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Know When to Sell Your Car: 7 Signs Telling You It’s Time to Break Up With Your Car

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

What's in this Article

Though it may seem strange, many of us develop a very close and personal relationship with our vehicles. Sadly, these relationships typically have an expiration date. Eventually, even the sturdiest cars can begin to fall apart.

While it can be challenging to part with a beloved automobile, it’s often a necessary part of life. But knowing when to sell your car is tricky. Have you been wondering when to sell your old car? This brief guide may help you decide.

Holiday Sales

November and December are chock-full of holiday cheer. They’re also two of the best months of the year to buy a new car. Car dealerships do everything they can to move last year’s stock, including slashing prices.

If you’ve been lovingly gazing at car commercials, you may want to go ahead and give in to that compulsion. Purchasing a brand-new vehicle during the holiday season is often affordable and straightforward.

However, before you decide to snap-up that new truck, sedan, or SUV, you may want to sell your current vehicle. Though it may seem like you’re jumping the gun, any funds you receive from your current car can be applied toward your new one.

This decision could result in lower monthly car payments and less paid interest. Still, if you’ve already blown your budget on gifts or are unwilling to wait until the end of the year, there are additional holiday sales events to look forward to.

You’re No Longer Making Payments

The logic behind this reason goes two ways. Firstly, you could be ready to purchase a new vehicle because you’re no longer making payments on your current car. Secondly, you could resent the idea of buying a new car for the same reason.

However, it’s smart to sell your car after you’ve finished making payments, especially if you’ve been yearning for a new one. If your car doesn’t have 100K miles on it and was made within the last five years or so, it could fetch a pretty penny.

With all of the money you earn from selling that vehicle, you could treat yourself to a brand-new one. Though you may have to make monthly payments once again, you’ll also be restarting the buy-sell cycle. In a few years, you could sell and buy again.

So long as you don’t buy new vehicles straight off the lot, you won’t be losing thousands of dollars with each purchase. Instead, you’ll just be reinvesting in your own comfort, security, and happiness. What’s wrong with that?

It’s Unsafe

You may want to sell or junk that car if it has safety issues. Airbag repair and replacement are some of the most expensive services that mechanics provide, and it’s sometimes more affordable to purchase a new car than commit to repairs.

Additionally, many vehicles undergo safety recalls after their release. Owners that fail to bring their car into the local dealership for recall-related repairs and upgrades may miss their opportunity to enjoy free repairs, resulting in an unsafe vehicle.

Though you may be accident-free and exceptionally careful, there may come a day where you’ll need your car’s safety features to kick-in. When that day comes, your life could depend on your seatbelt’s strength or your rear bumper’s density.

Never continue to drive an unsafe car. If you cannot afford to have the necessary repairs made, it’s far better to sell or scrap it and begin saving for a new one. Thousands of people die in car accidents each year, so safety is crucial.

You’ve Found a More Affordable One

Depending on the car you drive, you could be getting anywhere from 10mpg to 40mpg or more. Operating a car that doesn’t get great mileage can be absurdly expensive.

If you’ve found an affordable vehicle with better mileage, it may be time to sell that old gas-guzzler you’ve been driving around. You might find that this simple switch saves you hundreds of dollars in gas expenses each month.

Some of the newer electric and hybrid vehicles get 50mpg, something that would have seemed impossible two decades ago. Thanks to a rapid increase in electric vehicle charging stations, these vehicles are becoming more accessible.

Are you tired of gasoline entirely? You could sell your current car and upgrade to a hybrid or electric model. Not only will you spend far less on fuel, but you’ll also be helping to make a positive change in the world around you.

You’ve Hit 100K Miles

Most modern cars can run indefinitely when properly maintained and cared for. In the past, 100,000 miles was seen as the point at which vehicles died. Today, that number still represents the point at which most car owners want a change.

If you’re about to hit 100K miles on your current car’s odometer, you want to think about selling it before you go over that benchmark. Cars with less than 100K miles on them can sell for thousands of dollars more than 100K+ vehicles.

Should you realize that you’ve already made it past that point, don’t despair. While your vehicle may not appraise for quite as much as it would have in the past, excellent maintenance habits and repairs could make your car more attractive.

Of course, if you’re driving a vehicle that’s suffering from constant breakdowns and technical problems, you might be in a little bit of a pickle. Fortunately, you can sell even the jankiest cars, so long as you sell them for scrap.

Repairs Are Too Expensive

When the cost to repair your vehicle exceeds your monthly payments or the car’s total selling price, it’s time to get rid of it. Older vehicles that haven’t been appropriately maintained throughout their lives are most susceptible to this.

Issues with your vehicle’s engine, transmission, airbags, suspension, or camshaft could easily cost you several thousands of dollars to repair. If you’re driving an older car with plenty of miles on it, these repairs may not be more than the car is worth.

In this case, it may be better for you to scrap it or sell it. When vehicles exhibit costly problems, especially due to old age, they’ll likely continue to have issues. The only way to avoid this would be to replace every internal component completely.

At that point, you’re essentially rebuilding a vehicle using a wide inventory of parts. This might make a great project for families to work on together, but it won’t make for reliable transportation.

Financial Necessity

Finally, if your financial responsibilities and burdens have become too great, you may want to sell your car. Should your bank happen to file for repossession of your belongings, including your vehicle or home, you may be utterly out of luck.

Though it’s not the first thing that anyone would want to do, you could choose to sell your car at the first sign of dangerous debt. With the money you earn from selling, you could pay off initial debts, helping to keep yourself afloat for a while longer.

Naturally, selling your vehicle may not be a permanent or singular solution to rising debts. However, it can stave off many of the consequences of such debt, including homelessness.

Besides, selling your car to pay debts is far better than having it repossessed by the bank. The bank will appraise your property using their own means, but a private buyer may pay you far more than the value your bank assigns.

What to Bring When Selling Your Car

There are a few things to remember when selling your car. For example, you’ll want to remember to have the vehicle title and registration with you during the sales process.

You’ll also want to bring your driver’s license or a government-issued photo ID. Any proof of maintenance, vehicle history reports, or warranty documentation should also be brought along and presented during the sales process.

Know When to Sell Your Car

There are tons of reasons why you might want or need to sell your vehicle. But determining when to sell your car can be challenging. Still, if your current vehicle is costing you hundreds or thousands of dollars in annual repairs, it’s time to upgrade.

It may also be a good idea to sell your old car due to mileage, financial difficulties, or attractive sales events. Just be sure to bring your necessary documents with you before you finalize the sale. 

If you’re interested in getting rid of your clunker, be sure to contact us today! 

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About the Author


Marc is the Co-Founder of Cash Auto Salvage and Director of daily operations. He retired from a leading Internet Marketing company in 2013 and has been involved in the automotive industry ever since.

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