Selling A Car on Consignment


Selling a Civic on Consignemnt
This is not Yertle, but could be a close cousin. Image: Wikipedia Commons

We have been a three car family for about two years. I know,  aren’t there only two drivers in my house? Why do we need three cars? It was kind of a failed experiment and now it’s time to sell the third car. I was all ready to put it on Craig’s list, until I almost had an aneurysm thinking about all the weirdos I’d have to deal with, so we decided to sell our car on consignment.

The Failed Experiment

Our last car purchases before we got serious about our money were a 2006 Toyota Tacoma that Jim drives, and my 2008 Nissan Altima. We love having a truck. It allows us to get out of our driveway on snowy days and takes me to work over the mountain pass when I have to work in Telluride during the winter. We can also pull our pop up camper and drive over all the 4WD roads in Southwest Colorado. If we lived in the city, it might be frivolous, but life in rural Colorado is much easier with a truck.

Said truck gets crappy gas mileage, and, unfortunately, we drive a lot. Two years ago, a work colleague of mine was selling his 1999 Honda Civic. We thought it would be a perfect car for Jim so that we could cut back on gas expenses. We paid $3000 for the Civic (much better than a 6 year loan!), and figured we would make our money back in two years if he drove it on all non-snowy days. This would also preserve the truck for years to come. We named the Civic Yertle, because he’s slow and green.

It sounded great in theory, except Jim hated driving Yertle. I drove him for a while and let Jim take the Altima, but he didn’t like that either. Turns out, he’s addicted to his truck. Before you uber frugal people start throwing stones, remember that we’ve had almost a complete 180 in spending over the last few years. I could care less what I drive at this point, but for some reason, Jim likes his truck enough to consider the extra gas worth it. It’s one of his few holdouts from our past.  I could argue harder, but sometimes, you just have to let it go.

So as of now, Yertle is a fairly expensive lawn ornament. I thought about selling the Altima and keeping Yertle, but he would not be a good car to take on road trips. He runs well, but has over 208,000 miles and we just don’t feel safe going more than a couple of hours out of town.

Set To Sell on Craigslist

I had the engine steam cleaned and spent some time cleaning out all the goo that a child and pet can inflict on a vehicle. I was getting ready to take pictures when I literally had a mini panic attack about having to deal with all the crazy Craig’s list people. Jim has meetings at least two evenings a week and has several business trips coming up. That means most of the showing and haggling would be on me. I could see getting stabbed in my driveway while some axe murderer takes off in Yertle. (Well, it would be a slow getaway, but I’m bleeding and probably still can’t catch him).

Consignment, Another Option

I remembered that my mechanic consigns cars for sale. He doesn’t have a big selection, but generally has 3 or 4 used cars for sale in front of his shop. I thought I’d see if this option might work better for me than Craig’s List.

It turns out he takes 10% or $500 as minimum commission. Since Yertle is worth about $3K, that would eat a pretty big chunk of the profits. I was about to go back to screening axe murderers when he told me that he priced used cars based on how a dealership would list them. He had a computer program that showed the list price should be $3850. He felt he would have to haggle a bit, but could easily get $3500,which nets us about what I expected on Craig’s list. Sign me up!

I guess there is a portion of the population who would rather buy this way that go to some stranger’s house where they might get shot or maimed while trying to look at a used car. More power to those of you who love the list of Craig, but for me, I’m so relieved and happy to get most of our money back from the failed experiment and go back to being a two car family.

Any failed financial experiments lately? How would you sell a used car?

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  1. I’ve had good luck with Craigslist buying or selling. I screen people pretty well before hand and NEVER have them come to my house, always somewhere where there are lots of people such as Best Buy or the local Mall if it is the weekend. If it’s during the week, we meet at my mechanics shop. If I’m buying a car, we MUST meet at my mechanic as he goes over the car. My mechanic has saved me thousands of $$$ by screening out the crooks. There are a lot of crooks and dishonest people out there.

    I’ve never tried Commission because most require you leave it there for a certain amount of time and I like control over the situation.

  2. What a great reminder. Often people forget they can sell items on consignment. A few years ago, we sold an old boat this way. The marina took 10 percent and it sure beat waiting for months to get a response. These places get a lot more traffic than your yard.

  3. Seems like a great idea to me. The problem with buying from individuals is that it is very inefficient. Buyers have to pick out the cars they want to see one by one, come up with a time that works for both parties, and then drive all over town to see one car at a time.

    Consignment solves all of these problems. I think it’s a great idea and it seems like this could be a great business idea.

    1. Yes, that would be time consuming if the first one wasn’t what you were looking for. The logistics of finding a time and place to meet make my head spin.

  4. I’ve sold a car and a motorcycle via Craigslist and it turned out fine for me. Then again I was young and stupid and not worried about crazy people. My other car I sold via my car mechanic who knew someone looking for a car. He didn’t charge me anything either which was awesome!
    My boyfriend is the same way about his truck. He will rarely drive my car because he doesn’t like how low to the ground it is. I have accepted that we will always pay a lot in gas.

    1. Sometimes you just have to accept that people value different things. We’ve moved on and are happier not arguing about it.

  5. That’s a great way to sell a car! We tried selling ours on Craigslist but didn’t find much interest. Ended up selling to a friend. I wonder if there is a consignment place around here … I have never heard of that!

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