As strange as it may sound, the way you drive and treat your car now may have a big impact on what kind of car you will drive in the future. That’s because many people sell or trade in their existing car when buying their next car.
The funds generated from this transaction are typically used either to settle outstanding bank loans on the car, or as a down-payment on a new vehicle.
The better shape your car is in when the time comes to sell, the more money you’ll get for it. And if your finances are in better shape when you go shopping for your next car you’ll have a wider range of vehicle makes and models you can afford.
Here are some tips on maintaining your car to optimize its value.
Get fairer car insurance. Based on how you drive
Stick to your car’s service intervals and maintain a record of these
New cars are issued with manufacturer service books that should be stamped and signed whenever the car is serviced.
If you received your car with one of these, treat it like the precious document it is. Store it in a secure location, and ensure it is filled out whenever your car is serviced. This document is a testament to whether or not your car has been maintained according to manufacturer specifications, and if you lose it this will instantly reduce the value of your car.
It goes without saying that your car should be serviced according to the intervals indicated in the service book. If you bought your car without a service book, look up the manufacturer recommended service intervals online and then retain all receipts generated through further car servicing and maintenance.
Keep it clean
If you want to get top dollar for your car, it needs to look like it’s worth it. Maintaining the exterior and interior of the car are critical components of ensuring it gets its book value on sale or trade-in.
Your car should be washed and polished at least monthly, and more frequently if you’re living in a seaside town where it will be exposed to the corrosive combination of humidity and airborne salt. To protect your upholstery invest in a set of seat covers.
Keep it out of the sun
Exposure to sunlight means exposure to UV rays that will slowly but surely degrade the exterior and interior of your car. Unsightly cracks in your dashboard and faded paint and interior finishes can be avoided by parking your car under cover whenever possible. Cars left in the sun for hours at a time also reach high interior temperatures that can affect numerous components inside your car, with airbags particularly prone to heat damage, which will also affect the safety of future owners.
Don’t smoke in your car
Smoking in your car on a regular basis will suffuse the interior with the odour of stale cigarette smoke, which will be sufficient to lower its value when you present it to private buyers. Cigarette smoke also affects the interior finishes of your car and can cause dulling and even yellow-brown nicotine stains. Throw in the risk of upholstery burns created by dropped cigarettes, and you can easily see how this can send your car’s value up in smoke.
Don’t modify your car
Thinking of adding a spoiler, sports decals and customized manufacturer badge to your car? Think again if you expect anyone else to buy it from you. These modifications add absolutely no value to your car, and will actually decreas its value on re-sale. The more you customize your car to indulge your own quirky preferences, the less likely it is that this will appeal to someone else. If you do want to customize your car, consider doing so with parts provided by the original manufacturer.
Keep the mileage low
This almost goes without saying. Your car’s mileage is one of the main things your car will be assessed on when the time comes to pass it on. So that road trip from Perth to Brisbane and back may not be the best idea. Unless you actually want to rack up the same mileage in one trip that you would in a year of urban driving. Take a bus, train or plane if you can, and if you absolutely have to drive your car on long journeys, then consider using a rental where you’ll be able to pay the cost of your high mileage as soon as your trip is over.
Sort out the little things
No matter how well you drive your car it is going to be subject to windscreen chips, other people opening their doors into it in parking lots and scrapes and scratches on your wheel rims. These minor incidents can be easy to ignore, but over the long term they will add up and leave you with a choice between either a hefty repair bill to sort them all out at once, or getting less for your car than it’s actually worth. Assess the car for minor cosmetic repairs at least once a year to help maintain its value.
Drive it sensibly
If you’re going to spend a lot of time redlining the revs on your car to generate high G-force acceleration, accept that this will impact the eventual resale value of your car. The same goes for hard braking and high speed cornering.
Cars that are exposed to rough treatment will show signs of this when taken on a test drive, from looser suspension to a less responsive engine.
If you’re not sure whether or not you’re driving your car well, a telematics smartphone app like UbiCar can assist you by tracking your driving in real time and scoring elements of each trip for factors like braking, cornering, speeding and acceleration. This provides you with accurate feedback that can help you become a better driver and preserve your car’s value.
UbiCar also uses your driving data to qualify you for usage based car insurance that rewards you with fairer insurance rates for better driving.