Should owner fix sliding door or buy a new minivan?

  • Article by: PAUL BRAND
  • Updated: February 14, 2014 - 10:43 PM

Q: My 2007 Chrysler Town & Country minivan has 75,000 miles. The driver’s 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?

A: This is a common conundrum for owners of “mid-life” vehicles. Not knowing the exact model you have, I’ll use the T&C LX 3.3-liter V-6 for the example. Checking Kelley and NADA Blue Book values, trade-in is $3,700 to $5,700 depending on condition. Noting the rusted door and the near $2,000 repair cost, let’s work with $3,700 trade-in value.

Your options are: 1) DIY door repair with bondo, duct tape, expanding foam insulation and spray paint, or a used door from salvage yard — 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.

Option 3 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 vehicle’s 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 — the lowest-cost DIY option. Today, I’d be more likely to chose option 3 — the easiest and most hassle-free choice.

Q: I have a 2005 Chevy 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?

A: I’m somewhat surprised you haven’t taken the vehicle into a shop or the dealership yet — 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 GM’s 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.

I don’t understand and can’t explain the “loss of forward motion,” as this would not be related to the power steering issue.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke 3
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 12 FINAL
Seattle - LP: E. Ramirez 4
Washington - LP: D. Fister 4 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick 8
Tampa Bay - WP: D. Smyly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 1
Boston - LP: T. Layne 2 FINAL
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 5
NY Yankees - WP: S. Greene 8 FINAL
Detroit - LP: D. Price 4
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 3 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: Z. Wheeler 2
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 5 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: M. Latos 7
Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: H. Noesi 3
Minnesota - LP: P. Hughes 1 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: W. Davis 6
Oakland - WP: D. Otero 5 FINAL
Houston - LP: C. Qualls 4
Milwaukee - LP: Z. Duke 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: D. Thayer 3
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 3 FINAL
Arizona - LP: W. Miley 1
Miami - LP: H. Alvarez 1 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: H. Santiago 6
Colorado - LP: J. Nicasio 2 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: S. Casilla 4
Atlanta 5:00 PM
Detroit 6:00 PM
Indianapolis 6:00 PM
Kansas City 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 6:00 PM
St. Louis 6:00 PM
Carolina 6:30 PM
New England 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 7:00 PM
Denver 7:00 PM
Minnesota 7:00 PM
San Francisco 7:00 PM
Arizona 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 9:00 PM
(21) Texas A&M 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 6:02 PM
Boise State 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 7:00 PM
Temple 8:15 PM
Rutgers 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Los Angeles 4
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters