April 23, 2024

Sell the Car Yourself

Debt and DemandOne of the things that put me into the debt crunch I’m in today was something that happened to me shortly after I was married.  While I was single, I lived at home, saved my money in stocks (just in time for the bubble burst), 401k, savings accounts– all over the place.

When I got married, a lot of the extra cash I had on hand went into our honeymoon– and a little over.  We took care of that debt, and went to work on her school debt.  After having paid that off, we had two cars, an apartment, and a job.

We planned on having children, and knew that neither of our sports cars would be good for a car seat.  Seeing as my car was the better of the two, and hers was having chronic problems, we went into the Saturn dealership and talked prices with the friendly guy there.  We wanted something with four doors, and we looked through the lot.

First, we were silly.  We opted for a car based on color and that it had three days left on its warranty.  It was a thousand dollars more than the blue one next to it who was a week over its warranty.

Next, we let the nice guy talk us into a trade.  He drove my wife’s car, and told me that he could give us a whopping $300 for it.  He said that it would only be good for parts, and that we weren’t going to get better.  We actually believed him.  A few weeks later, the same car was driving up and down the street– and was in for repairs at a local mechanic– but we were in our new four door.

Later, when we learned our lesson and decided to get out of debt, we had two rules.

  1. We would not go into any more debt for a car.
  2. We would sell the cars ourselves.

And we did.  I listed one car at a time online.  The first car I listed for a thousand more than it was worth in the book.  It was, after all, my second sports car (that story another time).  Some parents came by looking for a good first car for their child.  The father liked to barter, and I met him halfway.  So I got $500 more than the Internet said it was worth.

We then went to buy the other car with a 0% credit card (I wasn’t fully converted, obviously!) and put the second one up for sale.  Again, I listed about $1,000 high and the man came and took it for a drive and bought it that same day, didn’t even dicker.

It was then that I learned– and hopefully you’ll learn– never go to a dealership with a trade in.  Sell it yourself.

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14 thoughts on “Sell the Car Yourself

  1. Okay…but you left out what the color was that got you on the wrong track???

    I also have a Saturn…blue-green or teal, however you want to call it. However, I was in high school (it’s a’92) and was already thinking in terms of having a future with a family…so I bought a 4 door. Have to admit, my dad paid for most of it! I’d saved up quite a bit, but he wanted me to go new. We still drive it, lovingly termed our “old reliable”…b/c we’ve never had major problems and even now, my ’98 Suburban has been “in dh’s shop” for two weeks and the ole Saturn is taking us everywhere and on better gas mileage (it got 35 mpg when new, now closer to 30–which beats 15 mpg in the Sub). I love my Saturn…but it’s a squeeze these days to get two car seats and my nine year old in the back!

    Have to share though, about two or three months ago, the front passenger tire and wheel flew off while I was going 55 mph on a country highway. Thankfully no one was behind me, and I kept it on the road despite deep ditches on each side. Got off the road, checked out the damages and prayed with my girls that God would send help (no cell phone). Immediately, I’d no sooner opened my eyes from praying, and a highway patrol pulled up beside me! (lesson in this? God is much better than a cell phone!) He let me use his phone to call my husband who got there within 20 minutes. Dh fixed Saturn up…we’re not sure why that happened, but thankful no one was injured. Then, you’ll never believe this–a homeschooling friend had the same thing happen to her…front wheel/tire flew off…but it landed her AND her two children in the hospital, and almost severed her foot from her leg! It’s sent her and her family into a tailspin…hubby had to quit his job (over the road trucking)…anyway, pray for Amy and her family if you think of them…

    Sorry if my comment rabbit tailed too much, MIn! I am with you on the self-selling vehicles. We’ve had great luck on eBay.

  2. Well, my first Saturn was a two-toned Red/Gray car. Flip top lights, the works. If I find a pick of it, would you rather have it in its wrecked condition or when it was still in one piece?

    We replaced it with a ’92(?) royal purple Saturn SC. It matched the four door powder purple Saturn SL1 that my wife had. Both of those are gone, and now we have a Forest Green ’97 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport.

  3. Ooh, royal purple! Sounds gorgeous! Dh and I love the midnight blue that is almost purple/navy/black all rolled into one…depending on what light it’s viewed in. Someday we plan on repainting his truck in that color. Yes, I said “we”…his dad has the equipment and the shop, thankfully.

    Would love to see a pic of it before the wreck…so what transpired your wreck, might I ask? Plus, I find it really neat that both you and your wife drove Saturns!

  4. We live in a small town, and there is a car dealership here that acts much like the one you describe. Overpricing cars and undervaluing old ones. I don’t understand why dealerships do this though. They sell far fewer cars than the other dealerships in the area, and basically make their living on insurance work. They would make more money if they made sure that their customers came back.

    But whilst we never even go into that dealership, we will use another one and part exchange our car. We go in armed with all the information about what the car is worth, and thus far have never failed to get a car for the price we want.

    So I don’t think it should be a hard and fast rule to sell a car yourself. But choose dealerships wisely.

    (Admittedly private sale usually gains you a little money, but in the UK at least, you get statutory 3 month minimum warranties from a dealer, and you don’t have the risk of bounced cheques and people running off with your car!)

  5. I forgot to add that a dealer knows that they can make more money from servicing the vehicle over its lifetime than the actual money made on the sale, which is an incentive to deal fairly with the customer.

  6. I think that you make a good point, Stephen. If you are going to go to the dealership, make sure you know how much your car is worth. If you’re going to sell it yourself, make sure you have your money before you part with your keys.

    In my home state, there’s a lemon law where if you sold a car and it had a fault that you didn’t disclose they could return the car within 30 days. That gives the buyer some protection.

    I found a lot of good templates on the web for a bill of sale that would make sure that you have the buyer’s address and signature in case something bounced.

  7. It’s going backwards. The debt will be cleared when it gets to zero– so, I made a payment last night. :biggrin:

    It would be disappearing faster, but having our baby, a window replacement, and saving for my brother’s upcoming wedding is keeping us from eliminating it as quickly as we would like. :blink:

  8. Oh, well that is good news anyway. Babies are expensive – but children are more expensive :dizzy:

  9. That’s probably true, Stephen. Fortunately for us, we’re on the receiving end of a lot of hand-me-downs. The Lord has truly blessed us in this area in that we’re just now starting to have to think about whether we need to go out and actually buy clothes for our kids.

  10. Good post Min. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently ;-). While our great Toyota Echo has done us very well over the years… it won’t fit three car seats. As a result I have about 7 months to find a bigger vehicle which means at some point we will likely be selling/trading in our faithful Echo.

    While I personally agree with you that you get the most money with a private sale (and I’ll have to remember your $1k over trick ;-)), I’ve been trying to figure out the logistics of how to do it. Since we only have one car, how are we going to get to the car dealership when we sell it? LOL. I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

  11. :wub: that’s my man, already thinking ahead to take care of his family! :heart: Mrs. Meg Logan

  12. I believe that with our first car, after I had made the deal to sell it the man asked me if I needed to hold on to it until I got a new car. I told him I didn’t.

    I suppose that you could have, as part of the purchase agreement, that you will deliver the car after you get a new one.

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