2007 Chrysler Town & Country minivan has 75,000 miles. The
driverís side passenger door has rusted through at the bottom.
Three body shop estimates for the rusty door replacement come in
about $1,800. Otherwise, the mechanicals seem fine. Is it time to
buy a new van, focus on replacing the rusty sliding passenger door,
or ignore and drive the vehicle into the ground?
is a common conundrum for owners of "mid-life" vehicles.
Not knowing the exact model you have, Iíll use the T&C LX
3.3-liter V-6 for the example. Checking Kelley Blue Book and NADA
values, trade-in is $3,700 to $5,700, depending on condition. Noting
the rusted door and the near-$2,000 repair cost, letís work with
$3,700 trade-in value.
are: 1) DIY door repair with Bondo, duct tape, expanding foam
insulation and spray paint, or a used door from salvage yard ó
perhaps $100 to $200. 2) Spend $1,800 to properly repair/replace
sliding door. 3) Accept roughly $3,700 trade-in value on replacement
vehicle. Even this might be somewhat high due to the
"rust-through" on the sliding door.
Options 1 and
2 assume you will continue to drive the vehicle until it is fully
depreciated, rusted out, used up and ready for the salvage yard. In
this case, the $2,000 "proper" repair is basically for
cosmetics only and does not add value, life expectancy or
reliability to the vehicle. The DIY repair may not look particularly
attractive, but it would suffice in this case.
effectively includes the cost of "proper" repair as
reduced trade-in value for your vehicle "as is." Trade-in
value in "average/good" condition is in the $4,500 to
$5,000 range. The difference in trade-in value, roughly $1,000,
reflects the fact that the dealer can repair the door for
significantly less than you can.
Which may be a
key to your decision. By trading your rusted van on a new van, you
effectively save about half the cost of "proper" repair.
Plus you save the sales tax on the value of your trade-in. You also
eliminate additional mechanical/body issues in the later years of
your vehicleís life and you get all the benefits of driving a new
vehicle. At the cost of the new van, of course.
In my earlier
years, I always chose option 1 ó the lowest-cost DIY option.
Today, Iíd be more likely to choose option 3 ó the easiest and
most hassle-free choice.
Q: I have a
2005 Chevrolet Malibu. While driving I have lost power steering and
forward motion but the engine keeps running. I turned it off and on,
and it drove fine for a couple weeks. Now it has happened again. Do
you have any idea what this could be?
somewhat surprised you havenít taken the vehicle into a shop or
the dealership yet ó the loss of power steering is a potential
danger. My Alldata automotive database identified GM special
bulletin 10183A dated May 2012 outlining "Special Coverage
Adjustment Power Steering Assist" for 10 years/150,000 miles.
This bulletin is an extension of GMís original bulletin covering
loss of power assist due to "electrical input signal within the
steering column." Check with your dealer to see if your vehicle
is covered by this extended warranty.
understand and canít explain the "loss of forward
motion," as this would not be related to the power steering