1 2 3 4
pimpm3 Reader
3/11/12 11:12 p.m.

After reading the "Dirty 911" thread I noticed that several people mentioned buying other peoples problems that were easily fixed. In the spirt of not jacking his thread I figured I would start a new one.

My best buy that needed an easy fix was a 1996 328I sport package car with a missing shift knob. It was at a local wrecker yard auction and had "No reverse" written in large block letters across the windsheild. After purchasing said car for the bargain price for $1000.00, I discovered that the lack of reverse was not due to any mechanical issues, but instead was atributed to the ignorance of the seller to the fact that BMW's reverse is not behind 5th but is in fact to the left of 1st. Total cost to fix lack of reverse = free. (Actually I ended up buying a new knob on ebay for around $30) Needless to say the seller was suprised when I backed the car out of its spot and left the auction yard after I paid for the car....

mad_machine SuperDork
3/11/12 11:16 p.m.

that is too funny

fast_eddie_72 SuperDork
3/11/12 11:34 p.m.

Man, I LOVE stories like that.

Zomby woof
Zomby woof SuperDork
3/11/12 11:42 p.m.

I bought a 5 year old Fairmont in the mid 80's for $100. The previous and original owner was a backyard mechanic, and wasn't prepared to swap out the seized motor for a new one, so all he wanted was scrap price for it. I put a new starter on it, and sold it the following week for $1000 as-is.

Cole_Trickle Reader
3/11/12 11:51 p.m.

A good friend of mine had a problem with his built Firebird Formula. It was a clean car, with a ton of work done to it. It came with a bunch of spares and parts that hadnt been put on for $1500. It had a miss and he thought the motor was going south, so the car went up for sale well under the $8k that he was going to ask for it. A guy showed up, handed him $1200 cash, switched the wires to the coil and drove off. My buddy was pissed.

Trans_Maro SuperDork
3/11/12 11:54 p.m.

Customer's car last week:

Came in with an oil leak that the owner simply couldn't find.

I snugged up the 1/4 turn loose oil filterand sent him on his way.


Appleseed SuperDork
3/12/12 12:01 a.m.

When I bought my 9C1 at auction, I got some inside info on which car was in the best shape. When it came up for bid, I had my pop (I was too young at the time) bid on car 935. Problem was when the auctioneer would go to start it, it would rev to high hell. Again and again.

We still bought it based on that inside tip. Started checking out the throttle body and return spring. Nothing. I push in this T handle that's over the transmission hump. Car runs fine.

Turns out that T handle was to manually rev up the engine while parked, as to run the lights, spots, computer, etc.. when giving a ticket.

All the other cars sold for $35-3,800. I got mine for $3,200.

ditchdigger Dork
3/12/12 12:06 a.m.

Talked a lady down to $100 on a 78 rabbit because it had a bad transmission. Stuck in 3rd. Handed her the money and she asked if I was going to call a tow. I said no and that I would try and drive it home. I actually waited until she went inside so she couldn't see me pop the front selector rod back into place

To be fair I did pay $4 for a new one later.

novaderrik SuperDork
3/12/12 12:08 a.m.

one of my friends swapped from a Performer intake to a Performer RPM on his carbureted 302 powered 89 Mustang.. he calls me and asks me why it won't idle for crap.. i told him to look for any vacuum leaks and anything like that. he tries another Holley carb- same thing.. a couple of weeks later i stopped by since i was in the area. he pops the hood and i ask him why the 1/4" npt vacuum port in the intake runners behind the carb didn't have a plug in it...

pimpm3 Reader
3/12/12 1:48 a.m.

In reply to novaderrik:

That reminds me I bought a CJ7 once that was not running correctly after a rebuild. I got a great deal because the owner was fed up with it and sick of trying to fix it. In fact he had two different "experts" look at it to no avail.

I was showing off my purchase to a buddy who is big into mud racing etc... explaining the circumstances surounding the purchase while he looked under the hood. After a few minutes he looked up at me and started laughing. We started the truck and he then placed his hand over the small black plastic 90 degree filter thingy attached to the brake booster instantly causing the motor to run perfectly. The front of the filter had fallen off creating a huge vacume leak. I temporarily fixed it with a 1 inch square of duct tape, and later fixed it correctly with a 4 dollar trip to the local autoparts store.

I never did tell the original owner what was wrong with even though he asked...

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA Dork
3/12/12 2:00 a.m.

