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Selling A Car on Consignment


Selling a Civic on Consignemnt

This is not Yertle, but could be a close cousin. Image: Wikipedia Commons

We have been a three car family for about two years. I know,  aren’t there only two drivers in my house? Why do we need three cars? It was kind of a failed experiment and now it’s time to sell the third car. I was all ready to put it on Craig’s list, until I almost had an aneurysm thinking about all the weirdos I’d have to deal with, so we decided to sell our car on consignment.

The Failed Experiment

Our last car purchases before we got serious about our money were a 2006 Toyota Tacoma that Jim drives, and my 2008 Nissan Altima. We love having a truck. It allows us to get out of our driveway on snowy days and takes me to work over the mountain pass when I have to work in Telluride during the winter. We can also pull our pop up camper and drive over all the 4WD roads in Southwest Colorado. If we lived in the city, it might be frivolous, but life in rural Colorado is much easier with a truck.

Said truck gets crappy gas mileage, and, unfortunately, we drive a lot. Two years ago, a work colleague of mine was selling his 1999 Honda Civic. We thought it would be a perfect car for Jim so that we could cut back on gas expenses. We paid $3000 for the Civic (much better than a 6 year loan!), and figured we would make our money back in two years if he drove it on all non-snowy days. This would also preserve the truck for years to come. We named the Civic Yertle, because he’s slow and green.

It sounded great in theory, except Jim hated driving Yertle. I drove him for a while and let Jim take the Altima, but he didn’t like that either. Turns out, he’s addicted to his truck. Before you uber frugal people start throwing stones, remember that we’ve had almost a complete 180 in spending over the last few years. I could care less what I drive at this point, but for some reason, Jim likes his truck enough to consider the extra gas worth it. It’s one of his few holdouts from our past.  I could argue harder, but sometimes, you just have to let it go.

So as of now, Yertle is a fairly expensive lawn ornament. I thought about selling the Altima and keeping Yertle, but he would not be a good car to take on road trips. He runs well, but has over 208,000 miles and we just don’t feel safe going more than a couple of hours out of town.

Set To Sell on Craigslist

I had the engine steam cleaned and spent some time cleaning out all the goo that a child and pet can inflict on a vehicle. I was getting ready to take pictures when I literally had a mini panic attack about having to deal with all the crazy Craig’s list people. Jim has meetings at least two evenings a week and has several business trips coming up. That means most of the showing and haggling would be on me. I could see getting stabbed in my driveway while some axe murderer takes off in Yertle. (Well, it would be a slow getaway, but I’m bleeding and probably still can’t catch him).

Consignment, Another Option

I remembered that my mechanic consigns cars for sale. He doesn’t have a big selection, but generally has 3 or 4 used cars for sale in front of his shop. I thought I’d see if this option might work better for me than Craig’s List.

It turns out he takes 10% or $500 as minimum commission. Since Yertle is worth about $3K, that would eat a pretty big chunk of the profits. I was about to go back to screening axe murderers when he told me that he priced used cars based on how a dealership would list them. He had a computer program that showed the list price should be $3850. He felt he would have to haggle a bit, but could easily get $3500,which nets us about what I expected on Craig’s list. Sign me up!

I guess there is a portion of the population who would rather buy this way that go to some stranger’s house where they might get shot or maimed while trying to look at a used car. More power to those of you who love the list of Craig, but for me, I’m so relieved and happy to get most of our money back from the failed experiment and go back to being a two car family.

Any failed financial experiments lately? How would you sell a used car?

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. Selling on consignment sounds like a good plan if you don’t want to deal with craigslist weirdos! I sold a car on craigslist once a really long time ago and it went fine, but I got lucky. Some parent literally showed up with the cash and bought it for their child.

  2. I have a friend who runs gas stations and told me there are always used cars at the stations and they always go really quickly. I would never think to buy a car at a station; however, I guess there is a whole population of people who knows better than I do. I would prefer this route over the axe murderer, a few hundred bucks is definitely not worth your life. 🙂

    • I’d probably be fine, I just don’t want or have time to deal with the whole process. It is weird to have a strange person come to your house, but I guess it’s no different than having a yard sale.

  3. We tried to sell our Mini Cooper on consignment and it was a disaster. The consignment lot made a lot of verbal promises about how much effort they were going to put into selling it to get top dollar and instead they let the car sit there for 3 months without even keeping the tires inflated. We actually had to PAY to get it back after 3 months and it was the worst experience ever. No one cares more about your money and property than you! We will never sell on consignment ever again. Our craigslist sale was perfect – just had to be picky about screening buyers by email and phone before hand. B

    • That does not make me feel good! Hopefully, since it’s a small town and we have a working relationship with the consigner, it will work out.

