Cah Update

I got the truck back.  They replaced two of the three oxygen sensors, and he is certain the other isn’t needed, but if the light returns, bring it back for that.

The sensors cost $210 with tax.  Labor was $100 and the computer diagnostic was $60.  Grand total: $370, versus I had hoped maybe $200, but I guess we’re not in 1980 anymore, Toto.

They were busy.  I was harried.  I was sticker-shocked.  And I am trying to decide what to pursue how aggressively.  So I didn’t ask Nick at the garage (and why are they all named Nick?) (Heck, why are they all ethnic; Lebanese, Italian or whatever?) about looking at the van just yet.

I thought I was having a serendipity moment.  In my travels, almost across from what used to be Anne’s Place in Norton, I saw a nice looking van for sale.  The sign proclaimed it a 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan, runs great, 103,000 miles, and supplied a number to call.  It looked to be in excellent condition, but I see mileage that high and I am still programmed to believe that means “not worth much,” much as I find it weird that candy bars can cost over a quarter each, or that it takes in excess of $20 an hour full time income just to get by.

I thought it quite telling that they had a newer, blue rather than green copy of the same van in their driveway; clearly a big fan.

After chagrin at how valuable my Blackberry is to me when it has phone numbers stored that were obsolete two years ago, and an accompanying lack of call to my father to ask what he thinks I can expect a van of that vintage to be, I cut to the chase and called the number.  As I told the guy, I wanted to know what they were asking so I’d know if it was even in my league.  $4500.  Since I thought I might have been mistaken and heard $2500, which was what I expected to hear, I had him repeat it.  $4500.  K thx buh-bye now.

After I got home from springing the truck, which just about killed me, walking there after bringing up several loads of BJ’s merchandise from the borrowed van first, Deb suggest kbb.com, a URL most unfamiliar to me, and yet so useful.

Sure enough, for the condition and all, the private sale value of the van I saw is around $4800, maybe a little less depending on exact specs.  Aha!  We are not the only ones with mad intertube skillz.  Darn!

Which led me to look up our ill-fated van.  If it were still running, it would be worth almost $2000 in a private sale, despite the mileage.  Weird.  Speaking of which, we put less than 1200 miles on with the replacement transmission.  That’s probably not unrepresentative of the rate at which we racked up miles, which would mean 5000-odd the whole time we’ve had it.  If we have it fixed, we will have gone over a buck a mile for repairs and will need it to go some time without failing again.  Which all seems to have centered around seemingly unsolvable chronic overheating.  There’s no way it would be worth fixing the engine if the overheating can’t be solved for certain and for good.  Well, assuming is was still overheating and that wasn’t simply cumulative.

The thing is probably worth what we paid for it even in its current state.

Driving my brother’s van, it feels and sounds like it’s ready to be found dead on the side of the road any second.  It runs, but man, the rattles and creaks and clunks.  Foibles are fine.  For instance, you can’t open the driver’s door from outside the car.  It reminds me of the Sentra, except the Sentra runs better and sounds no worse, even if it does need undercarriage metalwork.

Our van feels more solid, sounds less clunky, rides luxuriously, and hasn’t sprouted so much personality yet.  The elecric everything works; no sounding like the windows are going to break as they slide down.  The silly little bells and whistles, like the interior lights going on for 30 seconds when you lift the locked door handle, still work.

All of that makes me lean toward fixing it, if it’s not going to be insane, but I assume it’ll cost a couple hundred bucks or so just to find out what is needed, at which point the taking apart work is part of the way toward what it would take to do the whole repair.

Meanwhile, I wonder how long we can have four cars here without a fuss, notwithstanding one parking out along the street.  Along the stree is too heavily used these days for it not to feel like overkill for us to be there too.

Deb got me going, point out kbb.com.  The Sentra is worth $500 at absolute most, based on age, condition, and having been salvaged from a total 103,000 miles ago.  The truck is officially worth about $7000.

Of course, in my experience, the Blue Book value is simply a number that tells you wnat to avoid going over, and tells you how well you did negotiating a price that someone would actually be willing to pay.

Oh well.  We come down to when and if to have the shop examine the van, and how hard to resist if they’re intent on fixing it even if I was mainly curious.  If there is to be any substantive delay, we come to whether or not to reregister the Sentra and fudge it or attempt to pass inspection or what.  And depending, we come down to whether or not to seek out another car to buy, and if so, how hard to look.

Posted by on 08/15 at 08:10 PM
  1. In recent years I’ve gotten the informal impression that reasonably priced vehicles— even reasonably priced used vehicles— have become an endangered species.

    Then again, so far I’ve lucked out. I’ve owned half a dozen vehicles in my lifetime, and for all six of them put together I’ve paid a sum total of less than $12000. You read that right, $12000 for all six of them put together.

    I’m currently driving a 1992 Jeep Cherokee, little bit of rust starting to show around the edges, but it runs like a top. When I bought my Jeep off a neighbor two years ago, it had 137,000 miles on it and I paid him $2500 for it. Then again, he’d done all his own mechanical work on it. Now up to 164,000 miles, still runs like a top, and I haven’t had to have anything done with it these past two years other than routine oil changes and a set of new tires.

    Though next time I’m in the market for an older used vehicle, I expect to encounter sticker shock. I follow car dealer classifieds around here, the price of used cars even 8 and 10 years old is just going out of sight.

    BTW, I can remember when candy bars cost a nickel… grin

    Posted by Paul Burgess  on  08/16  at  11:30 AM  from 
  2. You should consider staying away from caravans of that era. They all seemed to have the same problems your having with that one.  I was told that the radiators are not big enough to really support the motor. Thus the motor always runs to hot, But not enough to cause a light to go on. That coupled with the tranny problems that also over heat the motor.
    Over the course of the 250,000 miles I had mine I had the tranny done twice and the heads done twice.
    On thinking about the noise you said yours made I’m thinking that you might have thrown a rod. The would explain the noise.

    Posted by wayne  on  08/16  at  01:02 PM  from  ohio
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