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Old 06-23-2014, 10:44 PM   #1
KindOfIonic
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Idea Purchasing an '04 5-speed AT coupe, 98k miles

The pros:
AC works great
Power everything works like a charm (except the mirrors)
Shifting is smooth
Comfortable ride
Oil looks good
No leaks
No rust
Shocks look fairly new
Aisin 5-speed auto has already been installed. Not sure if it's factory or if it was swapped.

The mehs:
AEM cold air intake installed. Ehh...
No service history
Missing the front grill
Kinda dirty inside
The back seats are flimsy
3 previous owners
Sealed transmission. This will only be my second car (ditching my '01 626 junker) and this is a first for me. How do I check the fluid? Am I missing something?

The cons:
Saw a small patch of bad weather stripping
Headlights need a good restoration
Taillights appear to be aftermarket. They look darker than usual.
Was involved in one previous accident, rear end collision. Otherwise has a clean history.
Needs new tires soon
Could use a coolant flush
Interior button lights near the fold-down mirrors don't work
Power mirrors do not respond to up or right
Not sure if the ignition switch has been replaced yet
Not sure when to replace the water pump.
Pulls to the right slightly while driving.
Traction control does not work. I might have to test it more. The button does not light up when pressed.

Haven't had it looked at by my mechanics yet. The place I visit has turned down the last two cars I've had them look at and told me to keep looking. I am hoping this will be a different case. Every used car under $6k at least needs some work done to it, even if it is just replacing a filter.

The listing: homestreetautosales[dot]com/2004_Saturn_Ion_Mishawaka_IN_229049222[dot]veh

The dealership wants $5995 for it. What should I offer? Under $5k is fine, but anything under $4k would be great.
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Old 06-23-2014, 11:33 PM   #2
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Default Re: Purchasing an '04 5-speed AT coupe, 98k miles

It's not a sealed transmission. It has a dipstick. Search on here. Even the ones that don't have one have a sight hole revealed by removing a plug.

"Interior button lights near the fold-down mirrors don't work" what does this mean? Fold down mirrors?

The traction control works unless you get a "trac off" message on the ip. When you press (may have to hold it), the ip should say "trac off" and ding. Another light that usually accompanies this message is the abs light when there is a problem.
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Old 06-23-2014, 11:44 PM   #3
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Default Re: Purchasing an '04 5-speed AT coupe, 98k miles

Yes, those are original tail light assemblies, but they have been tinted. I hate this, because it makes them so dim it's literally stupid. I would use the fact that you don't know if the mirrors are the switch or wiring (both equally possible on this car), are going to have to replace the headlights and tail lights (even if you aren't) just to make the car safe to drive as strong bargaining chips. You can still buy these parts from gm, and I recommend new, as most junkyard parts will be similar to yours. Also bring up the fact that they're a dealership and didn't even bother cleaning it up.
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Old 06-23-2014, 11:47 PM   #4
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Default Re: Purchasing an '04 5-speed AT coupe, 98k miles

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2006 ion2 View Post
"Interior button lights near the fold-down mirrors don't work" what does this mean? Fold down mirrors?
The front two ceiling lights of the car, the ones you push to turn on, neither of them lit up when I tested them.
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Old 06-24-2014, 12:11 AM   #5
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Default Re: Purchasing an '04 5-speed AT coupe, 98k miles

Map lights. Does the sunroof work? Could be bad bulbs or corroded contacts. ..
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Old 06-24-2014, 04:37 PM   #6
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Default Re: Purchasing an '04 5-speed AT coupe, 98k miles

-i find headlight restoration doesnt make much of a difference. id replace them.
-the tint on the taillights can be easily removed if its the spray on stuff. just used either gasoline and a towel you dont plan on keeping afterwards, or srpay it off with carb cleaner.
-Coolant flushes arent that dificult to do.
-the knob that controls the mirrors can be easily replaced, and is more than likely the issue. if not, then look into wiring.
-you can check with GM, and they can look up the VIN to see if the ignition has been replaced.
-pulling to the right is an alignment issue. either take it somewhere, or adjust the tie rod ends by removing them from the knuckle, loosen the jam nut, and either loosen or tighten which ever side look crooked (have the steering wheel straight, and try to eye ball which one is pointing to the right. if driver side, tighten the tierod end. if passenger, loosen the tierod end. kind of trial and error).

Just throwing my 2 cents in on the cons
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Old 06-25-2014, 05:27 AM   #7
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Default Re: Purchasing an '04 5-speed AT coupe, 98k miles

Sounds pricey for what you're getting either way. I paid 4700 for my 05 QC auto with only 29k miles. Now it has a rebuild on the title which has never affected me in the past. Also I have the entire service history including pics of the rebuild process. From what your saying it sounds like your in a hurry to buy. Slow down. If possible.
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Old 06-25-2014, 05:31 AM   #8
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Default Re: Purchasing an '04 5-speed AT coupe, 98k miles

http://indianapolis.craigslist.org/cto/4532098013.html
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Old 06-25-2014, 05:34 AM   #9
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Default Re: Purchasing an '04 5-speed AT coupe, 98k miles

http://indianapolis.craigslist.org/cto/4520042148.html



http://indianapolis.craigslist.org/cto/4503108076.html



http://indianapolis.craigslist.org/cto/4503108076.html
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Old 06-25-2014, 01:49 PM   #10
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Default Re: Purchasing an '04 5-speed AT coupe, 98k miles

I agree that the price is pretty steep. It always irks me when stealerships advertise the "excellent" clean retail price when the car clearly does not fit the description that goes with it.

