How do I sell my car?
June 29, 2014 10:16 AM   Subscribe

I have a 2006 Mini Cooper S Convertible that I can't afford to maintain properly. It pains me to do it, but I need to sell it and get into a cheaper, more practical car. But how?


* Horrible credit. I do not want and would probably never be approved for a loan.
* The car isn't in great shape - the deferred maintenance is not a new problem.
* The whole thing stresses me out and I don't know where to begin.

My ideal situation would involve (having a broker?) sell the Mini, buying a cheaper car and end up with a little cash at the end? Or at least not end up owing anybody money.

Is such a thing doable? Can you walk me through a sensible process for accomplishing this? I'm in LA if that helps.
posted by Space Kitty to Grab Bag (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Carmax will buy it, and you can either get your replacement car there or not. It's probably possible to get more than they'd give you if you want to find your own sucker/buyer, but to streamline this process, at least start there.
posted by sageleaf at 11:05 AM on June 29, 2014

Alas, a 2006 S is worth $5000-7000 (think lower if a lot of deferred maintenance and high mileage) and will get you no more than the equivalent of that value, which means you are on the low end of the used car market and won't find an honest buyer willing to give you a really good price easily except through a private sale.

I'd say in your circumstances fix this car up and keep driving it. All cars (especially 8 year old cars) need maintenance, and you are right the Mini has proved an expensive mistake for many seduced by its cuteness (it's a dog mechanically IMHO)... But changing from one old used car to another is a gamble and not likely to save you enough to make it worth your while if you can't move into something newer.
posted by spitbull at 11:08 AM on June 29, 2014 [4 favorites]

The blue book value for a Mini Cooper S in good condition in the 90210 zip code with a fair number of options is between $7-8000. Assuming you can sell it yourself for between $5 and $6,000, that can easily get you a drivable, reliable vehicle with cash left over, if you're willing to shop carefully.

IANCS (I am not car savvy), but I am married to someone who is, and here is what I would do if I were selling your car on my own.

1. Gather all existing maintenance records and estimates for future repairs; you'll need these to write the ad, and to share with the new owner. If you don't have estimates, it might be a good time to confirm what you think you know.

2. Have the car detailed. Don't go bananas, but do get the package that gets it clean and looking nice inside and out.

3. Take good photographs that show the car at its best without misrepresenting it; if there's damage to the body or the interior, include that in your photos, but don't dwell, just be matter-of-fact.

4. Write an ad for Craigslist. Many people selling things on Craigslist do not write complete, accurate, readable ads, and many sellers want to get more than their item is worth. If you can write two paragraphs that accurately describe the condition of your car and why you want to sell "I've done my best to take good care of it, but the Mini Cooper isn't the right car for me and this one deserves a good home and some TLC. Are you that person?" and price it competitively, you should get some interest.

5. Do you have a car-savvy friend? I would have them look over ads on Craigslist with you for cars in the $3-4000 range. You are looking for people who write accurate, coherent ads like yours, not just cars at a fire sale price. Can you buy your friend dinner or a bottle of wine in exchange for looking over a few cars with you? Checking under the hood, reading through maintenance records? If you do not have a car-savvy friend, or if you just want to be extra-sure, ask if you can take your prospective new vehicle to a mechanic you trust for a lookover.

Obviously, YMMV (heh!) depending on your specific situation, but this is absolutely doable, if not enjoyable. You might find it empowering to rid yourself of the wrong car and get yourself something that works better for you. Good luck!
posted by deliriouscool at 11:11 AM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, at this point the devil you know is the better option. The odds of another $5000 car being that much better than what you have now is not great.
posted by COD at 11:12 AM on June 29, 2014

I think that's the point. You can definitely get a driveable car for 7k. But you can also get a headache and you will *definitely* get higher maintenance costs associated with cars approaching 100k miles. You can look them up.

Your Mini will get a better price, probably close to the cost of service, if you fix it up anyway. Buyers are never clueless these days and yo, carfax?

You might consider offering it in straight trade. There are still people out there who are attracted to your headache.

Maybe one of them hates her 2011 Yaris.
posted by spitbull at 11:20 AM on June 29, 2014

I asked a similar question a while back and many people suggested Carmax, which was a terrific experience and I highly recommend it. They gave me a higher than expected on my 2012 Mini Cooper and they had pretty awesome used cars on the lot.
posted by kinetic at 11:22 AM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can get a no-strings-attached estimate from Carmax that's good for 30 days. I'd start there and see what they offer you.
posted by desjardins at 11:47 AM on June 29, 2014

Yeah, Carmax was my first thought as well (though I think their estimates may only be good for 7 days? Just make sure to check if you go that route). If you feel their estimate seems too low, you can always get another estimate from a different dealer for comparison's sake.

