In Breaking Bad episode Fifty-One (Season 5, Episode 4) Walt takes out a lease on a pair of cars for himself and Junior and sells the Pontiac Aztek for $50. I don't understand Walt's motivation to sell the car.

  1. Why sell the car when the garage owner/mechanic made it clear that the car was good for at least another 200,000 miles?

  2. Moreover, he proceeds to sell the car for $50, in front of his son. Why sell a car that was in perfect road condition for the low, low price of $50?

Wouldn't selling the car at such a throw-away price (if not outright ludicrous) be bound to attract undue attention, not to mention the two new cars Walt leased that day?

I understand that this is meant to portray the callous nature and swagger Walt has developed after eliminating Gus Fring, but this action seems to be stretching it a little too far.

  • 2
    @JoshDM: I think your good-natured edit has altered the soul of the question. Now there are a whole lot of other questions I didn't intend to ask. I am thus reverting back the question to its original format.
    – Sayan
    Mar 7, 2013 at 5:51
  • Shouldn't there be a spoiler tag in OP's posting? Apr 16, 2013 at 8:21
  • @LelouchLamperouge: Sorry, m not aware of any such tag. BTW the site is full of spoilers "Tread Cautiously!".
    – Sayan
    Apr 17, 2013 at 6:09
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    See also Did the cousins intend to return for their Mercedes? in which it is basically concluded that the cousins gave away their Mercedes for free. It is a sign that the cost of the goods is irrelevant to the owner, a visible (eat this world!) sign of their wealth.. Sep 14, 2014 at 2:18
  • @AndrewThompson: Comparing the scenario of the cousins giving away their Merc, and Walter selling his Aztek for $50 is like Apples and Oranges my friend.
    – Sayan
    Sep 15, 2014 at 9:42

5 Answers 5


Missed in my question as well as from my memory was a character of significance. A character whose presence precipitates in Walter giving away his reliable Aztek. The character is Walt's porkpie hat!

Just as the mechanic says that the Aztek is good to go for at least another 200,000 miles, Walt has a sense of foreboding that he isn't going to be around to drive it another 200,000 miles. At the very next instance he looks at his new hat (which IMO is a clever device to fadeout Walt's old persona and introduce this new fearless Walt) and is reminded that the Aztek is a reminiscent of his old life. A life where he was afraid of people like Gus and Tuco. But no more he considers himself in danger, and rather considers himself the danger.

Thus, him selling his car for such a ridiculous amount is the action of kicking away his old lifestyle and buying himself a new one (the Chrysler 300). Somehow, now he has become reckless with his decisions and doesn't consider any problem too big for Heisenberg to overcome. This and the swagger that comes with becoming filthy rich leads him to "selling" off the old car and getting a new one.

P.S. These sources: 1 and 2 further elucidate the point.

  • remember "the uncertainty principle"
    – ashveli
    Aug 26, 2019 at 6:40

At this point in the show, Walt makes more money than he could possibly safely unload. He must find ways to dispose of the funds beyond simply setting the cash on fire.

With that in mind, dropping his current car for only $50 makes fiscal sense. I believe the Aztec is currently owned by Walter, making it an asset and therefore adds to the current overflow of cash he has. By getting rid of it, he is no longer fiscally accountable for the car.

Walt Jr., who has no experience buying or selling cars, wouldn't know to question his father's actions, and having been given a new car, he is too excited to care.

The buyer of the older car for $50 would apparently rather take the presumably unethical deal quietly and get a great car for practically no money.

By leasing the two new cars instead of owning them, Walt presumably spends more money than he would buying the cars. Leasing is usually a more expensive proposition than buying a car outright, and after a lease ends, it does not result in you owning the car. Leasing these cars creates a financial drain, which Walt needs.

Considering his financial and legal state, Walter made good business decisions here. Also it's his birthday and he presumably freed himself from a horrible situation; he's rewarding himself for a job well done.

