Considering the Vibe

General discussions about the Pontiac Vibe & Toyota Matrix. New members, introduce yourself here!
salinity
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Considering the Vibe

Postby salinity » Thu Oct 19, 2017 10:20 am

Hi all - long time (12 year) 95 Jeep Cherokee owner looking to slide into another vehicle more suited to my ~100mi/day commute (luckily only 3-4 days a week). I'm psyched there's a fairly active community of Vibe owners out here, as the Jeep community has been absolutely pivotal in keeping my Cherokee on the road for so long and has allowed me to do much of the work on it myself.

I've done a lot of reading and looking around and have settled on looking into picking up a Vibe (or **cough cough** Matrix). After looking at the want ads for a month or so, I found a dark grey 07 Base with 83,000 mi for under $4K - seems like a pretty reasonable price to me given the comps out there. It's apparently a one owner vehicle, owner says it's mechanically in great shape (of course) and he apparently has all the records. The car is an automatic (necessary for my wife to comfortably drive due to health), has cruise (necessary for my mental health on commutes), and power doors and locks. It is being sold by a private party and, while it may be possible, I'm not sure I'll be able to get it properly checked out by a professional mechanic given schedules, etc., before committing to buying it if I like it (he just dropped the price to $3700 so may have other suitors). However, I've become fairly adept at diagnosis and repair of my Cherokee, so I'm at least somewhat confident I could spot a major issue. I'm not concerned about brakes, water pumps, ac compressors, etc, as I think I could reasonably repair those myself.

My questions to the group are

(1) Is that a reasonable price point for a 07 base auto?
(2) Are there any issues I should be particularly keen to look for?
(3) For those of you who have tried it, are these cars reasonably easy to work on for the shady tree mechanic?

Any other feedback is greatly appreciated. Cheers!
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Caretaker
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby Caretaker » Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:00 am

Well, this board is not very active actually, so getting answers is not as easy as it used to be. Welcome.
I just used cars.com as my reality check and did not see your car for sale on there. Nonetheless, of the 6 cars I found nationwide under $6000, none of them came close to "yours" in terms of low mileage and the price you are looking at. For $3700, it is a no brainer, as long as the car has not been in a major accident and is tagged with a salvage title, nor has it had its airbags stuffed back into the dash for convenience. I really recommend you find the time to take it to a mechanic and have it put on a lift to ensure you are not buying a death trap. Other than that, if you can pepper the owner with really tough questions and get them answered to your satisfaction as the owner looks you in the eye, I'd say go for it. And knowing that the car is a Corolla with parts easily found around the world makes it that much more easy to work on. Let us know how it all works out.
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 **

salinity
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby salinity » Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:28 am

Caretaker wrote:Well, this board is not very active actually, so getting answers is not as easy as it used to be. Welcome...

Thanks for the response! Car was listed on Craigslist and, yeah, that's pretty much where I was at with the price - kind of like those buy one get one deals at the grocery store (well, I don't really need this now, but it's such a good deal and I'll probably need it soon enough!). And I hear you about the ideal scenario of having a mechanic check it out - certainly will entertain that if possible - I just have a feeling that may be hard to swing.

VIN checks show no accidents and it just passed RI state inspection and emission on May, so hopefully that's a reasonably good sign. I'll certainly update on how it goes!
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ehoff121
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby ehoff121 » Thu Oct 19, 2017 12:28 pm

Welcome to genvibe!

Saw the listing and, from the pics, I noticed minor cosmetic issues (cracked rear right hubcap, front passenger door molding needs a clip or two). No pics of the engine is a negative in my book- dirty engine = rough service life.

There are newer models listed for not much more $ that you might want to take a look at...
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby Caretaker » Thu Oct 19, 2017 5:10 pm

well, I think it looks very nice despite the minor crack on the rear wheel cover. I see that it still has the original radio which may be a bust given that 99% of the first generation OEM radios lose their light diodes rendering the screen all but useless. After that many miles, it looks like the paint was practically brand new. Having just scoured that entire area on Craigslist, Cargurus and Cars.com, I'm not seeing anything in that price range that isn't 165,000 miles. So I'm left thinking that the price is a bit too good to be true, especially if he/she had to lower it once already. Dealers should have jumped on it at $4,000. It should have sold in minutes at the price it is selling for now. Dealers troll these sites every day to find bargains so they can jack the price up $2,000 or more to keep their lights on and their kids in college.
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 **

salinity
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby salinity » Thu Oct 19, 2017 6:31 pm

ehoff121 wrote:Welcome to genvibe!

