It’s never too early to start thinking about resale value. Chances are you’ll sell your car at some point, so you should plan for that day as early as is possible. Even when you’re shopping for a new car, you can be thinking about the best ways to increase its resale value for when the time comes to move on.
Increasing the resale value of your car doesn’t take a lot of work; mostly it just means taking care of your car in a pretty straightforward manner. And when you decide to upgrade to a new one, and you get a great price for your old one, you’ll be very happy that you paid attention to increasing its value.
Part 1 of 3: Purchase the right car
Step 1: Buy a make that holds value well. If you’re serious about maintaining and increasing resale value, you should start by buying a car that’s likely to hold value.
In general, foreign cars hold better resale value than American vehicles, but that’s not the only factor. Makes and models that are known for being reliable even as they accumulate miles are likely to hold resale value well, as are vehicles with strong safety ratings.
If you’re debating between a few different cars then you should check out a used car website, such as Kelley Blue Book, to see how each car you’re considering holds value.
Step 2: Avoid first year models. When a manufacturer introduces a new model to their lineup, or simply remakes an existing model, you should steer clear.
The first year of a new or renovated vehicle rarely ever holds resale value well. This is because the first year usually has a few things that need to get ironed out, and the auto manufacturer adjusts and fixes these issues for year two.
Part 2 of 3: Store your car properly
Step 1: Keep the car out of the elements. Nothing wears down the exterior of a vehicle like exposure to the elements.
Everything from sun, to condensation, to salty air can slowly break down the exterior of your car, which can lead to faded or chipped paint. If you have a garage, always store your car in it. If you don’t have a garage, a car cover will do the trick.
- Tip: It’s worth spending money on a car cover or a standup car garage. The increased resale value by maintaining a quality exterior will more than make up for the cost of the cover or stand-up garage.
Step 2: Wash the car regularly. You don’t need to be obsessive about washing your car, but you should wash it with some regularity.
Dirty matter such as dust, bird droppings, and tree sap are not only unsightly, but can also eat away at your car’s paint. Wash your car regularly to keep these things from accumulating and damaging the exterior of your vehicle.
- Tip: If you plan on washing your car frequently, you can save a lot of money by purchasing a car washing brush and doing the washing yourself.
Step 3: Keep the car’s interior clean. Just like with the exterior of your car, the interior of your car can fade and become damaged if not taken care of.
The grease from your hands and the accumulation of dirt and dust can slowly take its toll on your dash, center console, steering wheel, doors, and seats.
Try to get in the habit of detailing your car’s interior every month or two. Simply rubbing down the hard surfaces with car with interior wipes (or a microfiber towel and interior cleaning solution) and vacuuming your seats and floors can greatly improve the resale value of the vehicle.
- Tip: Keep car wipes and paper towels in your vehicle at all times, so that you can quickly clean up any spills that may occur. A quick clean up can keep a spill from turning into an irreversible stain.
Part 3 of 3: Maintain your car
Step 1: Have regular tune-ups, check-ups, and servicing. When it’s time to resell your car, a potential buyer will want to know that your maintenance schedule was followed.
This is so that they can be assured that the vehicle is in great working condition.
You should schedule regular maintenance and inspection with a reputable mechanic, such as one at YourMechanic, and you should be sure to keep the receipts, so that you can prove that the car stayed on the proper maintenance schedule.
- Tip: Proof of regular oil changes can dramatically improve the resale value of your car.
Step 2: Avoid aftermarket parts. Aftermarket modifications can greatly damage the resale value of the car, even though they are a lot of fun.
This is because aftermarket parts are less reliable and more expensive to service or replace. So as much as you may want to modify your exhaust system, remember that someone else won’t be as excited about that aftermarket addition.
- Warning: Even completely positive modifications, like high quality sound systems, usually hurt your resale value. Used car buyers almost always value reliability first.
Step 3: Avoid car accidents. It goes without saying that there are reasons to avoid car accidents other than just resale value, but you should always do your best to avoid car crashes.
Even little accidents can damage the resale value of your car, because of the exterior damage. In addition, be extra careful not to ding your car on anything that could cause damage to the body or paint of the vehicle.
- Tip: If you do have any damage, or have been in an accident, always be open with the buyer about what exterior work has been done on the car, and show them receipts so they know that the body work was handled by someone credible.
You don’t have to do anything particularly special to increase the resale value of your car. Mostly, you just have to take decent care of the car while it is still in your position. As long as you follow these steps, you’ll be very pleased when the time comes to sell your vehicle. Be sure to stay on top of your car’s maintenance schedule and have one of our certified mobile mechanics perform oil changes on a regular basis.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Increase the Resale Value of Your Vehicle and was authored by Brady Klopfer.