By on September 27, 2011

There are two extremes when it comes to minivan buyers. There are those who want all the options and knick-knack’s checked and marked for their next Mommy-mobile. Automatic dual sliding doors. DVD systems that can offer a continuous loop of ‘Barney’. Fortress like levels of safety and space combined with enough airbags and sound insulation to make even the worst of traffic a passing thought.

Then there’s the buyer for this minivan.

Rent: This is a 2006 base minivan… which means it’s loaded in a 1990’s kind of way. Power package (windows, door locks, mirrors), Cruise, Alloy Wheels, CD Player, ABS. Take it all in a short wheel base and give it an attractive red exterior… and you have an easily rentable vehicle.

Since my dealership is in a rural county, I can get a healthy premium by keeping this as a rental. $175 a week. Throw in a bit of extra mileage and this model could easily garner $800 a month.  A lot of folks have families that fly into town, and since Enterprise charges everyone $40+ for a minivan, I get a lot of their traffic.

Lease: But I am also under the gun in a way. This minivan has 122k now. So even though it has the look of a spring chicken, the powertrain says otherwise. I have no problems at the moment. I even drove it from Atlanta to NYC about a month ago and it didn’t miss a lick. It had been a Carmax vehicle. So that halo of ‘quality’ would help to finance it.

How much? A down payment of $1000 to $1500 and monthly paymennts in the $300 to $350 range. You can either put it for a 24 month term, or shorten the payments to 20 months. Keep in mind this vehicle cost me $4030 altogether. So even with a hefty down payment, it’s still going to take about nine months to break even… and a lot can happen between now and then.

Sell: The sale price? When I sell a vehicle I usually don’t ask for too much. In a business where mark-up’s are anywhere between 15% to 35% I usually try to go for the lower side of the scale. I enjoy buying cars at auctions and the more time I spend buying cars, the more I can potentially make.

So I would sell this 06’ Town & Country for $5000. The mileage hurts the price a bit. But the overall condition, colors and options for this vehicle all work in it’s favor. I could make a quick nine hundred dollar profit (after paying to advertise it) and find another minivan to take it’s spot on the lot.

Keep: If I were to keep a minivan, this would be it. Except for one minor detail. This model has no side airbags for the second row. The IIHS and NHTSA gave it poor ratings for side impacts without those airbags. So my keeping this one will be a non-starter.

But if it did? I would probably do it. I would also probably start stowing away a few extra parts. A power steering pump. Master window switch. Install a transmission cooler and give it annual drain and fills with a Mityvac. Once you are aware of a vehicle’s weaknesses you can plan accordingly and enjoy a ‘keeper’.

This one is a keeper. Just not for me. But before I give it up should I keep on renting it? A potential $800 a month payday is quite lucrative. Should I lease it to someone responsible and potentially double my return in two years? Sell it for a quick and easy $900 profit? Or keep it and let my wife enjoy the virtues of a minivan that is completed loaded…. circa Clinton Era.

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26 Comments on “Rent, Lease, Sell or Keep: 2006 Chrysler Town & Country...”

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Yeah Lang you don’t travel enough with your family to justify a full time minivan in the fleet, regardless of convenience. Does one of your long time customers that you’ve helped through credit problems have a large enough family that they would need this one?

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Sell, before the proverbial crap hits the fan and you end up replacing every single component of this maxicrap minivan, I know of two people who had to spend a lot of money after 100k miles on theirs.

  • avatar

    Oh dang, that’s the minivan you posted to me when I said I was looking for a shorty (minivan, that is).

    Just my luck. I have a relative in ATL that can vet and collect the car for me. But as it happens that my older daughter had an accident with her car yesterday. She’s still figuring out what to do about it, but I told her I’d lend her some money if she wanted to fix it…

    Soooo… No shorty for me. At least for a while…

    Regardless, I’d sell it…

  • avatar

    I think minivan makes for a great rental vehicle. People rent them when they have needs their (smaller) own car can’t, such as in laws coming in to stay a few days, things to move, etc. Unlike regular car, which you would only rent if your own was unavailable for some reason.

  • avatar

    Sell it or rent it. I wouldn’t keep a shorty unless I just needed two seats and some cargo room. The 3rd row seat is kind of cramped and cuts into the luggage room too much. I think the “shorty” didn’t have stow-n-go.

    By the way, if you are looking at Chrysler 05-07 Chrysler & dodge vans. Side curtain airbags were available as an option but they were hard to find. None of my local dealers ever stocked vans with side bags. I had to go 70 miles out of town to get one. As a general rule, if the van has a sunroof, it does NOT have the side bags. Apparently you could get one or the other but not both.

  • avatar
    C. Alan

    I’d say rent. You are not going to get too many people out hooning in it. People only rent these when they need the space.

  • avatar

    I loved the minivan I had when I was single. It could carry all of the crap, or people, that I’d ever need to move from Point A to Point B and was a pretty good winter car too. I had to sell it after I got married because my wife hated it with a passion. To be fair it was a 1996 Windstar and had a few “issues” but nothing was wrong with it mechanically. What is it with women and minivans?

    • 0 avatar

      For all the “he must be driving a big SUV because he’s compensating for a small penis” comments, the truth is that women make 80% of consumer purchase decisions. Women decided they didn’t want to be seen driving mommyvans, so they went to SUVs, which they also liked because of the high driving position. Now that SUVs are frowned on in the carpool lane at school because they aren’t green enough, crossovers are the thing. Perhaps eventually we’ll come full circle and they’ll sell station wagons in America again.