  4. Interesting, thanks for sharing, I haven’t heard of this option before. We have bought from people we know and we’ve driven all our cars in to the ground so I haven’t sold one before only given it to charity. I’ll have to check it out.

    • That’s really cool that you donated a car. When I was on the board for the Humane Society, we had a few donated to us and it was always a decent amount of money with very little effort.

  5. That sounds pretty good. There are a lot of weird people on Craigslist so I understand your concern. Also, you might have a better chance selling the car on consignment since people seem to trust mechanics more than people that don’t know anything about cars… like me.

    • I know he’ll be able to answer mechanical questions better than us. Also, it sort of removed us from the process. If the car dies the day after it’s sold, they will come back to him instead of us.

  6. I don’t think I could sell a car on Craigslist either. i would be too worried about the crazies and then I’d be paranoid afterwards and worrying about Lauren and Taylor’s safety. We’ve never had a 3rd vehicle, so we tend to take the simplest route and trade in our old vehicles when we replace them. I know that you can typically get more money selling them yourself, but sometimes simplicity is worth it.

    • I think we’d probably get $50 for a trade in! I would love to be a one car family, but we have to be in too many places at the same time. Maybe someday.

  7. We found our last car through Craigslist but man did we ever put in safeguards and it worked out very well. If we had to sell one of ours, DH would definitely be the front-man for how the purchase would go down. I would not ever try to list something for sale while he would be away for work.

    • I’m afraid our schedule isn’t really going to slow down until next summer, and I don’t want to keep paying insurance and registration for a car we aren’t using. I would buy a car on Craig’s list for sure. I just don’t want to sell one.

  8. My inlaws gifted us their old car. We were planning on running ours into the ground, but this new one is more comfy, so we’ve got ours for sale on Kijiji now. I’m not looking forward to the whole process. This consignment thing sounds like a dream. I’ve never seen cars at gas stations around here though…

    • Ours is actually at a mechanic shop. I don’t recall ever seeing one at a gas station, but all of our gas stations are chain type convenience stores. I doubt they would allow someone to leave cars there.

  9. I guess I’ve never really been afraid of selling on craigslist (or Facebook). Even if I’m home alone i just tell a friend or family member that lives locally what time the person is supposed to cover over and then if they don’t hear from me in an hour after that assume I’ve been shot/stabbed 🙂

    • I think it would be easier if it was just an item a person could look at and decide. With a car, they would have all sorts of questions and want to go for a test drive. I would not feel comfortable driving away with a complete stranger and I wouldn’t want someone to take the car for a drive on their own either.

  10. I never thought of selling a car this way, but would love an update when it is sold. So far we have only sold vehicles to family (as a car salesperson said – we use our cars to the end). One of these days we will have a 19 year old van to sell (which is still good for our college student), but I am not sure how since the thought of selling it on Craigslist also wigs me out.

  11. That’s a great way to sell a car! We tried selling ours on Craigslist but didn’t find much interest. Ended up selling to a friend. I wonder if there is a consignment place around here … I have never heard of that!

  12. I’ve sold a car and a motorcycle via Craigslist and it turned out fine for me. Then again I was young and stupid and not worried about crazy people. My other car I sold via my car mechanic who knew someone looking for a car. He didn’t charge me anything either which was awesome!
    My boyfriend is the same way about his truck. He will rarely drive my car because he doesn’t like how low to the ground it is. I have accepted that we will always pay a lot in gas.

    • Sometimes you just have to accept that people value different things. We’ve moved on and are happier not arguing about it.

  13. Seems like a great idea to me. The problem with buying from individuals is that it is very inefficient. Buyers have to pick out the cars they want to see one by one, come up with a time that works for both parties, and then drive all over town to see one car at a time.

    Consignment solves all of these problems. I think it’s a great idea and it seems like this could be a great business idea.

    • Yes, that would be time consuming if the first one wasn’t what you were looking for. The logistics of finding a time and place to meet make my head spin.

  14. What a great reminder. Often people forget they can sell items on consignment. A few years ago, we sold an old boat this way. The marina took 10 percent and it sure beat waiting for months to get a response. These places get a lot more traffic than your yard.

  15. I’ve had good luck with Craigslist buying or selling. I screen people pretty well before hand and NEVER have them come to my house, always somewhere where there are lots of people such as Best Buy or the local Mall if it is the weekend. If it’s during the week, we meet at my mechanics shop. If I’m buying a car, we MUST meet at my mechanic as he goes over the car. My mechanic has saved me thousands of $$$ by screening out the crooks. There are a lot of crooks and dishonest people out there.

    I’ve never tried Commission because most require you leave it there for a certain amount of time and I like control over the situation.

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