Even if you’ve never actively thought about selling your car, that day is inevitable. That’s an unavoidable part of being a car owner. The new car that you drove out of the dealership will eventually become an old vehicle with major maintenance issues. However, selling your car only becomes the smartest option if you do it at the right time.
People usually hold onto their cars way longer than they should. Maybe it’s due to the emotional attachment, or maybe they’re just too busy to deal with the transaction. In some cases, they don’t want to go through the hassle of finding potential buyers. However, you’ll find a buyer faster for your used car if you know when to sell it.
Whether you’re thinking about selling your car or have never considered it, here are the signs to look out for. These will help you sell your car and get as much value as possible from it.
Repairs cost more than the car itself
It’s one thing for your car to lose its value due to depreciation. It’s a different issue when its repair and maintenance costs start to add up, sometimes exceeding the value of the vehicle. But this is something that car owners may not calculate properly.
If your car has gone for repairs and you’re presented with a hefty bill, you’ll naturally get annoyed. But once the repair is done and you’re back on the road, you might forget about the money you spent for it. Since things are running smoothly for the moment, you might believe that the repair cost was worth it.
This belief has several problems. First, you should calculate the total amount you would have spent on repair and maintenance for a period instead of an instance. Then you should figure out if that amount is getting consistently bigger. Second, you should compare that amount to the resale value of your car at the moment. If it’s close, then it’s time to consider selling your car.
Third—and perhaps most importantly—you should know that if the repairs are becoming regular, you are one big repair away from crossing the threshold of your car’s value. Once that happens, you’ll hear the sad news from the repair crew, and that will be a significant reduction of your car’s value in one go.
The fourth reason is that when you find a buyer, they will ask about your car’s maintenance history. When they learn that there have been several repairs—and more so in the recent past—they certainly will not pay the amount you have in mind.
So, while a single repair bill might be troubling enough, don’t consider it as a one-off or an unavoidable expense. Think of the total costs, and that will tell you whether you shouldn’t delay selling your car.
It’s costly or difficult to find parts
Here’s the truth about the automobile industry. To find new buyers, manufacturers must constantly come out with newer models. Just because a particular model has been selling well doesn’t mean that they won’t improvise on it. Due to competition from both domestic and foreign manufacturers, car companies need to release new models consistently.
Whenever they come out with a fresh model, they will stop supporting their older models by stopping the production of its parts. With the industry-wide race to be relevant in the electric car market, older models that run on internal combustion engines are also slowly getting phased out.
So, if you have an older model, it’s natural that you would be finding it difficult or costly to look for its parts. This raises two issues: The first is the price you end up paying. The second issue is that it will take more time to repair your car. It will have to be at the shop or stay unused with you until the maintenance team can find the parts.
This means you will have to look for an alternative mode of transportation. That cost should also be included in the maintenance expenses. If it’s taking longer and more expensive to find the right parts, it’s time to find a buyer for your car.
It no longer meets your needs
You bought your car to cater to a specific set of needs you had at the time. But you’re not the same person anymore. Your responsibilities would have gone up and your professional needs would have changed. So, without you realizing it, your car may have outlived its time and purpose.
A car bought for your twenties won’t be the solution when you get settled and start a family. It may not suit your partner’s requirements and may not have space to accommodate your children’s needs either. What was once the ideal car for an unmarried individual is now understandably inadequate for a family.
You may have also changed jobs and got one that requires you to travel more often. Or maybe your new office needs a long daily commute. The car’s lack of mileage will now be a massive problem. In other words, professionally, you’ve outgrown your car.
Or perhaps you have moved to the suburbs and your driving routine has changed. You have both longer and more frequent commutes now. The old faithful may not be the right vehicle for this new life. If so, think about selling your car before it’s too late.
It’s about to roll over 100,000 km
This is a crucial marker in the used car industry. If your car has run over 100,000 kilometres, it’s evident that it has gone through its share of wear and tear. In the rare instance that it has held up so far, the number of kilometres is a sign that you can expect problems soon enough.
Whether you share the maintenance history with a prospective buyer or not, they would know what to expect from such a car. Even if they’re not trained to inspect a car, they would likely approach a mechanic who would advise them of what can go wrong with such an old car.
The 100,000-kilometre mark also has implications for other costs. Your maintenance costs would go up for starters. Secondly, you may not feel comfortable taking your family members on it. Thirdly, it won’t suit longer drives, as you might fear a breakdown in the middle of nowhere.
Remember that most modern auto manufacturers design their cars to be on the road for around 150,00 kilometres at the most. Buyers would be hesitant of any car that’s over 100,000 kilometres, as they would be unable to sell it after three to four years if they want to.
You want to reduce car insurance costs
One of the most common queries we get at Car Digest is about car insurance costs. And sure enough, people who are most interested in knowing about their premium costs are the ones with old cars.
While depreciation drives down the insurance costs, expected maintenance keeps it high. The insurance costs of a car depend on its market price. So, the older a car gets, usually, the collision insurance premiums would also be lower. But that’s only half the story.
As the car gets older, there will be an unavoidable increase in its maintenance costs. Plus, it would be difficult and would take longer to find the right parts, as we’ve mentioned. These will have a direct bearing on the insurance costs.
If you’re beginning to pay more on car insurance, it’s a clear sign that you should think about selling your car.
When there are cheaper methods of transportation
The transportation industry and the public infrastructure for it would have been different when you bought your car. The nature of the commute itself has fundamentally changed over the last decade or so. Public transportation, for example, is gaining renewed attention from governments everywhere.
So, ask yourself whether you can take the subway to work. Or is it possible to bike or even walk to your office? All these will significantly reduce the fuel, maintenance, and insurance costs associated with car ownership. Plus, they’re good for your health.
Cab aggregators are also increasingly becoming the preferred option for many consumers. Since it’s an on-demand service, you don’t have to worry about any of the other costs. You could work out your monthly ownership costs and compare that to what you would pay for a cab aggregator. If the latter is lower, it’s time to sell your car.
Another factor to keep in mind is if your job has either become either completely remote or a hybrid system of remote and on-site work. If so, you may not need to keep your car around and pay those unnecessary maintenance and insurance costs.
Conclusion and recommendations
If you identify with any of the above, you should think about selling your car. That should be an objective decision regardless of your sentimental attachment to the vehicle. But if your situation doesn’t reflect any of these conditions, you have a few more years to enjoy your ride.