Considering Selling My Car (Or My Truck) (Or Both)

My wife and I recently purchased a new (to us) minivan.  We also own a 2001 Honda Accord and a 1994 Ford F-150.  I drive the car, my wife drives the minivan.  The old truck, at this point, is basically just a trash-truck – I use it to haul trash, carry things from the hardware store to home, and pull various trailers.  The van is in great condition.  The Honda is in good condition.  The truck?  The truck will crank – and it does what I need it to do, move stuff from point A to point B.

I really like the Honda, but my wife and I realized something a few months ago.  When the new baby arrives, our family will no longer ‘fit’ inside of the car!  My daughter is 8, and she rides in a booster.  My son is 4, and he rides in a forward-facing car seat.  The new baby, of course, will ride in a rear-facing car seat.  We tried every possible configuration, but the seats simply will not fit.

We have some decisions to make.  We can –

  1. Keep things as they are and simply use the van when we take family trips.  This will require a little planning and would probably lead to some inconvenience.
  2. Sell the car, keep the truck, and buy a slightly larger car / SUV / minivan.  This will solve the space issue, but we’ll still have 3 automobiles to insure and maintain.
  3. Sell the car and the truck, and buy a crew-cab truck, with room for all three car seats.  This will reduce the number of automobiles from 3 to 2, but will increase monthly gas bills.

For those who might be wondering, we live in a area where we ‘have’ to have a truck

27 thoughts on “Considering Selling My Car (Or My Truck) (Or Both)

  1. depending on how neurotic you like to be when buying a new car – i went above and beyond the call of MS Excel when buying my car, you might disappear in this website:

    and this is also a decent gauge for insurance

    create a couple of formulas using that information and various payment types and you are set!

    (been reading your website for a while, you’ve definitely inspired me to get serious about a budget.)

  2. Those are great links Rachel. I have a feeling that they’re not considering buying a vehicle on payments. I’d lean more towards #3, simply because you’d have only 2 vehicles (doesn’t make sense to have more than that) to buy gas for and insure. I wonder what the cost difference is to insure 3 vehicles or 2 vehicles with a little increase for fuel.

  3. Some personal takes…

    First, I would keep the beater truck and see if your insurance company will offer you “weekend insurance”. I know some companies used to offer that sort of coverage for utility vehicles.

    Second, the “extra planning” you anticipate for full-family trips isn’t such a big deal. After all, if both adults want to go somewhere together with the kids, then by default, the van will always be available, right? With that in mind, you could even downsize the car further to something even more economical like a 4-door Civic. I mean if you are going go, go all the way, right? The smaller car would be used simply for one-adult trips (regardless of the kids tagging along), and the van is the “family car”.

    Good luck!

  4. A little more…

    Gas for the third vehicle is a red herring. You are only going to use gas to move the vehicle. If the vehicle sits for long periods, you’re not going to buy gas for it. Leaving fuel economy out of the equation for a moment – when there are only two drivers in a family, it costs the exact same amount in gasoline for two cars as it does for one. Two drivers = no more than two engines running at any given time.

    The same concept will likely figure into your insurance costs. Usually, the number of drivers in the family is much more important to the insurance company than the number of cars. They know that at most you will only be driving two vehicles at a time, and they will quote your rate accordingly. As always, shop around. Most insurance companies are very competitive these days, unless they know they have you locked into the old “insure everything with us” school of thought. If you let them know you are serious enough to consider going to another company, they will “adjust” their prices. They want your money.

  5. Sorry- that last post should have read that “it costs the same amount in gas for two cars vs. three, when there are only two drivers.” or something like that.

  6. Why would using the minivan on family trips lead to inconveniences? Do you normally take 2 vehicles on these trips?

    Just wonderin’.

  7. I choose option one. No real need to make a change here. Use the money you would spend to fund your kids’ college accounts 🙂

  8. We chose to get the minivan and keep the sedan (and we’d keep the truck if we had one…kind of a mute point for us since we don’t). We don’t see the need to have more than one cart that fits ALL our kids and we’d like to save on gas (better gas mileage on the sedan) on trips (like my DH’s commute to work…) that don’t involve kids.

  9. There is a fourth option: buy a utility trailer, e.g.

    That one costs $700 and has a bed about the same size as a half ton pickup.

    With a trailer like that you have the same ability to carry household loads as you would with a pickup, without the costs (insurance, maintenance, storage, general life hassle, etc) of keeping an entire vehicle with its own drivetrain on the road.

    So I would recommend selling the truck and getting a trailer like that, to shrink the “fleet” down to two motorized vehicles. The minivan can probably haul a trailer like that; the Accord may even be able to. If you want more space in your car, I’d trade the Accord for a large family car like an Impala, Dodge Charger, etc. Large cars are still more economical than SUVs/minivans.

  10. I agree with those that say reduce to 2 autos. You mention gas and insurance for the 3rd auto, how about repair costs? I like the idea of a trailer and I expect you could probably find a used one for even less.

