Let Go of Lemon?

My husband and I purchased a 2000 Pontiac Grand AM coupe for our daughter back in the fall of 2012 for around $2300. Up until TODAY we have sunk $2969.09 into it. Friday we will be sinking another $1,000-$1,200 (including the tow)–AND the mechanic (who is out of town, where our daughter is now in college) says the car still needs another $1,500 in repairs!!

Question: Is there any scenario in which it would make sense to invest the additional $1,500 and hold onto this beast?

Qualification: The latest repair is fuel lines, one of the last was tie rods, brakes/rotors, front sway bar (!), front alignment with toe adjustment (!). I have no idea what the heck the other two repairs were.

I dunno but the stuff you mentioned such as tie rods, etc. could all be expected to be needing replacement on a 12 year old car. That’s the problem with buying used older cars at a low price. There will at some point be the need to replace all of the stuff that a newer car would not need replacing. Sometimes its just better to get a newer car or even a new car that won’t need the work to be done. Now add tires, brakes, wheel bearings, hoses, radiator, belts, sensors, and so on.

A lot of what you mention MIGHT be considered normal wear depending on the mileage, use, maintenance, and details of the repairs, but it sounds like a piece of junk to me. I’d dump it.

Does your daughter really need a car?

This is a lot of money over 18 months. But older cars bought used often need a lot of worn out parts replaced - tires, brakes, alternators, batteries, steering racks, struts, tie rod ends, are all repairs that can be expected and don’t mean a car is necessarily bad or a lemon.

Your problem is if you dump this car what next? Another older used car could start you on this merry go round all over again. Personally I don’t think much of this particular car model, a 2000 Grand Am wasn’t a very good car IMO and they didn’t age well. So I’d probably dump it. But don’t get a Dodge Neon, or a Dodge Stratus, they are even worse!

In 2008 I bought a 2000 Toyota Camry XLE with 68K miles, V6 automatic. My son took the car to college and it is now back home with 178K miles on it. We’ve put on some brakes, a couple of sets of tires, a new alternator, 2 sets of plugs, one timing belt and that’s about it. I think that comes up to less than what you’ve spent in 18 months and ours is spread out over 6+ years and 110K miles.

I also bought a 1998 Volvo V70XC wagon in 2002 that had high mileage due to the previous owner being a salesman. The car had circa 120K miles on it. I dumped it after 3 years and only 25K additional miles because of 2x a year major expensive repair bills. I was spending $4000 a year on repairs and it didn’t look like this was going to stop so I sold it. On some used cars you win, and some you lose. I think you lost on this Grand AM and it maybe time to cut your losses and move on to another car.

Was the car inspected by a q uplifted mechanic before you bought it? If not, the problems could have been there and you just didn’t know it.

Also, how do you know the mechanic your daughter uses is not just replacing parts without diagnosing th problems? It’s impossible for us to tell if you need a new car, new mechanic, or both. If you have confidence in the mechanic, let us know why. He might be a good mechanic and the car just needs a lot of repairs. Help us figure it out.

One problem is that fixing that style of car – I presume it is sort of a low slung sports car – is that everything is more expensive b/c of the labor involved. The parts are packed in there pretty tight and it just takes longer to access what needs fixing.

If your goal is to spend less money on fixing your daughter’s car in the future, suggest to dump this car and buy a used plain-jane econombox. Consumer’s Reports Used Car Guide can give you some that are known to have high reliability and low maintenance costs.

George, I’ve attached images of the 2000 Grand Am for you. There’s nothing fancy about its design whatsoever. As a matter of fact, it was considered a POS when it was new. Cars like that one are the reason Pontiac now exists only in the history books.


Yeah, there’s nothing special about them. Based on the same platform as the Olds Olero and Chevy Malibu. Several years ago, my wife said her friend was selling her daughter’s Grand Am that she used in college, and wanted to know if I was interested. I told her I wanted nothing to do with it. Two months later, the transmission quit.

I say cut your losses and dump it.

The Grand Am was probably the most common rental car of that time. Very bland, mostly inoffensive.

This is why most of us here recomend extra time and effort into researching cars for our kids. We all want to save money but not at the expense of peice of mind. I agree; the car will continue to be the albatross it was designed to be…all cars are. It’s just some are less then others. Move on to a better, not so bad make and model.

All of the things you mentioned are not the signs of a Lemon car. They’re wear items which could be considered entirely normal on a 15 year old Grand Am; or a 15 year old anything for that matter.

I would consider having the vehicle put in running condition, then trade vehicles with the daughter for a time and have it checked by a mechanic near you and then decide what to do. maybe not all of the recommended repairs are priority items.

I second ok4450’s comment. This car is not a lemon in any way, shape or form. It’s just an older vehicle that’s probably given many years of service with very few problems. Cars don’t last forever.

I cannot agree that enough detail exists in the descriptions to know that the repairs described are normal wear, especially the totally unknowns, and there are more than one.

I do believe that the amount they’ve been spending on repairs and the amount they’ve been told the car still needs are far in excess of what I’d consider still a vehicle worth dumping money into. This car sounds like its best years are well in the past. And I would argue that fuel lines are not normal repairs.

It sounds like this week’s repairs are a done deal, so let’s not worry about that.

For the future repairs, we need a better idea of what’s wrong. Have your daughter take the car to another mechanic for a second opinion and an estimate. Give us the exact list of repairs from both mechanics. Then you’ll get some better input.

As others have said, you can’t complain too much about certain repairs on a 15-year-old American car.

I know this is a generalization and I am most likely wrong, but your list of repairs sounds as much like being taken advantage of as it may for reasonable repairs. We really don’t know what the car actually needed but even if you dump the car, be ready for the same or similar occurring with any car. I like what @VolvoV70 has to say about, first having check by a mechanic you trust…then go from there. I still don’t like old Cars like this.