I had been looking for a vehicle for several months (to replace a slowly dying Chevy pickup). I started looking at Honda Elements, then discovered the Toyota Matrix. On the same day my finances finally came together, I saw an ad for a 2008 Pontiac Vibe with only 101k miles. Most other Matrixes in that price range had 180k miles. This one had a 5 speed, was my preferred color of white, and even had a sunroof. Cool.
It was at a dealer 4 hours away, but I arranged for them to deliver it to me (my old truck couldn't go 10 miles without overheating). I had originally planned for the dealer to deliver it to a local auto shop, so they could give it a quick inspection before I signed for it.
Now this was an independent shop that had been in business for over 30 years. They had done work for me before. They weren't the cheapest place in town, but had a reputation for doing quality work and getting the job done right.
So I went to the shop to ask if they could do a pre-buy inspection for me? But as soon as I said "Pontiac Vibe" the shop owner immediately said to forget it, those cars are complete junk! I said "But they're just a relabeled Toyota Matrix. They're mostly made out of Corolla parts." The shop owner told me that was complete nonsense, Toyota and Pontiac hated each other, there is no such thing as a Pontiac that has Toyota parts in it!"
He then proceeded to tell me the story of a friend of his, that teaches Auto Repair at a High School, who bought a Vibe for his daughter. That car was a disaster, because you couldn't order any parts for it. They couldn't even find a battery cable for it, so they had to fabricate one themselves.
He took me over to his computer and looked up Pontiac Vibe. He showed me where battery cables were no longer available. Common parts like power window motors were no longer available. He said that, even if the car supposedly had a Toyota engine in it, that didn't matter. The rest of the car was made by Pontiac, it had AC Delco parts that you couldn't get anymore because Pontiac was out of business. So, for example, if the Engine Control Unit died, I'd just have to throw the car away because I'd never be able to find an ECU to replace it.
Well, I left the shop wondering if my earlier research had been wrong and I should call off the deal? Stayed up half the night researching Vibes more carefully. This forum, in particular, showed that, yes, Toyota parts fit just fine on a Vibe. So thanks, everyone, for all your helpful posts.
I had the car delivered the next day. I hooked up my new OBD2 scanner to it and found no error codes. The car was exceptionally clean, no visible sign of replaced fenders or body damage (it had a clean Carfax report). I've had it a few weeks now and the only problem was failing to start one day (the battery was 6 1/2 years old, no problems since I put a new battery in it). I was pleasantly surprised to find that replacing the battery did not require unlocking the radio or having to take it to a dealer to get various and sundry electronics reprogrammed.
There was also a plastic fairing underneath the engine that was loose (only fastened down on one side). I took it to the local Toyota dealer and their parts guy gave me a couple of little plastic fasteners for free, and one of their techs popped them into place in about 30 seconds.
And the Vibe is a blast to drive! Much more fun than a Honda Fit I had some years back.
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