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  1. #1
    baumy300 is offline Star Spokesman
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    Has anyone here ever been to small claims court?

    I know there are a few intelligent people on here who have some life experience, so this is the situation I am in, and also a cry for advice.

    Here's the deal:

    about 3-4 weeks ago I bought a 1999 Cadillac Eldorado from a private party in a town 80 miles away. Both me and my father (who owned a mechanic shop at one time) went to check it out and make sure everything was OK. So we get there and this car is in amazing shape. Are 120,000 miles on it, but the car is almost flawless. We drive it about 10 miles and have a look under the hood. Everything seems fine and the car feels great.

    We go back and tell the guy we will take it for $5,000, which was his asking price. The first red flag came up when we had to wait on the title so he could pay Chrysler $700 (he owed 6,200 on it) and write his debt with them off. He told us that he had his hours at work cut from 70 hours a week to 40 and therefore had no more overtime and was forced to get rid of one of his vehicles. I'll buy that story.

    So OK, we get the car, drive it 80 miles home, and then park it in the garage. I did a little around-town driving, but that was about it. Since I live in a really small town, I have to keep going back to the town where i bought the car at to get supplies and just other things that my town doesn't have. My first up there was a disaster. The car overheated on the way back. We looked at it and the car was completely drained of coolant. We put some water in to get back home and then filled it with coolant. I drove it around town a bit, but nothing major after that. Fast forward a week and the same thing - Took it to the bigger city, the thing overheated.

    OK, so now I'm worried. We had the mechanic change the thermostat, look over it, and then even put the bar-leak head gasket repair solution in because figured it was a head gasket. I just got the car today from the mechanic and I went to take it on a road trip when the thing overheated again within the first 10 miles.

    It was all making sense - The guy knew this car had been giving him trouble, so he dumped it off. Here are some things that could be a factor in the court case:

    1. The guy swore up and down to us that the car was serviced every month. If this is true, there should be invoices from places.

    2. He sold the car for $5,500 and still owed 6,200 on it. The car only books at 65 or so, so he must have known something bad was going on with it.

    3. If his hours did get cut so significantly his employer should be able to confirm that. This should be brought up in small claims court, right? I mean just to make sure he's telling the truth about why he is selling it.

    4. I only put 2-300 miles on this car, and I did not run it hard, so there is a very slim chance all of this would just pop up. Especially given the circumstances of him selling it.

    So I am at a loss. I am a college student working part time and I NEED a vehicle. After the loan owe 6k on this car and I can't afford to just pull another 4 out of nowhere to replace the engine.

    I am going to take this guy to small claims court, not because I am angry or frustrated, but because I truly believe he screwed me.

    What are your guys opinions? Advice?

  2. #2
    olson_10's Avatar
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    Re: Has anyone here ever been to small claims court?

    gonna be honest, the only time i was in small claims court, i was removed by the judge lol
    People who see life as anything more than pure entertainment are missing the point.

  3. #3
    C Mac D's Avatar
    C Mac D is offline Posting to P'own
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    Re: Has anyone here ever been to small claims court?

    You'd need written proof that he guaranteed it was serviced every month. I'd talk to a lawyer, I've never personally been to small claims court, but I've watched Judge Judy before.
    Disclaimer: I'm an idiot.

  4. #4
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: Has anyone here ever been to small claims court?

    Why he sold it has very little to do with it IMO. If he deceived you about the service, that is a different story.

    When you bought the car, did you look underneath it for leaking fluids on the pavement or the bottom cross members or around the engine? Standard procedure when I look at a car

    Furthermore, you drove it 80 miles home & it did not overheat. Why? Then you drove it a short distance & it did. You could say that he filled the fluid when you left & when it ran low, it overheated the next time you drove it.

    If I was a judge, I wouldn't buy that. The reason I say that is because you took it to a mechanic & had the thermostat replaced. He would have topped off the fluid, yet it overheated in a very short distance. Much less than the 80 miles it took to drive home initially.

    Now this is what I would check if I were you. Check the frost plugs. Anti freeze, especially the orange shit, will eat & corrode them. The frost plugs have a very thin wall.

    I had a very similar problem like yours with my Cavalier. If I was driving in town where it idled a lot, with short stops & goes, it would overheat. On highway driving it was much better. I could drive 100 highway miles & it wouldn't overheat. Drive 5 miles in the city stopping & going & the needle would rise to "HOT".

    The problem was the electric radiator fan. They run when the car is idling or moving slow to cool it down, but doesn't run when highway driving. The air flowing thru the radiator is sufficient. Check the fuse under the hood first & then unplug the connector & using a couple of alligator clip leads, hook it directly to the battery to see if it's working properly. My did not work. I replaced the fan motor for $25 & the problem was gone.

    Another culprit might be the fans temp sensor, the water pump or it's belt or the radiator itself. Some of those have plastic end caps with O-rings that rot out & cause fluid to leak. The head gasket is another possibility & if it has an aluminum head(s) they could be cracked/warped.

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  5. #5
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: Has anyone here ever been to small claims court?

    This is a forum I like to use. You can sort for problems by vehicle make & models...

    http://www.automotiveforums.com/

    Here's one thing I found that is close to your symptoms....

