Is It Time to Junk My Car?

I think that one of the main reasons that people hold on to their old cars for so long is because they are emotionally attached to them. There was this lady who I used to rent from who had this old red beat up Jeep Wrangler sitting in her driveway. Well, I rented from this lady for about a year-and-a-half, but that jeep had been sitting in the same spot for about a decade, and I’m not exaggerating. She told me how many long road trips she had taken in it, and also how good it used to run. But after that, when it stopped running, she just couldn’t bring herself to get rid of it.

You may think that this is impossible, but during that eighteen months that I rented the apartment next to her I could almost physically see that jeep deteriorating in her driveway. I mean, there was mold all over it, and, when you looked on the inside, you could see how all of the interior and seats and armrests had just eroded away from the vehicle sitting outside in the weather that whole time. And that paint job, there was no coming back from it. The tires were all busted up and flat, and any person in their right mind wouldn’t dare open up the hood from fear of snakes rats, lizards, insects, or maybe even a raccoon that may be up under there. There was a tree that hung over the driveway that she had that old red jeep parked under in the same spot, for years and years, which made the vehicle even more susceptible to living things invading it.

The worst part about it is she had the personality of a hoarder. You know, one of those people that just can’t throw anything away, and junk ends up piling up all over the place inside and outside of their residence. I don’t have to tell you guys in Portland the rules about debris and junk cars. If they are sitting on your property, and are an eyesore to your neighbors, they may have the right to call the authorities. And, the resident that has that junky yard or driveway will get tickets for that accumulating mess. That’s exactly what happened to this lady with the old jeep. I mean, she had other trash and junk around her yard too, but that vehicle is what most of her neighbors were complaining about.

I’d ask her from time to time, “Are you going to fix this Jeep up again, or just continuously let it sit here and rot and become more and more infested?” The thing was only taking up space…I was just wondering what she was going to do with it. I’d ask her about the tickets she gotten (not the ones while she was speeding in the jeep way back when, but the ones that she got from the city for it being a big piece of noticeable junk on her premises). I just knew that it would very likely be profitable for her to let it go, worth more to her if she sold it then if she kept it.

As a journalist, naturally I began to read up on the subject. I ran into this website called The Truth About Cars, and a writer named Stephen Lang further confirmed what I was trying to explain to her. The way he put it was you should “get rid of a car when it’s worth more dead than alive”. In other words, if you have an opportunity to make cash off of it, you might as well, because in the end you’re going to end up spending more cash on tickets for debris and junk in your yard, especially if you’re never going to use it again.

Another reason that many folks may not want to get rid of their junk car it’s because they remember how much money they put into it over the years. Some people really love their cars, and when they become attached to one it’s hard for them not to think that they can repair any problem that goes wrong with it. The thing is, many times these people don’t know how to repair cars themselves, which gives shady mechanics out there an opportunity to take advantage of them. See, the mechanics know that you depend on your car, but they also know that many people live paycheck-to-paycheck and will pay for small repairs every pay day if necessary. That being said, even if that mechanic knows for a fact that you could probably sell that car and get a nice profit off of it, he’ll keep patching it up between your paydays, because he knows that, once you sell it, he’s out of work.

It’s even worse if you have a car that you want to sell (whether it’s really beat down or in pretty good condition) that you’re still paying insurance on. Last thing you want to do is continuously throw money at something every month that you don’t want to use anymore, or that you can’t use anymore. These are your hard-earned dollars. Is it really smart to keep trying to bring back something to life that’s lifeless? That mechanic is going to tell you every reason in the world why you should keep that car. Many times, the older model cars people own (whether they be junk or still running) may already paid for. But, when you finish paying off a car, and the continuous repairs are adding up to be just as much as your car payment was, that’s a problem.

So you decide now, after adding up all of your previous expenses, that it’ll probably be a good idea to find someone who’ll buy your vehicle for a good price. Reyna Gobel did one article on Investopedia where she showed an example of a kind of analyzation technique that you can use to see whether or not your vehicle should be fixed up or turned into scrap metal. She also pointed out the fact that a person may have recently made a large monetary investment in the vehicle and that’s why they just don’t want to let it go. The example she used was a person who may have just bought a transmission that might have ran them a few thousand dollars. Then, after spending all that money, the unlucky car owner had something else go wrong with the vehicle, and now it’s inoperable. This is completely understandable, why the person is hesitant to sell the vehicle after spending all that money. Probably the only thing worse than being emotionally attached to that car, truck or SUV is becoming financially attached to it.

Many people who sell their junk cars use the money wisely. They take whatever they made from the sale and use it for a down payment to get a better running vehicle, or one that they simply like more. Gobel suggest that you ask questions beforehand, such as if the new car that you’re planning to buy is more energy and fuel efficient, how much your new car payments will be, and what’s the lifespan of the new car you’re planning to get after finally letting go of your old one.

Edmunds car maintenance website pointed out something else that car owners should pay attention to before they sell their car. As the primary driver of that vehicle, you know the problems that you had over and over again with the maintenance of that car. You’ve been on the most long trips with it and you’ve been the one paying the mechanic, so you have the records of all of the mishaps and inconveniences that the vehicle has put you through over a certain period of time. You know how many miles were on the car when you first got it, and how many it accumulated as you drove it. You also know what type of conditions the car has been in, whether the weather where you live is very hot or very cold. Overall, you have the best idea about the amount of wear and tear on that particular car. And that’s the information the junkyard needs to know. It’s better to sell it if it’s run down to the point where is going to keep putting you deeper and deeper into debt trying to fix it.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Still, you have those people who are insane about their cars, and they’ll keep going from mechanic to mechanic hoping that one of them will say “maybe you should sell the car…” Why are they waiting on a mechanic to say that? Because that’s the only voice in their ear that has any deeper interior knowledge about the car other than themselves, along with the fact that they themselves just need to be told to do it, because they can’t summon the courage to let it go alone. But don’t be a fool. You are losing money every time you visit that guy, and chances are he’ll keep “fixing” it every time you pull it into his garage. It’s time for you to make a firm decision to not to continue go broke for that old junk car, and sell it for a good price.

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