Help, I’m Upside Down on My SUV

With full-size SUV sales tanking along with their values, you might be re-thinking that purchase – if not regretting it. If you’ve recently purchased a traditional SUV and are concerned about your investment, don’t panic. Here are a few tip that can help stop the bleeding.

Don’t trade it in.

Except on vehicles with the strongest resale values, trading almost any car is a losing proposition. You will eliminate the hassle of selling the car on your own, but it may cost you as much as 15-20% of your vehicles value. Some dealers have refused to trade big SUV’s at all while other’s offers may be downright insulting. This loss will more than offset any gains earned by a new vehicle with better fuel economy. If you absolutely must part with your SUV now, sell it on your own to an individual. If time is not of the essence, wait. Prices will likely rebound if only modestly.

Get a clunker and park the SUV.

For those unable to sell of trade out of an SUV without incurring a substantial loss, an inexpensive used vehicle may be an option. There are many fuel efficient, inexpesive used vehicles on the market that boast impressive reliability figures as well. If you were prepared with a two or three thousand for a down payment, consider a good used car for daily commuting. Check Consumer Reports Best & Worst USed Cars List (subscription required), which lists vehicles by price, as low as two grand.

Change your driving habits.

Half of the fun of having 250+ horsepower under your foot is being able to tap it on demand. But moving a 4000-pound vehicle doesn’t happen by osmosis and your fuel economy numbers will reflect it. Driving 55mph versus 65 can increase fuel economy by 15%. Avoiding jack rabbit starts, coasting into stoplights and taking less hilly routes can be beneficial as well. And if your family situation permits, consolidate trips and avoid unnecessary ones.

Keep your SUV maintained – and empty.

Routine maintenance like tune ups, replacing fuel and air filters can and keeping tires properly inflated (higher pressure=less drag=better mpg) can pay big dividends. And for goodness sake, get that refrigerator out of your truck.

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