Think I bought a Lemon..


Old 05-24-05, 06:33 PM
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Unhappy Think I bought a Lemon..

Hi Everyone...

Here is my story.. please help with any thougts or advice.. Thank you!

I just bought a 1989 Oldsmobile Chrysler Ciera. It has only 85000 original miles on it. Upon purchasing the vehicle I heard a noise in the engine. The gentleman told me this was his grand daughters car from when she was in high school and he showed me a bunch of recent reciepts of repairs he made himself. (simple things like spark plugs.)

He told me had the noise checked out. Makes the car sound like it is a diesel engine. He said that it has something to do with the exhaust but that the mechanic he took it too said not to worry about it.. it's minor.. don't put the money in if you are selling it. So he didn't.

It also had AC problems that I got fixed today.

I took the car to a mechanic today who did extensive testing on the car.
He said that I need a new engine. (I only paid 1000 for the darn thing.)
He put in some stuff he called "honey" while he was doing the oil change and he said it makes it thicker.. he knew I couldn't afford that expensive repair so he said that would help, a little, to extend the life of it. He did an oil change.
He also said that some of the noise was the engine "pushing down on the exhaust." He said that was a repair that is signifigantly less but that it wouldn't do me anygood with the other problem.. that it would only alleviate the noise. He said not to take it on the highway at all and baby it as much as possible to extend the life of the engine.

On the way home... depressed and bawling my eyes out.. I stopped by another mechanic... I did not tell him what the other one said.. I just wanted another opinion... He didn't do any tests.. but he popped the hood.. saw the engine shaking a bit.. heard the noise.. and suggested that it was the motor mount that needed to be replaced and that it was also expensive to do.

Then I left.. called oldsmobile service and told them everything that was said by the two mechanics... this service tech said that it doesn't make sense to say that the engine is on the exhaust like the first mechanic said. He said he could test it for a fee.. (Again with the fees...)

I am a single mom.. no help from any source and growning broke quickly...
This car is all we have for me to get to work.. it is 108 degrees here in Tucson and riding the bus is not an option.. my little girl has health problems and we often need to drive the the children's hospital 2-3hrs away for her care and check ups. My house is falling apart.. and this couldn't be a worse time to have to deal with a major car repair bill.

Any advice on why my car sounds like a diesel.. what could the knocking noise be.. and why is the engine shaking.. would help us alot.

The car runs absolutely perfectly, starts and stops perfectly, and other than the very very noisy engine... it seems perfect. Please help us out...

Thanks for your time and compassion in this matter...
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Old 05-24-05, 07:23 PM
Jason R's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 261
Did the mechanic who decided it was time for a new engine say why?

Did the mechanic who told you a motor mount needed replaced say how much the repair would be?

Do you know what engine you have in the car? It might help someone here give a ballpark figure as to how much replacing the motor mounts would be.

Used to be a high school girl's car.... I don't know if that was supposed to make the car sound more reliable or not .

Unless you personally know someone who will crawl around under your car and give a more exact diagnosis you're going to have to have some money to get a professional to do it.

You may be able to find a place that will set up a payment plan if you agree that they also do the work to fix what you end up wanting fixed after the inspection. I almost always fix my own vehicles so I have no idea if there are actually businesses that will do that.

You can, and absolutely should, ask for assistance from various possible places that can help you pay for necessary repairs; especially given the fact that you're a parent of a daughter with special needs. Do not be afraid to ask for help. You will very likely be able to find the necessary people to talk to at the hospital. If you regularly go to a certain hospital you should call there and explain your situation to a nurse or doctor who you know and trust. They will gladly guide you in the right direction.
Old 05-24-05, 10:48 PM
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The mechanic who said the engine needed to be replaced said it was a cylinder. I don't know for sure.. I haven't slept in several days.

The mechanic who said the motor mount needed replacing said that it would cost about 800.

The highschool girl comment was just that.. a comment that was said to me when I bought the car. The other mechanics cringed when I told them this..
I assume... it is because she probably didn't take care of it.. Obviously.

It is a 3.3 liter engine.. and I wasn't sure if I should put that because I thought maybe someone would say "yes we already know that," given the fact that I described the car.

There are no resources to help in my area. I have exhuasted all leads for any kind of help for me and my kid.. but thanks for thinking of that... most people wouldn't have. Thank you.

I don't know anyone to go under the car.. my family lives 2000 miles away as do my friends... This is where her doctors are... yes docs are everywhere.. but she has specific ones that aren't everywhere.. So this is where we now live.

I just need some opinions on what this could be.. if it is at all possible that this is something simple that maybe.. just maybe.. I might be able to do myself or cheaply. If anyone has ever heard of this type of problem with a similar vehicle.. please respond with any advice.

