When you first get a new (or used) car, the last thing on your mind is likely to be how much money you can get by selling it several years down the road. If you want to get top dollar for your eventual resale, however, it’s important to take good care of your vehicle starting from day one. Here are six ways that you can improve your car’s resale value and get the best return on your investment when you are ready to trade in or sell.
1. Keep Up With Regular Maintenance and Keep Your Receipts – Your car’s owner’s manual will detail the recommended maintenance you should have done based on mileage, and it’s important that you stay up to date with regular tune-ups. Having your car serviced whenever it passes a major milestone can reduce the risk of problems developing unexpectedly. Actually having the work done is only half the battle, however. You also need to hold on to your receipts and any other documentation that proves you’ve had all your scheduled maintenance. When you go to sell your car, you will be able to prove that you took impeccable care of it, and you will often reap the rewards in the form of a higher sale value.
2. Be Careful With Add-Ons – You may think that the money you put into customizing your car can only help its resale value, but some add-ons can actually be negatives. While enhancements like navigation systems, leather seats, sun/moon roofs, and entertainment systems are likely to increase your vehicle’s overall value, add-ons that may not suit everyone could hurt. Some upgrades that may decrease your car’s overall value include aftermarket turbochargers (which tend to imply that your car was driven recklessly), loud exhaust systems, and lowered suspensions.
3. Avoid Collisions – Of course, it’s always a good idea to drive safely and try to avoid getting into car accidents, but keeping your driving record squeaky clean can also help preserve your car’s resale value. You collision history will show up when a prospective buyer checks the vehicle’s VIN report, and they are likely to be much more suspicious of your car if it’s had major repairs done after an accident. If you do have to get something fixed, make sure to insist on using factory parts and get plenty of documentation from the mechanic who does the work.
4. Don’t Drive Too Much – Besides the physical condition of your car, the number one factor when determining its resale value is mileage. Drive as little as possible in order to keep your vehicle from depreciating. The average annual mileage is around 15,000 miles per year, so if you can drive less than that, your car will lose its value more slowly than if you are constantly taking it on long road trips that rack up the miles.
5. Keep It Clean, Inside and Out – The appearance of your car–both on the inside and on the outside–will be a huge factor when determining its worth. Take the time to wash your vehicle regularly (especially during the winter, when snow and salt can cause deterioration). You should also implement a set of rules for yourself and your family to follow. Avoid eating and drinking inside the car whenever possible, and never smoke in or near the vehicle. You should also keep pets confined either in the back of the car or in their own carrying cases if they’ll be riding up front.
6. Make Minor Improvements Before Your Sell – When the time comes and you are thinking about trading in or selling your vehicle, it’s often a good idea to make a few minor improvements on your own rather than leaving the next owner to deal with them. By replacing headlights, brakes, or tires, you may be able to set a higher asking price and make up for your out-of-pocket costs. You should also take care of any cosmetic issues such as dents, scratches, or dings to make the car look like it’s in better shape.
It takes quite a bit of foresight to take good care of your car well in advance of selling it, but you will often find that the rewards outweigh any added inconvenience. By maximizing your resale value now, you will be in a great place to buy your next vehicle when the time comes.