Dear Tom and Ray:
My son left for Europe to get married and live. He left me his 2001 Chrysler Sebring convertible. It lasted three weeks before the engine blew up. I still owe $1,200 on it because I co-signed.
Question: When it is paid off, do I junk it, or rebuild it? It needs a new engine, a new top, new fluids, a new battery, new tires and lord only knows what else.
TOM: Well, if you're looking for permission to dump this thing, Cathy, you've got it.
RAY: Sure. I guess if you're looking for the silver lining, you can at least be grateful that your son didn't leave you a juvenile boa constrictor when he jetted off for Europe.
TOM: I disagree! At least the boa constrictor might be useful and catch some mice!
RAY: Anyway, this is the kind of car you would fix and keep only if you were in love with it. We can tell you're not. In fact, I would guess that you're barely on speaking terms with it these days. We don't blame you.
TOM: But what you should do is figure out what its real value is. The best way to do that is to look at what other people are selling similar cars for in your area.
RAY: Go to a website like cars.com, and search for used 2001 Sebrings with similar mileage. Now, granted, those probably will have working engines and tops, and still-hirsute tires. So you'll have to adjust your price to allow for a used engine and the other repairs your car needs. But you may be surprised to find that, even as is, it still may be worth a thousand bucks or two.
TOM: And that's the way you should sell it: as is. Don't invest the time and money into fixing it yourself. Let its next owner do that.
RAY: If it still is worth something, you might be able to sell it, pay off the loan and maybe have enough left over to send a nasty postcard to Junior over in his villa in Monte Carlo. Good luck, Cathy.