Need to downsize

I have a 2006 Subaru Forester that I love, but I cannot really afford to keep making the payments. I’m trying to decide if I should sell it and buy something cheaper but reliable. Is this even possible?

First thing - how much do you still owe, and how much could you sell it for? If you owe more than it’s worth, you’re ‘upside down’ and will need to come up with the difference.

I’d try to hold onto it if possible. Is there any way you can refinance to reduce the amount of payments and stretch the payment period out longer?

Is it possible?
I have no idea.

How much are your payments?
How much can you afford to pay?
How much is left on your Subaru that needs to be paid off?


Blue book says it is worth 14,000. I owe 6,700, so I will make some money. I’m just not sure I can get a decent car for that, but at least I would be out from under the payments.

No. I have screwed my credit or I wouldn’t be in this situation.

Something to consider is this:
When buying a used car, you are buying the result of maintenance performed by the previous owner(s), and judging from a great many posts in this forum, it appears that a huge percentage of the population does not maintain their cars properly. So, rather than owning your current car, whose maintenance history you know, you may well wind up with a vehicle whose maintenance history is an unknown.

When buying a used car, DO NOT consider a car unless you have access to hard copies of its maintenance record and the Owner’s Manual, so that you can compare the two without distractions. If the car has not been maintained at least according to the minimal standards listed by the manufacturer, walk away.

And, even if you can verify correct maintenance, make sure that you have a candidate for purchase inspected by YOUR mechanic prior to purchase. We hear a lot of horror stories in this forum from folks who only discovered major mechanical problems and/or evidence of serious accident damage after they paid for their new rolling wreck.

Payments are 438.
Can’t really afford any payments, as I am currently way underemployed.
I owe 6,000. Blue book says I can sell it for 14,000.
Just need to know if I can get a reliable replacement for the difference.

Yeah, that’s the dilemma. I don’t want to be trading the car payment for car repairs. The things is that I am currently unemployed and don’t want to lose the car. I love the car and could probably pay it off by the end of the year if I knew I had an income certain. Thanks for your comments.

14k is at the top end of what you’ll get, that’s what car dealers sell them for. I found several in the $9-11k range. You certainly won’t get $14k in trade in. Sorry, but you need to have a reasonable expectation on what you’ll get.

So say you get 11k, that leaves only $4300 for your replacement. You can find reasonable cars for that, but it’ll be about a 2000 model, and it’ll take some looking.

If that’s the direction you need to head in, look for a used Ford Focus, about as inexpensive and still decent reliable as you can get. There are others out there, but you said it. Repair bills for payments. This is about as cheap as I’d recommend for a model and still have inexpensive parts/repair. The other might be a 2002 Prism which is bottom price wise reliability good…if maintained.

Blue book says 14,000 so the price is 9,000. Those books are really misleading, but don’t give up hope. Some people really need or want something and the dealers wouldn’t hesitate to charge 14,000 for a car just like yours, so there really is some room for you to get some money for it.

We all want to drive and I really want to drive a lot more than I want to walk. Not true; I just can’t walk very well. I lived without driving for a while once, but I had no real need to drive then because I had no real schedule and I was a walking fool. Maybe you could do without a car. Not my business to say that, of course, but a car just sucks money out of our pockets.


In “Days of Yore” like the year 2000 you could get interest on your savings, so I would have suggested that you’d be better off with money in the bank. We would still be better off with money in the bank but where is the motivation now? That’s the gap between now and the past. I call it the “Greenspan”. The man by that name is partially responsible for our money being the worthless thing it is. Blame 9-11 too, but the monkeying with the interest rate isn’t helping me personally. Greedy dude that I am.

I won’t wish for hard times and inflation to come back but it had its advantages at times. In the 70s, it hit me the hardest, due to no money in the bank. Now, the tables have turned. The only thing that hasn’t changed is my complaining.


I hope that the better times will rush to our rescue. In the mean time, I hope you find the right way to get through everything.

Rushilad, of course you can buy a reliable car for the difference you make selling your Forester. Foresters are fetching really good resale these days due to their popularity. If you can scrape 5-6K together, you’ll definitely be able to buy something that will last for a while. Of course used cars are a crap shoot in terms of their degree of maintenance. You can mitigate this risk by making generalizations about the previous owners. It sounds terrible, but it’s a dog-eat-dog world. Older folks, motorhead hillbillies (sort of one myself) and the like tend to take good care of their cars. And again, I’m generalizing, I steer clear of the folks in McMansions that appear to have gone over their heads with their cars (and everything else); it’s less likely they were meticulous about repairs–same with college-aged kids.