And for those saying that a used car in the OP's price range will just come with repairs of its own: true, but there are a lot of cars, particularly Asian models, where the repair costs (both parts and labor) will be lower than those of a Mini. So her cost of ownership will go down.
posted by scody at 11:58 AM on June 29, 2014

I've also found Carmax a good option for the "I just can't deal with this car anymore" kind of situation. Trading a little bit of potential money for a lot of convenience (not having to deal with the inevitable terrible Craigslist buyers, not having to deal with that deferred maintenance) isn't a bad idea at all.

But about the broader question, I'd suggest listening carefully to the advice to reassess this idea. It's unlikely you're really going to do any better swapping this car for another used car in the same price range; at best, even if you're lucky enough to beat the risk of choosing badly and you end up finding another old car that costs a bit less to maintain, all the transaction costs probably mean you won't end up saving that much money in the long run. And remember to consider depreciation, not just maintenance, as part of the cost of ownership — getting rid of the car now is essentially choosing to take most of the depreciation for its entire lifetime rather than continuing to drive it for its cheap old-age years when it won't be depreciating much further.
posted by RogerB at 12:02 PM on June 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Space Kitty, I was recently in the market for a cheap used car (a Toyota Corolla) on Craigslist, and ended up with what I hope (and expect) was a solid purchase for around $3000 including the car, an inspection, transfer tax, a license plate, and all the necessary repairs (I paid $1900 for the car alone). If you do decide to sell your Mini Cooper privately, and especially if you plan to buy another car privately on Craigslist, you might find the answers to my question helpful: I got a lot of really solid advice on how to proceed and what to look for (thanks, Metafilter!). At the end of the thread, I included a detailed description of my method for getting a reliable cheap used car, and some reflections on the process.
posted by ClaireBear at 12:44 PM on June 29, 2014 [5 favorites]

Why will some other car require less and/or less expensive maintenance than whatever car you would replace it with? It's not some super exotic sports car that uses a custom formulated oil or anything so the maintenance in requires should be about the same as any other small car.

The only way this works is if you sell your car for more than the car you would replace it with and that assumes that the replacement car is in good condition. That will mean selling it yourself rather than to some middle man who needs to make a profit. If you split the difference between what Carmax will give you for it and the private party sale price you should be able to sell it fairly quickly and still be money ahead. Just list it a little below what everyone else is listing similar cars at and be prepared to haggle a bit. Just make sure your bottom line price is above what Carmax would give you.

When someone comes to look at it, try to avoid talking about price until they've driven it. When they ask, "Would you take X?" Reply with something like, "If I can sell it for X, will you buy it?"

If they say, "Yes" you're selling that car and it's just a matter of the final price. Try and find someone to consult with so you can step away for a moment and make sure you're not being too hasty. Then come back and either accept their offer or make a counter offer.

If they say, "No" reply with something like, "Look, when you know that this the right car for you, we'll make the price work. What else is keeping you from making a decision?" It might be something you can help with, "Oh, you need to talk to your wife? Could we take it to her now and show her?" "You're worried about the condition? Why don't you take it to a mechanic and have them inspect it?" Or it might not but you'll at least get them to crystalize their objections in their own mind.

I just think you're better off sticking with the devil you know and keeping the Mini.
posted by VTX at 5:26 AM on June 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Why will some other car require less and/or less expensive maintenance than whatever car you would replace it with? It's not some super exotic sports car that uses a custom formulated oil or anything so the maintenance in requires should be about the same as any other small car.

Because parts and labor for some cars are generally cheaper than for other cars. Mini's aren't Porsches, but they're not Toyotas, either.

I think that people answering the question should take the OP at her word that she can't afford the maintenance on this car and would like to find a car that is less expensive to own.
posted by scody at 10:23 AM on June 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Welp, I have a very respectable quote of $5,500 from Carmax. Unfortunately, they don't have anything in inventory for me to buy at that price so exactly half my problem remains unsolved.
posted by Space Kitty at 3:42 PM on July 12, 2014

Check out other Carmax locations online and see what the cost would be to get it to your location. The next nearest location might be free depending on where you're at.
posted by desjardins at 7:29 PM on July 12, 2014

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