A new car starts depreciating in value the moment you drive it off the lot. That reality can’t be changed. But there are steps you can take to retain as much of your car’s value as possible so that when it’s time to trade it in somewhere down the line, you’ll get the highest return on your investment.
Most people will never see the inside of your car, or have a chance to look under the hood. But your car’s exterior is often the first impression you make on coworkers, friends, family, and potential romantic partners.
- Wash and wax your car often. Even something as seemingly harmless as tree sap can eat away at the car’s finish. In the past, car dealers would recommend not waxing a new car until 90 days after you bought it to allow the paint to fully cure, but today’s clear-coat paint can—and should—be waxed ASAP.
- Consider getting an undercoating and rust-proofing your car.
- Don’t neglect the undercarriage. Take your car to a carwash that flushes the undercarriage to remove gravel and road salt that can corrode vital components.
In the span of a single year, the average person spends around 12 full days in their car. We eat in our cars, sometimes even sleep in them. Life is messy, and stains are inevitable.
- If gum gets stuck to your seat or carpet, put ice cubes in a Ziploc bag and apply the ice to the gum to freeze it. Once it’s hardened, you can scrape it off.
- Dilute coffee stains with cold water immediately and blot with a paper towel. If the stain persists, soak it in glass cleaner for five minutes and then dry it.
- For grease stains, dampen a cloth with paint thinner and scrub out the stain. Rub the remaining stain with table salt and cover until absorbed, then pass a car vacuum over the salt to remove it.
- If a pen leaks ink onto your interior, use hairspray to get out the stain.
- Use protective conditioning cream to prevent your dashboard, center console, and other vinyl or leather surfaces from drying out and cracking. These creams are available at hardware stores and auto shops.
UNDER THE HOOD
Even if you got a new car from a dealership and are taking it in for the scheduled maintenance, you still need to be proactive about maintaining your car.
- Check the tire pressure once a month and before any extended road trips. Properly inflated tires lessen the strain on the shocks, brakes, etc.
- Change your oil as often as your owner’s manual prescribes. Lubricated engine parts are less likely to crack, corrode, or fail.
- Inspect your battery every few months to make sure the terminal hasn’t become corroded (a chalky white buildup). If there is corrosion, clean it off with a tablespoon of baking soda mixed with 1 cup of very hot water while wearing rubber gloves, or take it to your auto repair shop.