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------worried im about to buy a lemon------

I have an associate that is selling me his 2002 Ford Explorer. It is actually his fathers who 3 months ago abruptly found out he has stage 4 bone cancer, paylazed, and hast came home from the hospital since. He is now in hospice care facility being made comfortable till he passes. Now he is in his mid to late 50s and he used this SUV for work. He worked for a company that delivers tires to any surrounding areas. He quite often drove all the way deep into kentucky when his residence is hamilton, ohio. Constantly on the road for 9-12 hr shifts. So i do know he always kept up meticulous maitenance oh his vehicles because he made alot of money at his job and that was his livelihood. Now his son which also has cancer and is out of work. Has gotten power of attorney and is selling the SUV to me. Now the car says 277000 miles. But a new engine and transmission was put in the car between 77000-90000miles.Any and all repairs or maitenance routines was always done at a dealership. So i am told. I have not seen any papers on anything. He is going to try to find them. There is also supposed to be a warranty to
I am supposed to buy it tomorrow for 2000. I am a full time working single mother of two very young children. I cant afford another lemon and 2000 is way outta my price range but i said yes because of the extra assurance that nothing is wrong with it. I know nothing about cars at all. Am i getting a good deal? What is it worth? If transmission and engine really does only have 77000-90000 miles on it, is there any part that does have 277000 miles on it and that could leave me without a vehicle?

If “only” the engine and transmission have been replaced, the rest of the truck has 277000 miles on it and lots of parts are worn

But remember that those components were replaced almost 200000 miles ago, according to your math

I urge you to not buy this truck

I’m not suggesting it’s a lemon

But it’s got fairly high miles, and it’s admittedly had a hard life, even if it was well maintained

If you consider $2000 to be a lot of money for a vehicle, you are mistaken. Sadly, in that low price range, you will encounter many lemons

I think you should set aside more money for a vehicle . . . I would suggest spending at least $5000

You expect a 14 year old car with 277,000 miles will have no problems. This is simply an impossible expectation. This might be the best $2000 car in the world, but you need to budget $1500 a year for repairs on a car this old and with those miles.

This doesn’t sound like a plot to unload a lemon. John Lovitz played a character on Seinfeld that faked cancer to gain sympathy and a hair piece, one can never be too sure.

This is an old SUV that will undoubtedly need repairs sooner or later and unless you are capable of repairing vehicles you should consider something newer and smaller like a subcompact car.

Whoa…what a terrible family story… Prayers sent.

I always find it difficult to advise in these situations…since I am always prone to ignore minor items needing repair or attention. Since i can handle anything thrown at me…I might be a bad person to ask. However that being said… I dont think that this vehicle was known for major faults or failures in its day. I owned a 91’ 2 Door Sport model w 4WD and a manual. The truck simply NEVER let me down…not once…not ever…bought with 150K and it had 288K on the clock and climbing when I loaned it to a “friend” who crashed it for me after I just installed a new clutch a few months prior. Yes, “The White Buffalo” was VERY trouble free and a joy to own and operate… The manual trans can and will play a big part in providing trouble free operation as the usual weakest link is the Auto Transmission. More vehicles sit in the junk yard due to Auto trans failures than any other single item IMHO.

If the engine and trans were indeed NEW…and not used when installed. Then they both have 200K on the clock…Not an insubstantial number by any means, I assure you. I am willing to bet the engine and trans have been mostly trouble free during this persons stewardship… How many more miles should be demanded from this machinery ? How much longer can this vehicle provide trouble free operation ? How much longer can the rubber seals hold out before widespread leaks start popping up everywhere. Too many ticking time bombs here.

If you ask me…This truck owes NOBODY…ANYTHING ! Uncle Turbo stated it nicely with the expectations department.

NOW…if you were being GIVEN this vehicle for say a few hundred bucks ? I’d say sure go for it…minimal risk, minimal investment…and you could view all operation as a Win. I think the truck has the ability to throw down many more miles for you HOWEVER…You just really cannot pay much if ANYTHING at all for the thing. Miles are too high…everything that has been trouble free could need attention at any moment.

