It’s no secret that a new car’s value plummets the second it’s driven off the lot. In fact, some experts estimate the average car loses 15 to 25 percent of its value every year for the first 5 years it’s in operation. But everything from storage to service records to aftermarket add-ons can influence a car’s overall depreciation and resale value. Here are 5 great tips for retaining the value of your car.

1. Start with a car people want

It may seem like putting the cart before the horse, but the next time you begin a car search, take the time to consider an automobile’s future resale value. Certain cars may be known for their reliability, while others may be cheap and easy to fix. Either way, it’s important to know the factors that could contribute to a model’s desirability and performance in the used and resale market. Review available statistics and value projections before your next purchase to get a good sense of which cars are retaining their value in the resale market.

2. Keep a clean interior

A clean, fresh-smelling interior shows prospective buyers that a car has been cared for. Avoid overly perfuming vehicles or relying on air fresheners to mask odors. Regular vacuuming and quick attention to food stains and spills can help keep your interior looking tidy. Minimize eating in your vehicle, if possible, and consider aftermarket add-ons, like seat covers, which can help preserve the appearance of your upholstery. And smokers take note: unsightly burns from cigarette butts and the telltale smell of stale smoke can be deal breakers for many prospective buyers.

3. Sustain a sparkling exterior

Weather and exposure to the elements can wreak havoc on a car’s exterior. Regular washing (and waxing) of your vehicle’s exterior helps preserve the paint job. Tires, rims, head and brake lights, and exterior mirrors and windows should also be routinely cleaned of dirt and grime. For best results, always use products that are made expressly for exterior car care. And whenever possible, garage your vehicle to help protect it from sun, weather damage, and even theft or vandalism.

4. Deal with dents and dings

When it comes to resale value, you might think a few minor dents and dings aren’t worth fixing. Think again. If the bodywork is relatively simple (like parking lot scuffs, scratches, or dings), a dent-removal expert can often bundle the repairs and perform the service at a relatively low cost.

5. Maintain maintenance records

Routine car maintenance is a must (a good technician can tell if you’ve neglected things like routine engine oil and fluid changes). Follow your car’s regular maintenance schedule and save records of all service. Discerning buyers will be happy to know you took the time to care for the car, and they’ll also be able to easily determine when it’s time to service the vehicle again.

Looking for more advice on keeping your car in tip-top shape? Check out these 7 tips for proper car maintenance. Then, you can cheaply clean and maintain your tires, and get the 411 on the fluids your car needs most.

DIY hacks | For your car


about Rebecca

Rebecca is a freelance copywriter and editor living in the SF Bay Area with her husband and two kids. She enjoys productively channeling her anxiety into safety-minded articles for home and garden, running with her robot trainer, and advocating on behalf of the Oxford comma.