Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Advice, Please?

I'll get to the sewing later today. Promise. But first I need y'all's advice. You all give such great advice that I thought I'd ask.

My 12 year old Grand Caravan blew a fuel pump. It's in the 700 dollar range to replace it, given the whole taking out of the gas tank to get to it and all. Lovely. Did I mention, at any point this summer, that the A/C stopped working in the spring and would be astronomical to fix? Yeah. And that every three to six months I'm' pouring between 500 and a thousand dollars into repairs on this thing? Our reasoning has been that, so far, repairs and maintenance are cheaper than a car payment, and we all fit in this thing. Just lately, to add insult to injury, the volume on the radio stopped working.

So last night I'm online looking at used minivans. Forever. Liking some of what I see, getting a little discouraged, wondering how many problems we'll buy for what we can afford (when I say "what we can afford", please take that very loosely). The Hunny came home and we talked about it a bit and he started talking about what's happening in our country right now financially. And with oil and gas. And whether or not it might be best to just fix the van we have. I almost started to cry. Because I can see the sense in what he's saying, but I don't like it. I like having air. And I'm thinking the heat doesn't work either. What does that mean about the defrost? It's starting to get a little chilly here.

So I'm just trawling for opinions. Anyone else go through this recently? Looking at it happening for you soon? Any advice is appreciated. I think we might be hitting the car lots tonight, just looking.

Until I write again ...



Mental P Mama said...

I am car shopping at the moment, too. And with the scary fuel prices and environment, plus my kids are driving on their own, I am really going to downsize. I will tell you that my brother and his wife have a Honda minivan and they LOVE it. I may even go the Honda route myself because of their maintenance-free reputation...good luck!

PS: where are my cows???? I miss them.

imbeingheldhostage said...

Actually, yes, this stuff is on our minds constantly. Get this, with the fuel costs soaring, food prices skyrocketing, they just cut our "cost of living allowance" (the thing that buffers the fact that we pay double for anything we buy here) nearly in half.
So yes, I am feeling your pain. I'm sad to say the hubby may be right-- it's being forecasted to get worse, and after food prices rise like this, it can take years to stabilize :-( Just call me Suzy Sunshine.
And yes, where are the cows?

Daryl said...

I have no insight to offer, I live in a city where thankfully there is excellent public transportation ... good luck!

Yeah .. what's up with Fred & Bessie? Any Moos?


Anonymous said...

Good morning, Flea. My recommendation/advice is this: if, over the past six months, you have spent close to $1,000 and now need to spend another $700, then by genius calculations that means you will be out of pocket roughly $1700, correct? Add to that the necessity of getting the A/C and heater fixed (something you will need in the upcoming months--especially with kids) and you are looking at a lot of money on an old vehicle. Gues what? After you spend all that money, you are left with a car that still might break down. The way I see it, when you average out the cost over a six-month period, that old vehicle is costing you nearly $300. That's enough for a car payment on a moderately-priced fuel efficient vehicle that is under warranty and won't break down. You might even be able to find a 2007 van that has low miles and has been on the lot for two years. My suggestion is get into something safe that won't cost you the hidden expenses of owning an older vehicle.
That's just my humble opinion, Flea. Good luck. Let me know if I can do anything to help. :o)


Mom Knows Everything said...

My brother found me a used car and he's changing the oil, tightening up the muffler and crap like that. Hopefully in the next week I'll have a new used car because it was a lot cheaper to get another one then fix the one I got.

Karen said...

OH FLEA......that sucks. I have advice but not enough time to leave it right now. Got to get the Wild Child to Kindergarten. I will be back to leave my two cents. (That may be all it's worth.)

Anonymous said...

TOG and I owned a Chrysler mini van for about 3 years. We couldn't wait to get rid of it. We ended up donating it to a charity that would take anything. We lost a fuel pump, a water pump, the exhaust system a radiator and the transmission.
Since then, I have owned Hondas and Acuras and been very happy to avoid the constant breakdowns as well as great mileage.
If you must have a mini van, I would go for a more reliable brand if you can afford it. I know most people don't want to take on a car payment right now... but most people don't want to take on constant and excessive repair bills either.
Sorry I'm not much help.

Anonymous said...

Our experience with Dodge/Chrysler vans has been horrible. My advice would be to go for something newer and with a better track record. It sounds like the ongoing costs of repairs will be close to if not more than it would cost to replace it. Gas prices aren't going to change if you fix it and a newer vehicle will likely run more efficiently overall. I love my Honda Odyssey :-D That said, as you well know we spent quite a while in a less than suitable vehicle due to finances and our van was a leap in faith. It was definitely one of the best investments we made though. If you do get something new/newer, get what you really want though instead of making due. We "made due" and wasted way more money doing that than if we had just gotten what I wanted (for logical, researched reasons, not just desire).

OHmommy said...

My husband's car is like that. And we are keeping it. We have fixed it a million times but the truth is that we own it. We have had the same conversation as you have. And we always decide to hang onto it until it really dies.

Debbie in CA : ) said...

Car shopping, house hunting ...? I NEVER enjoy it. Almost all of our cars (and even our current house) came when hubby came home and said "surprise" (well, not exactly, but sorta really true). I will offer lots of prayers for you, but my advice would be useless. : )

On a happy note: I smile when I see Flea's World light up on the feeds roster. I like your southern charm. ; )

Have a happy day depsite fuel pumps and financial fiascos -- remember who's REALLY in control.

brneyedgal967 said...