    Re: Cadillac Deville over heating problem

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What Year and engine do you have. A quick peek at your Public Profile shows you own a 1998 DeVille so I'll assume thats it.
    If they ran the chemical test (we call it a block test) and it failed then you have a head gasket failure(more likely)
    or a cracked block(less likely). I work in a Cadillac dealer and I can tell you that from your description of your problems it sure sounds like a head gasket failure. Its not uncommon for the threads in the aluminum block to pull out which loosens the tension on the headgasket and causes the failure. There is a special tool kit out in the Cadillac dealerships to repair the threads in the block. They are called Time-Serts and they are simular to Helicoils but 10 times stronger/better. Head gasket repair on a Northstar V8 is expensive (like $2000 - $3000). It requires engine removal to do. Another option is to just have a used engine installed.


    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  6. #6
    baumy300 is offline Star Spokesman
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    Re: Has anyone here ever been to small claims court?

    "singersp" wrote:
    When you bought the car, did you look underneath it for leaking fluids on the pavement or the bottom cross members or around the engine? Standard procedure when I look at a car
    Yes, and to this day it has not leaked. It is like the coolant just disappears.

    "singersp" wrote:
    Furthermore, you drove it 80 miles home & it did not overheat. Why? Then you drove it a short distance & it did. You could say that he filled the fluid when you left & when it ran low, it overheated the next time you drove it.
    Well that's what we do. It's not whether we drive it on the highway or in town that matters, but more so the mileage we drive it. Imagine the coolant being like a tank of gas. It only goes so far with the coolant full, whether it be in town or on the highway.

    "singersp" wrote:
    If I was a judge, I wouldn't buy that. The reason I say that is because you took it to a mechanic & had the thermostat replaced. He would have topped off the fluid, yet it overheated in a very short distance. Much less than the 80 miles it took to drive home initially.
    We just had the thermostat put in today. We had it put in in the town I live in. I barely made it 10 miles after all this work was done on it.


    "singersp" wrote:
    Now this is what I would check if I were you. Check the frost plugs. Anti freeze, especially the orange shit, will eat & corrode them. The frost plugs have a very thin wall.
    Frost plugs? No idea but I will bring it up to my mechanic.


    "singersp" wrote:
    I had a very similar problem like yours with my Cavalier. If I was driving in town where it idled a lot, with short stops & goes, it would overheat. On highway driving it was much better. I could drive 100 highway miles & it wouldn't overheat. Drive 5 miles in the city stopping & going & the needle would rise to "HOT".
    It has nothing to do with the RPM's or idling. It actually does worse on the highway.

    "singersp" wrote:
    Another culprit might be the fans temp sensor, the water pump or it's belt or the radiator itself. Some of those have plastic end caps with O-rings that rot out & cause fluid to leak. The head gasket is another possibility & if it has an aluminum head(s) they could be cracked/warped.
    Yeah, we put that bar-leak product in (which came highly recommend from other guys with gasket problems) and that didn't work. The radiator checked out fine the first time the car was brought in and I don't know about the belts.

    I understand looking at this issue from both sides of the fence, but all the facts add up to make me believe this guy knew what was going on.

    I have bad luck, but not bad enough to own a car for 1 week and then have it go all to hell.

  7. #7
    baumy300 is offline Star Spokesman
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    Re: Has anyone here ever been to small claims court?

    Thanks for that research, Singer.

    I don't know if it can be the head gasket yet though. We used that product that is supposed to repair cracked and broken gaskets. It came highly recommended from both mechanics and other people who have had to use it in the past. It has worked for all of them. Some of them even had their coolant mixing with other fluids, which I think means a bad crack was in place.

    Either way, I'll post this on those forums. Thanks again.

  8. #8
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: Has anyone here ever been to small claims court?

    "baumy300" wrote:
    "singersp" wrote:
    Furthermore, you drove it 80 miles home & it did not overheat. Why? Then you drove it a short distance & it did. You could say that he filled the fluid when you left & when it ran low, it overheated the next time you drove it.
    Well that's what we do. It's not whether we drive it on the highway or in town that matters, but more so the mileage we drive it. Imagine the coolant being like a tank of gas. It only goes so far with the coolant full, whether it be in town or on the highway.
    Then my question still stands. Why did it overheat in less than 10 miles after your mechanic replaced the thermostat & filled the fluid, yet didn't overheat at all when you test drove it 10 miles or in the 80miles you drove home?

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  9. #9
    baumy300 is offline Star Spokesman
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    Re: Has anyone here ever been to small claims court?

    Then my question still stands. Why did it overheat in less than 10 miles after your mechanic replaced the thermostat & filled the fluid, yet didn't overheat at all when you test drove it 10 miles or in the 80miles you drove home?

    No idea, but I know the mechanic took it for a drive before he handed the car off to me. I don't know exactly how far he took it, but it wasn't just 10 miles. Another thing that I forgot to mention that may seem odd is this: The temperature of the days seems to play in. And so does using the A/C.

    Today was over 90 here and I was using the A/C. When I bought the car and drove it home it was raining out and the temperature was only in the 60's Think that has something to do with it?

  10. #10
    COJOMAY is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Has anyone here ever been to small claims court?

    Caveat emptor
    Kentucky Vikes Fan

    When you require nothing, you get nothing; when you expect nothing, you will find nothing; when you embrace nothing, all you will have is nothing.

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