By on August 10, 2018

1988 Saturn SL2, Image: OPTTAC Commentator TitusL writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I always appreciate your sound advice and commentary on the TTAC website, which is the reason why I’m reaching out.

After 18 years of ownership, I’ve decided to part ways with my 1998 Saturn SL2. The car has been reliable and has been easy to do routine maintenance on as little things popped up over the years. I’ve maintained it well, and the paint, body, and interior looks better than some cars half its age. However, with most cars of its vintage I’m starting to see “senior car” problems rear their ugly heads, and in certain instances I’m having to consider buying 2nd & 3rd generation replacement parts — yes, I’m talking about you, catalytic converter! Add to that the fact that there has been infinitely many technological improvements over the past 20 yrs. Which even further validates my reason for wanting something a bit fresher.

As of current, I’ve been trying to “soft sell” the car on a Saturn enthusiast website, with no takers yet. I would consider selling it on a more opened car listing website but I’m conflicted about this option because: 1) it is a high mileage vehicle (208K) which would leave me exposed to getting low-balled by a few bottom feeders looking for a good deal. 2) I don’t want to sell it to someone who will beat the hell out of it, forcing it into an early grave and leaving it to potentially become an organ donor at a local pick-n-pull. I would be mortified if I saw my Satty featured in a segment of “Latest Junkyard Finds” on TTAC.
So am I crazy to feel this way? I’ve already began the process of purchasing another car so, I don’t want to keep my Saturn (plus, my wife won’t allow me to have three cars). But I also want it to go to a good home, since its been apart of the family for so long. What are your thoughts?

Sajeev answers:

Oh damn son, this pushes all the buttons: look at the undesirable perfection of that fine machine!

While blurring the license plate I noticed the deep blue paint job, low slung (now) classic three-box sedan body, and how pleasant it’d look beside my 1989 Lincoln Continental Signature Series: proud, upstanding blue front-wheel-drive sedan brothers they’d be! 1989 Lincoln Continental Signarure Series Front, Image: Sajeev Mehta
Or not. Anyway, my idiotic pursuit of worthless vehicles qualifies me to answer your query.

Selling an antiquated sedan means you’re getting lowballed, but you have no choice: sell at market/trade-in value and it’ll have a short, painful life before getting scrapped. It’s not the buyer’s fault, it’s your fault for not selling at survivor* car status.

In my case, the Continental is a $2,500 ride; pricing at $4,500 ensures the intended owner/caregiver knocks on your door. You might sell for less if the buyer fits the bill, but that’s not the point: you saved a modern classic from the scrapper! 1989 Lincoln Continental Signarure Series, Image: Sajeev Mehta
Post on the model specific forums, but tell “Bring a Trailer” to turn back around. Ditto Hemmings/Cars/Autotrader/eBay, as their fees ensure you’ll spend a disappointing chunk of the sale on their cut. The only answer is Craigslist (and now Facebook Marketplace) as I hope you heard about a little thing called SEO.

Here’s how to write a Craigslist ad for classic cars: offer a well-written story that isn’t too rambling and free of weasel words, be HONEST about flaws, show value in your upkeep, include all keyword intensive text (i.e. fill out every portion of the ad), take high contrast/high quality images (like the one above, but with more sunlight), then faithfully republish (on CL) every 45 days.

It works: I’ve sold cars in less than 24 hours and obscure car parts (JL Stealthbox for 95-01 Explorers, anyone?) with this technique. Ask to be contacted by text message. Swipe left on all lowballers, scammers, etc: easy!

To get you motivated, I whipped up “my” Craigslist ad. It’s too long, but whatever, I got a story to tell:

1989 Lincoln Continental Signature Series, Cold A/C, Restored, RARE, Survivor

This Lincoln Continental is a survivor car from the 1980s.  It was originally owned by my aunt, she bought new and refused to part with it until recently.  It’s the upgraded Signature Series finished in dark blue inside and out. It has the optional leather seats, JBL audio system, auto-dimming mirror, integrated garage door opener and factory alarm. Of course Continentals came with power everything, the trunk has a soft close feature and this was the first car (sold in America) with dual front airbags.  I have the brochure explaining how airbags work!

Continentals were based on the 3.8L V6 Ford Taurus, but this is an expensive car from the ride, handling and even the “thud” of the doors when closing them. For those who remember, Continentals had trouble spots which my aunt addressed: revised head gaskets/new cooling system/decked cylinder heads, rebuilt transmission, and the air suspension was replaced with coil springs and new shocks. It currently has 118,000 miles but the gauges say 150,000 because I had to replace them.

Sadly, most Continentals died off without this care, which is sad because the only cars (I’ve driven) that ride + handle like this are the W116 Mercedes or the original Lexus LS400. Yes, really! The steering is super easy in town, but the 32-position boosted steering firms up perfectly on the highway.  It eats HUGE potholes with no complaint, with small 15″ wheels, fat tires and a tight chassis that doesn’t squeak or rattle. The independent suspension corners flat: there are large sway bars and a rear strut tower brace too. And it’s silent on the highway: even the hood insulating pad looks like a soft pillow. (It might be!)

Unlike that Mercedes and even the Lexus, this car’s massive back seat puts everything to shame: there’s so much room in a front wheel drive car! It gets almost 20 MPG in the city and almost 30 on the highway. A careful owner will love it for years, parts are dirt cheap if you know where to look, and you won’t see another one like it.

Here’s what I have done so far:

  1. New paint job (factory blue)
  2. New, NOS exterior lights (all 9) with headlight relays
  3. New Air Conditioning Compressor and NOS Head Unit
  4. New, NOS Power Antenna
  5. New Window Tint
  6. New LED interior bulbs
  7. New, NOS factory floor mats
  8. New power steering pump w/flushed fluid
  9. New Ford NOS Engine/Tranny Mounts (all 3)
  10. New power window and lock motors (all 4)
  11. New Kenwood Excelon Stereo with Polk Speakers
  12. New Battery
  13. New BF Goodrich Tires
  14. New Hood Lifts
  15. New Spark Plugs, Cap, Rotor and BOSCH Wires
  16. New…you catch my drift?

