Thinking About Replacing Your Current Car with Another Used Car?
Some thoughts on Greed and Debt

by Joseph Warren, Editor
copyright 2023

Those sons-of-bitches over there ain’t buying. Every (car dealership) gets em. They’re lookers...take up your time. Over there...Get ‘em in a car. Start ‘em at two hundred and work down. Get ‘em out in a jalopy. Sock it to ‘em! They took our time.
Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath, Oklahoma Car Lot, 1930s

It wasn’t too bad until the Great Pandemic struck and Greed really took over: It’s pervasive. Today, Private Seller asking prices are half-again or more over what they ought to be, given normal value enhancement. Now, values are based on Scientific-Seller-Price-based-Research that looks something like this:

The potential seller has a “Completely Restored” 1978
Todesfahrt SS he would like to sell. (Todesfahrts were German vehicles produced prior to 1978. Google it.) “Restored” means that he painted over the body rust after adhering a few pounds of Bondo, and steam–cleaned the engine, spraying the block, the pipes, the inner-fenders – everything really, with a shaker can (or four) of paint, because taping off what you do not want to paint is just too tedious. Besides he was busy on YouTube at the time trying to find out if he should wear his ball cap completely backwards or off to one side, what t-shirt to accessorize with, and how to say, “Waazzz up YouTubers!” with the proper ignorant inflection.

He then searches other ads online at Craigslist, eBay and so on and finds the highest-priced comparably-fitted car and adds several hundred or more to his asking price, notwithstanding the car’s mileage and condition. Immediately after he’s posted his ad using
nothing but portrait oriented images, meaning a thin vertical slice of the car as opposed to horizontally capturing the actual car without abundant sky and oil-stained driveway because rotating the camera 90 degrees puts too much of a strain on his wrist, the next guy, who owns something like the same car, decides to sell his and adds a few hundred, or thousands, to his. And so it goes. On and on. And that’s how we got here today in both Housing and Vehicles and Food and Government Finance and... It’s all about Money without any sense of Value.

Dealerships are by far the worst, but not too far behind are the greedy multitude. Here are the statistics:

Right now on Craigslist in a geography that runs from
Phoenix to San Diego to Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to Phoenix, and all areas in-between, there are “More Than 10,000 Non-Diesel” cars for sale that have more than 150,000 miles, 6,000 of which have “clocked” more than 200,000 miles. That’s just a whole bunch of miles, and with very few exceptions, they should be retired to the scrap yard, particularly since 97% of them are newer than model year 1985 and of dubious collector value in the future given our direction to Electric.

Asking prices for these cars range from a high of more than $50,000 down to $3,500, with an average, as calculated by Craigslist, of $9,000. Cars at that price are typically
ratty beyond definition, and will require hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to bring them back to acceptable condition and operating status. So, $9,000 plus, let’s say $20,000 in parts and labor, and you’ll have a nice $15,000 car. You will never sell it for your investment. You will be the one who, when the music stops – sooner than you think – painfully wonders, slack-jawed, What happened?

Sort of speaking of collector cars, right now in the same geography, just on Craigslist, there are 500 cars for sale built before 1950. Average price is $21,000 discounting a 1938 Ford Truck posted by someone in Moreno Valley for thirteen and one-half million dollars. (Hopefully, obviously, a data-entry error, or it’s a joke, albeit a five-dollar joke (the cost of posting the ad).)

There are numerous pre-1950 cars priced not in error at $30,000 to $80,000: far too many for
Jay Leno to buy, yet each seller apparently believes that in today’s world their price meets the need of the average consumer. And it may for some of those operating with OPM (Other People’s Money: borrowed), which is much the same as borrowing money to invest in the stock market: another likely tragic consumer pastime.

Right now,
Consumer Debt in the US is more than $17 trillion, up from one-tenth of that just ten years ago, while average consumer purchasing power has been down-shifted greatly, notwithstanding all the pay raises everyone has received in the last two years, being ripped apart by inflation. It’s a race to the finish line: Whoever can inflate their prices first and fastest – Food, Housing, Medical, and, among others, Transportation – wins!

Debt is at an all-time high. In financial circles it is referred to as
Debt Slavery. So, while we recognize holidays such as Juneteenth as an observance of America’s Black population’s (somewhat) liberation, all we’ve done is welcome them into the pit. “Here’s a credit card, DeShan: buy some useless crap.”

While we’re on the subject, it’s also getting more difficult to sift through the poop-load of cars on Craigslist, eBay and elsewhere owing to the difficulty people have in understanding what constitutes a “Manual” or “Stick Shift” transmission. If you look at the image below, you’ll see three pedals. A Manual transmission has
that many pedals and does not include the emergency brake (not spelled B-R-E-A-K, incidentally) pedal.


Simply because you can move it through a shift gate – L or 1, through to, D or (4 or) 5 – doesn’t make it a Manual transmission, unless there is a Clutch pedal. I’m sorry: I know that’s disappointing to hear.

A car with a
Salvage title did not have a slight fender bender: It was totaled, and is worth about 40% or less of a non-totaled car of comparable condition. Comprehensive insurance coverage may be impossible to obtain for such a car. Also, it’s likely the speedometer-odometer has been replaced since the title for the car is reissued. That’s why so many Salvaged cars have mysteriously low mileage.

