Need a decision procedure for dumping the car...
July 13, 2009 4:35 PM   Subscribe

Decision procedure, method for getting rid of old car?

Hey everyone. I have a 2000 dodge stratus with almost 150k miles on it and some dents, and the mechanic (who is honest) just told me I need new bearings, a new rim, and a bunch of new brakes and drums. I'm waiting for the estimate, but I'm thinking it might be time to get rid of the car rather than repair it. But I'm not really sure how to make this decision.

If I'm going to get rid of this car, it won't be to a junkyard -- it's not in that poor a condition -- but hopefully it'll be to some kind of easy corporate place where I can just get an estimate and sell rather than risky and time-consuming crap with craigslist and so forth. And if I get rid of it, I have no plans to replace it, at least not for about 2-3 years, possibly longer.

KBB says private party resale value for a fair condition car like this is just over 2k. Should I get rid of the car if repair cost is more than that? Or should I be willing to spend more, on the theory that the value to me of having the car is more than the market price I could get for it? Or should I be willing to spend less, on the theory that expensive repairs now don't preclude the risk of having more expensive repairs later? Help?

Part two: I was thinking of just using CarMax, because I've at least heard of them. Unfortunately, I'm in Palo Alto, and the closest CarMax is 70 miles away. Does anyone know of anything within Caltrain range of Palo Alto that's similar?
posted by paultopia to Work & Money (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you are not planning to replace it, why keep spending money on it? Figure it will cost over $1000 to get it fixed up (wild guess). Save the $1000 and use it to rent a car for the day on the rare occasion that you need one. If you get a little money for selling it, add that to the rental car fund.

Still, I'd be interested in advice about the best way to get rid of an old car. We have a 1994 minivan with about 120k and an unidentified electrical problem that keeps draining the battery. Since we rarely drive it, this means a 24 hour trickle charge every time we want to use it. So, taking our own advice we are planning to get rid of it in the next few weeks.
posted by metahawk at 5:02 PM on July 13, 2009

How much will it cost you to not have a car for 3 years? In the past 3 years, how many times have you used your car and it was necessary? And, what would be the cost of a taxi in those situations?
posted by Houstonian at 5:02 PM on July 13, 2009

Well, zipcar is pretty accessible...
posted by paultopia at 5:07 PM on July 13, 2009

I've donated every car I've ever owned to the Kidney Foundation. They come pick it up and you get a tax deduction, so there's no hassle whatsoever and it's going to a good cause.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:08 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

The problem with donating cars is that you have to research the foundation to make sure the actual charity gets more than a token amount. If you decide to go this route, be sure to ask them what their overhead costs are.

OP can also call junkyards and ask them what they'd pay to pick it up. They'll lowball you first, so say "that's not enough," wait for their response, and write down the final amount before hanging up and moving on to the next one. After you go through all of these, call back the one (if any) who will give you the most. Do not decide while you're talking to them the first time, always call back.

Then there's Craigslist.

You could do the brakes and rim and ask a bit more, but as it is you're going to have to reveal to any potential buyer that it needs a bunch of work. The shorter that conversation is, the more you can ask. I'm not sure what they're actually going for, but I'd ask $1000-1500 if you get the wheels done, $600-1000 if not. The bearings are a big deal, so depending on my ignorance even those prices may need to come down a bit.
posted by rhizome at 5:18 PM on July 13, 2009

I use and love zipcar (I live and work in SF).
I donated my car (which was in similar condition) a few years ago to a local non-profit. They all seem to use the same backend donation management company and the process was really smooth. The car was gone with maybe 15 minutes of work on my side, and I got a tax deduction (only $500 though)

If I had more time I might have tried to get 1000-2000 from craigslist, but it didn't seem worth the energy to get the car smogged and make it safe for driving.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 5:20 PM on July 13, 2009

I provided a link to the Kidney Foundation and from their website "More than 81 cents of every dollar the Foundation receives goes directly to vital programs and services." You can find more information about it here.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:23 PM on July 13, 2009

I donate my car to a charity when it gets past my decision to fix it. The decision as to which charity has nothing to do with how much they will make or rather will go toward their cause, but rather how much of a write-off will I get. Also depends on how convenient they make it for me. To me the question is the value to me donating versus selling and then add in the hassle factor of selling and the best "value" wins. I have never decided to sell rather than donate.

THe decision to fix or donate is both subjective and objective. Normally, I would say that a car is worth more to the owner than she will get selling it, but if you have no desire to replace immediately, it is probably worth getting rid of it in an economical manner than keeping it.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:50 PM on July 13, 2009

hmm... so, I don't itemize (and the bill came to 1.7k, so it's gone). Any bright ideas about selling?
posted by paultopia at 11:29 PM on July 13, 2009

Other than the usual Craig's list I have no idea about selling to the public. But, consider selling it to a family member or friend that does itemize for the amount of the writeoff they would get.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:36 AM on July 14, 2009

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