The Tam News

The Real Cost: Used Craigslist Car Buying

Graphic by Leo DiPierro

Graphic by Leo DiPierro

Elliott Jacobs

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GOAL: I will be looking at unusual used cars on Craigslist that warrant commendation. These ads are riddled with spelling errors written by people looking to get rid of their sketchy cars.

STEP 1: Go on Craigslist

STEP 2: Search cars and trucks

STEP 3: Set price max at $750

STEP 4: Find your dream car

1. “98 Cadilac Deville for sale $750 obo or trade”    There are two pictures along with the Craigslist listing. The first picture is of a white Cadillac parked on the street with a dude standing on top looking like he’s about to shoot a music video. The second is of the car’s worn interior that includes leather seats, leather steering wheel and opening windows, all of which the owner ironically documented as “emaculent.” Is that the only problem though? Should I judge the validity of a car on the owner’s understanding of the English language? I then read the dreaded part of a craigslist listing: the car is missing the ignition. This car was most likely stolen. Damn.

2. 89 Acura Integra – $750 (pittsburg / antioch)    Take home this beauty with a low 32,655,061 miles on it. With an average of 3372 miles a day this car is a grave reminder to check that your car is a car and not a spaceship. Hopefully it gets good gas mileage.

3. 1978 Dodge Motorhome – $600 (santa rosa)    With low mileage, this dodge RV has spent a quarter of a century sitting in the owner’s backyard developing, as he called it in an email to me, “severe wood rot.” The RV is now a flatbed truck with no back. It is surprisingly in running condition, though gas will probably cost more than the vehicle itself.

4. 01 nissan sentra CHEAP – $300 (san jose east)    Due to an accident, this car’s max speed peaks at about 35 mph. This car makes me want to join a demolition derby. It costs 300 dollars. The average household grocery bill is around this price.

5. $150 1991 Honda (Can Run, Should Tow) – $150 (menlo park)    As we lower our standards even further, we reach the cars that are borderline sketch. Between burning oil and “making a grinding noise while driving except for when turning left” this car has some problems. The image posted shows a neglected car covered in mildew and leaves. It is topped off with the advice that the “car will run but you will need to bring some gas.”

6. 1996 Toyota Corolla for salvage/parts – $50 (palo alto)    What else costs $50 you might ask? Well, here’s a list of things that are in the same ballpark: filling up your gas tank, a three course dinner date at Applebee’s, a 30-minute massage, a pair of pants, a gallon of lube, a car radio, 10 shares of Rite Aid stock. Mind you, THIS CAR RUNS. “It is drivable with a jump start, though highway may be risky, would add power steering flo.”

CONCLUSION: The weirdest part of all of this is that some of these cars might run fine but, we discount them because at face value they are a little beat up, or because there may be spelling errors in the ads. Maybe the cars are just fine. Maybe we’re judgmental kids who won’t accept these cars for who they are. Maybe we’re the ones with a broken catalytic converter.

At the end of my search for my dream car I have learned two things: I need a larger budget and there is a lot of misinformation and errors on Craigslist.

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The Real Cost: Used Craigslist Car Buying