Simple, affordable ways to keep your ride showroom fresh

Maintaining Used Car Value

by Sandra Ketcham


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Buying a used car may save you a lot of money, but it is still a major investment worth protecting. If you plan to sell your used vehicle in the future, you must take steps to protect it from environmental damage and wear and tear to ensure your car's value remains as high as possible. Caring for your used car will also improve your car's gas mileage and help prevent costly repairs during the time you own the vehicle.

Regardless of what type of car you drive or how old your vehicle is, there are simple and affordable ways of maintaining used car value. Begin protecting your car from depreciation the moment you drive it off the lot. Even if you only intend to keep your car for a few years, you can significantly increase its value for sale or trade in.

Service Your Car on Schedule

One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to maintaining the value of their car is failing to have it serviced on a regular basis. While servicing and oil change schedules are only a guide, it is in your best interest to follow them as closely as possible. Keep all service records, as well as any receipts for repairs or other maintenance. These records will demonstrate to potential buyers that you maintained the car properly and significantly increase your used car value.

Keep Your Car Clean Inside and Out

Clean your car regularly, both inside and out, to protect your carpets and paint from damage and discoloration. Detail your car twice each year and apply a coat of wax every few months. Avoid eating, drinking, and smoking in your car, and insist that all passengers clean mud, gum, and other damaging substances from their shoes before entering your vehicle. Food and drink spills lead to stains and ruined carpets, and smoking in your car, even occasionally, can permanently alter the color of your interior fabrics and negatively affect the smell of your vehicle. If you have young children, you should consider investing in seat covers to protect your car's interior from dirt and stains.

Watch Out for Environmental Hazards

Whenever possible, park your car inside a garage. This is especially important if you live in very cold or hot climates. Constant sun exposure can fade your car's paint and damage the interior dash and trim, and extreme cold can harm the internal engine components on your vehicle. Living in a cold climate also increases the risk of rust, and even minor rust can significantly reduce the value of your car. If you live in a cold climate, wash your vehicle frequently to remove salt deposits. Prevent salt build-up underneath your car by having it undercoated during the winter months. If you notice rust, repair it immediately to prevent more extensive damage from occurring.

Be careful when parking your car on busy streets or in parking lots. Park as far away from other vehicles as possible to prevent dings and scratches. Prevent sun damage to your dashboard by parking in the shade.

Use a Rental Car When Traveling

Cars with lower mileage are generally worth more money. Rent a car when you travel to keep your mileage low and to prevent unnecessary wear and tear on your vehicle. The increased value of your car when it comes time to sell will more than make up for the cost of a rental car. If you travel frequently, look for rental deals in your area to save even more money.

While there is no way to prevent depreciation completely, a little time and effort can go a long way toward maintaining used car value. Spending a couple hundred dollars each year can add thousands in value when it comes time to sell or trade in your vehicle.

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