Whether you buy new or used, the day you purchase your car is the day to start preparing it for sale. As a proud owner, you do have control over your car’s resale value because how you care for your car today will determine its value tomorrow. So with little effort, heed to the following seven steps and your set-of-wheels will be well on its way to cherry-dom.
Regardless of what your owner’s manual says, change your oil and filter every 3 months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first. Many owner’s manuals out there recommend 7,500 mile intervals which is costly advice. Frequency of oil changes could mean the difference between engine repair at 130,000 miles or well over 200,000 miles. With an oil change costing less than $20, frequent servicing is an inexpensive warranty.
For the rest of your car’s maintenance, follow the service schedule in your owner’s manual and get your auto tuned when it is due. Your car will run stronger, longer, retain its best possible mileage, and hence, age like a fine wine.
If you want top dollar for your car when you sell you must keep it looking like new. Consider a dash cover to keep the sun from baking cracks. A bath towel matching your car’s interior set neatly in the rear window is an economical way to keep the sun from fading the fabric back there. For your seats, some inexpensive cotton seat-covers will keep the upholstery pristine and your car’s resale value to the max.
For the exterior, keep some touch-up paint on hand to take care of the nicks and chips that all cars get from daily driving. The trick is to re-seal exposed metal before Mr. Rust can set up shop in there.
As for fender-benders, utilize your insurance policy and get your car repaired. Pocket the claim and you will lose twice as much in resale value later down the road. Also, utilising salvage yards for pricey dealer-only parts like tail-light lenses, moldings, etc. can save you money and keep you car looking good.
Our driving style contributes to how many miles we can squeeze from our cars before major repair is needed. Therefore, avoid hard driving – especially on a cold engine. Because motor oil is designed to lubricate an engine best at normal operating temperature, most wear occurs from the time we start it until normal operating temperature is reached (about 5 to 7 minutes on a stone-cold engine).
This few minute period is crucial. Take it easy on the accelerator and try not to go over 55 mph until the engine has completely warmed up. Get in the habit of leaving a couple of minutes early to avoid rushing. The only place hot-rodding will get you to in a hurry is to the repair shop.
Without receipts to back up your word, no one will take a 3,000 mile oil-change claim seriously. Therefore, keeping records of all the service and repair done to your car can add to its resale value. Whether it’s an oil change, tune-up, or new brakes, keep a file for all those receipts.
If you do your own maintenance, start a computer generated or hand written ledger and log in the mileage, date, service performed, parts replaced, etc. As for receipts, you can save the ones from all the cases of oil, oil filters, air filters, spark plugs, etc. you will be buying from your local supply store. These will also have the date on them which will allow you to show chronological evidence that the car has been serviced regularly.
When the day finally comes to sell or trade in your car, open up your folder full of neatly kept receipts and watch the buyer’s eyes light up. The proof is in the pudding. Everyone wants a car that has been well cared for.
A thorough, deep-cleaning prior to putting your car on the market will definitely maximize its resale value. However, instead of spending a $100 at a detail shop, get a $25 engine steam-clean and do the rest yourself.
Once you give your car a good hand wash/wax, dress the tires/rims, and vacuum and buff out the interior/trunk, your car will look so good you may decide not to sell it after all!
Knowledge is not just power, it’s dollars in you pocket. So be absolutely sure of your car’s worth before putting it on the market. It doesn’t make much sense to go to all the trouble of meticulous car-care without getting fully rewarded in the end.
The best way for accurate car-pricing would be to check your local classified which offer private-party ads. Compare ads for the same year/model as yours. After watching these a couple of weeks you will get a price range for your car. Go one step further and call the two-week-old ads and ask the seller what they got for their car. Explain that you are selling the same year/model car and just curious as to what the market is paying. Whether you sell or trade, information like this prepares you well for bargaining combat.
There you have it – the seven steps to resale enlightenment. Follow the above advice and you will not only get top dollar for your car, selling it will be like a drive through the park!