On October 7, 2020, I officially said goodbye to my 2013 Ford Focus. For several reasons, I decided to part ways with the sedan. It’s currently a seller’s market. And I don’t have use for a car that’s just going to sit in the driveway all day. Still, I became a bit wistful as it disappeared from view. But American compact sedans rarely appreciate in value. And I could use the extra cash in my bank account.
It’s been about a year since I started contemplating selling the Focus. As early as September 2019, I even started writing about those thoughts here at Curbside. Back then, I plugged the Focus into KBB’s appraisal tool, which spit out $7,738 as an offer for the car. But KBB doesn’t buy cars, so I assume that’s not a “real” figure. Three months later, when I got surprised with a $250 rear main seal replacement, I entered the Focus into Carvana. They valued the car at $6670.
Between late 2019 and March 2020, I continued to occasionally visit Carvana to check up on the latest valuation for the Focus. Once the pandemic hit, Carvana outright stopped buying vehicles. Around that time they valued the car at $5,800. As things calmed down and demand for cars bounced back with a vengeance, the value kept going up…and up! Eventually, Carvana valued my car as high as the number in the above screenshot. Unfortunately, I was still unsure about selling it, so I decided to wait until the day after I took the screenshot to make a decision.
And of course their offer declined substantially 24 hours later! I took that as a sign that the used car market was getting back to normal and that the coming winter would see a slowdown in demand. So I saved the offer and had a week to decide if I wanted to go through with it.
Here are the factors that convinced me to sell the Focus. For starters, budget cuts at my current employer resulted in a substantially reduced paycheck. By my extremely rough calculations I’m going to make about a quarter of what I would have made if the pandemic hadn’t occurred. So it goes. And the pandemic means I’m pretty much only going to the grocery store and back. Additionally, Ford manufactured the Focus in October 2012. The eight year old sedan still had its original tires and battery, and at least one of those things needed to be replaced by 2021.
And of course the whole PowerShift DCT debacle influenced my decision as well. My original clutches worked well and their replacements felt fine too. But I didn’t want that issue hanging over my head, especially as the car aged.
There’s also my newfound access to press vehicles. This might be the biggest reason why I ditched the Focus. Being responsible for three cars means at least one of them gets neglected. That’s my experience anyway. Obviously, whatever press car I have on hand will not be the car that sits still. In practice, it was the Focus that got shortchanged.
But my general Focus neglect started when I picked up Ms. Cougar. After I got my 1986 Taurus, I rarely cleaned the Focus. Not that it was ever all that dirty, mind you, but last year I hand washed the Focus at least twice. This year, I took it to the local automatic wash. I also opted not to fix the cosmetic issues from my little garage door incident. A local auto body shop wanted to completely repaint the front bumper and charge me $770 for it. Nope! Granted, I could have shopped around, but I think by that point I was already committed to selling it.
The sale process itself was a pretty painless experience. Carvana wanted me to upload some documents to prove I owned the car. They promptly reviewed them and allowed me to set a pick up appointment. A gentleman in an Acura TSX showed up to collect the title and lien release statement. Naturally, I assumed that it would be an all-in-one affair, with a flatbed taking the car away at that moment.
Instead, the Carvana employee collected everything he needed from me and installed this lockbox on the driver’s door. The keys were inside.
Several hours later, the flatbed picked up the Focus. Oddly enough, the tow truck operator didn’t even know about Carvana! Oh well.
Before the initial appointment, I made sure to clean everything out of the car, and to delete all my personal information from the infotainment system. I also included some goodies for the next owner. Hopefully Carvana leaves them inside the car.
And that was that. Overall, I will miss this car a bit. I didn’t do anything too exciting with it, but it was my willing partner for almost eight years. I probably should have never purchased the car in the first place and it was extremely foolish for me to purchase it new. But I think everyone gets to make at least one major automotive mistake in their lifetime. And I’m not sure this even qualified as a mistake. The car fit me like a glove.
I especially liked the steering wheel. Automakers now seem intent on sticking steering wheel buttons wherever they please. But on the Focus, things were simple: audio and phone functions on the right, and cruise control on the left. Driver assistance features probably make that setup impossible to emulate these days, but the layout really worked for me.
Is there a possibility I could have received a bit more for the Focus? Maybe. But I didn’t feel like dealing with tire kickers during a pandemic. And the DMV went appointment-only months ago, which would have made things a lot more difficult if the paperwork was messed up. Carvana’s process ensured I didn’t have to deal with any of that. And judging by the asking prices of similar models in my area, I’m almost certain dealers wouldn’t have paid me $7,595 for the Focus.
I don’t know what my next daily driver will be. I probably won’t even consider one until I absolutely need to. What I do know is that it will most likely feature taut handling, just like the Focus. Either way, I hope the next owner gets as much enjoyment out of the car as I did.