I need some friendly intelligent advice, please.

I know this is a long post, however, I have a very perplexing situation and am in need of some advice.

I currently own two vehicles, neither of which is operable.
I don’t know which I should do:
(A) fix one, and sell the other
(B) fix one, and keep the other until it can also be repaired
© sell or trade-in both together towards a newer/better vehicle

Here’s the info on each vehicle:

1993 Geo Metro
[li]miles: 96,261[/li][li]body: excellent condition, no rust, no damages, paint is pristine[/li][li]interior: excellent condition, immaculate[/li][li]perks: Pioneer CD player, good gas mileage approx. 35-40 mpg[/li][li]disadvantages: I’m tall, it’s small, so it’s a tad uncomfortable.[/li][li]problems: burned-out valves[/li][li]cost to repair: $1100[/li][li]Kelley Blue Book est. trade value: $700[/li][/ul]

1986 Ford Econoline 250 XL conversion van
[li]miles: 128,202[/li][li]body: moderate rust damage, needs new doors & paint[/li][li]interior: needs new carpet, needs new front seat upholstery, rest of interior is in good condition[/li][li]perks: A/C, C/C, dual fuel tanks, very comfortable, very roomy, great for travel, carpooling friends, camping[/li][li]disadvantages: 14 years old, may be (or soon become) mechanically obsolete, low gas mileage[/li][li]problems: blown head-gasket causing anti-freeze to mix into oil, may or may not need a new engine as result, also needs new carburetor[/li][li]cost to repair: undetermined, but possibly equal to, or exceeding repair cost of Geo[/li][li]Kelley Blue Book est. trade value: $1480[/li][/ul]

I don’t know how accurate the KBB estimates are. Since I am not an auto dealer, that’s all I have to go on.
As you can see, the cost to repair the Geo possibly exceeds the vehicle’s estimated worth.
The Geo is in better overall condition than the van. The van may be outdated, but is more comfortable/enjoyable to drive. I could get a remanufactured engine installed in the van if necessary. I could also do the same with the Geo.

I just don’t know what to do. Of course, either one will get me wherever I want to go, once repaired.
I have a particular fondness for the van, but the Geo seems more practical to fix.
It’s a tough decision to make. As of late, I have been contemplating trading in both vehicles towards a newer, better vehicle. This where some complications come in. I am currently not working a full-time job. I am basically earning pocket change. My credit is bad. A loan is out of the question. Has anyone here ever heard of, or received an even vehicle trade? I was wondering if I could possibly “barter” my two current vehicles for a newer/ better one.

I know I need to get a decent paying full-time job. That would solve a great deal of the situation. I’m in the old catch-22 though… I need a car to get to work, I need work to get/fix a car. Ugh! What a dilemma!
I would be interested to hear anybody’s advice & suggestions.

You my friend need three things.

  1. Insurance
  2. Napalm
  3. annoying teenager to take the rap.

Perosnally I would sell the Van and run the Geo into the ground. You just can’t beat the gas milage and the condition it is in (excluding the valves)


I imagine you’ll ultimately have to go with whatever one is cheaper to fix.

If the cost would be about the same, without knowing anything other than what you’ve posted, I’d say fix the van. It has more room and more utility. Probably a bigger engine that, if it’s been properly maintained, should have at least another 50,000 to 75,000 miles left in it.

One of those tiny 4-banger engines (probably made of aluminum) like in a Metro probably doesn’t have much more to give beyond 100,000 miles.

As far as trading them in or fixing them up and selling them, not trying to be mean here, but it might not be worth the trouble. You’ve seen the best-case-scenario of what KBB says you’ll get.

Maybe it’s time to send them off to auto Valhalla …

I’ve been there, bro.

I have to laugh that I am offering this advice since I
recently returned to the US after some 16 years overseas.
I didn’t see much in response to your posting so here
goes …

There are several online services which will give you
market prices for just about any type of car - altho I am not sure whether they go back as far as your two oldies.

Sounds like you are cash short; otherwise you could
donate the cars to some charity and take a tax write-off,
using of course the highest estimated value of the car
either from Kelly or the online services. I think car
donations are a special tax deal which means that you
can exceed the $500 no questions asked limit.

