202 comments

It’s Never too Late to Ditch your Gas Guzzler

Mr. Money Mustache has been getting quite a few emails these days asking questions like this one:

Dear Mr. Money Mustache,

I’ve only recently discovered your blog, and I have decided to change my ways for the better. But I’m still stuck with the relics of my un-Mustachian past, like my trusty (Full-sized 4×4 Pickup truck with V8 engine, Toyota 4Runner SUV, Land Rover LR2 Fake Executive Luxury Truck, etc). But it’s paid off, and I’m not sure if I should go through the expense and/or hassle of switching vehicles.

What should I do – suck it up and live with my past choices, or fix it?

<BR>

It is always nice to hear people asking this question, because it means one of the biggest financial mistakes in the lives of most people – a ridiculous vehicle choice – is up for reconsideration.  But far too often the error never gets fixed, because people don’t do the math for themselves.

I hear things like,

“Well, it’s paid off, so I should keep it forever now, right?”

That’s an old argument left over from the days when people “financed” cars, and then eventually donated them back to the dealer for a tiny credit towards another financed car in a tragic move called the “trade in.”

Of course YOU don’t have a car loan, and you buy and sell your cars in the private market, miles away from the stealerships right?

If you DO have a loan, go ahead and work on that debt emergency. But the finance status has nothing to do with whether or not you’re driving the right car. So let’s not call it a “paid off” car, let’s just call it a “car”.

The next issue is the definition of reasonable fuel economy. When I hear people describing their beloved trucks and SUVs, I often hear comedic phrases like, “it’s not that bad, actually. I get 17MPG in the city”, or, “on the highway, I can get 22-23 MPG consistently”.

Those are good figures for a dump truck or a school bus, but when you’re talking about a vehicle that is regularly used to transport fewer than 10 people, they shouldn’t even enter your realm of consideration. Reasonable fuel economy starts at 35MPG (US, highway), and much higher is possible.

For example, the Honda Insight 2-seater from the early 2000s regularly returns over 70MPG in combined use, yet you can buy a nice 2001 one on the used market for under $4000. If you commute alone or have no children, this may still be the ultimate car. Take that, Prius!

So let’s see how much people really are wasting on fueling their AntiMustacheMobiles.

In one of the most recent emails, a guy told me he was driving about 40 miles per day in a pickup truck.

At 40 miles/day x 200 workdays per year, he’s commuting 8,000 miles per year just for work. We can add in another 7,000 for errands and vacations, and end up with 15,000 miles, right around the  average US annual driving level.

Assuming this truck burns at 18MPG, this person is wasting 833 gallons of fuel per year, or $3100 every year even at our among-the-cheapest-in-the-world price of $3.75/gallon.

Switching to a more reasonable car at 35MPG would cut the bill by $1600/year!

Switching to an actual commuter car like the Insight at 70MPG would shrink the gas consumption to 214 gallons, and reduce the bill by $2300 per year.

If you don’t get excited by numbers like $1600 and $2300 per year, I need you to take a break from reading, print out a picture of me, and use it to punch yourself in the face while looking into the mirror so you can watch the grave disciplinary scene unfold.

And this is because every ten years, compounded at 7%, those savings add up to $22,000.00 and $31,700 respectively.

Let’s put it another way: Switching from an SUV to a car, will save you enough to buy a new luxury car every ten years, or an excellent used car every four years.

But since that would be a foolish use of the savings, let’s consider another option: For an average earner with an average savings rate, switching from an SUV to a car will allow you to retire at least ten years earlierIn fuel savings alone! If you add in the cheaper tires, oil changes, and other parts used by efficient cars, the savings are even bigger.

This is a point that cannot be stressed too strongly. There is almost no possible case for driving around in a sub-35MPG car. And yet the roads are full of them. Virtually all of the drivers are broke, and they can’t afford even the fuel bills for their cars. And yet they continue to buy more gas guzzlers for themselves. It’s the biggest source of mass insanity in the modern world, and yet people still buy these ridiculous cars for themselves every day.

If you have a side business or a very large family that requires major cargo capacity occasionally, it is usually much more cost effective to own an efficient car for most of your driving, and a second behemoth vehicle (an early-2000s minivan for example) for the rare hauling events.

Adding my own hauler minivan to the fleet increased my insurance costs by only $7 per month. Even after adding registration and depreciation costs, owning the extra machine is much cheaper than doing all the driving at the higher rate of fuel consumption.

