April 14, 2011

What's best way to sell a really used car?

I'm finally going to sell my semi-legendary 1998 Accord, and I'm looking for advice on the best way to sell a car that, in looks, isn't up to even the "Fair" rating at the bottom of Kelly Blue Book. The car, a V6, still goes like a bat out of hell with remarkable acceleration, but it looks like the Rat Patrol drove it across North Africa a half dozen times (and lost more firefights than they won). Half the paint is worn off and there are about a dozen dents, large and small. 

80 comments:

Sgt. Joe Friday said...

Are you in a high enough tax bracket that you could use a write-off? Maybe you could donate it.

Anonymous said...

Autotrader.

A teenager wants your car very badly and will scour autotrader for it.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

Drive over to LA. When there, get on MLK Blvd. Drive until you hit the intersection of the Church's Chicken and a gas station. Behind the gas station there will be a broken down El Camino. Talk to my boy Tito there. He'll hook you up.

Anonymous said...

"but it looks like the Rat Patrol drove it across North Africa a half dozen times (and lost more firefights than they won). Half the paint is worn off and there are about a dozen dents, large and small."


How can you let go of a beauty like that!

You can drive/park it anywhere.

And best of all it stirs no envy in your neighbor's (or gangbanger's) heart.

DCThrowback said...

I've had excellent luck both buying and selling cars on Craigslist. Unlike Anon #1's comment, that's the first place those 18 year old kids look for their auto bargains.

Anonymous said...

You want to do something interesting with the car, that might you make more money than its book value?

Contact this art gallery:
http://www.steveturnercontemporary.com/artists/artla10/index.html

and ask to be put in touch with this artist:
http://www.steveturnercontemporary.com/artists/ontiveros/artistpage/

His name is Camilo Ontiveros, and he does interesting things with found metal/industrial objects, repainting them and so on. Get a load of those washing machines, as it were.

You could offer to donate the car to him to have him turn it into art, in exchange for a percentage of the sale. The guy looks like he's got a bright future. Get in on the ground floor!

Anonymous said...

Why would you want to get rid of her?

Market value would be essentially zero, yet her mechanicals still perform flawlessly?

Are you telling us that you want to sell her for $1,000, then borrow $30,000 for her replacement, which, as soon as you drove it off the lot, would be worth only $15,000 [putting you "underwater" by 50%]?!?

I say: Keep her, and drive her for another 13 years.

Let some other sucker take the 50% hit on a new car.

Anonymous said...

In Britain a community which has a large number of men with beards has discovered a unique way of clearing clunkers - and other cars - off the road.
http://tinyurl.com/67w5o26

Honky Dory said...

Donate it to your fire department. They will take it, tax deductible, and use it for fire demonstrations or training.

Auntie Analogue said...

Since the drivetrain's still robust, isn't it worthwhile to explore having the dents gussied-up and the body sanded, primed & painted? Wouldn't this spare you the hassle of selling, and then spare your having to cough-up a princely sum (and a fair chunk of it in taxes) for a replacement vehicle? Besides, mending the old mount keeps you out of the DMV office and starves speedy, efficient, courteous, cheerful government bureaucrats of your pension-swelling contribution - if that isn't a plus, then I'm a monkey's aunt.


Perhaps a fresh paint job would pay for itself, say, for the two or three more years you may expect to keep the car - and improve its resale value when you do get round to market it.


On the other hand, if you've got a powerful case of New Caritis, you should disregard peremptorily every syllable of the above.

Jehu said...

Steve, cars like that (largely reliable but very old and beaten up) are best sold to people you know or friends thereof. We sold my wife's 1998 Ford Contour that way not long ago. There's a lot to be said for a car that works with no major problems (just a bunch of annoying little ones) for a thousand dollars or so. Even if it only runs for a year or two before it requires some expensive repair, it's worth it.

Anonymous said...

steve wrote:
"I'm finally going to sell my semi-legendary 1998 Accord, ....Half the paint is worn off and there are about a dozen dents, large and small. "


Sgt. Joe Friday said...
"Are you in a high enough tax bracket that you could use a write-off? "


Ummm...based on his description of it, I think we can safely say that the answer is NO.

ironrailsironweights said...

