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Trade it in or drive the SOB into the ground?

Another spousal debate – gotta love them!!

I am one of those “dog show people” & from living in geographically isolated NE I have to travel a LOT to do my doggie stuff (i.e. @ 22k/yr). I currently have a '06 Dodge Grand Caravan with 81k in mileage. My plan was to drive that horrible dog wagon into the ground to get our $$ worth out of it!!

Hubby however recently suggested it would be a better financial option for us to trade it in now & get a new vehicle (not another minivan -arg, yak, no more!!). His reasoning – the van still has trade in value now & hasn’t yet incurred all the repair expenses my last grand c.v. wracked up around the 85k mark +… so he might be right. But … he’s one to indulge me. I appreciate that, but I want to make the best financial decision. … but because I also drive long distances by myself, we both want to know I have a reliable vehicle. But, I still wanna be cheap :slight_smile:

Getting your money’s worth out of a vehicle = driving it until the wheels fall off a.k.a. the total monthly cost of repairs & insurance > total monthly cost of new-car payment & insurance.

Trading in any age car at the dealer = raped by the dealer. Any dealer worth its salt, will AT BEST give you wholesale value on that car. You’re better off selling said car on your own. Yes, it is a bit more work but if the extra monetary value is important to you, it might be worth it.

Vehicles are losers no matter how you figure them. The longer you keep in service, the less you lose. Repairs rarely trump payments. It’s just a convenience factor. The oddity in our society is that the Big 3 had to crank out so many of them just to pay the bills, some models are a dime a dozen and worth more in scrap than as a functional chassis.

I’ve found 12 years to be the defining age where major systems start to fail (outside of a design flaw or abuse/neglect). I can hardly see a 2006 chassis being that beat.

thanks to the responses so far. I trust & appreciate them a lot but I think our particular situation might not be coming through loud & clear …
This is my 2nd go with a dodge Grand Caravan. At around 85K miles I started having significant repair costs with my last van. It was every 3-4 months I was shelling out $500. From what I’ve heard of other people, this is typical for a Dodge GCV.

BUT 12 YEARS for someone to lose faith or finance in a vehicle!!??
Lemme see; at my current mileage that would put my van in 2018 at 240K miles!!
You’re CRAZY! I am a totally cheap chic that can change a tire & do an oil change, but driving the 600 miles west to Denver across the wastelands of NE where there is NOTHING …NO, I cannot risk that considering the weather we have here.
Have fun in your CA weather or short commutes with crappy cars. I unfortunately cannot afford that luxury.

$500 in three months = $167 a month. Still cheaper than a car payment, unless you have a substantial down payment. Properly maintained, your current vehicle should be relatively trouble free for a long time. Over the road travel is easy on a vehicle, and a quarter million miles over 12 years is easily doable in any vehicle, given proper maintenance. I have seen plenty of vehicles in the half a million mile range that still looked and ran like new, so it’s not that crazy. If cost is not much of a concern, and it will give you peace of mind, go ahead and get a new car. If you are truly ‘cheap’ and your current vehicle has not so far proven to be an absolute lemon, keep what you have. If you are leaning towards a new car, keep in mind that new cars can have problems too and will not necessarily be trouble free.

Note: I drive 80 miles a day in a rusty old Buick Skylark with 140k miles in central Illinois (rough winters, blazing summers). No CA weather or short commutes for me. This car has been impeccable and I have no intentions of parting with it before it rusts completely through, and I wouldn’t hesitate to drive it cross country tomorrow if I needed to. Does this make me crazy or cheap? Just wondering…

Ivorymoon, Would You Please Tell With More Detail What Some Items And Their Costs Occurred When, “At around 85K miles I started having significant repair costs with my last van.”, Please ?

There are often many maintenance items, some fairly costly that turn up around every 80 to 120 thousand miles with most vehicles. However, in between these intervals are usually relatively inexpensive miles.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems as though you came in here to get justification for getting rid of a vehicle you strongly dislike . . . “to trade it in now & get a new vehicle (not another minivan -arg, yak, no more!!).” We may all be wasting our time with this.

There are many knowledgeable car people who frequent this site and a great deal of them drive vehicles to well over 200,000 miles and find them very dependable, safe, and reliable during a rather long ownership. Some have already advised you. I am one of those people and one of my vehicles happens to be a Grand Caravan.

