When your automobile has passed its prime, the idea of selling it may hold some appeal. However, there are times when it's more advantageous to put the value of your old car toward the purchase of a new one by trading it in. Private sales can present a number of potential bothers, such as placing ads, screening buyers and showing the car. If you trade it in at the right time, however, you can avoid considerable worry and quickly place yourself behind the wheel of a newer model.
Toward the close of each year, starting around September, car manufacturers typically release the following year's models for sale. During this period, dealers are pressed to unload existing inventory and make room for fresh merchandise. If you apply your trade-in toward one of the older, but still unused, models, you can often negotiate a good deal in the process.
Eventually, your car may simply become too expensive to keep. Given enough wear-and-tear, any car will begin to incrementally break down. Though the needed repairs may initially seem minor, over time they could cost you a bundle. Once you're paying more in repairs than you would for the monthly cost of a new car, it may be time to trade. Additionally, if the repair estimate is higher than what the current value is for the car, it may be time to make the trade.
If you want a new car and are still making payments on the one you have, consider whether it has any value beyond what you owe. If your car is worth more than what's left on the loan, you may be in a position to make a clean exchange — even via a trade-in — while possibly supplying the down payment for a new car. Find out what your car is worth by looking at the Kelley Blue Book, an informational resource that lists the current market value of used cars.
Over the course of time, your family's needs may change. Perhaps you added two children to the mix and you no longer fit in your small car. You can trade it in for a minivan that provides plenty of space. The opposite is also true. Maybe the kids have all grown and moved out of the house and you want to trade the minivan in for something smaller.
A good time to trade in your car is when it can no longer safely serve your driving needs. If, for instance, your responsibilities require a daily commute, breakdowns along busy highways pose a great danger. If you live in a colder climate, you may need a car that can manage slippery roads and undergo the rigors of traveling in snow.