The relationship between a person and their car can be a complex one. It’s one of the most expensive assets you’ll ever buy, but it depreciates in value the moment it leaves the lot. It can help you earn an income, but it can also be a drain on your finances. Of those financial expenditures, many car owners think that the greatest cost of owning a vehicle comes in the form of fuel or general upkeep. While considerable, these are not the largest expenses one can associate with owning a vehicle; it’s depreciation.
While there is no way to completely halt a vehicle’s depreciation in its tracks, there are a few quick and easy steps that you can take in order to command the highest possible resale price; regardless if you’re selling a reliable and well-worked Ford Transit Connect or a sporty Mustang.
Keep Your Car Clean
Even if you have no qualms with letting your car get a little messy (inside and out), it can paint a seriously negative image of the vehicle in a prospective buyer’s mind. A messy car gives other people the impression that you don’t care about the condition of the vehicle, and will likely have them questioning whether you’ve bothered to maintain the vehicle’s vital and less superficial components.
Fortunately for you, keeping a car clean is a relatively simple task and an inexpensive one to boot, especially considering the positive impact it can have on the resale value. Remember that cleaning your car is an absolute must before showing your car to anyone even remotely interested in buying it; even the most soiled vehicle can look respectable after applying a little soap and elbow grease.
Make Sure the Wheels Stay Shiny
Much like spotting an oasis in the middle of a desert, clean, shiny tires tend to draw prospective buyers in. As in the previous point, keeping your tires looking showroom ready is incredibly simple. When washing your car, be sure to spray off any dirt and other road debris from your wheels, rims and wheel wells. Give them a wash using soapy water and after a quick rinse, spray them with a generous amount of tire black/tire shine to bring out the original color and lustre. Remember, dull looking tires will subconsciously tell your prospective buyer that the car’s best years are behind it, but rejuvenated tires imply that the car has been well looked after in spite of its age.
Wax On, Wax Off
A line made famous by the wise and pensive Mr. Miyagi in 1984’s The Karate Kid, it also brings up a very important method in which you can keep your vehicle looking its best with minimal effort: regularly applying car wax. Car wax helps to revitalize a car’s dull, faded surface without requiring an expensive paint job. When washing and waxing your vehicle, make sure you use products that have been designed specifically for use on automobiles; leave the dish soap in the kitchen where it belongs. To get the best finish, be sure to wash and wax your car out of direct sunlight and have plenty of clean, soft cloths close by; using a cloth that is too dirty can not only take away from your wash, it can actually leave small scratches on your car’s finish.
Have you ever heard the saying, “A stitch in time saves nine”? While it infers that expending a little effort to maintain your clothes today will save you a lot of sewing in the future, the idea behind it holds true for vehicle maintenance. If you take the time to address small issues now, it will save you a lot of time and money in the future. The observant prospective buyer can tell if you’ve taken the time to address minor issues over the years, so in order for you to get the most for your car on the secondary market tomorrow, you need to be willing to put in the work today. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you need to handle it on your own; keeping up with regular maintenance generally means bringing your car in to your mechanic and having them sort it out. Doing so will ensure your vehicle is running optimally when compared to others of the same year.
Invest in Sheltered Parking
Even if you live in a relatively stable area, adverse weather conditions can have a serious impact on the appearance of your vehicle. Harmful UV rays can prematurely cause the paint to fade, while extreme temperatures can wreak havoc on your engine. If possible, keep your car parked in your garage to help mitigate these issues. If you don’t have a garage, a covered carport can at least help lessen the color fading effects of the sun.
Even though all of these tips are simple enough, they will require a minimal amount of effort on your part to see them through. If you do, you’ll be rewarded by selling your used vehicle at your desired price, or getting an equivalent value for it when trading it in for an upgrade.