One of the biggest unexpected and unintended consequences from the Covid pandemic and the resulting economic impact are record used car prices. It’s very important for you to know and understand this if you’re thinking of selling your car, trading it in, or if you’re currently driving a leased car.
Selling your car today will be the first time you’ve ever been able to sell a car today for more than it was worth over a year ago. Yes, your car didn’t depreciate last year, it appreciated. When selling or trading your current car, I usually recommend getting bids from 3 difference buyers. With these extraordinary, soaring and volatile used car prices, my recommendation is to get as many bids as you can…at least 5 or 6. I’ve been a car dealer for over 50 years, and even I’m being surprised by these prices, especially the volatility. Your best bets on getting the highest price for your used car are from CarMax.com, Carvana.com, Varoom.com, WeBuyAnyCar.com, or the used car lots for any dealer of the make of used car you own.
Trading in your car, it’s imperative that you don’t trade it to the dealer you’re buying your next car from, until you’ve gotten at least 5 or 6 bids from the sources I recommended in the last paragraph. Don’t accept book values like Kelly Blue Book to justify the trade-in allowance as being fair. Book values are often wrong, especially in today’s volatile and rapidly changing market. You should give the dealer from whom you’re buying your next car the “last look” at buying your
trade-in to enjoy the sales tax exemption of the trade in allowance. Florida sales tax is 6%, so you’d save $1,200 on a $20,000 trade-in by trading it to the dealer you’re buying your next car from. Most states have similar exemptions.
If you’re leasing a car, you have the rare opportunity to make money by exercising your right to purchase your lease car at the end of the lease. In the past, most of the time, the residual value (your purchase option price), is higher than the current wholesale value. Today, you can often exercise your lease purchase option at a price below the current wholesale. This means you can buy your car at a great price and continue to drive it or buy it to “flip” …sell it back to a dealer at more than you paid. As always, there are obstacles which you must deal with when car dealers are involved. The leasing dealer will probably charge you extra fees, his dealer fees which are hidden fees he adds to cars he normally sells. Also, the leasing company can charge you a “lease disposition fee” which is waived if you buy or lease another car from their dealer. You can return your lease car to any dealer of the make of car you lease, and you should seek out one that will charge you the lowest dealer fees.
When shopping your car withthe sources I’ve suggested, remember that the more bids you get, the more likely you’ll find a very high price. Companies like CarMax and Carvana will sometimes pay more than anybody else, even the “bible”, Manheim Auto Auction price. Why would they do this? Because the used car market, wholesale and retail, is so volatile that, at any given time there are lots of anomalies. CarMax or Carvana may see a sudden spike in the retail price in certain models that the Manheim auction hasn’t adjusted for