10 Overlooked Things That Lower the Resale Value of a Car

Now is a good time to sell your car, with the average price of used cars at an all-time high. Things like the year, make, model, and mileage are the biggest determining factors for the price that you can sell your car. However, there are also some often overlooked things that can lower its resale value. View 10 of them here.

What brings down the resale value of a car?

Ford truck with many bumper stickers, highlighting things that lower the resale value of a car
Bumper stickers on a Ford truck | Lindsey Nicholson/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

HowStuffWorks covers various things that lower the resale value of a car. Some of the things you can fix, while others are out of your control:

  1. Bumper stickers
  2. Cracked windshield
  3. Damaged lights
  4. Cigarette odor
  5. Location where you live
  6. Manual transmission
  7. Mismatched tires
  8. Reputation
  9. Color
  10. Gas prices

Bumper stickers

Bumper stickers reinforce the notion that a car is used, so it’s best to remove them. While it’s debatable how much just one bumper sticker will lower the resale value of a car, if you go crazy with a boatload of bumper stickers, you’ll likely turn off potential buyers. 

Cracked windshield

Cracked windshield on a car from hail damage, highlighting things that lower the resale value of a car
Car with a cracked windshield | Harold Hoch/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Replacing a cracked windshield is more inexpensive than you might think. Also, your insurance might cover the cost of a cracked windshield. On top of this, it’s illegal to drive with a cracked or damaged windshield in most states.

Damaged lights

Replace any lights in your car that have cracked lenses or burnt-out bulbs. Also, not only is it dangerous to drive with damaged lights, it’s illegal too.

Cigarette odor

A surefire way to lower the resale value of a car and turn off potential buyers, especially ones that are non-smokers, is to light up a cigarette in your car and fill it with smoke. Not many people are willing to buy a car that smells like an ashtray.

Location where you live

Selling your car is unlikely to be the reason why you chose where you live. Nonetheless, your location can significantly affect the resale value of your car. For example, a rear-wheel drive convertible might not sell as well in a location that has harsh winter weather.

Manual transmission

Driving purists that prefer the control of a manual transmission are rare these days, as most modern cars come standard with an automatic transmission. The resale value of your car will likely be lower if you opted for a stick shift. An exception to this is sports cars with a manual transmission.

Mismatched tires

You’ll have a better chance of selling your car for a higher price if the tires are in good condition. However, tires that are mismatched or are in poor condition lower the resale value, and indicate to potential buyers that your car was not well-maintained. 

Reputation

The reputation of a car is one of the things that is out of your control. However, in some instances, it can have a major impact on its resale value. Notable examples include Volkswagen with the dieselgate scandal and the Ford Pinto of the 1970s, which had problems with it exploding.

Color

Color is probably one of the least surprising factors on this list of things that can lower the resale value of a car. Gold cars usually depreciate the most, followed by silver and beige. Conversely, orange and yellow cars depreciate the least. However, if you want to play it safe, choose a black, white, or gray car.

Gas prices

The price of gas is an unpredictable factor that affects the resale value of a car. During times of high fuel prices, like right now, an efficient hybrid or an electric car will be appealing to more buyers. However, when the price of fuel drops, a gas-guzzling SUV will have greater demand.

How important is the resale value of a car?

If you plan on trading in or selling your car, either now or in the future, the resale value is very important. It determines how much money you can get for your car. While some of these factors that lower the resale value of your car are out of your control, you can address many of them — and get a better return on your vehicle.

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