Old, beaten up van for sale. Want it?
August 1, 2013 4:12 AM   Subscribe

I've a cargo van with about half a million kilometres on it. I was a courier. How do I sell it ethically?

So, half a million kilometres. Leaking power steering fluid, badly. Probably needs all its fluids replaced at this point. Brakes are soft. Body damage (downtown courier) and stripped label leftovers (I quit and took the decals off with a heat gun. It half worked: the adhesive is still there.). I beat the hell out of it. 2003 Savana, if it matters. I still love the thing though, and don't want to screw a potential buyer over. But, it's of no more use. What would you do with it?
posted by converge to Human Relations (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You take it to a dealer and trade it in, and tell him all of that.
posted by empath at 4:20 AM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Maybe you can donate it? You can get a tax writeoff that way. Otherwise, if you really plan to sell it, just be honest about the problems.
posted by number9dream at 4:21 AM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Body damage and the decal mess will be obvious and present no ethical problems unless you fail to disclose them in your advertisement; even there, the problem would only be that you were wasting prospective buyers' time.

The mechanical problems are more significant. Again, you'll have to disclose them. But the thing is, they may make the van almost worthless as a vehicle (though it's probably worth a few hundred as scrap metal). An ugly, functional vehicle is worth having when compared to the no-vehicle alternative that some buyers face, but an ugly, broken vehicle is not worth sinking a lot of anyone's money or time into.
posted by jon1270 at 4:22 AM on August 1, 2013

You take it to a dealer and trade it in, and tell him all of that.

Keep in mind that any benefit you get out of it this way may be illusory. A heap of junk isn't worth the dealer's time and effort any more than it's worth anyone else's. The dealer will take it, but only if the price of the vehicle you're buying is high enough to compensate him for dealing with the thing, i.e. you'll be paying the dealer to dispose of the van for you.
posted by jon1270 at 4:30 AM on August 1, 2013

Salvage yard might yield you a few hundred bucks. Think of it as recycling.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:45 AM on August 1, 2013 [6 favorites]

I agree that you're likely to get a minuscule amount on a trade-in.

Why not try to sell it with an ad on craigslist and/or similar, and relate all its known problems?

Anyone who reads it, sees the vehicle's age, mileage and condition will or should realize there's no guarantee the thing will go another 10 miles -- due to a known problem or something else.

(If a potential buyer works on cars, it probably wouldn't take that much money to sort out the problems you related, so I can believe people would be interested in buying it.)
posted by ambient2 at 4:57 AM on August 1, 2013

I'd advertise it EXACTLY as you have described it. There are always people out there looking for projects. What you're describing is actually not that terrible. And some people need a van for their business and yours would be perfect!

For grins I went on Kelly Blue Book to assess a value and in Fair condition, it's worth $2700, so it's worth something.

See what you can get for it, scrap it as a last resort.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:21 AM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

People buy all sorts of crazy ass vehicles from city auctions. Some of them are mechanics who fix them up and sell them at fair prices.

There's always someone willing to take on a project - just disclose it all and see what you get.
posted by FlamingBore at 5:29 AM on August 1, 2013

There's no ethical dilemma in selling something as long as you are honest about its condition, to the best of your knowledge.

I've sold a few cars in my life that were not worth what it would cost to fix. A couple were bought by professional mechanics who got them road-worthy for the cost of parts and their own time. Any time I have sold a car, I have advised the potential buyer to have a mechanic check it out, in case there are problems I don't know about.

Don't feel any guilt for selling it for a fair price! That means fair to YOU as well as the buyer. Good luck!
posted by The Deej at 5:35 AM on August 1, 2013

My understanding is that if a vehicle runs somebody on Craigslist will pay $1000 for it. I don't imagine that it is that different in Canada.
posted by COD at 5:42 AM on August 1, 2013

You could donate it: you get the tax writeoff, the group you donate to gets whatever they get at the auction. Win-win.
posted by easily confused at 6:05 AM on August 1, 2013

Sell with full disclosure. Vans are always in demand for people who work in the trades. The power steering fluid leak is very likely from the high pressure hose right where the metal tubing crimps to the rubber flex section, which is a notorious point of failure for all hoses on these vehicles. I just replaced mine on my Suburban of the same vintage. Mine was $19 for the hose and & $20 for the correct 16mm - 18mm line wrench (aka flare nut wrench), or figure around $200 - $250 at the shop. You can fix it, or the right buyer (a handy tradesperson, for example) won't be put off at all.
posted by gimli at 6:24 AM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

My feeling is that you'll get the most money out of it selling it privately. Put up your ad saying exactly what you said here.

