Buying a car is a massive investment, and it’s crucial to maintain it to ensure a higher residual value at the time of sale or trade-in. Even if you don’t intend to sell it after a few years, taking good care of your car will help keep the engine running smoothly and it will serve you better over a longer period of time.
It’s possible to preserve the value of your car, even though it’s a fast-depreciating asset. How fast do cars depreciate? According to Edmunds, your car’s value declines by 11% once you drive it out of the dealership. The depreciation continues at a rate of 15-25% during the first five years, thereby leaving a residual of about 37% by the fifth year. That’s quite a loss, no matter how much you bought it for.
However, proper care can help preserve the car’s value as much as possible and get you a top dollar at resale. There are several ways of achieving this, but we have picked our best nine.
1. Keep the Vehicle Clean
Cleaning your car regularly is one of the most important ways of preserving your car’s value, and can drastically reduce wear and tear while maintaining its aesthetic for a long time. You should avoid eating meals inside your car, but if you must, ensure you clean any spills or crumbs immediately. While most car carpet and upholstery materials are stain-resistant, if spills are left to sit for long, they become increasingly difficult to remove without causing damage to the material.
In addition, your car should be a zero-smoking zone. Smoke can dull and stain the interior, making it unsightly. Likewise, leaving dirt to accumulate on the exterior can damage the paint job and reduce your car’s value or increase your maintenance costs when you go for a new paint job. As such, ensure you clean your car regularly to retain it in top condition. If you desire, you can use seat covers to protect the seats from spills and other dirt, keeping them looking fresh.
2. Avoid doing repairs on your own
It’s always tempting to fix your car whenever it has an issue that you can quickly diagnose and address. However, ensuring your vehicle receives top-notch repair services can go a long way in preserving its value. It may set you back financially, but will definitely fetch you a top dollar when times come for you to sell your car. Even for the inexperienced eye, it’s easy to tell the difference between professional fixes and DIY jobs.
3. Pay attention to small problems
Mechanical problems are progressive. For instance, you may ignore your engine’s noise because the car is still working well. However, unusual engine noise is always a sign that something is wrong. Left unattended, it can deteriorate into a major breakdown. Always investigate minor problems and attend to them accordingly. Not only will this preserve your car’s value, but it will save you massive repair or part replacement costs had you ignored the problems.
4. Fix scratches and dents immediately
Scratches and dents on the exterior are inevitable and will always be a part of your driving experience, no matter how careful you are. However, that doesn’t mean it’s okay to be complacent about them. Fixing them promptly can help prevent corrosion and other resulting damages, preserving your car’s exterior and value. This can drastically reduce your repair costs.
5. Wax the car regularly
First impressions count, and when it comes to your car, a potential buyer will be drawn to its outward appearance even before they hear the sound of its engine. It’s essential to maintain your car’s paint job. One way of achieving this, on top of cleaning regularly, is taking it for occasional waxing. Ensure you wax the car at least every six months. This will protect the surface and keep the paint job looking great for long.
6. Protect the car from the elements
The elements’ effect on your car is gradual, so it may not be immediately obvious. For instance, overexposure to UV rays can fade the car’s exterior over time. In the same way, extremely low temperatures can damage some parts. Ensure you always store your car under a shade during hot weather or in a temperature-controlled garage to prevent damage. Also, consider using protective products as much as you can. Doing this will help cut your repair costs and preserve the car’s value.
7. Perform regular maintenance
Proper car maintenance can go a long way in preserving its value in the long-run. For instance, the accumulation of salt and other deposits on the floor can cause damage through corrosion. Replacing your car’s floor mats regularly can help protect the floor.
The car’s moving parts should always be properly lubricated. Combining this with regular oil change and tune-ups, plus maintaining proper tire pressure, will ensure the car’s optimal functioning both in the short-term and long-term. Another maintenance routine worth noting is periodical flushing of the cooling system and replacing the coolant. This prevents the build-up of deposits and corrosion and consequently lengthens the engine’s life.
8. Fight rust
Salt deposits are a major cause of corrosion both on the car’s interior and exterior. A regular clean-up and replacement of floor mats whenever they wear out are sufficient to keep the interior protected. However, you may need to spray the underside with a rust-proof spray to prevent a build-up of salt deposits.
9. Regular servicing by a professional
After taking your time to pamper your car, you may be tempted to forgo regular servicing. However, servicing the car regularly is as vital as any of the other tips we have discussed above. To begin, it helps detect unnoticeable issues, so you can repair them promptly before they escalate. Not only does this prevent major repair costs, but it preserves the car’s value, which helps you get a better bargain when disposing of the vehicle in the future. A potential buyer won’t mind paying extra for a car that has been receiving frequent service.
No matter what, your car is a depreciating asset, and its value begins to drop once you leave the dealership. Moreover, it’s an expensive investment that continues setting you back financially throughout its use. As such, it requires attentive care to preserve its value as much as possible, cut down on repair and maintenance costs, and hopefully fetch you a reasonable price at resale or trade-in in the future. The above mentioned tips are a good place to start. There are other ways of preserving a car’s value, but generally, implementing these tips will go a long way in keeping it in top condition throughout its use.