Here’s the Good:

  1. Stunning paint, it’s brand new!
  2. Excellent leather seats, door panels, carpets
  3. Non-smoker
  4. Garaged almost all its life
  5. Rust free (Houston car)
  6. No accidents
  7. No leaks, squeaks or rattles
  8. Binder full of receipts

And the Not-so-Good:

  1. Sometimes the transmission makes thudding sound going from Park to Reverse
  2. ABS brakes do not work, the regular brakes are fine
  3. Sometimes the gauges beep for no reason
  4. Dashboard is cracked above the gauges

Okay Best and Brightest: the floor is now yours.

*Yes, I am extending the definition of survivor, but these two examples are lucky to survive the scrapper in most any condition. Right?

[Images: OP, © 2018 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars]

Send your queries to [email protected]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.

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91 Comments on “Piston Slap: The Saturn’s Soft Sell to Craigslist?...”

  • avatar

    “So am I crazy to feel this way?”

    Yeah, kind of, it’s an old car with no classic value what so ever, so either you sell it for whatever and move on or you keep it in the family where you can keep an eye on your “baby”

    • 0 avatar


      You ~might~ get lucky and find another enthusiast willing to pay extra for your clean, well maintained example but the reality is that most of the responses to the ad are going to be from people just looking for a cheap car. And, as is said below, once you sign it over, how it’s treated by the new owner is out of your hands. (See the story of buying the ’49 Caddy Fastback used in the Cadillac Ranch art installation.)

      • 0 avatar

        Yes this is the ONLY reason why I posted my ad on the Saturn fans website. I was initially hoping another enthusiast would come along and show some interest:o) But if no takers I may have to change the game a lil.

        • 0 avatar

          I don’t want to sound mean, but the idea that there is an SL2 enthusiast in the world *BLOWS MY MIND*.

          This is a crappy budget car which is going to be sold to a 16 year old kid or ultra poor person who can’t afford anything better. It will not be cared for. It probably will never see an oil change again, and will be in a junk yard in 24 months.

          I’m not trying to be cruel, but the sooner this is accepted, the easier your future will be :)

          • 0 avatar

            My affinity for Buick-powered vehicles built between ’85 and ’08 tells me that there’s a butt for every seat.

            If it going to a “good” next owner is important to him, and he’s able to hold onto the car until he finds that person, I say he should stick to his guns.

          • 0 avatar

            I’m a Saturn enthusiast, arach.

            Most people who hate on them have probably never owned one. I had a ’99 SL2 back in college and driving it from Gainesville to Alachua, FL for my first real job on those 2-lane country roads was a real pleasure that I haven’t experienced in much newer and more expensive “premium” cars (listening, Volvo and BMW?). It drove like you’d expect a 4-door Miata to drive as long as it had the Twin-Cam “Power Module” and a 5-speed.

            Of course, it’ll never be a “collector car”, but Saturn did have many loyalists and I can totally see someone being interested in an old SL2 for a ‘Cars and Coffee’ cruiser someday. Hell, we bought a final model year Aura XR because we liked the old SL2 and still have it today racking up those commuting miles. BTW the Aura is definitely no SL2 on the twisties.

          • 0 avatar

            I was enthusiastic about the SW2 with bigger engine and 5-speed manual but unfortunately the opportunity to acquire one never presented itself.

            The best time to get one would have been back when my now ex-wife and I were sharing a vehicle and not only did she know how to spend all my money but she had no desire to learn stick.

          • 0 avatar

            @e30 Gator.

            That is great.

            When you say you are an enthusiast, does that mean you actively seek out 1998 SL2s to add to your collection?

            I’m not a saturn hater, but I don’t know anyone who pays prime dollar for collector saturns. Sure people might like them or have fond memories, but the point being, who seeks out 20 year old Saturn SL2?

            I know lots of people who seek ou 20 year old Camaros, corvettes, etc. and will pay top dollar.

            Maybe that is you, and if so GREAT! I just didn’t think there was a hot market for these. Most people who “liked” the SL2 and had good experiences aren’t in the market for them now.

          • 0 avatar

            …I don’t want to sound mean, but the idea that there is an SL2 enthusiast in the world *BLOWS MY MIND*…

            Really? There is a K car club. There is a Corolla fan base. You are surprised there are Saturn fans? Do a search…you’d be amazed at what cars have an online fan base.

          • 0 avatar

            Because *I* don’t like it means NOBODY likes it!

            What a pitiful attitude.

            I’m someone with a tendency to seek cars that few others care anything about (hello, Ford Tempo), not that being unpopular is all it takes to make it desirable to me. So, I can totally relate to someone who likes an old Saturn. I could also see someone who had one back in the day wanting another one, and that someone would be very interested in one with excellent service history and in great condition.

            I had a 1999 SL, strictly Ace of Base status, as in no factory A/C, no power steering, no cruise or power accessories inside, and it was an excellent commuter. I grew tired of the seats killing my back, and when I no longer had an 80 mile (one way) commute, I sold it. If the seats didn’t hurt me so much, I’d absolutely have another SL. They did handle more like a Honda Civic than a Chevy Cavalier. Really, the whole car felt nothing like a GM job.

            As far as later Saturns, the Aura and Astra are cool, but too many years of rebadged GM awfulness (ION, Relay, etc) killed the brand for those who loved them in the 1990s. Yes, I know the Aura and Astra also had GM twins, but they weren’t the terrible garbage the ION and Relay were.

            In closing, I’m quite sure there is someone out there who would love the OP’s car. He just has to find them, or make it easy for them to find him.

          • 0 avatar

            A ’98 SL2 with a manual is actually an excellent car to drive. Light clutch and gearbox, fat steering wheel and big analog gauges, 1.9 liter 16-valve engine and stainless exhaust, long-travel suspension and stablizer bars. It weighs nothing, never dents or rusts, comes alive dramatically over 4000 rpm, uses a comically small amount of fuel, is insanely reliable, and has a ride-handling balance that puts nearly everything else to shame.

