If you have been driving a fuel-efficient car for a while and you spy a monster SUV on the road, have you had the urge to yell out the window, “How’s that working for you?”
Yes, those big, bad boys suck up gas at a startling pace. And the owners of brand new SUVs are really paying, both at the pump and in car payments. Many of these owners of large vehicles are now trying to unload them in order to buy a smaller car or a hybrid, anything that sips instead of gulps gasoline.
Stephanie Nowak of Simi Valley has been trying to sell her 2006 Hummer H3 for $25,000 for about two months. She said she used to work in Simi Valley but now she is working in Manhattan Beach.
“I was spending like $120 every other day,” Nowak said.
Nowak said she got a Hummer when the lease on her Infinity G35 ended.
“I don’t know what possessed me,” Nowak said. “The H3 is actually considered the fuel-efficient model. But that doesn’t matter when you are sitting idling on the 405 freeway for four hours a day. I’ve been doing this for six months and it is terrible, horrible.”
Nowak said the only calls she has gotten about the Hummer have been from scammers trying to get her to pay them hundreds of dollars to sell her car for her. She said one man said he had a list of 75 buyers.
“I said, ‘You must be crazy. Who are these 75 people and why haven’t they called me?’” Nowak said.
Tracey Thomas of Port Hueneme is trying to sell her 2004 Lincoln Navigator Ultimate for $24,000.
Her circumstances are similar to those of Nowak. Thomas said she and her husband, who is in the Navy and based at Port Hueneme, are planning to have a large family.
“So we thought, let’s get an SUV with a lot of room,” Thomas said. “Within a month of buying the car, I got a job in Westlake Village and it is about 24 miles each way.”
Thomas said one dealer offered $10,000 beneath what she owes on the Lincoln, and she doesn’t see the sense in paying so much just to get it off her hands.
“So we’re kind of stuck,” Thomas said.
Thomas said she has even changed some of her driving habits, such as avoiding those jackrabbit starts and stops.
“Now that gas is so expensive, I definitely drive slower,” Thomas said. “I used to be the kind of person that, at a green light, would go for it. I definitely don’t do that anymore.”
Two other men, both of whom wanted to go only by their first names, are separately selling Toyota 4Runners. Their reasons for selling the vehicles are not typical.
Jeremy of Moorpark has a growing family.
“I’m selling the 4Runner actually to get something bigger,” Jeremy said. “I want a Tahoe.”
John of Camarillo said he has another car, a supercharged BMW. He said he is tired of getting calls from dealers.
“They’re trying to lowball the price,” John said, “and that’s not going to work with me because I’m not going to give something away that I’ve paid cash for.”
When the SUV owners go to a car dealership, they might expect a trade-in deal as they have done in the past. But now is not then.
Things have changed and people are often unprepared for the paltry amount being offered. The dealers want the sellers to know it’s a new SUV-less world out there, especially in southern California where distances are long and the time spent commuting can be even longer.
Tom Marmonde, general manager of Paradise Chevrolet in Ventura, said people have been coming to his dealership to buy small cars after trading in their SUVs.
“Some of the people are shocked at the trade-in value and don’t trade them in,” Marmonde said.
So, how much less are people being offered by the dealership? Sellers may expect to get the Kelley Blue Book value.
“It varies from $4,000 to $6,000, Kelley back-of-wholesale book,” said Marmonde, referring to the dealer trade-in value minus $4,000-$6,000. So if the Kelley Blue Book says you should be getting $12,000 on a dealer trade-in, you will only be offered $6,000-$8,000 max.
Mariano Hernandez, sales manager at Harbor Chrysler Plymouth in Ventura, agreed with Marmonde.
“We’ve seen people coming in to trade in their SUVs for a little four-cylinder,” Hernandez said. “When they hear the actual trade-in value of their car, they are pretty surprised.”
Hernandez explained the financial realities.
“They are making a $600-$700 car payment and they are paying $700 a month in gas,” Hernandez said. “So it is like a $1,400 car payment.”
Hernandez said people he has seen are buying Hondas or small SUVs in place of their V-10 SUVs and trucks.
“More people are also buying motorcycles,” he said. “It even crossed my mind.”