My minivan, keep it or not

I need some pro/con argument to help me make a better decision.

Now last winter our 2000 Caravan @ 130K miles, went in mid-life crisis. Some repair and maintenance items and between me and the mechanic, spent $3000+ on it. The list is; Fuel pump (X2 thanks to poor quality parts), Alternator and battery, starter, Brake cylinder, master brake pump, Water pump, radiator, serp belt and tensioner/idler (3 times, again bad parts and incompetent mech). It had to be towed 4 times in a month and since we needed the car right away, I couldn’t work on it and that is why the bills were a bit high. Also were new in the city so had to try a few mechs before finding one that is competent and fair.

Since the above, I threw in the towel and we bought a new car. But then I had time to go over the van and fix everything. Now it has received 4 new tires and alignment, the ATF has been changed every 15K miles, some electrical part like the vent motor and power door lock are not working right. In reality could use a pair of new front quickstruts. The paint on the roof is to the metal, the hood is going in that direction, but the rest is in decent shape and interior is clean. So my wife is still driving it around town, gets 15-16 miles per gallon, has some sentimental value to her.

The dilemma is whether to hold on to this as an extra car, or sell it for ~ $3K which is the market value. I would like to make it last until 200K miles. But the extra gas it burns compared to our sedan adds to another $1200 per year.
Should I cut my losses and unload it or try to hang on to it.

Well, if it helps the decision any, you’d never get $3K for it in the used market I’m in.

Relatedly, if I were you, having just gone that far with it all - especially topped off with the new tires & all I’d keep on chooglin’ to try to get some of my money’s worth out of it. The insurance is probably still cheap. Property tax, if applicable, would also be low.

I actually do think it makes an ideal spare car depending on what kinds of needs you have. If its a “grand” caravan and you pull the seats out of the back you have the size-equivalent of an 8ft pickup truck bed back there. Its can be VERY handy. I don’t know where you live, but I always like to have a car like that for taking out on any potentially “abusive” trips - snowy weather driving, crowded city driving, very dirty places driving - etc. You use it to saver your newer car form the abuse.

I would also say that you should be at better than 15-16mpg. Maybe look into that a little.

Short story: if it was me I’d hang onto it.

Thanks for the post, it is not a grand, it is a shorty. I’m in CA so resale is high, it has most of the bells and whistles so blue book comes to high $3K in private, edmund’s is a bit lower. If I wanted to buy one similar from the dealer is is close to $5K. At the end the “buyer” would let me know how much it is really worth.

I like the idea of having a spare car, problem is wife always drives this one-will do until its gone-so then I have to constantly fix it, which puts more $$ in it. It is always a little here a little there, an expense you wouldn’t junk the car for. We decide to fix it and sell, but when it is fixed we kind of forget about it.

The gas mileage is city, on HWY it gets 20+, just passed smog with decent numbers and everything is up to date. The spark plugs are the only iffy item, done at 75K mile and the manual calls for 100K, so not due yet (@130K miles).

In the meantime our new car has only 1700 miles on the ODO after 7 months.

Well, apparently it makes the wife happy. And it keeps the miles & abuse down on the new car. So…I think you know where that’s going.

But did you at least ask her if its worth an extra $100/mo to drive it? Are you sure about that btw? That’s a lot of gallons of gas to make it up to a difference of $1200/yr between that & the sedan. She must not have worried about $$ - my wife would take the lower MPGs in a second. She’s always going on about the $$ for filling the tank in our van.

Of course, you have an easy out if you want to dump it. The next repair it needs…well, maybe its the one that finally totaled the van. Is she car savvy or could you get that by her?

It’s up to you and your willingness to keep repairing vs the cost of a newer car. I feel it’s worth buying new when you lose confidence in a car’s reliability, which makes it unsafe or it no longer meets your needs. If it falls into any of those categories, I would dump it.

Thanks for the comments. Yes I am sure on the gas $$. It is 1200 miles per month @ 15mpg (80 gallons), vs 1200 miles @ 25 mpg (currently it gets 32 mpg but that’s me driving, so being realistic here), 48 gallons, difference of 32 gallons @ $3.8/gal comes close to $120/month.

