Tips for Maintaining Your Vehicle’s Resale Value

Tips for Maintaining Your Vehicle’s Resale Value

Posted at Wed, Jan 17, 2024 12:15 PM

Tips for Maintaining Your Vehicle’s Resale Value

Looking for a new vehicle? That’s exciting!

What are you going to do with your current ride? Probably either sell it or trade it.

Let’s figure out that you want cash in hand. Here are some ways to get the best price for your new-to-the-next-person car, truck or SUV (though many of these suggestions can help you pump up the trade-in value as well).

For starters, let’s look at some basic factors that affect auto resale value – we’ll come back for the details in a bit.


Year, make and model. Some vehicles are just more popular and able to command a higher price than others. Luxury cars and SUV, for example, generally have better than average resale value. Certain brands hold their value as well.

Because they’re really popular and run practically forever, Fords hold their value well. If you’re selling an Explorer, Escape, Mustang or F-series truck, most notably the F-150, you can expect a pretty decent payday – depending on some other factors that we’ll get to in a moment.

  • Condition. Clean cars sell better than dirty ones, obviously. So do those that are well maintained, regularly serviced and in good repair.
  • Mileage and age. More miles and/or more years equals less money. Age is generally less detrimental than mileage – and can even be a plus if your car is a classic.
  • Upgrades and modifications. Bluetooth connectivity, infotainment systems and parking assist are things that can help you pick a few extra dollars out of your buyer’s wallet. Sunroofs and leather seats, same. Conversely, tinted windows, body kits and decals have more limited appeal and are likely to lower the vehicle’s value.
  • Color. Black, white, silver and dark blue vehicles are more popular on the resale market. Neon green – not so much.
  • Location. Vehicles in warm climates – Florida and Alabama, for instance – generally depreciate slower than those in colder environments where the weather has more of an effect on the engine and other components.

So that’s the overview – time for the details. What can you do – either while you own it or right now, before you start advertising – to make your vehicle more sales-worthy?

  • Don’t. Smoke. In. The. Vehicle. Just don’t. Cigarette stench can work its way into your upholstery, headliner and other soft surfaces and is virtually impossible to remove. And if you accidentally burn a hole in something, be prepared to accept less money.
  • While we’re on the subject, avoid eating and drinking in the vehicle too. Buyers might not object to the aroma of coffee or fries in general, but they tend not to like it when they’re surrounded by it in their new (to them) car.
  • As for pets – same deal, at least put blankets or throws on the seats and wash them frequently to keep eau du dogue from permeating the interior.
  • Clean it. When you shop at a dealership, what do you notice? That the vehicles – even the used ones – are immaculate inside and out.
  • Your best bet: Consider having your vehicle professionally detailed. The pros know how to clean and spending a few bucks can really pay off.
  • If you prefer to DIY it, here’s what to focus on, starting with the interior:
  • Remove all personal items – those used napkins and coffee cups and… oh, is that an open bag of chips under the seat? How long has that been there?
  • Shampoo the carpets.
  • Clean everything – dashboard, seats, mats, windows, mirrors – every surface in the vehicle. If you can put a shine on it, do it.
  • For plastics, leather or vinyl, use a conditioner designed specifically for auto interiors (Nexgen is a popular brand).

Make sure the vehicle smells clean as well as looks clean. That icky bag of chips – start by throwing it out. A good shampoo session should take care of the lingering aroma, but you can also sprinkle some baking soda on the carpet and upholstery and vacuum really well. After a good cleaning, try throwing in a couple of dryer sheets or a cotton ball with a drop or two of your favorite essential oils under the seat. Orange peels, an open box of baking soda, or a couple of lumps of charcoal work, too. And – it’s true – some ground coffee beans in a jar with some holes poked in the lid can work olfactory magic. If you use any of these methods, remove them before you show the car to potential buyers.


For the outside:

  • Return the vehicle to its original look by removing bumper stickers, decals, magnets, and anything else you might have added over the years.
  • Wash the vehicle well – but gently. Consider using wash mitts rather than sponges because mitts are easier on the paint.
  • Use a high-quality wax or sealant to protect the paint from damaging UV rays and make everything look glossy and pretty.

Under the hood, make sure everything is topped off, shined up and running well, including:

  • Engine oil
  • Transmission oil
  • Antifreeze
  • Wiper fluid
  • All of the filters – oil, cabin, fuel and air
  • Brake fluid
  • All belts and hoses
  • Wipers, front and rear
  • Exterior mirrors
  • Finally, fix anything that needs to be fixed – inside, outside under the hood, under the car, bumper to bumper. That means:
  • Making sure the heat and AC work.
  • Repairing dents, dings and scratches.
  • Fixing any chips or cracks in the windshield – and remember to wash the outside of the windows as well as the inside.
  • Checking headlights and taillights and replacing any that are burned out (oh, and give the headlight glass a good scrub too).
  • Checking the brakes and replacing them if necessary.
  • Inspecting the tires – make sure they are at the correct pressure and consider replacing them if they are worn.

You’re almost done! While you’re talking with the sales professionals at your nearest Mullinax dealership – and preparing for a test drive and signing the paperwork for your new truck, car or SUV – discuss ways to protect your vehicle. Doing so on an ongoing basis is easier and keeps your car in better condition than doing a last-minute cleanup.


Lastly we suggest:

  • Maintain the vehicle scrupulously – and keep all of your maintenance documents.
  • Bring the vehicle into the our service center if you think it’s developing a problem or you can’t identify where that annoying scratching sound is coming from.
  • Don’t smoke in the vehicle, ever. We’d also advise not eating or drinking in the cabin either, but we know that’s not realistic. And you have to bring Fido along occasionally. Just be sure to clean everything out of the vehicle every time you use it. Trash and smells won’t have a chance to build up and you won’t need to do a deep clean as often.

Speaking of cleaning – give your ride a spa day on a regular schedule. Vacuum, clean the windows, the dash, the seats and everything else. Wash and wax the exterior regularly to protect the finish. Make sure the fluids are at the right levels.

Good luck! We look forward to helping you get the most form your next vehicle.

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