Any used car is a calculated gamble. I am in the auto sales business, here
is what you want to do. Vitaras/XL7/Chevy Trackers are very soft on the
used car market, i.e., they didn't hold their original value very well.
That is why this car is back on the used car lot. The leasee was better off
returning the car than buying out the lease. Despite being soft resale
wise, they are actually a very versatile, very dependable little SUV.
The CarFax report is a good start, but it only discloses SERIOUS accidents,
that have resulted in a DMV filing. Fender benders, or unreported accidents
don't show up on CarFax. Look the car over yourself for variations in paint
hue between body panels, door and fender gap symmetry, or fresh
undercoating. There is nothing wrong with a car that has had a little minor
body work done, but signs of major repairs should put an end to your
interest in the vehicle. Don't count on the salesperson or the dealership
to know the accident history, they didn't own the vehicle from day one.
Avoid vehicles that smell musty, or like mildew, as these could be flood
Mechanically speaking, at 27,000 the car should be in perfect operating
condition. The dealer will have done a safety inspection. Ask to see it.
They may not be willing to show you the actual repair order, as doing so
would imply a warrantee, but they should be willing to tell you what items
were performed to make the vehicle lot ready. Ask what state the vehicle
was last titled in. If it is from the North, it may have been subjected to
salted roads. We find that vehicles we purchase at auction from areas like
Michigan and Wisconsin often need new brake rotors, even with low mileage
due to corrosion damage.
Maintenance records will probably not be available. However, the minimum
maintenance would have only been 5 oil changes and two tire rotations by
27,000 miles. Unfortunately a larger, more comprehensive service is due
just around the corner at 30,000. In your negotiations, ask the dealer to
complete all items due at that service as a part of your deal. The Suzuki
engines are very dependable, even if some of the maintenance items have been
Go to www.kbb.com and look up both the trade in value, and retail value.
If the dealer bought this car at auction, they paid $1500 - $3000 LESS than
the trade in value. Trust me, I know, as we have been getting off lease
Chevy Tracker's (same basic vehicle) for that far below wholesale. So once
you get down to negotiating a deal, your price offer should be trade in
value. They probably won't accept that, but if you start higher, you will
end up higher too. I don't know the exact trim and options, but my quick
glance at Kelley online came up with about $10500 as a reasonable first
offer. Much more than $11500, and you are probably paying more than you
have to, but if you like it, only you can be the judge of how much more you
are willing to pay.
Finally, I remind you, it is USED. It has about 9000 miles of factory
warrantee left on it. This means that it qualifies for a new car extended
service contract. While extended service contracts are a profit maker for
the dealer, and I make my living selling them, they are worth buying. You
are the one stuck with the loan and payments even if something breaks on
this vehicle down the line. Do not settle for anything but the best service
contract, as the powertrain only kind have lots of loopholes, and lots of
parts that aren't covered. The top of the line contract should be called
"Platinum" or "Major Guard" or "Premium Care", or "Preferred Care". You
should be able to get a 75000 or 100,000 mile policy with $100 deductible
for about $1500. If they want more than that, email me, and I'll get you a
Finally, I'm more shy of used MiniVans than any other kind of vehicle. They
usually have the least consistent maintenance performed on them. I think
you are better off with the Suzuki.
Good luck, email me if you have any questions.
----- Original Message -----
From "Amy Soich" <breiz at bellatlantic.net>
Sent: Saturday, June 14, 2003 6:49 AM
Subject: buy a lease car a really bad idea? No lbc
> This is not LBC related, but I know you guys know everything there is
> to know about cars :)
> I am looking to buy a used 2001-02 Suzuki XL-7 (I know, I know, but it
> fits our needs well and is affordable). There is one near me that is
> cheap (12,999). It is 4 wheel drive which is good. The price is right
> and the miles are at 27,000 on a 2002. So I did a lemon check with the
> vin and it turns out the car was a lease car and acquired those miles
> all in one year.
> So, how bad is that? What kind of problems should I expect? Or do you
> think it would be ok?
> I know I've heard you shouldn't buy a lease car, but I don't know why.
> 27,000 miles doesn't seem like much, but I admittedly don't know
> anything about the potential problems from them being in one year.
> If I decide against this car then I have to go to a <gulp> minivan! ;
> } That's what happens when you have your third kid on the way. (the
> other XL-7 in my area is a 2001 w/38,000 miles for $15,900, but trying
> to keep payments low and didn't want to go this high)
> Any advice is appreciated, feel free to respond off list.
> 67 Sprite MkIV
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