Car needed for relative £2k to £2.5k

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A-AvantGarde

MB Enthusiast
Joined
Nov 11, 2003
Messages
4,693
Location
South Bucks
Car
2023 Mercedes EQC400, 2015 Porsche 911 Turbo S, 2019 BMW X5 40i
I'm helping my brother-in-law find a replacement car in a bit of a hurry as his current car has died (suspected engine ECU failure). His current car is a 2002 Fiat Stilo and repairing it doesn't look financially viable given it's value.

I may start another thread about breaking a vehicle (depends on what the garage tell him tomorrow!).

He's had a W202 before but I don't think he'll be going near another Mercedes for a while as he doesn't really like the W202 shape anymore and his budget doesn't stretch much further right now.

A quick look on AutoTrader for cars between £2000 to £3000 has thrown up some interesting choices. I've drawn up a bit of a shortlist so far. I'm keen to hear any thoughts on any of the folllowing - anyone owned one or know what to look for etc.

Petrol models are okay as are auto gearboxes (although manual is absolutely fine too). He does 12k to 14k miles p.a.

1999 - 2000 E46 BMW 318i 4 door
1999 - 2000 Lexus IS 200
2000 - 2002 Volvo S60
1998 - 2002 VW Passat

Thanks in advance...
 
My initial conservative reaction would be to go for a petrol Passat 1.8T. The 1.9TD would be nice too, but finding a nice sensible mileage one may take a while.

For better for worse the 1.8T is found in many VAG cars. It's not without it's problems but I believe it's generally a reliable engine.
 
Also thinking of adding the 2000 - 2003 Mondeo to the shortlist, for similar reasons to the Passat 1.8T recommendation...
 
My initial conservative reaction would be to go for a petrol Passat 1.8T. The 1.9TD would be nice too, but finding a nice sensible mileage one may take a while.

For better for worse the 1.8T is found in many VAG cars. It's not without it's problems but I believe it's generally a reliable engine.

When you say they're not without it's problems, aren't the Turbo's prone to failure on the 1.8T?
 
My experience

1999 - 2000 Lexus IS 200 - Partner had a 2001 for 18 months. Nothing broke other than a mirror glass (can't blame Lexus for that). I did not like it - found it very revy and the one day I used it for work cost me a fortune in fuel.
2000 - 2002 Volvo S60 - Had a V70 D5 but newer. Again reliable, only costing on service items.
1998 - 2002 VW Passat - Had experience via previous company. No particular problems on either a 115 or 130hp. Auto's are horrible and driving experience fairly dull.

Will forgot to mention the obvious omission from the list - Saab 9-5 :D

http://www.autotrader.co.uk/classified/advert/200951348472134/sort/priceasc/usedcars/make/saab/model/9-5/price-to/3000/price-from/2000/radius/1501/page/1/postcode/dn12dj/quicksearch/true?previous=%2Fsearch%2Fresults%2Fusedcars%2Fpostcode%2Fdn12dj%2Fradius%2F1501%2Fmake%2Fsaab%2Fmodel%2F9-5%2Fprice-to%2F3000%2Fprice-from%2F2000%2Fsort%2Fpriceasc%2Fpage%2F1%2Fquicksearch%2Ftrue&logcode=p

http://www.autotrader.co.uk/classif.../price-to/3000/page/1/sort/priceasc&logcode=p
 
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When you say they're not without it's problems, aren't the Turbo's prone to failure on the 1.8T?

I'm not too familiar with the marque, so I couldn't say for sure.

A friend had a 2004 Leon 1.8T. His had quite a few electrical problems, mostly associate with the inlet system. He had his own VAG-COM so diagnosed and researched the problems mostly himself. It sounded like he wasn't alone. But I feel like so many internet stories, you tend to only hear the negative ones. A good test drive from cold, through the whole rev range should highlight most issues.

Will forgot to mention the obvious omission from the list - Saab 9-5 :D

I'm slipping. I'll do 100 lines of 'I must plug Saab more often' :)
 
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I had a 1.8T engined Audi A4 for a couple of years from brand new.

Very dissappointing engine IMHO - course, wheezy, poor fuel consumption. 5-speed manual gearbox has poor shift quality I found.

Really needed to be revved to make any progress which further exacerbated the problem - just not a nice drive at all I thought. That's without any thought to reliabilty issues?

The S60 is probably the smart choice - don't know how cheap/reliable they are to run though?

The BMW and Lexus choices I expect may mean you end up with an older/higher mileage car than the S60?

If he's just been stung with the Stilo and wants something modern for £2-2.5k, I'd personally look at the less exciting but more reliable/cheaper to run choices - Mondeo sounds boring but might be okay. I'd give the Passats a look in, but much rather a TDi with higher mileage compared to a lower mileage 1.8T :cool:

Is there no way he can get a used ECU and keys or whatever for the Stilo? If that's all that wrong surely it's got to be worth fixing an 8 year old car!

Will
 
Is there no way he can get a used ECU and keys or whatever for the Stilo? If that's all that wrong surely it's got to be worth fixing an 8 year old car!

Will

It's a shame as his Stilo is a nice spec: Sky roof, Nav, 17's and the Abarth side skirts & it's bright yellow :D. Having said that we bought it really really cheap. His stilo now has about 125k on the clock (he's done over half that mileage), current trade value (when working) was circa £1k...

