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Discussion Starter #1
I am looking for a reliable 2nd car and I'd like to get a 1st gen for the space and reliability. I am going to check out a 95 with 215k on the odometer. The owner has evidence of a full engine refresh from the bottom up with all-OEM components. The refresh was supposedly done only a couple of months ago. This car has the leather interior, sunroof, and oem alloy wheels with less-than-a year old tires. Interior has no damage and is all OEM with wear on the driver's side seat. The paint is supposedly pristine and original (the owner says the car always been garaged). Only other declared flaw is a shot a/c compressor and a "tiny" dent in the rear hatch. Owner is asking a $3200. What do you guys think ?? What should I look for when I inspect and test-drive ??
 

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I would talk him down, a lot.
He probably paid $3200 for the engine rebuild, and would like to get that back out of the car, and I would sympathize,
but at that mileage much can go wrong besides the engine.

I've got a friend with a '95 odyssey now at 300,000 miles, never an engine nor a transmission rebuild and it's still running OK, but the transmission occasionally slips and the engine's weak. Take it for what it's worth. I'm considering just swapping both with a $900 80k salvage accord's engine and trans for her, put some new life into that car :)

If you want A/C, compressors are $300, if the compressor broke apart (it has pistons that can fragment and the debris gets pumped through the lines), you'll want several adjacent components also (evaporator, condenser, lines), and the total bill can be $600 in parts and easily $1000 installed at an independent unless you can do it yourself and don't have qualms about junkyard parts (in which it's going to be $100 in parts and $0 in labor, but sketchy). Budget for that too.

I mean, you've got a fresh engine, but that car is 16 years old with 215,000 miles! Offer him $1500 cash, that'll leave you $1000 for the A/C and $700 put away for the next major repair, like a salvage transmission swap eventually. For $3200 there are lower mileage options out there, and even if they're not all honda odysseys, that mileage just isn't safe. Is this your last disposable $3200 for a little while, or are you budgeting for repairs?

Make sure it's inspected before you buy, too; I'm not as specifically familiar with honda, but my family ended up junking a pontiac because just a broken fog light was going to be several hundred dollars, and a dead seat belt buckle switch (that lights up the dash when you're not buckled) a couple hundred or so again, and the car wasn't worth it.
Stupid simple little things that you can live without, may or may not pass inspection.

Ask the mechanic to do a mechanical inspection too! In MD anyway, to pass inspection is one thing, but that only covers steering & suspension, do all your lights work, and all safety features work: it doesn't look at quite a lot of things, including your engine and transmission-- it could be blowing black smoke and have lost reverse gear and still pass safety wise, so be sure to get it passed by state safety inspections but also ask that mechanic to warn you of any other imminent repairs, and maybe even give you a quote on that a/c to take back to the seller.
Best $50 you'll ever spend!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for the excellent advice. I agree that there are many other things that can go wrong with the car other than the engine. I'll definitely try to talk the guy down. If he's not willing, then I'll have to pass on this one.
 

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I just browsed locally to see what others were asking; around me, there are two odysseys with 180k and 200k that have asking prices around $2600. No leather seats-- and no fresh engine rebuild. Though they did have working AC.
So I see where your guy is coming from.

But then there's a dodge minivan from '98 with 107k for $3200. Honda probably really is a better built car, but at half the mileage I might spring for the lesser brand.

I'm taking an engines class now, a fellow brought in a 1.6L honda engine (not in the odyssey... can't remember what it came from) with 225,000 miles, it actually was in very good shape. Might have benefited from fresh rings and gaskets, and a timing chain as par for the course, but the cylinder sleeves did not need to be replaced, and the pistons did not need to be replaced: and at 225k miles there are many engine builds that would have needed serious machine work. So I suppose another testimony to honda quality in addition to my neighbor's 300k minivan :)

Well, have a mechanic look over it. If it really, truly doesn't need anything else, and the transmission is solid, shifts smoothly, and the trans fluid clean and not burnt-smelling; talk him down some portion of the AC repair and maybe you've got a good car.

If he's owned it for a while, he should have records too. At 16 yrs old... when were the belts last changed? Were any of the rubber coolant hoses ever replaced? Rubber dry rots, and you don't want one to burst and then overheat on the highway (happened to me). Just for example. Other little things like the fuel filter (should be done 30k mile intervals, people leave them at least 50k miles all the time though) are cheap and not a concern, and the belts aren't really a worry either; but if you're spending your last $3200 on this you don't want to get hit with 12 different $100 regular maintenance items right away.
 

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OP: You have spent a decent amount of time on this forum. Which way do you want the cheer leading to go?

I have a car with almost 300k that I drive every day. I take the time to go over it thoroughly for safety. With over 240k in the seat, you learn what goes wrong and how it feels when something is headed south. There is something to be said for that. I don't think it is unsafe with those miles, but I think there are some neglected cars out there with 50k that are unsafe.

This will be a 2nd car, so if you are willing to put up with a few hassles and do some work yourself, it could be a very good experience. But I agree the price should be lower.

