Saturday, January 31, 2009

Another What to do?

Some friends are aware of the saga of my minivan. If you are not familiar, let me bring you up to speed. We bought our van six years ago. It was used, but suited our needs. After about four years of our ownership it had broken 110,000 miles and was consistently giving us problems. However, my DH is one of those rare individuals who prefers to buy cars outright--not make payments. And of course we did not have funds on had to replace it at that point without making payments.

Two years ago there was some serious overheating issues I experienced on a trip to California and ever since I have not dared leave town in it (let alone drive across town).

About two weeks ago I started having additional electrical problems. I noticed the blinkers were not working consistently, as well as the windows, the clock, and the air system. It has been hit or miss. So most days my husband has been walking to the bus stop and leaving his car home in case it is a miss on the blinkers. Problem is that I need more seats than my hubby's car offers when running carpool.

So to sum it up, the van now has 130,000 miles and is not worth much. I want to replace it now; my hubby does not.

And now to the issue at hand.

During Sweetie Peach's b-day party earlier this week someone backed into our van. The man came searching for the owner and found me (my DH was not there to handle it). I went to check out the damage and saw the dent near the front tire passenger side. No serious impairment to the van, but definitely damaged. I got the guy's name and phone number and gave it to my husband as soon as I saw him.

My husband has been getting bids to fix the van and the ballpark is around $1500-$2000 (which is of course a lot more than the guy wants to pay). But it seems crazy to me to get it fixed--to make this man pay that much to fix a vehicle that is on its last legs. To me it is like giving plastic surgery to a 90-year old with cancer. Honestly, I do not think the van is even worth much more than the repair would cost.

I have bit my tongue and am letting my husband handle it, but am feeling stress over the whole situation. Am I wrong for feeling this way? What would you do?


  1. If the damage is as much or more than what it is worth, isn't it considered totalled? In which case, won't the insurance pay $2,000 towards a new car? That makes more sense to me but who am I to say? Our van is 9 years old and I am praying every day it will get us through at least another twenty b/c I don't know how we can possibly replace it. Ever.

  2. At this point, you'll be putting money into the van regularly for repairs no matter what, right?

    Might as well use the same money for a car payment--and get something reliable that will LAST instead of something you know full well will die soon anyway. Then the money spent is wasted.

    I understand the desire to buy outright, but there are times when doing so is penny smart and dollar stupid.

    At least, IMHO. :)

  3. I agree -- what's the difference between a repair bill and a finance bill? You've got the expense either way.

    I am not a fan of the biting of the lip. Better to discuss things. It's really easy to get on kelleybluebook ( and figure out how much the van is worth, and then decide from there whether the repairs are worth it.

    We've been very happy buying used (3-5 yrs) cars from reputable dealers, or places like Carmax, and having a "reasonable" monthly pmt.

  4. I agree - take cash from the van basher, sell the van for whatever you can get out of it, and use your repair money to make the monthly payments on a new van. Well, new to you.

  5. so I disussed your dilemma with my husband who also only will buy a car when we can pay for it in full. He has a morbid fear of debt. But in your situation he agreed with most of those who have posted comments (as do I), although I did not read the comments to him. We both think you should take the money and use it and your van for a down payment on another used car. Putting it on your current van is a waste of money, especially if the van goes out in the next little while. And it won't increase the value of the van very much at all in a trade in. (been there) But good luck with your hubby on this decision. I think you should just suggest he take the money and hold onto it for a little while and think about it. The decision as to what to do with the money probably doesn't need to be made immediately.

  6. I totally agree.

    I would open up this blog post, and tell him to read it. Maybe he just needs to see all the facts written out.

  7. 1. Consider that the man isn't paying, his insurance company is.
    2. He needs to pay something for the damage he caused. It is his fault, after all. You shouldn't feel bad about it.
    3. Pray. Tell the Lord your vehicle needs and see what happens.

  8. Michelle in CaliforniaAugust 13, 2009 at 8:39 AM

    Take it in for cash for clunkers, the govt is giving away $4500 to cars, trucks, vans, anything that gets less than 18 mpg from its glory days. So the question is, what gas mileage did your van get when it was new. Next, have your husband drive it regularly. My husband NEVER took what I had to say about the car until HE drove it himself. Men are tight fisted when it comes to money, no question, but you and your kids safety should come first, or at least have him drive it! Good luck!!!


Comments are much appreciated!