When is it time to Sell your Car

Have your automotive needs changed? Has your present car reached mileage milestones that might reduce its value? When is the right time to sell your car? Let's find out.
The Clock is Ticking...
Everybody has a different take on when the right time is approaching for selling your present car. Some people trade in a vehicle every few years and others keep their car until the wheels fall off. There's no one answer to this dilemma, but we've put together some sage advice from your friends at Lithia Motors. With over 75 years in the business of providing personal transportation solutions for our customers, we're well versed on sharing some ideas on when it might be the best time to sell your car.
Naturally, you want to get the most for your trade-in. For many people that means selling your old car after owning it for three or four years while the mileage is still relatively low. You'll want to make sure you can pay off the car loan on your present car because nobody wants to be upside down on a vehicle when they trade it in. So, let's begin with the mileage of your trade-in to help us determine the best time to sell your car.
Depreciation Factors
Everybody knows that new cars depreciate the most in the first three years and then that depreciation levels out a bit after five years. In the first year alone, cars lose from 15 to 20 percent of their value. By year five, a car has lost around 40 percent of its original sticker price. However, not all vehicles depreciate the same amount. Depreciation factors include the type of vehicle you are interested in, the make and model, the condition of the vehicle, its overall reputation, its age and mileage.
When it comes to the type of vehicle, SUVs or Crossovers and pickup trucks are generally in high demand and hold their value longer. Muscle cars and sports cars also tend to hold their value better than a standard sedan. On the other hand, luxury sedans such as BMWs tend to lose their value quicker. This is where the make and model come into the equation. Some vehicles have a reputation for higher-than-normal repair costs and maintenance and that causes them to lose value faster. It comes down to how eager buyers are to purchase your used car.
Mileage and Age Factors
Ask yourself this question: "When I buy a used car, what do I consider to be the right number of miles on the odometer?" Do you only look to purchase a used car if it has under 40,000 miles on the clock? If the car has been well maintained, is the mileage as big an issue for you? The person who buys your used car will ask these questions and more. When selling or trading a vehicle, there are definitely some mileage benchmarks to think about.
Automakers' general bumper-to-bumper warranties usually expire by 40,000 miles, at the same time that the car's first major maintenance milestone is due. For that reason alone, many people sell their car before it hits 40,000 miles. By the same token, manufacturer powertrain warranties generally expire by the 70,000-mile mark and that's when another major scheduled maintenance is due. When it comes to how much you can hope to get for your used car, you'll get more money before it hits these two warranty milestones.
The biggest mileage barrier is 100,000 miles. While most vehicles today are good for over 200,000 miles of everyday use, most people think that a car is done for if it's getting close to 90,000 miles on the odometer.
Mileage and age are the two biggest factors in knowing when to sell your car. When it comes to mileage, buyers look for a vehicle with less than 50,000 miles on the clock and when it comes to age, most people want a car that is three or four years old. A car's depreciation drops for the first five years, then levels out, then drops again after eight years of age.
Best Time of Year to Sell
Did you know that the time of year that you sell your car has an effect as well? It's true. Think about when you are most likely to purchase a car yourself. Lots of people get the bug to buy a car in spring or summer because they're thinking about taking road trips. This is especially true for people who are interested in a convertible. It's also a great time to take the family on vacation in your new car. Plus, by spring, tax refunds might help with the down payment.
The type of vehicle you are selling may also have a best season to sell it. For instance, four-wheel drive trucks and all-wheel drive SUVs sell better in the autumn, when people are gearing up for winter driving. Another reason to sell your car in autumn is that you want to sell it before the new model year vehicles appear in showrooms. Next year's models show up in the fall of the year and that means that the car you are selling will be another year older. In other words, the sooner you can sell your car, the more you are likely to get for it at a dealership.
Car Selling Tips
Even if you love your present car, the time will come when you will want to sell it. Perhaps your family is growing, or you've moved to a rural area where an SUV or pickup fits your needs better. Maybe it's just time for something new. Here are some auto selling tips to keep in mind long before the day comes to hand over the keys.
Try to keep your mileage low. The lower the vehicle's overall mileage, the more you'll get for it. Follow the automaker's service intervals and maintenance schedule. Keep records so when it is time to sell, you can prove your car has been properly maintained over the long haul. By the same token, keep your car clean inside and out. Keep it waxed and polished. If it has leather seats, use a conditioner to add life and keep the leather supple.
Other factors that play into selling your car include the color of the vehicle. Bright colors such as orange or neon green don't sell as well as your basic black, white, or silver. It is easier to sell a car that has an excellent reputation for reliability and safety. If you buy a vehicle that has top safety scores from the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway safety (IIHS), you'll get more for the car when you sell it.
Is it Time?
There's a lot to be said for continuing to drive a car long after you are finished making monthly payments. Who knows, you might be able to keep driving for many happy, trouble-free miles before having to make any major repairs. If you've paid off your car you also have time to save up for your next down payment for a future vehicle. But if you are spending a lot of money on costly repairs, have a trusted mechanic look at the needs of your car over the next year. Are there any major repairs that need to be done? Are there any major maintenance milestones coming up? Check the make and model of your car to see when components such as water pumps or fuel pumps generally need to be replaced. How long does the catalytic converter last and what is the average lifespan of the transmission?
Besides ongoing maintenance issues, check to see what the current market value is for your vehicle. Simply visit Kelley Blue Book at https://www.kbb.com/whats-my-car-worth/ to determine the value of your trade in car. Just enter your vehicle's VIN number, year, make, model, mileage, and condition to get an instant value for the car. You can find out how much you are likely to get at a dealership when trading it in for a new vehicle as well as how much you might be able to sell the car for to a private person.
Let Lithia Help
You can also find out your car's value right here at Lithia Motors. Whether you are interested in selling your car outright or want to trade it in for a new or new-to-you vehicle, we have you covered. With nearly 300 dealerships in the U.S. and Canada, there's a Lithia Motors dealer near you. When the time has come to sell your car, we're here to make the experience simple, quick, and easy.