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Lemon Car--What would you do?

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  • Lemon Car--What would you do?

    In 2013, my husband and I bought a used 2011 VW Routan (rebadged Chrysler Town & Country) minivan to replace my then failing 14 year old car. In anticipation of me quitting my job to stay home last year, we paid it off with stock option money.

    The car has been an absolute maintenance nightmare. It's been in the shop every 2-4 months consistently with major issues (endless battery and electrical issues, starter issues, new brakes so often it's ridiculous) and minor problems that are annoying enough they have to be fixed immediately (sliding door stopped working, drivers side window came off the track and slipped into the door twice in a month, drivers side exterior door handle broke twice in a month--while I was 9 months pregnant). So many I cant keep track anymore. The local (wonderful) auto shop knows me and the car quite well now. It's such a pain in the butt to be without a car suddenly, too. Luckily I have family nearby to help me out, but with my husband's residency schedule, it's usually me jumping through hoops to make it all work. We have spent $2700 since January of this year in repair bills alone. The total since we bought the car is about $6000--granted some of that would include regular maintenance, but the majority is not.

    At any rate, the plan was to keep it until my husband was done with residency/fellowship in 2020 (potentially a few years beyond if it was still reliable) and then buy a 1-3 year old Odyssey from the newest model that was just released and keep that for the next 8-10 years.

    Yesterday the check engine light came on again and the code implies transmission issues. It might be a simple ($300ish) fix or it might be a "you need to rebuild or get a new transmission fix." If it's the latter, I'm not dumping $3-5k into a car barely worth $5k that has this many issues.

    So if it is another $300, what would you do? It's worth about $5k fixed. Do we keep dumping money in it and hope we can make it last another 1-3 years? Do we sell it and buy something almost as used, but more reliable before it breaks again? (Probably a 2011-2014 Odyssey) We could swing a $200/month car payment for the next year with moonlighting money, but I'm not excited about that. In 1-2 years he will be able to make "big" moonlighting money and we could probably buy the car we want (the 2-3 year old new model Odyssey) and keep that for a very long time.

    I will never ever ever own another VW or Chrysler again.

  • #2
    I've actually heard a lot of those stories about VWs.

    I guess I'd fix it and then sell it. Hopefully the fix is cheap. Obviously if the fixed cost more than the fixed cost minus the unfixed cost, you should sell it unfixed, but that's usually not the case.

    It's a good example that even new cars have problems.
    Helping those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street since 2011

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    • #3
      Scrape together another few grand and trade it in on the nicest, newest Toyota or Honda van you can get for that price.  Move on with your life.   Don't worry about options or features.  Worry about stuff like low miles, clean, smells good, air conditioning works, etc.  Make it work for the next few years until he gets a job, preferably a year into that.

      A VW branded Chrysler, match made in heaven.    :lol:

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      • #4
        Even worse, Chrysler and Fiat.

        • Fix

        • It

        • Again

        • Tony

        Comment


        • #5
          Time for the personal finance acronym game?

          • Break

          • Out

          • Another

          • Thousand


          Agree with WCI to fix, sell, and start fresh.

          Comment


          • #6
            Don't fix unless you know you're going to get all the money back for the fix.

            If the car needs a new transmission to the tune of $5k, and it's only worth $5k fixed, you sell it for what you can get.  Either trade it in, sell it to VW dealer, or tow that ************************ to the junkyard and take junk value.

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            • #7
              vW is known for weird electrical problems that cannot be fixed once for all. Just keeps popping up.

              My suggestion is to sell it if it the cost to fix it is not worth it.

              Rather than buy a 2 or 3 year old used Odyssey I would recommend a new previous year's model. Right now 2017 Odyssey is on sale as they have to get rid of them for 2018 model. Buy a middle of line model. Will cost you $30K and should run reliably for 10 years or more.

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              • #8




                In 2013, my husband and I bought a used 2011 VW Routan (rebadged Chrysler Town & Country) minivan to replace my then failing 14 year old car. In anticipation of me quitting my job to stay home last year, we paid it off with stock option money.

