Don’t – modify the engine or bodywork
If you’re tempted to add a touch of individuality to your car by treating it to an exotic paint job or a sporty spoiler, be aware that it’s likely to have a serious impact on your vehicle’s resale value. Even adding a set of aftermarket wheels can knock down your motor’s second-hand sale price, particularly if you’re looking to trade it in with a dealer. Be extra cautious about making mechanical modifications too, because lowered suspension might make your car look more stylish, but it could affect your warranty and even invalidate your insurance. And it’s a similar story with ‘chipping’ – reprogramming your car’s electronic control unit.
Do – keep your service history up to date
When the time comes to upgrade to a new model, you can trade in your old car, sell it through an online car-buying site, or advertise it for private sale. Yet whichever route you choose, the first thing the buyer will ask for is the service history. And if your service book doesn’t have all its stamps up to date, you risk losing a chunk of its resale price. Sure, regular servicing and maintenance can be costly, but without it, your car’s condition will deteriorate more rapidly, and so will its value.
Don’t – leave your car to get dirty inside or out
If you drive around in a grimy car, the build-up of dirt particles, salt and tree sap can seriously degrade your paintwork, while bird droppings can damage the paint lacquer. So, wash your car regularly, and add a coat of wax to keep the paintwork looking brighter for longer. It’s a similar story inside your car – allowing dirt to work deep into the upholstery fabrics can leave the interior looking and smelling past its best. So even if your car is shiny on the outside, one quick glance inside could be enough to put off many potential buyers – or at least strengthen their bargaining position.
Do – buy the right car
All new cars depreciate rapidly once driven off the dealer’s forecourt - typically losing around 60% of their value in the first three years. But some cars depreciate faster than others. Models that are highly fuel efficient tend to retain their value better than gas guzzlers, while a quirky paintjob is likely to accelerate depreciation. It’s important to note that depreciation slows with age – so a nearly-new car is likely to prove better value than a brand-new model. But beware of buying a very old car – because high maintenance costs can end up outweighing the savings.