You may think you’ll never sell your car—until a new model you fall in love with comes out, or you decide to get rid of your car altogether. There are several measures you can take to preserve and even increase your car’s resale value.
Cleanliness is Key
Your car will fetch more when you sell it if it’s clean, both inside and out. Remove stains from the interior, and keep the floor covering clean. If the mats are dingy and caked with sand or salt beyond what any vacuum could handle, replace them. If you’re selling a higher-end car, it may pay to have a pro detail it. A spotless interior and gleaming paint could add as much as $2,000 to the resale value of an already valuable car.
On the exterior, fix door dings and scratches and apply a good coat of wax. If your headlights have yellowed, try one of those headlight cleaners specially made to renew your lights’ plastic. Don’t neglect the tires and wheels—clean the wheels properly to keep them shiny and looking good.
Use cleaning products expressly made for the purpose—window cleaner is for windows, and you can use it on the glass, but only the glass, in your car. But dish soap is for dishes. Use products made to gently clean car exteriors or formulated to clean tires. Buyers will notice that level of attention.
Use a regular garden hose, not a power washer, and start from the top, moving down. That way, you won’t spread the road grit you’re cleaning off your wheels up to the body, possibly causing new scratches.
Clean under the hood, as well, with degreasing cleaners made for the job. If grease and oil are too gross for you, add this to the list of things a detailer could handle.
Maintenance is a Must
Try to keep the mileage low and keep up with scheduled maintenance. Keep documentation proving that you’ve performed oil changes, brake maintenance, fluid fill-ups or replacements, and installed new hoses when recommended.
Park your car in a sheltered place, out of sunlight and weather. Under a tree is not a sheltered place—you’ll discover that when you return to your car and see what the birds left for you. There’s always a chance that a branch may fall and break a window, too.
Safety is Paramount
And finally, and perhaps most obviously, drive safely. Speeding and hard braking take their toll on the engine, brakes, and chassis. Buyers want a car that has never been in an accident. Sometimes, though, a crash is the other driver’s fault. If you’re facing repairs, take it to an expert, and make sure they use OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts.
Super sound systems and modifications to the engine are likely to cost more than they fetch. But one thing that pretty much all drivers regard as essential is Bluetooth, for hands-free calling when on the road. Look into a kit for adding Bluetooth to your older vehicle. This is an add-on that truly could increase your car’s resale value.