It's been a number of years since I sold a used car, but the following dialogue is an accurate composite of my dealings with the typical caller:

[phone rings]
Me: Hello
[silence]
Me: Hello?
Caller: Yo, man.
Me: Can I help you?
Caller: Yo, man. I'm callin' 'bout the car.
Me: Sure, what would you like to know about it?
Caller: How much it cost?
Me: $5,000 firm, just like it says in the ad.
Caller: Oh. I ain't got no money.

Peter

Anonymous said...

In your case, best vs not best is not going to be much difference in money, so go for the easiest.

Craigslist and give it an honest description and a fair price. If it sounds like a drivable car that won't require major investment, it will get snapped if the price is good.

OTOH, if if drives well, why sell? I thought you are not into status very much? Or are you expecting a largess from Steve Jobs already? :-)

Anonymous said...

If the engine's still sound, why are you getting rid of it? Upgrading to a cooler model to score with chicks, are you?

Steve Sailer said...

I did not say everything works. Lots of stuff is beat to hell. But the engine still has way more power than you need.

James N.S.W Australia said...

Convert it into a pickup truck and sell it to the Libyan rebels!!

Whiskey said...

Steve, just keep the engine and fix the stuff that is broken. I'm sure your readers know someone in the LA area that can do basically a gut job of the internals and fix it, possibly for $8K or so. If the body is essentially sound, the frame sound, and the engine sound, why not simply refurb the car? That way you get a low insurance rate and maybe can give the car to your kid when he can drive.

The Desert Car Kings or some-such reality show features rebuilt 60's wrecks going for around $15K or so, and that's just with a frame, no body. Your car sounds like it just needs new systems not a new engine.

Bill said...

Craigslist has worked for me so far. Take a fistful of cash or equivalent (cashier's check or money order). It's reasonable to say you'll pay for an inspection (a lot of places will do it for free, and if not it's usually pretty cheap) if they follow through with the purchase.

Ask for photo ID for verification, and don't let any more than one person in your place at a time. I tuck a .38 in under my shirt when dealing with that kind of cash, but that's up to you.

James said...

Lipstick on a pig? What are you looking to gain on the transaction? $100?

ben tillman said...

I would recommend becoming a celebrity and then advertising it in a place where your fans will see it.

Anonymous said...

Steve, we don't give a shit about your car problems. This crass materialism annoys me.

Chief Seattle said...

I agree with the craigslist people. I sold an old toyota pickup in 2 days and got paid cash.

Lots of people like old hondas. I wouldn't bother fixing the problems - there's enough cheap auto repair in LA that the buyer can do that easily.

I hope this is an isteve.com windfall as well. I'd still read faithfully even if you were just hbdsteve.

James N.S.W Australia said...

Paint some bell-curves on it and the factorial structure of intelligence on the hood and auction it off to the Isteve readers as the 'HBDmobile'.

Seriously. Somebody would buy it here.

Anonymous said...

Sell it to Steve Jobs. Maybe he can do something brilliant with it.

Fred said...

Get the car detailed, and then get it the cheapest paint professional paint job you can find. Then sell it before it rains.

agnostic said...

"Upgrading to a cooler model to score with chicks, are you?"

Well, see the way it starts is, "Hmmm, I wonder if I should sell ol' bessie. Let's see what similar ones are going for on craigslist..."

Then you find an ad for a well kept black and gold '78 Trans Am for under $10,000 and conclude that yes, you must sell your old clunker and get a new ride.

Steve's in southern California. There must be a million great classic cars in good shape waiting for buyers.

eh said...

Answer: The best way is to sell it for the highest price.

OT (Keeping the tradition alive)

Walmart workers get $440k


The EEOC sued Walmart and its affiliate Sam's Club in 2009, alleging the workers were being harassed and that Walmart failed to stop the mistreatment in a timely manner -- a charge Walmart has denied.

At least nine employees of Mexican descent, and one who is married to a Mexican, say they endured ethnic slurs on a daily basis by a co-worker, who was also Hispanic.


Interesting.

I'm tempted to wonder what the award would have been had the name-caller been white. But I'll resist that temptation.

And what is $440k? -- 15 - 20 years gross pay for the average Wal-Mart worker? I'd accept a lot less for being called names.

dearieme said...

I once had an old Landrover that needed a big welding job on its chassis, and had outlived its suitability for us. I advertised it as "would suit welder". It worked a treat.