Possibly but they aren't 100% sure that it's just the ECU, I've cut & pasted an email he sent with the prices he's been quoted so far (this is from a Fiat dealer):

With a refurbished ECU:
- Cost of towing the car from the garage that have the car at the mo- £ 40
- Cost of ECU - £ 450
- Labour rate £79 (2 to 3 hour job)
- total cost ~ £760

With a New ECU:
- Cost of towing the car from the garage that have the car at the mo- £ 40
- Cost of ECU - £ 780
- Labour rate £79 (2 to 3 hour job)
- total cost ~ £1100 (this included 3 hour labour time)

I've found a few firms that do ECU repairs for about £200, I've also sent him the details of a Fiat specialist local to him to get a quote from. The specialist's rate could cut the bill down a fair bit.

Having said that there's a thread on the Fiat forums about ECU problems on the Stilos and corroded / oxidised connections to the ECU causing lots of faults, b***dy Fiats
 
I have to be honest and say that I know almost nothing about Fiat (Fix It Again Tony :eek:) but surely someone can fit an ECU for less than that (2 to 3 hours @ £79/hour). Must be Fiat or Alfa type specialists around who are capable?

I'd be thinking more along the lines of a used ECU for a couple of hundred quid and £50-100 for fitting . AA or RAC for the tow?

Any useful Fiat forums out there for advice or parts? Seems early for an ECU to fail (2002 car), maybe worth seeing if Fiat could help.

Will
 
Just seen your edit - got to be worth looking at the Forums as you have. If our MB forum is anything to go by, chances are that someones seen a similar fault before and would be best advised on how to repair it most efficiently :)

Will
 
Any useful Fiat forums out there for advice or parts? Seems early for an ECU to fail (2002 car), maybe worth seeing if Fiat could help.

Will

Been on some of those today, although they're not as friendly as this place :). As you say I've found a few firms that do ECU repairs for about £200, I've also sent him the details of a Fiat specialist local to him to get a quote from. The specialist's labour rate would cut the bill down a lot.

Shockingly, there is a lot on the Fiat forums about ECU problems on the Stilos.

I think part of it is that my bro-in-law has lost confidence in his car and wants a change. I still feel it's worth fixing & then selling as a runner...
 
might be worth calling: Welcome to Intapart for a s/h ECU.
Website says they have:

STILO 1.4 16V 3DR HATCH 54 GREY MET
STILO 1.2 16V 5DR HATCH 02 GREY MET
 
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Just thought I'd post an update, we bought a 2003 Saab 9-3 2.0t (175 hp).

I blew hi bidget by about £500 but he's more than pleased with it, great history, just two owners (Saab Reading demo then owned by a Reading company). Full Saab history too. More info and pics coming soon hopefully.

Now back to those Fiat forums to try and get his other car driveable / saleable...
 
Well done on getting a SAAB. I had a 2.3 Turbo 9-5 for a couple of years and it was quite good. 35MPG easy and 250BHP.
 
Just thought I'd post an update, we bought a 2003 Saab 9-3 2.0t (175 hp).

I blew hi bidget by about £500 but he's more than pleased with it, great history, just two owners (Saab Reading demo then owned by a Reading company). Full Saab history too. More info and pics coming soon hopefully.

Now back to those Fiat forums to try and get his other car driveable / saleable...

Didnt know you could get a 9-3 for so cheap.

Got me tempted even though I have no need for such a car, just seems terrific value.
 
1999 - 2000 E46 BMW 318i 4 door
1999 - 2000 Lexus IS 200
2000 - 2002 Volvo S60
1998 - 2002 VW Passat


Assuming all the above are petrol, I'd reckon the BMW is going to be the cheapest to run, the Volvo the quickest and nicest car for everyday use, the Lexus will of course have the most toys and the Passat is, well, just a Passat.

I've owned an S60 - did 130k miles in it in just under 3 yrs. Driven hard I averaged about 24mpg but the cost of parts from main dealers is shocking, which if you're servicing with original parts can be scary (120 quid for 5 spark plugs). I used an independent and stopped using original service parts (apart from cambelt at 110k and air filter which wasn't dear).

It's a very nice car for every day use, more room in the front than the others but not as much room in the back as a Passat. Boot is good sized but the opening is small preventing you loading big things.

Driven hard they will devour front tyres like there's no tomorrow, but mine was still on the original clutch at 130k miles and no signs of failure, had no major issues BUT the ETM (throttle body module) was failing and at the time that was a 600-1000 quid job (I believe they've reduced that cost a lot now and redesigned the part). ETM problems were rife among petrol Volvos of that age, mostly on gently driven cars (life as short as 30-40k miles) caused by wear on the servo pot track. Mine wore at the full throttle end causing intermittent cutting out at full throttle, town bound cars wear at the opposite end causing poor idle and cutting out, the worst ones are those that sit at cruise at 70 all day, they wear around that point and can just cut the engine when holding 70 on the motorway - so if you look at any you need a proper test drive and to check that any warranty covers that part.

Other than that mine was chipped and driven like it was stolen and being chased by armed police in lamborghinis with missile launchers and nothing (other than the fuel filler flap hinge - 14 quid) broke on it.
 

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