Will a Chevy Malibu require unforeseen repair costs?

I found a 2006 Chevy Malibu LTZ for $4,873; however it has 182,000 miles. This could be bad. I test drove it and it was so smooth and drove really well (I thoroughly enjoyed the heated seats and love the trunk and back seat space). But with the high mileage I’m worried about the longevity of this vehicle…what do you think?

I’ve been doing a lot of research and it seems that the higher the mileage the more maintenance a car will require. I’ve read a lot of reviews about this car having steering, brake, and engine problems. The mileage on this car is very high and I’m wondering if I’m just asking for punishment?

My last car literally required no major and barely any minor repairs (other than tires, oil changes, and brakes) for the 9 years that I had it. I know I was blessed with my last car but as a poor and completely independent college student I have no room to make a mistake with my settlement. Paying my own tuition leaves no room for a car payment or repairs.

I Must make sure I’m buying smart.
Should I keep looking? Will this car cost me a fortune in repairs that I cannot afford?
And if so what should I look at?
I’m trying not to be picky about everything I look at, but I’m worried I might make a bad investment and I plan on having this new (to me) car for a long time as well.
I would love another Nissan Altima but have heard nothing but bad things for the '02-'08 models (anything newer would be out of my price range). The catalytic converter and the engine messing up, to pay for a new car and then have a major repair like the engine would be a tragic sequence of events for me.

Can you please point me in the right direction? Please.

It’s a roll of the dice, for sure. But, a lot of high mileage cars can still provide good reliability as long as the maintenance had been done on time. Especially if those miles are mostly highway. One thing to look at is the condition of the driver’s seat and the rubber pedal pads. Evidence of high wear and tear, like rubber pads worn to the point of seeing metal and a driver’s seat with frayed cloth and a couple of small rips means a lot of use and in-and-outs. This shows me the miles are hard. If the pedals look fairly fresh and the seats almost like new, the miles are probably more highway, which are much easier on the car.

I don’t think you can afford a car. Any car with 100+K miles you need to expect some repairs. If you can’t handle repair bills, then you can’t afford to own a car. There is no model anyone can recommend to you that will meet your -0- repair requirement. It isn’t a reasonable expectation.

I would pass on the Malibu. At 182K…there is not much meat left on the bone at nearly $5K. Keep looking.

what car do you have now? are you carless at the current time or is your old dependable car still around?

I’m surprised a Malibu made it this far and I’m a loyal Chevy customer. I would pass, especially at that price.

Ed B.

I agree with others; if you want little or no repairs, stay away from a high mileage Malibu. When in college I bought cheap cars with low mileage that were dead simple, stick shift, no accessories. Then repaired them as cheaply as possible.

For the amount quoted you could buy a no-frills Hyuandai Accent with low mileage and enjoy a lot of trouble-freee drving.

Trouble-free days are done with that car. At that high mileage there are a lot of worn down parts just waiting to quit on you. It wouldn’t even be worthwhile to have a mechanic inspect it for you. The worst case would be for it to pass inspection and remove almost $5,000 from your bank account. The maximum the car is worth would be around $500 as a what the heck guess.

We had an airplane that seemed questionable. Somebody, as a joke said “let’s fire it up, taxi it out and see what we got!” We did that and just had to park it again. Don’t do that.

Thanks for everyone’s help so far!

I had a Nissan Altima but a little old lady ran a stop sign and totaled it :frowning:
I loved this car and I’d like another Nissan but like I said I heard bad things about the catalytic converter and the engine messing up and I can’t afford something like that.
My mom is lending me her truck for the time being but I commute every day for school so not getting a car is NOT an option. And it will be more important when I move 4 hrs away next year to start my masters.
I’ve looked at some Hyundai accents and definitely liked them; and I sat in a Toyota Solara yesterday it was nice. And I’ve always wanted a jeep which I found a 2000 wrangler at a very good price but I wasn’t able to get specifics or test drive these yet.
It’s just a matter of longevity. I understand the concept of maintaining a car and the cost that will go into it and the possible problems I just can’t afford a major problem like replacing the transmission or engine or something major 4-6 months after I buy it. I need something that will last a very long time and at least 2-3 years before a major repair like that.
I’m just so lost!

The ONLY way that car is worth $5K is if the transmission has been recently rebuilt…Because otherwise, it’s going to need to be rebuilt shortly…This is pretty much true with ALL FWD automatic transmission cars…Depending on make and model, it costs between $2000 and $4000 to rebuild them…

Used, high-mileage cars are now selling for ridiculous prices because when the economy crashed in 2007, new car sales simply stopped for 3 years…Without any new car sales, there are few decent used cars on the market, allowing the price of used cars to soar…

you could simply look for the “out of favor cars” to purchase. think ugly and not cool, but low miles. this would point you in the right direction of low maint car. low mileage taurus, low mileage buick, ect

you want to buy something that others deemed low in demand. you stay on this path and you will get dependability and low purchase cost.

I wholeheartedly agree with @Docnick’s advice, you need a simple, dull, bare bones car with stick shift and no frills. Sorry if that’s not what you wanted to hear. To get a vehicle that will have any chance of meeting your needs, you’ll have to do your homework. I have been very successful finding good used vehicles which have been spectacular bargains, and so can you. But it takes slow and deliberate searching. Don’t jump on the first deal you find, wait until you have good sense of typical prices so that you can recognize a true bargain when it appears. TAKE YOUR TIME!

