CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Should I buy a 1996 Eagle Talon?

I am looking at a 1996 Eagle Talon for my son as his first car. He does not know how to fix cars nor do we know anyone who has any knowledge, so any repairs would have to be done by a shop which would be expensive. Looking to get tips and advice. Thanks

Mechanical issues aside you should check with your insurance agent. I had a friend who was considering the same car until he found the insurance company rated it a sports car and would charge premium prices for a teen driver.

What model? If it has the turbo-charged engine with AWD and an automatic transmission, don’t touch it. The automatic transmissions couldn’t handle the turbo & AWD and died horrible deaths. I’m guessing that your son will not be easy on the car. Also, the turbo’s were really fast and they could get new drivers in a lot of trouble. You can research “Mitsubishi Eclipse” for that year as Chrysler just rebadged them as “Eagles.” Something ironic about trying to disguise a Japanese car by calling it an “Eagle.”

As was already said, this car is a thinly-disguised Mitsubishi Eclipse, a car whose reliability was never up to the same standards as vehicles from most of the other Japanese manufacturers.

Then, factor in at least 14 years of wear and tear by multiple unknown drivers, and maintenance that may not have been optimum, and I would not go near this car unless I was prepared to spend at least as much as the purchase price just to keep it going for another couple of years. Ergo–a potential money pit.

Then, consider the cost of insurance for a young man driving a “sports car”. The annual cost for insurance could actually exceed the purchase price of the car.

There are many, many better choices for your son in terms of reliability, actual cost of ownership, and insurance costs. I strongly suggest that you purchase a copy of the Consumer Reports Used Car Buyers Guide, which lists the most reliable used car models in every price category.

Once you have located a good candidate for purchase, have it vetted by a trusted mechanic prior to purchase.

Good luck!

What you need is a small, economical car that is fairly easy to work on. Look for something like a chevy prism (a rebadged toyota corolla), ford escort/ford focus, or something like that. These are not hard to find for low price. Sometimes you can find some affordable, older honda civics around, though people like to put various “performance” modifications on those and you’d want to stay away from those.

Perhaps the most important thing you can have while you shop is a mechanic that you can take the car to for a once over before buying it. Use a local, independent shop. Most will give a car’s major systems a once over for the cost of about an hour’s labor.

Depends on the price. For $500, if the insurance is affordable, then go for it. I would not pay much more than that for this car in any condition.

Older cars for new teen driver’s almost always mean some high repair bills. How is this car funded? Does the teen have a job? Definately investigate insurance costs which can vary greatly by car model for teen drivers.

A 4 cylinder Pontiac Grand Am of about the same age might be less to repair, less powerful, and cheap to buy.

http://battlecreek.craigslist.org/cto/2016840786.html

This is the actual listing on Craigs list and has photos. My son does have a job and above the asking price we have about a 500 to put into it.

Rather tacky aftermarket wheels, aftermarket racing stripe, and a fart can muffer, bad suspension, bad brakes and an ad that was written by a 6 year old…I’d pass.

NO !

It doesn’t look too bad. Coming from another teen driver could mean hard use, as in transmission issues. I think the asking price is way high. You are also looking at a bunch more then $500 to fix it up.

Check out insurance costs. If the car seems ok have a mechanic evaluate it. If ok I’d offer no more than $500 and let the sell sit on it for a bit. If he really wants to, or needs to seller it, $500 is a fair price. It is a '96 and a car that is pretty much out of business and there won’t be many other interested lookers.

If it is a turbo motor, don’t get it, too much to repair if turbo fails and they do on old and assume poorly maintained cars.

Yeah, looking at the ad, I’d pass. It’s possible that the guy just can’t write a sentence, but is a great backyard mechanic and has babied it, but it’s about as likely that it was owned by a little old lady that only drove it to church.

No, one of the worst choices you could make for a car for a young driver. Besides, it’s age, complexity, poor parts availability, low reliability even when new, YOUR lack of any car knowledge,high insurance cost, and the absence of anybody in Chrysler who knows how to fix it all spells a veritable nightmare if you buy this thing.

As others point out, a Hyundai Accent or simliar simple economy car would be a good vehicle to start with.

DEFINITELY NO!!!

Actually they are tacky parts store wheel covers to go with the tacky askew racing stripe.Although, at least it doesn’t have one of those really tacky 2 foot tall spoilers on the rear. I’d run away from this car.

I owned a 1991 Tsi. I spent a year out of work and lost everything I owned and bought it from my uncle for $400 because I needed transportation when I got back to work. Overall, I liked the car, but it does have some issues. The first generation engines were better than the second generation which the 1996 has. It also had an issue with the transfer case which was a recall. The oil would leak out of the transfer case through a plug in it but it only would occur while moving so it didn’t puddle. This is eventually what did mine in. It’s fun trying to get home from a 70 mile trip while listening to parts bang around in your transfer case. It did get me home on the front wheels though. Not sure whether they had this issue fixed by 96 or not. Gas mileage is horrible for a 4 cylinder. Just because it has a 4 cylinder engine does not mean good mileage. This car is built for speed and it burns a lot of fuel. Mine got around 20 mpg. Mine was a stick and I imagine the auto gets worse.

Now as for giving a car like this to a teenager, no way. I am almost 39 years old and consider myself a pretty responsible guy. I had this car a few years ago and even I couldn’t resist the urge to open it up one day on the way home from work. The turbo on the car will put you back in your seat and I was doing 110 in less than a mile. The car had a lot more in it but I backed off because I had never been that fast and didn’t want to blow a tire at that speed. I picked a straight stretch of smooth highway with no traffic and it was still a very, very stupid thing to do. Imagine the kind of choice a teenager will make with that kind of car.

My vote is a resounding NO based on the tacky add-ons in the pics and poor grammar used in the ad. It’s got wannabe Fast and Furious written all over it. This translates to hacked and flogged.

My daughter has owned 2 Mitsubishi Eclipses (same thing) and my brother in law owned a Talon. Those Eclipses required far more upkeep than anything any of us have ever owned and my brother in law threw in the towel on his Talon after a year or so.
Not only that, but some parts on these cars can be hard to find and pricy when you do get them.

You might consider a Fox body Mustang with the 2.3 engine. These cars are plentiful, comparatively cheap, reliable, easily serviced, reasonably priced when it comes to parts, and the insurance company tab should not go through the roof with the 4 cylinder. Get a GT and it might.

That car was bad when it came out and being used its even worse…

given the circumstances, consider a used compact pickup for your son (toyota or nissan). they are simple vehicles (much less to break) and easy to work on, and they were inexpensive when new so even more so used… look for one that’s been owned by an individual rather than a business. i bought my daughter a 10 year old Nissan pickup as her first car. wasnt fast, wasnt sexy, but it was darn near bulletproof and it got her around town. other advantages are it only held 2 people…you really don’t want 4 teenagers in a car at the same time. did i mention it was slow? about 90 top speed–perfect! and…pickups are a nice thing to have, this one got a lot of use hauling odds and ends. we spent a couple of hundred bucks on a nice sound system for it, and a little more for a locking trunk box for her stuff, and she was good to go.