Saw the listing and, from the pics, I noticed minor cosmetic issues (cracked rear right hubcap, front passenger door molding needs a clip or two). No pics of the engine is a negative in my book- dirty engine = rough service life.

There are newer models listed for not much more $ that you might want to take a look at...

Cosmetics aren't much of an issue for me (you should see my 2-tone rattlecan roof on my Cheroke!). I'd probably strip the hubcaps off and black out the wheels anyhow (ideally using those for snows and get another set of lookers to mount the all-seasons on). I agree more and detailed pics would have been great, but luckily it's not too far from me to take a look at. From talking to the guy he sounds like he's not the most "involved" Craigslist seller - initially he only had the one picture of pretty much just the hood and only added the others after I emailed him requesting more pictures.

Caretaker wrote:well, I think it looks very nice despite the minor crack on the rear wheel cover...So I'm left thinking that the price is a bit too good to be true, especially if he/she had to lower it once already. Dealers should have jumped on it at $4,000. It should have sold in minutes at the price it is selling for now. Dealers troll these sites every day to find bargains so they can jack the price up $2,000 or more to keep their lights on and their kids in college.

Interesting thought about the dealers. The price *MAY* be too good to be true (for some currently unseen reason), or, hopefully, it may be a deal that just snuck under the radar (he lowered it from $3900 to $3700 after just a few days). I'm somewhat glad I can get there before the weekend - maybe I'll get lucky and get there before a dealer! I am prepared to walk though if it doesn't feel right.

Thanks for the responses thus far!
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andrewclaus
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby andrewclaus » Thu Oct 19, 2017 7:05 pm

It sounds like a good deal, at least in my town. I just picked up an '07 with 149K miles for $3300, right at the KBB value with deductions for a broken mirror and wheel cover.

It may be worthwhile paying for a VIN search at Carfax or similar.

I replaced the wheel covers with universal snap-ons. The mirror cost $25 and less than an hour's work. Mine also has some loose moulding. I bought a bag of 25 clips for $10 and will fix that tomorrow. So far I've been pleased with the availability of inexpensive parts, due to the Matrix/Corolla DNA.

salinity
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby salinity » Fri Oct 20, 2017 10:37 am

Welp, I came home without the Vibe. It was in decent condition - a few chinks in the armor (small dents by the drivers-side door handle, larger dent with no paint damage above the front wheel well, various small scratches, etc), but overall the body looked ok. All the power options (windows, lock, ac radio, etc) worked well. It was comfortable and was easy to drive. Engine felt good, though I did notice the engine moved when shifting from park or neutral to drive (with the brake on) - is this normal?

It did have just over 83,000 miles, though it didn't look driven much lately (cobwebs in the engine bay!). Undercarriage was ok - some rust / corrosion starting on some of the exposed parts of the frame, but nothing terrible and to be excpe ted for a New England car (could use some scraping / undercoating). Lots of routine maintenance service records and the oil was changed in August at 83000 mi (just about 600 put on since). Oil still looked fairly new on the stick.

What gave me pause was an audible chirping or whistling sound that presented itself after the engine warmed up only while in drive (or reverse) when sitting with the brake on (parking or pedal). Once you gave it gas, the chirp / whistle would stop and it wouldn't do it at all in neutral or park. I don't think it was the serpentine belt itself (otherwise I think it would chirp in park or neutral as well) and I'm not sure if it was a bearing from the serpentine-driven components at all (AC, water pump, power steering, crankshaft pulley or alternator) for that same reason. Anyone run across a similar issue like this? It's a strange one to me.

The belt-driven components look fairly difficult to replace, as they are mounted facing towards the side of the passangers compartment (I'm used to front facing components with ample space to pull them out). Thus, not being able to tell what that sound was, I walked away for now. I'm going to do some research as to what it may be and see if it's something I shoudl be concerned about. Supposedly another party is looking tomorrow so we'll see what happens.
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ehoff121
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby ehoff121 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:58 am

A whistling noise at low engine revs (not there at idle) that goes away when you rev higher could be a water pump bearing. From the write-ups here, it's not terrible to replace, but I haven't done mine yet.
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby Caretaker » Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:24 pm