Being cash short also limits your options in purchasing
this year’s model just before the new models come out
[a good time to bargain down those prices].

I would look at two alternatives:

a. what skills can you barter? are you good at carpentry?

b. have you checked out repo sales? There’s some guy named
Repo Joe who had a sale here recently. Advertising [which
should be taken with a large dose of salt] said there was
a minimal processing fee and you assume payments. don’t
know much about it, but I offer the idea up to you.

good luck

My honest opinion is that, since you are financially challenged, you should sell the van and use the money you get from it to fix the Geo. Though they are small, they get exellent gas mileage and are extreamly reliable. My exGF had one from the early 90’s that never had a problem and ran perfectly from the day she bought it till the day she traded it in (she got a job paying twice what she was making). My experience with them is that the Geo Metro is a great running and very reliable car. If your on a budget (DUH) choose that one. Only, IMHO

Here’s what I think I should do…
[li]I can find out how much it would cost to have a new engine put in the Geo. If it costs more than fixing the valves, then I will just have the valves replaced, and drive it until it dies another death.[/li][li]If a new Geo engine costs equal to, or less than, replacing the valves, I will have that done instead. It would last a lot longer than just fixing the valves.[/li][li]Either way, fixing the Geo seems to be the way to go for the moment. Then I will have a way to get around, cheaply (gas wise) while saving money to restore the van.[/li][/ul]

Ultimately, I feel restoring the van would be a good long term investment. New full-size conversion vans are extremely expensive. I just went browsing a week ago and they ranged from 25k to 37k. The van I own needs work, and I’m no mechanic but I “guesstimate” that it would run around three thousand dollars to fully restore my van. That’s pennies compared to 37k. I would like to travel in the not too distant future. I could even go to Doperfests!

I guess I just need to find a good full time job.
I’m still open to your comments. Whatcha think?

Who gives a shit?

** This message has been brought to you by ‘Men Who Don’t Care About Cars’ *

  • Current Membership: 3 **

Restoring my 23-window VW bus is going to cost about 10 G’s just for the rust damage!:frowning:


While I think the Metro only has a 3 cylinder engine, I feel that the above quote is just WRONG! I had a 1985 Chrysler New Yorker that had 180,000 miles when I sold it and it ran great. I now have a 1991 Acura Integra with 150,000 and it still does 120 MPH like its nothin. A friend of mine has a 1985 Honda Prelude that has 280,000 miles and has never had a tune up. That thing will probally never die. All three cars were of the 4 cylinder family. So don’t go knocking 4 cylinder engines just cause their small. It not the size that matters!!!

As for the original OP…I would do everything in my power to keep the van. As you said, its more fun to drive and its great for car pooling. You also said you want to travel in the future. However, if it is just not financially possible to save the van, well, keep the Metro. Yes its a Metro and it is about 2 sizes too small, but its still faster than walking.

Also, what says you have to fix them both right now? Can you just keep the van sitting around and keep up the Metro so that you can get to work and make money???

Damn! I was going to point out that the Metro has a 3-banger!

I’ve owned a couple of Metros (actually, an '84 Chevy Sprint and an '88 Chevy Sprint Metro). I found they were remarkably good cars. Yeah, they’re small; but they’re easy to park and get great mileage (I remember getting up to 50mpg). They’re also rather sprightly, as long as you’re not climbing a grade.

I sold my last one for $700, and it ran well! If I were you, I’d repair the Metro. If you can’t afford that, you may be able to find one that runs well for less than the price of repair.

Another alternative would be to get a used engine. Do a search for “used japanese engines”. I did one on infoseek and got 44 hits. I think most have around 30,000 miles on them, but I’m not sure. They’re small and simple enough that you could probably change it yourself, with the help of a repair manual.

The repairs to the van will eat you alive.

Actually, some Geo Metros have 4 cylinders. I remember when buying mine.

