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Old 02-07-2008, 06:12 PM   #1
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Location: Shellsburg, Iowa
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Hawkeye Auto: Marion, Ia

Just a warning to anyone thinking about buying a car from Hawkeye Auto. Have the vehicle inspected thouroughly. Find out what isn't working, and why it isn't working. I bought a Grand Am from there after giving a quick look-over. The salesman gave me a total of about 35 minutes to inspect it, after subtracting drive time to and from my shop. They were open about 2 hours past when I needed to bring it back, and he didn't give me a reason why I had so little time. I think the reason was so I wouldn't find the serious problems. He told me the car had a salvage title, but claimed he didn't know why. The interior smells slightly of mold/mildew, and there was a bag of moisture absorber under the passenger seat (along with two cigarettes, an unsprung mouse trap, some sort of food(?) smashed up in a clear wrapper, and an assortment of small screws and clips [which I later discovered should have been holding the dashboard and trim pieces in place]). I'm nearly certain it was a flood title, not a salvage title, but that didn't matter to me so I didn't call him on his assumed lie.

The heater didn't work when I bought it, but since I was given so little time, I figured it needed an actuator for the blend-door (as both heater core hoses were hot), what else could it possibly be?. As it turned out, some knucklehead set out to replace the heater core and did one hell of a chop job on it (heater core was NEW, still shiney). 6 of about 12 screws were put back in the heater core housing and other parts that need to be removed. One of the straps securing the heater core to the heater core shrowd was missing. Why? Someone broke the shrowd into about 20 pieces and taped it back together (but left the part the strap screws into off). If you're wondering if they at least used duct tape... no. This genius used masking tape, needless to say it DID NOT hold. All the panels that had to be removed to access the heater core were held in with the minimum number of screws, in most cases one. There was an electrical connector that was left hanging.

There were also dozens of small or medium problems, it needs a wheel bearing, brakes on both axles, an outter tie rod end, most of the exhaust was held on with coat hangers, the drivers side mirror fell off and is now held on with wood screws, the sunroof doesn't open or close all the way, the camshaft covers are leaking, the oil pressure switch is leaking, the oil pan gasket is leaking, the timing chain tensioner "bleeds down" after sitting more than an hour, it needs a tune-up, both axleshaft seals are leaking, the rear tire tread was below the legal minimum, the tires are out of balance, the faceplate for the stereo was missing, the wires to the cigarette lighter were cut, the fog light circuit is bad (not switch or bulbs, but don't really care about them), the inside trunk release is broken, the lock cylinder in the trunk turns very hard and needs to be replaced, and that's just what I remember. I made a list while I was inspecting it that filled an 8.5x11 sheet of paper. I knew about all of that before I bought it (except for the headlight adjusters), but just by looking under the hood any other customer could have thought it was a good car and ended up having to spend thousands of dollars fixing everything that is bad. The Bluebook value when I bought it was $4,5xx, and I paid $1,500 so I got a good deal. That's only because I can do the work myself and it only needs a few hundred dollars in parts. If you end up paying a mechanic to do the work, you would have spent at least as much as the "Good" value of the car, but since it has a flood (or salvage... whatever) title it's not worth near that.

I'm not warning against shoping there, but please have someone thourougly look over a vehicle before you buy it. In my case, I got a very good deal (except for the heater core issues, which pissed me off, which is why I wrote all this), and if you're in a position where you can do the work yourself you may want to look there first. The salesman said he doesn't "know of any problems other than the salvage title", I don't believe they would buy a car without looking it over. I asked him specifically about the heater not working and he said they know nothing about it, but the heater core looked like it was right out of the box, and the masking tape was still clean. The car had been there for at least 4 months because the online photo I found had green grass in the background.
'04 Cavalier coupe M/T 2.2 Ecotec
Supercharged 14 PSI boost, charge air cooler, 42# injectors
Tuned with HP Tuners
Poly engine/trans/control arm bushings
Self built and self programmed progressive methanol injection system
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