Considering buying an 03 Vibe. General questions

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aholeinthewor1d
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Considering buying an 03 Vibe. General questions

Post by aholeinthewor1d » Fri Dec 07, 2018 8:23 am

There's an 03 vibe for sale at a small dealer near me. It's the AWD automatic mode with 80k miles. I stopped there last night when it was dark to take a quick look and it looks in very nice shape inside and out. The dealer also sent me a video this morning and said everything works and it has a clean title. Before I'd purchase I would have someone local look it over but I just want to know what things I should specifically check? He is asking $3,500.

From what I can find it looks like people complain about the paint and/or clear coat on the first gens especially the 03s? The entire car is in very nice condition besides some clear coat peeling on the very back. If I purchased how could I get this to stop so it doesn't get worse? I know it's a cheap car that should run a long time but I still would prefer to keep it as nice as possible

Any general info or things to look out for specifically for the 03 AWD? Also how much of a difference in MPG am I looking at compared to the 2wd? Thanks

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Caretaker
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Re: Considering buying an 03 Vibe. General questions

Post by Caretaker » Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:11 am

I get the heebeegeebees every time I see the word dealer written. Anyway, as I recall, we used to take a big hit on mpgs on our '03 AWD. Something like 22-24 mpg around town versus the 28-30 I get with my non AWD vibe (second gen). Since Charlie the used car dealer will know nothing about any of the cars on his lot and how they were maintained, I'd caution you on such a purchase. At 16 years of age, I'd try to convince you on putting that money towards a slightly newer Vibe with more miles. Age kills cars; mileage does not. I would like to see you buy any car for that matter, from an individual who can tell you about the maintenance history of their "one owner car." Good luck.
Live it up: There will be plenty of time to be old when you die.
** 2009 Vibe: 1.8 liter automatic **
** 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring **
** 2007 Honda Fit Sport **

hogdoctor
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Re: Considering buying an 03 Vibe. General questions

Post by hogdoctor » Sat Dec 08, 2018 4:48 am

I have an 04 awd. 25mpg average mixed driving, 33 mpg is the best I've seen all freeway miles. The extra momentum and weight of an extra 400 pounds of driveline make the difference. If you don't need the AWD and are handy with a wrench, just take out the AWD bits for when you do need it, or sell off those parts to defray the investment in the car. I can't speak much to paint, but some colors fare better than others, I have salsa red and see no fading, the dark blue ones seem to be the worst affected. Ask for the carfax report to confirm mileage tracking, it's very easy to swap an instrument panel and fake the mileage. (the ECM doesn't store the odometer) I would suggest a compression test on the engine, and a scan tool to check for any pending trouble codes and any other red flags in the computer. Make sure it rolls, accelerates and brakes in a straight line, no vibration at speed, shifts through all the gears, heat and AC work, no leaks, check the date codes on the tires. Run it through a car wash to check for leaks. If everything checks out, and odometer is legit, I'd buy it.

aholeinthewor1d
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Re: Considering buying an 03 Vibe. General questions

Post by aholeinthewor1d » Mon Dec 10, 2018 11:53 am

Caretaker wrote:I get the heebeegeebees every time I see the word dealer written. Anyway, as I recall, we used to take a big hit on mpgs on our '03 AWD. Something like 22-24 mpg around town versus the 28-30 I get with my non AWD vibe (second gen). Since Charlie the used car dealer will know nothing about any of the cars on his lot and how they were maintained, I'd caution you on such a purchase. At 16 years of age, I'd try to convince you on putting that money towards a slightly newer Vibe with more miles. Age kills cars; mileage does not. I would like to see you buy any car for that matter, from an individual who can tell you about the maintenance history of their "one owner car." Good luck.

Thanks for the response! I had the exact same concerns and I've been looking non stop for a nice private party matrix/vibe in my area but not having any luck. I decided to skip the 2003 AWD I mentioned above. I found this 2004 vibe this morning. https://www.expressautomall.com/invento ... s/48941115

I should mention I am in PA and this dealer is in NJ (hour and a half away). I called a Midas about 5 minutes from this dealer and they would look it over for me for $24. Basically they can check all things a PA inspection would. So I would have to hope they catch any issues and hope that it passes a PA inspection once I get it home.

