With corona came lifestyle changes for me and I had to downsize my ride. Not that I was living large with my current wheels. Like Borat Sagdiyev, I have always dreamed of owning a car that would attract a woman with a shave down below. My current hooptie, a 2015 Corolla, is not exactly that. But I bought the car with 3,200 miles on it and have no complaints. It now has 88,000 miles on the clock and all I have done are the basics – oil changes, brakes, and wipers. But I needed cash fast to cover bills and so I decided to replace my trusty little blue dart with something even cheaper. I did not want the headaches of a private sale, even if I could get a little more money out of the deal, so I decided to take advantage of the new wave of online dealers to flog my jalopy. Here is my experience.
Getting a value on my car took about two minutes. I entered my plate number online, answered (honestly) a few questions about the car’s condition which is mechanically sound but there are some scratches and a ding or two. About a year after I got the car, I was rear-ended so that also lowered the resale value of course. Carvana came back with an offer of $6,400. Not what I was looking for, but considering that they are a large-volume shop that pushes a lot of tin, I was pretty much prepared for a rock-bottom offer.
I took the 15 minute drive to my local big-box of cars, Carmax. I was greeted at the entrance by friendly staff wearing masks. Once I realized they were not trying to boost my machine, but merely practicing social-distancing and good health consciousness, we got down to scratch. I was shown to the service bay where there had been a long line of cars just as I arrive, but I got right in. After about a five minute wait a technician went over my car. He checked the engine bay and the trunk as well as the interior and exterior of the car. The whole process was done as I stood nearby and waited and from start to finish took about fifteen minutes. I was sent back inside, where the super-friendly staff person met me in about ten more minutes with my written offer: $7,000. Things are looking up.
My last stop on the trail to flog my crate took me on a thirty-minute drive to AutoNation, which in my city is housed inside a Lexus dealership. Inside everyone was wearing masks and the practicing social distancing. I took advantage of Lexus’ hospitality by grabbing free drinks for my kids, in part to calm their misgivings about seeing their beloved Corolla depart the family stable. I was greeted by a member of the sales staff who, like a traditional car buying experience, took me into his office and input my personal details and those of the car. His manager arrived after about ten minutes and went to the lot to go over my car, which took about ten more minutes. While the AutoNation stop included the usual, unexplained waiting that comes with buying cars, the process was painless. Within an hour the salesman and manager had gone over my car and returned with a printed offer, $7,200.
I will be taking in my car in the next few days to complete the sale. If there are any unexpected surprises, I will update this piece, but I think the offers are low enough that they have some cushion built-in.
Brokering a deal on my car to a national chain took about three hours of my time. The Blue Book value for a private sale of my car is about $9,000, so I know I am leaving some cash on the table. For me, the ability to get cash quickly and deal with an established, reputable business offsets whatever I could squeeze out of the private market, especially since I live in an area where there are sophisticated scammers a plenty.