Are You Destroying Your New Car’s Value?

The improving economy and historically-low interest rates are driving consumers back to dealer showrooms in numbers not seen since before the recession. New vehicle sales reached an estimated 1.27 million units last month according to J.D. Power.  If you’re among those who have recently purchased a new vehicle, you’re probably aware that it lost as much as 11 percent of its value the moment you drove it off the dealer’s lot, and you may unknowingly accelerating its depreciation by simply neglecting to follow some simple maintenance guidelines?

Routinely cleaning the interior and exterior with keep your new car or truck looking new longer. Dirt and grime can quickly destroy your vehicle’s exterior finish, making it look old before its time.  According to’s Jon Dulin, a clean engine compartment can add hundreds of dollars to your vehicle’s resale value.  He recommends routinely hand washing the plastic coverings and hoses located under the hood. “Buyers see a super clean car and engine bay … and will pay top dollar for the car,” says Dulin.

You should also pamper your new ride during the first few months of ownership – the so-called “break-in period.” This includes going easy on the gas and brake pedals, and changing the engine oil almost immediately after making your purchase.  Popular Mechanics’ Mike Allen says, “That 20-mile oil, you would think, would look pretty much like fresh oil right out of the bottle. Wrong. It usually looks more like metal-flake paint, iridescent with tiny particles of metal worn off rubbing surfaces inside the new engines. After a few hours of operation, this completely normal phenomenon slows down as the rings, camshaft, lifters and bearings burnish their respective mating surfaces.”

Although it may be tempting to customize your new vehicle to suit your personal style and taste, aftermarket accessories typically reduce a vehicle’s resale value, and in some cases can void the manufacturer’s warranty.

Auto repairs and maintenance services can be expensive, but having them performed by an unqualified technician can be even more expensive in the long run.’s automotive professional group Director Bret Bodas says, “Untrained professionals make your vehicles issues a matter of trial and error, guessing which parts need to be replaced to fix that funny noise and potentially causing new problems.”

Finally, you should keep accurate records of all repair and maintenance services performed on your vehicle. Presenting a prospective buyer with an accordion folder full of neatly organized service records can go a long way toward helping you get your asking price when it comes time to sell your car or truck.

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