CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Opinions on what to do with an old van

Hello everyone
I have an old van in decent shape.
Its an 85 dodge caravan. Base model. With about 65,000 miles on it.
2.2 carb’ed engine. 3 speed auto.

The interior is in great shape. No rips in the cloth or cracks on the dash. Floor carpet is worn and stained in some places, but not torn.
The exterior is in good shape as well. There is only one dent about 8" long and a few inches tall on the bottom of the sliding door and the only rust is just in front of the back wheels but not rusted through and mostly only paint blisters. Paint and all chrome is still shining with no parts or trim missing.

However, Mechanically its not in the best shape.
It needs the carb rebuilt. (the ethanol took its toll)
Exhaust is ok because it was replaced a few years ago but it has a hole near one hanger.
Needs a brake master cylinder
Burns oil when it idles and I think it also has some leak down when it sits.
Its very hard to start it at this point and getting worse.
Done within the past few years is brakes, head gasket, timing belt, water pump, battery, shocks and struts.

This is a spare vehicle for me and I really dont need it and I could really use some cash right now.
How can I sell it if its not worth enough to do any of the repairs it needs. The repairs would cost more than I could ever sell it for.
I also think that its in too good of shape to just send to a scrap yard.

What should I do? Is it worth anything?
Thanks
Dan

Just sell as is. Someone who can do the work themselves will buy it.

if you’re handy with tools, take it apart and sell the parts separately. You can get a lot more for it that way, but it’ll take longer since you don’t sell the whole thing at once.

Another option is to donate it to a charity, NPR, or your county’s emergency manager and/or fire chief (they like old minivans as airplane simulators for fire fighter training), and then take the tax deduction.

The carburetor is not too complicated. You might shop around and find a “seasoned” mechanic who can rebuild yours relatively cheaply. The 3 speed automatic is nearly bullet proof. But often, such old vans are not worth the cost of repairs unless you can do them yourself cheaply.

Working off Shadowfox’s suggestion, but maybe thinking you may need “cash now,” rather than a tax deduction later, I don’t know if auto repair schools will buy cars to let the students destroy further in a rookie’s attempt to fix it. I would kinda doubt it, but that may be worth looking into.

The tax deduction for your van will be whatever the charity you donate to sells it for. It is a few hundred dollars at best. our best bet is to sell it as is. Maybe someone will pay up to $500 for it. Would you take $200 for it? BTW, that’s not an offer, but a suggestion to set a range of offers that you might be willing to take. Remember that you have insurance and license fees to consider, too. If someone offers $200, it might be worth it because of registration and insurance savings.

This is probably not a very desirable vehicle. It’s not collectible and there is not an enthusiast’s market for it (that I’m aware of). You would be fortunate to get any interest from anyone to purchase it for anything but scrap. In my area, you could probably get $400-500 for it from a scrapyard/auto recycler, on the higher end of that if it has aluminum wheels and the factory catalytic converter.

Paint blisters is a sure sign of severe rust, regardless of what it appears outside, there is plenty of rust underneath and the car is now a junker. Personally, it may not pay to sell it if it can give you another solid year or two of running. I know you need the money, but it may be best to run it till it’s first major repair then junk it. When my cars were real old but reliable, it was a sense of relief to know I could drive them without worrying about their trade in or resale value. Touch them up with bearing grease and Rustoleum.

Thank you all for the responses.
I think I may put it at the end of the driveway with a “for sale” sign for $500 OBO and see what happens. I live on a pretty well traveled road. If it doesn’t sell perhaps I will keep it a little longer. Unfortunately if it doesn’t sell it looks like it may go for parts. Its a shame though because it is still in decent shape but I guess there really isn’t anything else I can do besides sell the parts myself. But in my opinion, that just isn’t worth the work and time it would take.

Sell it as a “fixer upper” or for parts. Alternatively donate it and get a tax reeceipt. Selling for parts is best.