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When Is The Best Time To Trade In Your Car? Car Trade In Tips

Written By | Jan 20, 2022
Car Coach, Top car trade in tips, Sell my car, Tips, Tricks

Top car trade in tips. The Car Coach’s Guide.

WASHINGTON — When is the best time to trade in your car? You are going to get less trading in your car than selling it yourself, since the dealership needs to make a profit on that vehicle. In addition, a number of factors also affect the trade-in price. Being aware of some of these factors can help you set your expectations more accurately when figuring out the right price. I’ll explain all this in the following car trade in tips.

So, when is the right time to trade in your car? Some key car trade in tips

Some people base their trade in decision on mileage alone. They try not to put too many miles on their car so they won’t hurt its value when the time comes to trade it in. But your car’s mileage may not matter as much as you think.

The value of your car drops slightly with every 10,000 miles you drive. But according to websites like and others, there is no major drop-off at any certain mile marker. Even the 100,000-mile mark might not prove a value-killer as long as the car is in good shape. This is especially true with todays shortage of vehicles. The truth is, there is no magic number.

What matters more is the model year of the car. If your car is only a few years old, it likely retains 60% or even up to 70% of its original value. This remains true even if you drive your car more than the average mileage of 12,000 miles per year. Cars that are 5 years old or older that are well maintained and in good shape will retain value and often resell more quickly than newer ones in lesser condition. But obviously, the longer you have a car, the more it will depreciate.

When a car is between five to seven years old, the decline in its value slows and mostly settles down. So if you didn’t trade your car in during the first five years of ownership, you don’t have much reason to rush to sell it before the car turns eight years old. You’ll get about the same amount of money back as long as the car’s mileage doesn’t skyrocket.

Still owe money on that car? More car trade in tips

I do not recommend that you trade in your car if you still have a balance on the loan and have not yet earned any equity. This means you still owe more money than the car is actually worth. And that means you remain underwater on the loan. With the average length of car loans increasing in recent years, this turns out to be increasingly common.

So before trading in a car in this situation, first reach out to your creditor to find out how much you owe on the loan. Compare that to the estimated value of your car on a trade-in. When its value is higher than the amount you owe on the loan, consider that as an optimal time to sell or trade in your car. That’s because you’ll have something to put toward buying a new vehicle. But do keep in mind that your car declines in value with each passing year and each additional mile.

To get the most value on your trade-in, clean the car, get the maintenance records and take out your personal items. A car that’s in good shape will command a larger sum than one the needs multiple repairs and damage. The best thing you can do for your car’s value is maintain the vehicle inside and out.

Bottom Line

If your vehicle needs repair and the cost of the repair is more than the value of the vehicle, sell the vehicle and find better one. Never invest more into a car than it’s worth. If you do, it will take you many years to recoup your fees. Don’t throw good money after bad.


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Lauren Fix

Lauren Fix, The Car Coach®, is a nationally recognized automotive expert, analyst, author, and television host. A trusted car expert, Lauren provides an insider’s perspective on a wide range of automotive topics and aspects, energy, industry, consumer news and safety issues.