For more occasional hauling, simply towing a trailer (open or enclosed), or turning your little car into a big one may even save you from the hassle of owning a hauler vehicle.

So hopefully this answers the question once and for all.

  • Yes, you should sell your truck to get an efficient car, if you’re driving anywhere close to the national average.
  • Yes, it will save you a shitload of money.
  • No, you won’t be comparing your truck’s used value to the sticker price of a new car, because you won’t be buying a new car. Ever.
  • Yes, your life will go on and be just as happy even as you adapt to the new way of getting around.

Just stop fooling yourself, and sell that effing gas guzzler before this article catches on and causes the resale value to drop to zero. You’ve been warned!

Happy shopping!

 

  • Derek P. September 4, 2012, 6:15 am

    MMM, I seen the incredible stupidity in my own family with driving a Huge, Utterly Expensive 3/4 ton truck. My father is driving it about 40 km (about 30 miles) each day to work, including driving double distance to home and back for lunch 6 days a week. It is so stupid and the cost of owning this truck is insane.

    The way the truck is sucking up money is crazy too. They paid about 60k in 2004 for the truck, and the payments + insurance + interest + registeration for the 4 years they financed the truck for, it was the equivalent of 75% of my mothers take home income.

    The GST tax alone on new motor vehicles could have easily bought a fuel efficent used car.

    Big trucks = Dumb. 4 cylinder car = Better. Bicycle = WIN!

    Reply
    • Marcia September 4, 2012, 2:08 pm

      It hurts me to read that.

      Reply
  • Lance September 4, 2012, 6:22 am

    For the people in transition to mustachianism they may have their car paid off bought only bought new their whole lives. If you sell the truck you can buy an equivalent used car with that money. If you have a 2005 truck a 2005 car can probably be bought for less than you sell the truck for.

    I love having my Honda Civic that gets 40 MPG highway and a respectable 31 MPG city. I can’t imagine having an SUV or truck as my daily commuter. It will be interesting to see what options are available in 10 to 15 years for my next car. Hopefully something more fuel efficient!

    Reply
    • Marcia September 4, 2012, 2:09 pm

      Do you have a stick shift? My civic gets about 27 mpg, mostly city. I’m pretty disappointed. The Matrix does better. But both are automatics.

      Reply
      • Debbie M September 4, 2012, 10:43 pm

        I’m sure he does. My automatic Honda Civic also had terrible mileage. Transmission type used to be one of the things I was open-minded about when searching for my next car. There are still some models where it doesn’t make much difference (like 1 mpg), but the Civic isn’t one of them.

        Reply
        • Marcia September 5, 2012, 8:31 pm

          Yeah, when we replace it (you know, whne my 6 year old takes it to college), I’ll be looking for something better. It’s my first Honda.

          Reply
          • Kristine August 4, 2019, 9:58 pm

            I bought used 2013 Honda Civic in 2017 with only 24,000 miles. It gets 37-40 mpg. Wonder why I read about others getting such crappy mileage?

            Reply
  • Heath September 4, 2012, 6:52 am

    “stealerships” made me laugh! Congratulations on another Classic Article, MMM.

    Another good option to having a second vehicle for ‘occasional hauling’ is to just borrow one from a friend. I have several friends and family members who, for various (delusional) reasons, feel that they ‘need’ their big-ass trucks and SUVs, and I’ve used their mistakes to my advantage (after unsuccessfully trying Mustache-fu on them, of course!). If you’ve got the connection, and are willing to pony up some dinner and beers, then friend-sourcing is a preferable option to owning a second vehicle.

    I feel like we should make a hierarchy of vehicles. Whenever you plan to Go Outside, for whatever reason, you must go down this list (IN ORDER) and use the first one that meets your needs. You must also keep in mind that the lower down the list you go, the more you must group your excursions together (i.e. grocery shopping & local craigslist-fuelled pickup/dropoff) for efficiency of both time and money.

    1. Your human feet.
    2. Bicycle.
    3. Scooter/motorcycle.
    4. Small used car.
    5. Appropriately sized used hauling vehicle.

    That reminds me. I really should look into getting a scooter. I’m going to have to re-read this article:

    http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/08/19/guest-posting-get-rich-with-scooters/

    Reply
    • Donovan September 4, 2012, 8:10 am

      I think I’d put bike over feet for the most part. Even if it’s only a 10 minute walk away, I’ll typically bike to a destination if I know there’s somewhere to chain up there just because it’s so much quicker. And since I’m still in college, that’s still about 95% of my travel.

