Skip to main content

You’ve spent a lot of money on your car, and you’d probably like to trade it in or sell it for as much as possible once it’s finally time to get a new one. It can be tough to think of the future when you’re busy driving to work, taking the kids to school, or starting off on that long-awaited road trip. However, in order to hold as much of your car’s value as you can, there are two important things you have to do.

Protect the exterior

The condition of your car’s body is what other people notice first. Whether that’s someone you want to impress right now or a potential future buyer, keeping your car’s paint in good shape and free of dings is important.

The first step is to keep your car clean. Dirt from the road can become ingrained in your car’s paint. If dirt and grime wear through the paint — even in tiny areas — the underlying metal will be at risk of corrosion. And if you live in an area where road salt is commonly used to combat tough winter road conditions, it’s even more important to wash regularly so your car does not rust.

Hand washing is considered best for your car’s finish. This is because automated car washes can cause damage. Make sure your car is clean and completely dry before you move on to waxing.

Why wax? The coat of wax you use can help your car’s finish shine and will protect the paint from scratches. You should wax between two and four times a year. It all depends on how much your car is driven and how long it stays out in the elements.

While spray-on waxes are available, it’s most effective to wax by hand. If you don’t have time or are concerned that you might be using the wrong type of wax, have it done professionally for about $40 to $90. You could also consider having a sealer applied to your car, which will last about a year when done by a professional.

Finally, take steps to protect your car from exterior damage by parking smartly. When possible, don’t park under trees or next to other vehicles so you can avoid door dings.

Protect the interior

You don’t need to do a full detailing every month, but consider having your car professionally detailed once or twice a year to maintain and clean the interior. You can also add a few things to your car that will keep the interior looking fresh and new.

If your car did not come with floor mats, make sure you purchase good-fitting ones that will protect the floors. The mats should be cleaned regularly to take out dirt and grit that you carry in on your shoes. Driving an SUV or hatchback? Look for a mat that fits in the back to protect your cargo area from spills and dirt.

Don’t neglect your seats. Seat covers are essential if you have kids or pets, and a good idea regardless to prevent stains and fading on the seats.

While you don’t need to fully detail your car every month, you should invest in a shop vac or car vacuum to remove dirt from floors and seats.

Look for products that spray on the vinyl of your dashboard to protect from UV rays that cause fading and discoloration. Choose a water-based product without petroleum distillates that can smear and smell bad. Dust first and then apply the product every month, using a microfiber cloth to rub it in and remove excess.

Protect from UV light with an interior car shade that fits on the inside of the window when you’re parked. These take just a minute to unfold and can keep the interior of your vehicle looking new.

Take the time to retain your car’s value

The biggest challenge to protecting your car is finding the time. Don’t just leave it up to fate. Instead, schedule time every month for either detailing your car yourself or have it done by a professional. By ensuring that your car gets the maintenance necessary to keep it looking new, you’ll have a vehicle with a higher resale value when it comes time to part with it.