Bingo ehoff. It probably is simply the water pump and/or the serpentine belt. Both are routine maintenance items frankly and will need to be done anyway. As long as there isn't a whirling noise when you are driving and the gears are shifting up/down. Everything you have described makes me think that you should go and buy it immediately, although for the life of me, I cannot understand why a dealer did not grab that up in a matter of hours when it was first posted. I had to fend off two dealers when I bought my Honda Fit some 4 hours drive away. I established a repore with the owner and he gave me first dibs even though I was his third call. Most owners have already been insulted by a dealer while attempting to get a trade in deal. After the insult, almost all owners would rather sell to you and me before ever turning the car over to a dealer knowing they simply will make $2,000 off of the low ball offer. With that in mind, I would ask lots of tough, right to the point questions about the car, especially transmission fluid and radiator fluid exchanges. If the radiator fluid has not been changed at regular intervals, it takes a toll on a water pump. As for the serpentine belt, just push your thumb down on it and make sure there isn't any free play. It should be tight as a drum. I'd go back today and beat out that other person. It isn't like you are going to talk them down in price any further. Think about it, but think fast.
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 **

salinity
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby salinity » Fri Oct 20, 2017 1:32 pm

Thanks for the thoughts, but, as much as it pains me to do so, I think I'm going to hold off at least for now. I've replaced water pumps (2) and mucked with serpentine belts and the pulley bearings a bunch on my Cherokee and something tells me its not one of those. I noticed the noise seemed loudest when I got down just about under the car on the drivers side (even with the transmission) - it also seemed more centered when trying to locate it from up in the engine bay than off to the passengers side. I tried the water on the belt trick (to diagnose belt slipping or glazed pulleys), but it didn't impact the chirp / squeak.

After a pretty thorough search on various car forums for similar symptoms (chirp/squeak/squeal only when stopped in D or R; not in P or N or while driving), some signs are pointing towards a possible bad or going bad torque converter. Because is does not make the chirp / squeak sound in neutral or park, but only in drive or reverse while stopped, to me, this indicates a possible transmission related issue. I'd love to think otherwise though - however, it may be too big of a gamble to take at this point. I haven't heard back from the seller, who told me he took it to a mechanic after I pointed out the issue to him.

Here's a truck forum thread with a pretty spot-on description of what I was experiencing in terms of symptoms:

https://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/1068 ... stion.html
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby Caretaker » Fri Oct 20, 2017 3:17 pm

wow, good call then. You really know your stuff. While the Vibe/Matrix is a very good vehicle, it certainly has not been, what I would call, bulletproof. Check out used Honda Fits if that size vehicle meets your needs. The Fit definitely is a step up in reliability to near perfection. I would not recommend the Fit for long distance vacations and is meant to be a spirited commuter car. Almost impossible to break them; OEM fluids are second to none; Jazz/Fit long term reliability, again, bulletproof.

Here's one in Cranston I'd take a hard look at:

https://providence.craigslist.org/cto/d/2010-honda-fit-sport-1-owner/6301425726.html
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 **

salinity
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby salinity » Fri Oct 20, 2017 4:55 pm

Caretaker wrote:wow, good call then. You really know your stuff. While the Vibe/Matrix is a very good vehicle, it certainly has not been, what I would call, bulletproof. Check out used Honda Fits if that size vehicle meets your needs. ...

I’m not quite ready to give up the Vibe / Matrix quest just yet - thankfully the Cherokee is still ticking, so for now time is on my side. We test drove a new Fit a couple years back - it didn’t really speak to us. I like the wider wheelbase of the Vibe and it just seems a bit beefier, which I like. My commute is long and on first blush, the Vibe seemed pretty comfortable. Of course, I’ve been doing it in a 22 year old boxy utility vehicle without cruise or AC for upwards of 4 years now, so comfort is quite relative.

At least now I have a bit of a baseline to judge others against.
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salinity
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby salinity » Sat Oct 21, 2017 9:05 am

A glimmer of hope...

Heard back from the seller - his mechanic thinks it may be worn engine mount(s). They reached this diagnosis by apparently noting the sound seemed to stop when putting weight on the engine. I did notice the engine "tilt" quite a bit when put in gear, though I didn't notice the vibration typically apparent with worn motor mounts (though, coming from my old Cherokee, anything less than bone rattling would probably go un-noticed anyhow). I suppose if the engine moves more than it should in gear, it could put stress on the transmission or other drive line components, resulting in the squeak in gear sound.