Mechanical condition: Having Uncle Bob put a new head gasket on the engine does not make it rebuilt.

Ran when parked. It is always safe to presume that it ran the last time it was parked, except when it was towed in and left for dead until you decided to sell it after a few years of the gas and oil contained therein turning to sludge and hardening.

Missing Title is not “easy to get.” It may in fact prove impossible. If it were easy, why didn’t the seller get a clear title before offering the vehicle for sale?

If a title is not in the seller’s name, it was likely bought not long ago to re-sell. He got a great buy, maybe, and is hoping to capitalize on your stupidity. It’s kind of the inverse of a sign I saw 50 years ago above a San Fernando Valley Jewelers:
We screwed the last guy and we’re passing the savings on to you. Also, if there were errors in the way in which the title was endorsed, you, as purchaser will have to revert to the Seller before, who sold it to the person you bought it from, presuming it hasn’t changed hands several times as they sometimes do on Craigslist, increasing the price with each iteration. That can be a very large problem.

Also, a car photographed while on a trailer is a sure sign that he, too, is passing
(it) on to you.

Need the Space! Then why did you buy the car? Obviously, to markup the price and sell it to the unsuspecting, or they bought a new car and the dealer offered them only true value for the car as a trade-in.

Illness Forces Sales! The seller is sick of looking at it.

If there is “Just a little surface rust,” there is rust likely everywhere. Crawl under the car and check.
YouTube has hundreds of videos of used cars just recently purchased where critical safety and suspension components have been eaten away. They are irreparable. They are dangerous.

Cars from the East and Texas, Louisiana, and so on, where they rust through after the first week from new, are often brought to Arizona, California, Nevada and sold to the unsuspecting. Cars from Western Oregon and Washington should be shot. To learn more, go to
Just Rolled In on YouTube and sit back and be terrorized. Want to buy a car without giving it a thorough inspection?

I’ve always considered VW Bugs so cool: especially in 1965 when I was too stoned to know otherwise. Today, they remain much the same, although I do not: cute, but can’t overtake a gimp geriatric dog, and the MPG is terrible. And, very importantly, it’s hard to avoid today’s highway gunfire in a VW, especially a vintage bus.

Subaru: Only Lesbians drive Subarus.

Anything British: If you can’t “Wrench,” that is to say, work on a car yourself, and if you’re not flush like Leno, avoid them. I know, having owned many including currently a 1966 Jaguar and a 1998 XK8. My 20 year-old Dodge is far more cost-effective. But what can I say. I love them both, neither one more than the other (I assure them daily).

Italian cars dissolve while sitting idle in your de-humidified garage, and they are only ergonomic for Italian males who possess Sicilian-like bodies.

Japanese cars are
reliable as hell, and very cheap to fix the earlier models. It’s just that they look funny, especially today’s models: everything’s pointy and lacks anything like grace and form. For a race of people who designed some of the most amazing cars in the past, they’re obviously too caught up in Futurized design. In some cases, though, they’re plainly hideous little blobs. (The cars, not the Japanese.) Still, though, cheap to buy, and if an older model year, you can probably fix it, whether man or woman, since I would never expect that a woman could not Wrench or Drive as well (or better) than a man, as evidenced in the greatest movie ever made:

Korean cars are new to me. I’ve plainly ignored them as much as possible. Overall, they look pretty Gay to me, not that there’s anything wrong with that:

Craigslist Specifically: Some time ago, Craigslist began charging five dollars for an ad. Pretty reasonable and certainly not a game stopper, one would think. Creatively, now, not only will you find puppy after puppy for sale in every category of Craigslist by people of very low intelligence who fail to see that we have burdened our society with countless examples of man’s best friend, now destined for death (read Dead Dog Walking), but cars for sale as well. These ads can be found in the Auto Parts, General, Wheels and Tires, Antiques, and every category on Craigslist where Pot, Drugs and Sex are sold, because these remain Free ad categories. Many of the ads are plainly fraudulent, and presumably a source of revenue to those who place them. Some are designed to sell a car that is otherwise unsellable claiming a lost title, as an example, when it had been surrendered for an insurance claim. Some ads are for over-priced cars carrying a sales price of fifty- or sixty-thousand dollars but the seller was hesitant to waste the five dollars necessary to place it in the Cars and Trucks category knowing it’s far too over-priced.

From the above you’ve probably discerned that I do not own a car later than 1998. There’s a reason: Computers.
Too many of them. Advanced feature computers. Media computers controlling the 58 inch screen stuck to the dashboard, and one for the butt massager protruding from your seat bottom. Computers to drive with. Computers to excuse you for farting. Computers to turn on lights and automatically start and stop your car and to tell you when to turn and how fast over the speed limit you’re going, as though you could care. Computers for everything, including the actual act of driving, freeing you to #TextandKill.

And, when one more of those computers burns out, your CAN system goes with it leaving you to hunt desperately for your iPhone so that you can report your computer to AAA and beg a ride, after which you may wait lethargically at home for the
come hither call signaling that your mechanic has replaced one or more computers, until the next time. CAN? What’s a CAN?