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We Sold My Car! What Worked and What Didn’t

After going back [1] and forth [2] about selling my car, I finally said goodbye to the car last week. It was a little sad, because I loved that car! But since the kids didn’t fit, it truly wasn’t working.

Here’s a recap of the sale process and a summary of what worked and what didn’t.

Getting the Car Ready for Sale

Clean up the car. Before listing my car, we made a small investment and had the car detailed. It was $129 of the best money spent because the car looked like new afterwards.

We considered doing a tiny spot of touch up (where my husband backed into the bird bath!) but found it to be so minor that it wasn’t necessary.


We chose three options for listing the car:

  1. Autotrader. The cost was $60 and it was the biggest waste of money ever. All we got were scammers [3] and dealers, no genuine inquiries.
  2. Craigslist. We had lots of interest for the car, lots of low ballers, but this was ultimately the way that we sold the car.
  3. Fliers. We posted fliers at work and in our neighborhood. We had a few calls and I think it was a great way to get the word out.

The Sale

Holding the car. I recently mentioned that we accepted a 2.5% downpayment [4] to hold the car. This ended up working out just fine and this is who we sold the car to in the end.

Find the title first!
Ten minutes before the buyer arrived to pick up the car, we realized we had lost the title in a bunch of boxes when we moved a couple years ago. We frantically tore apart the boxes looking for it. Luckily we found it, or we probably would have killed the entire deal!

The New Car

After I solicited advice [5] for the next car to purchase, we decided on a Mazda5 [6] “mini” minivan. The Honda Odyssey seemed to be the favorite, but the Mazda is cheaper, gets better gas mileage, and is a little sportier.

It meets all my criteria: safety, gas mileage, fits an expanding family (3 car seats), and is relatively inexpensive.

Used Versus New. We’ve been keeping our eye out for a used one, but unfortunately there aren’t many used ones for sale because they’re not very popular in the U.S.

Because we can use the corporate discounts [7] program to save a bundle on a new one, the used ones (with relatively low mileage) are actually turning out to be more expensive. I’m still keeping my eye out for used ones, though. If we find a good one in the next couple weeks, we’ll buy it.

Otherwise, as soon as we finish our refinance [8] we’re planning to buy a new one. We’re waiting on the refinance because we plan to finance the car (the current financing offer is 1.9%, which is cheaper than paying cash as I can put my money to work elsewhere.)

Until then, we’re borrowing an extra car from my parents (thanks Dad!)

Tips on Car Colors. A tip I found when selecting a new car: Pick the color based on resale! For the Mazda5 it looks like blue and silver will have more value than the other colors. Since the color isn’t a factor in the initial sale price, it’s best to choose the one with the highest value.

This article featured in the Carnival of Personal Finance [9].