I have decided to do nothing right now. I know there is a problem, but manageable for a few months, at least. Between Dec 31 and Mar 15, I only drive 300-400 miles. I go through one tank of fuel during Jan and Feb.
I've driven very little the past two weeks, and don't see any spotting.
I had my eye on a 2012 F-250XL, but the dealer never followed through with getting me final information. I suppose they were so busy pushing out vehicles near the end of the year, a $27K vehicle was not worth the time. Also, in talking with my financial folks, the changes in taxes for 2013, I may be better to take the hit in 2013, not 2012. Putting a new vehicle on the road during the Winter months for so little driving was probably not a good idea either.
However, I am still thinking the $3K repair may be the best path for me. I will know better my long-term plans by mid-March, and the need of a work truck. I will be 72 next time around, and need to start making plans to wind down.
Thanks so much for all the comments and contributions to my thread. I appreciated the input.