How I Safely Sold My Car

I wanted to sell my car (to live car-free) but wasn’t sure how to do it.  I hesitated to sell it through Craigslist, Autotrader, Ebay, or newspaper classified ads.  These methods require you to field phone calls from strangers, and then have those strangers come to your house.  Then you need to trust that they’ll safely test-drive it, and trust that the check they give you will be good.  These things were concerning to me and I imagine also to busy people, single parents, elderly folks, or anyone concerned with time, safety, or privacy.

I decided to take my car (a low-mileage 1997 Honda CR-V) to four local new and used car dealerships and ask if they wanted to buy it and how much they’d offer.  I called around first to make sure each place actually bought used cars.

I started at 10 a.m. and was done by 2:30 p.m.   At each place I was straightforward about what I was doing, letting them know I was taking it to various dealers and asking for their highest offer.  They typically had a mechanic check it out, then conferred with managers.  They all noted that Kelly Blue Book values were their starting point, but the offers varied quite a bit:

  • $1650.  CarMax
  • $800.  Honda dealer
  • $2300.  Toyota dealer
  • $1250.  Used car buyer

It was funny that the Honda dealer gave me the lowest offer by far. 

I drove my Honda CR-V back to the Toyota dealer, who had the highest offer, sold it them, and they cut me a check right away.  I’d only visited dealers near a bus stop, so was able to hop on a bus, and start my car-free life.

This was a completely safe and fast way to sell a car.  I probably could have gotten as much as double the amount by directly selling it to an individual, but this way it was fast, safe, and easy - worth so much to me.


Savings From Not Owning a Car

After another rent increase notice from the landlord, something had to give. Getting rid of the car, and related expenses, made the most sense for us.  We have now been living without a car for almost 2 years.  Here are our (previous) monthly car expenses; this is how much we are saving each month by being car-free:

  • $150. Parking.  (Downtown parking was expensive).
  • $65. Car insurance. (With a 17 year old car, insurance was reasonable.)
  • $40. Maintenance and repairs. (This would only increase, with our older car.)
  • $25. Gas. (We didn’t drive it much.)
  • $10. Registration and inspection. (Dividing the annual charge by 12)

As this was an older car, we didn’t have a car payment to get rid of.  But even with that, our car-free monthly savings is $285 per month or $3,420 per year. 

This is a true savings, since we didn’t replace the car with regular use of taxis or car sharing services.  We are lucky that we can walk to work, daycare, grocery shopping, friends, and the library.  Sometimes we do need to take a bus, and a couple of times a year a taxi, but that cost is minimal compared to the savings.

Besides the financial savings, there is time savings from not owning a car.  We are no longer dealing with insurance, maintenance, inspection, rotating tires, winterizing, getting gas, and all those other tasks that come with car ownership.

Handling Emergencies Without a Car


Wondering “What will I do in an emergency” kept me from selling my car for many months.  With a baby in the house, I worried whether I would find myself in a situation where I’d regret living without a car.

One day I was telling a friend of these worries, and she said “If it’s a real emergency, you call 911. You’d do that even if you had a car.”  She was right.  I sold the car and have been car-free for almost 2 years now.  Luckily, we haven’t had any emergencies, but here are some ideas on how to handle various crises without a car.

1.  Medical Emergency.

  • Like my friend said, dial 911, and have them come to you.

2.  Sickness.

  • If your medical insurance offers a nurse-advice phone number, call them to see if you can do self-care or if you do need to come in.
  • Use taxi, public transport, car-sharing services (like Uber), family, or friends to get to an medical care clinic.
  • Some doctors and nurses do make house calls, to the benefit of car-free people.  Research these providers in your area ahead of time.
  • Post these phone numbers on your fridge, so they’re ready when you need them.

3.  Natural Disaster.

  • After a disaster, the roads are going to be clogged (or damaged) anyways, so it usually makes more sense to stay near home until help arrives.  Get to know your neighbors (now) so that you can help each other during a storm, tornado, earthquake, flood, etc.
  • Make yourself more resilient to disasters by building an emergency kit, practicing a home exit plan, and preparing safe areas in your home or property.

With a little pre-planning, living without a car is no barrier to thriving through emergencies, sickness, and natural disasters.

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