A woman friend of mine called me one morning and asked if I wanted her '83 SAAB 900 Turbo. I told her I didn't have the money to buy it right then. She told me not only was the car free to me, it was being towed to my place as we spoke. Evidently, she got tired of it nickel-and-dime-ing her to death so she was ready to punt when it refused to start.

After I took delivery of the car, I popped the hood to investigate. Right away, I saw the hose from the turbo to the intake popped off. I reattached it with a better hose clamp and the car started immediately.

Enjoyed driving it for the next four years.

colaboy New Reader
3/12/12 6:30 a.m.

My friend had swapped in a new(er) motor into his 1985 Corolla gts. Never would run right after. He eventually got fed up and sold it to me for $500.

Took it home, and have to admit wasn't making much progress after several hours. My brother stops in to check it out, says " have you turned the distributor 180 degrees?

Two years of cheap, dead reliable twin cam fun ensue.

dabird New Reader
3/12/12 7:06 a.m.

1988 saab 900 turbo, i bought it for $250 and was told it needed brake work and a new clutch. I got it home and bled the system and both issues were solved.

1987 VW Scirocco. I bought the car sight unseen for $100. I bought it from a guy who had bought it from someone else but had never gone to pick it up from them. The guy i bought it from had never seen the car. He told me it wouldn't start and needed pretty much everything. i planned on using it for a parts car so no big deal. I show up to pick up the car from the previous owner and when he lifts the garage door the first thing i see is brand new tires. I'm already happy, then he proceeds to tell me he thinks the car is just out of gas. I go buy a gallon and the rest is history. drove the car for a few years and sold it to a girl who still drives it.

Woody SuperDork
3/12/12 7:09 a.m.

I got a Kawasaki GPz for free because it looked like crap and wouldn't run.

It had a brand new air filter in the airbox, but there was a second air filter further down closer to the carbs that was like a sponge full of jello. I made a new one out of some filter foam that I had in the garage and it ran great.

Next I removed the tank, fenders and fairing and had them painted in the body shop for the cost of the paint and other materials ($75).

Sold it for $1800.

Raze SuperDork
3/12/12 8:00 a.m.

Paid low $ for my Fiat, was 'down on power' but ran and drove-ish, seller thought engine needed a rebuild, also had a misfire...

Moving the intake cam back 5° to get it in time (must have jumped a few teeth) and adjusting the dizzy (way retarded), swapped plugs, points, and cleaned the dizzy contacts, purrs like a Fiat should...

This is my new favorite thread btw, Kudos to pimpm3...

pinchvalve SuperDork
3/12/12 8:04 a.m.

Every obvious problem that I have ever cheaply and easily repaired only revealed even more problems. Glad to hear others have had better luck.

HappyJack Reader
3/12/12 8:13 a.m.

Had a 97 Cavalier that was given to me because it wouldn't start. It had been sitting 6 months because he couldn't figure out why it suddenly wouldn't start. I towed it home, cleaned out the crap in the interior. ...including the floor mat bunched up under the clutch pedal. Once that was out, the clutch could be pressed all the way down to disengage the safety switch. Car started right up.

Also had a buddy buy a Mustang cheap that wouldn't start after a minor rear ending. Didn't seem to be any damage, but the car wouldn't start. The owner gave up and sold it cheap. My buddy bought the car, popped the trunk, pushed the safety reset button for the fuel pump and drove it away.

egnorant Dork
3/12/12 8:17 a.m.

72 Chevy truck...ignition wire to the coil was pinched and grounded under the valve cover. Free fix!

1965 Mustang...Reported to have a broken crank. Bought it for $100 and my silly brother runs home while I pay the man and brings back a distributor and a battery. He drives it home!! This was the day we learned to NOT fix the car in front of the previous owner.

84 Mustang 5.0..tightened the upper bolt on the starter properly.

98 Aurora..sandpapered the resistor on the key.

$5.00 shifter part on a Ranger truck. Of course I had to pull the trans to get to the part and you don't pull a transmission on a 20 year old car without changing the clutch.

Free plastic part on an Escort that allowed it to begin shifting again.

Bad cable to the starter.

Reconnected tube from the MAF to the throttle body.

Reset the fuel cutoff switch on a Thunderbird.

B6T engine swap into an Aspire fixed by moving a ground wire to a spot that had actual ground. This one took me about 3 months to find and I now have a nice set of 17 by 36 schematics for this engine.

