Top 10 ways to preserve the value of your vehicle

by Derek McNaughton . Jun 17 2016
Getty ImagesWhen small dings or dents do appear, either magically or by someone who fessed up, have them removed via paintless repair as soon as possible.

Getty Images

When small dings or dents do appear, either magically or by someone who fessed up, have them removed via paintless repair as soon as possible.

No matter what, your new car begins its long and gradual descent in depreciation from the moment it leaves the factory. But there are ways to keep the financial hit from hurting more profoundly than it otherwise could if you did nothing but drive. Here are 10 of the simplest ways to preserve your new car’s value:

1. Bargain hard

The less you spend up front, the less you have to lose in the long run. Do whatever it takes to get a good bargain — research, call a car-savvy friend, use a broker or car-buying service, throw a tantrum in the dealership, threaten to walk away from the deal — but make sure you’re paying as close to invoice as possible. A good deal now will pay dividends when you sell.

2. Choose carefully where to park

Door dings, bumper scratches and fading plastics are going to happen, and they’re going to diminish your car’s value. But you can minimize these blemishes by parking away from other cars, choosing empty spots in the far reaches of parking lots as often as possible (despite the protests from teenage passengers). Find spots that leave your car less vulnerable to passing or turning vehicles, and choose a parallel spot at the end of a row if there’s no empty side-by-side stalls. Keeping the car in a garage, if possible, away from the harsh effects of ice and sun, also helps.

3. Drive less

4. Protect scratch- and wear-prone areas

Certain areas of the car are prone to heavy wear, especially the front end. Opting for a clear plastic guard (a.k.a., a clear bra) applied by the dealer or aftermarket shop can reduce the damage and rust from rock chips. And consider adding some carbon-fibre tape or black vinyl wrap to other places, such as ahead of the rear wheel, the door sill, the top of the rear bumper — places that frequently get scratched through normal use. When it comes time to sell, either remove the wrap or replace it. Mudguards also reduce the grime that ends up on the paint. OEM mud flaps usually cost less than $100, or get them thrown in as part of the deal.

5. Get an extra set of wheels

Sure, getting an extra set of wheels and tires for winter will cost you up front, but it saves over the long haul. It can reduce the likelihood of an accident in winter because you’ve got better traction and it also cuts the amount of use both sets of tires get over the year, thereby prolonging their tread, use and value. Those shiny aluminum rims will still look great years from now if they’ve been stored over winter and haven’t been exposed to the corrosive effects of salt and sand. Just be careful not to “curb” those nice wheels when parking.

6. Wash and wax regularly (and avoid certain car washes)

Just as you don’t wait for a nice day to clean the house, don’t wait for a nice day to lather up the Lexus. Do it twice monthly in warm weather, either by hand with special car soap (not dish detergent, which removes wax) and choose a self-spray or touchless car wash in winter when a weekly wash is ideal. Avoid car washes that use tumbling or twirling scrubbers because they inevitably mar the finish, especially after repeated use. Wax at least twice a year to keep up the lustre, remove blemishes, prevent fade and stop foreign materials from sticking to the paint.

7. Oil spray the undercarriage

While the debate over the best type of rust protection carries on, there’s no doubt about the effectiveness of oil to slow rust. Get your car’s undercarriage oil sprayed, but keep the oil spray out of the engine bay (which doesn’t need it and it will only frustrate your mechanic). The frame and components under the body face an onslaught of salt and spray and road grime all year long and a little oil goes a long way in slowing rust. Drilling holes into the vehicle to get oil into deeper crevices is probably unnecessary on a new car that comes with a 10- or 12-year perforation warranty.

8. Fix scratches and dents immediately

When small dings or dents do appear, either magically or by someone who fessed up, have them removed via paintless repair as soon as possible. Paintless dent repair technicians make house calls and do an amazing job of turning what looked like a horror story into its original shape, usually for only a few hundred dollars. Get these repaired as soon as possible, because one dent can lead to two, two to four, and soon your respect for your ride diminishes, which leads to less care and lost value.

9. Avoid eating inside your vehicle and use good mats

Keeping the interior clean, especially in winter, is a challenge. But regularly shaking out the mats, removing the garbage and giving the dash a wipe every now and then will keep the interior looking fresh. Use rubber mats all year long, or buy a set of digitally-fitted mats by Husky or WeatherTech that keep water and salt from spilling onto the carpet. Use a leather conditioner regularly and a hand vacuum often. Keep microfibre rags or towels handy to wipe up spills. Avoid eating in the car and use only spill-proof cups.

Cover the seats with a blanket or seat covers if you have kids or dogs. Don’t let anything rub against the plastic interior when hauling anything or it will leave a permanent mark. Get a rubber cargo mat or small fibre mat for the cargo area. The better you keep the interior now, the better it will look when it comes time to sell.

10. Maintain regularly and keep the records

It’s obvious, yes, but routine maintenance and repairs will correct any problems and ensure everything works as it was designed to over the life of your stewardship and beyond. Keep every receipt or record; this paperwork goes a long way to a prospective buyer looking at your car years from now. A vehicle with records will sell sooner, and with a higher price, than one without.

Postmedia Network Inc. 2016