Ask Yourself These Questions Before Selling Your Car

A car is a big financial and emotional investment; saying goodbye can be a tough.

Some will think this is goofy, but for those of us who are into cars, selling one is a big deal. A car is a big financial and emotional investment; saying goodbye can be a struggle. But selling a car can also mean new opportunities and automotive experiences. So here are some questions you should ask yourself if you’re debating whether or not to sell something.

How badly do you need the money?

Well, let’s be real, this has got to be priority one. There’s no shame in needing money – this is why I’ve sold vehicles myself. If you really need coin for whatever reason, liquidating a car might be a necessity and the decision is kind of made for you. Or if recurring costs (like insurance and maintenance and government fees) are preventing you from saving for something bigger and better, that too might be a good reason to cut a car loose.

How badly do you need it for everyday life?

Some of us can live without a car; maybe you’re like me, in a big city within walking distance to necessities and working from home. In such a case, your car is truly a luxury. But, of course, if you live somewhere that’s just dependent on car ownership for accessing things like food and hardware it’s not so easy to go carless or even sell something and be carless temporarily while you search for something else.

If you’re dependent on your car, that’s a good reason to own something reliable. It will also mean you’ve got to be a little more tactical about how you get rid of your current one so there’s no lapse in car-having. Perhaps you can borrow something from a friend or family member while you’re between cars? Maybe some kind of rental situation is viable? That’s a whole other decision tree, I suppose. Let’s get back to the main prompt here.

How mad do you get when you have to spend money on it?

Finally, we’re into the more abstract and interesting subheadings. Spending money on maintenance is always annoying, but if you appreciate your car and understand its needs you’re not going to sweat its upkeep too much.

Put another way: Do you find yourself at a parts counter or mechanic’s service desk saying things like “why the hell are brake pads and rotors $2,000!?” Well, you might be using an AMG Mercedes as a daily driver when you’d be happier in a Honda (or a lower-spec Benz). But if you’re enjoying that Merc, you’ll be like “well, yeah, it’s a heavy performance car, of course the brakes are expensive.”

Don’t get too hung up on that made-up example, I didn’t actually get an estimate on an E63 brake job (AMG owners – was I close?). Point is, you’re probably aware that some cars are more expensive to operate than others and if you don’t feel like you’re getting your money’s worth it might be time to change things up.

How interested and invested are you in the car’s history?

My 300ZX was owned by a very cool woman who owned it from new, found me on the internet, and asked if I wanted to adopt her car. That’s a very truncated version of a long story, and that story is a big part of the reason I haven’t sold that Z yet. I love the car’s saga, and that can’t be replaced, even by another identical car.

If you have a similar connection to a car like that, that might be a good reason to keep it even if you’re not totally blown away by its design or driving dynamics. Sentimental value is real!

Do you have plans or interest in upgrading it?

For some folks, the best part of owning a car is personalizing it. I can relate to this – I cannot imagine having a vehicle I didn’t want to customize in some way. Every time I look at potential new additions to my garage, I concurrently fantasize about how I’d set certain cars up.

Maybe you’re all about all-stock everything and this doesn’t apply to you, but even then, maybe you’d like to try different tires or different engine oils or something? If you’ve got plans for the car you’d like to see through, that’s a strong argument in favor of finishing your build. If you’re done modding or not interested, that’s one less string tying you to your vehicle.

How often do you look back at it after you’ve parked it?

Looks aren’t everything, but it’s a great feeling when you just can’t help but double-take your machine. I love looking at all three vehicles in my current fleet and I check them out every chance I get. If you’re not captivated by your car’s design and/or aura enough to want to sneak an extra look now and then, maybe it’s time to think about a different car.

Is there something else you want more?

Back to basics with my last question – don’t overthink it, is there another car you’d rather be driving than the one you’ve got? If there is and you can afford it, your soul-searching may be over and so too your ownership of your current car.

Good luck on your car trading. If you’ve got more reflective questions to ask yourself before selling a car, please, add them to the comment section!

Andrew P. Collins

Andrew P. CollinsAndrew’s the Editor-In-Chief of Car Bibles and an experienced writer, amateur mechanic, and off-road expedition guide with just a little racing experience. He’s particularly fond of tuner cars and old trucks. Contact the author here.