      And ownership cost doesn’t factor into the decision, because everyone here already has a bike, right ;]

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache September 4, 2012, 9:16 am

        Feet are kinda neat if you occasionally challenge yourself to run somewhere rather than biking. 1 mile by bike takes no effort, but to actually run there as fast as you can will make you tougher. Ideally, I’d like to get in the habit of running places 2-3 miles away (like the grocery store), then just walk back as quickly as I could while carrying the bags and large backpack.

        Reply
        • Jamesqf September 4, 2012, 12:42 pm

          One small problem there: most stores get a bit anal about people carrying backpacks.

          Reply
          • kris September 4, 2012, 12:58 pm

            I have never had a problem. I just make sure to not keep anything valuable in it so that if they ask me to leave it ( only one store has asked me so far) then I don’t have to worry about it.

            Reply
          • Mr. Money Mustache September 4, 2012, 3:46 pm

            I have rarely entered a store WITHOUT my backpack on in the last 20 years, and it has never caused a problem.

            Occasionally, in a rough neighborhood, there is a sign that says “all bags must be left at the front”, but I ignore the sign and nobody bothers me.

            Reply
            • Debbie M September 4, 2012, 10:49 pm

              I once lived near a grocery store that required leaving the backpack at the front and they did not let me ignore that. So I had to wait in line to drop off my backpack, wait in line to pay, wait in line to retrieve my backpack, repack my stuff, and try to slide the bags back in somewhere to be re-used. After a while I switched to the store across the street that did not have this policy. (Unless there were really good sales.)

              It is amusing to deal with persistent sackers when you are a pedestrian. “No, really, you do not want to take my groceries for me–it’s a 1.5 mile walk each way. But thanks for the offer.”

              Reply
              • Matt (Semper Fi) August 21, 2016, 9:51 am

                How about the sidelong glances you may get when you tell the checker and bagged that you don’t need a bag? Or, if you are getting plastic grocery bags to be used as garbage bags at home, that “it’s quite alright to put the lunch meat in the same bag as the dry spaghetti”, just fill the damned thing up? Hate it when they only stick a couple of smallish things into one bag. Or, God forbid, you do not put your three little lemons in a plastic produce bag so that the bagger can stick THAT bag inside of another bag? WTF is the obsession with America and its g*d*mned plastic bags?!?! Now I’ve gone and worked myself up into a lather . . .

              • EarningAndLearning May 23, 2017, 5:13 pm

                I hate that too, so I started bringing my own cloth bags. I sometimes would forget, and like you, I’d have them NOT double-bag, and please fill them up! Then, the store started charging people 5 cents for plastic bags — so now they REALLY fill them up, and way more people bring cloth bags.

                Nothing like a little financial incentive. Even a tiny 5 cents extra cost is a motivator!

                I’ve started (it was my 2017 New Years Resolution) saying NO to bags everywhere. The first time I walked out of a clothing store with a few items and the receipt on top, I felt kinda naked. Like it wasn’t allowed or something. But I was happy not to have a bag to re-use or recycle and feel badly about. I do it at the grocery store too if I forget my cloth bags — anything to avoid using more plastic bags! I encourage you all to say no to bags too! It’s been a fun resolution! :)

        • Marcia September 4, 2012, 2:11 pm

          I did that for awhile to the farmers market on Saturday.

          Reply
        • Jen September 7, 2012, 9:27 am

          After we got rid of our car in February, we got ourselves a shopping bag on wheels (for a price of a monthly parking permit):
          http://www.thetrolleyrevolution.com/rolser-shopping-trolleys-1-c.asp
          Enjoying it a lot. Though our supermarket is just 10 minutes walk away, I’m fretting to carry groceries for our 5 people household in bags/bagpack, especially if my both toddlers tag along to the store. Maybe it will be my next step… to up my workout time :)

          Reply
    • Georgia September 4, 2012, 10:00 am

      And don’t forget public transportation! Buses, subways, light rail, and streetcars are much more efficient than cars. (I realize that not everyone has these options, unfortunately.)

      Reply
    • Emmers September 4, 2012, 4:46 pm

      That reminds me of this blog post I saw the other day — about the benefits (financial and otherwise) of walking to pick up your groceries, instead of driving.

