Should I repair or sell, donate or junk a 1998 Mercury Tracer


#1

Have a 1998 Mercury Tracer sedan. Blue. Automatic. It was totaled by insurance because airbags deployed. No other damage to car but according to insurance co. airbags cost more than car. Bought back from insurance and have totaled title. Never did put in new airbags. (Unattractive split open vinyl at wheel and glovebox where bags deployed) Otherwise, car ran and was used just fine until recently sat for several months. Now won’t start. Probably needs new battery, possibly some fuel line or air cleaning from sitting unattended with mice and chipmunks(?) Good tires, also own studded tires for this vehicle. Paint is peeling like that model does but no rust. Could maybe possibly be some issues with exhaust line.

Question is, I have two soon-to-be teen drivers (2 and 4 years off yet). It is not a consideration of mine that they might not care much for the Tracer’s appearance or lack of CD player (it has cassette). Is is economically feasible/wise to fix up this vehicle for them to use (and if I fix up should I put in new airbags for their safety?) or do I abandon all hope of this being their learn-to-drive vehicle and sell this (what would I get as a tow-away? Or if I pop in a battery to let 'er start to drive away what would I ask for it?) or junk it/donate it?

Please don’t base your answers only on personal leanings toward charitable giving, I already give well to charity, could actually use some $ toward another vehicle if this one is to be abandoned. Just don’t where to start to assess this situation.


#2

I wouldn’t put my kids in it.


#3

Can you jump-start it? If it runs, I’d sell it as-is.


#4

With the age of the car and the SRS system not working I would sell or donate it. I would not place my kids in a car with nonfunctioning safety systems. Teen drivers are some of the most likely to be involved in accidents. Use the money from the car to find a newer car with all the safety systems intact.


#5

Sell for parts.


#6

Sell for scrap. It wasn’t that good a car in its day, let alone now. Don’t throw good money into bad.

You will sleep better knowing no one will take the risk to try to drive this thing with no airbags.


#7

Sorry, but I’m going to say what you don’t want to hear . . .

Donate the car to your local NPR-affiliated radio station

That should entitle you to a modest tax write off, and you can feel good that you support the radio station


#8

Sell the car for parts or scrap it. Donating it is also a good idea but just make sure your kids don’t drive this vehicle. I wouldn’t want anyone else driving it either.


#9

OP: how did the airbags deploy with ZERO damage to the rest of car?


#10

I agree with mean joe’s question

I’m sorry, but I just don’t see a situation where the airbag control module saw fit to deploy both front airbags, yet the car isn’t damaged


#11

I don’t understand the deployed bags and no damage situation either but you state those kids are 2 and 4 years away from becoming drivers. That’s a long time for an iffy 98 Tracer to be sitting around.

Even picking at it yourself and getting it all fixed up in the interim would cost more than the car will ever be worth and odds are that kids being kids they won’t like it anyway…

My vote would be to just sell it as is or get it running and head to the scrap metal yard.

No idea what it’s like in your neck of the woods but around here scrap metal is bringing 180 bucks per ton. Remove the back seat, air the tires up, load it down with scrap metal, and drive it to the recycler.
A couple of tons could make it worthwhile…


#12

I also would not want one of my kids driving this vehicle in its current state, and I agree that his one would cost more to get safe again than it’d be worth.

But there’s nothing keeping you from giving the car a good going-over, making a list of the needed parts (including the airbags, the exhaust repair, and the rodent extermination), searching out the parts, and making that assessment yourself. If your assessment confirms my guess, I’d scrap it. I doubt seriously if anyone will want to buy it with popped airbags. It isn’t exactly a classic.


#13

One of two of the best vehicles that I have ever owned. If she has a good undercarriage, no rust as you have stated, keep her.

I don’t know your situation, but I have a 98, and am pouring my last cent into her. She’s been that reliable. Kids don’t like her appearance, shame on the kids. Gotta do what ya gotta do. They want to put money, and time into her, let them find a way to earn a buck or two to obtain their dreams of CD players, etc.

It seems you’re doing the best that you can.


#14

2 years 2 late


#15

You will pocket more money for junking it than donating it. Your charitable deduction is limited to how much the charity gets for it, say $200 tops. You then can only deduct it if you can itemize your deductions and the if you are in say the 15% bracket the $200 deduction gets you $30 less to pay in tax.


#16

If it were me I would drive the car until it died and find something else for the teenagers. But my driving is limited in miles and restricted to city streets and I am OLD. Teenagers driving are a worry under the best of circumstances.

As for selling the car your state’s laws are the key to that question. If your state has no restriction on selling the car and licensing it to drive selling it AS IS might be a profitable option. You might have a neighbor like me who would think the car was a great bargain depending on what you ask.


#17

Sounds like a personal problem! I said that I was making a possibly
antiquated reply! Geez, get over it…


#18

Ditto. Sell it for parts and be done with it. If no movement on parts, sell it for scrap.