Get the thing for 2-300 Bucks (who knows, you’d be surprised sometimes) Just say I only have 500 dollars that I could even think of starting a savings for a new vehicle. Say you mean no insult but you only have 500 to play with currently and seemingly no hope of buying a “new to you” vehicle. Promise to give it a good home? See if they give it to you.

Explain the above and voice your concerns. Mention your personal hardships and that you just don’t have the funds at all. Too risky to take on a ticking time bomb and worry for your family. Again…promise to give it a good home and they may semi gift the truck to you. Cant hurt to try…it can only hurt to start having a domino effect of issues nearing 300K. Ive been GIFTED more vehicles than I have fingers and toes.


I agree with above, would not pay $2K for this car. It is not a lemon, but its best days are behind it. If you need reliable transportation, this is not the one. What bothers me is your budget of bellow $2K and the expectation to get a reliable car. This would have been possible 10 yrs ago but very difficult in today’s market.

Two years ago, we sold our then 15 yr old Dodge Caravan for 2K. It had close to 180K miles on it, original engine and transmission but needed repairs on a monthly basis. This is in California where used cars are a bit more expensive but would at least give you an idea.

Galant makes a great point. Not sure what your prior conversations were like but…instead of trying to convince the owners of all the problems that you anticipate… Just say that something came up and you now no longer have the money that you initially did. Even if this vehicle is running perfect now…there are things that inevitably have to wear out. Seals are going to start going bad and leaking…etc

Instead of discussing the Kelly Blue Book…just say that you only have about 500 at the moment…and you apologize for the trouble. I would compliment the High State that the truck has been maintained, the captains chair armrests for the driver if equipped, the In Command and High-Up driving position, the Utility and Adventures the vehicle seems to Beckon you on on with, how you always wanted an SUV. You wish you could own the truck but a few recent financial issues just occured. Let him know that you understand if he needs to find a new buyer. If you can grab this SUV in the Hundreds category and under 1K…all the trouble free miles you get will be a WIN…and you may be surprised at how long it runs without trouble. THAT IS…if you wish to own this truck…for a few hundred it could be worth the try…

You may find that they just want it to go to a good home more than anything else and damn near give it to you. Its not worth 2K…like we said…problems will inevitably begin to pop up on you…and your perception of the vehicle once the first Domino falls will quickly change into a Lemon feeling.

See what happens when you let them know that you are left with a few hundred bucks at the moment…and you wish YOU could be the one to love and care for this vehicle as well as his father did…the places it could have taken you…the enjoyment you could have had…your disappointment…etc You wish you could have been able to give this vehicle a Loving home. You may be in for a surprise.


There is one major ambiguity in your post: first you say new engine/trans at 77k-90k miles. Subtracting from 277k, that means the engine/trans has about 187k-200k miles on it.

Later you say transmission and engine really does only have 77k-90k miles on it.

I’ll assume the later, which is a much better case.

Given that, I’d only buy this car if you can get it for a much lower price and you can budget $1k to $2k a year for repairs. AND pay a good mechanic to check for other problems first, such as rust. AND get receipts for all the maintenance. If it was all done at a dealer, the dealer should have those records.

Just because he drove a lot does not mean the car received the required maintenance!!! I would stay away from this one; there are lots of vehicles with lower mileage and proof of good care.

The engine replacement sounds very suspicious.

The family story is tragic, but don’t let that influence your feeling s towards this vehicle.

I Like To Say That I Drive My Cars Until The Wheels Fall Off!
They never actually have and I usually get rid of them just before that could happen because of a combination of, age, miles, and rust. This car is right there.

The problem with buying a vehicle like this one is that if anything needs to be repaired, it just isn’t a good “investment” to put parts or labor into it because there may not be time left to amortize the “investment”. On the other hand, putting money into a younger machine will usually pay off.

I agree with @Docnick, “I would stay away from this one; there are lots of vehicles with lower mileage and proof of good care”.

However (and there are always howevers…) I will just point out that you are using the word “lemon” incorrectly.

A 15 year old vehicle with over a quarter of a million miles should not be considered a “lemon” no matter what kind of problems it has or may develop. It’s a well used sled…

I suspect this “new” engine and transmission you refer to are actually used units and even if those units are in outstanding mechanical condition that does not mean the 1000 other things that COULD go wrong will stay operative.
You seem to have this mindset that you can get perfection for 2 grand and the odds of that are about zero.