I live in the middle of nowhere (20 miles to town) and we get some very bad winter weather for nearly six months. My wife and I typically each drive 30,000 miles per year and must have dependable vehicles. I find our well maintained vehicles to be more trustworthy than some new vehicles we could hop into and start driving as our have proven themselves.

We operate vehicles until they are no longer viable. Some people buy and trade frequently and others lease thinking that this strategy affords them reliable low cost transportation. I think it’s an unnecccesary waste of money (I can afford to pay cash for new cars, but maybe that’s why.), but should one choose to do so, well . . . whatever floats their boat.

From one “cheap” car owner/operator (I own and operate several cars) to another, you should probably keep the van. As Gary pointed out, cars are not an investment. They are an expense. As others have pointed out that in order to keep the expenses low then you need to use up the vehicle.

Tell us about the expenses. Maybe that’s where things are out of hand. Also, tell us if we’re wasting our time and you are going to dump the van anyhow and waste a little cash.

If I lived where you do and I loved dog shows and I was cheap, I’d either move or lose the dog shows and pursue a new hobby.


85,000 miles usually brings up accelerated maintenance requirements. Stuff like transmission service, struts, timing belts, and water pumps can add up really quick to some expensive trips to the mechanic. But these are MAINTENANCE costs. These are to be expected. Any car on the road needs this stuff.

I say this because I have an SUV I’d love to justify getting rid of. It is large, slow, and drinks gas like it was free. It is 10 years old, 202,000 miles on it. But, it starts up every morning and runs like it was new. I keep up with maintenance, and just finished paying $600 for tires and $500 for a water pump and radiator. It runs so well, I have no issues loading up the family and driving 500 miles one-way to visit family. Just did that this past June. Didn’t give me a lick of trouble.

I will only say Caravan’s seems to have many repairs or really early maintenance(suspension, brakes, exhaust bushing etc) around the 4-5 yr mark. They just are not built really well.

However the trade in is very low on them for this reason including yours. I think it is stil cheaper to stomach it and hold on then trade for new. However trading for slightly used is best approach.

Your comment about driving long distances yourself tells me you might be better off with a new car. At 85K miles you’ve done pretty well to have a GC that has given you no issues. There will be repairs coming in the future as you noted with your previous GC. These vehicles do tend to need more frequent repairs as they age.

Before you sell the GC, your other comment about being cheap is telling too. Can you find a vehicle that is new, and cheap, that meets your needs for space and comfort in traveling to the shows?

If you find something; put the GC up for sale yourself. Clean it up as best as you can, polish it, and get all the service records organized and in a file. Then you can show to potential buyers and make a sale.

Then go buy the new car from the dealer. Pay cash or arrange financing at a bank or credit union before you enter the showroom. That way you are in the best position to buy the car without getting hooked into any of the dealers excess profit generators, which are financing, low trade values, and extended warranties. Which means say no to all the entended warranty offers and car packages like upholstery treatments etc.

BUT 12 YEARS for someone to lose faith or finance in a vehicle!!??
Lemme see; at my current mileage that would put my van in 2018 at 240K miles!!
You’re CRAZY!

You’re spoiled. You obviously don’t really know how to make a car last and have too much available cash to bother trying.

Why did you ask for opinions? You’ve got contradictions all over the place. Whining about $500 every three months BUT saying you’re debating holding on to it to SAVE MONEY.

I agree with other posters that keeping your old van would be more economical, even if it incurs some repairs. However, I have some other comments.

  1. Having driven a Grand Caravan and Town and Country on rare occasions (once when a Grand Caravan was all the rental company had and my car was in the shop, and another driving a friend’s T & C) I can see why you say “arg, yak[.]” They handle poorly, and, for me, driving any distance at all would be tiring, just keeping the thing in my lane. Life’s short; it might be worth getting a new vehicle just to get one you like and that has better road manners.

  2. Re getting stranded, I think the auto club companies will say the two most common causes of getting stranded are tires and batteries. So, if you replace the battery every four years or so, or keep one of those jump boxes in your car, and keep your tires in good shape (properly inflated and rotated, replaced when there’s less than 4/16" of tread left), you should have much less chance of getting stranded somewhere. However, that being said, I’ve seen posts on this very board where some car with 150K or so gives out suddenly, and responders will say, essentially “That’s one of the joys of owning an older car.” And, according to Consumer reports, the Grand Caravan has significant problems with the following: a) climate system, b) suspension, c) brakes, d) body integrity, and e) body hardware. So, getting rid of your GC now, or within the next 40K or so might be justifiable on this ground.