      Reply
    • Brad September 5, 2012, 10:36 am

      For most hauling you don’t need to own the vehicle, often I have bought a friend supper for the use of theirs. Then there is U-Haul trucks, pickup trucks, vans and trailers, Home Depot (3 hours for $19 for a flatbed). Then any of the rental car places but they tend to be pretty expensive for a daily rate.

      Reply
  • thb September 4, 2012, 7:05 am

    F150 versus efficient little commuter car is pretty clear-cut. I’d like your take on my current situation. I have a 2006 Corolla, bought outright in 2007, which gets about 30 mpg. I drive less than 10,000 miles per year. It currently has about 60k miles on it, never had a problem, and could probably go another 10 years with normal maintenance. I’ve been debating swapping it out for a hybrid, but (for example) a 2006 Prius at a local lot, same mileage as mine, is still over $17,000. Thoughts?

    Reply
    • Matt G September 4, 2012, 8:41 am

      I’ve been looking at the Prius, you should be able to get a 2008-2009 for around $12-14k with about 70k miles.

      Reply
      • Holly@ClubThrifty September 4, 2012, 9:56 am

        We bought a 2009 Prius this year…with a reasonable amount of options and about 20,000 miles for 17K. It is a seriously awesome car.

        Reply
      • April Quinn September 18, 2012, 6:16 pm

        I bought My 2008 Prius last year for $16,500 and it only had 48k miles. I love it! Amazing Cargo room. I got rid of my BMW Z4 and feel like I upgraded to the Prius :) I consistently average 46 MPG

        Reply
    • Portland Man September 4, 2012, 8:55 am

      At some point, you hit the law of diminishing returns.

      @10k miles per year, 40 mpg you burn about 250 gallons/year.
      A prius running the same miles at 55 mpg will burn 180ish gallons/year.

      @$4/gallon that’s a savings of $280/year, if you drop an extra $8k on a new car it would take you nearly 29 years to recoup the cost – ignoring the opportunity costs of giving up $8k today.

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache September 4, 2012, 9:22 am

        Yeah, thb: your 2006 Corolla is so new that it would be impractical to move to an even newer car. An older Insight or Prius could potentially save some cash, or you could just pat yourself on the back and call it good.

        I’m surprised that you only get 30MPG, however, since I’ve rented that exact car and got just under 40 during the course of a trip to Arizona a few years ago, fully loaded with family and stuff. Maybe driving style could be an initial project?

        Reply
        • JustinFarnsworth September 4, 2012, 11:00 am

          I have a 2009 Corolla (bought with cash, used) and I’ve found that I get between 27 MPG and 40 MPG, depending on driving circumstances. On the freeway it gets 35-40. It has been a challenge (living in a hilly city, I should add) keeping the mileage consistently below 30.

          I think this has a lot to do with driving styles of the people who share the car – I’m more attuned to efficient driving. But this is also all based on the meter in the dashboard, and I sometimes wonder if it is not very accurate.

          I’m in thb’s boat – I would like something that got a lot more, but we have a good, solid car with decent mileage so it’s hard to see us upgrading it. If I saw numbers that showed it was the right thing to do, I’d consider it though. We’d like to drive it for the next 15 years or more.

          Reply
          • Debbie M September 4, 2012, 10:57 pm

            I’ve read that the mileage on 2009+ Corollas is significantly worse than on the 2003-2008 models.

            Yet I get only 30 mgp (city driving, which is half on on freeways) with a pretty empty car and a quite relaxed driving style. (And a manual transmission.) Though I do use the A/C.

            One thing about the Corolla–it’s a simpler engine than a hybrid, and mechanics have more experience than with hybrids, so there may be benefits in repair and maintenance costs.

            Reply
            • thb September 5, 2012, 8:01 pm

              Thanks for the input, all. I’m going to stick with the Corolla and see what I can do about upping my mpgs a bit, i.e. keeping an eye on my driving style and having a talk with the mechanic at my next tune-up. I think my mileage is mostly a factor of nearly all city driving (it was way higher on a recent all-highway drive to a conference 250 miles away), but even a small improvement would be cool. Also, thanks to MMM, I’m getting better about seeing new ways to reduce my driving altogether.