Next best bet is selling it to a scrapyard. I got $400 for a car that I thought I would have to pay to haul away this way.

If you are concerned about ethics, then selling to a dealer is the least ethical. You can tell them anything you want, and they will just clean it up and sell it at auction, and that buyer will not know any of the story.
posted by gjc at 6:26 AM on August 1, 2013

This is probably not in 'Fair' condition, but I agree that even if you're honest about it, it has a chance. My first car was twenty years old by the time I sold it and had major mechanical problems that were not at all financially viable to fix. It got purchased by a guy who knew how to fix all those things himself and was going to give it to his kid to drive--I saw it around town for several years after that. Didn't get much for it, but did get something, and more than a dealer was willing to give for a trade.
posted by Sequence at 6:50 AM on August 1, 2013

I sold a 10-year-old car with bumper damage, cosmetic problems, mechanicals getting near repair points, etc., on Craigslist. I was extremely up-front in my ad about the problems with the car and I think this actually led to MORE people contacting me -- people told me they had a sense I was honest because I disclosed these unattractive things about the car very bluntly, and so they felt better about buying a used car from someone who seemed honest and normal. (I also put in the ad that I loved the heck out of that car, and what the car's name was, and that led to a lot of interest as well.)

When people came to look at the car and asked me about the various body damage issues I told them what the local dealership had quoted me for repair, and what servicings were coming up on it. I let a seriously-interested buyer take it to a mechanic. I sold it three days after I posted the ad for considerably more than I got quoted at dealers and whatnot -- pretty much the best-case price scenario for that car in that shape.

I also was contacted by several people (a couple from used-car dealers) who wanted to pay me to either take the car and fix it up to resell, or haul it to a salvage yard, for about half what I ended up selling it for. If I had decided to sell it for salvage, I definitely would have let one of those buyers take it and save me the trouble of dealing with it. So post on Craigslist very honestly and see what interest there is. You don't have to respond to anyone if you don't want to, and it'll cost you very little effort.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:45 AM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Have you looked at the prices for new or recent-year used cargo vans?

So far nothing you've described sounds un-repairable, especially if the buyer doesn't much care if it's ugly. If you need a cargo vehicle, you need a cargo vehicle, and there are a ton of small businesses who need a cargo vehicle, but can in no way afford the $15K + for a lightly used one. $2K to you plus $5K in repairs to wind up with a functioning cargo van is still probably a great deal for somebody.

Plus a lot of people are willing and able to DIY some of the needed repairs or know backyard mechanics who'll do the work cheap.

The company I work for sold an ancient Mack 20' truck many years ago to a couple of guys who were actually shopping for a relative in Mexico or Central America somewhere. By our standards it was a hunk of junk, but apparently it was still loads better than anything locally available south of Texas, and the guys who bought it and the eventual owner totally knew how to fix it up & keep it running.

So you can definitely list it for sale with a clear conscience, as long as you're honest about its' problems.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:21 AM on August 1, 2013

If you sell it on craigslist, you need to sell it "For parts only". Even if you sell it strictly "as is" and make it clear to the buyer that it won't pass inspection, there are many scammers on craigslist who will knowingly purchase vehicles that won't pass inspection and then sue the person who sold the car for the money to fix it up. Because this is legal and they can, unless you sell it for parts only. Someone I know just went through this BS.

For something like this, it's really not worth the headache. I strongly advise you not to take the chance of selling it and just scrap it or donate it.
posted by WhitenoisE at 9:40 AM on August 1, 2013

Thanks everyone. I appreciate the advice.
posted by converge at 3:15 PM on August 1, 2013

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