All three of the vehicles When I called my insurance company to put the new car on, they explained that my best option was to transfer my existing coverage to my new car. But, by their rules, that means I have only 30 days to get rid of the old Saturn, or else start a new policy on it which would be expensive.

Meanwhile, there’s the van. The van was a gift from my parents, after it got old enough and of questionable enough reliability that they got a new one. It’s been very handy, helping me with several pickups of lumber, furniture, etc. It also helped countless friends of mine move.

But, during its last main job last fall, a scary thing happened. A big part of the suspension jetted up through the floor of the car. Eek! I asked some friends about it and most people thought it would be repairable. I took it to a garage, but they recommended a welder. I took it to the welder, but he said it might not be worth it, the van is old and rusty and it would cost at least a few hundred dollars to repair. I drove away to think about it.

Now, thinking is one of my favorite activities. :) I did some math in my head and calculated, after a while, that, for as little as I drive the van, it’d be cheaper for me to rent a U-Haul all of those times than to continue paying the insurance on it along with these repairs. Less convenient, sure, but still… My line to myself ended up being “if you used the van more often, it might be worth fixing, but since you don’t, it’s not worth it, at least not for you.”

The van's biggest problemSo, long and short, I had two motor vehicles to sell. And, just as I don’t have a great deal of experiene buying cars, I don’t have any experience selling them… The other two cars I’ve owned in my life were junked at the end of their times.

Again, it’s great that it’s so easy to use Kelley Blue Book and similar sites for things like this. The KBB value of my car was $1050-1250, depending on condition, and it definitely isn’t in top condition. So, I was gearing up to try to sell it for about $1000. Turns out that before I even listed it on line, I hear interest from two different friends, and ended up selling it to one of them for $925. Her other car is a pickup, and by our calculations, the Saturn will pay for itself in about 7 months in fuel savings for as much driving as she does. Wow.

But I did eventually get up my courage to list it online. I cleaned it up a bit on the inside (finding all sorts of things (especially cheap kids’ toys) that were apparently left in there when some friend was moving things). I figured I would try on Craigslist first, because it’s free and easy.

A tip for people thinking of listing something on Craigslist: do it when you have some free time ahead of you. Listing this old beast for $200 negotiable, I had two replies the next morning, both of whom very specifically made offers to pick it up THAT DAY. I actually had several meetings and stuff that day, so I had to work to fit one of them in. But, he was flexible, and we worked it out.

He worked as a professional welder in Columbus, IN, and apparently does welding in his spare time as well. So, I think the van is going to a good home. He drove over in his big pickup, pulling a trailer behind him.

I asked if we wanted to test drive it or anything. “Nah” he said “as long as I can drive it up on the trailer, that’s all I care about.” No problem there! So, up it went, he handed me the agreed upon $125, and a few signatures later, the van was gone. So simple.

The Van being Driven AwaySo, I’m a one car family again! :) I do like the new car, I’m happy about the whole experience. But, as a conclusion, rather than talk about the new car, I want to send a tribute to the old Saturn.

I have an approach to examining car expenses which is to look at the total cost of the car, including repairs (but not including gas or insurance) over the time that you owned the vehicle. I think you do pretty well if you can drive an economy car for $1000/year. So, if you buy a car for $13,000, never put any serious repairs on it, and it lasts for 13 years, you did well. If you buy an old car for $1000, put $2000 of repairs into it over three years, you did well. Or, if you buy a used car for $9000, drive it for two years with no repairs, and sell it for $7000, you did well.

Well, if I recall correctly, I bought the 1994 Saturn for $5500 in December, 1999. Over eight years later, I sold it for just over $900, so I my net expense was $4600. That car barely needed any maintenance. In fact, a year or so ago, I finally had a bunch of the preventive maintenance type stuff done on it, figuring that it had been at least seven years since it had any of that done. So, maybe I did $1000 of repairs over that eight years. Even at a full thousand, though, the total cost of ownership would be $5600 over eight years, an average of under $700 per year. And never once did it fail to get me where I wanted to go. That car served me extremely well, and it is just a bit sad to see it go. Of course, since I sold it to my friend, I’m hoping I can watch it continue to serve someone well for at least a few more years. Thanks, y’old Saturn…