5 smart ways to protect your car’s resale value

Depreciation, or the reduction in an asset’s value over time, happens to all machines. But depreciation on motor vehicles is the kind that directly affects most people – unless you buy a vintage or collectible car, which can gain value over time. Your average new car, on the other hand, loses most of its value in its first year and continues to depreciate by a certain percentage every year thereafter.

If you plan to sell the vehicle sometime in the future, finding a brand that retains more value because of higher market demand is a sensible strategy. While depreciation happens to all vehicles at the same rate, cars that people will always want to buy hold their value better. Once you’ve bought it, it’s up to you to look after your vehicle – so it fetches a better price when you want to resell it or trade it in.

You won’t be able to keep it as spotless as the day you bought it, but these 5 tips will help you maintain its appeal:


1. Have it serviced regularly

It’s essential with any mechanical equipment that everything is running as it should be, or small problems can escalate and cause knock-on effects that result in serious damage. Your car is a complex mechanical and electrical system that needs to be maintained in working order.

Make sure you have it serviced at the recommended intervals – according to the service manual that comes with the vehicle, or as advised by the dealer – to prevent unnecessary wear and tear. Get any accidental damage or system malfunctions repaired as soon as you can. Don’t ignore unexplained noises or warning lights; get them checked out by a professional.


2. Hang onto your service history

Having gone to the expense of keeping your car maintained, its service history is the evidence that you’ve done so. Your mechanic or service centre should stamp your service book after every service as proof that the service was done. This will give the buyer confidence that you’re selling a reliable vehicle and will increase the value of your car compared to a similar one with no service history.

If accident damage was repaired, the auto body repairer will give you warranties for their work. Keep this in the service book too, to reassure the buyer that the vehicle was repaired at a reputable auto body repairer and that warranties are in place according to the manufacturer requirements.


3. Keep the inside clean

Keeping the inside of the car clean and in good condition sends the right message: here’s a car that’s been looked after. Have the interior properly cleaned and vacuumed regularly, and don’t allow smoking in your car. Repair any tears in the upholstery or broken controls on the dashboard.


Nothing devalues a car as quickly as a weathered, beaten look


Taking the vehicle for a valet cleaning service before selling it will ensure the interior is in a good, clean condition and that any odours and spills are taken care of professionally. While this may not bump up your price much, it doesn’t give the buyer any room to haggle you down on the price, either.


4. Make sure everything works

Making sure that all the features and gadgets work properly is another way to avoid buyers trying to haggle for a lower price. The sound system, Wi-Fi, window controls, air-conditioning, dashboard instruments, warning indicators and internal lights must all function the way they’re supposed to, as must any extras like external cameras and proximity alarms. Someone will be willing to pay a fair price for a car that works properly, rather than enduring the hassle of bits and pieces that need to be repaired or replaced.


5. Preserve the paintwork

Nothing devalues a car as quickly as a weathered, beaten look. The best way to protect your vehicle’s paint job is to store it in a garage or covered area. If you don't have a garage, keeping it under a vinyl cover when parked will go a long way to protecting its looks. Get any dings, dents or scratches professionally repaired and resprayed.

You can invest in specific ‘scratch and dent’ insurance policies – if you buy this cover, it will enable you to have the small scratches and dents repaired once a year, to keep your vehicle looking good. It’s more affordable than you might think. You can also buy autobody glaze products that adhere to your paintwork and protect it from sun and other damage, to keep it in mint condition.

If you qualify for credit, once you’ve settled on the car you need, Motor Finance Corporation (MFC), a division of Nedbank, makes the buying process simpler with loans and services that help get you on the road. New or used, from a dealer or at an MFC auction, and whether you’re the buyer or seller in a private sale, MFC can help. You can connect with MFC and learn more here.