Common wisdom holds that cars depreciate in value over time, but some cars retain value better than others. There are many factors that figure into a car’s resale value but one of the most important and the one you’ll likely have the most control over in retaining value is how you treat and look after the vehicle, such as protecting the upholstery with car seat covers and car floor mats.
If buying a new car, you should be wary of what options you buy to begin with, in addition to choosing a car that is well rated in Kelly’s Blue Book and Edmund’s Guide. Not all options increase the value of the car, though they will increase the initial sticker price. Some of these options are useful add-ons that are simply much cheaper to buy “aftermarket”, such as VIN window etching, audio systems, extended warranties or installed GPS. When buying a used or pre-owned car, some options that keep value well are air conditioning, leather/heated seats and automatic steering. Some modern models have options like backup sensors that are very valuable in resale.
When maintaining your car, it’s extremely important to keep the interior of the car as nice as possible. Thick car floor mats should be used on the front and back seats to preserve the original carpeting and car seat covers should be used especially for leather seats to protect against stains and cracking. Depending on the climate of where the car is stored, a car cover might be a good investment to protect against the elements, especially the sun. Most stains can be cleaned out with a thorough cleaning of the interior of the car, but smoking in your car often can create very noticeable stains, enough to lower the value of your car.
Maintenance of the cars functioning systems is of paramount importance, especially routine inspection and scheduled maintenance. Routine maintenance can be expensive, but like preventative medicine, it pays off in the long term. This includes keeping receipts and maintaining records. Despite the fact that cars now have Carfax reports, keeping a second set of records is like insurance and allows someone purchasing your vehicle to be more confident in having a complete history of the car. Buying an extended warranty might be a good idea at this point if you plan to re-sell however most manufacturers have very generous warranties on transmissions and engines nowadays.
Finally, and most difficultly, you should avoid accidents. Obviously, being a safe, defensive driver can aid in this as you can avoid many dangerous driving situations when you’re cautious, safe and alert. Luckily, most accident situations are avoidable due to a driver being fully attentive to driving, so preserving your car and its value can be realized with careful planning.