I have a 10 year old Mazda Protege which I have loved ever since new.
There is just one small problem.
Rust. This car rusts like Dolly Parton sings. There is rust on the frame. Rust on the rear wheel wells which I have steadfastly removed ever single year. Rust on various parts of the powertrain. All the wheel bearings have been replaced, twice, and after yet another near dire prediction of expensive rust related maintenance, I’ve decided to sell the Protege.
I put it only at around $5000 and it finally managed to sell at the $4100. Right around where you said it would when I emailed you a few weeks ago.
Except now, I have a bit of a problem. I promised the car, but the guy I promised it to had a bit of a problem getting his finances in order. A little over a week ago we agreed to put off the final sale of the Protege until Friday.
So I decided to just do some detailed inspection of the rear of the vehicle a couple of days ago and I found my decade old nightmare. A huge swash of rust on the rear of the frame that has been untreated since new.
I decided to get that entire area treated and rustproofed. Total cost was around $400.
I then let the fellow know about the treatment and asked if he would split the bill with me. He gave me a firm and unfriendly no as the answer. I was a bit pissed off because, yeah, I didn’t have a green light from him. But at the same time, he hasn’t given me the green light either now for quite a while.
Part of me (a big one) wants to drive it to Asheville, give it a last go on Tale of the Dragon, then sell it down there.
What do you think?
This is why all of my holding of vehicles come with non-refundable deposits.
You want a car? Great! Two weeks. $500 deposit. No exceptions.
This is what you should have done in the first place because it discourages future window shopping and keeps the buyer focused on his obligations in the deal. Nickelshiters stop nickel and dimeing you when they have enough skin in the game for there to be a major downside to their flakiness.
As for the repair work, stuff like that you don’t do as a favor until the buyer is on board with it. Life is short. If you were afraid that this guy was going to bite the big one if he got in a rear impact, then you were obligated by a higher authority to do the right thing.
You did half the right thing, and the funny thing is you did the tougher half. You paid for a somewhat expensive repair that you were under no obligation to do. That fellow though owes you nothing but gratitude. You should have put him in the loop. Even if that meant eventually losing the deal on the car.
What I would do is honor the trade. The financial hit sucks, but you know what? You are a person with integrity and honor, and that is something that money can never bestow upon you.
So honor the deal and if he doesn’t have the money by Friday do the second most honorable thing and offer to split the repair costs on Saturday. If he doesn’t bite, take it to Asheville but don’t sell it. I’m begging you. I already see enough rolling rustbuckets at the auctions from you damn Yankees.
Author’s Note: Steve has a short memory that comes and goes with his once thick New Jersey accent. You can always reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.