Look for a car that appears to have been cared for by the previous owner. I can't stress enough how important this is. Owner negligence takes a big toll on a car that can't be undone (at least not without $$$). Because dealerships try to cover this up with a good detail, it's usually not obvious to a potential buyer. It pays to closely inspect a car, ask questions, and trust your gut feeling. If you get a bad feeling about a car after a test drive or a close inspection, you are usually better off to walk away. Also, bring a friend for a second opinion if possible - one that you can trust and isn't afraid to tell you what they really think.
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Old 06-25-2014, 01:55 PM   #11
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Default Re: Purchasing an '04 5-speed AT coupe, 98k miles

the 04 Ion coupes have VTI auto trans. So if that is what this car is, just run as fast as you can away from this car!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 06-25-2014, 02:02 PM   #12
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Default Re: Purchasing an '04 5-speed AT coupe, 98k miles

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the 04 Ion coupes have VTI auto trans. So if that is what this car is, just run as fast as you can away from this car!!!!!!!!!!
You fail at reading. Hardcore.
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Old 06-25-2014, 02:07 PM   #13
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Default Re: Purchasing an '04 5-speed AT coupe, 98k miles

Having it looked at by my mechanic Friday.

I also found an 04 Cavalier with only 18k miles on it. Very tempting, since its the same engine, but that Saturn looks way cooler. And between the two I already know which car everyone here would tell me to pick.
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Old 06-25-2014, 02:34 PM   #14
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Default Re: Purchasing an '04 5-speed AT coupe, 98k miles

you might be better off with the cavalier since the ion's cons list is longer than the pros, and the cost of getting the cons fixed could stack up quite a lot, expecially the fact that its been in an accident and with no service history, so god only knows how much youll be spending in maintenence in the long run. plus like everyone else is saying, the price for it is quite steep, expecially with the condition its in right now.
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Old 06-25-2014, 03:01 PM   #15
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Default Re: Purchasing an '04 5-speed AT coupe, 98k miles

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Originally Posted by kevin.st56 View Post
you might be better off with the cavalier since the ion's cons list is longer than the pros, and the cost of getting the cons fixed could stack up quite a lot, expecially the fact that its been in an accident and with no service history, so god only knows how much youll be spending in maintenence in the long run. plus like everyone else is saying, the price for it is quite steep, expecially with the condition its in right now.
I am being nitpicky though, and I don't have the best experience with cars. Maybe the tires aren't as bad as I think. Maybe it doesn't need a coolant flush. Maybe the pulling would be solved by an alignment. I won't know until Friday.

My biggest concern is possible frame damage from the previous accident being the cause of the pulling. If this is the case then it's a definite pass. I really hope it isn't though.

If the dealership can give me a good price on the saturn I will take it. Otherwise I will haggle about the Cavalier.
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Old 06-25-2014, 05:58 PM   #16
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Default Re: Purchasing an '04 5-speed AT coupe, 98k miles

They are not going to come down to a good price. They are asking 6000 dollars for a car I wouldn't pay 3000 for.
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Old 06-25-2014, 11:26 PM   #17
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Default Re: Purchasing an '04 5-speed AT coupe, 98k miles

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They are not going to come down to a good price. They are asking 6000 dollars for a car I wouldn't pay 3000 for.
Can't argue with that. Not sure how successful other people are at finding good cars for under $5k.
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Old 06-26-2014, 12:44 AM   #18
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Default Re: Purchasing an '04 5-speed AT coupe, 98k miles

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Can't argue with that. Not sure how successful other people are at finding good cars for under $5k.
I'm apparently really good at it. The most I've ever spent for my own car was $5500. The other five cars I've purchased were $5K or less. I agree that unless you are very car savvy, it's very difficult to buy a reliable car that doesn't turn into a money pit for less than $5K. Only one of the six cars I've owned I regretted buying for that reason.

I finally looked at that dealership's website and it seems like everything they have is overpriced. FWIW I didn't see anything that looked interesting to me comparable to the Ion you are asking about. I don't see the listing for that Cavalier either.
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Last edited by ruley73; 06-26-2014 at 12:51 AM.
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Old 06-26-2014, 08:52 AM   #19
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Default Re: Purchasing an '04 5-speed AT coupe, 98k miles

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I'm apparently really good at it. The most I've ever spent for my own car was $5500. The other five cars I've purchased were $5K or less. I agree that unless you are very car savvy, it's very difficult to buy a reliable car that doesn't turn into a money pit for less than $5K. Only one of the six cars I've owned I regretted buying for that reason.

I finally looked at that dealership's website and it seems like everything they have is overpriced. FWIW I didn't see anything that looked interesting to me comparable to the Ion you are asking about. I don't see the listing for that Cavalier either.
Here's the Cavalier listing - southbend[dot]craigslist[dot]org/cto/4527405063[dot]html

Definitely the best car I've found so far on my search. But now I've read that 04 Cavaliers do this funny thing where the stepper motors in the instrument cluster start going haywire one by one, so I'll have to be prepared for that.

I heard good things about Saturns which is why I wanted one (they look pretty darn sleek too), but sadly just about all dealerships around my area selling anything under $8k are ripping people off.

I would still prefer a Saturn, but I highly doubt I'll find one with fewer than 75 - 100k miles, let alone 20k.

I'll keep posting on how my search goes. I'm looking at the Cavalier tomorrow. The absolute most I would pay for it would be something like $4500. No Cavalier is worth $8k.
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Old 06-26-2014, 11:07 AM   #20
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Default Re: Purchasing an '04 5-speed AT coupe, 98k miles

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Originally Posted by KindOfIonic View Post
The absolute most I would pay for it would be something like $4500. No Cavalier is worth $8k.
look at Kelly blue book, or Nada and see what they say, that way itll give you something to start off with.
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