P71 with an overheating problem that I cleaned the plug to the radiator fan!

Brother bought a Cub Cadet Zero turn mower with a fresh tune up..filters, oil change, plugs, fuel tank cleaned out....pulled the acorn out of the throttle linkage that allowed the choke to turn off and it runs great!

Older Honda had a leaf that had blocked a vent hole on a carburetor..that took a while to figure out.

Once bought a Le Baron convertible at auction for $200 because I arrived early as the guy was running around with his jumpstarter thing to have the cars warm up and charge the batteries. The Le Baron ran out of gas after running for about 2 minutes. I had enough time to check the air conditioning and the transmission before it quit.

Currently working on a car I got for free.....NO brakes, no clutch and ran like crap! Put some brake fluid in it and a set of plugs.....Gonna get it inspected today!

I live for these deals!

As said earlier, these are often the one item has the previous owner tearing their hair and just wanting to get rid of the car.

Even the 98 Aurora that needed only the security key fix still required a new headlight, 14 other bulbs, 6 hours of interior cleaning (leather is a wonderful thing unless it has never been cleaned properly), a front wheel sensor and a variety of interior plastic parts to get it back to a nice car.


hotrodlarry HalfDork
3/12/12 8:17 a.m.

A former co-worker of mine bought a Crown Vic for dirt cheap because the seller told him the fuel pump was junk. We go to check the car out and first thing we do is hit the emergency reset in the trunk. Car fired up and we drove off with no problems

ultraclyde Dork
3/12/12 8:20 a.m.

First car - 82 Corolla 4dr - bought from a drunk guy at a motel for $600. Although it wasn't related to the price paid, all it needed to fix the power steering was actually putting a belt on it.

JThw8 SuperDork
3/12/12 8:23 a.m.

Had to deliver a car to Virginia once, the trailer we had towed great loaded but terrible empty so I bought a $300 "wont start" Fiat 850 sight unseen just to use as ballast in our destination city. A friend of mine who was good with fiats came along and after we tried to start it and it didnt want to run I paid the man and he left, I was setting up the winch to get it on my trailer when my friend said dont bother. He jumped in the car, reached behind the seat and it fired right up. Apparently that's where the choke cable was :) His brother ended up taking the car and driving it for 6 years.

Another one, 73 VW Type 3. No start, no fuel from the injectors. Owner was tired of it and sold it cheap. Popped off the distributor cap, lifted out the top plate of ignition points and cleaned the 2nd plate of points under it which control the injectors. Fired right up, drove fine. I think many FI VWs ended up with carb conversions because their owners didn't know the injectors were points fired.

skruffy SuperDork
3/12/12 8:24 a.m.

I helped a friend buy a ford probe with a severe clutch problem. The PO had replaced EVERY component of the clutch system down to the pedal assembly trying to solve the problem. He was at his wits end and let the car go for super cheap.

Once we towed the car back the first attempt at starting it showed a severe miss but everything else working properly. A new set of plug wires and the car was good to go. I'm not sure why they thought that miss was caused by the clutch, but the PO had spent several hundred dollars on parts chasing the wrong issue.

iceracer SuperDork
3/12/12 8:35 a.m.

This goes back a few years. Dealer had a Mercury Meteor (ford failrlane) in nice condition with low. Asked him about it. He said the overdrive (remember those ?) was shot. Bought it cheap, replaced the blown fuse, adjusted the kick down switch, which was too high. Had a nice car with working overdrive for a long time.

sachilles Dork
3/12/12 8:45 a.m.

I bought a subaru that the previous had gotten fed up with. On gas fill up, the pumps would keep clicking off. That was the straw that broke the camel's back for the previous owner. It just had a bad purge valve which was $90, and you simply had to disconnect one hose temporarily to get the tank to fill without tripping the pump, all easily accessible.

914Driver SuperDork
3/12/12 8:56 a.m.

I bought a 1963 Corvair for $25 when I was 17 because the shifter just flopped around. The ball & socket bolts came loose. Tightened them up and drove it for two years.

I bought this E30 from a college girl after her boyfriend "fixed it". He replaced the metal BMW fuel filter with a plastic one like on a tractor or lawn mower. The pressure of the injection system made the blastic part swell up like a baseball and the paper element got sucked into the fuel line.

She was happy to let me have it for $400.

I fixed it, added progressive springs, banged it for a summer and then sold it for $2400.


1 2 3 4
Our Preferred Partners