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What to do when you still owe money and need to sell or trade the car in for another

My daughter’s (used) car broke down - a Cadillac. Repairs look to be substantial and expensive, and she still owes thousands on it. It is no longer covered by the dealer because a year has just passed. Have you been through this? What are her options for getting rid of this one and getting another? Does she have to go through the same dealer who obviously ripped her off from the start?

No, but she does have to pay off the loan, not a good idea to default if at all possible.

More details: year/model/miles/problem?

Ouch !

Victoria, there are too many variables and unknowns here to get any really helpful advice.

Is it possible to get more specific information on specific symptoms of problems and repairs that are being suggested along with estimates ?

Perhaps not everything is needed at once to get the car into service.
Also where is the car being checked over and estimated ? Is it that same dealer ?

Without somebody putting some work into the unknowns and variables then all I can come up with is a very, very expensive loss. Knowledge is power. Please post any additional info here.


The math is pretty simple, but the results may not what you want to hear:

  1. Take the fair market value of the car (check nada and
  2. Subtract the cost of repairs
  3. Subtract the loan pay off
  4. Subtract a bit for the “hassle factor” of dealing with repairs
  5. End result is what it “is worth” – note that this number could well be negative.

Sounds like she could be underwater similar to many home owners with negative equity. This is one of the problems with buying more car (or house) than you can afford and financing it to the hilt.

Shop around with well respected local independent repair shops and get multiple quotes for the service. Broken cars are difficult to sell or trade in. She may have to bit the bullet, get it fixed (pay on a credit card if necessary) then flip it.

She should also talk to the lender, discuss the issue and see if they can help with differed payments, etc.

Good luck!

A year has passed and you’re making the assumption that the dealer ripped her off already?

She owes for the car no matter if it’s taken to the boneyard and crushed today.

So I’ll ask about this expensive repair. Engine or transmission? Out of oil, overheated, or what?

She doesn’t need to deal with that dealer.

What she will need to do is to pay off the remaining balance of the loan so that whoever financed it will release the lien on her title, after which it can be legally transferred to the new owner. It would be nice if the sale price is enough to cover that, but that may not be the case here.

As others have said, we need more details. What year and model is it? How many miles does it have? What’s wrong with it? How much does she owe?

“What to do when you still owe money and need to sell or trade the car in for another”

Hopefully learn that buying a car is expensive and the more you are financing the more it is going to cost in the long run. That loan not only cost you money, but it also limits your options.

Good Luck