Auto City
Closed. Opens Sunday at 10:00 AM

How to Increase Your Car's Resale Value

How to Increase Your Car’s Resale Value

increase your car resale value

Let’s talk about how to increase your car’s resale value.  According to multiple sources, in the past decade, the average length of vehicle ownership in the United States has climbed to 6.5 years!   You might plan to keep your car that long, or perhaps only 2-3 years.  But when it comes time for you to move on, you’ll want to ensure you get the highest possible dollar amount for you car.  Regardless of whether you plan to trade it in at a dealership or attempt to sell it privately, you still want a healthy return on your investment.  Who wouldn’t?  This is what’s called your car’s resale value.  Of course, after so many years of use, mileage accumulation and wear and tear, the value will not be the same as it was when you bought it.  (Exceptions: keeping the car long enough to see it become a classic or develop a cult following, in which case it will appreciate over time).  However, there are certain steps and regiments you can follow to ensure you keep your car’s resale value as high as possible.  So without any further ado, here are 5 easy tips to increase your car’s resale value:
(Do not want to read? Watch a video instead!)

Tip#1: Proper Maintenance and Upkeep are Essential to Increasing Your Car’s Resale Value!

maintenance is key to increasing your car's resale value

The best and most obvious way to increase your car’s resale value is regular maintenance and upkeep. Besides mechanical repairs, it is important to keep up with the little things before they accumulate.

Little things go wrong with cars all the time and it’s nobody’s fault in particular, it just happens!  Things like a window regulator burning out, a rock chip in the windscreen, the center cap of your wheel flying off mid-drive, small trim pieces drying, cracking, breaking off, etc.  Most of these little things are minor, and the car can be driven just fine without repairing them.  But if you let the little things accumulate without addressing them, when it comes time to sell or trade-in your car, it’ll appear more like a neglected clunker regardless of its running condition.  First impressions go a long way to prospective buyers.  The first thing they’ll see before they even get into the car to drive it is the overall condition.  You want the condition of the car to match its mechanical upkeep.  So keep up with these things, it’s easy!

Example, If your window regulator does go out, mention it to your mechanic during your next regularly scheduled maintenance visit so they can get it taken care of.  If your windows have cracks or chips, see if they can be repaired without having to replace them.  If trim pieces go missing, there are plenty of resources online where you can order the parts yourself and put them back on.

Now let’s look around the body of your car and see how many dents, dings and scratches you have acquired over the years.  Probably more than you thought!  Minor dents and dings are normal, as cars are exposed to so many elements.  But before you put your car up for sale, increase your car’s curb appeal by investing in some dent repair.  Have a detailer repair any major scratches.  Minor bodywork is not expensive to repair, but your car’s tidy appearance will go a long way and demand a higher asking price.

Tip#2: Invest in New Tires

invest in new tires

When it comes time to sell your car, take at look at your tires.  Did you replace them at all during your time with the car, or are they the same tires as when you bought it?  How is the tread wear?  Are they holding air?  Well before you put your car up for sale, it might be wise to invest in new tires.  First, it adds to the curb appeal, giving the outward appearance that you cared for your car.  More importantly, if prospective buyers notice worn out tires, it is more likely that they will move along.  Used car buyers have enough to think about.  They don’t want the additional hassle of having to spend even more time and money replacing worn tires just after they bought the car.

That, or you will have given your prospective buyer a strong haggling point.  The cost of 4 new tires is usually less than the difference of their offer and your asking price and can be more than compensated by asking more for your ride!

Tip#3: Keep All Your Paperwork… All of It!

keep all the records and paperwork

Any documents you have, keep them!  Keep them safe and organized in a binder.  Do not keep them in the car!  This includes your title, purchase receipts and finance contract, COMPLETE service records, owner’s manuals and window sticker. Why is this so important?  It just shows that you care.

You’ll want to keep a full stack of service records and receipts for parts.  This includes oil changes, and any part big or small.  (Also best to keep that stack in chronological order.)  Again, it shows the prospective buyer that you cared about the car.  It also give them full view on items that have been worked on, maintained, replaced or fixed.  So if there are any questions about any specific repairs, you can present documented proof to them.  This adds value to the car, as it shows how well maintained it was.  Also, if the buyer has any doubts about certain repairs, presenting them with service records means they could not use that as a haggling point.

Furthermore, try to get your repairs done at a shop that reports to CARFAX or AutoCheck ( Auto City Service Department does report to CARFAX).  This way, you have an online backup of your service history.

Finally, the car should have the original owner’s manual, all the other documents that came in the little binder, and the window sticker!  If the car becomes a collectible or a classic in the future, having these original items will make that car even more rare and special.  The same way a copy of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper is worth way more if it still has the original cut-outs of the lads from Liverpool.  Having the original window sticker will add to its appreciated value and collectability.

Tip#4: Drive Safely and Do Not Abuse Your Car

do not abuse your car

Don’t abuse your car.  This includes your driving habits.  Driving safely and staying alert is the most preventative measure you can take when it comes to keeping your car in good shape!  Reckless driving will not only lead to a higher likelihood of an accident.  But driving it beyond its limits can lead to a damaged chassis.  You will also cause more fluid leaks, oil will burn off faster, and engine parts will fail prematurely.  For obvious reasons, a car that was driven hard and treated roughly will not hold the same value as a well cared for facsimile.

A customer recently brought a car to us for trade-in that is normally considered to be very sought after, a modern classic!  But this particular car had frame damage, dents and dings and paint damage.  The interior was a mess and the leather seats were dried out.  Under the hood, the car was in dire need of repairs.  This car was not that old, mileage was not extraordinarily high, but it was clear that the car had a rough life and was not treated well.  We were still able to take the car as a trade and the customer was happy.  However, If the car had indeed been kept up in good shape, it would have been worth about 3 times more!

Treat them well!

Tip#5: Do Your Research, Shop Around and Be Smart

Shop around when selling your car

Finally, when it comes time to sell your ride, the best way to increase its resale value is some solid research and good timing.  First, find out how much your car is worth.  There are great online resources like which will tell help calculate the value of your car with factors such as its condition, trim level, and if it came with any factory options or packages.  (Another good reason to keep the window sticker.)  Next you’ll want to go on sites like Craigslist and look to see who’s selling the same car in your area?  How much is their asking price?  Are they asking more or less than’s recommend asking price?  Do you feel your car can demand a higher or lower asking price than theirs?  All this will help you come up with your asking price and your bottom line.  Assuming you followed tips 1-4, you should have no problems getting your asking price.

If you plan to trade it in, shop around and get several quotes.  See which dealership will give you the highest trade-in price.  You might be able to bring that number over to the next dealership and get more for it.  There are mainstream options like Carmax, or if you are in the San Diego area, you can give Driveo a try.  Driveo offers fair prices for you car over a fast and easy process.

Sometimes getting the best resale value for your car is all about timing.  Are people more likely to buy your used car during tax season, or during the holiday season?  Perhaps your car would be great for a young adult heading off to their first year of college?  In that case, maybe right before the fall semester would be the best time to post your car up for sale.

If you follow these simple steps, you will be well on your way to maintaining and increasing your car’s resale value!  But let’s say you really like your car, and the two of you are in it for the long haul.  Well we have a list for that, too!  Check out our 5 easy tips for a long lasting vehicle !  These tips will help keep your car running long and strong for years and years to come.

5 Easy Tips to Make Your Car Last Longer (Video Version)