Few drivers start thinking about resale value when driving a new car off of the dealership lot for the first time. Still enamored with that new car smell, drivers can be excused for not thinking of resale value as they put the pedal to the metal and speed off in their brand new ride.
But it's never too early to start protecting a vehicle's resale value, especially if you hope to recoup as much of your vehicle investment as possible when the time comes to sell your car or trade it in for a newer model. The following are some ways motorists can protect the resale value of their vehicles from the moment the dealer tosses them the keys.
• Keep all maintenance records. New cars typically do not require much maintenance. But drivers should keep records of all work and maintenance done on their vehicles, even if that work does not extend beyond routine tuneups or oil changes. Keeping maintenance records shows prospective buyers you prioritized taking care of the vehicle over the years, and that makes the car or truck more attractive to preowned vehicle buyers who want to avoid buying a lemon or a car that has not been taken care of.
• Don't overlook looks. Looks can be deceiving, but new car buyers who eventually plan to sell their vehicles should do all they can to keep the car looking as new as it did the day it was first driven off the dealership lot. Much like homeowners benefit when selling a home with curb appeal, a car that looks good gives buyers the impression that it was well taken care of. But a dirty car or one with lots of dings and dents is a red flag to preowned car buyers.
• Keep a clean interior. New car owners typically maintain some strict rules with regard to food and beverages in their vehicles. After all, no one wants their brand new car to succumb to stains or spills. But the longer drivers have a car the more lax they tend to become with regard to allowing food and drinks into their cars, and that can ultimately hurt the resale value of the vehicle. Maintain a clean interior whether you just bought the car or have driven it for a few years. Much like an impressive exterior leaves a lasting impression, a clean interior that has not succumb to coffee stains or muddy boots is more likely to impress buyers than a car with an interior that has seen better, cleaner days.
• Drive defensively. It's not just what you do to a car but how you drive the car that can affect its resale value. Driving defensively reduces your risk of accident, and an accident-free preowned vehicle is a top priority for potential buyers. But driving defensively also reduces wear and tear on your vehicle, as over time constant stop-and-go, aggressive driving takes its toll on vehicle engines and other components.
• Periodically examine the vehicle history report. Today's preowned car buyers know to ask for a vehicle history report before buying a car. If your vehicle history report contains any suspicious or inaccurate information, you may be forced to sell the car for less than it's worth or delay selling until you can have any issues corrected. That won't necessarily happen overnight, but you can avoid dealing with a host of issues all at once by periodically examining the vehicle history report. Any discrepancies on the report can be brought to the attention of your insurance company, who can then work with you to correct the issues and restore your vehicle's reputation.
Resale value may not be foremost on the minds of new car owners, but the earlier buyers begin to factor resale value into their car-care routines, the more they will benefit down the road.