8 Things That Could Be Destroying Your Car’s Resale Value

When you spend money on a car, whether it’s a luxury sports car or a family-friendly sedan, you hope that it’ll hold enough value to be worth something if you ever want to trade it in or sell it. And now is a very good time to trade or sell your car.

The prices of used cars have skyrocketed to new-car prices, in some places. Trading in your car at a reputable dealership or selling it through a private sale could get you a lot of money to put toward a new vehicle. But, there are a lot of factors that could secretly be tanking your car’s value. 

Check out 8 common killers of car resale or trade-in value, according to HowStuffWorks.

8. A rear-end full of bumper stickers is a big turn-off

Bumper stickers can be fun and quirky, but they can be a big hassle for buyers. Bumper sticker removal can be time-consuming and frustrating. Some cheaper bumper stickers can even peel up paint when they’re removed. A buyer who isn’t 100% committed to your vehicle may not want to commit to peeling and scraping every corny sticker.

7. Broken or burned-out lights cast a shadow on resale value

This resale value factor is a mere matter of convenience. If a buyer is paying market value for a car, they don’t want to spend extra time and money fixing things. Broken headlights or taillights that don’t work are a particular pain because your buyer will need to schedule a service appointment immediately after purchasing.

Close up of a taillight on a red car
Replaced headlight on a red car | Tim Schmidbauer via Unsplash

RELATED: Want Your Car To Hold Its Resale Value? Avoid These 5 Things

6. A small crack or chip in your car’s windshield could mean big penalties

This factor affecting resale value is similar to the first two: Buyers paying potentially big bucks for your car don’t want to deal with repairs. If you don’t want to spend the time and money to fix a windshield chip or crack, chances are they don’t either. At least not without taking a big bite out of your car’s resale value.

5. A manual transmission could stick it to your car’s resale value

People who love driving stick, love driving stick—people who don’t, don’t want to pay for it. Most buyers cruising the market for a used car are looking for a vehicle with an automatic transmission. A popular sports car with a manual transmission may keep a higher resale value, but a typical truck, sedan, or SUV with a stick shift will likely make it harder to sell.

Black and white view of a car's interior, focusing on the manual transmission shifter
Manual transmission in an Audi | James Lewis via Unsplash

RELATED: 7 Must-Have Features That Will Help Your Car’s Resale Value

4. Differences in tire brands, ages, or conditions can scare off buyers

Tires can be expensive to replace. But if your car is running on a set of mismatched tires, expect to see your vehicle’s resale value flatten out. Buyers may be concerned that you’ve bypassed or delayed other routine maintenance and repairs.

3. Your car’s fuel economy could be tied to its resale value

This one should come as no big surprise. Unless you’re selling a truck or a sports car—where prospective buyers are prepared for poor fuel economy—expensive trips to the pump can scare away buyers on a budget. This is especially true during gas price spikes, so list your car wisely. 

Close up of a half-empty fuel gauge in an older-model-year vehicle; a pair of hands making an exasperated gesture are blurred in the forefront
Older car fuel gauge | Cristian Hernandez / AFP via Getty Images

2. Cigarettes in the ashtray? Watch your trade-in value go up in smoke

If you’ve ever tried to get the smell of cigarette smoke out of car seat upholstery or the headliner fabric, you know how difficult it can be. Strong smells, including cigarette smoke, pungent pets, or funky fries, can be a big turn-off for potential buyers. 

1. Can car color affect resale value? It’s not necessarily black and white

Weirdly, it can. Safe, neutral colors like black and white can hurt your chances of a high resale value for your vehicle, while bold car paint colors like orange and yellow can be a big help. We don’t advocate painting your vehicle if it’s not already bold and bright, but you may want to focus more on some of the factors you can control.

Close up of the badging on the C-pillar of an old BMW. Colors like orange are good for car resale value
Orange BMW | Pablo Martinez via Unsplash

RELATED: Worst and Best Car Colors for Resale Value – Playing It Safe Costs You Big Time