              Reply
              • Lennier November 19, 2015, 7:40 pm

                A very late reply to this, but if you want to improve your mileage, consider aero mods. You don’t have to stick a boattail on the car; simply lining the underside with coreflute will reduce the wind resistance and save you a couple of percent. You can also experiment with vortex generators if that’s your thing.

        • Joel July 26, 2014, 7:38 pm

          thb,

          I know this post is about two years old, but for future lookers, there’s a LOT less difference between 30-40mpg than from 20-30. As an example, fuel cost over 100k miles:

          20mpg: 100,000/20 = 5000gal * 3.75 = $18,750
          30mpg: 100,000/30 = 3333gal * 3.75 = $12,500
          40mpg: 100,000/40 = 2500gal * 3.75 = $9375

          So swapping a 20mpg vehicle for a 30mpg vehicle saves $6250, while swapping something that already gets 30 to 40 only saves $3125 over 100k miles.

          **I’m not saying that you shouldn’t swap** just that the costs of changing vehicles might not be worth chasing better mileage when you’re already doing well on the efficiency curve. As with anything else, run the numbers to see if it’s really worth doing. As others have said, diminishing returns…

          Reply
    • Chris September 4, 2012, 6:18 pm

      I recommend considering a salvaged Prius. I got my 2007, salvaged Prius, off Craigslist for 9500$ with 69,000 miles on it. It’s an awesome little car in great shape. I put some work back into it(various hatchback parts, gotten from the local salvage yards), and I’m averaging 48.6 mpg.

      Reply
  • George September 4, 2012, 7:18 am

    Better yet, if your job is 10 miles or less from your home, get a bike and become badass; if have no kids or wife/husband, try going with no car for a month and see if you can do it, take it as a personal challenge. If you do have kids or a wife/husband, start biking to set a good example and sell your car but let them keep theirs for now.

    If your job is more than 10 miles away then get a reliable cheap, fuel-efficient beater car for around 2 grand; make sure it has scratches outside, stains on the seats, and smells like a dirty armpit; this is how you get a good price; bank the rest from selling your truck and invest in a REIT (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/08/15/become-a-lazy-landlord-with-reits/) to start getting your passive income flowing in or use it to pay down existing debt.

    Driving around in a big truck is for whussy poor people,

    if you want to be serious, get out on your bike and actually see the world, even if there is a big ass hill on your way to work take it as a challenge (not an excuse) and kick its ass each day going to work. Use your bike-riding muscles to get your daily workout during your commute (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/12/05/muscle-over-motor/). Take the rain storms and snow not as a some lame excuse to drive but as a test that God is checking you to see if you have what it takes to be someone independent. After all its just water. Otherwise just get back into your pansy-ass air conditioned truck and go give all your earnings to the CEO of the truck company to make him richer. He could probably use some more of your money to pay for his golden parachute and stock options.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache September 4, 2012, 9:23 am

      Wow! It has been a while since I have issued a Most Mustachian Comment Award, but I think this one wins it for today!

      Reply
      • lurker September 4, 2012, 11:51 am

        I must concur. that is a great post….

        Reply
      • kris September 4, 2012, 12:53 pm

        I second that.

        Reply
  • Oskar September 4, 2012, 7:29 am

    Many people plan to pay of their car in 60 months. True mustacheans plan to retire in 60 months….quite a difference;-)

    Reply
  • lurker September 4, 2012, 7:44 am

    yes!!! where is the bike plugging!!!! financial comparison would be mind-boggling even without the fantastic intangible of improved health from outdoor human-powered commuting…of course this is only for the short commuters among us.

    Reply
  • Marianna September 4, 2012, 7:49 am

    Don’t forget Zipcar for occasional hauling! They have trucks and vans as well as cars.

    Reply
    • anonymous September 5, 2012, 9:18 am

      Indeed! I know several people who don’t even bother owning a car at all, and just use Zipcar for the occasional hauling run or other non-bike-friendly trip.

      Reply
  • Skip September 4, 2012, 8:19 am

    Ok, so. I’m trying to sell our Ford Flex Limited, up for anit-mustachian car of the year 2010. It blue books at $24k. We’ve been getting no interest though. We’ve had a few flakes come and say they love it and then disappear, but other than that not much.

    How big of a hit should we take on this thing? We have it listed at $21,500 and I’m getting nothing.

