Spend the Dough to Make it Go?
October 24, 2012 10:05 AM   Subscribe

1. The truck's broke. 2. It would cost about half it's meager value to fix. 3. I'm ready for a new vehicle. So, do I........?

A. Fix truck and sell it? (on paper, makes sense, but worth the hassle?)
B. Have it towed home and try to sell it as is? (do people buy vehicles that don't move?)
C. Donate truck?

  • Ford Ranger, works fine, but poorly maintained (that's me and that's a whole nuther story). So resale value is questionable.
  • Broken clutch
  • $1200 to fix
  • Into it for tow and diagnosis labor already - maybe $200
  • Truck worth maybe $2500 if working.
  • I've kind of been making stupid decisions with this vehicle all along. I'd like to avoid another.
posted by ecorrocio to Travel & Transportation around Colorado (10 answers total)
A lot of dealerships offer trade-in value even on vehicles that don't work. I hear it advertised all the time on the radio. I'd look around for deals. A $2000+ trade-in would be better than trying to sell an old beat up car you had to pay a lot to get running again.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:08 AM on October 24, 2012

The trade-ins can fool you, though. Check out the price of the same vehicle if you pay cash, and you'll find that the trade-in price is inflated. Yes, people buy vehicles that need repair when they have some expertise. Some guy can fix that clutch for $200 if he gets used parts in good condition and doesn't count his labor. So advertise your truck for $1995 and see who bites. You can bargain down from there.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:13 AM on October 24, 2012

If it were me, I'd fix the clutch and maintain the vehicle. The automobile you know and have today is worth more than $1300, barring major problems you haven't disclosed.
posted by ellF at 10:29 AM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Twelve hundred for a clutch sounds a little rich to me. Even if that's right, though, if the damn thing is otherwise decent (driveable), keep it.
posted by notsnot at 10:30 AM on October 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

On a ranger? That's an EASY clutch job - the transmission is not that heavy. Two guys with tow straps could lower it without need a trans jack. It's a greasy grimy job but if money is tight and you have a basic set of sockets/ wrenches I'd go the library or look on line and examine the procedure. "Fix it myself" might be an option you are over looking.
The parts are cheap - you likely only need the pressure plate, not the spring and flywheel.

Just sayin'
posted by BrooksCooper at 11:04 AM on October 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

Shop the job around, you might save a few bucks on the clutch.

Is there anything else wrong with the truck? If it only needs the clutch, then replace it and drive the truck for another year. That would only be about $100 per month and frankly, I don't know where else you'd get a vehicle that cheap.

Is there something about the vehicle that you hate? Would putting something relatively cheap, like a cd player make you happier?

I wouldn't fix it up to sell it, but I would fix it to drive it. I'm a firm believer in keeping the vehicle until the wheels fall off.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:09 AM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

I did a Ranger clutch with a service manual, a couple jack stands, some wrenches, and a floor jack. Having two people will be all but essential and it can quickly devolve into a really, really messy job. You can do it for much, much, much less than what the mechanics are asking.

Without the clutch you should not expect to get any money out of that truck. Either fix the clutch yourself and keep driving or write off the entire vehicle. It is worth very little as a used vehicle without a clutch, you pay people to tow those away. A working 2500$ truck is still only worth the cost of a tow job when it's dead.

Quite honestly, I don't see 1200$ to be an unreasonable amount of money to keep used wheels on the road, but you have to do what you're comfortable with. If you're strapped for cash, you CAN fix it yourself. Buy a service manual

Fix to drive, or throw away. I don't see much room in the middle.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:59 PM on October 24, 2012

What does broken clutch mean anyway? That's really necessary information here.

The job I was referring to involved a full swap of the clutch system, a new clutch plate, machining the free wheel, and so forth.

If all you need is a new master cylinder, the job is starting to sound really damn easy?
I'm assuming that if you're being billed 1200$ that they'd be putting in a new plate, release bearing, etc. But you know what they say about assuming...
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:06 PM on October 24, 2012

One of my best friends and I have been keeping track of our vehicle expenses for about 40 years. He and his wife trade in their cars for new cars every 4-6 years. My wife and I buy good used cars and keep them running until the cost of repairs equals or exceeds their fixed-up value. We all drive cars we like and enjoy...They have spent about 4 times what we have on vehicles over these 40 years. I vote to replace the clutch and keep driving.
posted by txmon at 3:02 PM on October 24, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks all. Some mitigating factors:

~ we need a car that can haul around several 13 year old young ladies to soccer practice and the like.
~ while I'm a relatively handy fellow I never done any work on cars and not sure I'd want to take on a clutch as a first try.

Thank you all for your input.
posted by ecorrocio at 5:57 PM on October 24, 2012

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