Time to trade or sell a car?

I have a 12 year minivan with only 40k miles and driving well. I also have a relative willing to assist me financially with a newer less equipped van. Should I invest in a newer – but used – van?

No. Keep your vehicle up with prescribed maintenance and you should be fine. There is no guarantee that it will never fail but for that you have towing insurance and rental cars. If you insist on as much assurance of perfect reliability as is possible then get newer. If I had your van, I would think it as being quite new at 40,000 miles.

Give your vehicle a treat now and then such as new radiator hoses, a new fanbelt, a brake flush, an auto trans fluid partial drain and new filter, new tires if they are at 12 years of age. In addition, do what the owner’s manual prescribes.

No, you may spend more money and get a van with more problems than with your van. Then the “new” van will just depreciate more than the “old” one. I have a 22 year old car and a 9 year old van with over 111,000 miles on it - I consider my van a pretty new vehicle.

Your van is barely broken in.

thanks very much! do treats include about $1000 worth of body work?(a parking post attacked the side of my car ;o)

thank you, very reassuring!

Your van only has 40K miles and is running fine, so why buy another used van that might have even more problems than the one you have? Newer, is still used and with any used car comes some kind of problems.

Start saving money for a new van in about 5 to 10 years. Put away $300 a month for a new car fund and repairs to the old van you have now. Your car is 12 years old and will need more repairs in the next 5 years than you had in the last 5. That doesn’t mean it is a bad car, just an old car that is getting older.

well…important factor, I’m wheelchair bound and on permanent disability. It’s not possible for me to put $300/mo away, so I guess realistically, my aunt’s money offer puts a new spin on things. But…my van is nicer than anything I’ve looked at, it’s a T&C Limited w/ all the bells and whistles. But, am I looking forward to expensive repairs?

Keep your present vehicle and take good care of it; it has a lot of life left in it.

You have a very nice vehicle that still has a lot of life in it. If you keep it up to date on maintenance, particularly fluid changes, it will last you a good long time. You also know this van, its repair and driving history, and any quirks it may have. A newer, different vehicle may bring with it problems you never would have had with your current vehicle, making it much less appealing. As far as the body work goes, if it affects nothing but the cosmetics, the only reason to repair it would be if it bothers you enough to justify repairing it.

Keep it till something major happens like transmission.

The value of 12 year old domestic minivan is really low irrelevant to low miles.

Put money aside for a new vehicle or repairs like $100/month if possible. Good luck.

You can be looking at expensive repairs with your current car, and expensive repairs on a newer used car. The only way to avoid expensive repairs it to buy a new car with a warranty, and that seems beyond your reach financially.

Your relative means well, but a newer used car isn’t going to help IMO. Perhaps she would be willing to put some of this money into a car repair account for you.

I’m not sure what you consider an expensive repair? New tires, new brakes, timing belts jobs, all can get expensive but are part of owning any car. Maintain the car you have properly, get the fluids changed (transmission fluid is the most important); that’s the best to keep your car going and avoiding expensive repairs along the way. If you consider $400 an expensive repair then you might be neglecting maintenance and that spells trouble down the road.

When was the last time the transmission was serviced? How many years ago? How many miles ago? If never, then even with only 40K miles this type of maintenance is needed. When was the coolant last replaced? At 12 years old you might need new tires, just because of age.

What you say here makes great sense. The transmission was replaced in '07, the ignition switch in '06, the timing belt in '06, and new tires in '10. Chrysler’s have notoriously bad transmissions, but failure could have been with a bad flush/wrong fluid replacement. Either way, the transmission is fine. Also, the front brake rotors and pads have been replaced. I have a good shop that alerts me to any problems when I do the regular scheduled maintenance.

My only worry is about the possibility of undercarriage damage and rusting. Still, I’m not sure that outweighs the good engine and brakes. A friend suggested I run it into the ground, but then I’ve missed out on the $$ assistance.

I like your suggestion of a separate car maintenance savings account.My only fear is something catastrophic and I’m left without a car. But as the saying goes, the devil you know is better than the one you don’t.

Many thanks. Now my only problem is a deposit I put on another car and the money I won’t get back for adaptations I approved – $3000. Lesson learned, INSPECT your property BEFORE getting pushed.

You don’t say where you live. If in a ‘no snow/no salt’ area, then rust is unlikely to be a problem. On the other hand, if you live with winter road salt, rust can become a VERY expensive maintenance item.

The only other ‘issue’ is safety features. Does the current van have side and curtain air bags? Anti skid control? Given its age, I doubt it.

If you DO get a new van, make sure you look into financial assistance for disability modification. Many auto makers help with financing. Car Talk has a Special Needs Zone but the link is bad. Here is one place to look: http://www.mcmobilitysystems.com/Car-Manufacturer-Mobility-Rebates-Programs.aspx

Thank you for your thoughtful answer. I live in New England, ie. plenty of salt and snow, and though I have ABS, I don’t have side curtain air bags. I talked to a mechanic today and an update is looking more and more realistic. Thanks for the links!