    Reply
    • Matt September 4, 2012, 8:33 am

      Try the maths. How old a car do you want to replace it with? And how much are you going to save on gas/depreciation etc?
      If you sell your truck for less, you can make up the difference on buying an even cheaper car.
      I read an article the other day on “disposable” driving. OK, it’s a UK article, but the reasoning still applies. You could buy a really cheap car and not service it, then throw it away after 12 months. Or if you want to be really MMM, sell it for parts when it fails it’s road safety test. You’ll probably recoup the cost of the car in the first place. – notabaddad.com/dad-theory/budget-motoring

      Reply
      • Skip September 4, 2012, 8:48 am

        I’m actually looking at getting rid of it all together. We are currently a two car family. The Flex and a Pontiac Vibe. I was commuting in the Vibe while my wife and two kids got around in the Flex. I’ve started biking/bussing to work and she has started driving the Vibe. We are looking at going to one car.

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache September 4, 2012, 9:30 am

          Way to go, Skip!

          Regarding how big a hit to take on that Ford Flex: don’t worry about what you paid for it.. just do your research and make sure you’re selling it for the market price, however low that is. Use http://www.edmunds.com/appraisal to double-check the value results.

          After all, would you go out and BUY a sub-25MPG truck for for, say, $20,000 given what you know now? Or would you rather keep that money and invest it? Therefore, you should sell it!

          Also, be patient with private sales. Use a 3-month period for your selling goal, and refresh/re-post your ad at least once a week. Make sure you make a dedicated website for it with at least 20 high-quality pictures.. not just one quick shot of the thing sitting in your own driveway!

          Reply
          • Gerard September 5, 2012, 7:00 am

            Yeah, you gotta watch out for that sunken cost fallacy! I pay lots of money for my food, but I don’t hoard my poo.

            Reply
            • James September 5, 2012, 9:48 am

              Wow! LOL I hadn’t heard that one!

              Reply
            • Joy September 5, 2012, 2:45 pm

              That is a keeper LOL!

              Reply
      • Jeff September 10, 2012, 7:21 am

        I love the disposable driving philosophy. I’ve been trying to do that, and the damn cars always end up lasting like 5 years instead of just 1 or 2 simply because I take care of them. Learn how to change brakes, refill fluids, and change your oil, do it regularly, and the cost of owning a car is really very low.

        Reply
  • RandomReader September 4, 2012, 8:24 am

    This article saved my bacon. I was teetering on the edge of epic stupidity. The family, after taking my car for a night (so I could borrow their truck in exchange!), brought it back convinced it was a death-trap and that I needed to replace it immediately, preferably with something brand-new and shiney. Many long discussions started making me doubt my slowly-building badassity. It’s just a few hundred bucks a month. Totally affordable. Way more comfortable. Better value in the long run. (HA!) Ehhh….oooh, look how shiney and new and…oh hey, new MMM article about cars. Read read read. Oh! Right. Durrrrrh.

    Checklist: Does it still run? Yes. Is it likely to need more work than it would cost to replace with a comparable used beast in the next few months, in the WCS that it outright dies? Highly unlikely. Does it see a lot of use? Not really. (Barely 15k mi in 2 years). Problems that got them concerned? Wobbly brakes (easy fix I can do myself) and it pops itself out of fourth gear if you don’t hold it in. Boo hoo.

    Winner: Current beater car. And since I apparently have $300 extra in the budget every month, time to find someplace to invest it instead. Real winner: Me.

    Reply
    • Matt September 11, 2012, 2:40 am

      Hi, I had a similar problem with my previous car. Changed the gearbox oil using dealer recommended stuff and it was fine after that. It’s a cheap fix if it works…

      Reply
  • Matt G September 4, 2012, 8:34 am

    So, I have a 2004 A4 3.0 Quattro that I bought 3 years ago, before I started my path to FI. It’s in great shape, I take care of it, and do most of the repairs myself. I’ve been trying to sell it for 3+ weeks on craigslist, cars.com and the local want ad. I’ve had 1 real person that was interested in it. I started at $9300, and dropped the price to 8300 about 5 days ago. Has anyone tried selling a car at this price point, is there anything else I can be doing to speed up the process. according to KBB its worth 8300 average, I’m planning on dropping the price some more. Should I just stick to the price and hold on, or should I drop it low and get rid of it faster. I drive about 16k miles/year and I’m planning on getting a 2008-9 Prius.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache September 4, 2012, 9:34 am

      Good luck Matt! On Edmunds.com, I get about $7,000 for that car, depending on mileage and options. http://www.edmunds.com/audi/a4/2004/tmv-appraise-results.html

      Kelley Blue Book seems to overestimate many cars – maybe it’s a tool of the used car dealers, trying to get more for their cars?