A fixed monthly payment is a lot easier to budget than an unknown LARGE repair bill. 12 years old with a lot of miles - that's a big unknown. Shop around - look for something about 4 years old with lower mileage. Car payments suck, but the peace of mind of having something reliable will pay off.

Karate Mom said...

Oh, Flea, I'm so sorry! I hate decisions like that!
The thing is, for us, we don't do financing anymore, so going and buying something and having car payments wouldn't be an option. So I can't give you advice on that vein. All I can say is what we would do, which is use cash to fix the car, then work toward saving enough cash over the next few months to "upgrade" the car a bit through cash + trade in...did that make sense?
I can say also that I will pray fervently for you and Hunny to have wisdom and peace about the decision that you make.

Here's an interesting link:

Anonymous said...

You've gotten plenty of good advice already, so who needs mine . . . but I'm going to come down on the side of buying a better vehicle. We just bought a new truck so our teenager could inherit our old one. And I know how you feel. I kept thinking, times are tough, we can share vehicles, this is too extravagant. In the end, we jumped in because we can always sell if need be.

Karen said...

Ok, I just had to go through this same thing, as you know. This is how we decided. It was still costing us less to keep repairing the van than to make a new car payment, so we fixed the van. This said, we know it will not always be that way, so we are currently putting together a plan to buy a new vehicle. We have subscribed to Robert Kiyosaki way of thinking and are looking to find an asset to pay for a new van or whatever we end up with.

If you buy another used minivan, may suggest a Honda like other commenters here. My Honda has almost 144,000 miles on it. Yes, I recently had it repaired. It needed a new starter, parts and labor were $270. Last thing we had to replace was something to do the airconditioning but was due to a dishonest mechanic who no longer works on our vehicles. That one was around $800.00 but you can't really count that one against the vehicle. So not Honda's fault. Anyway, not so expensive to repair in the big picture. I the last two years, if averaged out, we have spent just less than $80.00 a month on repairs for this vehicle including what the not so nice mechanic did. I still can't find a car payment that low.

CanadianMama said...

If you do get a new vehicle I say go for a Honda or Toyota, very reliable!
I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that you win the lottery!

Tanya Brown said...

Oh dear, oh dear. I'm so sorry. Stress, you don't need!

I have no helpful comments, because my experience is limited and really doesn't apply to your situation. (Smaller family, less to carry.)

I'm wondering why the heater doesn't work, though. Too bad we're not neighbors; I'd come take a look at it. Unlike air conditioners, they're usually pretty simple systems, maybe something Mr. Hunny could look at if that's not your department. There's usually a heater core in the passenger compartment. It's like a radiator, and in fact the heater hoses transfer engine coolant to it, then air is blown through the fins to provide the heat.

Things to check:
engine coolant level - you'd probably know if it's low, because your car would overheat. Still, it's worth a look.

heater control valve - this prevents hot coolant from entering the core when the heater is turned off. Sometimes it gets stuck.

blower motor - this is used to push air through. If it isn't going, one quick thing to check is the fuse.

There may be other things as well, but those are the main ones I remember from working on my beater car. The heater core in that car had these stupid molded-on plastic pipes that cracked, and a replacement core was $120. Highway robbery! I hacksawed off the cracked pipes, clamped on rubber hoses, and drove around with the whole works visible because the cover wouldn't fit over the hoses. Bwahahahaha! Ah, those were the days! Seriously, I'm glad they're over and I hope they stay over. And I hope a reasonable alternative to tide you over until the kiddos are grown comes to light ASAP!!!

Karen Deborah said...

We just bought our kid a honda civic for $1600. Everything works, cheap transportation ad great on gas. chuck the van but don't go too deep in hock. It's too treacherous right now. I think your right on the van, but can you get by with less? Like maybe a good running little 4 door car? you can get a really nice car for about 6000. I bought a Grand Marquis for 9000, and its pretty good on gas which is amazing witha V8. Comfy. Not cute and not hip, but it's a good car. Do I like it? Not really. I would LIKE a convertable VW buggie with a rockin stereo and have mid life crisis, ain't happenin.
My name logo thinigie(Grand Marquis) on the back of my car broke, it actually says
Grand Ma.
Now hows that for funny?

Karen Deborah said...

ps motorcycle? and one car?

Wineplz said...

ugh...I've got a money pit car, too. It's burning oil somewhere, and has an unrepaired catalytic converter that makes me twitchy every time I start the car and have to stare that that darn check engine light. We've got too many debts to pay to considering making payments on a car, and even our best-laid plan of paying off one of the credit cards to free up a monthly payment for a new-ish vehicle didn't work (due to other unforseen costly issues).
So maybe if you can really bite the bullet, you can get a really good used vehicle...if you have a carmax near you they have warranties (even if past the manufacturer's standard warranty).

Chelf said...

Be careful about "just looking" at the car lots. That's how we ended up with our good new car - to replace the one that had the "mystery stopping disease". I had previously spent over $1800 to fix different things, and was looking at spending another $1600 to $2000 on the dealer's shop's "best guess" to get it running well again, with no guarantees it would work through the winter.

I decided that I would have to go into debt for the car anyway, and I would feel better about paying on a new one for SIX MONTHS than maybe fixing the piece of junk we had.

I didn't have the advantage of a Hunny that would try to work on the car. Dad is in another state, so the shade tree mechanicing (why didn't MY spell checker like it?) was out of the question.