Seller is having the easiest to reach motor mount replaced to see if that resolves the issue. I imagine if one is bad, others need replacement too (maybe a negotiation point!). The fact that the seller is having the car checked out and some work done is a plus in my book. They are pretty obviously not trying to pull one over on any seller. That, plus having just about every piece of documentation on maintenance and work done from day one is a bit of reassurance. Motor mount parts won't be in til Monday or Tuesday, so stay tuned!
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby Caretaker » Sat Oct 21, 2017 9:53 am

Yep, almost 100% of private sellers try to not pull one over on their customers, especially when meeting at their house. In this day/age, giving your address away to an angry buyer is not smart. That is why most people who know something is wrong with their car will dump it on to a dealer. And of course we know that dealers know nothing about the cars (maintenance history) they are receiving and subsequently dump the cars on to the next pigeon.
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 **

salinity
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby salinity » Wed Oct 25, 2017 3:22 am

Well, I took the leap. Owner had the front engine mount replaced and, while it didn't alleviate the issue it was a bit lessened. I still think it may be related to the torque converter, but I noticed when one leans on the engine (or the fan kicks on) the chirp stops. There is still some tilt from the motor when put in drive, so other mounts may need replacing. There was also some vibration at idle that also could be related to the chirp, so cleaning the throttle body will be my first go at resolving the issue (as well as eliminating the belt and pulleys).

83,000 miles, new tires, religious oil changes every 3-4k miles (all documentation from day 1 - including the newspaper ad touting the Pontiac Vibe!). I just felt good enough about that part of it to take on figuring out the idle chirp issue. And for $3400, I figure I have at least a little extra to throw at it if necessary. Heck, if it turns out to the be torque converter and I can get that done for around $1000 I'll still be right around blue book.

I have a long bus ride to the DMV then back up to the sellers place to grab the car. Had a dream it broke down on the way home - let's hope that doesn't come true!
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andrewclaus
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby andrewclaus » Wed Oct 25, 2017 3:57 am

While cleaning the TB, do the MAF, too (with the correct cleaner, of course). That smoothed out the idle nicely for me.

I cleaned the TB with alcohol and a cloth. I learned from working on a Prius it wasn't a good idea to spray cleaner all over the place on that car. I don't know if that warning applies to the Vibe.

I also plan on a Seafoam treatment on my next highway trip.

Good luck with yours. I'm enjoying my "new" Vibe so far. I wish mine had such good records.

salinity
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby salinity » Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:58 am

andrewclaus wrote:While cleaning the TB, do the MAF, too (with the correct cleaner, of course). That smoothed out the idle nicely for me.

I cleaned the TB with alcohol and a cloth. I learned from working on a Prius it wasn't a good idea to spray cleaner all over the place on that car. I don't know if that warning applies to the Vibe.

Thanks for the info. Any good sources out there to guide this process (pictures, cleaners etc)? I’m not yet familiar with the layout of this engine.
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby vibrologist » Wed Oct 25, 2017 6:57 am

Congrats, Salinity!
Have a look at the Maintenance Bay for articles and videos related to you new to your Vibe: viewtopic.php?f=20&t=44875
I bet that the chirps will be gone when you have all new engine/transmission mounts. I've read that the rear mount is critical and of course the hardest to replace. Still doable though.
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salinity
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby salinity » Wed Oct 25, 2017 1:46 pm

vibrologist wrote:Congrats, Salinity!
Have a look at the Maintenance Bay for articles and videos related to you new to your Vibe: viewtopic.php?f=20&t=44875
I bet that the chirps will be gone when you have all new engine/transmission mounts. I've read that the rear mount is critical and of course the hardest to replace. Still doable though.

Thanks! I poked around with a mechanics stethoscope and the noise, while barely perceptible when I was out there, may be coming more from the header to exhaust area - so I’m hoping it’s a heat shield or something. That would be AWESOME. I actually thought that area was where the motor meets the transmission - my RWD bias showing through, as it’s nowhere near the torque converter (not that sounds don’t travel in strange ways in an engine).

I did notice the roof over the rear seats seems oddly “loose” - is this typical? It sounds like a loud sheet metal whomp when the back doors are closed. It was actually somewhat dented and I pushed it up from inside the car - I wonder if a support is broken.
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andrewclaus
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby andrewclaus » Wed Oct 25, 2017 3:03 pm

salinity wrote:
andrewclaus wrote:While cleaning the TB, do the MAF, too (with the correct cleaner, of course). That smoothed out the idle nicely for me.

I cleaned the TB with alcohol and a cloth. I learned from working on a Prius it wasn't a good idea to spray cleaner all over the place on that car. I don't know if that warning applies to the Vibe.