            And 1998 represents Peak SL2: they fixed the roughness of the ’97 and earlier engines, but it wouldn’t be until 2000 that they drummed all character out of the car by giving it an anodyne restyle, cost-cut interior, softer suspension, and firm feel-free steering tuned strictly to plow straight ahead on the highway.

            The only downsides to an SL2: the engine drinks oil, and makes a horrible dying-animal noise at idle. (Also the top edge of the driver’s door is seemingly engineered to poke out your eyeball when trying to enter the car.) Honestly if I didn’t so loathe the idle noise, I probably would have kept mine to 208k too.

      • 0 avatar

        Not to mention, this guy is so into this Saturn that he cares about who buys it, but it has too many niggling problems for him to continue to own it. Which means he is looking for someone willing to pay top dollar for an old, high mileage cheap compact that has forthcoming problems he isn’t willing to spend the money on the fix. Insanity.

        Sell it, enjoy your pictures/memories and move on. I’m nuts when it comes to feeling that cars have souls and personalities, and agree that people waste cars well early. But even I can see this as a bit crazy.

        • 0 avatar

          I realize my response was a bit negative in tone and didn’t offer a constructive suggestion. So here is my suggestion:

          Advertise it far away, or take it to CARMAX. You will receive nothing but “insulting” low offers. Consider the difference in what you want and what you will be offered a price premium you pay for being removed from the unpleasantness of the car’s next life. It will be recycled through an auction or go to live out its short, seemingly troublesome next life far away where you won’t encounter it.

    • 0 avatar

      No matter who the car is sold to, once it leaves the sellers hands thats it, the buyer can do whatever they want. Heck this Saturn might end up donked out by the buyer!

      If this seller is interested in preserving a “modern classic” (which I happen to like), they should keep the car.

  • avatar

    Totally agree with Craigslist strategy. In my neck of the woods, Craigslist car shoppers are going to low-ball you no matter how well you represent your car. Most importantly: Be totally honest. Expect a parade of “garage sale” types to mercilessly brow-beat you over the price. Be patient. I once had an individual send me dozens of emails trying to get me to come down on the asking price by 50%… had to lie and tell him the car was no longer available to get him off my back.

  • avatar

    “2) I don’t want to sell it to someone who will beat the hell out of it, forcing it into an early grave and leaving it to potentially become an organ donor at a local pick-n-pull. I would be mortified if I saw my Satty featured in a segment of “Latest Junkyard Finds” on TTAC.”

    honestly, if you’re serious about selling it, then you can’t (and I mean *can’t*) worry about this. Once you sign the title over, whatever the new owner does to it is out of your hands, regardless of how they tell you they’re going to treat it. and there are a lot of liars out there.

    if you’re really still that emotionally attached to it, are you sure you want to sell it?

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with your sentiment JimZ. Especially on a 1500 dollar car.

      IF someone caring for it is MORE important than the money, then why not donate it to someone who would love it?

      Donate it to a 16 year old without a car. They may beat the heck out of it but at least they will have lifetime memories of it. Who doesn’t remember their first car? It will get love.

      Donate it to a struggling family who cannot afford a car. They may not be able to care about it as much as you did, but the look on their face will make it worthwhile.

      • 0 avatar

        @arach THIS! Donate. I thought I would be an emotional wreck after deciding that my Saab needed to move on. Swedish & Celestial cars inspire an unhealthy amount of devotion.

        Donating the car to Catholic Charities to give to a needy family who is prescreened to be able to maintain the car fit the bill. They got a good car, and I got to know that my beloved car was having a good 2nd act.

        The alternative is — since the car is worthless in the marketplace — to simply keep it. Does it really make a difference in your downpayment? Could you replace a non-driven, well-maintained car for the pittance you’d get? I doubt few would pay more than 3 digits for a Saturn, no matter the condition. It’s worth WAY more than that to you, and you couldn’t replace it for $999…. so keep it.

        Or donate it.

        But don’t sell it; you’ll hate yourself in a year.

    • 0 avatar

      He could get rid of the wife, keep the Saturn and happily add to his collection of cars that he really likes.

    • 0 avatar

      I can understand the desire to be selective with the prospective buyer. I sold my MKVII LSC to a guy who seemed to fill the bill as an owner that would be really careful with the car. We made the deal and when he came over with the cash, he had a Malboro pack in his breast pocket. Ugh. My pristine car sold to a smoker. Yes, it was his to do with what he pleased but I wished for better for my car.

  • avatar

    Personally, when I sell a car, I can care less what happens to it. I don’t care if it becomes a Paris-Dakar rally car, a taxi in Venezuela, or if some 18 year old buys it and never changes the oil again. They can even take it off all the sweet jumps they want.

    As to selling. I think you have to be really honest about what the market will support on a 200k 1998 Saturn. I always put a note in my listings to the effect of “…I will gladly discuss all reasonable offers, but I will not spend any effort to respond to any low ball offers.”

  • avatar

    Saturn – that’s a lot of plastic soda bottles to be made.

  • avatar

    I understand. I just sold my ’95 S10 to the grandpa of an 18-year-old kid. It made me sad at first knowing that the truck is sure to die at the hands of this kid rather soon, but I had to purposely move on from that and focus on something else (my new project car). Otherwise, it’d drive me crazy.

    Honestly, if you’re still *that* attached to it, I’d try to keep it. You’re not going to get much of anything out of it selling it, and if you keep it, it can become a toy/project rather than a daily driver.

  • avatar

    In addition to Craigslist, also allows free postings but with only 5 pictures. Many folks will not even look at Craigslist because of the scamming which goes on there.

  • avatar

    I’ve had really good look selling decent vehicles on CL. Speak the truth, don’t attempt to blow smoke up people’s six when describing it and price it reasonably (not the “I know what I got!” attitude). Sold my 2006 Fusion (manual, yo!) and 2011 scion tC on CL in a matter of days. Lots of pictures (of a clean car) and documentation proving mindful care and feeding equaled easy sales. Sure, people are going to try to lowball, especially if the car has an inherently low value to begin with. But by properly advertising/explaining it AND properly pricing it, I saved myself the hassle of a ton of tire-kickers.