Janer D said...

If it doesn't look 'fair', but runs well, then in discussions with buyers sell it on that point. If they're interested in buying a '98 Accord, they're looking for a cheap car that hopefully will last them through HS or college with as few repairs as possible.

Indiana Fred said...

"It's reasonable to say you'll pay for an inspection (a lot of places will do it for free, and if not it's usually pretty cheap) if they follow through with the purchase."

-No, the inspection should be on the buyer's dime, though you can agree to let the car be inspected. You don't know how many potential buyers you will have who will want to have the car examined, or whether they will follow through on buying. Having the potential buyers pay solves that, and also creates a psychological incentive for them to buy the car after they have already invested a small amount of money into the deal. Just be aware that some mechanics will offer a different tune about the condition of the car depending upon who (buyer or seller) is paying for the inspection.

Anonymous said...

craigslist.

Anonymous said...

OT, but I haven't seen Steve look into why it is that there have been no prosecutions in the wake of the financial crisis. There's an interesting article here:

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/In-Financial-Crisis-No-nytimes-220824617.html?x=0&.v=1

But I don't think it suggests anything about how embarassing it would be for a democratic administration to have to own up to how affirmative action lending policies helped bring down the system. As one VP financial engineer from Lehman Brothers put it to me in defense of himself (directly in response to my question about Bush's policy of pushing subprim mortgages to NAM's): "The government set a policy and we helped them implement it."

rdkraus said...

Sold my Dad's car on ebay and got 5 times what I expected. Set a minimum you won't go below and see what happens. I conditioned my sale on Buyer must pick up and no test rides. Really. Worked great.

Anonymous said...

From your description, it sounds like your Accord is good for at least another 40,000 miles. Obviously, it's mechanically on the right side of the Bell Curve so why sell it?

Buy a body kit and update its look. Some kits are pretty cheap and your car will appear to be worth four figures, again. With all the Mexicans in LA you can probably get the labor for under a $500.

Only you, Pedro, and CARFAX will know.

Anonymous said...

I had the exact same car. I ended it selling to a local high school student (decent student who I knew was working nearly 30 hours a week outside of school) so I just thought I'd try and give him a little bump.

I just gave him deal of $500 which I think is well below what KBB thinks it was worth.

Half Sigma said...

"Steve, we don't give a shit about your car problems. This crass materialism annoys me."

That Steve owns such a car in the first place indicates his LACK of materialism. He had devoted his life to a career that doesn't pay very well because he had a greater mission in life, to spread the word about HBD, so that's the car he can afford to drive.

beowulf said...

Donate it and take the tax write-off (fire dept is good, sheriff's dept is better. You haven't lived until you've shot up a car with an assault rifle on a police range).

If you do sell it, the advice upthread is first rate-- get it detailed and painted. You can't make it new but you can make it shiny.

SF said...

Your kids don't want it? They must be doing OK.

Kylie said...

Steve Sailer said, "I did not say everything works. Lots of stuff is beat to hell. But the engine still has way more power than you need."

Looks from this description as if you should gear your ad toward the type of young[ish] man who prefers dating older women.

Anonymous said...

Steve, you should know enough economics to know that the advice to extensively rework it is bad : you'd be lucky to break even fixing up the Accord unless you find a sucker. (Then again, if you're patient, you might find a sucker)

If I'm reading you right, you want to minimize the time and hassle of selling the car while not leaving hundreds of dollars on the ground.

The easiest way to sell a car is to signal you're willing to accept slightly less than the market-clearing price:

1) See if your mechanic will buy it.

2) You should be able to sell a running Honda in LA in about 30 seconds on craigslist. Take a couple pictures. Describe it accurately but not disparagingly. Ask $100 less than low book, say neither "firm" nor "or best offer", and take the first decent offer.

Truth said...

Find a lawyer with a teenage son and trade it for your legal service.

Svigor said...

The Rat Patrol, heh. Wiki has some interesting facts about that show. Didn't know the leader was 1st generation Greek-American. Fought in WWII IIRC. Fairly interesting guy. Had a Jeep roll over on him during production. You can tell from some of the bone-jarring jumps and wild driving they do in those jeeps (including the ones in the intro sequence) that stunt safety and insurance standards were way different back then. More like what you see in Hong Kong cinema. Rat Patrol's one of those "bad" war shows where they kill lots of people with bullets and grenades and stuff. Back then they didn't know people actually wanted to see American soldiers crippled by angst, or stuck in foxholes strangling one another.

