How Do I Sell My Car at The Right Time?

sell my car

In life, not many things are certain. But one thing you can be sure of is that whatever vehicle you drive, one day you will have to sell it. You might think there are some hard and fast rules regarding the ultimate age to sell your car, which is true to a certain extent. Should you wait until the warranty runs out? Or should you drive it until it has become a rusty carcass that struggles to make it to the end of the street?

The Importance of Knowing When to Sell Your Car

when i should sell my car

Answering the big question of “when should I sell my car?” is the most fundamental aspect of selling a used car. Not only will it help you get a better deal out of the sale, but also give you an edge when negotiating with the idea of the real car price. Let’s take a look at a couple of reasons explaining the importance of knowing when to sell your car:

– Take advantage of the right market conditions. In the car market, the demand for certain types of vehicles will rise or fall as per the changes in the economy. For instance, if the economy is going through a recession, selling your luxury 2017 Audi A4 may not be the best idea, especially since the average income is low.

– Get the best price. When you know the right time to sell your car, it is easier to determine the car’s value. For instance, selling your car before it breaks down completely will help you get a much better price as opposed to selling in a wrecked condition.

The Right Time To Sell My Car: Most Common Reasons

importance of timing

There isn’t a perfect age for selling in a car since it depends on many factors. Performance is one of those factors and here is how it matters.

Your Car Is Unsafe To Drive

Performance is one of the key reasons why people decide to replace their old cars with new ones. All vehicles will wear out eventually, and their performance will no longer remain the same. In fact, after continuous use, your fuel lines will rupture, and the brakes will get loose or ineffective. All this can greatly compromise your safety, and also that of others. Remember that cars also have an expiration date, after which no amount of maintenance will ensure 100% safety.

You Constantly Have To Take It to the Mechanic

Once you realize you are constantly taking your car to the mechanic and spending way too much on maintenance and repairs as compared to the estimated worth of the car, it is time you got rid of it. For this reason, people are advised to keep an eye on their car’s estimated value and its expenses.

Nothing can be more stressful than driving a car that breaks down at the most inconvenient locations without any prior signs. Typically, old and used cars are unreliable, and after an extended period of usage, they tend to break down now and then, leaving the driver in the middle of the road full of frustration and anger. If you have gone through this experience more than once, you must know the pain. Car owners who do not wish to go through unpleasant moments are advised to sell their cars and replace them with ones that are more efficient and reliable.

Your Car Failed a Fitness Test

In many countries around the world, a car fitness test is a mandatory procedure that checks and ensures whether a road-worthy vehicle conforms to the national and international regulations concerning its health and whether it is equipped with safety mechanisms to avoid accidents and road hazards. A good way to determine if it is time to let go of your car is through getting it tested. Some of the aspects that the test checks include:


Brake operation



Efficiency of the fuel system

Steering wheels


Windscreen glazing


Headlights and taillights

If your car tests negative for one or more of the above components/operations, you should see if your mechanic can fix it easily with a quick service (for example, broken headlights). If you find that your car is losing its engine or fuel efficiency or has other severe issues that are bound to come back even after maintenance, it is time to say goodbye. You can perform smog tests on your car if it is more than 4 years old. However, you should realize that if a car breaks down too often, then it is too expensive to fix.

Your Car Doesn’t Fit the Local Terrain/Weather Anymore

Whether or not you have moved to a different location, if you find that your car is no longer responding well to the present weather or terrain, it is better to replace it with one that will. For example, in San Diego plenty of pot holes seem to crop over night. This coupled with heavy rains in the city can ruin your wheels and tires. If you continue to drag your car in an environment that is not suitable for it, your car will lose value quickly and will also lead to considerable hassle.

your car for sale

The Right Time To Sell My Car: Mileage Milestones

mileage milestones

The number of miles you have hit on your odometer can make it easier or more difficult to sell your vehicle. Older cars with more miles come with a higher risk of maintenance and appear more expensive to prospective buyers. Ensuring that you sell your car while it still has most of its engine life left in will leave you with a better chance of selling the car at the desired price.