    As for the emotional trauma…while I understand that (ask me one day of how wrecked I became trying to sell my 1974 BMW 2002), once the car is gone, it’s gone. If you’re that tied to it and that worried about it, keep it. Otherwise, go all Frozen and let it go.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve had good luck selling ON CL, but I find you have to understand how CL buyers operate. To me its like learning a different language. If you want to do business in France, learn french. If you want to do business on CL, learn CLese.

      Everyone low-balls, so I believe the trick is to simply over price your vehicle.

      So if you want $13k, list it for $18k, and you’ll get lowballs in the 11-12k mark which you can work up to 13k.

      everyone says you should list it for the “right price”. I tried that, and then I had to field tons of messages asking to give me 6k for a car that I want 13k for. No thank you.

      Most savvy buyers ignore the list price on a vehicle anyway and when they find what they want, they’ll have a convo with you.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I fully understand TitusL’s attitude. This Saturn has been a trustworthy and faithful companion for 18 years. Which is longer than many marriages.

    There have been many memories associated with it. And obviously much time and effort spent maintaining its health.

    Ending a relationship of this many years, with a companion who has been so dependable is difficult and the Saturn does not deserve to be ‘dumped’.

    Might I suggest another alternative. Go out and find a worthy owner. A deserving family that needs a reliable vehicle. A family member or the family member of a friend who needs a new or 1st car. Someone associated with a church or social group that you support or belong to. Thoroughly ‘vet/investigate’ them, much like animal rescue groups interview those that they adopt animals to. And once you find one that you approve of, give them a ‘discounted’ price.

    You have done a ‘good deed’. Your Saturn will be going to a home where it will once again be ‘valued/depended’ upon.

    • 0 avatar

      “Might I suggest another alternative…”

      This is what I usually do. While I don’t “investigate” potential buyers or anything there is often a personal or community connection to where my car goes and they seem to stay on the road for awhile.

      And I will give a “discount” if I feel good about the situation. I sold my Electra for the cost of the tires I put on it and I straight up gave my SSEi for $0.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey Arthur thank you for the sound feedback. I hadn’t thought of this.

    • 0 avatar

      Socialism is third door to the right. Right after the trash compactor.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Isn’t it amazing that those with the least understanding of what ‘socialism’ is are the ones that are most likely to call something ‘socialist’? What we are recommending can be categorized as ‘charitable’, ‘Karma’ or a ‘Mitzvah’. All individual efforts and in no way or shape a form or type of ‘socialism’.

        Allowing the Saturn to once again ‘do its duty’ and be ‘valued’ for what it is, while earning the donor some good graces/credit for the future. “At least I have that going for me.” Carl Spackler.

    • 0 avatar

      Very good advice. If he can’t keep it, find it a good home.

      If its a car I care nothing about, I don’t care who buys it so long as its gone. If its a car I loved, I’ll make the effort to find someone who will likely treat it well.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I’ve just completed a crash course on buying a car on CL. Out of about 10 inquiries, I had one legitimate lead. The rest were scammers and curb stoners. I finally remembered our local Nextdoor private social media, and placed a wanted ad there. Wow, what a difference. The cars were of vastly superior condition and the owners were for real.
    Using the automotive classified ads in Nextdoor, I ended up buying a 2006 Ford Fusion with 85K miles for $4K for my son who just graduated from college and needed a first car of his own. This car was immaculately maintained and in pristine condition.
    I probably wasted 20 hours perusing CL, but invested less than an hour searching the private network before I found this car.
    Skip CL and find another means to advertise the Saturn.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks Felix Nextdoor may actually be a good alternative option to CL. I think I’ll look to this platform for selling my car. I’ve had terrible experiences in trying to sell stuff in the past on CL and in most cases it turn out to be more of PIA headache.

    • 0 avatar

      Yep, I’ve sold 5 cars now with simultaneous listings on craigslist, facebook marketplace, and nextdoor (I’m not a curbstoner, just a guy that loves trying different cheap old cars). The latter leads to the highest quality of buyer hands-down, and on the buying side of the coin has the fewest car flippers and overpriced junk, some real nice long-term owned gems come up there. Facebook marketplace generates the most leads but most of them (75%) are duds. The curbstoners are on facebook marketplace as well (maybe 20% of adds) but they have absolutely inundated the “by owner” section of craigslist.

  • avatar

    I’ve been in similar situations with long ownership, beloved vehicles. If you’re really patient and lucky, you may find that elusive buyer. It’s also possible you’ll discover the car’s true value and sell it for a few hundred bucks. I’ve done that too. If you really want to save the car, your best option is to prioritize it over other vehicles in your fleet and keep it yourself.

  • avatar

    I don’t understand.

    from my stand point, DD cars are tools. Get rid of it to the best priced buyer. If they trash it? who cares. No one wants to take care of an old saturn. No one is going to love it and care for it like you did. Your selling it to bottom feeders…

    So just let it go.

    Heck at that low point in the market I’d be tempted just to donate it to goodwill.

    Cargurus is free listing
    Nextdoor is a great place to list
    Facebook marketplace is the modern version of Craigslist.. I don’t get any good leads on craigslist anymore.

    Find a good buyer and move on with your life. Its like dating a girl. Once you kick her to the curb, what she does with her life has no impact on you. If you love it too much to sell it, keep it. Once you decide you don’t love it enough to keep it, let it go and get over it!

    • 0 avatar

      Well, if this was you in this situation, it wouldn’t be a problem. Is that what you’re saying? Great!

      The OP isn’t you. Obviously, he cares for this car. If you can’t relate to that, I’m sorry for you. I sure as hell can relate to it.

      You don’t end a relationship with someone you’re still in love with and with whom things are going well. You usually dump the person because things aren’t working, they cheated or lied, or any other manner of negative things. So, obviously you don’t care who they end up with. This isn’t like that one bit.

      • 0 avatar


        Or is it?

        He says that the car is causing him more problems than its worth. Sounds like a breakup to me.

