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As a new vehicle owner, you probably know the value of your car, truck, or SUV significantly drops the moment you drive it off the lot. Unfortunately, car depreciation is unavoidable. But did you know you could save thousands of dollars by buying a nearly new used car after the vehicle’s initial steep depreciation? Afterward, you can sell or trade the car before the value falls further in a few years. 

What is car depreciation? 

Like some other items you buy, your car will lose value due to everyday wear. 

“The rate of car depreciation varies depending on the vehicle’s year, make, and model. The first year faces the most significant depreciation hit to the car’s market value, with most vehicles losing about 20% or more of their original value,” Kelley Blue Book explains. “The loss continues to decline from there. Cars often shed about 60% of their original purchase price within the first five years.”

When you want to sell your vehicle, you might notice depreciation has dramatically reduced the car’s resale and trade-in value, even for a model in excellent condition.

Now that you better understand car depreciation, check out KBB’s advice to help you beat it.

Kelley Blue Book’s tips to improve your car’s value 

Car depreciation tips to improve car value
Regular maintenance will help retain your car’s value | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

1. Maintain your vehicle with routine service

One way to help beat car depreciation is to keep maintenance records. Doing this will show responsible ownership that can improve your car’s value.

2. Sell the car yourself, not to a dealer

You’ll probably consider selling your vehicle to a dealership if you plan to purchase a new ride. However, a private sale could be a better option. You’ll be able to sell your car at market value and keep the costs the dealer usually builds into the price of your trade-in.

3. Avoid customizing your car

One of the best parts about vehicle ownership is customizing your car to your liking. But as attractive as that idea sounds, it can limit the number of potential buyers. Avoid flashy modifications to keep your vehicle looking good to most buyers.

4. Search for tax breaks

Check with a tax adviser if your vehicle is for your business. You might be able to deduct a portion of the car’s depreciation on your tax return. 

Can you really beat car depreciation?


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No, unfortunately, you cannot beat car deprecation entirely. It’s unavoidable. The good news? Depreciation matters only when you sell your vehicle. So take good care of your ride. And follow KBB’s tips so your car holds more value years down the road.