2005 town and country - potential dream car?

Hi again! I have made a few posts last month during my quest to find our family’s 2nd vehicle (I really want a van). So I found a 2005 chrysler town and country minivan on craigslist. It only has 97000 miles on it and it’s an LX body style. My hubby and I have been a one car family for 25 months and we’ve saved $6500 for this purchase…which is the asking price. We plan to take it to a mechanic…but what kind of things should I be worried about and ask the mechanic specific to this vehicle? The owner is a 92 year old man who bought it at an auction 1 yr ago. The carpet and seats are in impeccable condition, which makes me think it wasn’t used as a kid hauler, but other than that we don’t have much more history. I’m 7 days from having another baby, so in addition to hormones, I can’t fit the car seats in our current “family car” which is a 2 door Honda Accord, so I’m trying not to get to desperate about this seemingly “perfect” van. Any help is greatly appreciated! Thanks again for your help!!!

  1. pick up a Consumer Reports (CR) Used Car Buyers’ Guide at the local bookstore.
  2. schedule an appointment with your mechanic to give the vehicel a thorough going-over, paying particular attention to those areas identified as “higher than average” problem areas in the CR charts.

You could also look at the dealer’s sticker in the back of the car, call that dealer, and see if they have any records on the vehicle. It’s a crap-shoot, but you might get luck.

If you get a good one a T&C could go down as one of your favorite vehicles of all time. If you get a bad one - well, you’ll need a lot more than $6500 because it will be a money pit.

The fact that this one is really clean AND came from an auction would have me running away. If it was in very good shape cosmetically AND very good shape mechanically, it would most likely have ended up a dealer’s lot. There’s normally a reason something ended up at auction. If you can’t SEE the reason(s) worry about what you can’t see.

Also, I don’t know what market you are in, but where I am once a minivan gets up to about 100K miles they rarely, if ever go for more than about $4,000. I’ve had people get mad at me upon making this observation - I guess its called “low balling” by C-listers. Those same people are often still listing the van months & months later. My current van is an Olds purchased with full history of maintenance records at about 100K miles. I bought it for $2900. The guy started out asking $6500.

The weak spot on every minivan is the transmission. If you are going to pursue it you want a good, local transmission shop to look it over with that specific question in mind.

Wow! I didn’t know Consumer Reports did a used car book! That is awesome advice!
Cigroller, are you serious about craigslist cars only going for $4k? I was using KBB as a guide…what kind of support would I provide the seller to convince him that I should only pay that much?
I called the mechanic to schedule a pre-purchase inspection, and they estimated the inspection would be $100-125, which sounded reasonable.

Cigroller is right. It might be a good vehicle (might not) but $6500 is WAY more than this van should sell for.

I work at a dealership, and have been selling cars for 20 years (1st in my driveway, and have worked my way up).

1st- car being sold at auction is NOT a bad thing nessecarily, many dealers work on a 60 to 120 day turn. Which means they try to sell it for 60-120 days, if it does not sell its off to auction. Many new car dealers will not sell older cars, due to liabilty. These same dealers dont use wholesellers because they are looked at as being disshonest. AUCTION is not a dirty word…

2nd- Cig is right a T&C can be great or it can be SHI*T not much inbetween and there is no way to tell with out owning it. Transmition is the weak point, and there is no way to know when its about to go.

3rd- The price is not bad… Below is a few vans like yours that have gone thrugh auction recenetly. This is pulled off MMR which is a report put out by Manheim Auctions of actual cars being purchased by actual dealers. These prices do not include the fees the dealer pays to the auctions company which can be an extra $200-300 per car. SO this van would 100% be put on a used car lot for $6500 ALL DAY LONG, being that you have a little ownership history that is a plus. Your goal is to get as close to the numbers below as you can when you negotiate… The deal is fair though if it gets a clean bill of health.

01/17/12 PHOENIX Regular $5,500 95,325 Above GREY 6G A Yes
02/01/12 FT MYERS Regular $4,600 96,139 Avg BLUE 6G A Yes
01/10/12 STATESVL Regular $5,450 96,601 Avg BLUE 6G A Yes
01/20/12 STATESVL Regular $4,800 97,530 Avg SILVER 6G A Yes
01/19/12 ATLANTA Regular $5,400 98,014 Avg BLUE 6G A Yes

4th- Let me know the VIN and I will pull a Carfax for you, and let you know how it looks.

I just checked the on line Consumer Reports, and it shows ‘much worse than average’ overall, and for lots of items, for the T&C, 2004 through 2009.

I have found blue book values to be inflated for my area (central VA), and have spent tons and tons of time on craigslist. $6500 looks like what a dealer would ask, and it wouldn’t be all that unusual to see a used dealer post a van like this one for less than that. Plenty of people post their minivans at things like $5000 & up - and I watch them repost them for months. The only exceptions are Odysseys & Siennas.

Your best bet for figuring real prices in your area is to spend a lot of time on C-list. Watch the vans that get posted, and see which ones get posted over and over and over while the sellers continue to believe that its the buyers who are delusional.

In my area, a 2005 T&C LX with no options would sell for about $5000 from a private seller (source: Edmunds). Why is the man selling it? I wonder why a 92 year old is buying a car anyway.

I als wonder how and why a 92 year old man ended up with a car from an auction; assuming that story is the truth.
Auction vehicles can often mean there’s a story behind them that may not be that good because an auction is often a dumping ground for a wheeled headache.

It sounds a bit high priced to me anyway.

Oh, I wish we could afford an odyssey…I’ve been searching for one in our price range for 5 months…i found one that didnt have an engine (previous post) but we thought that it was too risky for us, so we passed on it. I found one with a salvage title, but also thought that sounded too risky. Also, my hubby doesn’t want anything w more than 100k miles, which is keeping us in the town and country range. I thought we could wait on the second vehicle and save enough in the meantime to get us up into the odyssey price range ($10k), but we really have car fever and need a bigger vehicle before the new baby gets here. I feel like I’ve been glued to craigslist for months…in fact this one was listed for $7500 for a month, and he just came down to $6500.

I’m thinking I should maybe go to a dealership, but I just have always felt pressured to buy at the dealership (although, gsragtop- your comments were so very nice and helpful, if you were in business in Nebraska I would come to your dealership!) I’ve just always preferred to deal with private party and with our price range, I figured the dealerships would laugh at us or pressure us to finance something. Also we just moved here ( military) so we don’t know which dealerships are the reputable ones and which are the ones to avoid.

As far as this vehicle’s history, I guess the man bought the van for his grandson, but now needs the money and is simplifying his life. It seemed like an honest story, we left a message for him to give us the VIN. Now I’m getting cold feet, though!

Thank you all so much for all your comments, I really appreciate all your feed back and comments!

I think you will like owning T&C van if you can find a good one. We have had a '02 Limited model since new and it has been a good vehicle. Some repairs have been needed but not too bad. The issues were mostly covered under the warranty. If you can find a Limited model I suggest you try and get that over a regular model along with the stretched model and the 3.8 liter engine. I think you will appreciate the extra features and comfort.

If you have’nt looked for used cars on this site (Cars.com) I suggest you try it. They have a lot coverage to choose from.

We had 2 of them in the '90s and loved them both. I have an '09 now and with 52k miles it seems the shocks anf struts need to be replaced. Also the engine noise comes right into the cabin. It has nice options and the transmission is the smoothest I have ever driven.