        In my book, if I still love a car, why would I get rid of it?

        I had a 38 year old car. I didn’t sell it for the longest time and let it sit in the back of my garage for 5 years. I couldn’t part with it because I loved it.

        finally I dumped some more money in it, and took it for a drive. I finally realized, “gosh- this car doesn’t make me smile anymore. Its more of a hassle than its worth”. So I sold it.

        If your still in love with a car and things are going well, why sell it? that I don’t understand.

        based on reading the OPs words, he’s dumping her because she isn’t good enough for him… but then he’s worried that someone worse than him is going to pick her up? Of course someone worse than him is going to pick her up. If she’s not good enough for him, she’s not going to be good enough for someone he holds in higher esteem than himself.

        He specifically says: “I’m starting to see “senior car” problems rear their ugly heads, and in certain instances I’m having to consider buying 2nd & 3rd generation replacement parts — yes, I’m talking about you, catalytic converter! Add to that the fact that there has been infinitely many technological improvements over the past 20 yrs. Which even further validates my reason for wanting something a bit fresher.”

        That is what I don’t understand. If your dumping a woman for being a pain in the neck, and not being able to the things you want her to do, then you gotta move on with your life. If you still love her, why let her go? Why not stay with her?

  • avatar

    I just sold a house. There are 2 houses, my parents and my grandparents. Both side by side. I lived in my grandparents house for 12 years. My mom passed away so I moved next door and put the grandparents house up for sale.

    I did put up a 6 ft fence between the properties. My whole life both yards were considered one property. Most of the stuff in the grandparents garage was my fathers stuff that was overflow. Both properties were in the family for over 100 years.

    Property care is not big on the new owners list of priorities. I can’t complain as I don’t own it anymore. With the fence up I can’t see it.

    I will tell you, it took about 10 minutes to get over the fact that next door wasn’t part of the deal anymore once I signed the papers. People ask “Doesn’t it feel wierd?”

    Everything is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. If all you get is low-balls
    then that is what it is worth unless you can find the right buyer. Some of the
    offers I got for the house were so bad I told the realtor that I’d knock it down before selling it that price. I meant it. So, I waited, got a reasonable offer and sold it. But, if the process dragged on and all I was getting was the same low-ball then that is
    what the house is worth.

  • avatar

    “I don’t want to sell it to someone who will beat the hell out of it, forcing it into an early grave ”

    I for one have never understood why sellers care what happens post sale. Once the item is yours, do what you want with it. Take it out into a field and use it as target practice. Or burn it down. Or drive it in reverse for its remaining life. Who cares?

    As for low ball offers….sellers don’t set prices, the market does. If all you get are “low ball” offers, that’s the market telling you something. And you have to value your time as well. Is it worth spending weeks or months keeping a car with 200K miles for sale to get an extra $500? It isn’t for me.

    • 0 avatar

      I was wondering something about the “low Ball” offers.

      It is a $1200-1800 car.

      How LOW is he scared to get? $800? $1000? Is he afraid he’s going to get $1200 instead of $1800?

      • 0 avatar

        Some people have a weird sense of how negotiating works. I talked to a real estate agent friend of mine about this. He has buyers who let’s say want to spend $350K on a house, will only look at houses priced up to $355K or $360. The idea of offering $350K on a $375K asking price is foreign to them as if they will insult the buyer. And I guess these same people work like that in reverse, where if they are asking $360K and someone offers $345K it’s a low ball, worst insult of my life type of thing. Or if they are asking $1800 for a car and someone offers $1400 it’s a low ball “I’ve never been so insulted in my life” offer.

        And this stuff drives me crazy. Because financial transactions should never be emotional. The entire premise of low ball is preposterous. You’re asking $1800. I offer $1000. You can say yes, you can say no, or you can counter back. But you should never be insulted or angry or whatever.

        • 0 avatar

          Honestly the thought of “insulting” someone is something I’ve had to “get over” with age and with experience.

          I was not aggressive enough when I bought my first home and paid pretty close to the sellers asking price. A colleague on the other hand got a home in the same neighborhood around the same time that the asking price was $168,000 and she paid $135,000 – but she loved haggling more than a seller in a bazaar.

          By the time we bought my wife’s Terrain it was my wife (younger than I) who was fearful that I had “insulted” the salesman. But she was happy when she got double KBB on her trade.

          Win some loose some. If you don’t want to play ball I’ll take my business elsewhere.

          • 0 avatar

            I agree that one should not be too concerned about offending/being offended by haggling in a business transaction. I don’t bat an eye at haggling unless it is high-demand item and I REALLY want it. Likewise, if I really need to get a certain price for something that I’m selling and someone “low balls” me, I just ignore it or shoot back a counter-offer and then go on about my life.

            Otherwise, as in your house example, having an extra $30k to blow on something else (like a pool, man-cave, classic car, etc) would make me forget about insult worries real quick.

        • 0 avatar

          I think it depends on the market and how much the market dictates. Where I’m from in Ohio I could easily negotiate thousands off the purchase price of a house and still have an acceptable offer. Here in DFW houses are being sold at a premium and in most cases with multiple offers going for more than the list price. For me I base an acceptable offer on a percentage. If I get an offer within 70% of the sell price of my car I would be willing to entertain it. Anything below that I’ll keep it moving, nothing personal.

        • 0 avatar

          No, a lowball on an $1800 car is $500. $1200 or $1400 isn’t a low ball, it’s a starting point for negotiations. You settle on $1500 or something. There is no negotiating with some idiot who offers you $500 over the phone, because even if you accept it, once he gets there, it’ll be “you didn’t say it had a 0.5″ scratch on the bottom of the bumper cover, or that the ashtrey light doesn’t work, I can’t give you more than $250” or “all I brought with me is $300”. These people would have you pay them to take the car if they could convince you to.

  • avatar

    I buy and sell things on CL all the time. Off the top of my head this past year I’ve bought or sold a pair of skis, a Thule carrier, pop up camper, . And also hired a painter and landscaper. I also use it to find tenants for my rentals.

