Looking to buy my first car, looking for J-body specific things to look out for - General Forum

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Looking to buy my first car, looking for J-body specific things to look out for
Sunday, March 10, 2013 7:08 AM
I am finally going to college, and looking for a first car. I'll get my student loan mid-late april and will be using that to get a car.
The car I am interested in is a 98 Sunfire SE (2200 and 2 door) at a dealership. It's got some rust, as typical for Illinois, and about 175k miles and the dealer is asking 1800.
Although this is my first car, I'm actually 35 (never could afford a car before now) and a somewhat larger person, but not the first time in a J-body (got my license originally when I was 17 in mom's J2000, and it was a stick).

What I am asking is for anything J-body specific to look for/avoid (I'm familiar with the usual stuff like making sure it hasn't been in a flood or wreck, etc.).

http://www.crossroadsusedcarsinc.com/1998_Pontiac_Sunfire_Tremont_IL_177223922.veh link to the car, with pics

Re: Looking to buy my first car, looking for J-body specific things to look out for
Sunday, March 10, 2013 7:22 AM
IMO that's at least 800 dollars too much for the car, but that's just me. Its impossible to see without a lift, but Js love to rust on the body and fuel/brake lines right above the rear axle and at the bottoms of the doors. The quarters also rust along the bottom edge so you need to stick your head down there to check on both sides. If you stand at the end of the car, squat down, and look down the entire side you can see any imperfections in body lines or how panels line up. If there are imperfections, that means pieces were replaced and it was likely crashed.

If it's a 2200 you should start it up and open the hood and listen for a tapping/rattling sound. If there is one, have them replace the timing kit before you buy it. Otherwise those motors are rock solid and unless there's an obvious knock from someone who didn't keep track of their oil there shouldn't be any problems with it. Hope this helps.


"In Oldskool we trust"
Re: Looking to buy my first car, looking for J-body specific things to look out for
Sunday, March 10, 2013 8:01 AM
Using student loan money isn't a very smart way to buy a car.

You'll get a much better deal buying from an individual than a dealer, especially buying a car in that price range. Hit up craigslist I would look for a 02-05 j body with the 2.2 ecotec I've seen many in the 2k range.

That sunfire definitely has rot in the doors and quarters and that is just what you can see from the pics
Re: Looking to buy my first car, looking for J-body specific things to look out for
Sunday, March 10, 2013 8:42 AM
Robtco99 wrote:

Using student loan money isn't a very smart way to buy a car.

You'll get a much better deal buying from an individual than a dealer, especially buying a car in that price range. Hit up craigslist I would look for a 02-05 j body with the 2.2 ecotec I've seen many in the 2k range.

That sunfire definitely has rot in the doors and quarters and that is just what you can see from the pics

90% agree. Just looked on my computer so I could open the link. I would definitely not buy this car. My only dissent would be that the 2200 is bulletproof and if you're not looking for power there's nothing wrong with it. In fact if I was going for pure longevity i'd take the 2200 over the eco any day. Not saying the eco is bad, I have one now. But I miss the simplicity of my 2200 and piece of mind that my timing chain isn't going to break and grenade my motor.


"In Oldskool we trust"
Re: Looking to buy my first car, looking for J-body specific things to look out for
Sunday, March 10, 2013 5:59 PM
I got turned off after hearing the first reply, which was "Js love to rust on the body and fuel/brake lines", hitting the brakes only for the precious stop juice to spray all over the road is not my idea of a fun experience.

Also car prices and availability are kinda bad here, not much for sale, so higher prices.

Thank you for your input gentlemen, I appreciate it very much.
Re: Looking to buy my first car, looking for J-body specific things to look out for
Sunday, March 10, 2013 6:01 PM
I picked up a 2005 Sunfire last year for $1200.. so I would not even consider paying more for a very much older, rusty, POS.

If I were you, I'd keep looking.
Re: Looking to buy my first car, looking for J-body specific things to look out for
Monday, March 11, 2013 5:28 AM
The 2.2s of that era were known for crapping waterpumps.
Re: Looking to buy my first car, looking for J-body specific things to look out for
Sunday, March 17, 2013 12:28 AM
teal wrote:

The 2.2s of that era were known for crapping waterpumps.


But they were easy to change, so that's not a big deal...now if we did the same job on an ld9...the 2.2 would seem like fun. lol.



"If I'm not back in 5 minutes...just wait longer"
Re: Looking to buy my first car, looking for J-body specific things to look out for
Sunday, March 17, 2013 2:41 PM
Very easy to change when it crapped out under warranty. Take it to the dealer, hand them the keys and say "It's broke...Fix it!"
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