Drive Your Car or Truck for Free by Beating Depreciation

Smart car buying can save you thousands of dollars. But the initial purchase of a car isn’t the only way to save yourself some money. With a little knowledge of industry trends and the used market, it’s possible to fight back against depreciation and come out financially intact by the time you go to sell your next car or truck.

Buy smart to beat depreciation

A line of Ford pickup trucks
Ford F-150 pickups are hugely popular | Joe Raedle via Getty Images

This process begins before you even decide what car you’d like to buy. First, a little market research. By knowing what you need your vehicle to do and what people are buying, you can avoid ending up in something that will cost you big money in depreciation. Certain models, like a Ford F-150 truck, are popular for a reason. That also means people are willing to pay more for them- both new and used.

However, buying smart also means buying within your means. A $20,000 heavily depreciated sports car isn’t going to keep you in the black in most situations. Often, buying the nicest example of “X” car or truck that you can afford is a great way to keep your money in an asset that won’t cost you a firstborn child. What “X” is depends wholly on your needs and the costs associated with maintaining said vehicle.

Keep up on your vehicle’s maintenance

The depreciation-beating king: a black Honda Civic
Honda Civic | Dickson Lee via Getty Images

This brings us to the subject of maintenance. Keeping your car in good shape, and more critically, being able to afford to do so will help your car retain value rather than depreciating. This is especially true of nicer models and enthusiast vehicles. Enthusiast and luxury buyers are able to be picky with their choice.

They want the nicest example of the car they want and will pay a premium for it. Make your car that nice example and the resale value of your vehicle will stay high. Watching auctions on sites like Bring-a-Trailer is a great way to get a sense for the enthusiast and luxury car market. In doing so, it’s easy to learn how many miles is too many, what options people want, and what condition is considered worthy of big bucks.

Money well spent

A black Porsche 911 photographed at sunset
A Porsche 996-generation 911 | Steve Hall via Getty Images

By knowing what models are popular, which ones retain their value well, and where to buy them, it’s possible to save so much money, you’re practically driving a car for free. Keeping service records up to date and knowing when to sell helps you profit off the auto market. In the case of some enthusiast and luxury cars, it is possible to make money on your car. In the case you do sell a car for what you bought it for or more, the only money you’ve really spent was on consumables such as brake pads and oil, along with some maintenance along the way.

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