      Also, as I noted in an earlier comment, it’s worth being patient with Craigslist, and giving things up to 3 months to sell (while updating your ad weekly). My own vehicles on Craigs have typically sold within a few weeks, but it is great to be mentally prepared for a longer battle.

      Reply
      • Mr. Everyday Dollar September 4, 2012, 10:34 am

        I too can vouch for TMV and always found KBB to be unrealistic. The last time I sold a car on Craigslist it was pretty annoying. The car I was selling was at a price point – around $4,000 – that attracted both a lot of interest and a lot of flakes.

        I would get emails from people saying they would be over later that day with the cash in hand and they’d never show up.

        I eventually just parked it outside and when people wanted to see it I told them the address to come check it out rather than coordinate with a potential no-show. If they wanted to test drive it after seeing it they could set up a time with me.

        Eventually, a guy looked at it, took it for a test drive and paid me with a fat wad of cash. It was a long process – the bonus was that I got some pretty hilarious emails – but I got the amount of money I wanted for the car because I was willing to wait it out and not sell it to a dealer for $2,000.

        Reply
      • Matt G September 4, 2012, 5:24 pm

        On Edmunds I get somewhere between $6239(Average) – $7699(Clean). The car has basically all the options. I just want to sell the car for the most I can possibly get for it. I expect to save about $200/month on gas.

        Right now we have 3 cars and a motorcycle, I need to make some major changes to the fleet. We have a 2009 Elantra, 2004 A4, 2001 Astro, 1997 Honda Shadow (motorcycle). I currently use the Astro van to drive to my clients and the A4 when I’m not. I put a combined 16k miles on the Astro 17MPG/A4 22MPG and my wife drives the Elantra 10K/yr 30MPG .

        My plan is to sell the A4, buy a Prius, sell the van, and have my wife drive the Prius when I’m not using it.

        Reply
      • mike crosby September 4, 2012, 9:07 pm

        Hey MMM. I like your comment about giving Craigslist 3 months.

        I like to sell stuff on CL but I get impatient. For instance, I had a hardly used printer that I eventually dropped down to $25. Even then, I got no takers and ended up giving it away for free via CL. Then it took only 10 minutes to get rid of.

        Any chance you could throw in an article on CL. I love CL, but I just get too impatient.

        Reply
        • Walt September 8, 2012, 8:55 pm

          I’ve had more trouble with “free” than with “for money” on Craigslist, but either way the site seems to attract flakes.

          My “free” strategy is to put it at the end of the driveway and tell people it’s out there. When I notice it’s gone I take the ad down.

          Reply
  • PigPennies September 4, 2012, 8:38 am

    I would love to get rid of my husband’s gas guzzling Toyota Tundra, but he genuinely needs a large vehicle for work (construction – regularly hauling in his long bed) and also for play (hauling his toys, which in the summer means a 26′ Glasply fishing boat which he very Mustachianly did two weekends worth of work in trade for, and which keeps us stocked in expensive seafood). When I’ve brought up the idea of a smaller truck, he’s said he needs the tow capacity and of course the 4×4 comes in handy for winter fun, too. Mustachians, any suggestions for more fuel efficiency that would still meet hubby’s needs? Are there fuel efficient heavy duty vehicles out there? Would the MMMminivan actually haul the boat?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache September 4, 2012, 9:13 am

      Yeah.. pickup trucks are useful for extremely heavy towing (like this thing I saw one of my neighbors pulling with an old fullsize last winter):
      trailer

      But they’re pretty poor for construction: even a true longbed is only 5×8, with not much depth. You’d be better off with a plumber-style cargo van (10′ cargo area), or a minivan like mine 8ft x 4ft cargo area with 4.5′ ceiling height). The big minivans will tow between 2000-4000 lbs depending on the model and package.

      The main point of this article is that if you need a pickup truck for hauling, you get an old sturdy one and use it for hauling. But you don’t cruise around town with it or use it to commute. My own van’s rule is: if it’s not full of more stuff than the real car can possibly carry, the engine is off.

