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Is this car a good deal? Pleas Help!

So I am 17 and im looking for my first car. I would really like nissan xterra and i came across this on craigslist and i want to know if its a good deal or not. Here is the desc. “2001 Nissan for sale at 3300$, motor and trans have both been replace just over a year ago…
tune up just done and timing belt and water pump just replace a week ago…
all services are up to date…” the car is a 2001, clean title with 290k miles on it and is a v6 automatic. but my question is all the things that have been replaced, is that a good thing or a bad thing? Please help!

Bad thing, very very bad thing. If the motor and transmission have had to be replaced, then there are a lot of other things that also need to be replaced like suspension parts, brakes, steering parts, seats, electronics etc.

The big red flag is needing a timing belt and water pump only year after replacing the engine. If it was a reman engine, those would have been new and good for 7 years or 105k miles. This engine, and probably the transmission too, came out of a junk yard vehicle with an unknown history.

Look for a vehicle with no body damage beyond a minor door ding or two, good paint, no tears or cigarette or seed burns in the upholstery, original engine and transmission in good running order (no smoke and engine reasonably clean).

Best buys come from an elderly driver that has passed away. Usually these are a little older but lower miles, have had excellent care and maintenance and not driven hard. Often the heirs have newer cars and don’t want gramps old car so they sell them pretty cheap. They have always been my best cars.

$3300 is a reasonable price for a 2001 Xterra in the southwest depending on the condition, vehicles last a long time here. Much depends on the location but the vehicle must be inspected to determine the condition.

I doubt this vehicle has only 290 miles on it, how could someone destroy the engine and transmission in only 290 miles? If it has 290,000 miles on it there are many others to choose from with half as many miles.

I have to agree with @keith above.

The car has a lot of miles, is pretty old. Why did it need a new engine and transmission and why was the timing belt changed. Also, since this is on CL, I am not sure if you can even verify these were done.

Just to give you an idea, we recently bought a 96 Camry for a friend, it had 160K miles, all repair receipts. Good interior and some fading on the paint. Needs brakes (front) and some other odds and ends but nothing major. Paid ~$1300.

I’m in full agreement with keith on all points.

The "with 290 (not 290K) bit is phrased a bit oddly and I’m not quite sure what that means.

It’s apparently still a near 300k miles car and for the right price it might be worth taking a shot at it. Unfortunately, 3300 is not a right price.
The fact that someone has sunk X amount of dollars into something and is trying to recoup most of what they’ve spent does not make the vehicle worth the asking price.

You’re 17 and looking for your first car so I understand the anxiety you’re going through but that can easily turn to disappointment if you do not use patience.

A long time ago I was 17 and saved enough money from my part time and summer job to go hunting for my first car. It was a 1958 Thunderbird from a university employee where I worked and it was a huge mistake. After one week of ownership my main goal in life was to be rid of that garden slug. Thankfully I was able to move on to something else very quickly.

Be sure to get a qualified mechanic to inspect the car, then ther will be no surprises, like a month later it needs $500 worth of brakes, or ball joints and other stufff.

You could buy a very good small car without AWD and much lower mileage. I agree with the others that this is a poor prospect.

Look for a Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, or similar car with fewer miles and much newer.

If you bought that vehicle and it gave you many thousands of miles of problem-free driving, then it would be worth it. However the chances you’ll be spending big $$$ on a big repair soon are higher than you want them to be.

When I was 19, I bought a used Dodge van that I had my heart set on buying. Very quickly I began to notice an engine noise. I ended up needing a replacement engine within months.

Not a good idea especially on CList.

A young driver does not need a vehicle that size and with that many miles with that many repairs. Has this young man checked to see how expensive the insurance will be ? After they do that the best mileage vehicle they can find will be the goal.

Gotta agree. Big red flags. Why did the engine and trans need to be replaced? Then with a new engine, why the timing belt and tune up after just a year? Something wrong here.

If you’re pretty firm about that make/model, it seems a fair price. The decision really depends on the current condition of the car. Anytime an engine and transmission are replaced, there’s lots of opportunities for mechanical and electrical problems. I’d prefer the same car with 150 K on the original engine and transmission, presuming it had been properly serviced throughout its life, everything else being equal . But I’m assuming that option isn’t available, there’s no cars like that on the used car market now.

The manufacturer has all sorts of jigs and test equipment at the manufacturing site to verify all parts inside the engine are precisely dimensioned and aligned, all the bearing clearances are prefect. In other words when a car comes off the manufacturing line it’s a pretty good chance all the functions are working correctly. But when the same thing is done at a shop, well, maybe it is ok, maybe not. Try to look at this from a scientific point of view if you can. Compare this car to all the others that are available that meet you needs.

Then if you still think it makes sense, hire a good mechanic to spend a few hours looking it over, taking it for a drive, and doings a few tests, hooking up a scan tool to the obd II connector to make sure all the readiness monitors are complete and no stored diagnostic codes, a compression test, and cooling system pressure test. This all might cost you $200 -$300 or so. If the mechanic’s results come back ok, then you have something to go on to make your final decision.

One bit of advice: If one of your objectives is to entice women to go out on dates with you, and you have budget issues, you’ll get better results taking them to a higher priced restaurant in a clean, but less expensive car.