Sell Your Old, Used Car Now If You Want to Get the Very Best Price for It

Used vehicles five years old and older are selling for peak price

Sell Your Old, Used Car Now If You Want to Get the Very Best Price for It
Image: NCCC
March 24, 2017

Thinking about selling or trading in that old pickup or SUV sitting in your garage? If you want the best price, now is the time to do it.

The market for used cars is saturated right now with three-year-old vehicles due to a big lease year in 2014. This surge in available vehicles is pushing down the prices of late-model used cars. Automotive website Edmunds notes that vehicles five years old and older, however, are in short supply, partly because of low sales during the Great Recession.

The result? Peak prices for those models now.

This trend is particularly apparent in SUVs and pickup trucks that are 10 years old. Ivan Drury, Edmunds analyst, notes that there was a 46 percent increase in the value of a 10-year-old Ford F-150 between 2013 and 2017.

Similarly, a decade-old Chevrolet Suburban saw a rise in value over that same period of 87 percent.

A large part of these steep increases were the result of lower gas prices. When gas is cheaper, bad gas mileage is less important.

If you're thinking about trading or selling an older car, you should do it sooner rather than later. Drury noticed a leveling-off in the value increases over the first two months of 2017.

"The major gains in these older used car prices are probably behind us," he said.

And if gas prices were to rise suddenly, the prices of the older vehicles with poorer gas mileage could reverse fast.

Here's what you should do if you're planning to sell or trade your older vehicle:

  1. Sell it yourself if possible.
  2. If you can deal with the hassle of advertising the car and showing it to potential buyers, you'll get more money by selling it to a private party than you would by trading it in.

  3. The trend is not the same for smaller vehicles.
  4. The pricing trend has been different for compact cars and even small SUVs. Crossovers and sedans already had decent gas mileage, so their value didn't rise when gas prices fell.

  5. There are some exceptions to the trend.
  6. According to Edmunds data, a five-year-old Subaru Forester small SUV sold for $12,866 in 2013, but the price increased to $15,068 in 2017.