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Here Are Some Tips for Parting With a Car You Love

Everyone who loves cars has had to deal with loss. For one reason or another, we’ve all had to part with a car we love. It never gets easier to say goodbye to the cars that have given you joy and good memories — or had an impact on your life as a driver.

The most recent automotive loss I experienced was my Ford Focus ST, which was my daily driver for a little over 2 years. It’s the car that made me love hot hatches, but it just got too cramped for my family of four (and counting), so it was time to upsize to a bigger family hauler. It was possible to continue using the ST as our primary family car, but it just wasn’t the right tool for the job. Also, my wife hated the heavily bolstered Recaro seats.

In the grief of parting with the car, I’ve decided to compile a list of helpful tips that got me through my loss. Hopefully they can bring some benefit and solace to you, the good people of Oversteer.

Clean the Living Daylights Out of the Car

Not only is it a good idea to clean every nook and cranny inside and out of your car to make it presentable to potential buyers, but it kind of wipes the slate clean. When it’s sitting in your garage with nothing in the interior but the owner’s manual, looking as clean as it did on the day you got it, it almost seems like you’re a used-car dealer with an inventory of one. In a way, it helps to break the emotional connection you have to the car, as it’s become so sterile and ready for a new owner. It was while I was scrubbing my engine cover that I felt like my ST stopped being my car and instead became an asset I was trying to get rid of. In fact, my engine bay was so clean by the time I was done with it, I ate lunch off it.

Ford Focus ST engine bay


Lots of loud crying and deep sobbing is a great way to purge your heart and soul of the feelings you’re having for your car leaving your garage and your life. My recommendation is setting the mood with the right music — like some Adele, or maybe even Sarah McLachlan if you’re really having a hard time. Maybe bust out some Ben and Jerry’s and turn on a Nicholas Sparks film like "The Notebook" or "A Walk to Remember." Any of these activities are conducive to a good cry.

Do What You Can to Get Your Car to a Good Home

Some buyers are better than others. If you’re selling your car privately (which you should totally do on Autotrader), you have some control over who gets to be the next owner of your beloved. If you come across a potential buyer you know will appreciate and care for the car as much as you have, maybe offer them a better deal than you’d normally give to an average stranger who will get less joy out of the car. However, don’t be that guy who makes rules for the next owner when you sell your car. It’s not yours anymore. Get over it.

Find Out Where You Are in the Stages of Grief

You might be familiar with the five stages of grief laid out by the Kubler-Ross model. They are, in order: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Are you trying to figure out a way you can still hold onto the car? That’s bargaining, my friend. Are you telling yourself you’ll never get rid of your car and you’ll pass it down through the generations? Congratulations, you’re in denial! Figuring out where you are in this painful process can help you gauge how close you are to the final step of acceptance. Once you cross that finish line, parting with your car will be a bit easier.

Don’t Become Facebook Friends With the Next Owner

This might sound weird — and it is — but I’ve seen it happen. I know a guy who bought a car and was posting about it on Facebook, with the previous owner always chiming in with comments like, "My old car is looking great!" or "Glad you’re enjoying my old car!" We get it, dude. It used to be your car. Congrats. Why would that guy put himself through the suffering of watching someone else enjoy his old car? Stalking your ex on Facebook is one thing, but this is somehow even weirder. Don’t do that. Let it go.

Move on

It’s always easier said than done, but once the car is gone, there’s nothing left to do but to move on. A little bit of browsing on Autotrader is fine, but don’t go too crazy. Don’t be in a rush to replace your old car with something else, unless that was the plan all along. Discern carefully about the next step in your automotive journey, and shop accordingly, with a clear mind and an open heart that’s ready to love again.

Nothing I can say will truly take away the pain of parting with a car you love. However, if you take the steps prescribed above, it can help make the process easier. Clean your car, accept what must be done and have an extra scoop of ice cream for me.

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Eric Brandt
Eric Brandt is an author specializing in Oversteer content, new car reviews, and finding the best car, truck, and SUV deals each month. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Eric can often be found exploring the north woods on his 1983 Honda Gold Wing when the weather allows it. Father of four, husband of one, and unapologetic minivan enthusiast. Eric mastered driving stick by having a 3-cylinder Chevy... Read More about Eric Brandt

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  1. Parting with my 21 year old car tomorrow. The movie Christine was written for me. First car ever bought new, bought the wife new Acura every year to shut her hole about my now rusty but still trusty Cherokee with near half million miles on her. I’d honestly rather give up my wife. There’s nothing that’ll give me what she has. Wish this day never came. 

  2. I bought something better than my old car. In the process of selling my old car I barely drove it. I wasn’t too heartbroken when I sold it. Don’t really want to buy another of the old car model. Having too much fun with my new car.

  3. Whenever I sell a car (which is a lot), my wife gets pissed because the car is in the best shape it has ever been during our ownership.

    I’m a big subscriber in leaving one or two little things broken to avoid something larger breaking (yes, I know I am insane). Of course these little things are things that can make a wife angry.
    The most memorable one was a 1991 VW Cabriolet that had a leak that would leak onto the drivers left hand in the rain. Had that fixed right up for the 16 year old girl that purchased the car.

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