I Sold My Car!

After 5 years, I finally sold my beater car that most high school kids would feel is beneath them.  Driving this car has been a major economic advantage for our family.  Over the past half decade I got 30 MPG for all the miles I drove, I effectively paid $700 for the car after factoring in the sale price of $500, I paid around $12 a month in depreciation and had no car payments.  Mrs. C. really wanted to drive it over the scale, but I didn’t feel like economic destruction of something that still has a utilitarian value was the right thing to do.  I wanted to have some fun with selling my car, so I wrote up this post for my Facebook ad.

Selling My Car: The Posting

$600 2000 Corolla: A Truly unique ride for the budget conscious shopper.

This car runs like a champ, although sounds a little rough. It has been reliable for every trip I’ve needed it for as my daily driver for the past 5 years and recently eclipsed 251,000 miles. For those keeping score, that’s enough miles to drive to the moon AND halfway around the world. Pretty impressive little Toyota! This car gets 30 miles per gallon average and will never lead a thief to think “man this guy probably has some good stuff in here!” I haven’t locked the doors the entire time I’ve owned it and have never had anything come up missing.

Aptly named “The Murder Hoopty” by my sister in law, The suspension on this vehicle, thanks to our well maintained roads in Michigan, is questionable at best. The tires haven’t fallen off yet, so I’ve just rolled with it (no pun intended). It sounds scary, but you get used to that rumble going down the road. I routinely hit 70+ on the highway with no worries. The tires are all in decent condition and were replaced last year, missing a lug nut on one of the tires, but hey 3 out of 4 is still a passing “C”.

The crank windows are a robust feature of this car. With how many times the windows have been rolled up and down one of those fancy “electric windows” would have failed by now, you see to exit any of the 4 doors you must roll down the window, because all of the door handles on the inside have been broken and somehow “fix my door handle” hasn’t made it to the top of the my to do list in 4 years. It takes about 3 good cranks to roll down the window enough to use the exterior handle to open the door and I promise it becomes muscle memory in no time. My upgraded ride has the lofty feature of doors that open from the inside and I still find myself reaching for my window crank.

This is the type of car where you don’t have to worry about fender benders or slight accidents. Once upon a time my wife may have hit the back corner of my car backing out of the driveway and came in the house crying over it. We then went back outside to look at it, I laughed at the damage and offered to hit it with a sledge hammer to make her feel better. No pricey body work required. The body also has a unique patina formed by the elements and road salt over the past 20 years to ensure you always know which car in the lot is yours. The driver side door is a replacement as well as the front quarter panel. When the zip tie holding it down broke I promptly replaced it with a carabiner which is working fantastically.

Do you value the peace of driving alone? This car keeps people from asking you for a ride, especially with the new drip irrigation system that has developed over the passenger side seat. I like to keep a spare towel in the trunk to accommodate guests. The vehicle has been maintained smoke and pet free.

Speaking of the trunk…Sometimes the locking mechanism sticks, after putting some graphite in it it is working much better, but only after bending both my keys to the vehicle. This car still comes with 2 functional keys. The best part? You can get a new key made for like 2 bucks. This car predates all the fancy electronic keys that require hundreds of dollars to replace.

This car burns a little oil and I find myself adding a quart every now and then. The heat, AC, and CD player all function well, I know, you are shocked this thing has a CD player in it, me too.

This car was my “Live like no one else, so later on you can live, and give like no one else” car. My friends and coworkers have made fun of my car for years…while I’ve been laughing all the way to the bank. You don’t want too much money wrapped up in depreciating assets. In the United States the average car loan payment is $530 a month and comes with a total of $31,000 in debt. Before driving off the lot the average car buyer is upside down and is “stuck” in the car, unable to sell it for what they still owe on it. You won’t have that problem with this Toyota. You can buy this beauty for barely more than the cost of the average car payment in America AND it won’t depreciate much more, you can take it to the scrap yard and probably get $300 for it. My lovely wife has dreamt about driving this beater over the scale, but with how good this car has been to us, I really don’t want to end it’s life prematurely. Stay humble my friends!

Selling My Car: The Response

It didn’t take long for interested parties to start contacting me.  I first published just to friends on my list, then expanded into the Marketplace and some local for sale groups.  The post was up for only a few days and I had over 30 people message me that they were interested in buying the car.  I ended up selling it to a friend at work for $500.  I think we both got a good deal, and I was able to refill some of my bank account to cover my new vehicle purchase.

Shortly before selling my car, one of Mrs. C.’s friends at work was selling his van.  We were looking to upgrade into a roughly $5K van, however because the van he was selling was in good condition and checked virtually all of our boxes except the model year, we decided to go with it.  It was also an extremely easy transaction because we didn’t have to drive 50 miles to test drive a bunch of cars being sold by people on Craigslist and Facebook. We wanted a van that the seats were easy to remove, that seated 8, that had under 200K miles, and preferably a model year 2004 or newer, for under $5,000.  We were primarily looking to get another Honda Odyssey.

We ended up buying a 2000 Montana with 159,000 miles for $1,500.  

The car runs well, has no mechanical issues, seats 8, has easy to remove seats, and has under 200,000 miles. The best part of course is the price.  For $1,500 I feel we got a great deal.  I plan on driving this car for the next 5 years, and hope to sell it for around $500 to $800 when we are done with it, similar to my last car.

Always Be Unique:

I really think that the unique ad I posted had a lot to do with the large response I received. I think if I had just posted something like “2000 Corolla, $600: 251,000 miles, door handles don’t work, suspension issues, leak over passenger seat” I would not have had an overwhelming demand.

Don’t Let Frugality Control You:

Honestly I should have sold my car years ago.  I didn’t want to sell it because it still functioned and was a symbol of frugality in line with what I talk about on this blog.  My new vehicle is still a frugal pick.  I could walk into any car lot in America and drive off in a new $50,000 truck.  My $1,500 van is still something that is under the value the average first car for a teen driver in America costs.  My new van is much more practical for our family size than my car was and was certainly worth the $1,000 to upgrade.

What are you driving these days? Any big changes recently?

John C. started Action Economics in 2013 as a way to gain more knowledge on personal financial planning and to share that knowledge with others. Action Economics focuses on paying off the house, reducing taxes, and building wealth. John is the author of the book For My Children's Children: A Practical Guide For Building Generational Wealth.

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