Which car to trade in?

Hi all. My wife and I are looking at getting a new, bigger vehicle (bigger than her 2001 Jeep Cherokee Classic), most likely a 2008 Chrysler Town & Country LX. However, we’re uncertain as to what the trade in strategy should be.

Here’s some background info:

-The new-to-us car will be hers, and I’ll get to keep whichever car we don’t trade in.

-We won’t be in a position to get another new-to-us car for another 7 years

-I currently commute 70 miles daily, Monday through Friday, and it’s about 50% stop-and-go and 50% highway speeds

-My 02 Civic has 130,000 miles and has a CarMax trade in value of $3000, the scheduled maintenance has been ok but not always on time, the transmission fluid’s never been changed, and I get about 27 MPG

-Her 01 Jeep Cherokee Classic has 70,000 miles and a CarMax trade in of $4,500, has had scheduled maintenance more on time than mine, and gets about 18 MPG

-Safety rating on the Civic is much better than the Jeep

-Reliability rating is about equal on both vehicles as per MSN

So, here’s my question:

Which one should we trade in? I like my civic, but it’s already got 130K miles, though it’s not showing any signs of being close to death. Her Jeep is a nice vehicle, but the MPG is 33% lower than the Civic, so my gas budget for commuting would increase from about $150 to $200 per month. Does the fact that her car has 60,000 fewer miles make it a better long term vehicle for us? Or, will the Civic be a better bet if I get serious about preventative maintenance? I’m not concerned about resale value, I just want to know what’s going to have the best chance of making it for another 7 years and won’t be too expensive over that time span.

Any comments or advice would be greatly appreciated!



Well, if the timing belt/water pump/tensioners have never been changed on the Honda it’s way, way past due and you’ve been on borrowed time for quite a while. If the belt snaps the engine will suffer damage. The Jeep will not have this need.
This may or may not be a factor; just pointing out a somewhat large expense if you’re not aware of it.

As to what to trade I’d hate to even venture a guess since both vehicles are vastly different from each other and meet different needs.
If I were going to get rid of one of them I would probably detail it out, try to sell it in a private sale, and apply the proceeds to the next car. (assuming they’re paid for)
This would eliminate some of the murky numbers-juggling game playing that goes along with every car sale. Just my opinion anyway.

Thanks for the info. None of those have been done, so I’ll get it scheduled asap. Do the tensioners get replaced or just adjusted? Also, can the service be done w/ a transmission fluid change, or does that need to be done before/after and make the whole thing take longer?

Let’s Talk Rust.

Do you live where salt is used on roads in winter time ? Is either car rusty underneath ?
Cars from different manufacturers corrode differently and age is a factor, but higher miles is, too. Seven years more will not help of course.

How does each look on the outside ? Any body or paint issues ?

That 02 Civic will be 9 model-years old in a couple of months and almost 16 in seven years and that 01 Cherokee is almost 10 and will be about 17 in seven years. In car years, at 9 and 10, they’re passing through middle-age and beginning their “senior years”.

You Mention Commuting. I Don’t Want To Guess At The Math. How Many Miles Per Day, Or More Importantly, Per Year, Do You Drive Or Plan To Drive Your Selection ?


Keep the civic, but start paying more attention to maintaining it. It sounds like you are running it into the ground. It is way overdue for the timing belt change.

If it is a stick your lack of fluid change isn’t so bad, but even a stick tranny needs a change. If it is an auto, Honda auto transmissions aren’t that robust. Get the fluid changed (say no to any trans flush offers) and a new filter - yesterday. Perhaps you’ll get lucky but keep some money aside for a new or rebuilt transmission, $2,000 in case it is too late.

The Jeep will need a lot more repairs as it ages than the Civic. Less miles won’t mean less money spent on the Jeep. Even the tires are about 2 to 3 times more expensive when its time to replace them.

The Civic is the perfect commuter car, the Jeep isn’t. Keep the Honda.

Civic is a commuter car. Do the maintenance you were lax with about $1000 and drive it for another 7 years.

No salts here. We live in Texas, so they just use grit. The Jeep is a bit rusty underneath, but not terrible. The Civic isn’t rusty at all.

If I keep the same job, I’ll be doing 70 miles each day, 5 days a week. That’ about 17,500 miles per year. So, in 7 years, it’ll be an additional 125,000 miles, putting the civic at about 250,000 and the jeep at just below 200,000.

Yeah, this is the consensus I’m seeing here. I’m calling the dealer to get it done on Tuesday, hopefully :slight_smile:

Some tires listed on tirerack.com are on par with what it costs for the Civic. Some are a bit more, but not by much.

Also, with 130k miles and no fluid changes, I’d imagine that transmission is on borrow time, same with the timing belt.

I’d keep the Civic if it makes it through all the critical maintenance it needs. But either car may break down from time to time. How will you get to work if the car is out of service for a few days? Can you borrow the wife’s van? Rent? It might make sense to keep all 3 unless you need the money to but the next car.

" Yeah, this is the consensus I’m seeing here. I’m calling the dealer to get it done on Tuesday, hopefully :)"

“The Dealer” means paying almost double for the maintenance you require. Find an independent Honda mechanic…with zero maintenance, I’m surprised the tranny hasn’t failed already, an event that will total the car…($3500 to rebuild)…Even if you get religion now, there is no way the Honda will survive another 7 years @ 70 miles a day…The tranny will never see 200K miles…But the Cherokee is not the ideal commuter car and it won’t last 7 more years without MAJOR repairs that will equal the Civics heart-stopping repair costs…The T&C van has supported and sustained the transmission repair industry for almost 20 years, so you might want to re-think that too…