Rock Talk

When Is the Right Time to Sell or Trade In My Car?

Last updated on November 15, 2019 at 02:10 pm

The decision of whether to sell or trade in a car is a stressful one for many people. Car owners can alleviate most of that stress, however, by taking the time to research the answers these three questions in order to determine if the time is right to sell or trade in.

Question One: What is the value of your current car?

This is where the process begins. Simply visit an auto valuation site like Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds. Once there, you’ll be walked through a few questions about the year, make, and model of your car, its odometer reading, the condition it’s in, etc. Once complete, you will get both the trade-in and “sell-it-myself” values of your car.

Now that you know what your car is worth, the next step is to evaluate what it will likely cost to keep it.

Question Two: How much will it cost in repairs to keep your car on the road?

The simplest way of doing this is to add up the repairs you’ve had to make on the car in the last two years, excluding regular maintenance (like oil changes) that you would perform even if the car was new. However, to be more thorough, talk to your mechanic about the repairs he/she believes must be done over the next year in order to keep your car reliable. Add that to the cost of any repairs from your manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule (located in your owner’s manual) that will come due in the next two years.

Most experts recommend comparing the total cost of the likely repairs you will have to make to the current value of your car.If the cost of the repairs is more than the value of the car, it’s costing you more to keep it on the road than it would be to sell and buy a newer car.

However, new cars come with costs as well, so there is one final question we recommend considering before you make a decision…

Question Three: Do you really need a new car?

As great as it is to have a new car, they come with costs as well. You may have to pay more for car insurance, your gas mileage may be less efficient, and there will certainly be sales taxes, registration fees, and likely other costs to go along with your purchase.These “hidden” costs may be a deciding factor in whether it’s the right time to sell or trade in your car, or they may simply guide you in the direction of the kind of new car at which you should be looking.

Just answer these three questions as honestly as you can and feel confident that you are making the right decision when it comes to keeping or selling your car.


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