Maybe you’ve had a used car for a while and are ready for an upgrade. Maybe you have a used car you no longer need or use. Whatever your situation is, it’s worth considering if now is a good time to sell your car.
The used car market is hot right now, and soaring used car prices may have you wondering if now is a good time to sell your car. But the last thing you want is to spend more to replace the car you just sold.
In this article, we’ll help you find the right time to sell your used car, the documents you’ll need to make it happen, and where you should sell it.
The right time to sell your used car is…
The best time to sell your car is when you can get the most money for it. Current inflated car prices may mean you could break even on your used car, or even turn a profit on it.
The used car market has been hot for some time, though there have been signs that prices may have peaked. Over the past couple years, ongoing chip shortages have slowed auto production, leading to fewer cars on the market. High demand for cars drove prices up, especially for used vehicles, which are up 40% in the past two years. However, that trend may be reversing—experts expect used car prices to drop by 10% and 20% in 2023.
Selling now means you may be able to take advantage of higher prices. There are also some life changes that make it a good time to sell your car, like if you work remotely or live somewhere where you don’t need to drive.
Although, there is a catch-22 that comes with selling right now: Because prices are high, you may face sticker shock when looking for a new car to replace your old one.
The documents you need handy
Gathering the right documents ahead of time ensures you’re ready to hand over the keys when a good offer comes along. Keep in mind that document requirements are different from state to state, and you may also need to provide different documents depending on if you’re selling to a dealership or a private buyer.
Regardless of where you choose to sell your car, you’ll need to provide your car’s title in order to transfer the car to the new owner. This document is your proof of ownership and includes details like your car’s make, model, year, and vehicle identification number.
Your car’s title ideally won’t have a lien, or an outstanding auto loan, against it. Some states may require an attachment on your title proving that you’ve paid off your loan. If you still have an outstanding loan on your car, you’ll likely need to pay it off before selling your car.
Optional documents that could increase your car’s value:
- Bill of sale: This includes much of the same information as your car’s title, plus the data of sale and purchase price.
- Emissions test documentation
- Vehicle history report
- Maintenance and service records
- Transferable warranties
- Owner’s manual
- Warranty documents
Where can I sell my used car?
You may be wondering where you should sell your used car. If your goal is to get as much money as possible, be prepared to do a little bit of research and compare different options. If you just want to sell your car as conveniently as possible, there are a few straightforward ways to do so.
When it’s best to sell through a dealership (and what to watch out for)
If you’re looking to sell your car as quickly and conveniently as possible, selling through a dealership may be your best option. It doesn’t take much effort—you’ll simply need to call the dealership, make an appointment to get your car appraised, and then bring over the necessary documents to complete the transaction.
Keep in mind that dealerships are a middleman, which means they need to sell your car for more than what they bought it for in order to make a profit. Because of this, some dealerships may not give you the best offer.
There are some online used car dealers, like CarMax, Carvana, and Vroom, that offer more competitive prices and will come to you to take your car off your hands. It’s much easier to compare prices between these dealers online, and the selling experience may be easier than going through a local dealership.
When it’s best to sell directly to a buyer (and things to keep in mind)
If you want to get the highest price possible for your car, you may want to consider selling your car directly to a buyer. This option is generally more work than selling to a dealer, because you’ll have to price and market the car yourself. Unlike selling through a dealership, you’ll also have to clean up and detail the car yourself before you sell in order to attract buyers (it’s not necessary, but it increases your chances of making a profit).
The biggest thing to keep in mind when selling your car directly to a buyer is that it’s more time consuming. You’ll have to take pictures, list your car online, coordinate with potential buyers, and negotiate on price.
It typically takes much longer to sell your car yourself than going through a dealer, so if you’re looking to sell your car quickly, you may not want to go this route.
So if you’re still wondering:,
- “What is the best way to sell my used car?”
- “Can I sell my car online?” or
- “Can I sell my car to a used car dealer?”
We hope that this information answers your questions!
Reasons why you shouldn’t sell your used car just yet
The main reason you should wait to sell your used car is if you need a replacement for it.
Most used cars on the market currently are newer and pricer than before, due to inventory issues and the fact that most Americans are holding onto their cars longer. Older vehicles under $15,000 are in short supply, so you may want to hold off selling your used car if your budget for your next car is capped.
Used car prices are expected to continue falling, so if you can sell your car now and go a few months without buying a new one, that may be your best bet.
If you need a replacement and are considering a new car, it may be smart to wait and not sell your used car just yet. The same applies for drivers looking to trade in their used car for a new car. New car prices are still very high, and it may make more sense to wait until prices drop over the next few months.