Good luck selling your car. :)

Svigor's 84 Blazer said...

HS, Mr Crass wasn't really worth a response (if he'd used a clever handle I'd have taken it as humor). More to the point, of course Steve's a materialist. Everyone with a car that crappy is a materialist, having no other options.

Mitch said...

Find a mechanic; many will buy a cheap car and fix it up. My mechanic is always looking for loaner cars.

Anonymous said...

"Steve, we don't give a shit about your car problems. This crass materialism annoys me."


That Steve does not focus eternally on the extra-PC issues is one of the main reasons I come here; perhaps I am just unlucky to be ideologically isolated, but ocasionally I find it nice to have, or rather be around, conversation with people of similar belief that is everyday, is normal, instead of being rigidly focused, heretically conscious, and tediously devoted to applying (again)(and again)(and again) the freaking obvious to all subjects. Newsflash! IQ matters, Multiculturalism is bullshit, Whites are weak, and NAMs are stupid! Wow, how surprising! How new! How unexplored!

Anonymous said...

A 1998 car seems pretty new to me. My car is a 1989 Toyota. But in my case complete strangers keep asking to buy her. She's old but still very desirable.

Last year I took some of my stimulus money and got a paint job. I had already had a new engine and transmission installed and a new interior.

I had toyed with the idea of buying a Ferrari when I first learned how much of the Obama stimulus would come to me. But it was only $80,000 so I just fixed up my Toyota.

Actually in the movie The Fast and the Furious Vin Diesel also driving a Supra Turbo like mine, blows off a Ferrari at a stop light drag race. The Yamaha engine is very popular with hot rodders. There are many after market kits to boost the power almost without limit - 500hp, 800hp, 1,100hp or 1,900hp. Take your pick.

I recommend you just get a mid range paint job. You'll be amazed at the transformation and you won't have any ongoing car payments.

Albertosaurus

Mike said...

I repo about five cars a month. This car will sell on Craigslist in a couple of hours if priced rationally.

Anonymous said...

You mean you didn't buy American? Shame on you Steve!

Anonymous said...

I'll give you $250.
Gordito

AllanF said...

What's the old saw, ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.

Anyway, have you already replaced it? If not, act fast or just plan for another couple years with it.

Late model used cars are relatively expensive right now as Cash for Clunkers took a lot of them off the road. More recently the earth quake in Japan has shut-in considerable new production. Things aren't tight yet, but they will be and I suspect the dealers know it, so they aren't going to want to deal.

Rumor is GM (Government Motors) is stuffing their dealers trying to paint an economic expansion. If you must, try getting a good deal on 2010 Chevy that's been hanging around on the lot. Doubtful it will have many options -- that's why it's been hanging around -- but that just makes it all the cheaper.

Silver said...

The car, a V6, still goes like a bat out of hell with remarkable acceleration, but it looks like the Rat Patrol drove it across North Africa a half dozen times (and lost more firefights than they won). Half the paint is worn off and there are about a dozen dents, large and small.

If you're going to try the "honest" approach ("she's got some faults, no doubt, but what a beauty") you should list the faults first, and then zero in on what the car has going for it nonetheless. This way the car's good points are the last thing out of your mouth and freshest in your customer's mind. The opposite approach will have the customer mulling over what a POS it is, resulting in a lower offer or on sale.

Oh, and the fact that you're selling, I suppose that can mean times are either the money's rolling in or the times are getting tough in the HDB biz.

David Davenport said...

Steve, I wouldn't sell that car, unless your wife is insisting that you do so.

I would try to keep that car a while longer. I wouldn't bother with cosmetic improvements, except maybe to buy seat covers for the front seats -- and seat covers are not merely a cosmetic upgrade if the original upholstery is coming apart.

I wouldn't have the car painted, which would probably cost more than you expect.

Please tell us what's wrong with the Honda.

*Does the car need new tires?

*How often do you have to add a quart of oil?

*Does the Honda foul any spark plugs?

*Does the air conditioning work?

*Does the front suspension rattle when the car goes over a bump, thereby indicating worn ball joints?

