How the Economy Impacts Selling a Vehicle

The current state of the economy can determine whether it's a car buyer's or seller's market. Keep these economic factors in mind to help you make good decisions.

The Economy & Selling a Vehicle

If you're selling a used car or truck, economic trends can have a big influence on your selling price and how easy it will be to make a deal.

A few factors you'll want to consider when selling your vehicle include:

  • New car loans.
    • In a bad economy:
      • The interest rates will often be higher.
      • It will typically be harder to qualify for new car loans.
      • The demand for used cars will likely go up.
    • In a good economy:
      • Interest rates will likely be lower.
      • It's easier to qualify for loans (as long as you have decent credit).
      • More buyers may look to buy new or certified pre-owned cars instead of used vehicles.
  • Surplus of new cars.
    • If new cars aren't selling because of the economy, dealers may have a surplus of inventory.
    • Because of this, good deals or incentives for new vehicles may make new cars more attractive than used cars for buyers who can qualify.
  • Time of year.
    • Used car sales are often at their highest during the spring and summer.
      • Selling used sports cars or convertibles will easier during warmer months.
    • Trucks and 4-wheel drive vehicles may be better to sell during colder months or other times of the year.
      • For example, in some areas of the country a used truck will be in higher demand just before hunting season.
    • For buyers, the holidays are generally when you'll get the best deals on new and used cars due to a decrease in sales.
  • Gas prices.
    • When the economy is bad, gas prices will usually skyrocket.
      • This will increase the demand for fuel-efficient vehicles.
        • These vehicles will usually be easier to sell and at a higher price.
      • The demand for gas-guzzler trucks or SUVs will likely go down.
    • When the economy is good, gas prices will usually drop.
      • Larger vehicles that aren't as fuel-efficient will regain their attractiveness.
  • Mileage.
    • Since it will be easier to get a new car in a good economy, selling your car will become more difficult if it has a higher mileage.
      • Selling prior to hitting 100,000 miles will make it more attractive to buyers.
  • Demographics.
    • In general, younger drivers are more likely to buy used cars because of a fluctuating economy.
      • Because of this, certain models of used vehicles will be easier to sell in a good or bad economy.

Selling Tips for Any Economy

Whether the market is flooded with used cars or the selection is limited, you'll need to make your car as attractive an option as possible for potential buyers. This will help you to complete a quick sell and maximize your profit.

A few selling tips you should be aware of include:

  • Keeping your service records.
    • Service records showing you've kept up with vehicle maintenance can increase your car's value.
    • Service records are also important if you're selling a car that's still under the manufacturer's warranty.
  • Creating an accurate, honest listing.
    • Disclosing any accidents or mechanical issues will build trust with potential buyers.
    • Being honest and upfront with what's wrong with the car will make all the good things your vehicle has to offer more believable.
  • Have a vehicle that looks and runs great.
    • If there are issues with your car, get it fixed before you sell. There aren't many buyers who want a car they'll have to fix right away.
    • A car that's been cleaned and detailed will be more attractive to buyers and reassure them that the car has been well taken care of.
  • List your vehicle at the right price.
    • The economy will determine the selling price.
    • Pricing guides can be useful, but make sure you also:
      • Look at the selling price of similar vehicles in your area.
      • Determine if your vehicle will be in higher demand in the summer or winter.
      • Review classified ads for prices of similar vehicles on websites such as:

For more information, check out our guide to selling your car and how to prepare your car to sell.

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