According to Edmunds.com, a car loses up to 20 percent of its value the moment you drive it out of the showroom. Unlike most assets, a car does not get better with age. What you can do to maximise the value of your vehicle is to look after it and minimise the effects of general wear and tear. Although it may seem like a lot of work or unnecessary expense, when it comes time for you to sell your vehicle you’re more likely to reap the rewards if you keep your car well maintained. It also helps to research any specific issues in the make and model of your car and if there are any areas that require special attention.
One major source of wear and tear to your vehicle is how you drive. Follow these tips to minimise the impact your driving style has on your vehicle.
- Drive smoothly. You might think the mileage is the important factor when you think about the mileage of cars, but it’s about the amount the engine has had to do. Aggressive, stop-start driving wastes fuel and will overwork the engine. Stop and start gradually to save on fuel and reduce wear and tear.
- Drive safely. If you aren’t safe, you’re more likely to crash and severely impact the value of your car. Avoid areas with poor road conditions, don’t drive over the speed limits and always pay attention to the weather conditions when you’re driving. Likewise, you shouldn’t tow more than your vehicle can handle.
- Check your tyres regularly. Inspect your tyres every week for signs of wear and tear. Look out for any bulges, cracks, cuts or other external damage (including embedded screws or nails) and check to see if the treads have worn evenly. Use the tread wear indicator (which is a bump inside the treads) to see if your tyres are too worn – if it’s protruding from the crevices your tyres should be changed.
- Keep them pressurised. You should check your tyres to ensure they are at the correct pressure as recommended by car’s owner’s manual. Keep a tyre gauge so you can check the pressure no matter where you are.
Replacing Fluids and Components
- Check your fluids once per week. Make sure your car has adequate levels of oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, windscreen wiper fluid and other fluids every week. The specific procedure for your vehicle will be detailed in the owner’s manual.
- Change fluids when needed. Oil is the most important fluid to keep topped up, and it’s often recommended to change it after every 3,000 miles of driving. With some oils, you can leave it up to 5,000 miles, but take any manufacturer promises as overestimations. WikiHow has a good guide to changing your oil if you’re unfamiliar with the process.
- Replace anything else when needed. Your owner’s manual will give you a rough guide as to when to change the various components on your car. Check under the bonnet regularly for leaking fluids or worn belts and hoses. Use factory equipment parts if you can too as they will probably be compatible with your car. For example, you’re ordinarily recommended to replace the air filter after 24,000 to 30,000 km.
- Protect your interior. The use of simple mats can protect the interior carpet of your car from mud or other dirt. You can take these out of the car to clean them when needed.
- Vacuum the interior. People buying your car might not necessarily know all of the more technical signs of wear and tear, but a poorly maintained interior sticks out like a sore thumb. Keep it vacuumed and keep it clean.
- Wash the outside. In the same way, you should keep the outside of your car looking pristine. It doesn’t matter if the washes aren’t too regular, but go to a car wash if it gets noticeably dirty. Try keeping it covered if possible and out of the sun and wax it a couple of times a year to protect against rust.
- Service your car regularly. You car should go in for a service according to the timescales listed in your owner’s manual. This will ordinarily state a certain number of miles or a timescale between each service (go for a service when either one elapses).
- Get serviced by a reputable mechanic. Your service should be done by a reputable mechanic, so only use established organisations or ones that have been used and recommended to you by trusted friends or family.
The advice in this article can be explained through one simple sentence: look after your vehicle. Your manufacturer’s guidelines are there for a reason, so you should pay attention to the timescales and the maintenance work suggested. If you keep on top of everything, your car will be worth more when you sell it than one that has not been well maintained.