Buying Late-Model Corvettes - C5 C6 Buyers' Guide

Everything You Need To Know To Buy Your Next C5/C6

Tom Benford Nov 2, 2009 0 Comment(s)
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Optional Equipment
The next thing to look for when C5/C6 shopping is the optional equipment the potential car is equipped with. You can get anything from a base coupe, which is pretty much a bare-bones Corvette to one that is loaded with all the goodies. The more options, the higher the asking price will be. But not all options are desirable, and some are more desirable than others. Things like dual-zone climate control, head-up display, all the power options with memory, power passenger seat and so forth all add to the creature comforts, desirability and, consequently, the price of the car. The memory option is particularly desirable and popular, since it remembers things like your preferred seat position, favorite radio stations, left and right mirror settings and more. Having a good assortment of options is an important consideration even if you're not going to keep the car for a long time, as they add to the resale value (again). For the most part, most prospective C5/C6 purchasers like "buttons"-all the optional goodies that add to driver/passenger comfort, information and pleasure while in the Corvette. But don't be too quick to judge things at first blush-ask a lot of questions and look a bit deeper. For example, if the stereo has a cassette player in it rather than a CD player in the dash, don't be put off-99 percent of the time there will be a 12-CD changer in the trunk, thus giving you the best of both worlds. Likewise, don't be too overjoyed if the car is equipped with selective ride control-this is a seldom-used option by most drivers and a very expensive one to repair if/when it fails (which it most likely will, eventually).

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Caveats: C5 Problem Areas
Although the GM engineering team did a truly miraculous job of designing the C5, there were a few bugs that didn't show up until the generation had been around for a couple of years; this is to be expected with any new design, even though extensive testing may have been done during development. On the early (1995-1999) C5s, there were a few items in particular that are prone to failure. The oil pressure sending unit is notorious for giving up the ghost, and it will cost you about $300 to have the local Chevy dealer replace it or about $40 and the better part of a morning or afternoon to do it yourself. The steering column lock is another problematic component on these C5s as well, and it will set you back $250-$400 to have your dealership fix the problem, or about $50-$65 for a column-lock bypass unit that you can install yourself in about an hour or less. Power door lock modules and power window modules have also been known to fail, and their cures can cost about $270 each to implement. C5 seat tracks start to get play in them and replacing them can be several hundred dollars, although you can do a repair for considerably less money but it takes time and effort if you want to save the bucks. Headlight gears and motors, serpentine belt tensioners and idler pulleys are all subject to wear and subsequent failure over time, so these are also items to check when making a purchase. And tire pressure sensors have non-replaceable batteries in them that will eventually die; when this happens, you'll have to replace the sensors and, at about $125 each, this can run into some money as well. Other things to check for wear include the tie-rod ends, anti-sway bar, radiator hoses and the oil pan to make sure there are no leaks or seepage.

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Determining The Going Price
DeSmedt advises that value listings like the Kelly Blue Book are a bit tricky because they aren't reality-based; he strongly suggests that you take a look on eBay Motors to get a handle on what Corvettes similar to what you're looking for are fetching. "If you look at the listings for fifty cars on eBay and ten of them sell for, let's say, $7,200, then that's the going price and that's what they're worth-around $7,200; the other 40 cars didn't sell because they were over-valued in the auctions. The important thing to look for is what the cars actually sell for, not what the sellers are hoping to get for them or what they opening bid is on eBay. The easiest way to find out the going price is to do a search of completed items. This will show you the finished listings for the last thirty days; the ones that are green sold and the ones that are red didn't sell, either because their reserves (if any) or minimum bids weren't met. This is a really good barometer, because it gives you a look at Corvette values across the entire country, not just one area or locale. What you want to determine is that what you're paying for the vehicle is what it is really worth. And, more importantly, if you decide that you don't want to keep it for some reason, that you'll be able to get your money back out of it two or three months down the road. With that thought in mind, you don't necessarily want to buy it with the thought of making any money on it, but you certainly don't want to lose any money if you decide to sell it shortly thereafter."

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