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Is it time to sell, donate or repair this '92 Isuzu Trooper?

Hi folks,

I have a '92 Trooper that I’ve owned for 15+ years and it is nearing 200k on the odometer (which is not really working all the time). It looks new and runs great. The problems that have cropped up in the past 6 months are pretty decent oil leaks and now a pluming of smoke from the exhaust that I’ve been told is a sign of blown head gasket.

I’m not driving this SUV as I have several other cars, but I’m sentimentally attached and would not mind keeping it if I could. Two shops told me the VC gaskets would be in the $500-700 range and if I have a blown head gasket, we could be looking at $1500+. Obviously the truck is barely worth that much.

So I’m trying to decide what I should do…would I better off just donating it and writing off the value or should I invest in fixing it? I presume that the AT might be another casualty along the way pushing 200k miles, but I’ve been very good with maintenance. This oil leakage and head gasket stuff was a bit of a bummer surprise.



Use a piece of paper. Divide into 3 columns: 1. Repair, 2. Donate, 3. Sell. In each column, write the costs (tangible and intangible), and benefits, for each action. Put the totals at the bottom. If the results are too close to call, use the scientific method to decide: flip a coin.

As per the above post, you have to sit down and crunch the numbers first. If no blown head gasket, repairs are normally justified, since every car over its life needs about $1200/year worth of care and tires.

If you don’t know much about cars, and don’t like looking after an aging vehicle, the hassle may outweigh the savings of keeping it. I normally don’t totally wear out a car; the remaining 10% of its life are too troublesome to deal with.

Age of disposal of cars I have owned (that did not die in accidents) have been 14, 8, 13, 12, 19, 12, 19. Usually the car was given to a younger relative as a project car or college car. I have only taken 2 cars to the scrap yard, since both had corroded to the point of being unsafe.

If you need a head gasket, I would donate the car to the Kidney Foundation or similar charity and use the tax deduction.