For most of us our vehicles are the biggest financial investment in our lives second only to our homes. So why do we not treat them like a disposable item? Why not spend a little time on good habits so you a have higher resale value and a nicer vehicle in general as it gets older?
I will give you my buying and selling tips later, but today I am focusing on keeping value in the investment that you have.
Keep ALL of your service records. Even if you do your own oil changes, I have a little book in my glove compartment to track dates and mileage of service work. This also becomes a handy tool for knowing when you are due for service.
Think about when you look at a used car to buy, wouldn’t you feel more comfortable buying a car with 100,000 if you had all of its service records?
Service your vehicle! Basic maintenance is the most important thing you can do to keep your vehicle in good condition. In later articles I will talk more in depth about service items and their importance. For now the important thing to remember is to stay on track with oil changes and inspections.
Keep it Clean! Especially in an area where salt and chemicals are used on icy winter roads (these chemicals cause rust). Even if you do not have chemicals on your roads there are many other things in our environment that are acidic, the longer you leave them on your vehicle the more damage they will cause. At least once a month take your vehicle through at car wash.
Then at a minimum, quarterly open the doors and wash/wipe down the door jams and inside of the doors. *Pay special attention to cleaning in between the door and seal at the bottom edge of the door, this is a common area that rust will form. This should be done more often in areas that use chemicals on icy roads. Another thing that will look worn over time with corrosion is your wheels. I keep a toilet brush in my car cleaning kit; it works well for getting into the grooves.
Deal with the smells before they get out of control and become permanent. I have gone car shopping and been appalled by the smell and condition vehicles are kept in – it is just laziness. I know it can be hard when you are carrying a 150 pound dog around, but with a little bit of effort the easier it will be. I keep old bed sheets around to cover my seats when needed, and old towels to wipe off fido’s paws. At least give the interior a quick vacuum at the car wash and a wipe down on the interior once in a while. There are some great cleaning wipes available, you could give it a once over while you are waiting in line at the coffee shack or to pick up the kids.
*When the vehicle goes in for service ask your shop if they provide any detail services. The dealership that services my Mom’s car will do a full detail including shampooing the carpets for $40 with her annual maintenance check (FYI – that is about $100 less than the detail shop down the road).
- Do not smoke in your vehicle – it will never air out. If you are a smoker you cannot smell that nasty odor in your own vehicle, I would rather burn it to the ground than try to clean it myself. If you do end up with a car that has smoke embedded into its upholstery and carpets take it to a professional.
- Take care of pet odor right away. Pinterest has many tips for deodorizing that does not involve hanging 10 air freshener trees from your rear view mirror.
- Do not put too much air freshener in your vehicle. If your passengers eyes are watering it may be from the 5 vent plug-ins you have. Keep it clean and you will not need any!