Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's Dead, Jim!

Well, my 1999 Dodge Caravan, with a mere 168,000 miles to its speedometer, has finally bitten the dust. First the brakes gave out, and then the bearings. I nursed it to the airport to deliver my sister to her flight back to the Big Apple, nursed it back home, and there it gave up the ghost. (D'ya think I coulda crammed in any more cliches into one paragraph?)

This does make me wish I hadn't put the $500+ into it a couple of months back, but it doesn't matter. The car is dead.

Onward to the expense of getting another vehicle.

I hate this part--not just the expense, but the actual searching for the right car. I know zilch about cars. All I really know to do is check Kelly Blue Book for prices. But how do I evaluate the condition of the engine?

And what make and model would be most appropriate?

I would really like a small, fuel-efficient vehicle. But with the two grandkids living with me, another minivan would probably be the best option.

I need another payment like I need a hole in the head (Sheesh! Enough of the cliches already!)

Obviously, if I have to have payments, a three year plan is better than a five year plan. But would it be better to go with the lowered payments of a five year loan just in case I have trouble making higher payments? I could always double up on the payments and get it paid off sooner.

I'm thinking of getting a car in the $6000 to $8000 price range. My sister is giving me $1200 for the down payment.

Arrgh! Did I say I hate this?


Living Almost Large said...

May it rest in peace. tell us what happens!

mapgirl said...

1. So sorry Grace! I know you've had it for a long time!

2. Try taking a used private sale vehicle to a trusted mechanic to look for obvious issues like worn out belts, etc. Get a written estimate and use that to negotiate the seller down.

3. Try a certified 'pre-owned' vehicle. They are usually more expensive, but some of them have service coverage included. But I think that's more than you want to spend.

Good luck! (I was shopping used cars for my mom today which is why I suggested #3. But they are really spendy.)

Florence said...

One word, Grace--Honda.

Anonymous said...

Have you gotten an estimate to bring it back from the dead? Even a new crate motor? Brakes still fall under normal maintance.

My motto is always been when it costs more to repair than it costs to replace. 6K would restore it to new condition?

Just my 2cents worth.

Good luck, and God Bless

Sharon said...

I think it's awesome that you had a car that gave you 168,000 miles! I'm hoping my Pilot will do the same. I'm sure you can get a great minivan in the 6-$8,000 range. I prefer Honda's, but there are a lot of good choices out there. Monthly payments should not be too high even for 3 years. I would not go 5 years on a used car, that's financial suicide.
In any event, when you go for financing, check with a credit union interest rate first...they are sometimes lower.

Did it my way may have a point too. $1200.00 downpayment is a good deal too! What a wonderful sister!

Dar said...

Does any of your friends have a dealer's license? If so, consider an auto auction. You pay dealer prices, which saves a ton.

And FWIW, I would buy the car you WANT, not the car the kids "need". You have plenty of extra expenses due to your household situation. Ten additional years of fuel inefficency should not be one of them. Get a car that seats four. The kids are little - they won't care about leg room for at least another 5 years.

Don't forget - you can donate your dead car to charity and take a deduction!


Living Almost Large said...

Gotta agree. You might do well with a fuel efficient sedan instead of minivan. Which is a luxury for 2 kids, who are for sure living with you long term? Or not?

frugal zeitgeist said...

Drat, Grace - I'm so sorry. I agree about not getting a minivan, though. I know I'm ignorant about kids, but I'm not sure why you'd need one. Also, if you start researching used cars in the 3-4 year old range, you have a pretty good chance of finding reliable wheels without paying extra for new car smell.

DogAteMyFinances said...

I can't say I know a lot about this, but a friend just bought a car off eBay.

He was watching the auctions of the local dealership, and went to go see the cars even, before he bid.

That might be more than you want to spend, but it's worth checking to see if a local dealership sells things they can't sell on the lot on eBay.

Anonymous said...

I have a long-term relationship with a good mechanic and he checks out all the used cars I buy at no charge. I had the opportunity to buy a great used Volvo a few years ago but Chuck told me the repair bills would make me faint compared to what I was used to paying.

Just a thought as I'm sure many repair shops offer a similar service and it's worth whatever they might charge.

bucksome said...

Grace, sorry to hear about your van.

Unfortunately, I don't have any advice about buying a replacement vehicle but hope you find the best deal possible!

Carol said...

I think I have to echo those who advise you to get the car YOU want to drive for the next 5 to 10 years (or more), and don't buy a vehicle with the grandchildren in mind. What a bummer to have this happen at Chrismas, though!