One of my oldest friends is selling his 2002 VW Passat Station Wagon (GLX V6). He bought it new and has taken good care of it (I've known him for 30 years; he takes care of things). He has all of the car's records.
As it turns out, I'm in the market for a used car. The car drives beautifully. He is listing it at $6K. But a thorough pre-purchase inspection uncovered several problems, for which he is willing to take the price down. How can we find a fair value for the car? And should I buy this Volkswagen at all?
BTW, here's a link to the Craigslist ad
A bit about what I want it for: I will be driving it around the Bay Area (trips to the mountains, beaches, etc) for the next five months, then driving it cross-country to Cambridge, MA where I have a one-year job lined up. After that I am not sure where I will be (I'm an academic). I'm also hoping to have a kiddo within the next year or two, and I like the fact that it feels so sturdy and safe, and can fit three kids in the backseat for nieces and nephews. And it seems pretty good in snow. After driving this car, the cheaper cars I was considering feel kind of tinny. This car feels luxurious.
Yesterday I took it, with his blessing, to get a pre-purchase inspection from the well-regarded VW indie that has done most of the work on the car. It turns out there's a bunch of work that needs to be done (torn CV boot, leaking engine mounts, breather valve, cracking, serpentine belt, a couple of small oil leaks, and a few other small things I'm not remembering. The work comes out to almost $2400. He is bummed, but is willing to sell the car to me for $6K minus the repair estimate, $3600. The only thing is, I want to be sure that the $6K is a fair value. The Kelley Blue Book
values are miles (like almost $3K) away from one another, making it hard to know how to fairly value it. There's also something called Clearbook
, which I suspect is closest, but I've never heard of it before. And NADA
gives a super high figure, but it's a retail figure. Most of the similar cars we've seen are selling with higher mileage for more money, but most of them are from dealers and who knows whether people are actually paying those prices? It's confusing.
Kelley Blue Book - $7253 (good)
Edmunds - $4507
Clearbook - $5489
Nadaguides - $8700 clean retail (no private party price)
There is no rust at all (car has always lived in the Bay Area). But there are lots of dings and scratches and dents, and I'll need to replace the fuel door. I worry a bit about how those dings and dents will fare upon moving to the land of salt and snow. Would this car be better off staying in SF?
I should mention that eleven years ago (!) I bought a 1996 Saab from him that I drove happily for seven years. I know that VWs are often money pits, but he has not had many problems with this one, and it drives like butter. There are no worries on either side about this harming our friendship, even if things really went wrong. He has more money than I do, and has always been generous. I want to be sure we both get a good deal
If I buy another used car, I worry that I'll just be buying a big unknown. Possibly a more reliable big unknown, but still. And: the heated leather seats! The big cargo space to make it easy to move back to the east coast!
The other alternative is buying a much cheaper new car, like a Honda FIT. I know it's a good car. But I also know it won't be quite as safe, and it definitely won't be as a nice of a ride. And insurance/registration/taxes on a new car will be a lot more expensive, too. On the other hand, there's reliability to consider.
Can anyone help? I don't want to haggle with him - we both want to arrive at a fair price, and I want to decide whether the car makes sense for me at all, period, before I start a discussion about pricing.