What’s the best time to sell a car? If you’ve decided to sell, this will be one of the first questions that will pop up.
Let’s face it, all of us want the most from a sale, namely as much cash as possible.
To achieve this, there are several factors to consider, and picking the right time is one of the most important.
By answering some of the most common questions related to this topic, we hope that we’ll give a clear picture of when is the best time to sell a car.
WHAT IS THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO SELL A CAR?
The answer is any time besides winter.
So, best start your selling „campaign“ in the spring or summer, autumn at the latest.
You might ask why? Well, I guess it’s partially due to extra spending during the winter season due to holidays.
Besides this, most people see buying a car as a sort of an adventure. They like to buzz around car dealers, look at cars, ask around, and else.
Winter with its cold weather, rain, ice, and snow is hardly good for that occasion.
You can ask any car dealer. They will probably tell you that the winter season is the worst season for selling cars.
It’s especially not good for selling a car privately.
BEST TIME TO SELL A CAR REGARDING DEPRECIATION
A car that that was bought new
The best time is after four to five years or after 200,000 kilometers or 125,000 miles.
This is the period where most cars give their peak performance without causing many problems and expenses. Also, if you’ve bought a popular brand the worst of the depreciation has already passed.
This means a firm, second-hand price.
This is the best time regarding the looks also. If you’ve managed to preserve it well, it will be as good as new in the eyes of a potential customer.
Simply you get the best out of the car with the least expense and the best selling price.
A car that was bought used
Anything up to 300,000 kilometers or 185,000 miles is alright. Regarding time, up to 10 years old is great.
Besides this, the best time to sell a used car is when maintenance costs start eating up the possible final amount of money you can get.
Every cent that you spend repairing a used car is a sort of depreciation. It’s bad enough that the car „naturally“ loses value over time. When you add costly repairs to this, you eventually end losing some serious money.
Exceptions are old-timers, collectibles, or cars of emotional value. You can’t put these into the same category as they are differently seen and valued.
But there is a bright side to used cars. If you were lucky enough to buy a brand that’s popular in your country, was in good shape in the first place and you kept it well, it’s not uncommon to get the same money for which you bought it.
So when is the best time to sell a used car? When it’s not that old (up to 10 years is perfect), hasn’t been around the globe three times in terms of mileage, and can still serve a future buyer for a couple of years without any major problem.
On this part, all the above written in terms of depreciation highly depends on how you maintain and drive the car.
More on car depreciation and how to slow it down in a separate article that you can read by clicking here.
IS SELLING A CAR ON THE INTERNET WORTH IT?
The answer is definitely, yes!
Not only worth it, but it is also the standard in today’s world of car sales.
Yes, it demands some minor effort, but that’s nothing compared to what it offers (namely a wide range of potential customers and good accessibility).
The procedure for advertising the car starts by first preparing it for sale, and then taking a couple of pictures.
It’s desirable to take pictures of the exterior, interior, engine bay, and so on. This all means better information and perhaps a better sales angle.
After that, most websites ask that you fill out forms regarding the manufacturer, year of production, trim level, your location, phone number, and some other data.
Give as much data as possible. Potential buyers are much more likely to contact you when they see this.
So, some nice pictures, a neat maintenance record, and other car data (even if something is damaged) will make your profile on the website seem much more serious and valid.
AVOID like wildfire enhancing the images, lying about the data, and stating something that you can’t back up in person. Lots of people do this and it is no short of swindling.
If this does come to mind, beware of betrayed and angry customers, especially if they’ve come from a long distance to see your car.
WHAT IS THE RIGHT TIME TO SELL A DIESEL CAR?
Definitely, within the mentioned range of 200,000 kilometers or 125,000 miles, if the car was bought new.
The main reason is the cost of maintenance. On average, this is the peak point where most systems still function normally. After this, signs of fatigue will start to show.
You see, diesel engines are not what they used to be.
In the past, most manufacturers made them almost bulletproof and with some proper maintenance, they went on and on, most reaching over 500,000 kilometers or over 300,000 miles!
But that came at a cost. Although most of them had very low fuel consumption, the performance was poor. Mainly in terms of acceleration. Then there’s the engine noise and vibrations which were, on some cars close to a tractor.
That came to an end with the birth of new common rail technologies, turbines, intercoolers, and else which made the diesel engine a powerhouse that could fly like a rocket and consume fuel like a pocket lighter.
The dark side was the maintenance which came at a hefty price. Expensive turbine repairs, injector replacements, the infamous dual-mass flywheel, and else made a used diesel engine a nightmare for a car owner’s wallet.
If you’re selling a diesel car that you’ve bought used in the first place, then there’s no precise rule.
Best sell it under 350,000 kilometers or some 200,000 miles. In terms of time, anything under 15 years of age is good. At this point, you may still have some chance of getting a good price,
Know that a used diesel with high mileage, even the best-looking and maintained one, is a hard sale.
Again, people are mostly scared of high maintenance costs.
On this part, I must also mention thinking twice when selling a used diesel car with high mileage that you’ve already fixed up.
If you’ve invested a lot of money and tightened the car up, sometimes it’s worth keeping. For instance, you can keep it as a second car and run it to the ground, especially if it’s from a reliable manufacturer.
The money return is better through further exploitation than through a low sales price.
BEST TIME TO SELL A STATION WAGON (ESTATE)
In terms of seasonality, spring and summer may be the best time.
People tend to travel more, perhaps with families and a station wagon is the best solution before an SUV or van.
When talking about depreciation and mileage, it’s more or less the same as with other car types.
So, station wagons that were bought new should be sold within the 200,000-kilometer mark or 125,000 miles, used up to 300,000 kilometers or 185,000 miles.
More important is to sell it before you run it to the ground. Especially if you carry heavy loads with it all the time.
If this is the case, consider significantly reducing the price if you want to make a sale. One of the hardest cars to sell is a beaten-up station wagon.
On the other hand, if you’ve used it normally and it’s in good shape, then sell it like any other car. Station wagons are popular and have devoted users.
If you’ve read all of this, you’ll notice a pattern for whatever type of car you drive (except electric).
When you’ve bought a new car best drive it to 200,000 kilometers or 125,000 miles and sell it. In terms of time, after the first five years is best.
Also, if possible sell when it’s in prime condition, both mechanical and aesthetical. As people would say, while the interior still smells like new.
Let’s face it: car sale is much easier when you’re the first owner. Nothing and I mean nothing beats a car from a first owner that is well maintained and preserved. Trust me, in this case, you won’t have to bother much about picking a certain time of year.
When talking about used cars, anything under 300,000 kilometers (185,000 miles) or 10 years is good.
Maybe the best definition for selling a used car is what a wise man told me once: „ sell while you still have something to sell“.
A good time is also when the car starts becoming a financial problem. Fix what you have to and sell it as soon as possible.
Also, don’t wait too long to sell even if it means lowering the price. The slow deterioration of the car and maintenance costs may very well eat up all of the money that you’re supposed to get through selling it.
For the end: best look at the car as an investment that you’re bound to lose money on, be it new or used.
The good thing is the more you look after your investment the more money you’ll get back.
Written by: Sibin Spasojevic
Former car technician, life-long car and DIY enthusiast, author for Despairrepair.com