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January 14, 2010

10 Tips to Maximize the Resale Value of Your Car

Car-for-sale-sign While the new car market took a big hit at the end of 2008 that continued well into 2009, used car values continued to climb.  Used car dealers and private owners selling their vehicles may have benefited from this particular perk, but analysts expect to see used car prices level off in 2010.  If you are interested in selling your vehicle to a private party, you may want to act soon.  The following are suggestions on how to get the most out of your car while you're driving it and when it's time to pass it on to a new owner.

10 tips to maximize your car's resale value:
100114-check-the-oil 1.    Conduct scheduled maintenance.  Every car comes with an owner's manual that includes instructions on suggested vehicle maintenance.  These services include oil and filter changes, tire rotation, fluid changes, and much more.  Stick with the manufacturer's recommended maintenance for your vehicle. 
2.    Compile your vehicle's service history.  Keep all records no matter how minor the service.  Having a complete history of your car's maintenance provides tremendous incentive to a potential buyer.
3.    Check regularly for dings.  Light dings may only require a simple pop to make them come out, but often a door or a grocery cart can slam into your car with so much force that it bends the sheet metal and scrapes off the paint.  Those incidents should be taken care of immediately because the metal can be prone to rusting if left for too long.
4.    Keep your car garaged - or close to it.  Not everyone has a garage, but that doesn't mean you can't protect your car's exterior.  Avoid parking under trees, especially in the spring and fall seasons.  Sap, berries, leaves, nuts, and gifts from birdies can be nearly impossible to wash off of your car and can even ruin the clear coat if neglected. 
Sharp_washing_paint 5.    A clean car is a happy car.  Hand wash and wax your car regularly.   If you must take it to the car wash, brushless is better.  Vacuum the interior, dust the dashboard, and clean the windows (especially if you have pets and kids riding with you).  These measures will not only attract potential buyers when the time's right, but they will also keep you proud of driving your car until the day you turn over the title.
6.    Resist eating and drinking inside.  Protect your car's interior by saying "no" to syrupy and sticky drinks and that crock pot full of chili (unless you absolutely have to!).  Remaining firm against food and drink in your car will prolong the life of its interior, and your meticulous car will impress any potential buyer.
7.    Drive with caution.  Traffic accidents can tremendously decrease the value of your vehicle.  Remember to drive safely - this includes when talking on your cell phone and remembering not to text while driving. Pay attention to the drivers around you, and use your turn signals when turning and changing lanes.
Artsyspeedometer_odometer_photos_kylemay_486593071_ 8.    Keep the miles down.  Drivers typically rack up somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 miles on their vehicles per year.  Although driving 10,000 miles annually may not be a possibility for everyone, the closer you are to that average for each year you have owned your car, the more value that will be added to it. 
9.    Consider "For Sale By Owner." Selling your car to a private party can pay off big time, especially right now while used car prices are still holding.  With a little research and using free online resources like Craigslist you could save thousands over trading your vehicle in at the dealership.
10.    Price your car right.  When you're ready to sell your used car, check out sites like, Edmunds or Kelley Blue Book for private party value.  Be honest when evaluating the condition of your car.  If you've followed these steps, then you're likely to rate your car as "excellent!"  Planning to trade it in? Run the numbers just in case - that way you ensure will get the maximum value for your car from the dealer.

Although taking good care of your car as these tips suggest requires months and years of care and attention, don't feel discouraged if you haven't been taking these precautions.  It's never too late to start.  Plus, you'll know better how to care for the next vehicle you own. 

Melanie_Batenchuk Melanie Batenchuk has loved cars since age 10 when her father and brother had a 1972 Porsche 911 restored.  Listening to her family discuss cars instilled in her a zeal that has only grown stronger.  While in college, Melanie pursued her passion at Performance Auto Mall in Chapel Hill, N.C.  Working first as Receptionist and later as Assistant to the Import Sales and F&I departments taught her the ins and outs of the dealership business.  In 2005, Melanie graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and went to work for Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC) which led her to Washington, D.C.  Missing the automotive world, Melanie looked for new opportunities surrounding her passion, and garnered a position at the American International Automobile Dealers Association in 2007.  There, she serves as Manager of Grassroots and Industry Outreach, running the Dealer Visit Program that connects auto dealers with Members of Congress and acts as liaison to industry representatives. Reach Melanie on LinkedIn at and Twitter at @CarChickMWB.  You may also read her blog Be Car Chic at
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