minivan, megafun
January 3, 2010 10:27 PM   Subscribe

How should I get rid of my old minivan?

I am the owner of a 1996 Dodge Caravan, and I’ll soon be moving abroad and would like to get some money for the car with as little hassle as possible. It runs, the body is in decent shape, the transmission was rebuilt about a year ago and the brakes were recently replaced. It passed inspection last August. The tires are lousy, one windshield wiper doesn’t work, one of the brakelight covers is cracked, and it stalls fairly often. Mileage is around 148,000. I was planning to donate it but I could really use some extra cash right now, even if it’s just a couple of hundred bucks. The Blue Book value is $745, and I’d be happy if I could get something close to that. I’ve read up on the Massachusetts Lemon Laws and would definitely disclose all of the vehicle’s faults, but I’m worried that if I sell it and it breaks down soon thereafter it could turn into a big headache. Another option would be to sell it for parts for less money but no hassle- is this the best way to go?
posted by emd3737 to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total)
People sell older cars that need work on craigslist all the time.
posted by rancidchickn at 10:37 PM on January 3, 2010

Is donation a possibility? If the tax writeoff would benefit you, the vehicle would certainly be useful to a charity.
posted by padraigin at 10:41 PM on January 3, 2010

Shoot, it runs? It passed inspection? List it for $600 cash only, as is, and relist for 10% less every week or two. Eventually, you will reach a buyer at the right price.

There's a college student or backyard mechanic who would love to have your vehicle.
posted by zippy at 10:44 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

Maybe sell it in an adjacent state? The CT lemon laws don't seem particularly onerous compared to Massachusetts'; there's what looks like a pretty big exemption for used cars under $3k. On a quick glance, it doesn't seem like New Hampshire has any statute for used cars, only new ones, too.

If you have friends or family in either of those states that would let you park the car there (so potential buyers can come inspect it), that would probably be key. There's more paperwork involved in an interstate sale, but it's nothing terribly out of the ordinary either. (It might mean two trips to the DMV, one in either state, though.) There are Craigslist sub-sites for both Hartford, CT (which basically serves all of NE CT) and for all of New Hampshire.

The problem with donating a vehicle for the tax deduction is that it only matters, for Federal purposes anyway, if you itemize on your return (meaning you have to beat the standard deduction, $5150 I think). Most people without a mortgage don't exceed that in deductions, and it doesn't sound like this car is going to do it for you. I'm not arguing against donation per se, but a lot of people seem to misunderstand how donations for tax deductions work.

Wherever you sell it, you'll definitely want to make a list of all known or suspected problems with the car, and then go through them with the buyer. I'd probably have two copies and make them initial each item and then sign it, and keep the original (give them a copy if they want it). Even if it scares away a few potential buyers or lowers the price a bit, it's probably worth it to have something to point to if they come back at you alleging an undisclosed problem. In general, it's a lot more difficult to hand-wave away issues by calling it an "as-is" sale (to the point of impossibility in MA, apparently) with a car than with other items. So I'd go to the other extreme and document everything.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:19 PM on January 3, 2010

Pfft -- put it on craigslist for $700, don't worry about a bunch of paper documentation of problems. It's a $700 POS car -- people will expect it to have issues.

Just go over the worst ones ("it stalls, here's how to start it again...") and let them figure out the rest. There's not a lot of recourse in a person-to-person sale -- even if it explodes the next day and burns to a blackened hulk, the new owner couldn't easily circle back to you and make demands, and the average $700 car buyer probably doesn't have an attorney on retainer!

I've sold lots of sub-$1,000 heaps on CL and the newspaper, and the only time I've ever been contacted by a buyer was in hopes that I had an extra key somewhere (I didn't).
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 10:14 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

« Older How to juggle multiple sources of stress and...   |   How I Miss Good Night's Sleeping Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.