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

Undercarriage damage

I was just told that my 1999 Chrysler Town&Country Limited fully equipped handicapped van is worth nothing because it has some undercarriage damage. The van runs fine and the only signs of this damage are 2 sticky doors. There are only 40,000 miles on this '99 van. Is it worth nothing?

If the floorboards are rotted through, or if the frame is rotted or damaged, the van will likely not pass inpsection, wherever you live. That makes it unsellable unless you can and do repair the damage.
But if there is just a little rot beginning on the floorboards or a few undercarriage dents and dings, the van is worth what it is worth for it’s age and mileage and overall condition, maintenance history, etc.
Consider the source telling you the van is worthless. The van is specially equipped, low mileage, and according to you in good shape. I doubt that it is worthless. If nothing else it worth something to you, as a reliable vehicle that you don’t need to replace unless it will cost too much to get it inspected.
Is this person trying to buy the van?
Get a second opinion, or if you can, get under the van and survey the condition of the undercarriage yourself. If the doors are sticking because of rot, that is a problem.
Get back to me with details about your state (so I can find out what will accepted during state inpspection), the condition of the body, and if you can, how the undercarriage is damaged.
Your model has a lot of recalls and complaints, but I didn’t find anything associated with the undercarriage.

If the damage is from rust the sticking doors mean your van is getting ready to collapse.

This is very unsafe, however with only 40,000 miles the van is worth something for the engine and transmission.

Can you clarify the cause of the undercarriage damage?
So far, everyone thinks it is rust, but you never stated that.

Has the vehicle ever had an accident?
Has it ever run over something large?

You are going to have to fill in the blanks.


It is worth nothing to them in trade and it should be undervalued because the two sticky doors are not a good sign. To me, the doors are a sign of body work done wrong, perhaps to the point of making the vehicle unsafe at any speed. It’s always worth something; the question is “How much, to whom”. To me, a 99 minivan in perfect condition is worth little.

Which doors are sticky, and were they modified as part of the handicap conversion?

Sorry for this omission! I was told the undercarriage is bent in possibly 2 places. The damage is from hitting a large chunk of pavement probably through a large hole in a car wash driveway. This might account for the sticking of the sliding side door, where the ramp comes out. However, the sticking of the driver side doors might be due to rust, as there has been a product defect found wherein the altered side panels – to allow lowering of the floor for wheelchair access – permitted rain water to get trapped. The van has not been in an accident.

I think the answer is no, but if you brought the van to a garage for inspection and repair after hitting the large hole and maybe a chunk of asphalt on a private lot, you may have at least a small claims case. But if you did anything at the time to document the event - even text a friend or e-mail the story - see if you can’t access the record. It is evidence. The damage occurred on a private lot. You can sue them for the damage, but you need some kind of record of the event. Witnesses count as evidence.

Otherwise you mention that the slider might be sticking because of rust because of the installation or design of the handicap access. This sounds to me that there is at least anectodal evidence that either the design or installation is faulty.

Again, get a professional opinion. Find out what is wrong, what your options are, and whether or not you can safely use the van anymore as it is. Don’t get a state inspection, get a good mechanic to inspect the van.

Who told you it is worth nothing?

If this is a trade in then likely yes a dealer does not want this vehicle. It will simply go to an auction. If the underside damage is enough it may exceed the value of the vehicle hence making it worth nothing to a seller.

However a private buyer may overlook the damage. I think a working van to a private sell is worth $500-$1500. Even in perfect condition a 99 Town & Country has very little value.

The other issue is “fully equipped handicapped van”. This is a very narrow market for a van.

Thank you for your informative response. Last week I figured it was worth nothing, but now I question my conclusion. The driver side door makes a sticking pop when I open the door, but I think the 1st mechanic is correct in concluding this is from a bent undercarriage. I see no rust there. The transmission and steering mechanisms have been fully replaced and the van runs well. It is a T&C Limited and fully equipped w/ a power wheelchair ramp and power driver seat. The seats are leather and heated. For these reasons I will take your advice and get a thorough inspection from an independent mechanic. I am most worried about the safety of my van. Can it collapse or otherwise endanger me b/c of the bent frame? Also, can the frame be repaired and for roughly how much money? Is it worth doing?

Oh I forgot. I live in Connecticut and the exterior has several dings due to tight parking spaces. I believe the floors have no rot, but I’m told the electrical wiring has suffered some mouse damage.

You have a specially equipped van. The extra lift equipment can be heavy. Either the structure of the van wasn’t reinforced enough when it was modified, or rust has damaged critical elements of the unibody construction.

Whether it is repairable depends on where the damage is, and if new metal can be added by welding to repair of replace the entire structure.

There must be salvage value for things like the motor and transmission, but not much since this is a common van.

You need to take the van to a good body shop, one that can do frame restoration. A repair would be expensive, but these specially modified vans are expensive new.

Have you contacted your insurance company? If the van was damaged in a car wash the repairs might be covered?