VIDEO: Maximize Your Car’s Resale Value

by Moderator on ‎02-03-2016 02:37 PM - last edited on ‎02-05-2016 03:40 PM by Lithium Technologies (26,201 Views)

All cars lose value over time, but there are steps you can take to ensure your car’s value remains as high as possible.


When you purchase a new vehicle, it’s probably safe to assume the last thing on your mind is how much less you’ll get back when you eventually sell it. Unfortunately, the value of a vehicle depreciates the moment you drive it off the lot, and steadily decreases each year. There is a silver lining in that dark cloud, though. You can control — and maximize — your vehicle’s eventual resale value throughout the three stages of ownership: buying, maintaining and selling.



Getting the maximum price when you sell or trade starts with your purchase of that vehicle…and a little research.

  • Select a brand and model with historically good residual value.
  • Don’t pass on popular features just because they aren’t important to you. Used-car shoppers expect comparable models to have similar options — such as leather seats in a luxury sedan. While these may not increase a vehicle’s value, the absence of them will actually decrease its value. For a comparable example in today’s used-car market, vehicles that lack electric windows, adjustable steering, and Bluetooth or USB ports will be more difficult to sell.



More than brand or features, the overall condition of your vehicle matters most to used-car shoppers. Keep your vehicle in top condition to preserve its value.

  • Drive safely. Any collision history — even if the damage is repaired — decreases resale value.
  • Fix dents, scratches and dings immediately, before they worsen.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, complete all safety recalls (they’re free), and keep all receipts.
  • Have the vehicle detailed regularly to preserve the interior and finish. Never smoke and avoid eating in it to prevent unpleasant smells and stains.
  • The best way to maximize the value of your vehicle? Keep the mileage low. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 13,500 miles per year is considered average. Averaging less than that will increase its resale value, averaging more will lower it.



When it’s time to sell, focus on the condition of your vehicle.

  • Recondition “hazy” headlights. An inexpensive conditioning kit from a local auto parts store will improve visibility and enhance a car’s appearance. (Learn more about restoring headlight lenses in this Car Care article from June 2015.)
  • Remove exterior stickers and decals, and clean out interior storage, such as the glove box.
  • Have your car professionally detailed to remove stains and odors.
  • Selling to a private party will usually be more lucrative than selling to a dealer. In general, vehicles in better condition have a greater likelihood of a private-party sale, whereas vehicles in worse shape may be more appropriate as a trade-in or dealer sale.
  • Timing can be very important. Vehicle sales peak in March and April, but selling in September or October could be more difficult due to the glut of used-car inventory from rental car companies disposing of older vehicles as they bring in newer models.


When the time has come to sell your old vehicle and purchase a new one, save yourself time and money and let AAA Auto Buying take the hassle out of the process. Simply identify the vehicle you want and enter your zip code, and you’ll receive a pre-negotiated price with your AAA Member savings, plus a list of certified dealers in your area that will honor that price. Schedule a test drive with the dealer of your choice, and if you love it, buy it.


Image credit/source: iStock

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