So I'm surely boring the heck out of you as I talk about a Honda Pilot in a thread with the words "HPS Supercharger" in it. Get ready for the long read, I'm not very concise.
A few weeks back, I was in the area of this car, and the online listing had no pictures. I came pretty close to buying a 2004 e500 wagon before i realized it had no third row seat (the day I learned MANY 2004 wagons do not have third rows). I call this dealer about the e500 wagon they had listed a total of over 2.5 hours from my home, but I was only about 30 minutes away due to work meetings. As I was leaving the dealer with the "no-third-row-e500" to head to the dealer with this car, the dealer called back to let me know they couldn't produce the car. Apparently the owner had taken the car home for the night. Hmm.. Bummer, but I was still at the point in my search that I considered it the loss of the dealer. Home I went.
Last night (Wednesday), I saw the listing pop back up again, and I saw pictures of the car. I showed them to my wife, and she liked it, even more than a standard e-wagon. That got me excited, but I was apprehensive about one feature of this car. It has an HPS 2nd generation supercharger. The intake manifold is replaced with the HPS supercharger that is apparently supposed to provide over 100 hp and 100 ftlb of torque, making this e500 somewhere in the range of 400hp and 440ftlb torque. I researched the superchargers and tried to understand what it would do to the reliability and gas mileage of the car, and was please to determine that it should not really hurt as long as everything was tuned right. I confirmed this with my mechanic this morning too. He looked at the car, and said... well go look at it. At that price, you can get your money right back if you don't like the car by selling it. I agreed, so off I went on my 2.5 hour trip, a trip I already determined would be my last venture to look at used cars.
I had the carfax showing 4 owners... YES FOUR. The first was for over three years, Seven days second owner, then about 18 months for third, and 9 months for final owner (who the dealer claimed was a broker that drove the car for 9 months). There were numbers of the MB dealers that serviced the car, so I called the last number in the list, who serviced the car about 6 months ago, and requested a history. I got a call back (as I was driving to see the car) and the MB dealer said the car only had an oil change, but there were other items:
- Suggested Trans Service was decline (no surprise, as I'd expect the trans to be beat up with a supercharger)
- The check engine light was on, and they diagnosed it to be due to three cylinders misfiring. Hmm...
I told the dealer about these items, and they said the car is fine now, and that occured before they bought the car, so they don't know what had to be fixed, but it's fine now. They also called to let me know that someone else showed up from out of state to see the car, a guy who came with his young son, and was not prepared to pay for the car or take it home that day. However, he did take the car to a German Car specialist about 10+ miles away for an inspection. So when I got there, I had to wait. When the car came back and I saw it in the lot, I was about to hop in until I saw the other prospective customer's son sleeping in the front seat. I went inside and eavesdropped on his conversation instead. He said that he'd probably confirm that he wants the car then and there if it didn't have the supercharger, but he had to go home check some things out, talk to his wife, and make some decisions. So he decided not to put a down-payment on the car today. Good news for me! I was worried I might get into a bidding war on this car.
So I got to go drive the car (assuming that the guy would maybe make an offer while I was gone). I decided I might as well smash the gas pedal right out of the gate. The car had some serious power, but the Check Engine light came on instantly. I waited to see if it would go out, but it didn't. I immediately returned, and said. What the heck? The Check engine light came on instantly. We immediately called the mechanic that checked over the car. He said he was surprised because he just checked the whole car, and it was fine. He said to get the codes from a diagnostic tool. Fortunately the dealer had one. I'm pretty sure the code was "EGR FLOWMETER MALFUNCTION" (or error). I don't know what this is, but the dealer convinced me it was nothing big. I'm not sure how the check engine light cleared (as in if they cleared it with the diag tool or it cleared itself) but it went away. So we were just left with the signal that the car was 123 days overdue for the scheduled service. I convinced the dealer owner to come along with me on the next drive. Everything went fine on this next drive, except there was a warning about brake wear, which the dealer said was most likely a $5 sensor. Hmm... Ok. If that's true I could live with it.
After the drive I discovered, there was only one keyfob. They said they'd give me another MB keyfob, but I'd have to get it programmed. OK. Whatever. Brake sensors, keyfob programming, and maybe the possibility of an occasional "Check Engine" if you smash the gas pedal. I wanted this car anyway. Clearly not a gift for my wife, but it's considerably less than a new loaded Honda Pilot, and it could hold us off a few years until Honda Pilots with the features we want are more plentiful in the used market. I think I could justify this car.
