Always Have Good Cars
Keeping good cars on hand for the family and yourself is not such a tricky problem! I’ve done it for years in our two car family. The good car is for the family and the older pickup is my commuter while I drive in my favorite mens tennis jackets! But how do you keep reliable wheels available for everybody?
Lets set-up our family – man and wife and 2 children 10 and 12 years of age. Dad works and needs a pickup to be effective in his job. Mom works and gets the good car because she has the shorter commute and the least wear and tear. The family budget has a car payment of $275 built in and they both see this figure as being a permanent feature.
If you are the one who looks at the car situation and decides when to make changes, you have some decisions to make.
- Do you want the current car set-up to continue? This means a new or fairly new car for the wife to commute and for family usage with you driving the truck. To make this work you can do:
- Trade the family car at 40,000 miles. This should 3 and 1/2 years after purchase and mean that you are past the “car under water” point in your car contract. This means you had a 5 year contract at normal rates of interest. You have acquired enough equity by this point to trade in the vehicle on a new one and continue with the $275 per month. Prior to trade in you take the car to a “detail shop”, spend $100 for a thorough cleaning of the outside and inside of the car. Have them detail the engine also, so it looks like the day you drove it off the floor of the dealer. If the kids have ripped any of the seats, have them fixed before presenting the vehicle for a trade. Beyond this do not go! Don’t buy a new set of tires. Do not replace anything that isn’t absolutely necessary. If the muffler is gone, and the vehicle sounds crazy, you can fix that, but don’t invest in a car you are going to trade, other than cleaning it up.
- You want a new pickup and the wife is happy with the family car. You need to do this:
- Take your old pickup (I’m assuming its 8 years or older) and shop around a bit for a good deal. Ifyou go to where you bought the pickup, they’ll give you a better deal than other places. Going to a new car dealer and looking at their pickup offerings will give you a good idea of the values involved and how much more you need to extract from the family budget. If this is not a possibility, look around town or nearby major cities, for the leased/rental vehicle sale lot. Often you can get an upscale pickup for $2-3,000 off of local market prices.
They have all the paperwork from every time they changed oil and every time any repair or maintenance was done. The Hertz and/or Avis lots are the best.
If the numbers don’t seem to be coming together, you could consider selling the vehicle outright and using the cash to buy another vehicle. Sometimes you can pick up a few bucks this way. At the present time this is a good bet because the used vehicle market seems to be moving better than new cars. If you decide to sell your vehicle and used the cash to buy a new one, go through the same process to get the vehicle cleaned up and market ready. If you use on-line services such as Graig’s List, be cautious about putting out too much contact data. Always meet away from your home, etc, etc. If you also run ads in the local paper just use your telephone number for contact. Always display a photo if you can – adds 35% to the possibility of a sale with a good photo.
Before you get too serious about what vehicle you want to trade off and how much you want to stick the budget for, you should get a good idea of the value you have to work with. Go on line and go to Kelly Blue Book. Look up the car by year and find the trade in value column. If you have some doubt about which vehicle you have, there is a shortened version of the vehicles serial number at the top. Compare your vehicles number with those listed. Then go to the accessories listed in the rear – find your vehicle and add up the value of each accessory you have, adding it to the value of the car. Then go to the odometer and get the total miles. For each month you have owned the vehicle you are allowed 1,000 miles. If you have exceeded this mileage allowance, add up the excess miles and take that number times $.08 cents per mile. Then subtract that from the total value of the vehicle and the accessories. This will give you the number the dealers will be working with as they attempt to entice you to trade your vehicle.
If you are a single car family and keep them longer than most, you can observe a different rule. If you always trade for a new vehicle, keep your old one no longer than 80,000 miles. You should have paid off the old one and be in your 6th or 7th year of ownership at 80,000 miles. This is the mileage mark the dealers use. Under 80,000 and they keep the used vehicle on the lot for sale if it is in good shape. Over 80,000 and they almost always mark it for the wholesale auction yard and somebody down on used car row will soon own your car. You will almost always have enough value in a 70-80,000 mile vehicle to keep the monthly payments on the new car within reason, and keep you in a 5 year contract.
Another good source of help is to go on line and look in the manufacturers web site for rebates. Often, the dealer will put these in their pocket, particularly if you don’t insist on them. Sometimes the dealers are offering a rebate or price reduction, but if you don’t ask for them – you don’t get them. Check the places where they advertise and read all of the small print.
These few things will help you get the most value for your vehicle and help you keep the family on good solid wheels.