The Car Dilemma: To Buy Or Repair

[Updated Below]

We have to make the decision about the Venture.

On the one hand, it has 108k miles on it, has left Jenny stranded a few times in the past year, and now needs work totalling either $1,500 bucks or a long weekend of work for a friend of mine and me (he works, I hand him tools). Neither of us has ever really liked it, either. It’s done the job, but it’s a Chevy, so it has always felt, acted, and sounded cheap. I’ve also found two super deals on fantastic replacements: A 2004 Odyssey with 35k for $13,500 and a 2003 Odyssey with 42k for $12,000.

On the other hand, even though it’s a Chevy, 108k isn’t that many miles. If we fixed it, I’m confident we’d get at least two or three more trouble free years. Most of the strandings have been related to the problem which has now been properly diagnosed. Buying a car is a major pain in the ass. It’s a hooptie, but gets good mileage and is very big. I’m 6’2″ and can fit comfortably in even the back seats. I can’t do that in many cars. Most importantly of all, we own it free and clear. I have not paid a car note in almost seven years. I really don’t want to start again.

So far I’m leaning towards replacement. Of course we’d save money by repairing the Venture. But the pain in the butt factor of constantly repairing little (and now big) problems just about outweighs the savings. In other words, I’m almost certain that I’d rather pay a note than worry about having to make frequent repairs. Like I said, we never really liked the Venture, either. It rattles. The windows stick. The cup holders – one of which is broken – are the flimsiest, most useless things ever designed. The engine is noisy. The headlights are as bright as candles, and replacements start around $250. The a/c blows with the strength of chain smoker with emphysema. In short, it’s a GM product. I’d love to replace it with one of those two Hondas. Quality.

Then again I’ve been told I’m the kind of guy who tosses around nickels like they were manhole covers. So we’ll see.


Repair. I might regret it if the transmission goes out or something similarly catastrophic occurs in the next two years, but right now I can’t justify stretching to buy another car when I could spend a weekend and $350 in parts to have this one running again. Oh well, at least it’s my hooptie.

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2 Comments on “The Car Dilemma: To Buy Or Repair”

  1. Himself Says:

    Understand the problem. Went thru the same thing with the Saab, which only had mileage in the high 80s. After a year, I looked back and realized that the money for the repairs could have been the down payment on a car loan.

    There’s a lot to be said for reliability and not needing to cross your fingers before you try starting the car in the morning.

  2. Maurice Loridans Says:

    Bandaids and bailing wire till the plug-in hybrids come out.

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