    Yeah scammers are there, but also very easy to spot. You can instantly tell an ad is a scam ad or if it’s legit the seller is hiding something. And conversely you can tell in a nanosecond if a “buyer” is real or not. Maybe I’ve just got really good at it, but to me the CL scam factor is almost non-existent since I just ignore it.

    Last vehicle I sold was a 2004 Yukon about 18 months ago. I wanted $5500, I asked $6500. First guy I talked to was looking for his parents who lived out of town. He offered me $5K, I countered at $5500. His parents ended up passing after thinking about it. Second guy I talked to, exact same thing. Offered $5K, I countered $5500, done deal. I got what I wanted, the buyer got a perceived good deal at $1K off asking, everyone walked away happy.

    • 0 avatar

      You and I sound a lot alike in that regard. I buy and sell things on craigslist all the time. I’ve never been scammed.

      If its too good to be true, I don’t call. You want $1,274 for your 2007 TSX with 54k miles in perfect condition? Sure buddy, here, take this flag with my compliments.

      I just sold my cousin’s motorcycle via CL, I bought my Taurus on CL, I’ve bought/sold dozens of cars and parts on CL. You gotta know what you’re doing, but its very possible to do good business on there.

  • avatar

    This is one of those “it is what it is” sort of situations. If you really can’t hold onto it then get the best price you can and let it go.

    I worked with a guy who had a habit of buying from dealers (or picking up cars from relatives estate sales) but then selling his used car himself. He never cared one wit about what happened next although I always recognize when I see one of his old rides around town being slowly ground down.

  • avatar

    I can easily relate to your predicament. With each and every car I sell, there’s always sadness and I really hope that the car continues to have a good life with its new owner. I take great panes with all my cars to maintain and care for them, and it’d be a shame to see the car deteriorate afterwards with an express ticket to the junkyard. But like several have mentioned, short of keeping the car, there’s nothing you can do once the new title is signed over to the new owner.

    I recently had the same experience with my husband’s car. It was a 2008 Chevy Aveo with 100k miles that he’d owned for eight years. It was a loyal companion that took us cross-country, up to Canada, and was what he owned when we first met seven years ago. There were a lot of memories in that car, and it proved to be a trustworthy steed. And dang it, I just really liked the car.

    Our experience when we sold it last month probably won’t be different to the situation your Saturn will facing. I posted an ad up on Craigslist for $2,200; and despite a nice ad with clear photos and a detailed description of all of the services performed, I still received offers for 50% from buyers due to their hardships and needing a car because their current one died. I even placed at the end of the ad that we hope that the Aveo finds a good home. The reality is that an Aveo is not a collector car, and no matter how much I like the car, there is not a following. It’s a cheap used car, for cheap people needing a good deal. Your Saturn has the same market and destiny despite the love you’ve given it.

    We ended up selling the Aveo within four days for full asking price to a fella who is using it for a 100 mile/day commute. It’s going to rack up tons of miles and wear. Yes, it makes me sorrowful. But that, once again, is the reality.

    If your Saturn had exceptional low miles (i.e. >50k miles), then maybe you could find a collector. But few are going to preserve a Saturn SL, a twenty year economy car that was plentiful, with 200k miles. Just as few will ever preserve a decade-old Aveo with 100k miles.

    • 0 avatar

      IMHO, you should be happy about your Aveo’s fate. Cars are meant to be used, and that’s the perfect use case for an Aveo: a long commute. The buyer, who clearly doesn’t have a ton of money, will save a lot on gas, and will do it in a clean car that you kept well maintained. Eventually it will wear out and need to be put down, but that’s the fate of 99.99999% of the cars on the road.

  • avatar

    I bought a 72 Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible when the car was about 10 years old. It was a really clean, rust free car. I put a lot of effort into getting it in great shape. However, with two little kids and other economic issues, my wife and I decided we really couldn’t keep it. I sold it to a man who was buying it for his teen age son.

    About 6 months went by and I kept thinking about the Cutlass. I still had the buyers phone number so I called him and said if he ever wanted to sell the car, I would love to have first shot at buying it back. He said gee I wish I still had it. I said, you already sold it? He said no, my son lost control on a wet street and hit a pole, totaling it. The son was ok but the car went to the scrap yard.

    Lesson learned. If you are really attached to a vehicle (some of us get really attached) find a way to keep it.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    “Post on the model specific forums, but tell “Bring a Trailer” to turn back around”

    Funny. On a 200,000 mile Saturn, Bring a Trailer isn’t going to be headed your way in the first place. A 47K mile time capsule 1992 Accord coupe just went for $5500 after a 3-way bid war if you want to use that as a yardstick.

    But I get the larger point that an unusually well-maintained high mileage car ought to be worth something a bit more to the right buyer. Sajeev’s advice seems about right. Patience and a screening process that reduces the effort spent deflecting lowballing scum.

  • avatar

    My 2 cents: tape a 4sale sign in the window, Best Offer. Get on with your life. Not talking a C1 Vette here!

  • avatar

    On a different note, we own a 1992 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer with only 67k miles. Not only that, it’s a Jurassic Park replica and has been used at events, including multiple years at the Hollywood Christmas Parade.

    Mechanically and cosmetically, this Explorer is immaculate and has all documentation since 1992.

    There’s no doubt it’s a special car. However, we’re considering moving overseas in a year or so, and taking the truck with us is next to impossible. Somehow, we’ll have to regrettably unload ourselves of it before we move.

    This type of vehicle is one that I can’t just sell to a random stranger on Craigslist. We’ve invested a lot of money and effort to get it the way it looks, and the condition makes it a unicorn.

    My thoughts are to donate it to a museum or an exhibit. That will ensure it has a good life, and I still get visitation rights.

    • 0 avatar

      What a dilemma, its good for you that Jurassic Park franchise still has some significant cache. Hopefully a museum or even an amusement park with Jurassic Park themed ride will be willing to come along and pick it up.

    • 0 avatar

      Get in touch with someone at Universal Studios (the theme park) and offer it up to them! Chances are they could use it somewhere. They’re about to close down Jurassic Park: The Ride and replace it with a Jurassic World ride. Start with the park’s PR department and see what happens.