*Etc.

Steve, if you'll post a list of what's wrong with your Honda, we can estimate the actual price of repairs.

Steve Sailer said...

Homeowners leave threatening notes on its windshield because just having it parked in front of their house lowers their property value.

David Davenport said...

Instapundit.com is pointing to this:

... this is not the best time in the world to buy a new car. The Japanese automakers are already experiencing severe supply issues and many of the parts needed to assemble your car are simply not there.

This is also happening on the used car side. I have been to three auctions this week. Bought zero cars. That has never happened to me in 10+ years in the auto auction business. Of course this is tax season. But the supply and quality of vehicles are simply atrocious at the moment and the prices are sky high. I’ve even seen a 15 year old, 300,000 mile Chevy Blazer with a nicotine drenched interior go for over $1,000, and a 2008 Toyota Tundra Limited with 179k miles sell for over $20,000.
I would wait out the storm. But if you have to buy now…these would be my top five choices.

...

http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/new-or-used-corolla-owner-seeks-outright-fun/

beowulf said...

Homeowners leave threatening notes on its windshield because just having it parked in front of their house lowers their property value.

Now it gets interesting... So by how much does it lower their property value? Screw Blue Book, THAT is the market price for your car.

They can buy your car and turn around and donate it charity for the write-off. It'd be amusing if they got audited because the IRS couldn't believe the Accord they donated was worth $70,000 or whatever it is they pay you. :o)

Mac said...

"Homeowners leave threatening notes on its windshield because just having it parked in front of their house lowers their property value."

You don't need a new car.

You need new neighbors.

At least living on a farm I avoid such hassles....

Default User said...

Perhaps a Maaco paint job (~$500) would do (http://www.maaco.com/). The paint job does not need to be great, just make the car less obviously worn.

Alternatively, there is a car cover. . .

PS:
You could always take up a collection ("I cannot afford a new car right now, but if you were all to chip in I am sure I could afford to removed this property value slicing eyesore").

Anonymous said...

Albertosaurus, you must be the first person I've heard of who got a dime of stimulus. How'd you swing eighty large?

Anonymous said...

How are the rims on the car? I know that's popular on cars these days. If you throw in a rim job with the car you might get a decent price for it.

Anonymous said...

Homeowners leave threatening notes on its windshield because just having it parked in front of their house lowers their property value.

Ah, thank you for being a good neighbor, Steve! Craigslist is your ticket if you are set on selling.

(OT: your car shows up on Google maps. Scary, isn't it?)

Marlboro Ted said...

Well, one thing you could do-

A guy I knew a few years back told me that he and one of his friends once made money letting people beat up an old clunker. Pay X you get to punch it once, Y you get to kick it, Z you get to use a hammer, etc. You get the idea. Worked well because he lived near a college with plenty of frats.

I heard of someone else who sold bets as to when an old clunker was going to fall through ice (they lived in Canada in the 60s). Winner gets a prize.

Anyway, just a few anecdotes to stimulate some outside the box thinking....

Svigor's Negotiator said...

Homeowners leave threatening notes on its windshield because just having it parked in front of their house lowers their property value.

See, now we're getting somewhere. You start by getting them to put a specific value to their loss...

Anonymous said...

Here's what you need to do. Go to CarMax. They will buy or take a trade with anything you have. Trade your boring transportation appliance in on an early 00s Mustang GT. If they sell it, it will be reliable and the Mustang GT (no V6, get a V8) will win friends for you. People will treat you better and show you some God Damned Respect!

Svigor said...

If you throw in a rim job with the car you might get a decent price for it.

Har, har, har.

(That was deliberate, right?)

Kylie said...

"If you throw in a rim job with the car you might get a decent price for it."

I can just imagine the kind of notes Steve's neighbors would leave if he took your advice.

beowulf said...

Pay X you get to punch it once, Y you get to kick it, Z you get to use a hammer, etc. You get the idea.

Losers. To repeat what I wrote upthread, you haven't lived until you've shot up a car with an assault rifle on a police range. As a general rule, I would not recommend shooting up a car anywhere else.

beowulf said...

$400 paint job, corner of Rowan and Cesar E. Chavez. Man, I bet that neighborhood is vibrant!
http://losangeles.craigslist.org/lac/aos/2314965701.html

Asher said...