                The car has been an absolute maintenance nightmare. It’s been in the shop every 2-4 months consistently with major issues (endless battery and electrical issues, starter issues, new brakes so often it’s ridiculous) and minor problems that are annoying enough they have to be fixed immediately (sliding door stopped working, drivers side window came off the track and slipped into the door twice in a month, drivers side exterior door handle broke twice in a month–while I was 9 months pregnant). So many I cant keep track anymore. The local (wonderful) auto shop knows me and the car quite well now. It’s such a pain in the butt to be without a car suddenly, too. Luckily I have family nearby to help me out, but with my husband’s residency schedule, it’s usually me jumping through hoops to make it all work. We have spent $2700 since January of this year in repair bills alone. The total since we bought the car is about $6000–granted some of that would include regular maintenance, but the majority is not.

                At any rate, the plan was to keep it until my husband was done with residency/fellowship in 2020 (potentially a few years beyond if it was still reliable) and then buy a 1-3 year old Odyssey from the newest model that was just released and keep that for the next 8-10 years.

                Yesterday the check engine light came on again and the code implies transmission issues. It might be a simple ($300ish) fix or it might be a “you need to rebuild or get a new transmission fix.” If it’s the latter, I’m not dumping $3-5k into a car barely worth $5k that has this many issues.

                So if it is another $300, what would you do? It’s worth about $5k fixed. Do we keep dumping money in it and hope we can make it last another 1-3 years? Do we sell it and buy something almost as used, but more reliable before it breaks again? (Probably a 2011-2014 Odyssey) We could swing a $200/month car payment for the next year with moonlighting money, but I’m not excited about that. In 1-2 years he will be able to make “big” moonlighting money and we could probably buy the car we want (the 2-3 year old new model Odyssey) and keep that for a very long time.

                I will never ever ever own another VW or Chrysler again.
                Click to expand...


                Agree with others.  Just sell it (I wouldn't fix it) and get it off your hands.  Scrape together as much cash as you can and buy yourself a used Honda or Toyota.  If you can get one that is less than 5-6 years old you'll have zero problems to deal with almost guaranteed.  Our 9 year old Honda Element (that we recently sold) never had a single problem with it outside of normal wear and tear items the entire time we owned it.  Can't go wrong with a Honda.

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                • #9
                  Getting the check engine light off is probably worth thousands of dollars in a private sale.  If this can be fixed for $300, I don't know why you wouldn't do this. If the repair is $3-5k, the car is worthless, so just take it to the scrap yard or donate it.

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                  • #10
                    I have little patience for cars that cause me trouble. The wear and tear stuff does not bother me, but once there are frequent serious or system or mechanical problems, I move along to the next car. Life is too short to deal with this sort of aggravation.

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                    • #11
                      I drove a Mercedes SUV for several years with the check engine light on.  I bought one of the scanners to see what the problem was. It is easy to check yourself. I figured the problem was not critical and kept driving the car.

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                      • #12




                        I’ve actually heard a lot of those stories about VWs.

                        I guess I’d fix it and then sell it. Hopefully the fix is cheap. Obviously if the fixed cost more than the fixed cost minus the unfixed cost, you should sell it unfixed, but that’s usually not the case.

                        It’s a good example that even new cars have problems.
                        Click to expand...


                        This is what I was going to say, doesnt sound like a lemon to me, sounds like a VW. We used to have a Passat, what a nightmare, never again.

                        Also, its a 2011, not new by any means.

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                        • #13
                          I had a Porsche Cayenne which had constant electrical problems. I had bought it used and when the problems kept happening, I sold it for a loss and moved on. I will never again buy a German car. I have had multiple hondas and toyotas and all I had to do was change oil and filter every 5k miles. Buying the Porsche was a mistake and I paid dearly for it. Porsche and VW are the same company, btw.

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                          • #14
                            Buy a Subaru. Or a cheap electric car!

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                            • #15




                              Getting the check engine light off is probably worth thousands of dollars in a private sale.  If this can be fixed for $300, I don’t know why you wouldn’t do this. If the repair is $3-5k, the car is worthless, so just take it to the scrap yard or donate it.
                              Click to expand...


                              Or NPR, etc... They'll give you some sort of tax write off, if you itemize!

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