Help I’m upside down in my SUV

With full-size SUV sales falling along with their values, you may be reconsidering that purchase, if you don’t regret it. If you’ve recently purchased a traditional SUV and are worried about your investment, don’t panic. Here are some tips that can help stop the bleeding.

Don’t trade it.
Except for the vehicles with the highest resale values, trading in almost any car is a losing proposition. It will take the hassle out of selling the car on your own, but it can cost you up to 15-20% of the value of your vehicle. Some dealers have refused to trade in big SUVs, while others’ offers can be downright insulting. This loss will more than offset any gain made by a newer vehicle with better fuel economy. If it is absolutely necessary to get rid of your SUV now, sell it to an individual on your own. If time is not of the essence, wait. Prices are likely to recover albeit modestly.

Grab a pot and park the SUV.
For those who can’t sell or trade in an SUV without incurring a substantial loss, a low-cost used vehicle may be an option. There are plenty of fuel-efficient and affordable used vehicles on the market that also boast impressive reliability numbers. If you were prepared with two or three grand for a down payment, consider a good used car for commuting. Check out Consumer Reports’ Best and Worst Used Cars List (subscription required), which lists vehicles by price, as low as $2,000.

Change your driving habits.
Half the fun of having 250-plus horsepower underfoot is being able to harness it when you need it. But moving a 4,000-pound vehicle doesn’t happen by osmosis, and your fuel economy numbers will reflect that. Driving 55 mph instead of 65 can increase fuel economy by 15%. Avoiding rabbit starts, skidding toward stoplights, and taking less hilly routes can also be beneficial. And if your family situation allows it, consolidate trips and avoid unnecessary ones.

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

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