How to keep your car’s value

If you’ve just bagged yourself a new ‘14’ plate car, the bad news is that its value will have most likely dropped by 20% the second you drove it off the forecourt – just another reason to love VAT – and could drop by as much a 40% within the first year. The good news is that you have a brand new car, meaning you shouldn’t have to worry about it breaking down any time soon, and you certainly won’t have to worry about the MOT for a few years. If you’re worried about depreciation, some factors will be out of your control. For instance, certain makes and models depreciate faster than others. But there are steps you can take to help maintain the value of your car.

Keep it serviced regularly

Second hand cars always command a higher price if they come with a full service history which shows the car has been properly maintained and so is less likely to suffer a major breakdown. That’s the theory, anyway.
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So make sure you get your car serviced as per the manufacturer’s guidelines, or at least once a year, and you should be able to sell it for a better price, and with less hassle, when the time comes.

Keep it well maintained

Although vital to a car’s maintenance, regular servicing alone won’t be enough to keep it in peak condition and so you’ll also have to undertake a little home maintenance. This doesn’t mean spending entire Sundays with your head under the bonnet – just check your car’s oil levels once a week and make sure the radiator reservoir is not losing water as this could be an indication of a cracked radiator or some serious engine trouble. As part of this routine maintenance you should also check your tyres at least once a month for signs of wear or damage, particularly if you drive on roads with potholes, and make sure they’re inflated to the correct levels – underinflated tyres can increase fuel consumption by 20% and tyre wear by 30%. And while you’re checking the tyres, give the wheels the once over and if your alloys are showing signs of excessive kerb damage it might be worth getting them refurbished.

Keep it clean

It’s important you regularly wash your car as a build-up of dirt and residue, particularly in winter, can damage paintwork and cause rust to form. So regularly clean your car from top to bottom - here’s how – and take it to a professional valeting company or car wash service once in a while to give it a thorough going-over.
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Look out for any bumps and scratches and get them repaired as soon as possible to help keep your car looking in showroom condition. You should also regularly clean the interior and try to avoid smoking or carrying strong smelling food in your car as these can leave long, lingering smells that can put off potential buyers. And when it comes to actually selling your car, make sure you’ve given it a thorough clean before any potential buyers come and see it as first impressions count for a lot and a clean car signifies a car that’s probably well looked-after.

Keep it in a safe place

Although keeping your car clean is important, the best way to ensure its bodywork remains in top condition is to minimise its exposure to the elements – so if you have a garage, clear it out and use it to store your car when not in use.
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Not only will you be protecting your car from the extremes of snow and frost, which can damage a car’s internal components, and sunlight, which can cause paintwork to fade, you’ll be reducing the chance of it being stolen or damaged. And keeping your car in a locked garage overnight can also bring down the cost of your car insurance.

Keep it simple

Try to keep your car looking and driving as the manufacturer intended by avoiding any modifications.
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Even if you’ve spent a fortune on modifications, the likelihood is that you won’t make this back as not only will the mods be to your particular taste, there is still the perception that modified cars are driven by ‘boy racers’, and this can put people off.

Keep it refuelled

If you don’t fill up with fuel until the gauge hits the red, you could be doing all sorts of damage to your engine as the sediment that settles at the bottom of the fuel tank is pushed through the engine when running on empty – or almost empty. To avoid this, just make sure the tank’s always at least half-full (or half-empty, depending on your disposition), particularly if you have a high performance engine which is more sensitive. Keeping the tank at least half-full also reduces the risk of it freezing in winter, and when starting your car in cold weather, give the engine chance to warm up before driving off. Putting your foot down with a cold engine can shorten battery life and even lead to a cracked radiator and associated engine damage.

Keep the miles low

High mileage is one of the biggest factors that affect a car’s value, and can even put people off coming to see it at all, regardless of condition and service history. So try to avoid making any unnecessary journeys and consider things like car-sharing to get to work – not only will this help keep the miles low and the value high, it’ll also save you a packet in petrol and maintenance costs.
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