The Best Time To Trade In A Car and How To Do It
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Trading in your old car is a convenient option when you're ready for something new to you.
When you sell your current vehicle privately, you face the time-consuming process of taking pictures, posting ads, and answering phone calls from potential buyers. Then you have to work out the sale details and take care of the associated documentation.
All in all, selling a vehicle yourself is a hassle that can take weeks or even months before you receive any money.
Conversely, trading in a car is simple and easy and allows you to drive off the same day in a new vehicle.
But when's the best time to trade in a vehicle? Not only do you have to consider the time of year, but also other factors like its mileage and age.
Let's look at the best times to trade in your used car.
How do trade-ins work?
When you trade in a used car, it nets you money to put toward your next one.
Rather than spending hour after hour preparing your vehicle for sale and fielding questions from possible buyers, you simply accept an offer and sign the papers for your new one when you trade in.
If you try to sell a used vehicle yourself, it could take a while, leaving you waiting for weeks or months instead of driving away in the car you want.
In contrast, trading in your car is an expedited process that can take a matter of hours, allowing you to drive off in a new-to-you vehicle the same day.
Trading in also offers the advantage of saving you money on sales tax. Many states only charge tax on the sum of the purchase price once you subtract the trade-in amount. This has the potential to save you thousands upon thousands of dollars, keeping your hard-earned funds in your bank account for other important obligations.
When it's time to sell your old vehicle, Shift makes it easy. All you'll have to do is enter the make, model, year, and mileage on Shift's easy-to-use website, and you'll instantly receive a purchase offer that's valid for seven days. You can get a fair offer, better than at the dealership, driven by powerful machine learning algorithms and tons of data. And with Shift, there's no need to spend extra time washing and waxing your car. A little dirt won't affect the quote since we fully detail the cars ourselves before putting them up for sale.
How to trade in a car: the best time of year
Certain times of year present better opportunities to buy a car, and it's no different when trading in.
Typically, the first two quarters of the calendar year offer higher values for trade-ins.
That's because early in the year, buyer numbers are up, and dealers need more vehicles to meet demand. Additionally, since new models usually come out in the summer or fall, the further away from that time, the newer a car feels.
Buying a used vehicle gives you the chance to save thousands of dollars versus purchasing a new one. But where can you go for not only a great price but also a quality used car? At Shift, certified mechanics perform extensive 150-point inspections on every vehicle sold, and you get a free Carfax report for the ultimate in transparency. And when you make your car purchase with Shift, you don't have to worry about stressful negotiations with a salesperson. Shift's no-pressure sales environment offers fair, no-haggle prices driven by powerful machine learning algorithms and tons of data. Whether you're after a Toyota, Honda, or Porsche, you can buy any of Shift's cars directly online from the comfort of your home, knowing it has no hidden issues because all Shift vehicles pass a 150-point inspection and get a fair, up-front price from the get-go.
How to trade in a car: the best mileage
Traditionally, there's a perception that the lower the mileage on a used car, the higher the value. And in some cases, that may be true.
But overall, no mileage milestones on a used vehicle present a significant dropoff in price. Though a used car's worth lowers slightly as the miles add up, even vehicles with 100,000 miles don't experience a substantial decline in value.
More critical to the equation is the condition of a used vehicle and its maintenance history. A used car with 100,000 miles that's been well cared for may be worth more than one with less mileage and poor upkeep.
Another element playing into the worth of a trade-in is the model year. When a vehicle's only a few years old, it generally retains 60-70 percent of its value. So no matter if a newer car has many thousands of miles on the odometer, it will probably fetch an excellent trade-in price.
The opposite holds true for vehicles older than five years, with those cars unable to meet the same value retention, no matter how well they're maintained.
2016 INFINITI QX60 (from $25,500)
How to trade in a car: the best age
The newer your vehicle, the more value it preserves.
But similar to its mileage, there isn't a specific time frame where the value of your car drops off considerably.
Like its mileage, a vehicle's age causes a steady, gradual lowering of value.
After five to seven years, a car's experienced most of its depreciation. At that point, its worth plateaus and remains relatively flat in subsequent years.
So once your vehicle reaches five years of age, there's no need to rush to trade it in. Instead of hurrying to trade it in on a new car, you could be saving up for a down payment or paying other important obligations.
How to trade in a car: the best time during your loan
Though the best time to trade in during a loan term differs depending on your financial situation, there is a scenario that represents a disadvantage.
Suppose you find yourself owing more on a car loan than the vehicle's market value, also known as being "upside down" on a loan. In that situation, trading it in isn't a good idea. Instead of receiving funds in return for your vehicle when trading in, you'll owe money.
When you want to trade in, one way to deal with an upside-down auto loan is paying off the difference between the balance and the car's market value to your lender. That way, you're free and clear to purchase your next vehicle without needing to pay additional funds after trade-in.
How can you be sure it runs strong mile after mile when you buy a used vehicle? Shift's best-in-industry service contracts reassure you, covering essential components for the long haul. With a Shift Vehicle Protection plan, not only are you protected from mechanical issues, but you also receive roadside assistance. Whether you're in the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, or Canada, help is just a toll-free phone call away, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
2013 Mazda 3 (from $13,650)
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All prices are based on vehicle availability and pricing as of
April 15, 2022
Pricing shown is not guaranteed and does not include taxes or other product fees.