Start with Craigslist listings for cars for sale by owners only. If there is a local radio station with a live call in buy/sell/swap program, you should become a regular listener and if the show allows this, call in stating what you want, a simple inexpensive sedan. Keep your eye open for the dull no frills cars with lower mileage. Rule out any which are dented up or interior is torn - you are looking for a seller who has taken good care of the car. Try to find something with one or two non-serious defects which accounts for a drastically lower price simply because the seller doesn’t want to deal with them, like window not going up or down, or headlights out, or a door lock that’s broken or dead radio. Some mechanical defects can be cheap to repair as well but some sellers again just don’t want to deal with them, and so they price the car low just to avoid the effort of getting it fixed. This is precisely the car you are looking for.

If you have a mechanically savvy friend who can help you find a severely underpriced car simply because of a repairable defect, you’ll be better off. In a case like that, the cost of the car plus the repair may be far less than the cost of a pristine car. Don’t be afraid to consider a car with, say, a leaking clutch master cylinder, or noisy brakes, etc, again, such things are repairable, but get advice on what’s really wrong before you commit. Concentrate on the sound of the engine (smooth and steady). Before you buy, be sure to take the car to a reputable shop for a thorough check, expect to spend $50-$100 for that.

I agree that a manual transmission would be far better, but you may have few stick shift choices. So you might cautiously widen your search to include automatics which either have been recently rebuilt, or at worst, the seller has service records indicating regular transmission fluid changes at 30,000 mile intervals (or close). You should also look carefully for signs of regular oil changes, and regular coolant changes (every 3-5 years).

Buy from a private seller and consider what you notice from their home environment, what they demonstrate about how they care about things, and whether they have repair records. When you go for a test drive, have the seller drive, and notice if they are aggressive drivers, or gentle on the gas and brake and take turns slowly.

I’d stay with Toyota or Nissan or Honda, not necessarily in that order. Condition and service records are more important than brand. Good luck, and post back when you have a vehicle you are considering.

Poke around and see how much Crown Victoria you can buy for $5000…

as I have advised so many times, look for a car that was owned by an elderly person who can no longer drive and no one else in the family wants the car. These are usually older cars, less cool, have fewer miles, well maintained and never driven hard.

@keith I agree Some time back, and Asian student in Houston was looking for a car and we advised him to look for a Chevy Cobalt with low miles owned by a retiree. He found just such a car for about $3000, and thanked us later froin his home country for advising him.

Well I test drove an SUV the other day and although it was a no go, I think I might like to have an SUV.
Can anyone recommend a SUV brand? I heard that jeeps require a lot of upkeep. And although ford explorers seem good that’s a lot of gas usage in a V8 that I probably can’t afford.
Are there any 4cylinder or V6 models that are decent on gas and 4WD?

EVERY car requires unforeseen repairs. That’s life.

If you are concerned about the costs of owning a car an SUV is the last thing you need. Even SUVs that have a good reputation for repairs are good only in relation to other SUVs.
I have a feeling I am wasting this advice, people who know little about cars ask advice and then go buy what the really want anyway. They just want someone,anyone, to tell them it is a good idea.

The old saying for Jeep is Just Empty Every Pocket. Sure, these are fun vehicles but the mileage isn’t great and one of my friends who purchased a two year old or so used one spent more on repairs than he did on car payments! He loved it when it was running but got sick of the repairs and traded it in on some Nissan SUV that has never failed him. He had like 3 Chrysler products in a row prior to this and they were all disasters including an exploded 2.7L engine so he learned his lesson on those. I always like Ford or Chevy myself but a lot of the import brands like Honda, Toyota, Kia, and Nissan also have good reputations.

I recently purchased a 3 cylinder Geo Metro stick shift model for the fuel economy (50+ mpg). These are great little cars for economy and reliability if you keep up with the maintenance. Look for burned valves in the engine which is a known problem, especially if the wrong oil is used or it is allowed to get dirty. More important is the frame as the part where the front frame horns bolt in tends to rust out on these little cars. They are very simple little cars and there is a TON of room under the hood to work, which is surprising to everyone I tell this to. They are like working on a 1970’s pickup truck. I can lift my engine out of the bay by myself. They also feel like driving an oversized go kart so they are kinda fun, even if they aren’t a sports car.

I see cwatkin is not a big fan of Chrysler. I’ve had very good luck with Chrysler products and very poor experiences with Fords personally. GM products, rather neutral. But to each their own.

Asking if you’re going to have unforeseen problems might be best left to someone skilled in reading Tarot cards. There is an old proverb: “Luck favors the prepared” If the car you’re buying is clean, has clean oil, runs and drives nice, has maintenance records, and is known to be a fairly reliable model, the odds are in your favor. If you buy a car that’s filthy, the oil is black as midnight in a mineshaft, it runs like crap, and happens to be a 1987 Yugo, you probably won’t fare so well.

If you’re worried about ownership costs and possible problems, the best resource IMHO is to ignore Consumer Reports and go to a site like Edmunds or similar where people submit their own reviews of vehicles after owning them for some time. You can search on the exact year and model of what you’re considering. Take the worst and best reviews with a grain of salt.