30,000 to 40,000 Miles – A majority of car warranties expire at either three years or 36,000 miles (whichever happens first). The first major need for servicing will typically come at this point, so expect more than just an oil change: be ready to invest in some new tires and brakes

60,000 to 70,000 Miles –Once you have reached 60K miles, you will need to have a maintenance budget for a couple of items. You will have to set aside some money for flushing the coolant, getting new tires, replacing brake pads and installing new spark plugs. Selling your car a couple of thousand miles before you hit this stage may be the best option for you if you don’t want to spend extra cash.

100,000 Miles – In reality, many cars still run fairly well at this point. However, this does not tend to be in line with the buyer’s perceptions. A majority of buyers will keep their mileage limit at 100K or less when doing online searches, so vehicles over this value are much less likely to get noticed. At this stage, there will be a substantial drop in the value, so selling before you reach 100,000 miles is often a smart idea.

The Right Time To Sell My Car: Outdated Technology

outdated features and technology

Your Car’s Features Are Outdated

In a world where technology is ever-changing, you need to keep up to stay ahead. The same goes for your car. In a time where people are talking about self-driving cars, you don’t want to be stuck with a car with outdated features. Features, such as vehicle-to-vehicle communication, Bluetooth connectivity, LTE 4G and Wi-Fi connectivity, wireless charging, and voice control, are some of the latest features that car owners prefer. If you feel like life would be much easier if your car had certain features, it is time you upgrade.

You Want to Go Electric or Hybrid

Hybrid and electric cars are rapidly gaining popularity in the car industry since they are more fuel efficient, environmentally-friendly and economical option. Also, they also host a ton of other benefits, such as reduced dependence on fossil fuels, higher resale value and a regenerative braking system. Going hybrid or electric has many advantages, and if you wish to get a taste of them, you may decide to sell your regular car first.

You Can Find Superior Models

If you trade in your car for a superior model, you will benefit from the geeky and latest tech it features. For instance, navigation and multimedia interfaces are always improving and evolving, so if you need the latest gadgets, you are most likely to find them in the superior models. You will also get a warranty without paying extra. The newer model won’t smell funny, have any wear or tear and will come with a squeaky clean history.

And thanks to governmental regulations, newer models are more fuel efficient, while being more powerful at the same time.

your car for sale

You Are Looking for Better Safety Features

Perhaps, the most important reason for getting a new car is that a newer or superior model will be compliant with the latest and more stringent federal and Californian safety laws. It will have features like tire pressure monitoring, stability control, blind-spot monitoring systems, adaptive cruise control, brake assists and side curtain airbags, etc.

As safety laws for vehicles are becoming more stringent, automakers are under pressure to change or redesign the process of car manufacturing, including the various safety systems they incorporate.

The Right Time To Sell My Car: Financial Considerations

sell my car due to financial reasons

You Have More Cars Than You Need

Not too long ago, a majority of families had just one car, which they usually kept until it broke down because of old age. Today, having multiple cars has become a trend or fashion statement, and most families will purchase a new one every five or six years.

And if you are a car owner you probably know that owning multiple cars is expensive and it is an awful investment. A better word is de-investment because the value of these assets is guaranteed to decline. When you acquire a new car, you know its worth will gradually drop.

You Cannot Afford the Cost of Keeping a Car

Apart from the hefty payment you make when you buy a car, there are many ancillary or related costs of keeping a car. Gas or fuel cost is a major expense. According to government statistics, the average annual fuel cost for a vehicle is $2,227 in gasoline charges and motor oil expenses. Also, other vehicle-related expenses amount to $2,355. You will have to pay registration and license fee and incur depreciation costs too. This cost can place a serious strain on your monthly or quarterly budget.

You Are Dealing with Poor Mileage

Another reason for disposing of an old model for a newer one is poor mileage. Your existing car may not be delivering optimum mileage due to many reasons. For example, the spark plugs could be responsible for causing combustion in the car’s engine. If they work poorly or misfire, your gas mileage will deteriorate considerably.

Lousy fuel injectors may also lead to bad mileage as they are responsible for injecting fuel into the engine. If your engine leaks, less fuel would reach the engine, making it run less efficiently. In case your car has inadequate air filters or oxygen sensors, your gas mileage can go down by up to 20%. Oxygen sensors help to maintain the right proportion of fuel and air, and if they malfunction, it can disturb this balance which leads to inefficiency.

