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When to sell your car?

by Hello Harold

Posted on July 11th , 2019 at 10:15 AM

The obvious way to start this note would have been to advise you to sell your SUV in winter, and your convertible in the summer. Wrong. If you’re going to go about this right, your decision making tactics should follow a rationale according to a set of specific factors. Here are some:

Price of gas

This is the most palpable metric in this article. When the OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) goes insane, people will have the tendency to buy hybrid, electrical cars, or invest in bicycles. Essentially, when crude oil prices reached record levels in 2008 - and the U.S. dollar’s value dropped like Felix Baumgartner from space – people stopped buying cars altogether, and the government had to step in and bail GM and Chrysler out.

Keep in mind that smaller variations in prices also affect purchases seasonally. Gas prices are generally at least – vacations oblige, demand is higher. Keep in mind that summer-blend gas is more expensive to produce than winter-blend gas.

When your wife says so... Or maybe when you get twins!

This point here is to spare you a spousal argument. Your wife says you need a station wagon. Get a station wagon. In fact, you will score points if you directly trade your ’69 Impala for a Volvo V60 BEFORE your spouse corners you to have “that talk.”

Concept of seasons

A few years back in the 1950s, people considered selling their Jeep Grand Cherokee in the winter, and contemplated buying and renting a convertible Ford Mustang in the summer. Utility was really positively correlated with seasons.

(Add intern figures with 1950 sales of SUV in winter, and today sales of SUV all year long)

These days, thanks to global warming, a season lasts 1 to 5 days but for reasons beyond understanding, people still keep “seasons” in the back of their mind as evidence (even if they don’t exist anymore): they want to ski in December, soak in the sun in August, and climb Machu Pichu in September (no matter the weather, snow levels and sun predominance.) Perhaps it comes from the same syndrome that encourages Australians to celebrate Christmas wearing knitted wool with red deers on it, even if it’s 30 degrees out.

(Photo of Sweaty Australian wearing wool and a Santa Claus beard, in a car parked on the beachfront?)

So, if you don’t want to depend on the weather, you can rely on seasons (a solid marketing concept – like Christmas.) The peeps on Wall Street can confirm. Come winter, list your SUV for sale. Between March and August, list your convertible, like your Grandpa would’ve done. The season syndrome is here to stay and gives you sort of a full proof guarantee.

People's mood

We will let you in on a little secret: Moods influence purchasing sprees, just like Steve Jobs’ health affected Apple’s stock price, and just like Hillary Clinton’s fainting contributed to her losing the presidency.

When the Lakers win the NBA championship, winning fans go on a destructive spree. Losing fans also go on a destructive spree. They break windows, trash cars, and destroy storefronts. We’re certain that insurance companies include these eventualities into their premium, to make up for the month of June. After the Lakers have won, you could sell your car much easier for two reasons: Cars have been trashed by happy and mad fans (obviously), and the euphoric aura floating in the city in the month following the win will alleviate people’s doubts: Their moods are light, so are they wallets. They will consume.

Other key triggers for good/bad mood (examples):

  • Obama wins (Purchasing sprees in L.A. and NYC. while Texas pouts for a year).
  • There are now direct flights on low cost airplanes from your city to Vegas (checkbooks flying all over the place).
  • Star Wars to be released in 2 days (Nissan partners up with Darth Vader)
  • Five guys open in Dubai
  • Guns n’ Roses announce they are getting back together, and perform their first concert at Burning man.
  • Better yet, John Lennon and George Harrison resuscitate and the Beatles get back together, with their first concert in the Gobi desert

You got the gist: When people are super happy, they are more likely to purchase. Must be something about the dopamine causing you to worry less.

The ecological consciousness

It’s growing faster than veganism. People are increasingly aware that the planet is hurt, and are acting on it. They buy Priuses (or Prii), switch to Velib, and invest in Tesla shares. We’re not going to comment on the reason of this ecological awakening (Guilt? Return to nature? Watching Avatar? Profit mongering in the case of Tesla?) but we can comment on the fact that you WILL get proper prices when negotiating the sale of a Hybrid car in times of high pollution

(watch The Crown – “The great smog” episode, when Winston Churchill heavily insisted that Londoners trade their 1976 Chevy trucks for Priuses.)

The counter-ecological revenge

Similarly, there are hordes of manly men who detest hipsters, detest emos, and detest ecology (They’re probably convinced global warming is a hoax.) These hordes are usually the ones who vote extreme demagogues into office, and they’re giving you a muscular thumb up when you list your SUV, light truck or crossover, for sale. These car categories have gone up by no less than six percent in recent trimesters, assuring glorious days and cash for you, truck seller.


You fundamentally need to sell your car before you reach the “aha” moment of realization when the sentence “I REALLY need to sell my car” pops up in your head. Mileage is the most analyzed spec in your car: Dealers and buyers will consider it first when deciding if they’re interested. Car warranties usually last 2 to 3 years or until you hit 40,000 miles. It’s when your car’s worth will plunge from a bag of dollars to a bag of peanuts. It also usually is all downhill from there: Belts, tires, transmission, brakes will all start cringing and doing little suffering noises. If you’re the type of person who can’t resist changing up their ride every once in awhile, consider selling before 40,000 thousand miles. If not, you’re either in the long haul with the car or willing to cut the price significantly at resale later on. Key figures to keep in mind:

  • You car loses 20-30 percent of its value the moment you step foot on the accelerator.
  • Four cars out of five lose 50 percent of their value after three years.

When the grease monkey says so

Sometimes, a little light will appear on your dashboard gently suggesting you should drive your car to servicing. Immediately.
The mechanic will stick his digital plug-in to your car, and borrow the face of a doctor ready to announce terminal cancer.

“It’s the car exhaust: high fuel & low air mélange (yes my mechanic took a French accent for pronunciation) might create a block in the catalytic converter.” The sensor for oxygen goes ballistic, and has a field day, beeping until the day of kingdom come. “The replacement part has to be ordered from Detroit (if the factory hasn’t closed due to bankruptcy yet) and costs $2,200.”
But. But. But my car’s resale value is $2,700. Oh well.

Christmas, and August

When parents feel August (pun intended), they tend to buy their newly admitted offspring second hand cars before the kids leave for college. Families also tend to exchange other things than Reindeer sweaters on Dec. 24th. You should therefore plan to sell your car when gifts are in season.

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