How We’re Casually Selling Our Car (Don’t Try At Home)

We are a one car family. My better half commutes on the bus down town for work and the Little Miss and I have the car for errands.

Currently, we own two cars.

If you’ve read What I’m Thankful For This Thanksgiving, you’ll know what we were very grateful to receive a free car this year. What you may not know is that we already had a perfectly fine car.

So, we needed to sell our old car.

Get Lulled Into a Sense of Inaction

The carrying costs of the second car seem pretty low. Our insurance only went up $25-$30 dollars a month after adding the second car. $25 seems like a pretty cheap price to pay to have a second car on standby in the driveway.

At the end of summer when we got our new car*, we were pretty busy with travelling and a powder room reno.* We had never sold a car before and it seemed like a lot of work. So we took selling the car off our top priority list and pretty much ignored it.

Step #2: Spend Lots of Money To Drive Two Cars

One day we finally found a use for two cars. I was going to a baby shower across town and he and the Little Miss were heading to grandma’s. We made a group stop along the way and when I went to start the car nothing happened.

We ended up driving together everywhere any way.

Later we were able to get the car to start so we could drive it from the parking lot to our local mechanic. A thousand dollars later, the car was safetied and we were ready to sell.

So we parked the car in the driveway and resumed ignoring it.

Step #3: Create an Ad for the Internet Using a Cell Phone

Eventually the safety was about to expire. I think we had about three days left.

Before he headed off to work, my husband took some initiative and posted a couple cell phone photos online. Needless to say, weren’t overwhelmed with enquiries.

Step #4: Start Taking The Bus Because Both Cars Are Useless

One day the new car started smoking. So we dropped it off at the mechanic. There goes another $500.

It was then that we had our first call for a test drive!

We were pretty excited until we realized that while the old car had been sitting in the driveway the registration had lapsed, so we couldn’t legally drive it.

So we missed the sale and had to ride the bus for a while because the new car was in the shop and the old car was unregistered. Little Miss loved the bus rides.

Step #5: Attempt to Get Registration Without Documentation

We tried registering online, but you can only do that before the registration has lapsed. Se we weren’t eligible.

So, my better half just needed to drop by the service desk at his work. It’s very convenient.

So he went one day but was denied because he hadn’t brought all the paperwork. One page had fallen out of his pile. Thankfully we found it at home.

Step #6: Attempt to Get Registration Without an Emissions Test

On the second trip he had all the necessary documentation, but they could only give him a temporary permit because this was the year the car needed its emissions test.

Hopefully we could sell the car before we needed to fork over the money for a full year registration.

Step #7: Pretty Up The Car For Sale

We got another hit on the car and set up a test drive.

The Little Miss was still awake, so we took turns going out to make our car irresistible. Well, to make it look good enough for a buyer who was willing to overlook all the dents we’d never bothered to fix.

(One dent was from me scraping a post in a parking garage, the rest of the dents are from a series of strangers and friends hitting the car while it was parked).

I went out and wiped down the surfaces. It started to look much nicer. I went to lock the doors when my turn was up and noticed that the button for the power locks wasn’t working, but I didn’t think much of it.

The Mr. took his turn and was going to start vacuuming. A few minutes later he came in looking worried. It turns out the car wasn’t starting again.

The new lady who was supposed to be coming to see the car was very understanding and thanked us for calling as soon as we did.

Step #8: I Show My Mr. What I Know About Car Repairs

We called the shop and they said that we had to get the car to them for them to look at it.

Before when the car wouldn’t start, all that was needed was to lubricate the shift select cable and the neutral safety switch. So I was adamant that the problem was with this neutral safety switch thing and that if we could override it and get the car into neutral, the car would start and we could drive over.

I found the hole for the override next to the gear shifter and suck a bobby pin in. Nothing. I figured I needed something longer. So I stuck something even longer in. I couldn’t feel anything in there so I gave up for the night.

A few days later, after some more Googling I decided I was on the right track. Triumphantly I stuck a screw into the hole and was able to wiggle the shifter out of park!

… But the car still didn’t start.

Step #9: My Mr. Shows Me What He Knows About Car Repairs

I gave the Mr. the go ahead to try jumping the car.

Turns out our jumper cables aren’t long enough to reach from car to car in the driveway. So the Mr. took the new car battery out of the new car. He connected the batteries the way I told him they said to do it online. Nothing. We waited ten minutes. Still nothing.

This is when we broke down and took the mother-in-law’s offer of her CAA.

Step #10: The CAA Guy Shows Us What He Knows About Car Repairs

The CAA truck came and the driver brought out his little booster pack. The car still didn’t start.

He got us to stick the nail back in the neutral override switch to get the car out of park and we rolled it onto the street next to the big truck so he could boost us off the truck instead. The car still didn’t start.

He jiggled things around and had us try to start the car, then wait, then try again. The car still didn’t start.

… So he towed the car over to our mechanic.

Step #11: We Wait for the Next Bill

Hopefully the mechanic will be able to fix the car for free or a small amount for parts since we’d already brought the car in for the same problem and they’d claimed it was fixed.

We will also be paying for our second, and hopefully last, safety.


Honestly, I’m pretty embarrassed by how poorly we’ve treated this whole selling of our car thing. When we decided on our used car and modest house, we thought we wouldn’t need to worry about the big stuff any more. Instead we’ve been focusing on the little stuff like our cell phone plans and our off the list groceries. We hadn’t prepared ourselves to handle a car challenge.

The last few weeks have really highlighted to us how little we know about cars and how much of a pain they can be. Frankly at this point I’d rather be back to arguing to be car free than considering keeping a second car.

Finally we have some fire under our butts to get the car sold. It took us long enough!

Oh, did I mention that the fan is acting up again in the new car so we’ll have to take it back into the shop to get that repair re-repaired too?

What About You?

Do you have any advice for how we can sell our dented, boring beige car that may or may not start?

How long did it take you to sell your last car?

Have you ever dropped the ball and had to face the consequences when dealing with auto repairs or selling your car?

* The “new” car is a 2003 Honda Accord, our “old” car is a 2007 Mazda 3.

* The powder room isn’t finished yet. It kinda stalled out once the floors were down and the toilet was back in place. Hopefully we’ll pick out some new trim and a vanity and be able to knock the rest out one of these weekends.

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Written by mom

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