  11. Thanks so much for all of the feedback…

    Just a few notes –

    My wife is an educator, so she’ll take the kids to school / daycare in the van…

    Let’s say that I need to pick them all up for doctor visits / haircuts / ball practice /etc. Under that circumstance, I have to drive to my wife’s school and “swap” cars – or the kids will not all fit in the car. So, this is the type of “inconvenience” that I’m talking about. Not ‘that much’ of a hassle, but if I can sell both autos, buy something that accommodates the kids, and break-even, that’s probably what I’ll do.

    As for gas – I’m willing to spend a little more on gas for the convenience having an auto that we can all ride in…

    Finally, I’m totally going to fund the kids ESA’s for 2008. I’ll only ‘do this deal’ if I can break-even (or come really, really close).

  12. Am I miscalculating? If you pick three kids, why can’t one of them sit in the front passenger’s seat? How much longer will your oldest be in a car seat? The only inconvenience I see would be making sure you had duplicate car seats in each car or at least in the trunk for such an occasion.

    Sorry if there was an assumed no-kids-in-the-front-seat restriction I didn’t pick up on in your post. If that’s the case, ignore everything I suggested. In that case, newer Accords have smart airbags that turn off if the passenger weighs less than 50 lbs. (probably not the 2001 model though).

    /Father of five here…I’ve made lots of things work. Telling kids not to ride in front is not a law, just a recommendation to parents that helps sell bigger cars, SUVs, and vans, and more gas to drive them.

  13. If you can break-even, then it seems that option 3 would be the best choice, as long as the increase in gas cost isn’t more than the cost to insure and maintain the third car (as in option 2). You may have to replace your truck in the near future anyway, so it would suck to replace your car, and then have to replace our truck shortly afterwards. It just seems that there is less financial risk in option 3.

    But I have to ask – how much longer is your daughter going to be in the booster seat. It just seems that she may be booster-less fairly soon, and this may just be a short-term inconvenience.

  14. I would say keep the beater truck. If you just use it every once in a while, you could probably keep the insurance to a minimum on it. I would recommend getting a new car (and getting rid of the other one).

  15. A few more notes –

    We do not allow our kids to sit in the front seat –
    So, all of the kids have to go in the back –

    The real heart of the decision comes down to this –
    Do I want to get rid of the cars that we have and replace
    them with one automobile that will provide two functions? Also, how much of a hassle is it going to be if I need to swap cars w/ my wife?

    One thing you will note, if you visit my site often enough, is that, while I believe in frugality, I also believe in convenience. So, I’m seeking some sort of balance between what is FINANCIALLY sound and what actually works for our family.

    I’m loving the input… keep it coming!


  16. How often would you really need to pick up all three kids for doctor visits/haircuts/ball practices? Are we talking every week, or once a month, or 1-2 times a year?

    I would keep things as they are, or possibly keep the Honda & the minivan, and sell the truck. (If you don’t need to make hauling runs that often, it may be cheaper in the long run to just rent or borrow a truck.)

    Also, how much longer will your daughter need to be in the booster? Is she close to the weight or height limit?

  17. NCN,

    I would keep things as is. There will be the odd occasion where it will cause inconvenience, but not often if your family is like most.

    M Sneed

  18. My recommendation would be sell the car and truck (keeping the minivan) and get a second “back-up” minivan, perhaps older (read less expensive), and get one with the trailer hitch and trailer for the odd “truck” trips. If both vehicles are equipped with kid seats, you are covered if you are picking up or dropping off, and you could technically “haul” other larger things if the need arose. As for gas mileage and insurance, our older Honda Odyssey is still competitive compared to our newer sedan and you can’t beat the handling of a Honda.

  19. Yeah I’d keep what you have. Use the Honda for a commuter or small family trips, van for whole family, and beater for well hauling. You can get discounts if you drive less than like 6K miles a year and you could make sure that one has liability only. Its typically cheaper, depending on what you have, to keep what you have than sell and buy new. Anyway good luck.

  20. I would consider retiring your oldest’s booster seat. If you do, then you can fit in two car seats and a child. Personally, unless she is very small, 8 seems to be a little old for a booster.

  21. Clearly this decision is too difficult, and you’re just going to have to get rid of one of the kids.

  22. No offense but it seems to me you are rationalizing the need for a new vehicle. If you want a new (or new to you) vehicle, buy one. But don’t try to fool yourself into thinking this is a need. Clearly a want.


  23. I had the exact same situation last year, except I found a great deal on a truck, which made it even more enticing… I found many reasons for buying the new truck, and getting rid of other vehicles, but none of them even came close to justifying the decision because of cost.

    I bought the new truck – I cram the kids in there on occasion (never over a 1 hour drive), and they love every trip in my truck. I paid such a low price on a new Toyota that I could sell it for almost the same price I bought it for, at 10,000 miles. And, I’m driving a new vehicle with nice warranty…

    If you’re going to buy a new vehicle, make sure you buy something you will enjoy even when it starts depreciating…

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