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Thinning the (4 wheel) herd

Well, since this seems to be a thing I thought I would update my fleet as well. Through a lot of logical (and some irrational) choices, I sold the minivan and Suburban in the past week, cutting the fleet in half.

Following CofFL’s lead I went the online route. First up was the minivan. 2014 Chrysler T&C, it was used mostly for our part time nanny to drive the kids around in (back when they went places, like school). Now that there is no school to “go” to, fewer after school activities, and the oldest kids are big enough to fit in the front seats she can drive them around in her own car. Since it is a relatively new Accord, I’m good with that.


I put the minivan in KBB and and the instant offer was $7300. That was ok, on the middle range of “trade in” value, so I felt decent about it. Within 30 minutes I had a call from a smaller user car dealer wanting to come by my house and look at it. We setup a time for the next day and I went back to work.

Illustration for article titled Thinning the (4 wheel) herd
Photo: Me

About an hour before the guy showed up I got an email from Vroom offering $8000. So when he shows I let him look over the car and I tell him I have another offer for $8k, but since he is there already I’d sell it to him if he matched. He went back to his car, called his boss, and 5 minutes later we were signing a sales contract for $8,000. Overall the easiest car sale I’ve ever done. Total time invested by me to sell was about an hour. Later that same day he was dropped off, I gave him the keys and the minivan was gone. I noticed they had it up for sale online within two days (I think for $9980).

Overall level of satisfaction: A

Now onto the Suburban. This was driven by my logic of wanting a 4WD version of what I already have (had). My logic: continued COVID concerns will lead to more road trips instead of flying vacations, and 4WD is nice to have especially if we are able to still ski this coming season. Yes, I could rent something 4WD when needed, but for a week or longer that is easily a grand. So my logic was - if I can get into 4WD Suburban for a few grand then I’ll be net neutral AND have 4WD. (I never said it was perfect logic, just my logic.)

So before I went online, I found one potential candidate and had a dealer give me an estimate for my trade in. I figured this would at least give me a ballpark of the market. They came back at $23.5k, which with the tax savings of trading in is about $25k. Less than I thought, but I had honestly forgotten about getting side swiped in early 2019. It was just a bumper cover and paint, but I did have insurance cover it (it wasn’t my fault so not my insurance), so it showed up on CarFax.

Much to my chagrin there was a second accident reported as well, about two months before I bought it in 2017. When I bought it that accident didn’t show up on the CarFax. Either way, now I had a 2015 Suburban with two reported accidents. Not great for resale at this price point.

Photo: Me

I decided to try the online route as well, and the first instant offer I got was $21.7! Way below what I was expecting, but luckily the guy who bought my minivan was interested as well.


I was honest with him since the minivan experience was so good - if he offered me more than what I could get with trade in plus tax savings he could buy it. He came back with $25.5k after looking it over, and I’m happy with that. More paperwork and he drove off in the Suburban last Thursday.

Overall level of satisfaction with this transaction: B (took a bit more back and forth)


So now we are down to my wife’s 2015 Pathfinder and my 1988 BMW 535i. Yep, for right now the E28 is my daily. In a week we went from 4 cars to 2 (though it will go back to three).

I’m on the lookout for 2015/16 4WD Suburban or Yukon XL. I was too pampered with my last one, so it will probably need to be an LTZ or Premier Suburban or SLT or Denali Yukon XL. There are reasonable options in the general Houston area, and even more if I expand to Austin / San Antonio / Dallas. In addition my dad is going back to Nebraska in two weeks to visit his brothers, and most of the Suburbans there are 4WD. Definitely need to be more picky on those, but the selection is higher as well.

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