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When You Should Sell Your Old Car: Insider’s Guide on the Matte

Today we do not buy a car to own it forever and cherish like an old friend while it rusts peacefully in the garage. Every few months, new models are presented with a boom of pathetic reviews, improvements on safety and fuel efficiency are rolled out, and prices on fuel mostly go up, making your wallet hurt at most unpredictable moments. So sooner or later you start thinking about selling the car you own and buying a new one (or a newer one, for that matter).

But how do you know it is that very time to sell? Are there any specific cues to take this step? Well, aside from the moment that the car sheds random details while parked in the garage and is suitable for part

salvaging only, there are several key points to consider while making the selling decision. Our weathered experts at have compiled a guide that will take you through rationalization process and will let you pick the best path.

  1. Consider costs of maintenance

Put together the costs of current maintenance, of major repair to be made in a year or so to keep the car safe and running, and major maintenance that includes recommended replacement of details according to mileage figures in about a year from now (like pumps, brakes, etc.). Do the math, add everything up and write the figure down. Then research the market, using the reputable car selling sites or online auto price calculators, and find out the most accurate price of your car according to its age, condition and model. Put this figure down next to the previous one. Compare costs of maintenance and possible revenue from sales. If keeping the car afloat costs more than selling it, sell. If no, you can drive it a bit longer.

One more tip: look at the costs of finished repairs that you paid for in the past year. If you add them to the future repair costs and this sum is bigger than the price you can ask for your car, then it is a clear sign it’s high time to sell.

  1. Consider your needs

If you change your lifestyle significantly, you may have to change your car as well. For example, you start a family and plan to have a kid, then your car should have more space for kid’s stuff like a pram and should feature all the latest safety improvements.

If you move to the country with unpaved roads or to the place with colder climate and winters with regular snow, you may need 4×4 and additional heating facilities.  

If you face the situation when parts are almost impossible to find for your car and you just don’t feel safe in it, consider selling as well. It may well run many a thousand miles in the future, but driving a car you do not trust is not the best experience.

  1. Consider the mileage

It is known in the industry that during the first 9 months of use after purchase the car loses its value rapidly. When you leave the car salon in your new car, deduct 10% of its value immediately. Then deduct another 10% for the nine month of use. Definitely not the figures you like when you plan to sell. So this time is not the best point for sales.

When the car hits the 30 to 40 thousand miles figure, you may consider selling before any major maintenance is to be taken. Yet mind that during first 4 years of driving the car loses another 15-20% of its initial cost every year before the depreciation rates go down significantly. So if you do not have emergencies, remember that this mileage benchmark (or 4 year period) is also not the best time to sell.

60 to 70 thousand miles is the milestone when sale is recommended. First, the maintenance becomes too expensive. Second, most people looking to buy a car want the one that is below its 100,000 miles figure. Psychology or not, sell the car safely when its mileage is about 55,000 miles (slightly below the round figure of 60,000) or somewhat below 100,000 (90,000 miles or close is your best bet).

Beyond 100,000 miles, and your car becomes more of an antique exhibit or ends up at the part salvaging site.   

  1. Bonus tip: the best season to sell

Yep, there are better and worse months to sell a car. Spring and summer are the best time to sell and worse time to buy because prices are higher during this time. March and September tend to be the busiest months with lots of cars put up for sales. So, to sell with profit, start your sales a mons or two before each of these two time periods.

Look for holidays and occasions when a used car is a good gift (for kids who graduate, for example). Research the graduation dates in your area and start your sale a bit earlier, so that parents could see it as a potential gift.

Good luck in your sales and have a smooth ride!

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