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Jerry Hunt

1990 Buick Reatta Dilemma

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I have a 1990 Maui Blue Buick Reatta Coupe with just under 90,000 miles on it. I'm getting ready to sell the car and don't know if I should sell it as is or put the money into it to get it fixed. This is a list of things wrong:

Headlights-Will not go up and down

Driver Window- Will only go down about 5 inches

Passenger Window- Is slow to go up and down

Antenna- Will not function

Edited by Jerry Hunt (see edit history)

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Hard to say. Convertible or coupe? The things you describe can be fixed for less than $300 if you are handy and have a few tools. If you have to pay someone to make the repairs you are probably talking about another 3 to 4 hundred dollars depending on where you are.

Take that into consideration realizing the market is pretty soft right now and factor in the overall condition of the car.

Good luck.

Ed

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If you do the work yourself...........

The headlight parts are under $100 for both headlights

Window motors are cheap, I purchased 2 new ones off Ebay for less than $50 for both.

If you can find the antenna repair part, that is about $40, I will rebuild it of $60 including shipping.

Looks like slightly over $200 will fix everything..... if you do the work.

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Jerry -

I have changed out 3 headlight motors and they are rather easy to change.

The best way is to remove the headlight cover to gain better access to the

motors.

If you go to a parts store you can get a door panel wrench that will allow

you pop off your drivers door panel (after you remove the screws that gives the doors the rigidity to allow you to pull on the strap to close). Then you can pop the door panel to observe any binding that might be occuring and readjust the window guide mounting screws.

Yur pass door sounds like a bad motor or a possible bad connection or bad

switch in the console.

And as Barney stated the antenna would be best in replacing it.

Good Luck

Woody

89 Maui

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Jerry and all,

This car will make someone a nice vehicle but with the faults it has now it wont be an easy sale unless the price is real low. The biggest problem I see is it wont pass a state safety inspection because of the lights being inoperative.

The most difficult and expensive repair is the windows. If you have never removed and replaced a set of window regulators I would suggest that you take this to a good shop. This is not a good job for a first time DIYer. Rivets need to be drilled out and replaced with new nuts and bolts. Be aware that unless the regulator is pinned properly prior to removing the motor it will bite you. This is not a job I like. Do not bring bargain parts to a shop or you will be charged double for labor. This is an ethics issue that is lost on some people.

The easiest way to repair the antenna (and probably the most unnecessary for selling) is to replace the antenna with a good tested used unit. I have them in my ebay store for $80 and it is an easy installation. If you ship out your broken antenna for "rebuild" there is no guarantee that it is rebuild-able and you will need to ride around with duct tape over the hole in the quarter panel while it is out. Nice.

Fixing the headlights is not a particularly difficult job but quality headlight repair kits will cost $60 plus shipping per headlight. I have the best kit on the market listed in my ebay store. You get what you pay for.

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I agree with Barney, get the headlight kits from him and you will get quality parts from someone who has been involved with Reattas for about 15 years and has an excellent reputation on this forum.

I have Reatta parts cars and recently bought a parts car that had a "barney crank" on it and it was like new. The person I bought the car from said he had purchased it four years ago.

For the window motor problem it sounds like either the motor is bad or the regulator is bad. I sell a tested good motor/regulator combination and then you do not have to worry about the large spring on the regulator giving you problems.

On your passenger side simply clean and grease the tracks and the window should work fine.

Bushwack, a poster on this site, just told be he had sprayed some WD 40 on the tracks and his go up and down nicely now.

As to the antenna, I also have good used antennas for $ 50 but when you get a used antenna it could go bad the next day as the band inside the antenna is a nylon type material and this gets brittle and breaks. This is what happened with yours. With Barney's repair you get a new parts inside that should last for years.

Edited by Jim (see edit history)

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Given the problems are relatively minor (technically speaking) it would be best to fix them prior to offering it for sale. It is the nature of buying used cars to seize onto anything wrong as a bargaining chip. The items you have mentioned, while not that difficult or expensive to take care of, are rather obvious problems that a buyer will use to try and nick you on the selling price.

In other words, most buyers will expect a discount greater than the actual cost of repairs, that is just how people think when negotiating the price of a used car; human nature at work. To prevent yourself from being put at an automatic disadvantage, these items need to be fixed before offering and showing the car for sale, unless you are content to take an artificially suppressed price for the car.

Your car is much better than a parts car based on the posted [albeit brief] description, so don't let someone try to buy it at a beater/parts car price. Fixing the short list of concerns will do much to prevent that from occurring.

KDirk

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Jerry - I have sent you an email outlining my opinion as to what direction I think you should take to improve the attractiveness of your Reatta in the eyes of a Purchaser.

In the case of your headlights, there is a slight chance that perhaps there is an easier way out and my emails will suggest some checking that you can do to make sure precisely what is wrong with it.

In any event, good luck with your selling.

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Agree with the fixing since the great bulk of the potential buyers will have not a clue how easy/difficult it is.

While the headlamp crank can be replaced in the car, if unknown I'd just pull the bucket and replace both rollers and crank. Takes me about an hour per side if everything goes well but rarely need to deal with rust/corrosion. If you turn off the head of one of the three screws in the headlight motor all bets are off (and if the motor is corroded/does not turn are better off buying a good used one - is a Reatta only part though Fiero, Firebird, and Corvette used something electrically the same).

The factory service manual goes into very good detail about how to R&R the door window motors and pin the regulator before removing the motor and is a good time to sort out the 5.25" speakers if it does not sound good (tweaters rarely fail)

Only thing I am going to say about the window motors is that GM used steel (not aluminum) pop rivets but I always replace with #10 screws/lockwashers between the motor and the regulator and 1/4-20 for the regulator/door. One of the door screws is difficult to get in place so some leave out. Don't. Put in all five or use steel rivets.

