I’m researching the possibility of taking over someone’s lease. I’m looking at LeaseTrader.com and Swapalease.com. Anybody have any experience with that, or know someone who has? Is it worth it?

Thanks and apologies to anyone that managed to get through this long post. I’m in a real pickle and open to suggestions.

The latest “blow up” was not defined as to what the problem was, and if or how it was resolved?

A '94 Mustang is getting pretty close to 20 years old and age alone can be the source of some of these problems. Was a '94 Mustang 6 with a stick shift a decent car in its day? Perhaps, but at 18 years old it isn’t going to be much of a dependable daily driver. Since you have a backup car, the '07 Civic, perhaps the issues with the Mustang will get sorted out and it will work OK most of the time.

It is simply not very realistic to expect a '94 car of any make or model to be “reliable” as daily transportation. Old cars have lots of old parts that simply break and need to be replaced. You need to have the budget for these repairs and backup transportation while repairs are make.

The good news is it is a pretty easy car to work on, there are lots of parts sources available, and if you can handle the “downtime” the car can be kept on the road until it pretty much is so rusted out that it isn’t safe anymore.

Have patience and this too shall pass.

If the car was sold “AS IS” then you likely have no recourse because that essentially gives the seller a get out of jail free card. Lawyers can argue and they’re more than happy to do that with the money clock running.

Not trying to be too critical here, but based on your comments about hubby there’s a good possibility that some or all of these problem could be self-inflicted. Mustang + manual transmission + used, aged car combined with an aggressive gear banging driving spirit can certainly cause problems.

For what it’s worth, Carfax is more of a sales tool than anything else. It promotes a warm fuzzy CF said it was good, ergo it is feeling.
Any used car should go through a pre-purchase inspection and while that does not guarantee a problem free car it can swing the odds into the buyer’s favor a bit as compared to no inspection at all.

Sorry I can’t be of more help technically but there’s just not enough info known about the problems and the repeated use of the term blown up leaves much to the imagination.

I wouldn’t try to take on a lease. First, you may get stuck at lease end with things the dealer or real car owner finds during the turn in inspection that you may not have discovered when you assumed the lease. Secondly, a lease negotiation can involve the current lessee as well as the company that actually owns the car and lease agreement. Too many moving parts and too many opportunities for “misunderstandings” that seldom fall in your favor.

A 1994 Mustang from a Ford dealer?? A 17 year old car??? With only 90K miles?? This is a nightmare just waiting to happen…Sitting on the lot, this car was a “Red Flag Special”…

$5000 for a 94 Mustang?! Edmunds shows that with every option but the automatic, in outstanding condition, is worth half that at dealer retail. Did they atleast buy him dinner after they screwed him over so badly?

Sorry to hear that the Honda is getting trashed when not in your care, I’m an OCD Neat freak and would be driven crazy by that. Just remember:

FORD = Fixed Or Repaired Daily

I think the ball is in his court to provide himself with appropriate transportation for his job.

Accordion

Well, I think you should have kept the Scion, it was a better car and it would have lasted at least another 90k miles. The AC probably only needed the relay, about a $15 part. But all that is water under the bridge now. You and him need to talk. A car purchase should be a joint venture. It helps if one can give the other a reality check once in a while.

Never purchase a car when you first see it. Add potentials to the list. go home, do the research, ask for advice here, then make a joint decision. One more thing, if you save him from a bad decision, NEVER say “I told you so”, but that goes without saying, right?

Well I’m not clear on the time line. It sounds like the dealer has a foot in the game. How long between the head gasket and engine replacement? The “lawyers” he called could have smelled no real money. He needs to go to small claims court. Yesterday. The mechanics insurance should have covered the engine replacement after the head gasket. Basically the mechanic may have made a serious mistake and toasted the engine.

Most states have statutes on the books specifically covering used car sales, and they typically state that used car sales are “as-is” unless otherwise ststed in writing. The legislatures d this because used car sales would totally clog up the courts were this not the csae, and 99% of them are “he said/she said” with no real evidence either way.

You sound to me like a young couple with a new baby…and it doesn;t sound to me like you’re working together as a couple. You didn;t ask this question, but I think you may need some couples counseling more than a lawyer. No disrespect meant.