When is the Best Time to Sell Your Used Car?

Written by Danny Collins
Last updated: September 21, 2023

The second-hand car market is booming, with demand for used vehicles on the rise. Which means you could get a good price if you are thinking of selling your car. But is it possible to get an even better deal, depending on when you put your vehicle of the market?

We dig a little deeper to discover just when is the best time to trade in a car.

When is the best time to sell a car?

Demand for used cars can be fickle, with some second-hand cars more in demand than others, depending on their make or model. The time of year can also affect how quickly you find a buyer and what they are prepared to pay for it.

Before deciding to sell a car, you also need to consider your own personal circumstances and whether you can wait for the market for your particular model to pick up or whether you need to sell regardless.

In short, the best time to sell your car needs to work with your own needs as well as with timing it to get the very best price. Here are the key things you need to consider before choosing when to put your used car up for sale:

Factors to consider if you want to sell your car:

  • Depreciation

In most cases as soon as you get the keys for your new car it starts to depreciate. The first year of a new car’s life will see the biggest depreciation hit, which could potentially be up to 30% of its original market value. And by the time a car is three years old, it will most likely be down around 50% of its original purchase price.

Looking at these percentages, it seems sensible to hold on to your car for at least three years before you decide to sell or part-ex as your biggest loss is before this milestone. This is the best time to sell a car depreciation wise as, after three years, the typical depreciation rate will drop, especially if you have kept your car well-maintained and in good condition.

  • Overall condition of the car

Particularly if you have a popular vehicle that’s already in high volume on the road, then you will be competing in quite a crowded market when it is time to sell. So, to ensure your vehicle stands out in the used car crowd and to get the best price you can, you will need to keep it in good shape. If your car is less than immaculate, it is worth considering doing some repairs before you sell, but always factor in the repair cost versus your likely sale price. Alternatively, you could go down the part-exchange route with a dealer.

  • Mileage

The number of miles under a car’s bonnet will directly affect its price and so could influence exactly when you choose to put it on the market. The higher the mileage, the lower the sale or trade-in value you are likely to get. The ideal point to sell your car is between 40,000 and 70,000 miles on the clock. After this, particularly if your car has crossed the six-figure mileage, it’s second-hand trade-in value will significantly drop.

  • Your personal circumstances

Elements in your life may dictate when you need to sell your car – you’ve started a family, for example or are downsizing now your children have flown the nest. Or you are moving home and need a different type of car that’s more suitable to the location. Or perhaps you have had a change in your finances and so need a smaller or cheaper car to run or giving up driving altogether.

Whatever type of vehicle you have, any decision on when to sell a car will also be driven by your own personal circumstances.


Is it better to sell your car or trade it in?

The answer to this question is – it depends. If you are selling your car privately, chances are you will get more for your vehicle than from a dealer or an online car buying service. So, if cash in the bank is your priority, or you are not wanting to buy another car from a dealer (at least, not straight away) then selling your car would be the better option.

However, if you have an eye on your next car and a dealer has the model you want, then a trade-in could well be the best route to take. You won’t necessarily get as much for your car as if you are selling privately for cash, but there could well be a good deal to be had if you are part-exchanging for a newer car. And trading your car in can be one of the fastest ways to get a deal…and get it sold.

What is the best month to sell a car?

And finally, is there really a best month to sell a car? Well, while we can’t pinpoint it down to an exact month for every type of car, there are some key things which can influence what time of year is best for you to sell…and when not to put your car up for sale.

As a guide, it is probably best to avoid selling a second-hand car during March and September, which is when the new registration plate changes and so the buying market is focused on new cars and will see a flood of second-hand cars as a result.

Seasonality can also be a factor, as the summer typically sees a boom in sports cars and convertibles, whereas come autumn or winter, SUVs and 4X4s see a surge in demand. So, if you match your car to a season and wait, you could make a good sale due to demand.

Otherwise, late spring and summer tend to be good times to sell most second-hand cars as the warmer, drier weather makes viewing and coordinating the sale easier and hopefully less of a chore.

Before you sell your car, be sure to run a free vehicle check to find out if there are any outstanding issues with the car.

Related posts

The Ultimate Guide to Selling Your Used Car on Autotrader

How To Sell a Car With Outstanding Finance

How To Sell Your Van Quickly: A Complete Guide

How To Sell Your Car and the DVLA

Should I Sell My Car On An Auction Site?