This is a good time to adjust the window guides so the window moves freely up and down. You do not want it binding in any way. Take to a shop for adjustment if you need to.

WIll mention that a potential buyer must assume the worst unless you are lucky enough to find an impulse buyer (and are unlikely to find one on CL. AutoTrader or Hemmings maybe, but most people want a turn-key car ). I just automatically think "a/c has a leak" = $1,000 repair. Same for "ABS light is always on". "Minor crack in windshield" is the worst. A car that "does not run" is a whole bag of worms since nothing can be checked out.

So you have a choice: fix, detail, and advertise or just sell as a parts car ($250-$750 for a coupe).

ps My experience with WD40 is that after a few months it dries out and gets gummy. White grease lasts longer but greasing felt is not going to help anything.

Edited by padgett (see edit history)

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If you're interested, I've got a set of fully rebuilt headlight motors with new crank arms, rollers, and unstop nut all installed. Just need to be installed. And it's pretty easy to install yourself if you've got a small set of tools.

I'm sure Mike at BuickReattaParts.com can get all those things done for you at a decent price.

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Jerry,

In your previous topic, "What to do", you ended it abruptly with your last post (see below) leading me to believe you had found someone who was willing to help you get all your problems taken car of. I can't help but wonder why your problems didn't get taken care of as you expected?

Good news so far. Met with Mike from BuickReattaCarParts. He was amazing, looked at my car and did a little test drive. Had me try a transmission flush and it seemed to work. Talked about the other problems with the car and is going to help me get it all taken care of. Thanks for the advise.

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I just replaced a headlight motor in my sister's Reatta and what I do is remove the black plastic bezel around the headlight bulb. Remove the large black panel between the headlights and then remove the one bolt at the top of the vertical filler panel support. I then put a piece of cardboard or something similar under the top of the support so it doesn't scratch the upper radiator support and using a rubber snubber pull the top of the vertical support away from the headlight motor and hold it away with the snubber. I then remove the three bolts that hold the motor to the bracket and remove the one nut/bolt on the end of the flat metal link at the end opposite the bellcrank and then remove the motor/bellcrank/flat arm all at once. You can now rebuild the motor and replace the bellcrank.

Edited by Jim (see edit history)

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Ronnie, have found someone to help fix the problems. Letting my 19 year old son learn some lessons in life by paying for the repairs himself, which will take a little longer. Our big dilemma is that we have decided that it is time to let someone else have the joy of owning a Reatta, so should we fix it and hope to recover the cost of repairs in the selling price or try to sell as is. Other than these few issues the car is in great shape.

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I believe the answer lies in your desire/ability to do the repairs yourself.

Trying to place a selling price on someones vehicle from a thousand miles away is also difficult. It seems the seller always thinks it is more valuable than the buyer.

If you fix the problems, you reduce the items the potential buyer might use as leverage to get the price down. You can also state that all those items have been recently fixed/replaced.

The remaining item would be to place a reasonable price on the vehicle. The condition of the paint, interior and overall appearance of the car weighs on the selling price.

If it needs tires, that is a $300-$500 item in itself. Do some research on used car selling sites like Cars.com, Autotrader, Ebay and compare your car to similar vehicles.

Sometimes making a graph with mileage up the side and asking price across the bottom helps. Put a dot at the mileage/price matrix of cars for sale and after a short time you will notice a pattern of pricing.

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It is so easy to fix the headlights yourself, that it would make a great father/son project some saturday morning. Doesn't make any sense to pay a mechanic to do it. Only things needed are the parts (crank arms and plastic rollers) from one of the people on this board, and a few basic hand tools. Antenna is also an easy project. I'd let a pro fix the window regulator though.

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Keep it, those are minor/common items that go wrong on a Reatta.

If you are going to be selling it, you want to limit how much you spend on it to get it ready to sell, many solutions you will get are based on creating a for show car, not a for sale car. Many solutions you'll get are also based if you have unlimted time and money. If you dont have a complete and expert knowledge of auto mechanics, complete set of tools, working knowledge of automotive computer diagnostics, a lift in your garage, welding and power tools and so forth, take those easy DIY suggestions with caution. Let your wallet dictate your actions not a show points book.

But these are easy fixes you describe that will require little of that. Here are my low cost easy to do suggestions based on experience and my rather skinny wallet.

Headlights: You'll get great advice from Kingsley, he helped me with my issues, but there is a seldom mentioned hidden Headlight Relay that can cause major issues that I just found about recently. I am about to embark on that adventure myself. Stay tuned...

Windows: Before taking apart the door and start doing surgery on rivets and bolts with drills and more, make sure the door track sills are clean with WD40 and lubricate them with White Lithium Grease. IT DOES WORK. It helped my windows tremendously and you would not know there ever was an issue, let the next guy. Taking apart the door and power window assemblies and drilling out rivets is not a job to take lightly if you have no experience doing these kind of things.

Antenea: An aftermarket Power Antenea costs $60 bucks at Auto Zone and installs easy. I could not afford that, so I used a $9.99 "Rubber Duckie", non power on mine and its fine, just fine.

I dont mean any disrespect to the very fine solutions and advice that have already been posted, but we all dont have the money, time and resources to do everything by the book. Especially on a car you may just want to get rid of.

Just my 2 cents and good luck whatever you deside to do.

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If it will cost me a few hundred dollars to have someone make necessary repairs, then that's significant in what I'm willing to pay for the car.

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Minimum I would fix would be the headlights. Next the would be the drive'r window.

After that, the next owner can have the other stuff fixed easily. Those things won't impact a sale too much.

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Just remember, when buying a car if anything doesn't work you have to expect the worst.

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