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Published: Aug 28, 2023 3 min read
Illustration of a calendar with Labor Day marked by a car sticker
Rangely García for Money

The best time of the year to sell your car could be just around the corner: Since 2020, used car values have been highest right after Labor Day.

During the 36th week of the year, which is generally the week of Labor Day, used car values were 3.2% higher than average, according to a report from CarGurus, a buying and selling site. For a $30,000 vehicle — not an usual price to pay for a used car in today's market — that’s a difference of almost $1,000.

Before 2020, Labor Day wasn’t the best time to sell. According to CarGurus, April used to be the “sweet spot” for selling or trading in a car, but the car market has changed quite a bit in recent years.

What the research says

CarGurus found that used car listings were down 6% during the Labor Day week, which could partially explain why values are trending higher that week. The company's analysis of the best time of year to sell a car included data from 2020, 2022 and 2023 (excluding 2021 because it was an outlier year.)

  • "For the auto industry we've dealt with semiconductor shortages, a lack of vehicles on lots, and significant price increases," CarGurus said in a report. These may be some of the reasons why the best time to sell has changed.
  • According to Edmunds, the average used vehicle price was $29,472 in the second quarter of the year, which is 46% higher than the average five years ago — a sign of how much supply constraints have impacted the market to the benefit of sellers. Even older, more weathered cars are commanding high prices in the used market.
  • The best time to buy a used car shifted with the pandemic as well. The best time was once in January, but President's Day week has been better for finding deals more recently.

Keep in mind

Historical market trends are worth considering when you’re deciding when to sell your car, but car prices fluctuate based on a lot of factors. Used car prices were up 3.8% in Q2 compared to Q1, and there’s always the possibility that prices could increase more in the months ahead.

  • In short, no one knows with certainty if used car values will end the year up or down from current levels, so make sure to weigh all the other elements of the selling decision before rushing to list your vehicle.

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