Selling a Co-Owned Car

My boyfriend and I own a car together. It’s in my name, and we owe $14000. He uses the car almost exclusively, and pays for 2/3 of the payment, while I pay for insurance.

The catch is, he wants to break up. How do we equitably deal with the car? I don’t want it, he needs it, but he can’t afford the full payment.

To complicate things, I used my good credit to ‘buy’ the car for him, because his credit is nonexistent. Which means that a) there is a certain amount of bad feeling about it, and b) I’m not sure I could transfer the lien to him.

We could probably get $12000+ for it, in it’s current condition. 2004 Toyota Highlander, Special Edition, 77000 miles on it(not on the recall list, but … it’s a Toyota!)

Any ideas??


- Sylvie

Legally it’s NOT co-owned, you own it. If it gets to arbitration does he have any documentation that the money he’s been paying is for that vehicle ?

To save your credit rating and to put the ball in his court, ( & since it’s a break-up )
sell the car out from under him,
pay him his percentage of equity ( if there is any ),
& let him go buy some other car for that much money.

No surprises here, he knew this going in, and he’ll take his lumps going out.

Co-habitation is always legally ambiguous I’m sure there are other issues as well, like the rent you’ve been sharing and custody of the dog.

(an aside; One of the many reasons that I personaly am FOR legal same gender marriage. Issues like this, and others, become defined by existing laws. )

When you break up, for your protection it must be a clean break. You can’t have responsibility for the loan unless you keep the car yourself. If he wants the car he will have to secure a car loan and give you the money so you can pay off your loan.

He will say he is good for the payments, but once you break up you have no leverage. If he fails to make payments it could ruin your credit rating. So, you have to sell the car and pay off your loan. Or he has to buy out your interest in the car so you can pay off your loan.

If you sell the car; and the loan is paid off if the selling price was more than the loan value you’ll have some cash. You and he need to negotiate as to how much of this cash goes to him and how much to you. Just because he makes 2/3 for the car payment doesn’t mean he owns more of the car. You have been making an insurance payment and that should account for some value in splitting up the proceeds from the sale. If the car doesn’t cover the loan payoff, then you’ll have to come up with some cash to pay off the loan.

Bottom line, when you split up (his decision) sometimes you have to take a step backward in “standard of living”. This applies to married couples as well as unmarried ones. He may have to drive a 2000 Hundai for awhile. Don’t be sucked into financing him after you break up, that is just going to become a big mess. You are the owner of record (you name alone is on the title) and your name is on the car loan. It is you call and whether he likes it or not the car has got to go. He can’t afford it on his own. If it wasn’t for you and your relationship he’d be driving a 2000 Hundai now.

You have to be tough on this one, it is your car, it is your loan, you have to sell one to pay off the other.

Sounds like you have to sell, even though you’re $2,000 upside down with the car. I’d ask him to chip in 2/3 of the shortage (hopefully no more than $2,000. There’s no option for him to keep the car, and you don’t want it.

Correction - If you end up being upside down I would ask him to pay the % of miles he’s put on the car. That’s the most reasonable way to share that cost. If he’s driven 90% of the miles, and it’s $2000, he’d pay $1800. Of course, everything’s negotiable.

Have you called the bank to get the “payoff” amount if you were to sell the vehicle and pay it off by March 31st?

Sometimes the payoff is less than what you figure you owe on the loan. You will be ending the loan early and therefore not paying interest for the full term. If the $14K you owe is your calculations, call the bank to confirm the actual payoff amount.

I just checked. The March 31 payoff is $14,890.59. With 77000 miles on it, 2 rips in the leather (he didn’t put the seats down when he transported his drums! sheesh), and could use tires… I might be able to just break even. If I can find a buyer in a county with 11% unemployment!

Thanks for your Very Good Ideas! now, how to tell him… !

Sorry, had you said he was a drummer…

I checked on Ebay, 2004 Highlanders with about your miles get bid to $9000-$12000. Maybe you can do better. Stop by a Carmax, see what they’ll offer.

My advice is next time you have an automotive question, go to

None of these shade tree attorneys even thought to ask you what state you were a resident of, and one even read “cohabitation” into your post even though you didn’t mention it.

You know what you need to do, and you don’t need a bunch of knuckleheads who fancy themselves mechanics, and in this case, lawyers to figure it out.

It sounds like he is destructive enough that I would take away the keys now, before he can do more damage.

This reminds me of a joke. What do you call a musician who just broke up with his girlfriend? Homeless.

You might have already learned a lesson from this, but I will say it anyway. For future reference, don’t share financial responsibility like this with anyone with whom you are not married. It’s one thing to let someone use your car, or rent a room in your house, or share a rented apartment. It is another thing to share ownership.

So your (unstated) recommendation is to hire a lawyer? We’re talking $2000 at issue here.

I agree…it’s in your name and under your control. Do what you think is fair. If he wants to break up…it will cost him. Listen to the good ideas but be your own person, look out for yourself.

And if you ever have a car that goes bumpa-da-bumpa in the right front when you turn a corner, be sure to see your attorney first. Go see a lawyer. For $75.00 an hour (same as a good mechanic’s time and look what you got) they will run through the choices and set you on the right path in less than an hour. Get sideways in this with ex boyfriend and it will cost a lot more than that in misery and lien holder troubles.

“So your (unstated) recommendation is to hire a lawyer? We’re talking $2000 at issue here.”

See, that’s why I come to this site. For the brilliant legal advice. No, Shadetree Denny Crane, there’s $14,000 at issue here. That’s the total on the loan for the car. Learn to read, read to learn. Booyah.

“See, that’s why I come to this site. For the brilliant legal advice. No, Shadetree Denny Crane, there’s $14,000 at issue here. That’s the total on the loan for the car. Learn to read, read to learn. Booyah.”

Mr Woofie,

Your response says a lot more about you than it does about anyone else, and it isn’t complimentary.

Hookay…nowhere does OP say the boyfriend is stealing the car, or refusing to sell the car…“We could probably get $12,000+…” she says, indicating some agreement between them. She didn’t say “We’re breaking up, and my boyfriend won’t give back the car.” That would be lawyer time.

Not sure why I’m inviting a reply…

It seems like the two of you are reasonable about this. The Highlander is totally yours, so selling it is up to you and somebody will buy it. 2/3 of the payment for most of the use has covered the use of the thing and your efforts, credit and time. It doesn’t cover the interest that an equal amount of money would have earned in a CD. About $175 a year.

If I were an arbiter, I would say that the boyfriend would be fairly treated if you kept the vehicle and he just walked away from it. You have both been paying for the depreciation of the vehicle and it is still 100% yours. Morally and legally. No written agreement, no question of ownership. It’s a wash.