Thrifty motoring doesn’t end when you beat the dealer down on the windscreen price or buy a secondhand car.
Depreciation is by far the largest motoring cost any of us will face. The trouble is that because it is hidden in the excitement of buying your next car we all tend to ignore it, writing it off an unpleasant necessity.
Yet there are things you can do to minimise that loss, even if it can’t be avoided entirely.
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Here are some of my favourite hints and tips to maintain the value of your car in the face of rampant depreciation!
Keep it clean
Keeping it clean is the number one way to protect your car’s value but that doesn’t mean that you have to spend your life washing and polishing it.
A quick rinse every fortnight should be enough to get rid of everyday dirt but there are two areas that you may not even have considered that might need a bit more attention: bird poop and brake dust.
Bird poop can permanently stain your car’s paintwork thanks to its acidic nature, meaning you should rinse it off when you first notice it or use a dedicated wipe: Autoglym does a handy glovebox pack.
Brake dust is another problem as it can attack the clear lacquer on your alloy wheels if it’s left there for too long. Again, a quick rinse with soapy water once a week is enough, helping maintain their condition and avoiding expensive refurbishment.
The same principle goes for any small spoil and stains on the upholstery or carpets; by keeping on top of problem areas in this way, a fortnightly wash and hoover should be enough to keep your car clean and looking good.
A one-off full-on valet – DIY or professional – to bring your car back up to pristine condition should then make sure you get top dollar when it’s time to sell.
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Service it on time
With ever-increasing car service intervals, it’s easy to lose track of when your car’s next appointment at the garage is due.
However, a missing service stamp, or even a service that was completed late, can be enough to scupper your car’s resale value.
Setting a reminder in your computer’s calendar should be all it takes to get the job done on time. I schedule my calendar to remind me a month before the work is due, leaving me plenty of time to find a free slot to suit the garage and me.
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Don’t forget your DIY checks
It will only take you 20 minutes or so to check your car’s fluids and doing so could help prevent a costly mechanical failure.
Aside from that, every potential buyer will be impressed with an owner whose car has obviously been looked after.
Beware the kerb
Low-profile tyres look terrific but they don’t provide the same level of protection as their older, high profile, unfashionable relatives. As a result, almost every car that is shod with them suffers from damage to its alloy wheels.
It will cost you anything from £25-100 per wheel to get them refurbished, so you might want to adopt an obsessive attitude towards parallel parking to save money.
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Sort those dings
Small dings and dents are a sad fact of life, but you don’t have to just put up with them.
Parking in a more deserted area of the car-park might be all it takes to avoid these irritating battle scars, but if your car does succumb there are plenty of mobile repairers who will come to your home and remove them for around £50 a dent.
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Keep matching tyres
Slightly left-field, but an increasing number of people are starting to cotton on to the fact that careful owners who cherish their cars will always fit matching tyres rather than odd-ball budget brands to save a tenner.
So, when it’s time to buy new rubber it is worth sticking to the manufacturer’s recommended tyres and making sure that all four match. This gives reassurance to potential buyers that you’ve maintained it regardless of cost.
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Speaking of which, always keep your old receipts and invoices, even if that just means sticking them in an old envelope in a desk drawer. Nothing reassures people like the sight of a stack of old bills to back up your claim that you’ve kept on top of the servicing.
Of course, some people don’t like paperwork preferring to adopt a more streamlined approach to their lives. That’s fine too, because online websites like Patina will store scanned receipts and invoices for you leaving your life clutter-free!
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Use your garage
If you’ve got a garage, then it’s worth investing a weekend to clear it of junk so you can park your car in there.
The benefits are tangible and immediate and more than offset the time and effort required in having to find a new resting place for all that stuff that you are convinced will come in handy one day…
For more tips and hints, browse our motoring articles