1986 Pontiac 6000, a Lemon?

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The deed is done. I dropped $1500 on engine repairs for my old ’86. I know for a fact it’s not worth that much. When I got it for free from my great aunt 8 years ago, it had only 39,000 miles. My uncle Matty died that year, and it sat in her garage all that time. Dropped a new battery in it and gave it to me for my 16th birthday. Only recently went over 100,000 in Jan. on a road trip I took to New Mexico. Every year or two I’ve had to drop a few hundred in it in repairs. I figured w/ age, should be expected. This last one really hit my wallet. I decided not to get a new car. I figured, I could pay 3k for a car that probably has a bunch of problems anyway, or stick w/ the one I know, where I know what’s new and what’s not. My friends think I’m crazy for sticking with it, but w/ my income, I plan to ride it till the engine falls out. *knock wood* I want your honest opinion, since I’m no expert. So far no structural rust, just a carb. that idles too low and an oil leek I’m putting off. Give it to me straight, what’s the life expectancy of a Ponitac 6000, 1986? How long do I have? Is there only so much regular oil changes can do?


  1. This old Pontiac is eminently FIXABLE. Assuming that it has either the 2.5L 4-banger, aka “Iron Duke” or the GM 2.8 or even 3.1 L V6, used engines are cheap and plentiful, as are rebuild kits. Same for the Turbo-Hydro 125 tranny.

    Invest in a carb rebuild kit, including a float and throttle body, or even an entire rebuilt carb. This will be the one thing that might be hard to find in the next few years. Other than that, and provided you can do most of the wrenching yourself, parts are cheap and plentiful.

    I’d say as basic transportation, keep it rolling as long as you want. And Uncle and/or the other snoops won’t be able to monitor your ride so readily. The only downside, especially in CA, is that the DMV goons will do their best to get it off the road in the interests of emissions or s-a-a-a-a-f-t-e-e-e-e !!

  2. If you have the money to keep putting into it and you like the car, why trade? You’ll never get any money for an ’86 6000 so it’ll be pointless to try to sell it, and dealers won’t give you anything for it unless they’re doing a push/pull/drag sale and *those* are usually for new cars only.

    I say stick with it until it stops in a cloud of its own steam then file the serial numbers off on the side of the road 🙂

    BTW, I’m doing the same thing (pretty much). I got a ’97 Avalon for $600 in January. Everything I can do myself I’ll do because it’s still a good car despite having had 4 accidents that weren’t repaired properly and 243,000 miles. And it looks like it spent 10 years in Detroit (which it has lol)

  3. The low idle speed might easily be fixed by adjusting a “low idle speed” screw on the carb, or throttle body. Oil leaks should not be too hard to fix. Unless it is a rear main seal or something like that.

    I suggest getting a Haynes manual for the car. You might also find information about your problem on You-Tube.

    A car with 100k miles on it should be good for another 50k miles before expensive things happen. Now if you can learn to turn a wrench, maybe 100k more miles.

  4. The old cars won’t have all that report back to big brother and black boxes on them. Their demand and price might go up in the coming years.

  5. I’ve always found it false economy to buy a car for less than about 5k. Sometimes you hit upon a goodie, but generally the money saved by getting something cheap is what you’ll have to eventually put into it.

    My exGF was always in the habit of buying $700 bombs, that usually ended up costing ME the time and money to keep running, until they expired in a heap.

    My current Pulsar NX, although an ’87 model, cost me 5k to buy back in ’04 but I’ve hardly had to do anything on it, excepting lowered sports suspension and wheels.

    • Yep –

      A big factor is how much you can DIY.

      If you’re a decent wrench – someone who understands mechanical things and has the time/inclination to perform repairs himself – buying a car that “needs work” can be a great way to save money.

      But if you have to pay someone else to work on it for you….

      • I kept my 2000 Buick LaSabre going for as long as I could maintain it. When the brake and fuel lines finally went, that’s where I threw in the towel (and some other stuff) that’s when I called it quits, broke down and picked up a new set of wheels.

      • Well, if it’s a well-understood issue paying someone else (who had dealt with it before) can be reasonable.

        The head gasket on my 1997 Subaru failed (known issue) while I was out of town in 2008.

        Fortunately, it failed up in the mountains where it seems every 4th vehicle is a Subaru.

        For a flat fee of $2000 to the local dealer I had the head milled, gasket replaced, plus every consumable related to the engine (timing belt, water pump, all hoses, all seals, radiator) replaced.

        Again, the above has lasted over 5 years – think I got my money’s worth.

  6. Hi,

    These were not bad cars; the issue you’ve got is it’s now an antique car. Almost 30 years old. Any car that old is going to need more babying/maintaining than a car that’s say ten years old.

    That said, you have a simpler car – relative to modern cars. Which means, an easier (and cheaper) car to maintain. While you may have to spend some bucks here and there to fix this or that, overall, if the car is basically sound, your total costs will be low – at least, lower than they would be with a new car (or a newer) car. Don’t forget to factor in that the car itself cost you nothing – so the $1,500 you spent plus the other repairs represents your actual cost.

    Put another way: You have a (roughly) $1,500 car. That’s hard to beat. If it runs well and seems basically sound, I’d keep on driving it until you get to the point at which you’re putting more into it than it would cost you to buy a decent used (newer) car, which will probably mean spending about $5,000 these days.


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