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    I beg to disagree with a lot of your points! Its true that at this point Walt has a lot of cash, but not so long ago(right after killing Gus) he was cash-strapped. Moreover, I don't think the answer to a cash-surplus is to go away squandering it. Whatever happened to channeling money through the car-wash or through Saul? And if I remember correctly, Walt Jr. does start to protest Walt selling the car for such a lowly sum, even calling the action crazy. Moreover, you don't need to be an expert car salesman to know that $50 is way too less! However, getting him a Charger may hv caused him...
    – Sayan
    Mar 7, 2013 at 6:26
  • (contd.)to shut his trap about it. The buyer on the other hand is a garage owner who presumably knows a lot about cars and their resale value. And any sane person would definitely question: Why sell this car at this price? The price itself is reason for suspicion on the part of the buyer. Finally, I wholeheartedly disagree that ` Leasing is usually a more expensive proposition than buying a car outright` because, if you have a lot of cash that you want to get off your hands quickly, buying a car outright would make more sense because the down-payment involved in leasing is...
    – Sayan
    Mar 7, 2013 at 6:34
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    (contd.) considerably less than buying a car. Source The only part I am able to concur with in your explanation is that Walt considers coming out on tops of Gus a job well done and is seemingly rewarding himself. But its out of character for the old calculative Walt and is introducing a new persona altogether.
    – Sayan
    Mar 7, 2013 at 6:39
  • Then I wish you good luck finding alternate reasons.
    – JoshDM
    Mar 7, 2013 at 14:46

I saw it as a bit if irony on Walt's part for several reasons.

1) He really didn't need the money that would have come from selling the car. He had more than enough cash to buy any car he wanted, several times over.

2) As was later revealed, part of why he was in his station as a teacher, underappreciated and struggling financially, was due to a fallout between him and his partners in the company they founded decades earlier, referred to as Gray Matter. Walt informs Jesse that he sold his stake in the company for a paltry $5000, "A few months rent," as he referred to it. Then the company became a huge, multi-billion dollar entity, of which he had no stake or claim to. He sold his and his family's future for a few grand and petty reasons, when he could have been a millionare had he simply reconciled his differences with the founders. Now he has more money than he knows what to do with, so selling the car for a paltry sum is likely Walter having a moment of irony in his new life as a drug lord: he cast off one life he could have had for a small amount of money, why not do it again?

  • 1
    Complex, but interesting point.
    – Sayan
    Aug 12, 2013 at 6:20

What I took from this scene:

  • Walt wants a better car
  • He doesn't care how much he gets for the Aztec because he doesn't need the money
  • The Aztec reminds him of his previous life as a loser
  • It's also fairly distinctive. It's probably best for Walt not to be recognised by the car he drives
  • It's a horrible, ugly car
  • He might not want to deal with the paperwork involved in formally transferring the car to the mechanic, so offers a ridiculously cheap deal to tempt the mechanic to do it 'off the books'
  • To impress Walt Jr.
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    The Aztec reminds him of his previous life as a loser. I believe that is the crux of it all.
    – Sayan
    Aug 12, 2013 at 8:34

Walt hates Aztec. That's the kind of car Walt had to drive and not the kind of car Walt wanted to drive. It embodies dullness, practicality, prudence and lack of ambition of pre-Heisenberg days, it's the vegetarian bacon of the car world that we witness Walt consuming without much enthusiasm. It's Skyler's choice.

Aztec was a flop in sales and evidently Whites family bought the car from brand new with a huge discount, based on the attractive price, reliability and practicality. Walter never liked the car. We get a peek into his real passion for driving in the later episode when he empathises with Walt Jr. desire to get Charger and then goes into fiery doughnut painting session once told by Skyler to take the Charger back.

Still 200,000 miles left? That's 10-20 years of uninspiring, lifeless motoring, the prudent much hated choice?

As we know Walt has uncanny ability to add up numbers in his head. My guess is that Walt quickly does miles-into-years conversion and 10 years until the car change seems like a very long term to a man whose life was hanging on a shoestring for a year. Why not do it now then?

Walt acts with the resolve and urgency of a person who had a near death experience and arrogance of his belief that there are no more predators that can match him in this new situation.

$50 is a token payment; Charger for Junior? What the heck, it's just like a new pair of boots.

All the "leasing" talk is aimed to soothe Skyler, Heisenberg doesn't really care that much at this stage how he is going to explain the purchase to others. He just knows that somehow he will.

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