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2004 Yukon or 2006 Toyota Matrix?

My mother in law is upgrading to a new car and has offered to give me her 2004 Yukon with 130k–I’m wondering if I should take it or not.

I drive a 2006 Matrix with 115k. It’s been a really reliable car apart from a rear transmission replacement 2 years ago (this is an AWD model). Only minor issues otherwise–a nuisance tire pressure light and some glitchy dash and dome lights.

The Yukon is obviously a more expensive car to drive in terms of gas consumption, probably more to insure. But it would give us space for car seats and kid stuff that the Matrix doesn’t. It’s in good shape–the only issue I’m a little worried about is that the automatic leveling system hasn’t worked for some years. I don’t know much about that and how big a potential safety issue that would be.

Basically–if we need a car to get us through (hopefully) three or four more years before we have to make a bigger investment, does it make sense to take the free Yukon so that we can more easily fit 2 kids in it? Or am I going to regret it? I really only drive to and from work–about 20-25 miles per day–so I won’t be making big demands of either car.

Just put liability insurance on the Yukon and just drive it when you need the room. It is always nice to have a spare vehicle. After a month or two you will know if you want it or not.

I agree with Volvo if you have the space. Another option: sell them both and get something better matched to your needs.

You’ve given a little reliability history of the Toyota. What do know of the Yukon’s past?

Has it been equally as reliable (or unreliable, depending on personal opinion)?

Your definition of reliability is different from mine. I don’t consider what you’ve described as “a really reliable car,” as you have.

Have you got the Yukon story?


Have both cars been equally well-maintained?
Please explain.

Fair enough.

Both cars have gotten regular oil changes, scheduled servicing, etc. Mom in law is a pretty meticulous caretaker. No problems with the Yukon other than the automatic leveling system issue.


“It’s in good shape–the only issue I’m a little worried about is that the automatic leveling system hasn’t worked for some years.”

Is this the 1500 Yukon (not the 2500)?

My Bonneville has similar self-leveling suspension and it quit working a couple years ago. I thought it would be too difficult to diagnose and fix and I just let it slide for a while.

One day I read my Factory Service Manual and I thought I’d have a look at the self-leveling rear air shocks. To my surprise the rubber boots were rotted and split and the oil had leaked out of them.

I bought a pair of OE replacement Monroe air shocks, online. They cost me about $40 - $50 total and took about half an hour to put on in the driveway. Problem solved.

I wonder if that Yukon has a similar ailment?

Agree with CSA that the leveling may not be a big deal. My SIL spent $900 on her Yukon to have it rebuilt, and when she told me, I almost started crying (she lives too far away to be able to work on anything for her). I have repaired those systems on my Buicks and Caddies, everything from a burnt or split air line, to leaky shocks, to bad compressors. There is always a work-around. My present car has a bad compressor, which is item 101 on my need to do list. I have temporarily routed new air lines and a valve fitting to behind the license plate, and If needed, I go to the air pump and lift it up a bit. Cost $10.

Or you can just ignore the leveling and replace the rear shocks with the non-leveling units. Others are right, the systems are pretty simple with only 3 major components 1) Air shocks, 2) the compressor and 3 the leveling sensor. If the leveling has not worked for a while, the rear air shocks are junk. They need a little air pressure in the bags to prevent rubbing.

Otherwise the truck is capable of running many more miles without serious service.

Get a couple-a-three estimates for repairing the automatic leveling system to see if you want it done. Do this now, and maybe make it a part of your decision. You might also ask about replacing the air shocks with regular shocks. Unless you have a heavy load in the back, load leveling won’t do much for you.

Insurance is a lot less expensive if you don’t use the vehicle for commuting. Ask your auto insurer how much it will cost to insure the Yukon if it is driven occasionally and never for commuting.

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I bet he decided about nine months ago.

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