The Wastegate

Buyer's Market

April 2009 Column

This rotten economy has placed people like me who are trying to get out of a vehicle in a tough position. We're fielding painful low ball offers on something that was worth 25 percent more just a few months ago. Anyone trying to sell a truck now has to take a huge hit to the wallet.

I just recently went through the enjoyable experience of trying to sell a diesel pickup. I know, my timing is impeccable.

I had to wait until the automotive economy had completely tanked so that I could fully maximize my truck's depreciation. It was a risky move, trying to sell something worth twice its street value for barely what you owe the bank for it (which is turned out to be half of that first figure).

I tried selling it the old-fashioned way, first by listing it online at Ebay. That proved to be slightly less effective than writing `for sale' on the windshield with a bar of white soap and parking it on the corner near the office.

The next step I resorted to was seeing what I could get for it on trade. Just my luck, GM had spewed all of its cash out the latrine and was in full liquidation mode. I walked into a dealership the same week that GM's Red Tag sale started. You know, where Chevy sold $50,000 trucks for $48,000 one week and the next week sold the same trucks for $35,890. I think the Red
Tag name for the sale came from the skin color on the faces of all of those guys who bought in at the $48,000 deal.

So basically, this "discount" made the book value of my truck drop by the thousands. When the sales manager came back in with the "offer" on my truck as a trade, all I could hear in my head was the line from Fletch Lives where Fletch is tossed into a prison cell with an unsightly burly dude:

"What's your name?"

"Bend over."

"Nice to meet you, Ben."

I escaped the dealership with my moral standards intact.

So I turned back to the internet. The first serious interest came from a kid who didn't know the difference between a CP3 and an MP3 and spent more time looking for scratches in the clear coat than paying attention to the explanation of the different EFI Live tunes. Get out of my truck, kid.

I finally found a *real buyer (the * is because at that price, I don't think anything's truly real) through a diesel forum website that shall remain nameless (big shout out to!).

It was painful to let it go (for the price, not the sentimental reasons), but at least it was going somewhere it would be appreciated.

But look on the bright side: This rotten economy has placed people like me who are looking for a new vehicle in a prime position. We're making killer low ball offers on stuff that was worth 25 percent more just a few short months ago. Anyone who's trying to sell me a truck right now is going to take a huge hit to the wallet.

And the first person I'm going after is that sales manager.

"Nice to meet you, Ben."

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