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The Best Time to Sell a Car

You might have many reasons for selling your car, but a further problem that binds all of those factors together is wondering when the best time to sell the car might be. You might hear all different types of tips and tricks from your friends, some that give you oddly specific times of the year that are best to sell, and others more general such as “just sell it now, as fast as possible, to whoever will buy it.”

Believe it or not, there’s not a simple answer to this question on when the best time is to sell a car. The question also goes much further than just a specific time recommendation and also pertains to people’s changing circumstances. In today’s blog, we at CarTradeGo offer up our guide on all the most opportune moments to sell your car.

Before it Becomes Necessary

  1. Regardless of what angle we look at this problem from, the best rule of thumb is to sell before you are forced to.

As you can read further below, there are many situations in which it’s advisable to sell your car. The situation you want to avoid is a desperate one. When you’re desperate to sell your car, you may accept offers far below its real value. As a result, you’re more prone to making mistakes and giving in to far-from-ideal prices.

Anticipating what’s to come and giving yourself as big a window of opportunity as possible for selling the car is always the best policy. Read on to see more of our list that will hopefully help you better anticipate those times.

Seasons of the Year

  • Nobody’s in the mood for car shopping in the frigid cold, nor in the sweltering heat, making spring and fall the best times to woo buyers.

There’s a great deal of theory out there about when exactly is the best time to buy a car seasonally, with the end of the month being an often-cited candidate since dealerships are scrambling to make their sales targets. Of course, the end of the model year is also a key time for pushing affordable sales as they try to make way for new stock, but what about car selling?

If you’re a car dealer, you can just line up your sales pushes with any time of year people are expecting to be a good buying opportunity. As a private seller, you don’t have that luxury. However, you’ll most likely find a more receptive buying audience in spring, late summer, and fall. In other words, most people are up for car shopping when either temperature extreme is absent.

When Public Transit Becomes Available

  • If the area where you live has access to affordable public transportation, you should see that as a much more attractive option than having your own car. That makes it a good time to sell.

The opening of new bus routes, a metro train or underground, light rail, or other public transport infrastructure can do a lot for property values, which is great news when you’re a homeowner. For car owners, they’re a prompt to think about shedding yourself of that polluting, money-consuming vehicle on the driveway.

You might also have moved or be preparing to move to a new area where public transportation is suddenly a lot more available. The savings you can make on fuel and running costs alone are a good reason to sell here (more below on financial matters), but joining the public transport crowd is a good way to contribute to a better overall environment, too.

When You’re Working From Home

  • Suppose the pandemic or even post-pandemic world has left you with an opportunity to work partially or entirely from home. In that case, your need for a private car is greatly diminished, especially if you’re in a family with multiple cars.

If your new job, or changes to your existing job, mean that you have the chance to work from home, and it’s something you want, then it’s a dream come true for many reasons.

If you’re working from home and have reasonable access to public transportation, as mentioned above, then your need for a car is greatly diminished, so selling brings in some extra cash and leaves you with more income to spend.

Alternatively, if you’re working from home and your family already has multiple cars, then selling the surplus just makes sense. If you and your spouse have a car each, but there’s now only one commuter, then a second car seems an illogical waste.

When Your Parking/Storage Options Become Limited

  • If you’ve moved house and no longer have a garage or safe street parking, with no viable alternatives nearby, it might be time to give the car up.

Good parking options really make a difference in how good a location is to live. Private off-street parking is like gold dust to some people! If you’ve had to move and your new place lacks any of these things, then you face some difficulties.

If you have to park your car far away, that robs you of the convenience that owning a private car is supposed to provide. If you have to park in a public area, then your car might be exposed to a greater risk of criminal activity. If you have no garage or other space to store your car, you face the prospect of adding further expense to rent one or use paid parking facilities.

There’s also the weather to factor in. We all know how cold the winter gets. If you’d previously had a sturdy heated garage but now you’re faced with open street parking or worse, then your car is going to be continuously exposed to the worst temperature extremes, which is bad for it.

When Money is Tight

  • A car is a depreciating asset from day 1. When times are hard financially, it can become a real albatross around your family’s neck. Selling is often the better option.

You’re losing money on your car from the moment you sign the paperwork, and it’ll lose up to 10 percent of its value from brand-new the moment you drive it off the lot. Then, after that, you’ve got to pay the monthly payments or lease fees, pay for gasoline, insurance, tax, maintenance and more.

Nothing about your car makes you a cent, not a single thing. It’s not like owning a house or apartment that appreciates over time. Therefore, you need to shed the dead weight when you encounter difficult times and economic hardships like losing your job, dealing with rising inflation, and seeing falling sales in your business. The car is, invariably, the deadest weight of them all.

When the Family is Growing

  • Not every time you sell a car is to do with bad news. When there are more family members on the way, it’s a good time to look into selling what you have so you can buy a bigger, more family-friendly model.

Lots of people start their driving life in a little compact hatchback, but after getting married and/or having kids, needs change really fast. If your growing family is in need of more space, you might now be interested in a trendy crossover SUV, or perhaps a more boring but superlatively functional minivan.

It could work the other way too, of course! Perhaps your kids are grown and have flown the nest. What good is that enormous 3-row SUV on the drive now? You may as well sell that and get something more suitable for your new kid-free life. There could be grandkids though, so mind how far you downgrade!

When the Market Value Exceeds the Remaining Finance

  • When you owe more on the car than it’s even worth, you’re “underwater.” The opposite can happen, too! If the current market value exceeds what you owe, it’s a great time to sell and pocket the difference.

Getting underwater in your car financing is the worst situation to be in. It’s like being in negative equity on your property, but in many ways, it’s worse because you’re always losing money anyway with a car.

However, if you’ve paid a large deposit on the car, and opted for a shorter repayment period, then there’s a chance that your car’s market value is actually greater than what you owe on it. The price you pay is based on what the lender believes the market value will remain at, and that’s a risk they take. If the real value is higher, then you’re winning!

You won’t make “profit” in the real sense of the word, but it means you’ll be able to pay off the finance, sell the car and have a nice chunk of change left over. That “profit” could be used as a downpayment on a new car!

When the Mileage is Under 160,000-Km

  • Even though there are many stories of cars reaching 320,000-km and beyond on the odometer, it remains an excellent idea to sell any car you bought relatively new before it hits the 160,000-km mark.

The odometer reading is a big factor when it comes to selling a used car. In short, buyers are put off by really big numbers. It’s pretty intuitive and not unreasonable to assume that a car that has already completed 200,000-km is in less of a position to do another 150,000-km as a car that to date only has 35,000 on its odometer.

Why do we say 160,000-km as a key milestone? In many people’s minds, the distance driven up to 160,000-km is typically the “best time” a car has. But, beyond that milestone lies the dread of expired warranties, endless potential repair bills, replacement parts…it doesn’t bear thinking about, for some.

If you’ve had a car from new, you’ve owned it for several years and always had in mind that you’d sell it at some point, try your best to make it before you hit that key milestone. There are plenty of buyers who will take on a car of 100,000+ kilometres if they get a good deal and believe they’ll get a decent number of years out of it. Once you go past 160,000, however…

Fortunately, Selling Has Never Been Easier

To wrap things up, let us just say that it’s a good job that we live in a time when selling a car is simpler than ever. There are so many avenues one can go down to get a sale, including the hassle-free experience you can get auctioning your car to dealerships on the CarTradeGo app. Get the app today to learn more.

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