Piston Slap: Just Bought It, Now Gotta Sell It!

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap just bought it now gotta sell it

Anonymous writes:

Hello Oh Ye Sajeev-full, (WOW – SM)

I bought myself a ’12 VW Golf TDI (4-dr, 6-sp) because, at the time, I was driving 2k miles a month around the CA Bay Area for work. I wanted fun, frugal, and practical all in one car, and the damn thing delivered (best mileage was 57, average was 46).

My wife and I had stable jobs and low expenses otherwise, and I “needed” a new car because I’m a perfect-condition kind of car owner. So, we bought it and financed it through my credit union. The total was just north of $29k, and we owe just north of $25k still.

Then everything changed. She was offered a more career-oriented position in New Orleans, we moved, and concurrently other expenses increased. I found a contract position that doesn’t pay as much as my job in the BA and she has her full-time position.

Our gross income is less; my income is less stable; our rent, car insurance, and health insurance contribution are way higher; and because we both work a mile from our apartment, I’ve found myself driving once a week.

We no longer need two cars, nor can we afford to keep them both, and we’ve settled on getting rid of my Golf. Her car (Smart ForTwo) is made for an urban environment, works well for our needs, and is nearly paid off.

To sell the Golf, should I bring it to the VW dealer? The car is immaculate but it has 12k miles on it already.

Should I try to sell it private party? It’s still within the 30k free maintenance, but why would someone drop $25k in a private party transaction when that’s the entry TDI price at a dealer?

Also, I haven’t sold a car that still has a loan on it. Do I need to get approval from the lien-holder? How’s this process work?

Sajeev answers:

Good question, with simple answers. Definitely sell private party, to get the most money back. Which I assume you’ll need, considering the chances that you are either upside-down on the loan right now, or will be after accepting a dealer’s trade-in offer. But why bother regurgitating information when we can Google stuff on how to sell a car with a lien? And to find a decent appraisal tool to know the fair asking price?

(crickets chirping)

Well then! Now that you’ll sell private party (provided you aren’t more financially desperate than indicated) do some basic things before placing your ad. First, pick out your locations, the forums (VWVortex, perhaps?) and major car websites in your area (probably Cars.com, AutoTrader.com and always Craigslist). Then spend the effort needed to make an appealing advertisement. My somewhat-not-Googlable advice?

  1. Clean the car inside and out, including the engine (yes, really) before taking photos. Shine up the tires, but don’t make the engine or interior glow with radioactive glee…just make a clean, honest, like-new looking car. Nobody wants to see a Mop ‘N Glow shine on the dash and under the hood. It’s distracting and disingenuous.
  2. Take photos during dusk or dawn, most smartphones take good photos for this task, if you let the best natural light present the car.
  3. Write ad copy that tells the vehicle’s story since rolling off the dealer’s lot: why you bought it, what you’ve done to it, how you cared for it and why you are selling. Be truthful, but not desperate or weak. No need to become prey for bloodsucking buyers on the Internet, until absolutely necessary. Put another way, a Simpson’s meme:

And with that, off to the Best and Brightest.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

Join the conversation
2 of 101 comments
  • Seth1065 Seth1065 on Apr 29, 2013

    If the op is gonna sell the golf I would try the TDI sites likes Fred s TDI page good resource of what he may get they hold their value but I do not see a way he will come clean if he sells it, sell the smart drive it to a big city and sell there good luck hope it works for you.

  • Buckshot Buckshot on Apr 30, 2013

    Keep the VW and sell the stupid rollerskate.

  • Mike1041 At $300K per copy they may secure as much as 2 or 3 deposits of $1,000
  • Sgeffe Why on Earth can’t you just get the torque specs and do it yourself if you’re so-inclined?!
  • Sgeffe As was stated in another comment, the FAA nominee went down in flames. But the NTSB chairwoman certainly didn’t, and she’s certainly not qualified either!Lots of this kind of stuff going on both sides of the aisle—Ben Carson would have arguably made a better Surgeon General than HUD Secretary under Trump, for example.
  • Art Vandelay Interesting, the Polestar 2 I had as a rental utilized Android Automotive which is what GM said it is going to exclusively, yet it still offers Apple CarPlay according to this. Wonder if GM will do the same.
  • Stuart de Baker EVs just aren't ready for prime time for those with a single car and who take road trips. Being able to charge as soon as you arrive at a charging station, and even the chargers working on your car is a crapshoot. In the former case, you could have to wait for nearly an hour while someone else is charging.I also don't find EVs particularly fun to drive (I've driven a Tesla Model S and an Ionic 5.) I LOVE driving my '08 Civic (stick). I love the handling, the feel and responsiveness of the engine, the precise steering (the Michelin Pilot Ultra Sport tires help, but even with the snows on, the car is a joy). I have 152k on the clock, and hopefully another 25 years or so of driving (I was born early in the Eisenhower Administration and I have exceptionally healthy habits), and I'm going to try to keep the Civic for the duration.My Civic causes a less global warming emissions than some of these humongous battery operated trucks.