Thanks for your time and for reading my post...
Old 05-25-05, 08:25 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Cape Cod
Posts: 4,320
Originally Posted by qtpa2ts
Any advice on why my car sounds like a diesel.. what could the knocking noise be.. and why is the engine shaking.. would help us alot.
Knocking and shaking and sounds like a diesel, and one mechanic says it needs a new cylinder and another put some honey in the engine

I'm assuming the honey is an STP-like treatment and was an attempt to quiet a rod knock
I'm assuming what the other mechanic said was it's not firing on one of the cylinders, or you've "dropped" a cylinder

Hard to say for sure w/o seeing it
But I think you did buy a car that has a serious mechanical problem

My personal thought is run, don't walk, but run away before being tempted to put another dime into the car
Sell it, trade it, give it away
Unless you want to fill the engine with STP and drive it till it dies (which is a option I'd personally consider)

My reasoning is based on personal experience with this vintage Cutlass (admittedly more the Supreme and the Buick Regal)
They were designed for old people who drove low miles, took it to the dealer for oil and spark plug changes, and traded it in after 3 years
These are not good DIY vehicles, and not long lasting vehicles, and not cheap to work on vehicles
They do not suffer the "occasional maintenance" owner well, so if the high schooler did not change the oil every 3K that's just fuel to the fire

I would not recommend the vehicle to a puttering DIY buddy who likes to do his own brakes and spark plugs
I would say it's a very, very, bad choice for a single mom
And that's w/o the rod knock

Please don't think I'm just ranting, I want to impress upon you my opinion out of concern for you
It's so much easier to think "Oh I have to fix this, I don't have the money to get a new car"
"I can't afford it"
I really think you can't afford this car
I think every 2 months something else will need fixing
And the mechainics will all say stuff like "Well, normaly it's XXX, but on your car...."
I think over the next year you will pay more to mechanics than a cheap (more reliable) used car would cost you

I love the pre-FWD Cutlasses and none of this applies to them
If it was in fact properly maintained, and this isn't a rod knock, this car may be good for a few more years

I hope someone pops up with an easy fix for you, but if not, please take my advice into consideration
Old 05-25-05, 09:15 AM
Join Date: May 2001
Posts: 516
OK single mom here is something that won't cost anything to try. Get yourself a pair of heavy leather gloves, take the car and a helper to a dark place and with the engine off pull one spark plug wire and hold it close to the engine (1/4 inch away) have your helper start the engine and look for spark from that wire and the other wires. You may have an intermittant misfiring. It could be something as simple as a bad plug wire. If you get no change in running condition after pulling a wire suspect the wire before you get into any major repairs.
Old 05-25-05, 10:47 AM
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Livonia, Michigan
Posts: 923 burns me up to hear these stories, and at the same time I couldn't sell my impeccably maintained, perfectly working 91 Tracer 61K for $1500.
Old 05-25-05, 11:33 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 28
My two cents...... If an engine mount is totally busted then
the engine might be rubbing the exhaust and thats your whole
problem. I don't know the cost of any engine mount for your car
but the whole bile parts and labor shouldn't be over $125.00. but
that's another story. Get someone to help and then have them
start the car with the hood up. Make sure you are stand to the
side of the car. Have them put it in gear with the engine running.
If the engine trys to jump out of the car when they put it in gear
then it is a bad engine mount. Realize that it will move some when
they put it in gear but it won't jump. Like I said, just my two cents.

Oops, make sure they have their foot on the brake when they put it
in gear.

Last edited by ivantt; 05-25-05 at 11:35 AM. Reason: left info off
Old 05-25-05, 11:51 AM
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Thank You

I will try everything suggested... if that doesn't work... Then anyone who wants the car can happily find it in the ocean in Rocky Point Mexico. JK

Thanks to all of you for your suggestions.. I wish you were all here and could stand around and stare at it and put your heads together...and fix the darn thing and I would supply all the beer, and dancing girls...

As for the guy with the truck for sale.. I WISH I BOUGHT IT!

Thanks.. and keep that advice coming.. I really really appreciate it!
Old 05-25-05, 12:04 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: SW Fla USA
Posts: 11,571
Any chance there is a Vo-Tech in your area with an automotive section? Might be able to get another opinion without spending much $$$.
Old 05-25-05, 12:06 PM
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That's a fantastic idea....
They all just graduated though... Maybe the instructor can help..
Old 05-25-05, 02:13 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 261
If the engine runs great I doubt it's a misfire.

I have absolutely no experience with this car... sounds like it's just a bad design. Sort of like the sideways V-8 in some caddies.

Usually hospitals will have a caseworker that will have some solution for you, even if it's arranging for assistance via public transportation. My sister in law recently had a stroke and the hospital has been immensely helpful in getting the ball rolling as far as assisting her with her necessity expenses.

I can't imagine there's no help available. That would be a shame given your circumstances.

I like the idea about looking under the hood while someone (with his or her foot on the brake) shifts the car between drive and reverse. That will show you how much the engine can move around. That price for changing the motor mount is outrageous! This car must be a real bear to work on. Also, if the noise is really a rattle from the engine hitting the exhaust then the noise will almost certainly change when the engine changes position. So if the motor does move around a lot when itís shifted from drive to reverse, but the noise doesnít change at all, then itís probably not the exhaust rattling that is making the noise.

The diesel knocking would be hard to pin down to a rattling exhaust due to a broken motor mount. But it's possible. I wonder what the mechanic who told you it needs a new motor found. I wonder if he used a stethoscope to hear that the knocking was coming from a certain spot in the engine. That does sound ominous.

Perhaps you could win prize money by entering it in a demolition derby? (Ok, I guess this is no time for jokes.)

85k miles, what a shame!

This may not seem like a viable option now, but there are many buy-here pay-here places that have helped us out when we needed a vehicle badly. Their payments are usually reasonable and some have a deal where theyíll fix major problems for you for nothing for a certain period after the sale. But (here in Michigan at least) that would entail keeping full-coverage insurance on the car.

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