Cars start depreciating the second you drive them home. While there’s nothing you can do about that, why not maximize what you can get back from your vehicle in its transition to the next owner? How do we do this, you ask? The simple answer is this: Take care of your car. But honestly, we all know there’s more to it if you truly want to maximize value. There are also going to be different levels of care each individual is willing or able to keep up with. Take the red sports car, for example, that never leaves the garage and is worshiped by its retired owner, who treats the car better than their spouse. That car might get better care than the minivan owned by a family of 6 who barely have time to think. But that doesn’t mean that there is nothing we can do. Below are our 5 top tips to help retain your car’s value:
1) Pre-Purchase Research
This is something that doesn’t take long, but tends to get left out before a purchase.
These days there is plenty of information out there on the average resale value of any make or model. The goal is to understand what makes and models meet your needs and still offer a good resale value. If you already have a make and model picked out, it is still worth the research to know where your vehicle stands on this topic. Who knows, it might even change your mind.
Here are the top 10 highest depreciating cars over 5 years according to a study by iseecars.com. The average depreciation for all vehicles was 49.1%.
- BMW 7 Series – 72.6%
- BMW 5 Series – 70.1%
- Nissan LEAF – 70.1%
- Audi A6 – 69.0%
- Maserati Ghibli – 69.0%
- Mercedes-Benz E-Class – 69.0%
- Volvo S60 – 67.8%
- Mercedes-Benz S-Class – 67.1%
- Lincoln MKZ – 67.1%
- BMW X3 – 66.5%
As you can see, there is a trend of German cars at the top of this list. Does this mean these are bad cars? Absolutely not, but this is good to know if retaining value is a top concern.
Beyond the resale value, pre-purchase research should also help us understand what it takes to maintain different makes and models. This is important because maintaining a car is imperative when trying to retain as much value as you can. If the cost of maintaining a car prevents us from performing needed repairs or service, not only will the car loose value faster, this will also hurt its reliability for you and future owners.
2) Keep It Clean
This is one of the more obvious tips, but it’s not always easy to follow.
Some might say to think of your car as an investment, as we all tend to protect those. Well, it’s not, financially speaking, though it still has value that is worth protecting; therefore, keeping it clean is one of the cheapest ways to do this. It doesn’t have to be perfection all the time, but some basic upkeep goes a long way.
Start with floor mats. Even cheap rubber floor mats or stock floor mats can protect the carpet from anything our feet track in. Plus, they actually make cleaning much easier. It also helps to avoid any smoking in cars. Smoke smells can be tough to get rid of and linger for years. Trying to avoid eating in the car is also a great idea to avoid smells and stains, but understandably easier said than done. If eating becomes a problem for your car’s seats, you can always get a seat cover if needed. Other than that, simply make sure to keep the vehicle washed, waxed, and fairly tidy inside, and you should be all set.
3) Keep Up With Maintenance
In the first section we spoke about pre purchase research. This is where some of that can be helpful to understand the cost of owning a particular make or model.
Scheduled maintenance is probably the most important step in maintaining any vehicle’s value. The regular maintenance/checkup visits are usually done at mileage intervals and include all factory recommended service, as well as checkups for other possible services or needed repairs. These are important in order to avoid a small problem becoming a much bigger and costlier one, which is also why we don’t recommend DIY maintenance for anyone not a mechanic themselves.
4) Avoid Rust
Avoiding rust should be done at all costs. It spreads quickly, is almost impossible to get rid of, and gets expensive in the process of trying to remove it. If you live in a cold weather or coastal environment, it might be worth some additional protections to help avoid these issues.
If you are looking to buy a used car, make sure to check for rust first, especially if the car has a history of being in a cold or coastal environment.
5) Mileage And Wear And Tear
Mileage is a tough one, as we really don’t have too much control over our driving distances. No one should have to make a total life change simply to put fewer miles on their car, but the mileage will always be one of the first questions asked when selling your car. This is because it is probably one of the top deciding factors to almost anyone buying a used car. Therefore, anything we can do to keep the mileage down is a plus and will add up over time.
As for wear and tear, other than not driving like a maniac everywhere you go, simply avoiding the unnecessary stuff is the best thing we can do. All vehicles provide a purpose for their owners. Some have to haul boats and campers, while others only have to haul one person to work and back. Know your vehicle and its capabilities and don’t try to push the limits. If your compact car was not designed to carry 700 pounds of floor tile in the back seat, it’s probably not a good idea to do that. Maybe get it delivered or borrow a friend’s truck instead.