Dear Tom and Ray:
The sunroof on my 1998 Toyota RAV4 doesn't close anymore. The Toyota repair guy says it will cost $1,700 to replace the motor and cables ($1,400 for parts, $300 labor). The blue-book value for my car appears to be about $3,500, which means I'll be investing about half its value in a repair. However, I love my RAV4, and it has only 42,000 miles on it. Leaving the sunroof unrepaired or closed isn't an option -- I live in San Francisco, and unless there's an absolute downpour, I have the roof open. Should I get it fixed, or get a whole new car? Thanks so much for your help.
TOM: Fix it. No question about it.
RAY: I agree. The blue-book value of the car is irrelevant. That matters only if you're selling the car. And you're not selling it. You love it.
TOM: If you didn't have a car, and someone came to you right now and said, "You can have this exact '98 RAV4 with a working sunroof and 42,000 miles on it for $1,700," you'd buy it, right? That's essentially what you're doing.
RAY: Look at the alternative: What are you going to get to replace this car for $1,700? You'd get a car that looks like something my brother would own.
TOM: I'll sell you my '78 Fiat for $1,700. Its roof leaks, too, but I fixed it by drilling a hole in the floor so the water can drain out.
RAY: If the car's in good shape -- which it is -- and you still love it -- which you do -- then invest in the repair and keep driving it.