Looking to buy used Pontiac Vibe, any insight from owners ?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Looking to buy used Pontiac Vibe, any insight from owners ?

    Hi, looking to purchase a second-hand Vibe or Toyota Matrix in February and one of the main use would be to carry my mtb and go on road trips. I'm very tempted by the AWD version since I have to deal with snow every winter and that I'm a big fan of driving off limits (normal for a mtber ). However I didn't found much about the reliably or known issues of the drivetrain except for the engine itself being praised for over a decade.

    Anyone has good insight on this car ? I'm looking at model years 2003 to 2005, with between 130 000km and 220 000km, automatic gearbox and ideally AWD, pricing between $2k and $4k CAD.

    Thanks !
    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleB28 View Post
    topless. that's what all mtb girls do. we go ride, get topless, have pillow fights in the woods, scissor, then ride home!

  2. #2
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    I have a 2004. What do you what to know?

  3. #3
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    We recently bought an 03 XRS Matrix (similar to Vibe GT) for our son to have at college. I did a fair amount of research on these vehicles, so I'll share a bit that I've learned:

    Best to avoid anything with a 5-speed manual transmission. Very high incidence of bearing failures resulting in costly repairs.

    The auto trans and 6-speed manuals (GT/XRS only) are great.

    I too considered an AWD, but ultimately decided against it. The AWD system in these vehicles is very basic and uses a viscous coupler to allocate power between the front/rear wheels. VC's are commonly used by many manufacturers, and they can last for the life of the vehicle in many instances. However, they can also fail in time and many people on Matrix/Vibe forums have reported their AWD's became front wheel drive somewhere north of 100K miles. The real problem is that Toyota prices that VC at something ridiculous that I can't recall exactly off the top of my head, but is over $1000 US.

    VC's fail in time due to use, but failure is accelerated by having tires that are not virtually identical in circumference. We have two AWD vehicles in our family and I am religious about rotating the tires and keeping them as precisely even as possible. My son's Subaru recently had a VC fail and I suspect the previous owner was not nearly as careful about tire circumference as we have been. Fortunately, Subaru VC's are much more popular and I found a low mileage used unit for about $200 (we installed it ourselves). Just for reference, the Subie had about 140K miles when the VC failed and had about 115K miles when my son bought the car.

    If you do decide to get an AWD, I would get it on a slippery surface and ensure the VC is functioning before buying it. You could probably find some loose gravel, block the front wheels with something, then try to drive forward and see if a rear wheel spins in the gravel in attempting to propel the vehicle. If you see no action from one of the rear wheels, the VC is probably dead.

    Otherwise, these vehicles are pretty solid. Apparently there were some issues with oil consumption in the non-GT/XRS engines, so you may want to inquire about that from the seller.

    Here are three forums I found useful:

    GenVibe - Community for Pontiac Vibe Enthusiasts - Index page
    Toyota Matrix Owners Forum
    Corolla and Matrix Forum - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums

    Hope that helps,

    AM.

  4. #4
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    I bought a 2003 vibe auto with 200k miles on it a few years back for $2000, it had some slight cosmetic damage. I needed a beater quick since my last beater finally died on me and the vibe popped up half a mile from my house for sale. It was rock solid, steering, suspension, uses a timing chain which is a huge plus in my book, just felt like a well built car despite the miles. Downside was it was an extremely boring car to drive which is ultimately why I sold it but was very handy for bike hauling.

    Interior pic of mine. The plastic cargo area besides being easy to clean also has those handy rail slots built into them. I used those to install a pair of fork mounts and could fit my 29ers in it with no problem.

    Some common problems and ones mine had when I bought it. There is an electric motor that turns a gear to switch between recirc mode and outside air and the gear is prone to the teeth stripping. Fix costs nothing other than time. Only a small portion of the wheel gear is actually used so you just have to get it out, pull it apart, and turn the gear 180 degrees so it doesn't use the portion with broke teeth anymore. The LEDs in the stock radio head unit specifically the station display portion are prone to burning out. If you are handy with a soldering iron cost is a buck or two for new LEDs and time again. The driver's side switch panel for the power windows/locks breaks. Not the switches themselves the panel that holds them in place breaks and the switches fall down inside the door. Lots of different ways to fix that if you look on the net but I just used tons of super glue lol. It also has automatic headlights which were over sensitive imo and every time they would turn on the dash lights would dim and the way the dash is made it could be hard to read the gauges with them dimmed in they day.