I called the dealer and like you mentioned they don't know much. He said it has new tires and he drove it a few times and everything is fine. The pictures make it look like it's in very nice condition and the CARFAX doesn't throw up any red flags and it's a 1 owner. I see SOOO many different prices for vibe's/matrix's so it's hard to know if it's a decent deal or not... assuming I got it for $3,500 cash. Then I'd bring it home to PA and pay 6% sales tax and title/registration fees which are $195. Then a PA inspection which is about $50

I wish I could find a private party here in PA but like I said I haven't had any luck. I am considering going to look at it tomorrow morning and take it to the Midas to see what they say.

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Caretaker
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Re: Considering buying an 03 Vibe. General questions

Post by Caretaker » Mon Dec 10, 2018 12:15 pm

Make sure you are checking every possible site:

cars.com
cargurus.com
autotrader.com
craigslist.org
I just saw something called autolist.com

There likely are others. I just did a search on the terms used car websites. And don't forget to do a nationwide search. Once you establish a repore with the owner over the phone, they might be located in a place a couple of hours drive away or a plane ride to a warm destination that will get you out of the snow for a few days. It is worth the journey once you ask the owner all the hard questions and knowing that you can use repairpal.com to find a mechanic near that owner so you can pay for a professional examination of the car.
Live it up: There will be plenty of time to be old when you die.
** 2009 Vibe: 1.8 liter automatic **
** 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring **
** 2007 Honda Fit Sport **

zbyers
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Re: Considering buying an 03 Vibe. General questions

Post by zbyers » Mon Dec 10, 2018 12:55 pm

For potential issues, the biggest concerns are always rust, rust, rust. The most common locations on a vibe are under the rear hatch glass and the bototm lip of the hatch, the front side of the rear wheel well connecting to the rocker, and above/around the windshield. Contrary to others, I feel $3500 is fair if the car is in good shape. If you have someone independently inspect it before purchase and it checks out, it'd probably be worth it.
(2) '03 Bases, '03 GT, '04 AWD, '06 AWD, '07 Base, '09 AWD
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tpollauf
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Re: Considering buying an 03 Vibe. General questions

Post by tpollauf » Mon Dec 10, 2018 1:25 pm

Here's my take on this latest 04 Vibe you're considering. Mileage is probably legitimate, rims have minor salt/brine corrosion which is normal for those of us driving in snow belt areas. Looks like the rear passenger door/cladding was repainted (doesn't match the rest of the car). My biggest concern would be the manual 5-speed transmission. I'm pretty sure this run of Vibes where the ones with bearing failure inside the transmissions. Don't know if there would be a way to drain/fill, inspect the transmission BEFORE it were to fail! Not an expert on that one. Price is a bit on the high side. Offer them $3k If all inspections pass with flying colors. They likely only paid the prior owner $2k trade in so they'll still make money. With gas under $2/gallon (at least for us in NW Ohio) and everyone wanting bigger gas guzzler cars, it's a good time to "haggle a bit" on prices for smaller cars.
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aholeinthewor1d
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Re: Considering buying an 03 Vibe. General questions

Post by aholeinthewor1d » Thu Dec 13, 2018 4:26 pm

tpollauf wrote:Here's my take on this latest 04 Vibe you're considering. Mileage is probably legitimate, rims have minor salt/brine corrosion which is normal for those of us driving in snow belt areas. Looks like the rear passenger door/cladding was repainted (doesn't match the rest of the car). My biggest concern would be the manual 5-speed transmission. I'm pretty sure this run of Vibes where the ones with bearing failure inside the transmissions. Don't know if there would be a way to drain/fill, inspect the transmission BEFORE it were to fail! Not an expert on that one. Price is a bit on the high side. Offer them $3k If all inspections pass with flying colors. They likely only paid the prior owner $2k trade in so they'll still make money. With gas under $2/gallon (at least for us in NW Ohio) and everyone wanting bigger gas guzzler cars, it's a good time to "haggle a bit" on prices for smaller cars.

I noticed the color difference from the pics also but honestly I'm not really sure? I didn't notice anything in person although honestly I completely forgot about that when I was there. Overall it's in nice shape with some minor issues. Exterior (front left corner) has two small marks and you can tell they ran into something but it's not major at all. Hardly noticeable but the body pieces have a small gap. Besides that just a few scratches here and there. Like you said the wheels are bubbling up and flaking but don't look horrible. No rust on the body from what I can tell. Interior is exceptionally clean besides a scratch on the glove box door and the master window switch on the drivers door is loose. I already looked into that and it's a $10 piece to replace because the clip broke. I drove it for 30 minutes and noticed no issues. Shifted fine and no funny noises. I talked myself out of it yesterday so I didn't get it looked at but I would before I bought it. AC seemed to work.. compressor turned on every time I pressed the AC button and it got nice and cold (although it's winter). Also the hood latch is messed up. The guy had to mess with it for a little with a screw driver to get it to shut.. to me it looked like the latch on the car was just rusty so that shouldn't be a big deal to fix. Overall it seemed like a really well kept car. Besides what I mentioned the interior is pretty much perfect. no rips, stains, etc. The back area is nice also and not all scratched up. All compartment doors and spare tire are there.

