When Is the Best Time to Trade in Your Car?

April 28th, 2014 by

Has that trusty steed of yours started to falter a bit in recent months? Do you find yourself daydreaming about the latest showroom models? For most car owners, a trade-in is pretty much inevitable sooner or later — but timing that move can prove a tricky proposition. Let’s look at some of the factors you should consider:

Trade-in value – Whether your car or truck is falling apart in rush-hour traffic or still performing admirably, the trade-in value of your vehicle will probably make a significant difference in how much car you can buy. According to Forbes, the 2008 recession transformed late-model used cars into particularly hot properties as buyers found themselves with less disposable income to spend on new vehicles. As owners held onto their cars for “just one more year,” a shortage of these vehicles became the new normal for dealerships. So if your car is of recent vintage and in good condition, you can maximize your return by selling sooner rather than later.

Repair costs – Many owners assume that they can do better for themselves by making incremental repair and maintenance costs than by shouldering the expense of a new vehicle. In the short term, this strategy makes sense — but it’s a bitter irony that the longer your hold onto your car, and the lower its trade-in value becomes, the more it will cost you. Edmunds notes that a timing belt package, a typical maintenance requirement for any vehicle not equipped with a timing chain, can cost you up to $1,000. This event usually becomes necessary around 90,000 to 100,000 miles, and it may make you wonder why you’re shelling out so much money on a car that might not trade for much more than that.

Reliability – Some makes of cars are especially known for their reliability, but nothing lasts forever. How confident do you feel about your car’s current level of performance? If you find yourself biting your nails over whether you’ll make it to work the next morning, trading in your car for a newer one (preferably with a full warranty) can provide that great intangible known as peace of mind. The Christian Science Monitor advises you to follow your instincts in this situation. How you feel about your car has value, even if that value can’t be isolated in terms of dollars and cents.

Safety – Did your old car come with all the safety amenities taken for granted on today’s state-of-the-art vehicles? Many older models, for instance, don’t include side airbags or tire pressure monitors, which have now become standard fare on many new cars. Today’s vehicles are safer than ever, so if you’re determined to provide that benefit for yourself and your passengers, do some research to find out what safety devices you might be missing out on.

Every car owner has different needs and priorities, which is why there’s no cookie-cutter “right time” to trade in a vehicle. With these considerations in mind, however, you should find it easier to make the choice that makes the most sense for you.

Posted in Trade-in