Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Jerry asks: How much would you offer for an ’04 Buick LaCrosse with under 40k miles and what negatives are associated with it? If you could respond before Saturday it would be appreciated. I listen to you weekly on the Bill Meyer show in Medford, Oregon.
My reply: Well, the car’s mileage is very low but you haven’t provided much information about the car, itself – such as whether it’s a base trim or Limited, the options it has as well as its overall condition. This can range from excellent – to poor – and the value adjusts accordingly. Have you driven the car? Does the owner have maintenance records?
If it has been sitting unused for a long time, I’d be concerned about possible issues arising from that. It is important to adjust maintenance intervals accordingly. How are the tires? Given the mileage, they may be ancient – even if they have plenty of tread left. I’d check the date codes and if it turns out they’re more than ten years old, I would factor replacement cost into the decision – and your offer.
Also check: Transmission fluid (service history), struts/suspension, cooling system – has the coolant ever been changed? – brakes/brake fluid, AC, etc. When was the oil and filter last changed?
That said, this is a solid car – generally speaking. It has Buick’s excellent 3.8 liter V6, a simple OHV design that is known to be very reliable and low maintenance. It has a four speed (not ten speed) automatic, also simple and reliable. The car is almost entirely free of the obnoxious,. over-the-top “tech” that afflicts new cars. It is also very comfortable and pleasant to drive. Buick designed it to be competitive with the Lexus ES sedan.
It may well be worth more – to you – than the “retail value” for these reasons.
My NADA book says the car (with the under 40k on the clock) is worth about $4,300 retail – meaning, that’s what a dealer would try to sell it for. Probably around $3,500 is a fair price, assuming the car is in excellent condition.
If you get it for that sum – give or take – and you get even two trouble-free years out of it – you’ll have only spent $150 or so per month and (probably) very little, relative to a new car, to insure it (the same as regards taxes,if applicable in your area). The longer you drive it, the more favorable the math.
Also keep in mind that the cost of this car – say $3,500 or so – is about the cost of replacing a transmission in a new car.
Assuming it was not abused – as by sitting for years, outside – with just 40k or so on the clock, this car should provide reliable service for another 100,000-plus miles and will have paid for itself twice over long before you get there.
It sounds like a good deal; I hope it turns out to be the case!
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