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If you’re planning to move to a new state, then it could be a good idea to sell your car as opposed to taking it with you. Of course, certain circumstances could necessitate a different course of action, like keeping your car instead. However, there are some instances where it doesn’t make sense.

For example, if you own a sports car that you’re used to driving around the streets of LA, but are planning to move to Denver where it snows, then you may not want to take it with you. Or if you have a huge Texas-sized truck, but are planning to move to Manhattan, then you may want to off-load it before making the jump. Here are a few more reasons that it may be a good idea to sell or trade your car before moving to a new state.

Shipping costs may be expensive

Traffic on a highway
Traffic on a highway | Unsplash

Have you seen gas prices lately? Unfortunately, they are at an elevated rate nationwide and those prices extend to car shipping rates if you plan to ship your car. Fuel costs are one thing, but finding a reliable car shipping company that can get to where you’re going is another. According to Autotrader, it could cost a couple of thousand dollars to ship your car to your new residence. In that case, it may be worth it to sell the car altogether and buy another one after you move.

Your car might be worth more where you live now

A front view of a driver in a Mercedes-Benz
A front view of a driver in a Mercedes-Benz | Unsplash

Used car values have gone up considerably in the past year, so if you plan to sell or trade your car, now is the time to do it. Depending on where you currently live, your home state may also be a better place to sell it than the one you’re moving to.

Using that sports car example, you will likely get more for your beloved Porsche Boxster in a state like California or Florida than you would in Minnesota or Wyoming. As such, it may be better to sell it before hitting the road.

Depending on which state you’re moving to, your car might not be legal

Car emitting tailpipe fumes
Exhaust fumes show on a car on Putney High Street. | Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Are you planning to move to California? If so, your car may not pass emissions if you’re moving from Wisconsin, for example. States like California have much stricter smog laws that require unique catalytic converters and other equipment to pass. So if your car isn’t 50-state emissions legal, then you would need to change the emissions equipment to pass, which might not be worth the cost or the trouble.

Also, if you have an older and want to move to a state with stricter emissions, then it may not pass. In either case, it could be better to trade for a newer – or California-legal – car.

If you decide to sell your car, here is what you’ll need

In case you do decide to sell your car for a newer one – or sell it to a dealership – here is what you will need:

  • The title (or “pink slip”)
  • Payoff information (if there is still a loan on it)
  • Driver’s license
  • Both keys
  • The owner’s manual (preferable, but not mandatory)

While it’s not necessary to have a perfectly clean car when you trade it in, it can help. The dealership will value your trade-in, so it could be worth it to put your best foot forward. Also, if you want to find your car’s trade-in value before heading to the dealership, check out Selling or trading in your car before moving may not be completely necessary, however, it could be worth it if your situation falls under one of the aforementioned scenarios.


How Do You Trade in a Car That’s Not Paid Off?