  3. Yes, you will get more money in a private sale than trading it in. However, private sales are a hassle and entail a certain risk. Again, might be worth it to go with the trade-in.

  4. One question: with what would you replace this van if you did trade it in?



On second thought, your husband is right. You should do what he suggests.
This way you will be happy, and the rest of the country will thank you for your own contribution to the general welfare in the form of a mini economic stimulus. God knows we need every little bit we can get, these days. The multiplier effect from your trade-in and new-car purchase will add in nicely.
Once again, on behalf of my family: Thank You !

@ geeaea

No need to bother geeaea. In this world there will always be people with too much money and time on their hands.

[b]@ geeaea

No need to bother geeaea. In this world there will always be people with too much money and time on their hands. [/b]

Indeed. People sometimes misidentify their anxieties. This anxiety appears to be revolving around convenience and not economics. Ivorymoon doesn’t care for the service down time that will occur with longer ownership, but also resents the added costs of avoiding them.

You can’t have it both ways. Maybe I just filter things differently than some. Maybe like one of those word problems where Jane leaves Chicago on a train heading east bound @ 50mph while John starts dinner in Boston …and aunt Mary ran around a flag pole 3x in Jacksonville FL …how much does your sister Cindy weigh?


250 lbs ???

“Jane leaves Chicago on a train heading east bound @ 50mph while John starts dinner in Boston …and aunt Mary ran around a flag pole 3x in Jacksonville FL …how much does your sister Cindy weigh?”


If you don’t really care for your current ride(you said it yourself with the minivan comment), it might be time to start looking. Take your time, look for a vehicle that fits you best. You might put a couple ads out saying you’re wanting to sell the car, while still shopping, to see if you want to try selling it or trading it in. If you decide to trade it in, do NOT mention you’re gonna trade the van in, just worry about final, out the door price, THEN say you’re thinking about trading it in and see how much they’ll give you for it

Keep in mind when you trade in a vehicle, there are two transactions: 1) you are buying a car from the dealer; and 2) the dealer is buying a car from you. The new car sales and used car sales are two separate departments in the dealership and each manager of each department is expected to make money. The new car sales wants to sell you the new car at the highest possible price and the used car sales manager wants to buy your trade-in at the lowest price. Often, the trade in goes to an auction lot. Your 2006 may be new enough that, if it is in reasonable condition, the dealer may choose to put it on his lot, certainly at a mark-up of what you are allowed for trade in. You often do better selling the vehicle yourself.

I don’t know what you have in mind to replace your minivan. I don’t know how many dogs you take to shows. I have one dog that rides in a cage that fits nicely in the minivan. I find the minivan quite versatile for hauling people and musical instruments. We also have a SUV. The SUV doesn’t have the passenger capacity or hauling capacity, but is easier to park in crowded parking lots. You do want a vehicle in which your dogs can ride safely.

The only time I sold a vehicle with less then 150k miles on it was my 84 GMC S-15…It was costing me too much money in repairs and lost time to keep it.

If the van is running well…then keeping for 10+ years is the BEST financial decision. If repairs are more then 2-3k a year then it might be worth looking into getting a new vehicle…

Many of us here have kept vehicles much longer then this…I’ve kept 2 trucks past the 300k mark…and two cars past the 250k mark…and all were running very well when we got rid of them. 22k miles a year is NOT that many miles…I average close to 40k…my wife averages about 24k. Just the nature of living in New England.

I have never owned a GRAND Caravan, but have owned '85 (wrecked it), '90 (rotted @ ~230k), '93 (died at ~130), '97 (donated while running @ ~270k), and '01 (now at 170k). IMHO, the real factor here is what engine you have and how well you take care of the car. If you maintain the 3L motor, it will do good things for you. For dog showing, you really can’t beat the convenience of the configuration. Face it … if you wanted to look cooool you would not have bought this in the first place. You bought it as a utility vehicle and it still has that function. I say drive it for another 100-150k.