Author Topic: should I buy 2009 Pontiac Vibe?  (Read 3528 times)


  • Stubble
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should I buy 2009 Pontiac Vibe?
« on: August 04, 2017, 12:40:25 PM »
I'm looking for input on buying a 2009 Pontiac Vibe from a used car dealership. The dealer is about 1-1.5 hours from where I live.

Some details ...

2009 Pontiac Vibe 1.8 L
114,000 miles
automatic transmission
base model: no power windows, no power locks, no cruise control, no roof rack
exterior and interior are near-perfect: much better condition than expected for a car this age/mileage
one owner previous to dealership
the car drives great, everything feels tight

Near-term things I will add to this car to make it viable, and likely cost:

cruise control (immediate, $450)
trailer hitch for bike rack (immediate, $150)
new tires (before winter, $500)

After the test drive the salesman (also dealership owner) dropped the price to $4,500. I told him that I've just started looking and went to look at several other similar cars. I didn't find anything better.

I'm thinking of offering $3500.

What do y'all think?
« Last Edit: August 05, 2017, 07:17:22 AM by bortman »


  • Bristles
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Re: should I buy 2009 Pontiac Vibe?
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2017, 01:29:02 PM »
This car is a Toyota Matrix wearing a Pontiac nametag, and the Toyota Matrix is essentially a Toyota Corolla with a hatch.

A cursory glance at shows that for this spec, fair market value is about $5,500. $4,500 is a fantastic price. You could try and negotiate lower, but you probably won't get much more.

Most folks don't know that the Vibe is really a Toyota, so they're likely to pass over it, which is probably why the dealer is trying to offload it. That, and it has none of the convenience features most folks desire.

IF there is minimal rust, there is a good service history (as long as the car was serviced there) and everything works/sounds right, then you've found yourself a gem of a car that will probably rust apart before it dies.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: should I buy 2009 Pontiac Vibe?
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2017, 01:40:43 PM »
I'm not a fan, but my mom and her boyfriend own 3 Pontiac Vibes between the two of them (well maintained) and people actually walk up to them and ask to buy the things. I mean I've never even had that happen to me ever.

They are re-skinned Toyotas and therefore as pretty nice cars for the long haul.


  • Bristles
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Re: should I buy 2009 Pontiac Vibe?
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2017, 07:31:53 PM »
Is it a manual or automatic?  I know you drove it, but here are my thoughts:

The 1.8L engine (1ZZ-FE) is reliable if oil changes were done, but has suffered excessive oil consumption if not.  The oil control rings on the pistons can get "stuck", allowing oil to be burned in the combustion chamber.  I find the engine under powered, even with the 5 speed MT in my 06 Matrix...  Very low torque trying to get almost 3k pounds of car moving; maybe it is flatter where you live.  The 2.4L engine (2AZ-FE) option is a much better engine for power, but they too suffer the same oil consumption problem, and fuel mileage is pretty bad.  Might be worth seeing if you can test drive one with the 2.4L engine, if possible to compare.

The ride can be choppy with little weight on board, and cross winds can push these cars around to a noticeable degree.  I find the seats very uncomfortable, too narrow, and push hard under my thighs.  The driving position I find awkward, as the steering wheel is too close to the cluster w/o telescoping, and not much tilt.  On the good side there is a lot of cargo space, overall reliability is very good, you sit high up for good visibility, the engine uses a timing chain that requires no normal servicing, and general servicing is easy, with a lot of room under the hood.

Lastly, I'm pretty sure that year vehicle will be on the Pass airbag recall list...  Something I would make sure to ask.  It may seen that I am down on these Matrix/Vibe vehicles...  I'm really not, as these 'mini Azteks' have many happy owners.  Good luck. 


  • Stubble
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Re: should I buy 2009 Pontiac Vibe?
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2017, 07:49:28 AM »
Thanks to everyone for the input .. all very helpful. The car has an automatic transmission (updated the original post).

Unfortunately, there is no service history on the car. I only know that there was one owner until it was traded in at a rural dealership, then ownership transferred to the city dealership where i saw the car.

Considering its excellent condition, it's hard to imagine that regular maintenance and oil changes were neglected. It's one of those cars that doesn't look like it was detailed to make it look good .. it just looks good.

@chemistk I'm looking at both Vibes and Matrixes (or is it Matrices?) and have noticed the Matrix is generally a little more expensive. However, I see a lot of ads where they point out the Matrix-Vibe equivalency. Sellers are wise to this and are asking for more.

@Holyoak I didn't know about the oil burning issue .. good to know, but I don't think there's any way to check this before I buy it. I haven't looked at the 2.4L models because I'm trying to maximize fuel efficiency. Also, I'm in the midwest so hills aren't an issue. I've found many reviews calling out the under-powered 1.8L , but compared to my near-death 04 Subaru Forester, every other car I drive feels downright peppy to me. Also, the timing chain is a real boon, another reason why this car is in the running.

I'm going to see if I can get the price down a little more and get the car.

Thanks again!


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: should I buy 2009 Pontiac Vibe?
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2017, 10:23:43 AM »
My brother has a 2003 (4?) Pontiac Vibe GT. It's the manual transmission and the engine which has the variable lift. I think the 1.8 on the GT is peppy enough. 180 HP over the bases 120 HP. It's the motor out of the Celica GT-S.

The car is 15 years old, has 180k miles and the only thing he has had to fix is thermostat, clutch, and one door handle. Oh and the paint is destroyed by the sun, car its on NYC streets its entire life.

He refuses to get rid of the thing, it runs very well for it's age, and it's extremely practical.

spokey doke

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Re: should I buy 2009 Pontiac Vibe?
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2017, 10:58:52 AM »
I have on 05 Matrix...and it is far from deluxe or very sporty, but we have beat the crap out of it...used it as pickup, hauling all sorts of stuff (love the fold flat seats and the hatch...and we pop the rear glass and stick long lumber out of it for trips to Lowes/HD), taken it on all sorts of really rough roads, and it has been very reliable (have close to 150K miles on it so far).

So, for what it is (a cheap car), it has been pretty good IMO.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: should I buy 2009 Pontiac Vibe?
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2017, 05:06:56 PM »
I had an 07 Vibe. LOVED that car. Want it back. Someone crunched it :(

It was hands down the most practically designed car I've seen. Easy to get in and out of, neat storage, etc.


  • Stubble
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Re: should I buy 2009 Pontiac Vibe?
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2017, 06:34:39 AM »
Well, the deal on the 2009 Vibe fell through. I drove it a second time and heard clunking and felt the subsequent rattling of some suspension component through the floor under the driver. I didn't notice this on the first test drive .. likely because of intermittent rain storms during the drive. The dealer/salesman tried to attribute it to a long-understood-but-harmless steering column issue with Vibes/Matrixs. The more I persisted the more creative his explanation became. My gut told me it was something bigger, so I walked away from the deal.

We ended up buying a 2005 Matrix XR for $2700. It has 101,000 miles and a recent dealer checkup that lays out some upcoming work it will need .. nothing too major. The exterior isn't great, but it runs well enough. I certainly won't have to worry about getting that first scratch/dent .. it has plenty of flaws already. I'm setting out on a 400 mile trip today, so I'll see how it goes.

Thanks again for your insights.