If you can swallow this idea, I recommend getting something in your price range and learn to repair/maintain it yourself, particularly with the extra time on your hands. There’s lots of resources for auto repair online where shade tree mechanics post videos and how-too guides. I have an old Jeep Cherokee with 200K on it and it’s never needed more than routine maintenance. Stay ahead of the mechanic by putting good oil in your vehicle, and replacing items according to the manufacturer’s recommendations for parts replacement based on mileage. This is why we listen to Car Talk, right?

You might get a reliable car, but you might get a lot of trouble too. Used cars can be a big gamble. You’ll be looking at an older, high mileage car so you have to figure on some repairs. $14K for your Forester sounds unlikely to me. Check “true market value” these numbers are more realistic than Kelly Blue Book which is always overvaluing the cars IMO.

The transition is going to be tough, you have to sell the Forester first before you really know what you have for the next car. Hold onto about $2000 for reconditioning (new brakes, tires, etc.) and potential repairs.

I’d not recommend an older Subaru. It is too likely you could end up with the dreaded head gasket problem.

Down The Road, When You’re Out From Under The Debt And Back On Your Feet, Do Yourself A Favor And Don’t Take On Any More Loans Like That. It’s A Disaster Looking For A Place To Happen.

How somebody can still owe $6700 on a 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 year-old used car is beyond my comprehension. You had champagne taste on a beer budget. Without a plan to pay it off with savings, if push came to shove, was a mistake, but a valuable lesson.

I’m afraid that now you’ll have to buy the kind of car that you can actually afford, a beater. There’s nothing wrong with that. We’ve all done it. Look on the bright side. It will give you a chance to get control over your budget.

As others have pointed out, should you net say $4,500, keep about $1500 to tweak your new ride which you will buy with the other $3000.

Good luck,

You need to contact the finance company to find out if they will allow you to sell the vehicle before it is paid off. Sometimes the terms of the loan prevent you from selling the car while you still owe money. Also, you might not be able to get what you owe for the car when you sell it, regardless what the blue book value is.

There are a whole bunch of steps I would take first before selling this car:

  1. Create a budget.

  2. Find other areas of the budget to cut in an attempt to keep up with the car payments.

  3. Live lean. Start buying the store brand items at the Walmart Supercenter and cut down on unnecessary trips. Driving less means lower maintenance costs. Carpool. See if you can reduce your electric and water bills.

  4. Look at your auto insurance policy to see if there are ways to decrease the premiums. Can you raise your deductible from $250 to $1,000? However, make sure you keep the coverage that is required when you owe money on a vehicle.

  5. Give yourself an allowance for incidental and meal expenses, and don’t exceed it. Bring your lunch to work instead of eating out.

When owning a car, the way to get ahead financially is to keep a car until it is paid off, and then keep it running as long as you can. The more time you can keep a payment-free car, the more time you have to save for your next car.

I have a bit different perspective on this than some others. I think that you deserve a lot of credit for recognizing that you’ve gotten in over your head and reaching out to try to correct the situation. I believe that in your situation, the single most crittical thing you can do is clear the debt.

You currently have roughly $8,000 in equity in the car. I think it’s a smart and mature thing to do to sell it, pay off the debt, and look for something you can afford. And yes, you will be able to find a reliable used car for that amount.

You need to do two things. The first is to look patiently and in an organized manner for something with a reputation for reliability and longvity. The second is that when you find one, have it thoroughly checked out by a trusted shop.

Sincere best. IMHO you’re doing the smart thing and should be commended.

Hey man. Stop making assumptions. I was a veteran teacher with a steady job not making a lot but wanting a car that would last. I had to take a 5 year loan to afford it, and I could afford it until I became one of the many teachers that school districts have decided to lay off so they can hire younger, cheaper models. Don’t be preaching to me buddy. If you don’t have something to contribute get off the net.

Thanks for the support. That’s what I think too.

I Was Only Only Trying To Help You. As A Teacher, I Thought You’d Appreciated A Lesson. I Stated That Looking On The Bright Side, You Can Now Get Out Of Debt.

The lesson that you are declining is that you purchased more than you could afford. Next time, save more money and try and pay cash if possible. If not possible, don’t take a five year loan on something that’s a poor investment, like a car.

What school district is this ? I’d like to go where they " hire younger, cheaper models." Districts that hire Models are rare.

Live and learn !

Good luck to you,