There are many different reasons to take care of your vehicle. For some people, it’s all about the pride of knowing your vehicle is in excellent condition and the smooth ride it provides you for thousands of miles and countless hours. For others, however, proper maintenance is directly tied to what their vehicle is worth. If you’re someone who always has used car values on your mind, then consider how you can help boost the value of your vehicle.
Some of these things are incredibly simple – many of them are things you should be doing anyway just as a part of proper car maintenance and care. While you might not feel the need to do these things for your own sake, if you plan on reselling your vehicle or trading it in when you get a new one, then these steps can be very important. A little care and maintenance now can end up saving you a lot of money later – or getting you more money when you sell your vehicle to someone else.
To be fair, there’s no miracle process that will ensure your vehicle is worth more than you paid for it. Car depreciation is just a part of life. But these are things you can do to make sure your used car value is as high as possible when you’re ready for your next vehicle.
1st Thing: Keep it Clean
People often get so caught up in maintenance like oil changes, wheel alignments, and filter replacements that they forget about the simplest maintenance of all: cleaning. Keeping your vehicle clean inside and out is a terrific way to help boost your used car value down the road. You can’t control things like market depreciation or possible recalls – but you can make sure the inside of your vehicle stays looking as sharp as possible.
This includes both routine cleaning – seriously, your back seat is not a dumpster – and more rigorous cleaning. If you have a leather interior, then take care of it and treat it well. Keep out of the sun as much as you can and do everything possible to avoid stains or tears of your upholstery. Floor mats are a great investment to protect the inside of your vehicle – they are easy to clean and replace as necessary.
2nd Thing: Change Your Oil Regularly
Whether you know how to change your oil yourself, or you prefer to have a professional service mechanic do it for you, make sure you are getting it changed as needed for your vehicle. Look in your car’s owner’s manual to see how often the manufacturer recommends you change your oil and follow these guidelines. Don’t worry about what others say or how often a commercial for motor oil suggests you change it – the manufacturer of your vehicle knows best.
It’s also worthwhile to use the best oil you can afford, which typically means synthetic oil. Synthetic motor oil keeps your engine cleaner and works better than conventional oil, which helps improve your used car value when you’re ready to sell or trade-in. If you don’t want to splurge on synthetic oil every time, then consider alternating every few oil changes between conventional and synthetic oil – and choose a synthetic blend if you can to get some of the benefits without the high cost.
3rd Thing: Take Good Care of Your Tires
This might go without saying, but I’m saying it anyways: take care of your tires. This means check their pressure regularly, keep an eye on how they look to make sure they’re properly inflated, and check your tread depth on a routine basis. Replacing your tires as needed, even if you do it yourself, will not only keep your ride smoother but help improve your used car value when it’s time for a new vehicle.
When the time comes to trade in your vehicle, consider getting new tires before you do so. Dealerships can use worn tires in poor condition as a good reason to value your vehicle lower than it should be. Tires in good shape and quality help boost your used car value and make a clear statement that you are ready to do business.
4th Thing: Keep the Outside Looking Good
Beyond just cleaning your vehicle, do everything you can to keep the exterior of your ride in great condition. Obviously, life happens and there are a thousand ways for dings and scratches to occur beyond your control. When these things do happen, however, take care of them promptly to keep your used car value up as high as possible.
Minor scratches can often be buffed or polished out and repainted to keep your vehicle looking good. This is something you can typically do yourself, depending on how serious the damage is. Fading and wear to your paint can also decrease the value of your vehicle, which you may be able to handle on your own. For serious body damage, however, you might need to enlist someone who handles body work professionally.
5th Thing: Turn to the Professionals
Speaking of which, never be afraid to turn to professional help if a project is beyond what you feel comfortable with. There are a lot of types of car maintenance and care that you can do yourself to keep the used car value up for your vehicle. When you start messing with things like brake pads and your fuel filter, however, the consequences of making a mistake can be disastrous.
You can definitely do these things yourself with the help of some books and/or online guides, and you should learn to maintain your vehicle. The sense of accomplishment that comes with working on and fixing something with your car is unmatched. You just need to be sure you know what you are doing and if you feel like you’re in over your head, then consider getting help from a professional. If a dealership sees you have done something incorrectly on your vehicle, then it can seriously impact your used car value in a negative way.
6th Thing: Drive Safely
This might not really fall under a “DIY” tip to improve your used car value for trade-in or selling to someone else, but it is too important not to mention. Few things are more important for helping to keep the value of your vehicle up as simply driving safely to avoid collisions and other serious issues. You can keep your vehicle clean, perform routine maintenance every single month, and baby your car all you want – but if you slam head-first into an oncoming pickup truck, then none of that will matter.
Drive safely – which means slow down and avoid distractions – to avoid collisions and crashes that cause serious damage to your vehicle (and others). Major collisions on vehicle history reports can have disastrous impacts on used car values, whether for sale to another driver or for trade-in value. Even if you have work done to repair any damage, just the fact that the vehicle was in a collision is enough to decrease its value in the eyes of a dealership.
By driving safely, performing regular maintenance, and keeping your vehicle in the best physical condition you can, you help maintain your used car value every day. And keep an eye on your odometer, the fewer miles you put on your vehicle, the more likely it is to be valued highly by a dealership or buyer.