I had a 95 Geo Metro for about a year and a half. It was a cute little car and I loved the mileage and the ease for parking. But my greatest memories are of people not seeing my little car and of constantly being almost hit or severely cut off. Finally, a 79 LeSabre station wagon made a turn in front of me (from the opposite direction) so fast that I barely had time to touch the brake. Her car had a slight crunch in the right front side where I hit her. Mine was totalled. After I hit her, my lovely, light car became airborn (that’s what they tell me, anyway). After that, it hit a concrete irrigation block. That’s kind of like a very short wall. I had a lovely necklace of bruises where the seat belt kept me from going through the windshield and thought that I had broken my arms and nose where the airbag hit me.(Although I didn’t realize it, I had a death grip on the wheel. The airbag won.) The front of the car ended up pretty much under my front tires. I was extremely lucky, because about all I suffer from now is back pain. All the time.

I have a truck now, and I don’t think you will ever be able to get me into a tiny car like that again. They crunch like an aluminum can, and the tendency for people to ignore them is frightening. Accidents happen, but in all of the vehicles that I have driven, that seemed the more accident-prone.

That’s my scoop on it. If you can afford it, keep the other car.

Sell the van keep the Metro.

Being short on cash the Metro is your better option.(Have you seen the price of gas??!!) I think the new engine route is a good idea too.

The Metro is most likely cheaper to repair, better on gas and cheaper to maintain. Generally speaking everything is cheaper on small cars. Tires, gas, tune ups etc.

MSK said about the Geo:

I think I’d have a problem spending $1100 to have what would essentially be a $700 car.

Quite a thread of mixed opinions, however, the general consensus seems to be **fix the Geo Metro.[/] I have to agree.

By the way, my Geo is a three cylinder, 1.0 liter, automatic.

There’s no pressing reason to let go of either vehicle.
I own the title on both of them. I got both vehicles for free from family and friends.
Each vehicle has only had one owner, before me.
Each vehicle was well maintained by the original owner.

Now the problem is just finding the $$ to fix the Geo. ::sigh::

I am self-employed. I currently mow lawns and do housecleaning as a means of income, but although I make $10 @ hour doing it, I don’t have nearly as much work as I could if I could get my van going. Since my van became disabled, my client workload has been cut down to about one-fourth of what I originally had been working. You can see my dilemma. The old catch 22.

What a pain in the ass life is, sometimes! As I said before, I am going to have to get a full time job somewhere, somehow, so I can get the income flowing in again. The Geo definitely is the way to go, however.

If I can get a good paying factory job, I can save up enough money in no time to fix the lil’ bugger. After the Geo’s fixed, and I have been saving long enough (maybe a year), I might just drop the both of them and get something new.

Congratulations on the self-employment!

What I didn’t see is someone telling you to find a good used head from a junkyard. That would probably run you around $300.00, max. A new head gasket would probably run $15.00, and a new timing belt about $30.00. Find a mechanically endowed friend, toss him $50.00 and a six pack, and you’re on the road again!

Then, sell the Metro privately (you’ll get more), fix the van in the same manner, and increase your business volume.
This turns it from an expense into an investment. Retain all receipts, and claim it on your taxes at the end of the year, as you can claim the van as your business vehicle.
The prices that KBB give you are generally for trade ins.
If it’s as clean as you say, you should ber able to get a grand for the Metro.

BTW, if you lived near Boise, I’d help you, for free.

Knowing that the van is key to your business (and also your personal favorite), you should at least get an estimate on repairing it. I suspect that it won’t be the right one to fix, but at least get a little more info. Who knows, maybe it only needs a new head gasket, which is mega-cheaper than the Metro.

On the business front, you mentioned that your client list is dropping quickly. If you’ve already built up a client base, perhaps you can find others to do the work for you. Perhaps you can even find people who have their own transportation. I don’t know if this is what you want in life, but if you’ve already built a base of happy customers, perhaps you can concentrate on getting more customers and hire people to do the actual service.

In any case, good luck getting the cash flowing. Been there and I know it’s not a fun place to be.

The strange thing about the Metro is that they seem to be bigger on the inside than they are on the outside. Some weird fourth-dimensional effect, I guess.

There’s a surprising amount of room if you fold the back seat. I once put an A-7E ejection seat in the back and was still able to close the hatch!

I’m sure a lawnmower, weed whacker, rake, and a can of gas will fit back there if you load it carefully.