  5. #5
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    Thanks guys, that's pretty good info right here.

    I'm wondering what should I expect to really pay for a 12 years old car with over 150 000km on it and automatic gearbox ? Like I said, they're mostly in the $2k-$4k range, but even at $3k CAD, it's still a old car with old door hinges, old axles, old transmission, old moving parts, etc. I'm looking at figuring cost of ownership for a year too, considering I might very be going on road trips this summer too. I can't find anything more recent than 2004 with under 200 000km that is listed below $3 500. There's a lot of 2007-2009 with 150-200k for $5k-$6k tho
    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleB28 View Post
    topless. that's what all mtb girls do. we go ride, get topless, have pillow fights in the woods, scissor, then ride home!

  6. #6
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    Used car prices at least around me suck in general anymore. I got extremely lucky when I found my beat up 2003 vibe for $2000 4 years ago. My local cable company caused another $1400 worth of body damage to it which I never bother to fix and I still sold it for $2400 a year after buying it. Everything else at the time was $5k just to buy something that wasn't a total POS including other vibes/matrix. Got lucky on my next car too after months of looking but I got bored with it after a few years too and broke down and bought my first more or less new car because again used car prices are insane. Just made more sense to buy a 2 year old ford focus hatch with 45k miles for $10k than a 10 year old car with 100+k miles for $6000 that really wasn't any better than my 2003 VW TDI. Once I get around to selling that VW which has 230k miles on it I'll ask $4k and I'll probably get it or at least close to it.

    Buying a vibe used to mean you were getting a toyota at pontiac prices but most people have figure that out now so there isn't nearly the same discount anymore.

    Find something everybody hates but is still fairly reliable. Have you thought about a Pointiac Aztec . They are like a bigger much uglier vibe at least in utility and around here people can't give them away. I see them with low miles for next to nothing.

  7. #7
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    Thanks canker, although I'm not that desperate yet to get an Assteck
    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleB28 View Post
    topless. that's what all mtb girls do. we go ride, get topless, have pillow fights in the woods, scissor, then ride home!

  8. #8
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    Our '08 Vibe (1.8L, 5 speed, 2wd), has been a super car (110k miles). We've had it since new. It gets 35-38MPG highway and the only reliability problem was intake manifold gasket (common problem, ~$10 and 4 hours to fix). Also, the radio lights as mentioned previously.

    The price for the fuel economy is total absence of sound insulation and barely adequate power. I can't imagine how slow the 1.8L would be if burdened with the 4sp auto...

    I think it's a great car for cyclists. It does really well with hitch racks and has a ton of interior room. It's a Corolla underneath, so parts are cheap.

    Personally, if it were me buying a used car, I'd avoid complications like awd and auto transmissions. Just expensive maintenance headaches on an old car and detract from fuel economy.
    whatever...

  9. #9
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    Well I just grabbed a good deal on a '07 white Yaris with 177 000 km for less than $4k CAD, in very nice condition. Totally not what I want, but it's gonna be better than nothing while I keep looking for that deal on a Vibe and I shouldn't have any problem selling the Yaris for as much if not more than I paid for later.
    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleB28 View Post
    topless. that's what all mtb girls do. we go ride, get topless, have pillow fights in the woods, scissor, then ride home!

  10. #10
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    My mom had an '03 Vibe, which she bought new and gave to my sister last year. Currently has around 170k.

    It's been a very solid car, it had some issues early on that were fixed under warranty, and a few others since then.

    I seem to remember my dad replacing motor mounts a few years ago, and 2 years ago we had to replace one of the rear struts as the coil spring mount had rotted out and failed; that corner of a car looked like a low rider.

    They had a recurring problem with the driver's door,something in the window mechanism would fail, causing the glass to fall down into the door. That was the only major issue.

    I really liked that car, it handled pretty well and got great mileage on the highway, I took it on a trip once and got 36mpg, including NYC traffic.

    And a Vibe is basically a Matrix, which is basically a Corolla, so you know it's going to be pretty solid.
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