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

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 24 FINAL
Washington 27
San Diego 38 FINAL
San Francisco 35
Minnesota 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 2:30 PM
Toronto
Memphis 3:30 PM
Cleveland
Boston 5:00 PM
Miami
Detroit 5:00 PM
Brooklyn
LA Lakers 5:00 PM
Sacramento
Philadelphia 5:00 PM
Orlando
Phoenix 5:00 PM
Washington
Indiana 6:00 PM
Minnesota
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Colorado 5:00 PM
Detroit
Dallas 5:00 PM
Edmonton
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Boston
Carolina 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Chicago
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
Winnipeg
Harvard 11:00 AM
Virginia
Maine 12:00 PM
Army
Ferris State 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
San Francisco 12:00 PM
Cleveland State
Oregon State 12:00 PM
Quinnipiac
Coastal Carolina 12:30 PM
Central Arkansas
Holy Cross 1:00 PM
Canisius
Southern Miss 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Western Carolina 1:00 PM
UNC-Asheville
Creighton 1:00 PM
North Texas
Maryland 1:00 PM
Oklahoma State
Cornell 1:00 PM
Radford
Vermont 1:00 PM
Saint Louis
Loyola-Maryland 1:00 PM
Stony Brook
Reinhardt 1:00 PM
Winthrop
Ark-Little Rock 1:00 PM
Green Bay
TX-Pan American 1:00 PM
Nebraska Omaha
Alabama State 1:05 PM
Evansville
FIU 1:30 PM
Hartford
Goshen 1:35 PM
Valparaiso
Bryant 2:00 PM
Denver
Austin Peay 2:00 PM
Lipscomb
Tennessee St 2:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
South Dakota 2:00 PM
Montana
ULM 2:00 PM
Samford
Coker 2:30 PM
South Carolina
USC 3:00 PM
Boston College
Northern Ariz 3:00 PM
Hampton
SD Christian 3:00 PM
San Diego
UC Irvine 3:30 PM
Bradley
Troy 3:30 PM
Nicholls
Seton Hall 5:00 PM
Georgia
Appalachian St 5:30 PM
Alabama
North Dakota St 6:00 PM
Kent State
San Jose St 6:00 PM
Washington St
Alcorn State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Sacramento St 9:00 PM
Seattle
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 11:00 AM
Denver
St Marys-CA 11:00 AM
George Washington
TX-San Antonio 11:00 AM
Nicholls
Portland State 11:00 AM
Columbia
Tenn Tech 11:00 AM
Morgan State
SMU 11:00 AM
Auburn
Quinnipiac 11:00 AM
Hartford
Hofstra 11:00 AM
Boston College
Eastern Washington 11:00 AM
Georgia Southern
Rhode Island 12:00 PM
Bryant
Liberty 12:00 PM
(1) South Carolina
Fairleigh Dickinson 12:00 PM
Brown
Buffalo 12:00 PM
Long Island
Bucknell 12:00 PM
Mount St Marys
Stony Brook 12:00 PM
Wagner
FIU 12:00 PM
Wofford
Duquesne 12:00 PM
Providence
Maine 12:00 PM
William & Mary
Alabama State 12:00 PM
Samford
TX-Pan American 12:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
South Dakota St 12:00 PM
Marist
Saint Josephs 12:00 PM
(5) Notre Dame
Radford 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
(3) Texas 12:30 PM
(4) Texas A&M
South Florida 1:00 PM
Penn State
Sam Houston St 1:00 PM
TCU
Evansville 1:00 PM
IUPUI
(14) Maryland 1:00 PM
Coppin State
Mercer 1:00 PM
Coll of Charleston
NC A&T 1:00 PM
Chattanooga
Princeton 1:00 PM
Monmouth
Eastern Illinois 1:00 PM
Lehigh
Rider 1:00 PM
Binghamton
SC State 1:00 PM
Clemson
Fairfield 1:00 PM
Iowa State
Richmond 1:00 PM
Eastern Kentucky
Cleveland State 1:00 PM
Morehead St
Kent State 1:00 PM
Colgate
South Alabama 1:00 PM
UAB
Saint Peters 1:00 PM
Navy
Youngstown St 1:00 PM
Pittsburgh
NJIT 1:00 PM
Lafayette
Davidson 1:00 PM
Charlotte
Indiana State 1:30 PM
St Johns
Southern U 1:30 PM
Florida
Wright State 1:30 PM
Purdue
(19) Oklahoma St 2:00 PM
USC
Houston 2:00 PM
Texas Tech
Ark-Little Rock 2:00 PM
Tulsa
Dayton 2:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Northern Ariz 2:00 PM
New Mexico
UNC-Asheville 2:00 PM
USC Upstate
North Dakota 2:00 PM
South Dakota
Western Ill 2:00 PM
Marquette
Elon 2:00 PM
(6) North Carolina
Ball State 2:00 PM
Western Ky
(8) Kentucky 2:00 PM
(13) Duke
New Orleans 2:00 PM
Alabama
Chicago State 2:00 PM
Milwaukee
Bowling Green 2:00 PM
Bradley
Ill-Springfield 2:00 PM
SE Missouri St
Northern Ill 2:00 PM
Northern Iowa
(23) Iowa 2:05 PM
Drake
Central Michigan 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Western Carolina 2:30 PM
North Florida
Wyoming 3:00 PM
Colorado
Portland 3:00 PM
Boise State
Cal Poly 3:00 PM
Colorado State
No Dakota State 3:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Albany 3:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Oklahoma 3:00 PM
Arkansas
Idaho State 3:00 PM
Seattle
(18) Michigan State 3:00 PM
(19) Syracuse
Northwestern 3:30 PM
Arizona State
TX-Arlington 3:30 PM
North Texas
Fresno State 4:00 PM
Oregon
St Francis-PA 4:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
UNLV 4:00 PM
CS-Bakersfield
UCLA 4:00 PM
(2) Connecticut
(10) Louisville 4:00 PM
(24) California
Howard 5:00 PM
Virginia
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
(21) Miss State
Illinois-Chicago 8:30 PM
Old Dominion
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close