      Reply
      • PigPennies September 4, 2012, 9:31 am

        We have talked about getting a less gas guzzling vehicle as an every day driver. Maybe it’s time to talk about this some more. He could probably even trade a couple weekends of work for an older truck for hauling! The only problem there would be storage on our tiny in-city lot. Thanks for the advice!

        Reply
    • Bakari September 4, 2012, 11:33 am

      I have a 3/4 ton truck (F-250) I use for moving and hauling and transporting tools and materials – plus occasionally the 7500lb RV trailer that I live in. I max out its capacity regularly, so something smaller isn’t an option.

      So what I did is I took the vehicle I already had, and I made it as efficient as it can possibly be.
      30 years old, V8 diesel engine, 5600 lbs empty…
      30mpg overall, including all the loaded trips (up to 38mpg highway, empty)

      http://www.instructables.com/id/Vehicle-efficiency-upgrades/

      http://ecomodder.com/blog/bakari/

      That said, the truck never leaves the driveway unless someone is paying me for the miles its about to drive. Personal transport is about 40% bicycle, 35% feet, 15% motorcycle (65mpg), 10% public transit.

      p.s. for MMM “a minivan like mine 8ft x 4ft cargo area with 4.5′ ceiling height” – pick-up truck has no ceiling height. The van is limited to 144cu ft, while a truck bed is limited (in practical terms) to about 320cu ft (in theory, infinite! :P)

      Reply
      • Portland Man September 4, 2012, 12:09 pm

        That is full blown bad ass. 30mpg out of a 3/4T? My mind is blown.

        Reply
      • Sean September 4, 2012, 4:53 pm

        You’re my new hero. That is all kinds of awesome.

        Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache September 4, 2012, 7:15 pm

        You’re right Bakari – you won this battle before when I claimed my van was better than a pickup truck, right?

        Then you conceded that in my case, where the cargo area needs to be dry and lockable for carpentry tools, AND a good place to carry up to 7 passengers and function as a sleeping space, then maybe the van was OK.

        Plus, I’ve still got my roof racks, allowing the transport of up to 24′ long pieces of building materials even while the cargo area is full (Honda rates it at 166 cubic feet or so since it is 4′ at the wheel wells but wider everywhere else).

        :-)

        Reply
  • Joe @ Retire By 40 September 4, 2012, 8:48 am

    I have a mazda 5 (small minivan) and I get maybe 28 mpg on the highway. It’s paid off and I drive only about 300 miles/month now that I’m not working anymore. I only fill up once a month or so. I guess I could get rid of it completely and join Zipcar, but I like having a car available in the garage. It’s nice to have more space and still get nearly 30mpg.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache September 4, 2012, 9:41 am

      Hey Joe,

      The Mazda5 is a great choice for larger families, as it’s the only 6-person manual-transmission-available/sporty/moderately efficient vehicle I’m aware of in the US.

      With your level of driving, it might indeed be fine to keep. It depends how much cash it is tying up, how often you use it completely loaded (with more than a standard hatchback could carry), and how much you could use the money to invest elsewhere.

      If you mostly use it to transport yourself, you could downsize it to a small hatchback. If you use it mostly full of huge objects, you could down-cost it to an older minivan and extract $5000 for it for other investments. Or you could go without as a personal challenge, sharing your wife’s car as well as using your bike and bike trailer for local stuff.

      It all depends on how wealthy you are. My own car+van setup is WAY more than I need (we should probably just have the car, plus a covered trailer I tow with that car for construction work). But the current resale value of my van at ~$4000 is so low, it is worth keeping just because of the number of hours of labor it saves me in business use.

      If I sold it, I would not be any more retired, so there is less incentive to squeeze out that final cost.. for now, anyway.

      Reply
      • Joe @ Retire By 40 September 4, 2012, 2:59 pm

        We only have one car, the Mazda 5. We usually have 3 people in it when we go out. My parents will come stay with us for a while so it will be 5 people. The amount of driving will stay the same though. We usually take public transportation or walk.
        At this point, I’m not incline to sell it, but that may change in the future if we need some cash $$$.

        Reply
        • JaneMD September 10, 2012, 7:23 am

          We’ll be looking into a used Mazda 5 for the JaneMD for family expansion pack. I know the mini van is coming in the next two years. Is it worthwhile to own one for two-three years and then trade up to the cargo/12 passenger van?

          Reply
        • Christina June 15, 2014, 9:40 am

          Love our 2008 Mazda5! It has tremendous cargo capac