You also refer to an Ohio residence. That ALWAYS brings up the issue of iron oxide; a.k.a. rust which can be a killer of vehicles in the Rust Belt.

I apologize if I come across as a bit crass here but there’s a lot of story on a well used car being considered for purchase by a single mom with no mechanical expertise and you seem to have a number of assumptions about the car which could lead to disappointment at the least or horror at the worst.

As with all used vehicle stories sometimes the facts just don’t make sense. You could ship tires from Ohio to Kentucky for less money than you could pay someone to drive their personal vehicle there and back. I also agree this is not the kind of vehicle someone with limited funds needs.

There’s quite a bit of suspect story here even if the cancer bit is true. That would be the cost effectiveness of delivering tires “deep into Kentucky”, the bit about “going to try to find” any service papers, and the “supposed to be…” warranty.

I wonder exactly who is going to back this warranty because I certainly don’t see any warranty on a roughly 200k miles engine/trans being valid unless the seller is claiming that THEY will be the ones backing it up. That brings up the talk is cheap angle. :wink:

Offhand, I’d say that once the money changes hands that paperwork would never be found, any alleged warranty would be a joke, and getting hold of the seller would involve the same amount of difficulty that Diogenes went through…

I think the OP meant the engine & transmissions was replaced less than 100,000 miles ago . Even if that’s true the rest of the vehicle still has very high mileage which would make this a no deal for me .

GREAT POINT OK44 I meant to say this as well and sort of did in my own way of saying that this vehicle doesnt owe anyone anything… and thats the truth. How much more can we expect from a machine to give…it already passed the test if you ask me. Its no Lemon in my book either.

This is neither here nor there because most peoples declaration of “Lemon” stems mostly from being at the mercy of a shop or dealer when Air needs to be added to the tires. You should hear some of the complaints I listen to about vehicles and how they think they got a “Lemon” after they list all kinds of minor Preventive Maintenance problems that every machine simply requires…but to the new owner…they believe they bought a “Lemon”…when its not the vehicles reality or fault for things wearing out.

A true “Lemon” is a vehicle with major systemic failures when BRAND NEW. Like you said…NO vehicle with a quarter of a Million miles on the clock…can be a true “Lemon”…couldnt agree more and wish others understood this…but alas…tis not to be. This vehicle has long ago passed any suspicions of Bitter-Lemony-ness.

Its all about perspective methinks.


If all the maintenance was done at a dealership, then you can visit any Ford dealer and give them the VIN number and ask for their maintenance record for this vehicle. All maintenance records performed at a Ford dealer are kept on their computers.

Hamilton Ohio is near Cincinnati, Probably not much rust. However if $2000 is a stretch for you to buy a car, you probably can’t afford to own a car. No $2000 car is going to be reliable and free of repairs. Just brakes done at either end of a car run $600 if you have to pay to have them done and that is just maintenance not a repair.

Oldtimer is correct. You need to budget $1k or perhaps $2k for yearly maintenance.

“As with all used vehicle stories sometimes the facts just don’t make sense. You could ship tires from Ohio to Kentucky for less money than you could pay someone to drive their personal vehicle there and back. I also agree this is not the kind of vehicle someone with limited funds needs.”

+1 on all points!
Who transports tires–a few at a time in an SUV–when they could be transported in bulk by truck far more efficiently and for less money?

The OP should be VERY skeptical about some–if not all–of the assertions being made by the people who are selling this vehicle.

I would also be very skeptical of the warranty talk and the assurance that nothing is wrong with it.

It takes a very confident person to make claims like that on an aged, very high miles vehicle; or perhaps a person with few if any scruples.

Assuming it’s the former and there are problems. That warranty promise made verbally may be worth nothing. Even if it’s put into ink on paper with a signature and no outs it may mean nothing as that can easily lead to a “tough, sue me…” retort.

This could be made even worse if seller and buyer are in different states and negotiating across the border…

“Made a lot of money at his job…” which was delivering tires? Who knew there was hidden wealth in that field.