This is my first post and look forward to hearing some wisdom! I am a guitar player and i post in guitar forums, so I it came to me, there must be a car forum. Love Car Talk so I found this. I actually would love to ask this question on their show. I can inject humor into it as well.
I have an 07 Sienna LE with 111k miles on it. I am still paying out my loan. I owe 12k on it. In its current condition the most I have been offered on trade in is 5700, and from a car rental place that does sales (sells its fleet).
Here is the history:
On my way back from a trip three weeks ago my temp gauge started to go up into the red and then float back down. I put in anti freeze, got it to my mechanic on Long Island, and then the fun began. He said my radiator was clogged. he tried everything to flush it etc. so he put in a new radiator. that cost me about 780. he said the heat was working. i drove it away and ten minutes later, no heat, cold air blowing out. I brought it back and he put in some test fluid to see if the head gasket was okay. turns out i had a blown head gasket. so he fixed that and put in some wheel bearings. i paid about 1250 for that, and he even said he didn’t charge me for some labor to keep the cost down. so i drove it away. ten minutes, heat fades away and cold air. i bring it back. he gives it to his friend at toyota who check the computer. now i don’t know the tech term but it was some module that talked to the computer that was making the temp gauge go up and down. he kept the car for a three or four days, took the engine apart, and said i have a cracked cylinder head. to be fair to him, he spent hours on it and took the engine apart, but charged me nothing. but he recommended i get rid of the car. he said he could feel the transmission slipping a little. which i have noticed too just the other day. he said what will happen is that anti freeze will start leaking into the catalytic converters and those cost a fortune to replace. so he gave me the car and said not to drive it long distances and get rid of it. with the heat working weakly. you can imagine after bringing it back and forth to him over the weeks with no heat, i got a little frostbite in this weather!
i did bring it to toyota to see about a trade in, but of course they are going to give me less than 5, and maybe not even that.
brought it to another mechanic for a second opinion who did an exhaust test. his findings, he did not see evidence of anything leaking into the engine. but he said the water pump is not working right, and maybe, i think he said auxiliary water pump, and that’s why i am not getting heat. i asked him how much and he said 1200.he managed to give it better heat on the driver’s side. he said there is an air pocket in it and that’s why no heat. i just took the car back.
now i am driving it around hoping it will last long enough to get rid of it. i am musician and i need a van to move my gear and i just like the room. In addition, I have to move within a month or so! so i need a reliable car, and preferrably a van.
exploring options: get a new sienna for a fortune, or a 2010 sienna with 26k miles for 19K dollars (and the 5700 trade in – then i would pay out the remainder of my 12k loan, and start a new loan). or go to some engine rebuild people and pay i don’t know how much just to revamp the whole car (the original mechanic said that would cost, at least from him, over 4k and it might still keep failing with problems down the road). or just get a 2005 town and country with about 58k miles on it for about 5 or 6 thousand dollars (maybe that guy would take an even trade or something or work some deal).
but how do i manage the difference between the trade in value and the loan payout? sell it to a mechanic who can refurbish it on his own and he sells me a working refurbished van?
i am also looking into the 2014 ford transit connect, which is kind of a minivan, and just eat the loan. i like the new siennas but i just hate toyota dealers. maybe ford dealers are nicer i don’t know.
Working on everything at once! Today I will check out the ford transit connect. i want a reliable car but a part of me doesn’t want high car payments and more debt.