    • 0 avatar

      Being in the pre-owned retail business, I’ve found that women are the ones that predominately object to the minivan image. Men either don’t care or share their wives’ dislike out of rote agreement and the desire to not ‘upset the lady.’

      I did, however, manage to convince one couple via the husband how a Saturn RELAY was indeed not a lowly van, but a Crossover Sport Vehicle. They were probably the only ones ever to buy into GM’s marketing.

  • avatar

    So…. you can either sell it for $900, or rent it for $800 per month. I would recommend renting, unless you expect to die in less than 5 weeks.

  • avatar

    If I had that van, it would be out of here by the weekend – cash or finance with an outside lender. And I’d make a good lick on it, too.

  • avatar

    +1 for renting. My only real concern for a Chryco product of this age/mileage would be the transmission. But by renting it you’d have it back in the shop often enough to keep an eye on the tranny fluid, and if you install a transmission cooler as well, you most likely won’t have a problem anyway.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. The tranny may become an issue, or it may have been replaced already. Or, being used lightly by a soccer mom, it may have plenty of life left. I would not sweat it at all. Rent it, and if produces a steady stream of income, it will be worth the cost of some repairs if needed. Is the van loaded with obviously new(ish) parts to indicate continual problems? If not, don’t worry about it…

  • avatar
    fred schumacher

    I don’t get all this whining about low reliability of Chrysler minivans. I’ve taken five of them past 275,000 miles, and this on some of the worst roads and climate in the U.S. (North Dakota and Northern Minnesota). Two of them I bought for $1,000, two for $1,500 (all high miles vehicles) and I drove them 100,000 miles with minimal problems and peanuts in repairs before parking them at the farm, because by the time you’ve pounded them for that many miles on frost-heaved roads at 40 below, the A-arm bushings get soft. The 3.3 liter engine is bullet proof and you never have to deal with a timing belt change.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with Fred. You already took it to NYC and back. Change the fluid if you don’t know how long it’s been and put the cooler on it. Then rent it and count your $. The 3.3 is an unglamorous engine but it’s rock solid.

  • avatar

    I can’t vouch for this iteration of these vans but I CAN vouch for a 2000 Dodge Caravan Grand Sport that my sister accidentally totaled last spring when she rear ended someone.

    They’d bought the van new, loaded up and took very good care of it and I’ve not heard any issues with it and it had WELL over 150K miles if I’m not mistaken when it got totaled and it even looked nearly new still.

    Now they drive a base shorty 2001 Dodge Caravan van that while it had AC and power windows etc, it only had the base AM/FM cassette deck that was given to them by a son of good friends and while it still runs fine, it a little rough around the edges and doesn’t have the immobilizer unit as it has a basic stamped metal key and now keyless entry fobs (if there were any initially). So far, it’s holding up but my sister fears its reliability due to the prior treatment. They were under hard times but now, money’s flowing in so they may well be able to replace it.

    As for this subject, sell but if you want to make a bit more money off it, lease it for a while and then sell.

    • 0 avatar

      Back when our kids were little, one of my good friends always had a Grand Caravan. I think he went through three of them, the last one bought new was a 2005. He put about 200K on each of them (a bunch of our families were all into travel soccer at the time) and traded them every four years or so. Other than gas, tires and oil, and a couple of struts due to Michigan’s wonderful road conditions, no major issues.

      He was real good about maintaining the vans, but if he ever had major problems with them, he sure never said anything about it. I’ve always been a fan of the Chrysler minivans, but his experiences really solidified my opinions.

      Sadly, in 2009, his company reorganized, they lost the contract with Chrysler, he lost his huge Chrysler-supplier-employee discount. But, he still has one in the driveway, a 1999 model they bought used off Craigslist for $1100. Runs like a charm.

  • avatar

    Minivans are always worth more in your driveway than they are on the market. They’re very convenient and you always have friends that need one. So keep it and rent it out from time to time.

  • avatar

    Hey, that’s my van! Except mine is a 2007 Dodge and doesn’t even have ABS (amazing, you could buy a new vehicle in 2007 with no ABS). Same color, same grey polystyrene interior that makes you feel like you’re sitting in a scaled up plastic model, same no roofrack, same no nuthin’.

    I say sell it. Someone out there wants it, and then you won’t have to spring for the inevitable transmission replacement.

    Now, that being said I still think it’s a terrific vehicle, it’s cheap and versatile. It doesn’t impress anyone (including me) but who cares? I’ve fully embraced the dichotomy of transportation vs interesting vehicles, so for interest sake I’ve got a couple of motorcycles and a ’60s project car. All made possible because I’ve got no crushing monthly payment.

  • avatar

    Rent it out. When you need a minivan, you need a minivan and if I can save $100 off the weekly rate I’ll take it. Vehicles with high passenger capacity command absolutely stupid rental prices. I was just recently trying to find an 8-passenger vehicle and came to the realization that it’s cheaper and easier to just get two Impalas.

  • avatar

    I would rent it for sure. It seems like the most lucrative, and rural people love Chrysler Vans.

  • avatar
    Japanese Buick

    Rent it. When I’ve wanted to rent a minivan to transport people I’ve found them hard to find and expensive. I think this is a niche that isn’t very well covered by other rental companies, or if they do they’re making a killing on it and there’s plenty of room for someone like you to make some scratch.

    When I read your article about driving to NYC, I wondered which car you were driving. I don’t recall you identifying it in that article, and for some reason I assumed it was your Insight.

    Now I know how you drove so fast for so far and only got stopped once: you were driving a pretty anonymous mommy-mobile (as perceived by the troopers).

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