Fix or trade in?

We have a 2002 GMC Yukon 5.3LTR. It needs a new Cat assembly which is 2k just for the parts. It has other things wrong with it (starter sounds like crap, runs rough etc)

We are not able to spend 2k a pop to fix the car (got it for free in my mom’s last divorce)

My husband wants to trade it in and get something else.

What say you forum?

How many miles on the Yukon?

Don’t expect much for a trade in with the price of gas and the repairs needed. For example, the best offer I got for my 2000 Blazer with 114k in good running condition was $1300 back in February. You might do better selling privately with full disclosure of the repairs needed.

Are these dealer prices? Have you tried an independent mechanic or a muffler shop? A spark plug change wouldn’t hurt. Consider replacing the fuel and air filters also. A can of Chevron Techron or Sea Foam added to the gas tank wouldn’t hurt either.

If you don’t want to spend money on it, then you obviously dump it. Running rough might mean more junk in the exhaust which could be why the cat is bad now.

A new starter is a few hundred, but the real issue is why is it running rough? Is that a big deal or just some new spark plugs?

What do you buy next to replace it? If you are looking at another used car, that could have problems of its own.

Can you sell the Yukon as is at a decent price, or do you have to fix it up to sell it? The frustration with a car can lead to a reaction, sell it. But, the real question is can you afford to sell it and buy something else? It is a more complex question than cannot be answered with the info provided so far.

How about going to and seeing if they might be able to get you a replacement cat converter for cheaper.

Also, the running rough is probably what killed the converter, so you NEED to get that fixed first.

The real question you should be asking yourself is this:

What’s going to cost more?
Fixing your current vehicle, or getting a new one?

Since money sounds like an issue, you probably need to think more about this choice.


If you can’t afford a $2,000 repair bill, then you can’t afford a $2,000 “something else” car. That means you’ll be shopping at the local cash’n’drive lots or through private parties for a 10-15 year old car that may or may not be a mechanical disaster waiting to happen.

I’m not saying you can’t do well at that price level. You can, but you have to be lucky, and go in to it knowing that you might be getting something that’s going to require a lot of work.

It needs a new Cat assembly which is 2k just for the parts.

I suspect the part if available for a lot less and likely whoever gave you that estimate, likely is also charging higher than many other good alternatives. 

    Dealers are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics for almost anything you might need done on your car.  They will almost always charge more per hour and often more for parts and supplies.  They also tend to look at repairs a little different than the independent. 

A dealer may well recommend work that strictly may not be needed, but could be connected to the problem or maybe replace a part when a little repair would fix it ALMOST as good a new.  

There is no need to bring your car to the dealer for any service other than service that is going to be paid for by a recall or original warrantee.  During the warranty period be sure to have all required (as listed in the owner's manual) maintenance done and to document all maintenance work.

I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic. 

Note: Never ever use a quick oil change place. They are fast cheap and very very bad.

Trading-in can make the purchase of a new car more complex, which is exactly what any car dealer wants.  The more complex and confusing they can make a deal the more they can get from the customer. 

 Each case is unique, but most of the time, it is cheaper to fix than to sell and buy new or buy different.  Start by seeing if you can get that price down to something real.

This sounds like a dealer price. Go to an independent garage and ask for an estimate with aftermarket parts. Get two estimates. If you aren’t familiar with an indy shop, ask everyone you know for recommendations. you’ll find a few names mentioned more than once. Try them.

$2000 can’t possibly be the price for a catalytic converter. It’s closer to $300-400, depending on the vendor. Maybe $700 if you insist on paying a dealership full retail. Does that $2000 cover the parts for the other problems you mentioned?

Anyway, for the relatively young age of the car, it seems like even A $2000 repair bill would be a lot smarter than buying a new car. The deciding factors for me would be the number of miles on the odometer, and the full list of necessary repairs. If you’re still under 100,000 miles, and the engine has good compression, I’d lean toward keeping it.