1. Buying a New Car: Introduction
  2. Buying a New Car: Signs It's Time to Buy
  3. Buying a New Car: Getting Started
  4. Buying a New Car: The 5 Best Safety Options
  5. Buying a New Car: Smart Strategies at the Dealership
  6. Buying a New Car: 5 Common Mistakes
  7. Buying a New Car: Sneaky Tricks Car Salespeople Pull
  8. Buying a New Car: Financing Your Purchase
  9. Buying a New Car: How to Spot a Great Car Deal
  10. Buying a New Car: Websites, Tools and Apps to Use
  11. Buying a New Car: How to Maintain a Car's Value
  12. Buying a New Car: Top 10 Takeaways

Depreciation is an unavoidable reality with any vehicle. The older a car gets, and the more miles it accumulates, the lower its resale value. It is very rare when any vehicle is re-sold for even its original price. While this makes it difficult to view a car as an investment, there are steps you can take to help lessen the depreciation and get the best possible value for your car when it comes time to sell it or trade it in. Here some commonsense tips on steps you can take to maintain your vehicle’s value over the long-term. 

Watch the Mileage

Mileage is the single most important factor when it comes to a car’s resale value. The number of miles on a car, truck or SUV determines how much it is worth. The more miles, the less value a vehicle has. A car that is five years old and has 50,000 miles on it is more valuable than an equivalent car that is only three years old but has 100,000 miles on the odometer. So watching the mileage and keeping it low is important.

The average number of miles people drive a year in the U.S. is between 12,000 and 15,000, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. People who drive more than 20,000 miles a year are considered heavy users of their vehicle. And a car’s value drops steeply once it has more than 100,000 miles on it. Cross the 200,000 mile mark and the value plummets even further. So keep the mileage in mind and an eye on that odometer.

Store Your New Vehicle Properly

It`s not an exaggeration to say that people use their garage for storing everything but their vehicle. Many a garage is crammed full of old furniture, discarded sports equipment, ladders and paint cans. Many people couldn`t get their car into their garage if they wanted to. Yet the garage is exactly where your vehicle should be stored year round.

Placing your car or truck in the garage is especially important if you live in an extremely cold or hot climate. Too much sun can fade the outer surface of a car, including the body paint, trim and moldings. Conversely, extremely cold temperatures can wreak havoc on a car’s engine and related components. Keeping a vehicle outside in the rain and wind also contributes to rust. By storing your car in a climate-controlled environment, such as a garage, you can avoid costly repairs and help maintain the vehicle’s value over many years. Here’s a list of 10 benefits to parking a car in a garage.

Keep the Vehicle Clean and Use Floor Mats.

This may sound like a no brainer, but how many of us actually keep our vehicle clean? Somewhere under the empty coffee cups and fast-food wrappers on the floor of the car lie our good intentions. To be sure, keeping a car clean can be extremely difficult – especially if you have young children who enjoy animal crackers and juice boxes. But the reality is that, over time, a persistently dirty interior or exterior can lead to body corrosion, faded carpets and seats, and permanent stains. And all this can diminish the vehicle`s value.

As general rule, it is a good idea to clean your car at least once a month. As with many items on this list, this one is simple, obvious and inexpensive. Another good idea is to use rubber floor mats. These inexpensive coverings can make a big difference in a vehicle – notably in cold climates where winter means people bring slush, dirt and salt into the interior. Salt stains can be particularly difficult to remove and look terrible. Removable floor mats – replace them periodically – are a great way to protect the interior of a vehicle and ensure that it fetches top dollar when resold.

Get the Vehicle Professionally Repaired

Nothing looks worse on a car that is being resold than a do-it-yourself paint job or two windshield wiper blades that are different sizes. Even people who do not have a lot of experience with cars can spot a vehicle that has been fixed and repaired over the years by the owner. While you may save money on doing some automotive repairs yourself, you will lose that savings when selling the vehicle.

While we wouldn`t advise you to run to a licensed mechanic for every glitch, it is advisable to have professionals do the major repairs to ensure that the vehicle looks good and retains its value. And of course stays in good order mechanically. First impressions are lasting ones, and this saying is especially true when it comes to cars.

Pay Attention to the Little Things

Little things can add up when it comes to a vehicle. For example, after years of exposure to the sun, the plastic headlight lenses on most vehicles fade and even turn yellow. While the rest of your car might look terrific, faded and yellow headlight covers will reveal a car's true age. Polishing faded headlights on your own is a simple thing you can do to make your car present better. Polishing the headlight lenses doesn't take long, and does not cost much money.

Another thing to pay attention to are nicks and scratches on your car`s body. Every vehicle gets nicked, scratched, gouged and dented. Getting these little things repaired before listing your vehicle for sale is a wise idea. Rust, too, is important to heed. Rust is like cancer on a car. As the years accumulate, rust can eat the exterior and interior of a vehicle. Drivers who live in a cold climate should be sure to wash their vehicle regularly in winter to remove salt. It is also advisable to get a car undercoated with a rustproof spray to avoid salt deposits.

The Bottom Line 

Details matter with a vehicle. Little things that may seem inconsequential at first can build up over time and lessen your car’s value. Being mindful of mileage, storing your vehicle in the garage, keeping it clean and paying for professional repairs when needed will pay off in the long run as they will ensure you receive top dollar when selling or trading in a car. 


Buying a New Car: Top 10 Takeaways
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