Piston Slap: Traversing the Echo of The Epic Windfall?
Long-time TTAC Commentator psarhjinian writes:
I need some communal wisdom.
I have two vehicles: a 2005 Pontiac Montana and a 2005 Toyota Echo.
The Montana in decent shape for its 93,000 miles — some rust, some dings, lots of child abuse (as in gum, stains, melted crayons, etc). It will need winter tires this year and I just had the tie-rod ends and stabilizer links replaced. It’s had its steering system comprehensively replaced, too. We generally only drive it for out-of-town family trips.
The Echo is basically a commuter beater with 162,000 miles. It has some rust on the doors, a loose heat shield and an exhaust hole, is throwing CEL for the evaporative emissions system (charcoal canister, probably). I replaced its clutch at 143,000.
Here’s the problem: the Echo (it’s a manual, by the way) just blew something in its transmission. I don’t know what, but it sounds like a box of rocks and refuses to shift out of gear. It may have been failing for a while, but I didn’t really hear anything because of the exhaust hole. My mechanic priced a new-to-me transmission at $750.
Here’s my dilemma:
The Echo cost me $2,000 plus taxes to buy. The clutch was $500. It needs a bunch of work and it’s a bit rusty. But it does get good fuel mileage, which is its mission, as it eats a 30,000 mile/year commute.
I have the option to buy a car from my workplace; it’s a 2009 Chevrolet Traverse with 110,000 miles owned by a coworker who’s retiring. They’re willing to let it go for $3,000 because it’s an employee sale. It’s had all sorts of work done in its first couple of years, but has been mostly stable since.
Here’s what I was thinking:
- Fix the Echo: Cheapest option, but it seems like an issue of diminishing returns, given its mileage and condition.
- Buy the Traverse: Drive either it or the Montana and pay through the nose for gas.
- Buy the Traverse and try to flip it (or sell the Montana): Get something smaller and more fuel-efficient. Scrap or sell the Echo.
I’m leaning towards the third option, but the Traverse makes me nervous because it’s another big, heavy car, and one with a lot more that could wrong (it’s a loaded model; the Echo and the Montana are fairly barebones).
Boy, do I love it when a reader pitches me a slow meatball.
The Echo isn’t worth fixing and the Traverse sounds like a perfect candidate for used car flipping. Edmunds says a nicely loaded LTZ (you said loaded!) in clean condition retails for low teens. Detail it, then sell it for $9,500-11,500 if the tires are decent. Kinda sounds like a no brainer!
So flip the Traverse, use the proceeds for an Echo replacement, and eventually sell/scrap/trade-in (for scrap, essentially) the Echo, too. I know you are selling two vehicles and buying a whole new set of problems, but the Traverse’s windfall nets enough cash to get a modest daily driver that’s less Echo and more fun. Maybe a
low-mile CVPI manual-transmission hatchback with a bit more street cred?
Send your queries to email@example.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.
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