Congratulations! You’ve purchased a brand new car for a good price and driven it off the lot to take home and show off! There’s just one thing waiting in store for you that you may not want to think about… depreciation.

As soon as you drive your newest purchase off the lot, it starts to lose value–typically dropping 20% within the first year. If you plan to keep your car for a long time, this may not mean anything to you. However, if you plan on selling your car within the foreseeable future, this depreciation is definitely something to pay attention to.

How is Value Determined?

Information such as the make, model, age, and condition of your car are some of the many factors that go into determining the value of your car. Used car buying websites such as Kelley Blue Book can show you what you can expect to get if you choose to trade in or resale your car.

Your car’s resale value will go through many price changes over the course of its life. Use this equation to calculate the expected value of your car:

Expected Value = Replacement Cost – Depreciation

In this guide, we will be focusing on how to improve and maintain the condition of your vehicle.

Drive Safely

The first and most important tip that we have is to drive safely. This means keeping your eyes on the road, your hands at 10 and 2, and resisting the urge to reply to that text message that you just received.

You should always be driving safely to avoid getting into an accident and incurring a potentially heavy insurance claim, but you should also drive safely to protect yourself and others on the road. Keep an eye out for your surroundings!

Watch How You Drive

Another way that you can help maintain your car is by making sure you watch how you rack up those miles. For example, many people speed off as soon as the light turns green. This is called a jackrabbit start. Not only is this practice hard on your car’s tires, but it can also damage your brake pads.

To best protect your tires and your vehicle as a whole, we recommend avoiding getting into the habit of swerving, speeding, taking harsh turns, and braking sharply.

Take Care of the Outside of the Car

Owning a car means taking care of the car both for yourself and for the sake of its potential retail value. If you have access to a garage or carport, we suggest parking your car there to protect it from the elements and the harsh sun.

If you find bird droppings or water spots on your car, we suggest giving it a good wash. You can either hand wash your vehicle or take it to a car wash to have it professionally cleaned. Be sure to research the car washes in your area to make sure that the machines will not damage your car’s paint.

If you have multiple vehicles, make sure to take care of all your cars to the same extent.

Avoid Excessive Wear and Tear

A great way to help maintain the value of your vehicle is to keep your mileage down and avoid wear and tear. Before you go out, carefully plan your route so that you go the least amount of miles possible. Not only will this help you drive less, but it will help you save on gas as well!

Consult your owner’s manual for vehicle-specific tips to cut down on wear and tear.

Know Where and How to Park

Parking lots are convenient but spell danger for those trying to keep up their car’s value. Parking side by side with other vehicles leaves you open for door dings and scratches, especially if your neighbor parked a bit too close.

When you park in a parking garage or lot, make sure to look for an open space that has plenty of room on either side. You should be able to easily open your door, and backing out should not put you in a tricky position. Do not park next to cars that are over the line and avoid parking in front of light posts that take up part of the space.

Avoid Eating, Drinking, and Smoking

A surprising way to save hundreds of dollars in value is to simply stop eating and drinking in your car. While you will have to skip those driving snacks and save your morning coffee for your office, you’ll save yourself from unwanted spills that can ruin your upholstery and carpet!
To preserve your car’s value, you should also avoid smoking in your vehicle. Smoke sticks to the upholstery and the lingering smell may turn away many potential buyers.

Protect the Interior

A low-cost way to help preserve your car’s resale value is to invest in various interior protection measures. Our favorites are floor mats and covers for your seats.

Floor mats protect the carpet of your car from fluids like rain, snow, or spilled soda as well as dirt or debris that may get tracked in by your shoes. These mats are removable and make car cleaning a breeze.

Seat covers protect your cloth or leather seats from spilled drinks, snack crumbs, and dirt and debris. Plus, if you have a pet that loves to ride along with you, seat covers will protect your upholstery from any potential claw scratches or marring!

Keep an Eye Out for Stains

Whether it’s coffee stains from spilled morning brew, bike grease from a long haul, or unidentifiable stains from dropped food, stains are one of the quickest ways for a car to lose value. The best way to fight these stains is, of course, to avoid eating and drinking in your car, but if you don’t want to miss out on those mid-drive munchies, you should just make sure to keep your car clean.

Beyond making sure to clean your vehicle regularly, it may be beneficial to have a professional cleaning done. Removing the stains and their associated odors will help to keep your car’s value stable.

Watch Out for Rust

Rust can wreak havoc on a car by eating away at the metal, creating air leaks, and weakening your exhaust system. It’s safe to say that rust eats away at the price of your car as quickly as it does the car itself.

Prevent rust by washing your car to prevent debris buildup, waxing your car at least twice a year, and maintaining your paint job so your car’s body isn’t exposed to the elements.

Keep Up-To-Date on Regular Maintenance

It’s no secret that the better the condition the vehicle is in, the higher the vehicle’s resale value will be. Routine maintenance is one way to ensure that your car is in proper working order. Getting your car serviced regularly will not only will it help to prevent costly repairs, but it will also greatly extend the life of the vehicle!

Be sure to keep the service records as a full-service history can help boost the vehicle’s resale value. Having an incomplete service history can affect its sale price.

Refresh the Upholstery

If you want to fetch a decent price for your vehicle when you go to sell it, its seats need to be in proper condition. A smart way to do this is by refreshing the upholstery of your seats to get rid of potentially outdated styles and colors.

If your seats have experienced fading, cracking, or fraying, contact a qualified upholstery repair team to get your seats looking as good as new.

Get Your Windows Tinted

Improve the performance of your window and increase your car’s value to prospective buyers with window tint! Not only will tint cut down on glare, but it can also reduce thermal rays and lower the internal temperature of your car during the summer. It’s a great value for both you and the future owner of your car.

Restore Those Headlights

Having clouded headlights can limit your vision and decrease the value of your car. Potential buyers looking for the right car will look for simple safety features such as this, plus it adds an aesthetic value to the vehicle as well.

Take Care of Paint Chips and Scratches

Light scratches and paint chips don’t devalue a car much, but you still want your car’s exterior to look as good as possible when you go to sell it. Have your scratch and chip repair done professionally to ensure it is seamless, non-intrusive, and quick!

Repair Dents

Everyone wants to make sure that the exterior of their car is in good shape, especially because having a car that is dented can greatly reduce its value by more than just the cost of the repairs. At McDowells, we have saved cars from these reduced values with paintless dent repair. Our specialists are trained to handle the toughest and deepest dents and remove them in a way that preserves the paint.

If your dent was caused by closing the garage door, a runaway shopping cart, or even an accident schedule an appointment with McDowells. We’ll use the latest state-of-the-art technology to fix it right the first time.

(208) 378-1530