You Want to Save Money on Insurance

Another big expense you will incur is car insurance. Having car insurance is vital when you own a car as it covers your costs if you get into an unfortunate or untimely accident. Rates of car insurance vary based on the type of car you drive, where you live, how much you drive and what type of driver you are.

The cost of car insurance will vary significantly depending on which state you happen to live in and often does not include all types of insurance coverage and might not accurately reflect your specific coverage needs. The average annual cost of car insurance in California is $1,962, and this is not modest or trivial in any sense.

Your Repair/Maintenance Costs Are More than the Value of Your Car

Of course, who can forget the recurring and pesky repair and maintenance bills? If you drive a car, you will have to adequately maintain it to prevent it from breaking down on a regular basis; and then you need to repair it when it eventually leaves you stranded.

If you get a brand new car, maintenance expenses will be pretty low particularly in the initial years, especially if your car came with a comprehensive and long warranty. And you will not incur any repair costs if the car is under factory warranty, which is usually three years, or 36,000 miles if you purchased an extended warranty.

However, in the case of an old car, your maintenance costs will be $66 per month on average, as per AAA. Typical maintenance costs are tire rotations and oil changes which are necessary after every 5,000-mile interval. If you are driving a used car, then it is likely that a warranty does not cover it. In this case, you will need to set aside some funds for repairs, irrespective of whether they are required every month or not. Also, your car will need tire replacement at least once in three years which can easily amount to around $150 per year, according to AAA. Therefore, these hefty repair and maintenance costs can be a major motivation behind getting rid of your old car.

The Right Time To Sell My Car: Other Factors

other factors to sell my car

You Are Not Proud of Your Car

There is usually something ridiculously awesome about owning and driving around in a McLaren or a Ferrari. You will surely turn heads. These types of cars are loud, flashy and powerful. Congratulations! You made it and got the goods to prove it. You look sexy in these futuristic cars, and you know it.

But, what if your model or brand is not that hot or flashy? Or worse, it has several issues which make you question why you even own it in the first place. Well, this is more common than you may think.

While you may like the elegant placement of audio controls in your car, its preset scan feature may require a little tinkering which can put you off. The button may allow you to move through the different presets, but it may be a one-way move, and you can only go forward and not backward. Similarly, the interior design and appointments of your car may be impressive, but the lousy location of seat heating controls could be perplexing, and that may bug you.

This one is straightforward: people prefer a knob for tuning. But, if your latest model has an audio system that has a touch screen, tuning it can be an exercise in very distracted driving. For example, both Chrysler and Ford have decided to drop the tuning knob because they contend it is incompatible with a high-end audio system, and this makes the driving experience very frustrating and distracting.

To be honest, this list can be endless indicating that there can be a plethora of problems, both aesthetic and functional, with your existing car. And you are no longer a proud owner like you were when you had bought it. And these reasons could force you into selling your car and getting a better deal instead.

Changes in Your Family Size

Your family size will surely change over time. You might have a couple of kids in the next few years. At that time, your current car might not suffice for your commuting needs. If you are single now, you might end up getting married in the near future. Any change to your household will impact the size of the car that you need. The old model might not serve your requirements and you might need to upgrade it. Hence, that might be the best time for you to sell your car.



It is important to realize that a car has a finite life and you will need to sell it eventually. Otherwise, the various costs you incur on your car will easily outweigh the benefits that accrue from owning it. Therefore, it is important to know what the right time is for disposing of your car. We know that the question: “When should I sell my car?” can pose a serious dilemma for most car owners, and this article was meant to cut through this complexity.

You can take advantage of the right market conditions when selling your car and fetch the highest amount. There are many reasons for selling an old car. They could be related to subpar performance, like safety concerns or frequent visits to the mechanic. The number of miles you drive your car can also have an impact on your selling decision as it affects the price you can get for it.

Then there are obvious tech reasons which may entice you to buy a newer and better model in favor of the old one. Your existing car may have become outdated, or you want to get your hands on the latest hybrid version which has better safety features. Economic reasons play a major role in deciding whether it is the right time to get rid of the old car. These could be poor mileage, high repair, and maintenance costs or a sudden spike in insurance rates. Or you may just get tired or bored of your existing car due to many problems. Selling a car is an important decision, and you should consider and weigh the different factors before you make your final decision. Hope you now have a better idea about: “When do I know it is time to sell my car?”