Help us de-carify
October 12, 2020 6:14 PM   Subscribe

Our household wants to get rid of one of our two cars. I'm looking for advice about which car to pick, and how to sell in this time of pandemic.

Our household wants to get rid of one of our two cars, since we don't drive much anymore and since money is tight and we don't want to continue to pay for insurance, registration, and maintenance on two.

It is up to me to take care of the logistics. I also get to choose which one goes, which I *think* I've already done, but am open to feedback (aka paranoid that I've chosen wrong).

Car #1
2005 Honda CRV
Bluebook value: ~$4700
Mileage 130k

Accident history: was rear-ended in 2006, which dented rear panel and murdered a spare tire, both of which were wholly fixed by insurance.

Current problems: There's a clunking sound when the car is sharp turned, but it's been like that for years. Electric door locks don't all work. Alternator keeps having to be replaced every few years. Minor cosmetic damage such as light scratches on the side from tree branches. For a 15 year old car, it looks and function well.

Second person in household has some trouble getting into the passenger seat but claims they will manage. I worry that this will just get worse as they get older.

Car #2
2005 Honda Oddyssey
mileage: 71k
Bluebook value: ~$4000

Accident history: collision with deer which dented driver's side; T-boned at intersection. All issues from these accidents were fixed as far as I know.

Current problems: A/C doesn't work and just filling freon didn't fix it. I'm not planning on throwing more money at it and hoping that selling it now when the weather is chilly will mean potential buyers won't care as much.

It has more cosmetic issues than the other car; paint is peeling on rear bumper, there's a blue chemical spill on the carpet in back.

Pro: has more storage room than the other car, but this has only ever been truly needed once or twice.

They get about the same mileage even though the second car is bigger.

My rough plan is to get all the paperwork in order, clean and wash car #2, and sell through a web site like carguru that will also handle payment through escrow.

I'm a bit worried about our viral security during this transaction. Neither of us has had Covid and person #2 is at an age where the risk is very high. I'm also worried about regular physical security when interacting with a stranger and giving them a car to test drive.

I'm interested in any and all suggestions and feedback, especially from folks who have sold a car in recent months. What tools did you use? Did it go well or would you do something differently? How did you handle test driving and safety? Do you agree or disagree with my plan so far?

posted by Flock of Cynthiabirds to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
CarMax is your friend here. I used them when we transitioned to a one car household, selling an older model with similar issues. I don't know what their COVID policies are, but I'm sure they have them. My experience was: bring car in, they do an inspection, pop some data into their system, and it generates an offer that is good for seven days. I didn't get bluebook value, but I got enough that between the check and the ease of the whole process, I was completely satisfied with the deal. Whole thing took maybe an hour or so, tops.
posted by spinturtle at 6:31 PM on October 12, 2020

Sell the one you're more attached to. That way, the second car is easier to get rid of later.
posted by aniola at 6:34 PM on October 12, 2020

The Odysseys have a reputation for having expensive automatic transmission failures (although a quick google suggests that the '05s are not as bad as some other years) the CR-Vs AFAIK do not. If the transmission takes a dive the repairs could easily cost 1/2 or more of your asking price. Is the CR-V the all wheel drive version or the front wheel drive version? If one car is much better than the other in the winter, and you live in an area where that matters, that might also influence your choice.
One other thought- if you actually NEED one car to get to work or whatever, it might make sense to keep both, as they are both older, are at the age where they will need periodic repairs, and selling them isn't going to get you piles of money. This way, you have a backup car in case one car suffers a major mechanical failure or is totaled in an accident. The used car market is really weird right now. If you go down to a single car and it's later destroyed, will you have the funds to replace it? Even if you save the $4k, now more than ever, that gets you very little in the used car market. A used car that's worth $4k that you are familiar with is likely much better than a random $4k used car. I'm not suggesting that you don't sell a car, I'm just mentioning a few things to consider before taking the leap.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 9:04 PM on October 12, 2020

Not trying to threadsit, but just want to add: Please accept the question as written, we will be selling one of these cars and I'm looking for opinions about which one to sell and the sales process, not whether to sell. I am essentially the only one driving anymore, with very rare exceptions. The other person in the household is retired and I work from home, and since the pandemic, almost all of the driving I do is just to the grocery store and the doctor. I have been switching off which car I drive for those tasks, as well as doing maintenance for both cars and I can state definitively it is NOT worth the hassle nor paying for insurance, registration, and maintenance on both cars.
posted by Flock of Cynthiabirds at 9:27 PM on October 12, 2020

Our CRV handled like a dream, was at 220k and still running when we donated it, so I prefer them. What’s your partner’s issue with the seating, a higher step? Think on how that issue may evolve over 3 years, as it sounds like modest driving will keep the retained car around for a while. I’ve bought used cars from private sellers on with no issue, but it has been a few years. Hopefully someone can speak for the carguru website.
posted by childofTethys at 10:10 PM on October 12, 2020

I would sell the Odyssey. Why? The accidents. I don't think that cars that have been in those kinds of accidents are as safe as those that haven't because of undetected frame damage. This means that in the event of a second accident, the frame isn't as strong and you aren't as safe.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 6:20 AM on October 13, 2020

I would sell the Odyssey because I'd guess it has a bigger audience of parents, so it will sell easier. The CR-V you might get people who hem and haw and try to barter, but someone looking for an Odyssey really wants that car (parents love it), and more likely to be a straight deal. Not by a huge effect, but ease of sale is something.
posted by Dashy at 12:50 PM on October 13, 2020

I have no advice on which vehicle to sell, but I sold a car on Craigslist during the pandemic and it was surprisingly easy.

I posted it and got 30+ emails within a day, with a wide range of opening offers.

I contacted the person who wrote the most coherent email and told him the price I wanted for it. He didn't dicker.

I left the car unlocked for the buyer to inspect without me having to leave the house , and we did everything except signing the documents by phone, waving through a window. The buyer left a cash deposit on my porch, then came back with the rest of the cash. I actually wasn't too too worried about a test drive -- deposit + pic of license (or heck, even just the car they arrived in) would have been fine.
posted by Metasyntactic at 1:35 PM on October 13, 2020

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