So…. A 2005 4 door automatic in fair condition with 51,000 miles and no power locks or windows has a trade-in value of $903 according to Kelly Blue Book. It is likely that the dealership would have given us $0 for it since they really low-balled our 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid. We could also put it on Craigslist where there’s a private party value of $1,809, again according to kbb.com. Given the effort and hassle involved, it is likely that just giving it to the dealership would have been the best option.
Especially since my car needed $450 in repairs to repair a gas tank problem.
Rationally, I believe that inanimate objects do not have souls. That they can’t feel. That they don’t feel betrayed. Or sad. Or disappointed. But deep down, I don’t really believe that.
Deep down I love this car like I would a cherished pet. It still has life in it and isn’t ready to be put down, but unlike the case with a pet whose main purpose is to be loved, I need reliable transportation to work and we don’t have room for a third vehicle.
And it isn’t a bad car… it just occasionally falls apart and needs repairs.
One of my colleagues (a middle-aged full-time lecturer/admin with a 3 year contract who makes something like $90K/year, so not low income, but probably did not make that much before getting this position) overheard me discussing my car buying woes with another colleague and stopped me in the hall before school ended for the year to ask if I was planning on selling my low-mileage car. After I told him about all the flaws, he explained that his truck is getting up in years and miles and he wanted a second vehicle for when his is in the shop, or to rotate with on his daily commute. Rather than buying a brand new car, he had been looking at getting a second beater to minimize the risk.
This seems like a really great situation for my beloved Accent’s aging years. It can even occasionally still hang out with its buddies in the parking lot (though sadly it lost its best friend, a tiny red Miata, when another colleague’s family member traded a truck for it). (Yes, I have created elaborate fantasies about my Accent’s secret life. It has been with me longer than my children have!)
I’d decided on a $300 price before I realized something in the gas tank was going to need to be replaced.
So, rationally, we should have traded the car in with the broken gas tank and gotten $0 for the dealership to take it off our hands. (This is, in fact, what we did with our first car when we bought the Accent– we hadn’t had the predecessor that long and the body work that needed to be done to get it to pass the state inspection was worth more than the value of the car.)
Instead… we paid $450 for the EV replacement.
And sold the car for $300.
It’s the end of an era.
But I feel good about this sale. Irrational as it may be.*
Do you get attached to inanimate objects? Do you always make rational decisions when money is involved?
*My economist friend notes that from an economic standpoint, this isn’t irrational at all because economics is about happiness, not about money and I can put a price on that additional happiness. From a colloquial standpoint, it is completely irrational. Unless cars really do have souls…