Now that you mention the transmission thing I kind of remember hearing about that and you have me worried now..

I was on the fence and text the guy this morning pointing out some of the flaws and offered him $3,200 and he said yes.. he called twice and emailed me I haven't responded yet. Really not sure if I should pass on this or take a chance if it checks out at Midas down the street from the dealer

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joatmon
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Re: Considering buying an 03 Vibe. General questions

Post by joatmon » Fri Dec 21, 2018 12:29 pm

I've had two 03 bases, one 5 speed and one auto. I had the 5 speed bearing issue. No fun. Got the 5 speed for better mpg's, any money saved on gas obliterated by cost of new tranny.

Also factor a clutch replacement into the potential cost of any used manual tranny car, you won't know what shape it's in or how the previous owner (s) drove, and it might be a week or ten years from hitting the critical wear stage of slipping. (Funny, but my auto correct had changed that from "wear stage" to "swear stage," inadvertently appropriate )

Stick can be more fun to drive ,but not stop and go in a hilly area.

The auto tranny in these has been quite reliable

Bookworm
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Re: Considering buying an 03 Vibe. General questions

Post by Bookworm » Tue Dec 25, 2018 6:43 pm

My FWD 2003 Pontiac Vibe is still 'on the road' (sort of). (The current person using it was changing the tensioner, and one bolt sheared off inside the block. So, I suggested he use a collar sleeve on a drill bit to tap a bolt remover hole without damaging threads. He'll be working on that this weekend)

In any case, here are the issues I have had.

1) about 2 years after windshield replacement, it started to leak water at the A pillar/headliner joint.
2) on its third starter motor.
3) several serpentine belts
4) at least two, maybe three complete coolant changes, plus drain an fills, plus -
5) Radiator replacement (Cracked at the top plastic)
6) Radio went black and stopped playing CDs (he replaced that)
7) Replacement shocks
8) Front end replacements (sway bar linkage, ball joints (fell apart), and a few other things)
9) Two motor mounts replaced.
10) Heater core failure (cut and bypassed. No heat inside, but it runs fine. Why GM/Toyota didn't make a metal plate with core that bolts on in the engine compartment I'll never know. That'd make the 'tear the entire cabin apart for 9 hours' a thirty minute job without compromising anything)
11) Replaced catalytic converter and oxygen sensors (www.discountconverter.com - great price for a _good_ catalytic converter system. They even cut me a deal on price, as I live about 15 streets away from their Houston office. Paid for it, no shipping charge as they just loaded it on their usual Dallas to Houston truck, since I wasn't in a hurry. )
12) Four sets of spark plugs over 300,000 miles.

Plus normal wear and tear, dents and scrapes, replacing tires every year or so, full set of wheel replacements, and so forth. (Oh, yeah. Plus at least three door handles that exploded in my hands)

I'll do a small amount of contradiction to an earlier post. On these cars, mileage kills more than age, at least for major mechanical. Even the gaskets were only torn up in one location when I stopped driving it two years ago. No idea of the current mileage, because the odometer stopped.

I think I replaced more parts on my wife's 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix, and it didn't even make it to 200,000 miles.

Hope this helps anyone looking.

BW (Currently driving 2007 Pontiac Vibe)

zbyers
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Re: Considering buying an 03 Vibe. General questions

Post by zbyers » Wed Dec 26, 2018 4:29 am

Bookworm wrote:My FWD 2003 Pontiac Vibe is still 'on the road' (sort of). (The current person using it was changing the tensioner, and one bolt sheared off inside the block. So, I suggested he use a collar sleeve on a drill bit to tap a bolt remover hole without damaging threads. He'll be working on that this weekend)(Currently driving 2007 Pontiac Vibe)
Mine did the same thing. I made a write up somewhere on here showing what I did to take care of it. I used a left handed drill bit and easy out thing to yank out it out of the block. I had to get a right angle drill.
(2) '03 Bases, '03 GT, '04 AWD, '06 AWD, '07 Base, '09 AWD
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