  • avatar

    I donated my old Saturn to a seminary.
    Now it’s doing God’s work.
    Plus the rector said he’ll say a few nice things at my funeral some day.

  • avatar

    Someone that cares what happens to a 1998 Saturn with over 200K miles proves to me that observers who question the American love affair with cars are very wrong. Anyone who predicts we will all be satisfied with Uber self-driving pods is delusional.

  • avatar

    IMO Saturn SL2s were some of the most under-appreciated cars that GM ever built. And I haven’t been drinking…

    The Japanese were building much higher-quality stuff back when Roger Smith created Saturn as a “separate” car company rather than a division of GM. Thus, engineers were aiming high when designing the things and taking few chances on the quality. The problem with Saturn wasn’t that they were bad cars, on the contrary, they were very good. It’s just that the Japanese were a moving target and GM in true form, let Saturn wither on the vine too long and recede into irrelevancy. But everybody knows this.

    That said, the cars themselves were simple, robust, and with the right combination of engine/transmission/equipment, a far better-driving car than any Honda Civic, Corolla, or zoom-zoom Mazda I ever drove and probably every bit as reliable.

    They were incredibly light cars, the “twin-cam” engines liked to rev and could handle the abuse, and the 5-speed could be thrown into gear without breaking any teeth. Granted, the interiors were on the cheap-feeling side, but then so was my ’96 Volvo 850 and ’96 BMW Z3, so there you go–par for the course.

    I’m beginning to see actual enthusiasm for Dodge Omnis and Plymouth Horizons, so maybe there’s hope?

  • avatar

    I have found that enthusiast groups/sites are one of the worst places to sell vehicles on. I observed in the various G8 groups people posting stupid clean G8s and asking fair prices like $20K or $21K and utter rage and hatred. Dude, I can buy the same car for $10K. Yes, a car with 180,000 miles, a hot air filter on a stick, and deferred maintenance. Not a semi-collectible 30K mile garage queen with no modifications.

    When I sold my G8 I didn’t post on any of the sites and got within $300 of my target price. Ironically when I started posting some of the leftover parts and the questions came up the, “why didn’t you sell it here I would have paid…” posts ensued.

    No, you wouldn’t have, you would have gritched about the price.

    Sell it on FB Marketplace, Offer Up, and CL. Be honest on condition – “carma” is a cruel master.

    • 0 avatar

      Ahh the enthusiast group people who can spot a 1/8″ scratch from 2 miles away and ask for a $750 reduction in price. I know them well.

      • 0 avatar

        I saw a post on a G8 group where someone was looking for Solo axle backs, which I have a set. Someone tagged me in the post and tagged the requestor. I did some research, used ones are selling for $350 to $375 and new ones sold by a handful of vendors still offering them are $450 to $500.

        So I wrote the person and said, to paraphrase, I’ll give you a no-BS price of $325 plus shipping to your door. They write back they can buy new for $250 at site XYZ. I wrote back, “well, then you have your exhaust.”

        I went to the site — ya — $505 shipped to New Orleans. Stunning to me how “enthusiasts” try to pull it over other “enthusiasts.”

    • 0 avatar

      Rarely do I ever buy cars from “enthusiasts” myself, typically they ‘ll tape a metal cone air filter in a Camry, a cherry bomb exhaust, rear seats may or may not exist (theres a third gen Camry and a Stanza owned by “enthusiasts”), expect a custom radio/speakers with crude wiring (and they’ll want the radio back). Huge sporty rims too so your Lexus LS has less “old man” vibes.

      Mean while they’ll let the suspension, brakes, exhaust, or other more important issues slide.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Old, even rare, does not mean desirable. As such, you are selling a “an old used car” and are subject to market forces, which in this case, are very weak.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Old, even rare, does not mean desirable. As such, you are selling a “an old used car” and are subject to market forces, which in this case, are very weak.

    • 0 avatar

      Fortunately the cars I love are not desirable to the masses (I’ve got two early-90s Mopars but I’ve been eyeing a ’79 R-body Newport which needs some help), so they are dirt cheap to acquire and it leaves a lot of $ for parts/restoration.

      I’m just glad I don’t yearn for something like a ’67 Charger…yet.

  • avatar

    Recently sold a trusty ol’ 98 Ford Ranger and had the same concerns as the OP.
    Only option I had is try to pick and choose the Buyer; that means the grammatically challenged – e.g: whats u lowest price – or the guy who wanted a farm truck was rebuffed and I found a buyer who (I felt) fit the bill.
    Is he taking care of the truck like I would want him to, who knows and who cares, it’s a Ford Ranger not a Bugatti.

  • avatar

    After selling a number of older cars, my routuine usually goes like this:

    Phase 1: I’m going to miss that car, but I need to sell it

    Phase 2: 7 Scammers and low ballers, oui! Maybe I should keep it…

    Phase 3: George looks at the car, offers an absurdly under “Blue book” value, I say “no”.

    Phase 4: The car does finally sell “Thank goodness thats done with”, then I stair in relief at the space left from whatever extra parts I’ll sell with the car. What goes on in the cars future I dont concern myself with (unless if its something absurdly rare).

    I expect to be going through this again soon.

  • avatar

    Dude, it’s 20 years old and you love it. Don’t sell it. Get antique plates and collector insurance on it and keep it for the occasional weekend drive. It’s not like you are going to make out like a bandit when you sell it.

  • avatar

    Three years ago after buying my 200, I gave my ’04 Intrepid to a cousin of mine precisely because of the fear I had of it being abused, unappreciated and sent to an early grave. I could have been paid $3-4k for it as it was an ES model with the 3.5 and only had 109k miles on it, but it was a coincidence that my cousin just turned 16 and I trusted him with it over a stranger. I didn’t want the money, I just wanted the car to be going to a good home, so my cousin saved his money from his summer job that he would have otherwise spent on a down payment on his first car for the promise that he’d take care of it and drive diligently. To date he has kept his promise.