I will have restless nights until I learn of the result of this quest.

Keep us posted Steve.

Anonymous said...

Steve, people from Latin America tend to value used cars far more than Americans. If you put a little money into it to make it look OK, a newcomer will pay good money. I knew people who made a living buying used cars in the States and driving them to Mexico to sell for a profit. I also knew a recent arrival from Buenos Aires who paid way too much for a used BMW with 50k on it and thought he had gotten a deal.

Anonymous said...

Fix it up so that it no longer bothers the wife quite so much. Work on it yourself or get your old man to give you advice. I know you feel challenged with this sort of hands on thing, but are also enviously intrigued with it on an intellectual and social and physical scale.

Maybe could even have some change of pace threads about what you learned in working on it. Sort of like when you talk about your dad and it has a little bit of a sweetness to it.

-------------

Or if the wife won't be put in her place, then Craigslist, Auto Trader, or donate it. It really doesn't matter since you won't get much for it and not what it is worth in terms of driveability anyway.

Anonymous said...

Albertosaurus, you must be the first person I've heard of who got a dime of stimulus. How'd you swing eighty large?

I think there are more of us than you think. Remember Nancy Pelosi said something to the effect that they had to pass it in order to know what was in it. Or maybe that was the Obamacare bill. In any case the stimulus package was a very large complex bill filled with all sorts of miscellaneous provisions.

There was an obscure provision that benefited people in my exact demographic and circumstances. I did nothing whatsoever. I signed some papers but I never left the house. They called on the phone, came over and I signed. They deposited $80,000 in my checking account. Just two weeks ago they gave me another $5,000. All of this BTW is tax free.

I wouldn't tell anyone about it for a year. It was so strange that I though they would finally figure out that a mistake had been made and take it all back. But then recently the Pigford case got reported. Hundreds of Black people suddenly got $50,000 for once thinking about farming. So I'm not alone in receiving "magic" money.

I won't say anymore than this - I'm still a bit afraid they'll want it back. I think there are thousands of undeserving people like me who got stimulus money for bizarre reasons but they are keeping a low profile.

Albertosaurus

Kylie said...

"...you haven't lived until you've shot up a car with an assault rifle on a police range."

I think I'd rather shoot up a police car* with an assault rifle on a private range but that's just me.

I doubt I'd enjoy to the fullest anything I did on a police range.


*Unoccupied, of course.

Kylie said...

@ Albertosaurus,

Good on you. I never thought I'd approve of how any of that stimulus money was spent or on whom.

I'm delighted you proved me wrong.

TGGP said...

We could use those men in tan

Anonymous said...

I've noticed several of those classic 1985 Honda Accords with fresh paint jobs in neon orange, yellow and turquoise in the parking lot of the local high school. I also heard about one kid spending lots of his own money getting the seatbelt buckles re-chromed. Certainly, the Hondas have proved themselves the new Mustang. Hold on to that gem. It should be as much a treasure as the 85s in a few years. Just imagine some high school student in the near future creating fond memories by lovingly replacing the seats and the carpet, all the exterior trim and adding a vibrant coat of paint so that artistically designed Honda body can be as gorgeous as the day it rolled off the lot, Oh, I can hear that V6 engine revving now...

Donate it, Sailer, or sell it for parts. Jeez!

Douglas2 said...

Place the ad in the "Auto Parts" section of craigslist, and what you are selling is a Honda J30A 3-liter SOHC VTEC engine.

The fact that it is still in a car is a huge plus for the buyer, as:
`They can verify that it runs well.
`It removes all issues of transporting the engine home, if they can just drive the car home.
`they will be confident that they have all the ancillaries that might be slightly different from the engine that they are replacing.
`they will have visions of recouping the whole purchase price for the engine by selling on the glass, gauges, interior trim, and misc body panels on to others.

Anonymous said...

Wow. 77 comments and no one thought of this:

http://ottawa.kijiji.ca/c-cars-vehicles-cars-trucks-1998-Subaru-Impreza-Wagon-W0QQAdIdZ268172820

Anonymous said...

Hey i would give www.unitedcarexchange.com a try. They sold my car in a month.

Serge said...

I think that there would surely be several buyers who would be interested in buying that car especially for those who might have long been searching for that specific model.