So let me tell you about the car.
I was able to talk to the mechanic that was paid by the other buyer, and he said the car checked out OK. - Check+
The car has some very impressive features, at a price that's below KBB /Edmunds pricing for a car with none of these mods... and under 60k miles to boot:
1) AMG style larger wheels w low profile tires (and not a rough ride with the ability to change the ride comfort with the Airmatic)
2) Good low profile tires with what seemed like plenty of tread
3) AMG Style spoilers all the way around.
4) Dual exhaust with welded on ~2.5-3" chrome outlets, 2 per side. Sounded quite throaty on startup
5) Rear parking sensors in the rear bumper. Not sure how well they worked as they seemed to beep even when there was nothing 20' behind (when in reverse of course)
6) Not only the contour seats, but also the massaging dynaimc seats... I discovered that the right side would firm up immediately as you bank a hard left turn. Pretty freaking awesome!
7) And of course a $7500 HPS Second Generation Supercharger.
8) The right color combination for me, silver with black interior. Looks clean.
9) All the options my wife and I wanted in an e-wagon except a wood steering wheel.
10) PRICED TO SELL. At least $2-4000 below Edmunds pricing. If this car was tuned up right, I think it could pull another $10k over asking price from an enthusiast buyer.
So, back at the dealer, I started trying to negotiate. They really wouldn't budge. I took my trade-in car out to dinner, thinking maybe they'd get a little nervous that the lost two buyers in one day... the day before xmas eve. When I got back they still wouldn't budge. I think I got the best deal by deciding to keep my trade, and just getting a very minimal amount off the cost of the car, probably not even enough to cover the brake sensors and 2nd keyfob programmer. But I wanted the car. I said I wanted to take the car for another ride, and got all my stuff out of my car that I planned to leave there, and all the sudden I noticed a few things while messing around with the car and loading my stuff:
1) The cupholders in the car really stink. The driver cupholder seems to be the only one worth anything in the car, and it seems to be at an awkward height. My coffee travel mug fit though, so it was "OK".
2) The front spoiler (which was clearly repainted) was low enough that it would probably get ripped off the car several times in parking lots. I could see that getting expensive.
3) The rear parking sensors were just held in with friction. I accidentally popped one out, but was able to slide it back in. I could see my kids ripping them all out.
4) The exhaust tips were welded on. So I couldn't just remove them for a less bling-bling look.
5) I sat in the rear seat for the first time. Oh. Now I see why there's a max height of 4.6'. My head was on the roof with my neck twisted 45 degrees. I assume that anyone over 4.6' tall could crack their neck in an accident if they hit their head on the ceiling. I see the reason behind the limit and the fact that No adult will EVER sit back there (not that I was planning to use them that way).
6) I was checking for child-proof locks, couldn't find them, and then couldn't find a way to lock the doors from the inside. I found the dash button, but also realized that they lock button on the only keyfob did not work. Ughh... So I've got to get two keyfobs ASAP.
7) I still took the car out again for the third and final drive. Guess what happened. You guessed it. Check engine again. I can't have my wife driving around in a car that constantly has the check engine light on. Turn around, back to the dealer. I can't buy this car.
Maybe if it was my car. Maybe if I was searching for a car for myself, and my wife didn't need a car. This is not a car I could give to my wife. This car is a project that will need TLC. No thanks.
So as I was loading my stuff back in my wife's old 1998 Grand Cherokee Laredo w 88k miles, I was ready to cry. I wanted that car so bad, but it would have been so wrong to buy that and tell my wife she's driving it for the next few years. I told the salesman all this, and mentioned the keyfob, and I asked him if he knew about it, and he said "Yes, but you never asked."
I still told him to give me a call if they get the following things fixed: brake sensors, check engine, keyfobs. I know they won't.
I think that they have so much interest in the car due to just posting pictures of the supercharger that they don't need to spend a penny to get their full asking price... plus a $299 processing fee which they claim is for getting the Title from the storage facility and sending it FedEx. (That had me worried too. I was honestly thinking this could be the type of facility that would come repo the car from my driveway after my check cleared... I know that's not the case, but I was getting a weird feeling.)
I am printing out a picture of a new Honda Pilot for my wife. My e-Wagon search is over. No more of this BS. Nothing nicer than a new car, even if it costs twice as much as the used car.