Rent, Lease, Sell or Keep: 2000 Chrysler Town & Country
Forget about Prius envy. Back in the Y2K era the Prius was about as loved as… well… a Suzuki Kizashi. Gas was cheap and the crown & glory for suburban Mom’s who liked to, drive, was, a ‘big’ vehicle. It could be a Suburban, an Explorer, or in the case of the Lang brood, a Chrysler minivan. We loved them back in the day.
Our keeper for about three years was a 1996 Grand Caravan that I bought for $2950 back in 2002. 102k, an unloved 3.0L V6, rear air, power locks but manual windows. It was a strange bird that never saw the light of depreciation. We sold it for $2800 in 2005. Between then and now we must have owned 40 other minivans. Homegrown frugality and Hurricane Katrina helped me become a trader of minivans rather than a keeper. Cheap gas went the way of well… the minivan. But if you asked me which minivan I loved above all others back in the day, it would be this 2000 Chrysler Town & Country. Here’s why…
Rent: Folks like to pile miles on minivans like there is no tomorrow. Nearly every one of my 600+ mile per week rental customers over the last several months has ordered a minivan. The 1992 Toyota Previa that I bought only about 6 months ago has already piled on 12k. A 1997 Honda Odyssey went through over 5k in just a two month period. This Chrysler Town & Country would likely share the same fate if I rented it. On the plus side it’s the last year of production so I’ll likely get the highest quality Chrysler product. The bad side?
Lease: Comes courtesy of the transmission. Chrysler has never built a good one for their minivans. Although the one in this vehicle has already been replaced, I just can’t pin down the date. It’s not a recent job. But at least it has been done. If I rented it I would likely get $140 a week plus plenty 25 cents a mile once the total weekly limit goes beyond 420. But if I finance? $700 down. $60 a week for anywhere between 18 to 24 months. My rental vans are usually older models. This one would likely yield more money as a financed unit.
Sell: I can probably sell it for around $3995. The leather is in great shape. The miles at 140k are very reasonable. Plus I have the benefit of a quick and healthy profit. During the last few months of the year the final cash price would probably hover near the $3500 mark. But during tax season you can pretty much count on a nice $500 to $1500 bump depending on what you have to sell. A minivan with leather, all the options for that time (no electric doors or TV/DVD) and no paint fade carries a strong demand in the marketplace. With $2300 in it I shouldn’t have too many worries if I went for the quick sell.
Keep: This would have been my wife’s dream car ten years ago. Today we all fit in the Civic and the MPG’s for both vehicles in real world driving come out to 42 for the Civic vs. 17 for the van. With 15k driven on average and $3 gas the annual savings of not driving the Mommyvan comes to $1575. That’s an awful lot of greenbacks that can pay my property taxes and a weekend road-trip. If gas were a dollar I would consider the trade. I love how these minivans drive. But in today’s times I’d rather keep the Civic and my wallet less stressed.
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To be safe invest in a transmission cooler and fresh ATF. Then rent it.
Sell it. My 96 and my 98 were each wonderful cars until they each suffered massive electrical failure of the engine wiring, which would have cost more to repair than the vehicles were worth. The 96 was 9 yrs old, 119k miles; the 98 was 12 yrs old, 150k miles. I wouldn't trust the 2000 to last much longer.