15 Tips for Maintaining your Cars Value

Written by Carly Hallman

Want to keep your car looking new for longer? When you intend to resell it or trade it in someday, maintaining your car properly can lead to hundreds of dollars in sales and savings. Even if you just want to make your car last as long as physically possible, doing repairs and taking preventative measures in the right sequence can help your car last for 200,000 miles or more. Use our car maintenance tips listed here, but also keep these things in mind.

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15 Tips for Maintaining Your Car’s Value and Longevity

No matter the year, make, or model, there are steps you can take to help maintain your car’s value and longevity down the road. With a little time and consideration, these small steps can make a big difference when it comes time to sell, trade, or leverage your car. Even if you just want your car to last as long as possible, these tips can help!

1. The interior and exterior condition of the car is a major factor in determining value. Wash and wax your vehicle regularly. If you live in an area with rough, snowy winters, consider getting undercarriage washes to flush out salt that may lead to erosion and rust. This also applies if you live near a beach.
2. Invest $50-$100 in decent seat covers to protect the quality of interior leather or cloth seats, especially if you have pets or children.
3. Smoking can leave behind stains, discoloration, burns, and a tough-to-remove odor. All of these factors detract from the car’s value. Consider keeping cigarettes out of the car.
4. Clean up spills and trash as quickly as possible to minimize the potential for stains. While many interiors are designed to be stain-resistant, they are not meant to withstand long-term exposure. Make sure to research how to properly clean a particular stain to avoid making it worse!
5. If possible, house your car in the garage or keep it covered with a sturdy tarp. Weather and debris are major culprits in car wear.
6. To avoid parking lot blunders, be aware of where and how you park. Respect parking spot boundaries. Note if another car is too close to or overlapping a line. Open the door slowly and carefully to avoid obstacles. If possible, park away from other vehicles.
7. Park in the shade. Vinyl dashboards can crack under regular sun exposure, and UV rays can cause the paint color to fade over time.
8. Follow a regular maintenance schedule. This can help nip potentially drastic problems in the bud, saving money and value in the long run.
9. Get regular oil changes. Oil plays a key role in your car’s engine health. This relatively inexpensive task can prevent many problems in the long run. Use miles driven rather than a calendar date to determine when to change your oil next.
10. Drive gently and smoothly. Sharp turns, sudden stops, rapid acceleration, and rough parking jobs can speed up wear and tear on your car. Hard driving also burns more gas.
11. Research recalls. Search the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s online database for potentially hazardous or detrimental recalls pertaining to your vehicle.
12. Try to minimize mileage. Mileage is a massive factor in your car’s value. When possible, consolidate trips, carpool, and go car-less a few days a month. Consider biking or walking to nearby locations to give your car a rest.
13. Be wise about aftermarket products. Recouping the cost of aftermarket products is easier said than done. You may like an additional product that a potential buyer doesn’t see the value of. Consider practical installations like auxiliary electronics connections and bed liners for trucks.
14. Check fluids regularly. At every oil change, ask the mechanic to check and top off the engine oil, power steering fluid, coolant, transmission fluid, and brake fluid if needed. This keeps the car running smoothly.
15. Save receipts for oil changes, tune-ups, tire rotations, car washes, and any other services. This verifies that the vehicle has been well cared for over time, giving peace of mind to potential interested parties.

What Future Buyers Will Look At

Every buyer is different and has a different concern, but these are the things commonly asked about and looked at by used car buyers, according to Kelly Blue Book:

  • Headlight condition: Cracked or foggy headlights are an immediate, obvious repair that seems to indicate that many parts of the car have been ignored.
  • Windshield cracks: If you’re trying to sell a car with a cracked windshield, heaven help you.
  • Brakes: People don’t want to immediately turn around and buy brake pads, so even though they’re a normal wear-and-tear part that will need to be replaced anyway, buyers will ask about how recent the brakes are.
  • Tires: It’s a very easy and visible test to check the tread wear of the tires.
  • Small dents, visible rust, and scratches in the paint: Blemishes are always a problem, and even though they’re not as indicative of major problems as one might think, they’re important to buyers.

Note that there are plenty of other logical things a potential buyer may or probably should ask about, such as the shocks, whether or not you still have the car’s manual, or if you have a paper trail of maintenance records to go by.

Typical Car Maintenance and Repairs

What should you fix up if you intend to keep your car going? Here are things you’ll need to replace if you want to get well beyond 100,000 miles:

  • Oil, fluids, and filters
  • Brake pads and rotors
  • Batteries, fuses, and pumps
  • Mufflers and alternators
  • Spark plugs and belts
  • Shocks and struts

One of the keys to how to maintain your car’s value is to do the typical repairs and stick to your car’s recommended maintenance schedule. Actually use your manual and follow it, keep abreast of recalls, and watch for warning signs of greater problems (like foul smells, dripping liquids, or an odd-feeling drive).

The Most Preventable Damage to Your Car’s Value

An accident can really damage the value of your car, obviously, but that’s not something that’s preventable. These are the top preventable factors that lower your car’s value:

  • Spills and stains: Clean up messes immediately to prevent small spills from becoming stains, and put spillable items in a cup holder or on the floor.
  • Smells: Make a strong rule against having cigarettes and pets in your car.
  • Weather-related damage: Wax your car to prevent rust, and be careful of potholes.
  • Faded fabrics or sun-damaged dashboards: Park in the shade or a garage to prevent sun damage.

With these tips, maintaining a car will be easier than you think. Take the time to create good habits now and you may save hundreds of dollars down the road (literally)!

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