If I was spending $3k-$4.5k, I would search CL in southern states, and buy a '98 to get a little more HP and a tach. But that is how I found my Ody ('98, 128k miles) so I am probably biased :)

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well, I went to see the car. The owner was more than willing to go to $3000 but the car was not in the shape he advertised so walking away from it was easier. There was a lot of body damage; not accidents, but a lot of small benders here and there which really turned me off. The sunroof was starting to rust and the interior leather really needed to be replaced. I guess we all have our own definition of "pristine" condition. I am checking out a 1997 Ody later today with 180k. This one has no sunroof or 2nd row bucket seats but the seller wants $2500. We'll see how this goes.

rvaughn: I don't want to call this car a "beater" but in some ways that is what it will be for me. Mostly, I need space and durability in this "old" car that I plan to buy. I want a Honda since I've had experience with these engines in the past and feel confident doing most repairs myself. Plus, it would be nice to have a little fun with in terms of adding some wheels, some JDM stuff, and swapping in performance parts from Accords and other Hondas. Having said that, and keeping in mind my $3k budget, the Ody seems like the way to go. The only challenge is finding one in good condition .. one with a sunroof would be nice :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
1997 for $2500 deal needed a complete paint job, new starter, new windshield, and a few other things. A/C was good. Interior was in good shape but needed a clean up. I got thrown away by the paint job.

I also saw a 1995 for $3400 with 157k miles. This one is truly pristine. Paint is shiny and clean all around and is original paint. Interiors are immaculate. A/C is bad. How much can fixing the A/C cost me on this car ??
 

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I picked up my 96 ody for 2600 in pretty good condition but It has 245k pretty high . But the van is really reliable .
 

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like I said, budget $1000 for the AC.

Maybe you'll luck out and find it's less, that small mexican shop that's a mile off the main route that has the dealerships, or 30 miles out from the city center where real estate, and thus shop overhead, isn't so expensive and they only bill $60/hr and not $100.
Another trick is to buy the part yourself; even independents use the parts department as a retail store, selling the parts at a 100% markup (varies, sometimes much more, sometimes somewhat less, like any retail store), and then bring it in yourself.
But if it does fail you're out on a limb, and you'll be paying labor twice even if the part was warrantied. I know a fellow who paid for 3 transmission R&Rs on his hummer because he tried to save a buck buying the cheapest "rebuilt" transmission he could, only to see 2 of them fail after just weeks, hahaha.
You'll also earn no love nor favors from the mechanic; the shop needs the parts markup as much as it needs to bill for labor to stay in business.

And maybe just the compressor is all you need, it looks like it hasn't fragmented so the other parts of the system shouldn't be circulating bits of compressor piston. So that'll be $300 for the compressor + $200 labor probably, so $500. It can't get any cheaper, until you start pulling junkyard parts;) Alright, then maybe $300 you can get a $15 junkyard compressor installed by an out-of-the-way independent just to get it working for a time. That's as cheap as it'll ever get, and that's getting into the realms of fantasy.

Or maybe it was just a $1 fuse after all, and the owner had never had it checked out, and you fix it the evening you drive it home :) just kidding.

Better figure $1000 than fantasize that you'll somehow get it done, and done right, for much less.

Hey, if you like the car, if it's a creampuff besides the AC and despite the mileage, take the seller and the car out to the mechanic for the state inspection and a mechanical lookover on your dime, and while he's at it get a quote for the AC then and there-- use it to talk him down, ask him if he'll do $2700, split the bill for the AC work.



A friend has a crv, compressor imploded at 80,000 miles (crvs are great, but that's their one weak spot: lots of AC issues on them. Hey, better than a $5000 transmission like was endemic for my '01 volvo v70xc!)
Dealership wanted $2000! There was even a special service bulletin posted that specified 8hrs, which when she presented it, they relented and agreed to $600 parts +$800 labor as per the 8hr bulletin, so $1400. Best they'd do; she didn't have that money.

She survived through the remaining summer without ac, obviously scarcely needed it in winter, but then this January rearended someone. They didn't even notice, but her hood was crushed, along with the radiator, and fan, and AC condenser. So happily, I suppose, the independent shop her family uses offered to do the AC system for cost of parts, $600, as the freon had already leaked and they were doing the condensor anyway. Total bill was $2000, for the hood and other body work of course, and the fan and radiator, abut also including all the AC work, compressor condenser evaporated and lines! For what the dealer had at first wanted just for AC.
But it was only @parts cost because of the other $1400 in work.
No good way around it being a $1000 job.
 

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Another decent option, if $1000 breaks the bank, is you probably really can do it yourself.
The only hindrance is that since you're not just recharging the freon, which can be accommodated by recharge kits from any auto store, but evacuating it, doing your work, and then refilling, if you're responsible and care about the ozone you'll have a mechanic responsibly empty the freon first before you begin rather than just opening a line and letting it flow. That won't be expensive.

With some ramps, a fair day, a shade tree, and a $50 set of tools from sears --not to forget $300-$500 in parts from napa-- you really can do it yourself. And hey, it is fun to do your own work, and rewarding, and you earn brag rights :)
Other than the freon, there's nothing but removing bolts and lines. Well, and rusty bolts and frozen lines that you curse at for 3 hrs until you learn about liquid wrench, and when that doesn't do it, you discover the magic of impact tools and/or cheater bars, hahaha.
And when a nut starts rounding off in your wrench, you discover the toothed wrenches that snapon and matco make, or you discover line wrenches that grip from 5 sides and not 2... I guess it can start getting a little daunting. But there's no expensive specialty equipment, and you shouldn't need a lift to do it on either.
 

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I recently replaced my ac compressor on my 04 accord . The compressor cost me 76 shipped On EBAY . And I installed it myself Not very hard at all ;) . Then I took it to a shop called Pep Boys They charged me $113 dollars to recharge . Everything works perfect .
 
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