9 Best Ways to Maintain Your Car's Value
5 obvious and 4 not so obvious ways to protect your automotive investment.
Times are tough — no surprise there. Most people are watching every penny they spend. You're no exception. However, 2012 is the year you've decided to buck up and buy a new car, truck or SUV, one that you'll probably have for quite a while, given current financial uncertainties. But you've run into a snag. The original plan was to use the proceeds from selling your current vehicle as a down payment on the shiny new one. Sadly, the old beater isn't worth very much, or it isn't worth very much to the prospective buyers you've shown it to. Why? You didn't treat it right.
It's true. You've been thoughtless when it comes to that 4-wheeled friend in the driveway. For years, it has shuttled you to work every day, carried the kids to school and soccer practice without fail, and even brought home the bacon, milk and other groceries that sustain you and your family. Yet you neglect it, and don't show it any love at all. Consequently, it shows serious signs of age and hard use — inside and out. It has little value to anyone, including you.
And shame on you for that.
Next to buying a home, financial experts agree that an automobile is the largest investment most Americans will ever make. Consequently, it makes good financial sense to give it some TLC every now and then so that your investment maintains a certain level of value. You take care of your home — that is, unless you're the crazy neighbor who doesn't cut his lawn, is always in a bathrobe, and yells nasty remarks at all passersby — so that it maintains value, so why not your car, truck or SUV?
Enough with the snarky and patronizing condemnation. It isn't our job at MSN Autos to judge, but rather to help.
The beater in your driveway might be a lost cause, depending on the severity of its sorry shape. In this case, your best course of action might be simply to donate it "as is" to someone less fortunate than you through a reputable charity. You'll appreciate the tax deduction, if not the joy of helping others. Or you could sell it at a bargain basement price. Either way, you'll have missed the opportunity to maximize the return on your investment.
But your new car is a different story. It gives you the chance to change your ways and treat your automobile like the investment that it is, so that you get the most money when you trade it in or sell privately.
How do you do that? We teamed with Jack Nerad, editorial director at Kelley Blue Book, the experts on vehicle resale values, to put together a few suggestions. Some are obvious, some not so much, but all will help ensure your new car has value when you cash it in.
The Obvious …
Wash off, wax on. Appearances are important when it comes to perceived value. "When you go to sell, a clean, shiny car gives the impression that you care about that car and have maintained it properly during your time of ownership," Nerad says. "And the better the car looks, the broader its appeal." So even if you don't get a lot of money for it, you will probably sell it quicker.
Consequently, a good monthly wash and wax is recommended. It will help keep your car's finish vibrant and protected and its surface smooth. However, never let a filthy car sit, especially one covered in salt; salt eats sheet metal like a termite eats wood.
Stay on top of maintenance. "Have your vehicle serviced on a regular basis and keep all records of maintenance and repair," Nerad says. Routine car care can provide you with a more reliable machine and possibly help you avoid costly and unnecessary repairs because you let a little problem get out of hand. Saving proof of the service demonstrates to potential buyers that you took pride in the operating condition of the car during the time you owned the vehicle.
Avoid excessive miles. We know, you purchased the car to drive it, and that means putting miles on it. However, excessive mileage — more than the Federal Highway Administration's national average of 13,476 miles per year — is not only perceived to be bad for the vehicle, it actually does put undue wear and tear on parts. Thus, it's bad for resale. So if you plan to take long road trips for pleasure or business, weigh the option of renting a car. "The cost of the rental will likely be less than the potential depreciation in the value caused by high mileage," Nerad says.
Watch where you park. Your car is very susceptible to the elements — wind, snow, sun, etc. For instance, excessive sun can damage paint, trim and moldings. Extreme cold can wreak havoc on your car's internal engine components. "If you can, park your car in a climate-controlled garage or other type of shelter," Nerad says.
It's not a restaurant, don't treat it as such. Avoid eating and drinking inside your car-and by all means, don't smoke. Spills, cigarette smoke and stains can ruin the appearance — and smell — of your car's interior. "No one wants a vehicle with stained upholstery and a funky odor," Nerad says. "If you do spill something, clean it up immediately."
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The first item on the list should have been, "Do not smoke in your automobile."
To add on the "Avoid excessive customization" part. Not all cars should be customized. However, if you have a muscle car or sports car; or a car that could be considered a future collector, adding or modifying to it can help in the future for resale. If you add a spoiler, keep it OEM (of at least stock looking). Not everyone has your taste in wheels either. One of the most noticeable upgrades are wheels. SO, take care in matching wheels to your car. Also, don't go to autozone or walmart and buy stick on "anything" like those fender accents!
If you disagree think about this...Take for example a: 1965 Ford Fairlane bone stock with nothing fancy. Price would be pretty cheap. It wasn't a popular year for them. That price could double by finding one with factory air and the optional FM "stereo". Or even better yet, find one with an automobile turntable! If it sagging in the back, adding better shocks and lifting the back end changes that car into something people like and won't take away from it's stock form. Those may seem standard today, but back then they were aftermarket or options not readily avail.
I have a GN (ok, it's a WE-4 but most don't know what the difference is) and in it's stock form is worth the same as when it was new. It held up it's value better than most cars from the 80's. But by adding GNX flares and louvers, having the optional spoiler on the rear, GNX wheels, and finding an 80's style cd player (they didn't have cd's in cars yet) has upped its resale value by a lot more than the cost of those upgrades.
Bottom line is just be careful and think about your plans for you car when deciding on upgrades or mods. If you plan on making this car "yours" by adding what you like, then be prepared to keep it forever. If you want to mod it to a certain look, think about what it can do to the resale value like the article says. If you do it right though (and on the right car), you CAN add to the value.
The first 5 should all be DO NOT ALLOW ANYONE TO SMOKE IN THE CAR! And this coming from a smoker. I do follow my own advice though and NEVER smoke in cars.
@Wexy21..... I have to disagree that modifying "... a car that could be considered a future collector,..." is a good idea. People pay a lot more for collectable cars that are as original as possible.
1. Never buy new. Buy a low-mileage used car that is in good shape and let someone else take the new-car depreciation hit.
2. Keep the car clean inside and out as much as possible.
3. If you do nothing else maintenance wise, at least change the oil regularly.
4. Keep minor chips and scratches touched up with the factory color of touch-up paint.
5. Fix small problems as soon as they occur to avoid a buildup of multiple problems.
6. When you go to sell the car, spend $150 for a complete detail job, including cleaning the engine, exterior, and interior. You may get more for it than it blue books for if it is exceptionally clean.