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To Stay or Leave - My 2008 Nissan Altima Dilemma

I bought a black 2008 Altima almost two years ago. I love this car. I quickly became addicted to the ease of the pushbutton start and door entry, it’s a joy to drive in the city or on the highway, I’ve had no major mechanical problems that weren’t covered by the Nissan warranty I purchased with the car, and I think it’s quite beautiful to look at. I love road trips and the poor thing already has 67,000 miles on it. I have $12,900 left to pay the bank.

Despite my love for this car, I have always felt ill at ease with my decision to purchase it. Feeling like I have more than I really need makes me uneasy, and this car is more than a ‘get you from point A to point B’ vehicle. I don’t have a problem with the monthly payments on a month by month basis, but I’ll be using all of the money I could potentially be saving for the next 3 and a half years to pay this sucker off. That’s what gets me - I have a car that is more than I really need, and it’s going to prevent me from saving money for something that is much more important to me - saving enough money to move from my city apartment to a place where I can have some chickens and goats, a garden much bigger than my community plot, a barn to piddle around in. I want to start saving for that ASAP. And let me tell you, attaching a canoe to the top of this thing just makes me feel silly. I need a car that I don’t mind getting muddy in a field, scratched up by a canoe, dirty bootprints all over.

FINALLY, here’s my question for all of you kind and generous folks who have made it this far - should I sell my Altima for what I owe the bank and buy a 8-10 year old car with probably over 100,000 miles for $5-6000 instead? If I manage to sell it within the next few months, I could potentially have $7-8,000 toward the farm that would have otherwise gone to car payments (I have a bit of money saved in the bank I’d be willing to use toward the car purchase, so my new loan would hopefully be around $4000). Is it worth it, given the higher risk of mechanical problems with an older/higher mileage car? I know I’ll ultimately need to figure out what’s most important to me myself, I’m just hoping for some advice to help me make sure I’ve thought about everything thoroughly. Thank you so much for your help :slight_smile:


You have a car with a known history that you enjoy driving, despite no really being able to save as much money as you’d like.

You want to sell this for what you owe, and you’d be really lucky to get it, but you won’t have any positive cash flow from the sale to buy another vehicle; you’d actually have to spend MORE of your savings to buy the new vehicle(most likely a truck).

Any used car is a gamble and you may end up with someone else’s problem when you get into the $5k price range vehicles.

Keep what you got and pay it off as soon as you can, then start saving up for that farm land. You might also want to keep the Altima for trips into town so you can keep the truck on the farm for use there.

I’d keep it, too, for the next 10 years, avoid all the headaches you’ll get with that used car. Could you even sell it for what you owe? You could easily be ‘upside down’ right now.

I vote against your plan. These are the “gravy years” for your current car, where it should still be reliable without a lot of expense and where much of the depreciation is already out of the way.

Keep the car and drive it until the wheels fall off.

I vote for keeping the Altima, but pay down the loan as quickly as possible if the financial insitution allows you to pay more to knock down the principal. A used car with over 100,000 miles will have problems.

You might want to look at other ways to cut your expenses and save money.

Thanks for all the great advice - I love that everyone is recommending the same thing :slight_smile: I though it might be possible to sell it for what I owe based on local selling prices (Cincinnati), but the miles are high so maybe not. I did find a 2002 Corolla with 34,000 miles that got me pretty excited about trying to sell the Altima, but it seems like the verdict here is that I’ll save more money in the long run if I just pay this car off and drive it for as long as she’ll run.

And yes Triedaq, I spend way too much time sitting and staring at my budget spreadsheet trying to think of ways to squish out more savings! Maybe if I sat and stared less and got a second job instead…

A big question would be if the car could even be sold for the 13 grand you still owe the bank. You might peruse the completed eBay listings as these often give an indication of what a car will bring in the real world when price guides and that kind of thing are shoved aside.

You Financed Too Much And Didn’t Put Enough Down On This Car. Good Thing You Love It, Because Now It Belongs To The Bank, But You Are Under Water And Married To It.

It’s pretty late to start changing your mind and wanting to buy land instead. Postpone any new whims and pay this thing off ASAP. When it gets paid-off then keep saving for the next car and pay cash. Don’t finance any more cars. Pay cash even if you have to live within your means.

Don’t buy real estate without putting at least 20% down on it or you’ll have another problem.

You’ve got champagne tastes and apparently a beer budget. Stop acting like a kid in a candy store. Start paying off this loan and any others you’ve got before considering more spending. Cut up any credit cards that you might have and use cash or get a job working for the Obama administration.


ok4450 - thanks so much for the link, it makes much more sense for me to look at this than price guides.

csa - I’ll have all my debts (this one and the rest of my grad school loan) paid off in 18 months. I never carry a cc balance. Just trying to weigh my options for the future. Suppose I was due for a good scolding anyway though, thanks for that.

Sorry, I Didn’t Intend To Scold, But Rather Put This Situation In More Realistic Terms And To Try And Offer Advice.

I have no debt and it feels great.
"Despite my love for this car, I have always felt ill at ease with my decision to purchase it. Feeling like I have more than I really need makes me uneasy, . . . "
I have found that paying cash for cars makes me a choosier buyer and I tend to buy a car that is not more than I really need. Car payments are a way of life for some people, but they really don’t need to be.

I’m happy to hear you’ll be debt free soon. My 24 year-old son just graduated from grad school last summer and working part-time jobs, managed to remain debt free through his entire under grad and grad school (private schools) experience. However, he’s now well employed, but still drives his high miles 2001 Chevrolet and continues to save.

Things will improve. Be patient.


I bet it does feel great, I can’t wait to get there! This was the first car I bought on my own and I definitely learned my lesson - I’ll remember your advice and save to pay cash when this one kicks the bucket.

And your son’s story is amazing, good for him!! I didn’t have debt until grad school - I took out a (relatively) small federal loan to study abroad and I’ve never regretted it. I worked part time as well to cover everything else. If only I could have been as smart as he is about the car :slight_smile: Lessons learned, and patience! Thank you CSA.