    Most Intrepids and other LH cars are priced in a category where they’re just cheap cars to be disposed of at any sign of a problem, even if the problem is relatively minor and cost less than a few hundred bucks to fix, in a world where some people junk cars just because the AC or doesn’t work, even if the rest of the car is in good/decent shape from an mechanical and aesthetic standpoint.

    Aside from a parking dent on the passenger side door, which is not a huge deal to fix/replace, he has taken care of the car really well. I showed him how to do all the basic maintenance and my grandfather lives pretty close to where he does so he helped with any of the oil changes and maintenance. He’s wanting to cash in the money he has been saving for a new car, so he’ll be giving the Intrepid back.

  • avatar

    Find a Church, charity or good local nonprofit. Ask them if they will take it to give to one of there volunteers or a family in need. Not a scam place that will resell it, but a gift to a real person. You won’t miss the Carmax $500 and that person might actually care about the car.

  • avatar

    Find a Church, charity or good local nonprofit. Ask them if they will take it to give to one of there volunteers or a family in need. Not a scam place that will resell it, but a gift to a real person. You won’t miss the Carmax $500 and that person might actually care about the car.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I completely sympathize with this Saturn owner. I have a 99 S-10 for almost 20 years that I really like but eventually I will have to get rid of. I have had a couple of cars in the past that were in perfect shape when I sold them but a year or 2 later I saw them all donked out ready for the junk yard. I was very depressed feeling like I would rather watch them being crushed up. I eventually will give my S-10 to my nephew who is retired from the Coast Guard as a project. I was thinking of giving it to the local high school for their aspiring mechanics in vocational school which is still not a bad idea if my nephew changes his mind. The little that I would get for it is not enough and at least it would go for a good cause. I guess if a car hoarder that owns a junk yard wanted to keep it for posterity then I might give it to them. In the meantime I am still enjoying my S-10 which has given me years of reliable faithful service. Truthfully there is little chance of a good ending for a vehicle with little value regardless of it being in excellent shape. I fully understand and sympathize. Maybe I can have a priest give my faithful vehicle last rites when I decide to let it go.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Sadly if your vehicle is over 10years old and over 120,000 miles and you trade it in, it’s going to auction. After the auction it’ll end up on the back row of a used car-lot or a BHPH lot if the cosmetics are good. As I looked at my 12-year old, 150,000 mile Escape in Carmax’s trade-in bay I thought, “BHPH Baby Momma Vehicle”. It served me well; I was fine with that.

  • avatar

    My impression of Saturns is they are crap cars that will run forever. Yours sounds like as good a Saturn as you’ll find, so set a fair, firm price. Use the words “great first car” or “awesome winter beater” and mostly don’t give a shit about who buys it, once it’s gone you don’t need to care.

  • avatar

    Wish I could take that Conti, despite knowledge of said Conti’s air ride system.

  • avatar

    Sajeev, I am rubbing my eyes in horror and disbelief. Did you really replace the Continental’s blessed air suspension with one of those godawful drop-in coil spring kits? My mom did that to her Continental and it’s utterly horrifying: the ride is as jouncy as a leaf-sprung school bus and the springs audibly squeak with every road impact. I realize it costs more than the car’s worth to fix the air suspension, but this is unforgivable!

  • avatar

    I can level with this desire to have the next owner take care of a vehicle, and I can at the same time see how illogical it is as a previous owner to expect/wish for that. I think the only thing that enhances this desire more than long ownership is when you’ve done a lot of work on the vehicle, specifically when you found it in sad shape and really turned that around.

    About 16 years ago I bought a Merkur XR4Ti from a guy for 500 bucks. It needed a decent amount of work (head gasket, turbo, various external trim pieces and paint care, headliner, etc…) and I diligently repaired just about everything. It was fun as hell to drive, and I really felt the sweat-equity I put into the car…it was a bonding experience! About 10 months later I had to leave home for college and my parents said I couldn’t keep the car at their house, and with where I was renting, I couldn’t take it with me. I put the car up for sale and somewhat quickly found a buyer. Stupidly, I asked the guy what his plans were for the car and he informed me that he was going to pull the engine to put in a ’92 Ranger build and he’d probably scrap the body. He might as well have punched me in the stomach.

  • avatar
    Carroll Prescott

    I kinda get the vibe from this post and share some of the concerns.

    But it is ONLY a Saturn.

    Your feelings for your Saturn mirror mine for my 1997 Escort bought new and driven past 175k. I have feelings for the car that are attachments of memories.

    But seriously, if I sold it, it is a car. I cannot control what someone would do and lowball offers are in my control to ignore.

    Having sold a 1969 six cylinder Mustang that I loved but had no business trying to fix, I stipulated that the car not be converted to 8 cylinders. The buyer agreed. I cannot control what eventually happened. After all, it is no longer mine.

    I can understand wanting to have your Saturn to go to the right home – so price it high and ignore anything that is insulting. There will be a Saturn lover out there (they aren’t bad cars, just unremarkable ones). You may take years to sell it as you want, but hey, that is what you really want anyway right?

  • avatar

    Great ad Sajeev.

    TitusL, seriously, you have 2 mutually exclusive choice:

    1) Sell it to someone you pick, at a discount (so you have a lot of people you can choose from). You will not always be able to get the best deal as people who knows may low ball you as well.

    2) Sell it for the best price and you cannot pick your buyer, which means they may not be the best people you can find, but they are lazy and want to buy your car to abuse.

    Typically I’d choose 2) as buyer from 1) may just put up a show and lie. You have no control who they sell the car to after you sell to them, or how they treat the car. Buyer from 2) will abuse someone’s car, so if they abuse mine some other car will be saved from the abuse, nothing lost in the world really.

    BTW, I have a prime condition 97 Camry V6 XLE to get rid of, abuser welcome, restored survivor, anyone wants a good baby Lexus? Leather is in great condition and the whole car drives nice, 150K miles, KYB GR2 installed 20k miles ago, ICE cold AC, only problem is a mismatch sun visor, some minor suspension and engine noises, and a stuck front passenger seat motor. Asking $3k, in Northern California.

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