No, she is not car savvy, she keeps thinking that by driving the “old” car she is saving money, when I do the math for her she thinks I am exaggerating. I could tell her anything I want about the car and she would probably not know. I just want to make the right decision myself and then act.

Dagosa, exactly why we bought the new car, but now it seems like needing 2 cars at all times means that a 3rd one comes very handy for when one is down, esp since it gives me some time to do the repairs myself and save $$. The math gets fuzzy. At times I think I need an older small car instead of the van, but that is just one too many options.

It is seldom worth keeping three cars( we tried it) and use one as a spare unless that car has a specific need as well. If you want to replace the van with another van, then you have to play the numbers game and look at repair cost vs. cost of buying new. If you plan to replace it with a more economical vehicle, I feel it’s worth it to dump it now. Either way, a new car with a longer life expectancy is in order which means Ford and Toyota (and others) over Chrysler ( and others) . Use CR as a guide on your next purchase.

Drive It !

+$3,000 Sale Of Van
-$3,000 Repairs Last Winter


Besides the fact that it " . . . has some sentimental value to her."
This is a safe vehicle and as has been pointed out, the insurance should be fairly low in cost to offset the gas costs.

Spending $3,000 for repairs for a buyer giving you $3,000 for the van has almost the same result as giving the van away last winter, ahead of the repairs. Get some of your money back and use it.

Now, let’s talk about the little things.
Tell us about " . . . some electrical part like the vent motor and power door lock are not working right." Explain, please.


So it is a split.

The sentimental part has always been there with every car we junked in the past-but she gets over it pretty quick-note to myself.

The electrical stuff are; one vent window motor completely shot, the other sounds like a crane. Could fix it with new motors ($100), haven’t felt compelled yet. The power door latch on the driver side has a load buzz to it, proud of the neighborhood. Even at the junkyard that part was $40, so I passed on it. The led lights on the radio controls are going out one by one. One rear infinity speaker amp has noise to it, so I have faded it out with the balance. It is an 11 year old car so these stuff are not shocking or unexpected.

I think the most significant thing it will need soon is whole front suspension work & paint on the hood and the roof since it would be to bare metal in 6-8 months. I am researching the spray paints for that, it is still pricey and need a parking lot where I can do this.

When deciding to keep an older car, it is less about the motor and transmission and more about the electrical system and body integrity. Power door locks, power windows and heater vents powered by electricity, make problems in these areas nearly as impossible to drive a car. When you include your own time, your Chrysler product up keep cost will get to the severely aggravating stage shortly…Dump it and put your loved one in something more reliable…whether she gets the idea or not.

Okay, so “new” radiator cracked, so thanks to the warranty it is back in the shop. I still would have to pay some labor. This is getting old-always kept my cars longer with less issues so I am sure it is not me.

“The math gets fuzzy” : why?
price of car=maintenance+repairs+insurance+gaz+depreciation+financing costs and /or loss on money otherwise invested: I add all these over the total years I will own the car and divide to average per year.
This car does not depreciate much, it costs nothing to insure (only liability righ? and that is charged to the new car already). no financing costs. All of these would be more on a new car. How does this compare with the extra gaz and the extra repairs?

Mostly do you trust the car? are there enough occasions where a minivan is better than a car for you?
For ex, I have appreciated my Windstar on snow and ice, and I like camping …with pets.

dagosa says: “When deciding to keep an older car, it is less about the motor and transmission and more about the electrical system and body integrity”
…aaall riiiight! you just made an argument for me to buy again one of those 20 year old(or more) German cars!! no electrical system I cannot handle there!

{“The math gets fuzzy” : why?}

If you can predict what would break in my current car in the next 50K miles then it would be less fuzzy. Gas prices have been more stable recently but then again they do fluctuate. Also any replacement would have some repair costs at some point. There are no financing charges, I always save enough to pay cash and actually we already have the other car. It’s just that it seems we actually need an extra car due to where we live and the miles that we drive. Oddly, having 3 cars is saving us money on insurance (as opposed to 2).
At some point, any car stops serving the owner and has to go, it’s just a matter of timing it correctly.