The most in-demand cars on the pre-owned market are two- to three-year-old vehicles, valued between R150,000 and R250,000. Picture: DENNIS DROPPA
The most in-demand cars on the pre-owned market are two- to three-year-old vehicles, valued between R150,000 and R250,000. Picture: DENNIS DROPPA

When is the right time to sell your car? There isn’t a perfect age, and it varies from car to car, but industry experts agree that vehicles with more than 150,000km on the clock tend to fetch a lower price.

While there is no exact equation determining the right moment in time to sell, there are some factors that should be considered before putting your car on the market, says Nunben Dixon of Gumtree Auto.

"Depreciation is often the biggest deciding factor. New cars lose value much faster than pre-owned cars, usually about 15%-30% in the first year, depending on the make and model, and up to 50% across the first three years," he says.

"If you are driving a new car, you might want to hold on to it for as long as you can to get the most value out of it."

Seasonality can also play a part, he says. Convertibles, classics and sports cars sell poorly in winter, while off-road vehicles experience a slight peak. Hatchbacks are popular all year round, but tend to sell quite well towards the end of the year as parents buy graduation presents or get-arounds for their children who are starting to drive or moving away to study.

"January, March and September usually sees a peak in demand, while December sees demand slow down. You might decide to hold off selling to avoid the added competition or you can ride the wave of extra traffic, especially if you are selling your car online."

In recommending selling a vehicle before it reaches 150,000km, Dixon says: "Generally, after five years of use, failure rates go up for cars.

"Warranties expire, car owners let maintenance and services slip, and the accumulated miles start to take their toll on the vehicle. But if you’ve kept up with your services, replaced parts and generally kept your vehicle in good condition, mileage doesn’t have to be a deal breaker," he says.

The most in-demand cars on the pre-owned market are two-to three-year-old vehicles, valued between R150,000 and R250,000.

According to TransUnion SA, 43% of used vehicles sold are under two years old and 9% are demo models, which indicate consumers are opting for under two-year-old vehicles.

Twice as many South Africans still buy previously-owned vehicles as buy new ones, and that trend is set to continue with the battered rand likely to push up new car prices. Market factors which are outside your control can also play a huge part in how much your car will fetch. For instance, 2017 would not have been a good time to sell your Ford Kuga, following the big fire-related recall, but your odds are much better in 2018.

"Volkswagen and Toyota are perennially popular, whereas up-and-coming brands such as Haval or Geely are much harder to flip on the pre-owned market," says Dixon.

Getting the absolute best value for your pre-owned car starts with purchasing the right car straight off the bat, concludes Dixon.

"Do your research before you purchase a car. Look at demand, reliability and depreciation. And once you’ve bought that car, make sure to maintain it properly to avoid losing out when you sell."