Thanks for the info. Any good sources out there to guide this process (pictures, cleaners etc)? I’m not yet familiar with the layout of this engine.


I left the TB on the car, removed the air intake from it after loosening clamps. The MAF is on top of the intake just before the TB, and comes out of the intake easily with two small Phillips screws after unplugging the wiring harness. Be sure to get the sensor out of the intake for cleaning with MAF spray, both the sensor bulb and heater wires. I cleaned the TB with some denatured alcohol on a cloth, and used a toothbrush (my wife's of course) to scrub deposits off the plate and around the shaft. It's a motor-operated throttle, so you need to open it from inside the TB. There should be generic Youtube videos on this, too.

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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby vibrologist » Thu Oct 26, 2017 7:31 am

did notice the roof over the rear seats seems oddly “loose” - is this typical? It sounds like a loud sheet metal whomp when the back doors are closed. It was actually somewhat dented and I pushed it up from inside the car - I wonder if a support is broken.

it should not be loose. Somehow the PO managed to bend it. I have not taken a headliner out yet but it should be quite easy. You have to remove the upper level trim pieces. Most of them are clipped in place. Then remove the visors and dome lights and it should drop in your hands. your options would be to replace it or glue some form of reinforcement to the back.
If you can find a Vibe in a you-pull you could "practice" there first. In fact you could practice on any Toyota of similar vintage.

Thinking of it : I have an untraceable rattle occurring at times. I thought it was the headliner but it may actually be the rear bumper cover. Indeed , noises can move in strange ways.
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby vibenvy » Sun Nov 05, 2017 10:12 am

Welcome to GenVibe! Congrats on the "new" Vibe! Post some pictures of it when you get a chance ;)!
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2009 Liquid Platinum Metallic Vibe GT - 5-Speed Auto – Garage
2009 Steel Blue Metallic Vibe GT - 5-Speed Auto – Garage

salinity
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby salinity » Sun Nov 05, 2017 11:00 am

vibenvy wrote:Welcome to GenVibe! Congrats on the "new" Vibe! Post some pictures of it when you get a chance ;)!

Here's one I took after putting the rack on yesterday...
IMG_1240.JPG
IMG_1240.JPG (148.05 KiB) Viewed 903 times


Got underneath to properly look around this morning (chasing a rattle described in another thread) and found a bit more rust / corrosion than I'd like to see (particularly on the lower ball joints and around the wheel bearing covers / control arm / sub frame - the passenger side dust shield was pretty much crumbling away as well). I decided to try and wire brush away as much as I could and get a couple coats of rattle can Rustoleum on it before the winter to try and offer a bit of protection (shielding the brake drum, of course). Maybe in the spring I'll try to replace the lower ball joints (castle nut looks pretty rough) and try to rust-bust a bit more thoroughly and get some proper undercoating on there.
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby vibenvy » Sun Nov 05, 2017 1:34 pm

Lookin' good!
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2009 Liquid Platinum Metallic Vibe GT - 5-Speed Auto – Garage
2009 Steel Blue Metallic Vibe GT - 5-Speed Auto – Garage

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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby ehoff121 » Mon Nov 06, 2017 11:56 am

Totally random on the squeaking near the water pump at lower RPM-

I went to figure out where my squeak was coming from, but noticed a possible oil leak from the head gasket. I figured I'd clean the oil from the pulley side of the engine with brake cleaner first with the engine running to make sure it wasn't leaking. Some overspray got on the belt and pulleys.

When I went to check for the squeak-- silence. :shock:

Maybe there was just enough oil/dirt on the belt/pulleys to make it slip for just that RPM range?
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salinity
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Re: Considering the Vibe

Postby salinity » Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:08 pm

ehoff121 wrote:Totally random on the squeaking near the water pump at lower RPM-

I went to figure out where my squeak was coming from, but noticed a possible oil leak from the head gasket. I figured I'd clean the oil from the pulley side of the engine with brake cleaner first with the engine running to make sure it wasn't leaking. Some overspray got on the belt and pulleys.

When I went to check for the squeak-- silence. :shock:

Maybe there was just enough oil/dirt on the belt/pulleys to make it slip for just that RPM range?
anything on the belt would certainly do that (a big reason why belt “dressings” are crap).

I’ve isolated the sound I’ve got to likely from the exhaust manifold area - seems to be caused by engine vibration at lower rpms and I can stop it by applying pressure on the exhaust by the cat. There’s a bolt missing from the lower manifold shield, so I’m going to hose clamp it tight next time I’m under there.
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